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Compiled by Terry Kilburn

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 16th May 2019 – Hannover

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Memories of Hannover on tour go back a long way and we all recall a particular show here in 1996 in the 1940’s U-Boat hall which at that time was used as a venue for concerts. It was particularly uncomfortable for our crew who had to battle with extreme heat and residual oil on the floor which seemed to get everywhere and left all our cabling covered. Thankfully, things have moved on and it has since been reconverted into a ‘Yellow’ furniture outlet and our subsequent shows in this city have been in one of the largest trade fair venues in the world, the Hannover Messe. The TUI hall is located at its heart and is another beautifully designed, modern venue, resulting in a happy crew.

Everything about today’s weather was grey, the rain fell in Berlin as we left the city centre for our day-trip via the Willy Brandt ghost airport to Hannover. It’s hard to comprehend the plight of this airport. I know I mentioned it yesterday but we get to see what so few can, its ghoulish emptiness as private charter aircraft can use its runways and infrastructure, not of course the terminal, which seems to be terminally crippled. They actually run empty ghost trains through the airport subways stations to keep them ventilated.

Sunlight is guaranteed above the cloud and we were soon cruising at 28,000 ft. Danielle was back on board serving up a light Middle Eastern Mezze lunch accompanied by another birthday cake, this time for Mark’s manager Paul Crockford. Backstage at the venue, Paul was serenaded several times by band members.

Sound check at the venue was unremarkable yet efficient. Everything sounded great as we made a few minor alterations. What was remarkable was catering, once more. Dave, Chris, Steve and Scott enjoyed perfect kitchen facilities and rustled up some devilishly stunning dinner choices amongst which were Seared Tuna Steaks and a Penang Beef Curry to die for.

Every day, this production, in its entirety, moves from city to city and the band rarely get to see how it gets taken down and rebuilt. Lighting tech Dan Oswald has recently been shooting some time lapse scenes. Below is a real insight into how it all happens. From Milan on May 10th, notice how the backline is assembled on the stage, out of position, and then rolled in once the lights and PA are up. The band left the stage after another glorious show courtesy of a lovely Hannover audience and we headed back through some unearthly fog to Berlin for our day off. The crew meanwhile had a bit of a trip… to Calais, a ferry crossing and a journey to Leeds, no doubt through some UK daytime traffic.

 

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 13th May 2019 – Cologne

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Kölsch and Himmel und Erde. Cologne has many wonderful things to offer visitors and the local beer, Kölsch, is soft, refreshing and gentle the morning after. Flying in as we did, from Strasbourg the previous night, the familiar Hyatt view across the Rhine at the Deutzer Brücke, or Deutz Suspension Bridge, is as spectacular as it is comforting. Simply because it is highly likely that we have stayed in this hotel more times than any other in the world. It is the go-to Cologne hub and its location is unbeatable. Tw minutes from the Lanxess Arena and a short walk across the bridge to the old town with its numerous bars and restaurants. In accordance with enviable German competence, every time we come, the hotel interior has had a facelift. Everything works. Sadly the bar was closed when we arrived. Probably just as well.

Ön the day of the show, everyone was relaxed and rested at the venue. The crew were ready for band sound check at 4:30pm and we ran through a few things in the now familiar Lanxess hall. Many people have commented or asked about what we are using for amplifiers for the guitars since the stage is devoid of such things, largely to accommodate the huge band. Some have guessed correctly, we are using Kemper profiling amps. Mark’s long-serving guitar tech, Glenn Saggers along with Mark (when he wasn’t in Edinburgh with me preparing the Local Hero musical) has devoted much of his time in the past 6 months to recreating Mark’s unique sounds has done an amazing job. This switch from ‘real’ amps to digital devices is not for the feint-hearted and it wasn’t without its doubters. Now we are up and running and more than two weeks into the tour, we are all on board with them. They certainly allow for incredible separation in both in-ear monitors and front of house system. The sounds are amazingly responsive and malleable.

Lovely cities tend to be accompanied by lovely audiences and the Cologne crowd continued with the tour trend of waiting until each songs’ final note finishes before they burst into applause. Typically at the end of the set, there is a joyous rush to the front of the stage and when we return for our encores, we can see the hundreds of smiling faces. As we waved our goodbyes, we could see the people at the very far reaches of the upper tiers in the hall were every bit as excited as those lucky enough to be down the front. Wonderful.

No concert in Cologne with a day off to follow would be complete without an apres-bar in room session with DJ’s Fletch and McGoldrick. The hotel received our five star Rock’n’Roll stamp of approval when I ordered a bucket of ice and what was delivered was almost large enough to bathe in. I said to the waiter “we’ll try not to make too much noise” to which he replied “oh, don’t worry about that sir”. At 4:30am, I reluctantly turfed the boys out as I had a morning dental appointment to fix a chipped tooth a few days earlier. Had I not, we could easily have watched the sunrise across the Rhine.

 

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

DTRW Tour – New Date Added

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Mark, along with special guest Bonnie Raitt, is adding a performance at New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden on September 25.

Tickets are available for presale to fans on Wednesday, May 15 at 10:00 am Eastern Time (3 pm BST) at both http://tour.markknopfler.com/ and http://www.bonnieraitt.com, as well as via Live Nation on Thursday, May 16 at 10:00 am Eastern Time (3 pm BST).

The general public can purchase tickets beginning Friday, May 17 at 10:00 am Eastern Time (1 pm BST). Each ticket comes with a copy of Down the Road Wherever.

The best way to buy tickets is from http://markknopfler.com where you will also find details of safe fan-to-fan resale sites. You are urged not to purchase tickets from resellers whose authenticity of tickets/prices cannot be guaranteed.

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 12th May 2019 – Strasbourg

Monday, May 13, 2019

After a beautiful Milano show, the band stayed put whilst the trucks and buses drove back across the Alps to Strasbourg. I had lunch with a dear friend of ours, Alessandro Ragni, who always looked after us whenever we visited Italy for promos. Alessandro is Mister food and wine. A trained Sommelier and a portal into everything beautiful about Italian food. Then a brief shopping spree amongst the thousands of ‘Alpinis’. Milan, this weekend, is the backdrop for the colourful parade and rally marking the centenary of the National Alpini Association, the famous Mountain Warfare Infantry Corps. of the Italian army.

Later in the afternoon, the predicted weather system loomed on the North West horizon. The ensuing thunderstorm lasted over an hour and did not disappoint. By the time we were ready for dinner, it had passed leaving the air crisp and clear. This was our third visit to a family restaurant just around the corner called Rovello 18.

Sunday morning and the cars and vans negotiated their way out of central Milan with its many blocked streets ready for the day’s Alpini marches. We were at the GAT at Linate and on board the Joy bird in no time. A short, bumpy hop over the Alps and we landed in the beautiful Alsace. Cars and vans ready and waiting, we transferred and were at the venue in 15 minutes where Mark once again stopped and signed a few things for the hard-core.

A cleansing, healing bowl of Minestrone soup and we were ready for another Zenith sound check. A small but significant set list change and we were done, leaving the stage once more for Juke Ross, our support in France…and the U.K.

Computer screens by the side of the stage were showing live streams of the top two Premiership football matches on what is the final day of the season. Simon, Laurence, Dave and other crew boys were getting excited as Man. City were 1-0 down to Brighton. Not for long though.

Evening approached and for us it was a 9pm show time. We enjoyed a beautiful, listening audience that went quite wild once we got into the encores. Once again, it seemed like we could have stood there and waved goodbye forever but we had a plane to catch and another short hop up to Cologne. Again, much toasting and clinking of glasses as we reflected on yet another special day in this band.

 

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 10th May 2019 – Milano

Monday, May 13, 2019

Milan. Well, it seems there’s hardly time to draw breath before we are on the move again. With this incredible touring machine now in full swing, we find ourselves in Italy once more and in front of the fabulous Milanese crowd. The evening concert at the Mediolanum Forum was another night to remember. We don’t often applaud each other in the intervals between encores but tonight we did. There is an emotional thread running through the band these days, for obvious reasons.

Incredible as it seems, this team of people (band and crew) is the largest we’ve had since the heady Straits days and in view of what this tour means, we are frequently reminded of those early tours, nearly 40 years ago. Of course Mark started touring before I did and I’m sure he lost count of the numbers a long time ago. I know I did.

Late breakfasts are now a regular theme and the morning Dolder treats were delivered to my room. Having had my ‘breakfast club’ membership revoked (for under-use), I breakfast alone every morning. Mark, Glenn Worf, Paul Crockford, Tim Hook and St. Peter Mackay are the core of the morning club. I did once venture down to their combined shock, funnily enough, in Milan, in 2013.

At 2:45pm the band met the drivers and we left the Dolder, only for a couple of months though as we’ll be back in July (hooray). At the airport, Peter alerted us to the fact that every suitcase had been searched by security. Unsure as to why. Maybe they were bored. It didn’t delay our departure and we were soon in the air again, heading over the snow-capped Lepontine Alps towards Milan where the weather was a balmy 73°F.  We ‘deplaned’ and headed for the venue in some quite heavy traffic.

No time to waste, a horde of soup dragons were crowded around the pot for our customary pre-sound check, pre-dinner treat. Today it was Cauliflower, Caraway and Shallot. Dear God! Nothing to report from sound check, just another boomy hall from which we are mercifully protected by our in ear monitors. It was an after show runner for all this evening and the van dropped us off at the hotel whereupon most in the entourage gravitated to my room for an evening of beautiful Portobello Gin, courtesy of Mark, music, celebration and laughter.

Out on my hotel balcony, Mike and I embraced the Milanese evening air and raised our glasses to this moment in time. This tour is a celebration of so many things and we all cherish every waking moment… as my morning headache will doubtless testify!

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.