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Compiled by Terry Kilburn

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 19th June 2019 – Lyon

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Rhône and Saône, the two rivers that converge in the heart of France’s 3rd largest city. It was the Romans who initially recognised that the strategic location at the convergence of 2 navigable rivers made it a natural communications hub. Lugdunum, as it was known then, can be translated as ‘Desired Mountain’. The original foundations were built on Fourvière hill, and is the desirable location of our hotel for the past 4 days. Overlooking the entire city, the view is one of the best of the tour.

Here, in the centre of France, with the Beaujolais and Burgundy regions to the north and the Côtes du Rhône and Provence to the south, Lyon has no issue with ‘accessibilité au vin’. It was midway round the beautiful Lyon Salvagny Golf Club, I started looking forward to the large glass of Provence Rosé with ice cubes. The day was very hot but thankfully, cloud covered and breezy. I had organised the largest golf party of the tour so far as 6 of us met for a round on a perfect day off before the Lyon show. Our gracious host was course director Francois Tirard, a lovelier man you couldn’t hope to meet. The course, in mint condition, was challenging and genuine fun. Simon (Drums), Dave (Stage), Peter (Sound), Tellson (Lights), Alex (Cars) and myself were 2 very appreciative 3-balls.

Ônce we had finished golf, we joined Francois on the beautiful patio, enjoyed said glasses of Rosé and prattled on excitedly about the 4 birdies and the many wonderful golf shots we all played, and the inevitable shockers! Then it was back to the band hotel for more drinks and typical band-crew fun and banter. We have a lot of fun as a band party but when we get together with the crew boys and girls, the circle is more complete.

Next day was breezy and humid and the Tony Garnier hall seemed like a bit of a cauldron. The gig was going to be a hot one. Sound check and controlled dining completed, we headed for the stage at exactly 8pm, the excitement was tangible. The show felt loose yet the band felt, for want of a better word, ‘tight’. I hate using that word as it’s how we used to describe bands we used to go and see when we were young, it’s no longer a word we use… yet it is determinately correct.

Evenings like this are to be treasured and by 10:30, we were at the hotel bar, on the patio… treasuring. A large plate of cheese and bread, placating the inexorable hunger that follows every show, accompanied our final drinks session here. Sleep soon followed and was swift and deep.

 

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

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 17th June 2019 – Paris

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Blimey, what a day.

Over the many years we’ve been coming to Paris, we have enjoyed extended stays in hotels and often made it a ‘hubbing’ point. This time we’ve chosen Lyon as a base. Whenever there are large events on in Paris, which is often, hotels ramp up their prices, hugely, a standard business practice which I’ve always thought was unethical. So, no walks down the Champs-Élysées or aimless wanderings around Le Jardin des Tuileries.

New improvements have been made to the Bercy arena since our last visit. Only the exterior is recognisable. The dressing rooms are now in a different location and the hall itself is no longer red. We’ve played here many times since 1985, during the Dire Straits heyday, yet as someone pointed out, stadium shows excluded, we are putting more bums on seats on this European tour than on that one.

Simple journeys from the airport here are always unpredictable as traffic around Paris can be extraordinary. We often shake our heads at the ‘donors’ on motorcycles, who snake between the traffic at ridiculous speeds, seemingly anxious to be taken to the nearest A&E department in the back of an ambulance. Today, the traffic was typical and we made it to the venue in about 40 minutes from Charles De Gaulle airport.

On arrival, French Onion soup with huge cheesy croutons was communally devoured and sound check was thorough. We fine-tuned a few endings and a couple of intros. There are always things that can be improved. We had some fun backstage and I joined Mike and Ianto in the tuning room on a Bodhran. Mike showed me how to hold the beater. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a go and Mark is absolutely right when he says it’s difficult. About 10 minutes in, I started to get the hang of it. As Mark says onstage each night now, there’s always someone learning a new instrument backstage. It’s like a music school back here! The show was quite spectacular and considering it’s a Monday night, the Parisians were absolutely up for it. So much so that the traditional ‘bull-run’ happened as soon as we started the party that is Postcards From Paraguay. We coasted to the end and wondered if we’d ever had such a marvellous gig in Paris.

In cars after the show, we headed for the Boulevard Périphérique and with Mark, Glenn and myself in the lead car, the guys in the vans behind were witness to some hair-raising antics. When we pulled up at the terminal (there is no facility for private jets here), a few fans who thought it would be a good idea to follow our convoy dangerously close, grabbed their albums and sharpies and surrounded us as we got out of the cars. They had driven like lunatics to get here, all for an autograph, which… they didn’t get.

Rolling our bags through the deserted terminal and going through security, we were led out, airside to board a bus to take us to the plane… the bus wasn’t there. Our air support team had prepped everything prior but when a French bus driver decides to have another cup of coffee, what can be done? We waited on the tarmac for 15 minutes or so, until the bus showed up and eventually took us to the plane where Daniella was waiting. Unfortunately, our slot had been moved back and we were refused permission to turn on our APU. The lack of air conditioning didn’t last for long and our slot was shifted once again, in our favour. We took off at around 12:30 and arrived into Lyon under an hour later. Team ‘B’ led by Alex collected us at a deserted Lyon, Terminal 3 and we headed for the serenity of our hotel hub in Lyon. It seemed like a whirlwind of a day, with plenty of excitement at both ends of the scale. “Paris, on a Monday?”, we kept asking ourselves. What a city. What a night. What a tour.

Thanks to Jean-Luc Lebeury for the gig pics.

 

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

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 15th June 2019 – Copenhagen

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Hygge, unless I am mistaken, is a word, often used in Denmark, which means ‘hug’ or ‘cosy’. They say the Danes are the happiest people in the world, and who would argue. Quality of life, a stable economy, good education services and high levels of social safety all contribute. Also, environmentally, Copenhagen kicks dust in the face of most other cities. Waste management is relatively advanced although not yet 100% efficient. The Copenhill plant, near the city centre, is an ambitious and unique project which as well as potentially burning 99% of the city’s waste, offers a 400-metre long, 90-metre high outdoor ski slope which is fast becoming one of the city’s major landmarks. The goal is to be carbon-neutral by 2025. And why not?

Yesterday’s day off was spent on the golf course with 3 of our hard working crew. Simon Jayes (Drum Tech), Pete Hughes (Sound Crew Chief) and Tellson James (Lighting Operator) all joined me for another trip to the beautiful Scandinavian Golf Club. The weather was perfect as we enjoyed an entertaining round on the perfectly manicured Old Course. With thunderstorms in the area, the air was humid but the heavy stuff stayed away all day.

Gargantuan clouds gathered and on show day, the air became heavy and it wasn’t long before the first crack of thunder rolled invisibly across the city. Thankfully, no pre-show travel today but we did have to vacate the lovely Hotel D’Angleterre slightly earlier than usual, which meant a long ‘hang’ at the venue. The Royal Arena has only been open a couple of years so this was our first visit. First impressions were great upon our arrival. Super clean and tidy load-in bay and well situated and appointed dressing rooms, a mere 12 paces from catering! Highly dangerous. Kevin Hopgood, our Production Manager said they are still trying to find something wrong with the place. As far as I know, they never did.

Gear, I mean musical equipment is never very far away from general conversation and as we go deep into the tour, the rigs are settled and everything functions well. That doesn’t mean you can take your eyes off the ball, concentration is always required to get through a show unscathed. After sound check I wanted to record a piece for PreSonus who have supplied my audio interfaces for the tour. Non-gear-heads can skip to the next paragraph. The PreSonus Quantum 4848 interfaces are discreetly located in my onstage rack, not making a fuss or drawing any attention to themselves but they provide stunning quality, have virtually no latency and are reliable. I have 2 units, each one hooked up to a MacBook Pro, one being the main rig, and the other, a backup or ‘redundant’ rig. I can switch between using a ‘Radial’ audio switcher unit.

Every show we have done has come with a good audience, but Saturday night, in a sold out Arena in Copenhagen was something special. We had a ball and the huge Arena gave us everything you could wish for. As we left, we all thought, “what a city”. Then it was a very short run to the airport to board the jet bound for…Lyon, our base for the next 5 or so days. A 2.5 hour flight with a 35 minute drive at the receiving end meant it wasn’t until 2:30 we finally got to the rooms. Deep sleep beckoned and was easily achieved.

 

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

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 13th June 2019 – Herning

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Summer storms seem to have settled into a pattern this week on the flatlands of Denmark’s largest land mass. Last night’s storm was getting ready to make a repeat appearance. Herning, Herning, have we been here? I thought to myself. Once the strange looking box appeared in the distance I knew we had. It was on the weird, way out, whacky adventure that was the ‘Rambling Bob’ tour in 2011. What an experience that was. It was astonishing how different two touring parties could be. We rolled into each venue every day, laughing, smiling and cracking jokes and for them, well… things were different.

København, as it is correctly spelled in Danish, has been our ‘hub’ for a few days. The D’Angleterre hotel in the centre of the city is almost certainly the most popular for touring bands. We bump into them all over the place and today it was The 1975. They were just leaving, heading for Oslo of all places. We left the hotel on another day-trip by plane, a short hop to Herning once we had cleared a makeshift security pantomime on the tarmac directly next to the jet. We all understand and respect the regulations but sometimes, it’s just, funny.

Åround about the time we arrived at the Herning Box, soup was ready, (Steve secretly ensures this is the case) and the soup dragons descended. Then it was sound check and dinner as usual, before an extraordinarily long wait until show time which was for some reason set for 9pm. By the time it came, we were itching to get on. But what a lovely, polite, appreciative audience. Another wonderful night and then it was swiftly back to the plane where Tijana had plates of small, what I assume were Swedish meatballs with mashed potato ready and waiting. Along with a few drinks, naturally. A quick check on the weather radar showed a potentially perilous journey ahead dodging the storms but in the event, it was pretty straightforward as the angry tempest seemed to simply disappear.

Landing in the pouring rain in Copenhagen once again, we watched forked lightening in the distance and waited for the cars to gain their ramp access before stepping off the plane, laughing of course, and the short run back to the hotel. Some of the guys, continued the party and found a bar around the corner and unusually, I wasn’t one of them. With a day off ahead and a round of golf on the cards with three of the crew boys, I decided to call it a day… and what a day.

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

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 12th June 2019 – Göteborg

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Grand Hotel get togethers happen more often than you’d think. The event that was in full swing when we got back to the hotel after the Stockholm show last night was in fact the Polar Awards after-show party. By wonderful, ironic co-incidence, the person heading up international PR for the event is Claire Singers, wife of Phil Manzanera with whom I toured with Roxy Music in 1982. Danny sent me a text to say they were having breakfast downstairs and that Phil would love to see me. It takes an awful lot to tear me away from the room early in the day but I was excited at the opportunity to catch up with Phil. He hasn’t changed a bit, still the nicest man one could ever wish to meet and it was lovely to meet Claire too. We have 25 years of catching up to do and promised each other we’d continue the conversations soon.

Öld friends are never far away, and Phil Collins’ band arrived in town last night also so it was a big catch up for many of us. Phil’s tour has been following us around too, well it’s hardly surprising since there are so many acts actively touring these days. Sadly, it’s now one of the few ways an artist can gain genuine revenue since records simply do not thanks to streaming. Phil is out playing big venues, bigger than ours, I sure hope he’s filling them. I’m sure he is.

Tonight’s show was in Sweden’s second city of Göteborg, Sweden’s gateway to the North Sea, and once again, a little historic search reveals another city burned to the ground. In this case in 1611, only 7 years after the city was founded. This information is utterly irrelevant yet strangely intriguing as one tries to imagine the geographical landscape back then. Also interesting is that the town was heavily influenced by both the Dutch and the Scots. Well they did get about back in the day. We get about too, and with the benefit of our White Asparagus style, magic carpet ride we were able to leave Stockholm at 1pm, do a sound check in Gothenburg at 4:30pm, have a sumptuous dinner at 5:30pm, go onstage at 7:30pm and be in Copenhagen before midnight…weather permitting!

After another great show we ‘ran’ to the jet, buzzing from a fabulous Gothenburg reception. This band is still improving in every department and we comment on this and discuss after every show. There’s something about running and boarding the plane immediately after show that solidifies us not just as a band but as a group of mates. Which serves as a gentle reminder to never underestimate the importance of friendship. Just as we prepare to descent into Copenhagen, a slightly nervy Captain came over the plane’s tannoy to announce we would be holding as planes weren’t landing at the moment due to a huge storm. All thunderstorms huge don’t they as they have the power to humble, especially when you’re 10,000 feet in the air, right next to it. There was a moment 20 minutes later when it seemed we might have to return to Gothenburg as we cannot circle indefinitely. Just then, we descended and headed into Copenhagen and the pouring rain. The Captain came in quick and stuck the bird to the ground like it was about to get away from us and we were all naturally relieved. Gin and Wine induced, spontaneous applause broke out. Then it was into the cars and off to the hotel. Just another day in the life of a tour.

 

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