Tuesday, May 28, 2019
‘On a day of cultural adjustment, we breakfasted in Berlin after a relaxing day off there. After 3 weeks of intensive gigging on the continent, we were suddenly back on British soil once again. Yesterday, our 6 trucks and 3 buses made their steady way from Hannover to Leeds via Calais whilst the band base-camped out of the luxurious Hotel de Rome overlooking the Bebelplatz, a hotel that really knows how to be a hotel. It was a bike ride for Laurie and I and lunch in the Teirgarden then dinner at the Augustiner restaurant to be joined by Mark, Danny, Ianto and Tim. A nightcap on the chilly rooftop bar for all those who insist that Summer is really here and the day was done.
Weekend traffic was light heading out of the city and we soon found ourselves at our favourite ghost airport for the fourth time in three days. Surreal is the word that springs to mind as we turned onto the deserted section of autobahn leading to the Brandenberg terminals. Once through immigration with a short pause for the officer to recognise that we’d been in Europe for 3 weeks, we boarded the Joyjet, had a light lunch and a brief nap for our 1 hour 50 minute flight into Leeds/Bradford airport.
Disco naps, catnaps, power naps, whatever you want to call them, they are common for touring musicians and older folks in general. Combine the two and it’s like a communal deep sleep workshop. It’s actually essential as our working day never starts until 8pm. Later in Spain and Italy. It probably sounds a bit daft but timing your energy levels to match show time is not easy. Nutrition, rest and luxuriation control, if you know what I mean, are all determining factors and we won’t pretend that we’re anywhere near its mastery. Yet as the tour progresses and we get shows under our belts, we get better at it. Dinner, a minimum of 2 hours before the show and a nap straight after doesn’t always work. Over-napping can be disastrous. The mind can wander on stage and that’s how mistakes occur. No they don’t. I was just kidding. I think. Anyway, it was lovely to be welcomed into the First Direct Arena by another group of very happy, loyal ‘lifers’ (as I heard some of them call themselves). Mark signed autographs willingly and some even made it round to the other side of the car to ask for mine. Our creative geniuses in the kitchens have started modelling the evening salad bars on nutritional content and most of the band tuck in to incredible combinations of super-foods after sound check. This is where supreme self control is required. The dinner choices are so tempting, it would be so easy to fill up and…well you know. Today, it was a double salad and an infinitesimally small portion of Dave’s famous chocolate fondant. Those who have my cook book from the last tour will know the one I mean.
On to the show. British audiences can be reserved, a shock after being on the continent but the only shock this evening was that they were amazing. Such an incredible welcome back to Leeds for Mark after 26 years. The last time we played here was 1993 with the Notting Hillbillies and before that it was 1980 as DS. The joy was heard by the band throughout the show and the thanks and appreciation given at the end was quite overwhelming. Mark, Glenn and I talked in the car about the fact that everyone, literally everyone was on their feet waving and applauding as we waved our goodbyes from the stage. I suppose we must be doing something right. We ‘ran’ the the jet once again only to find a couple of guys fiddling with the makeshift security scanner set up in an aircraft hanger. We had to wait a few minutes while they sorted it out but we were back on board soon and Daniella had layed out Pulled Pork Burgers for the ravenous horde. They were inevitably devoured. It always amazes us that no matter what you eat before a show, you could eat a horse afterwards. Newcastle Upon Tyne on a Saturday night is quite a sight as we rolled into the city at midnight for our ‘quiet’ one-night stay at the ‘Elegant, Timeless, Unrivalled, Vermont hotel. The night club outside was only just revving up at midnight. 20 years ago I might have said to myself, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. Ahh well, it’s comforting to learn that Engelbert Humperdinck and Geordie duo Ant and Dec have stayed here. Eeh by gum.
Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.