FolkStream Fiasco.

We wake to another beautifully crisp morning in Ontario and with the temperature slowly rising to a balmy, no a sultry ten degrees. We check out of our newly crowned king of hotels, the Four Seasons of Yorkville, Toronto and onto Jason’s bus for a ‘sunglasses required’ snail’s-pace drive to Pearson International airport. Mid-afternoon Toronto traffic ensured it would be at least an hour before we got there. The CN tower Toronto….

We finally hooked up with Diane and co. and the Embraer ‘FolkStream’ Legacy for the last time on this US tour for a couple of short flights into and out of Montreal, Quebec, with our final destination of the day being Boston Massachusetts, back in the good old USA. A long day’s travel ahead, Diane prepped us with a selection of salami’s and parmigianio before we found ourselves on our approach to land in the heart of yet another sprawling city, Montreal was originally called Ville-Marie, or “City of Mary”, named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill located in the heart of the city which was so clearly visible upon our descent. I think I’ve now stopped being amazed by the growth of these major cities, distant memories of flying in in the 80’s and 90’s seem more and more unreal. For example, the population growth of Montreal Island is over 1% per year and now stands at 1.65 million. “They’re serious about this French thing aren’t they” commented an unnamed band member upon sight of the many street signs in this French speaking city. Having said that, I just read that for the first time in 100 years, they have elected an English speaking Major following allegations of corruption linking former Major Gerald Tremblay to graft and organized crime. Graft can be defined as an unscrupulous use of a politician’s authority for personal gain.

The drop off at the backstage entrance was tricky in the extreme but drivers of the standard of Saen and Jason are not intimidated by such trivialities.

The stage during the turnaround before our sound-check….

Ianto’s drums….

One of the things that is unique to this place of course is the people and in the arena tonight, the atmosphere was reminiscent of one of our shows back in France. It really felt like ‘our’ audience up there although I’m sure most paid their money to see Mr. Bob. They gave us an incredible reception. I so often hear stories posted on the forum the following morning by audience members who have attended the show but I thought this one posted by Louise Wickson was particularly representative of the mood of many.
“ACC Toronto. Two crotchety and ancient males. Ancient #1: “what is this? this isn’t rock’n’roll, I came for rock’n’roll!” Ancient #2: “just shut up and LISTEN!” Both whistling and on their feet soon thereafter.”

Our show completed, Mark entered the weird and wonderful world of Bob once more and stepped up to play three tunes with our host. A few of us ventured out in front of the PA and, yes. Bob seemed happy with Mark and his ’59 Les Paul next to him. When Mark came offstage, we sat once more in our humble dressing room and shared stories and jokes as per usual. Side-splitting as always, the sound of laughter emanating along the corridors drowned out only by the backstage ‘woof’ of Bob’s PA.

Pretty soon we were back on board Saen’s bus and heading for the airport once again. Diane and crew were ready with drinks pre-prepared and tonight’s farewell dinner was Curry. In the air before we knew it, Diane served up. What a curry it was too. More laughs, stories and smiles and Boston came into view.

Competition – Can you guess which Briggs and Riley bag is Mark’s and which is Guy’s?

The last time we cleared US immigration in Boston in 2008, it was a complete fiasco so we were all hopeful that it might be a little smoother this time. We were right but it was nonetheless still quite comedic. The system of doors we had to negotiate in order to get to the immigration hall was quite amusing. The Passport officer came on board the plane and released the US boys who were shuttled to the hotel. The Brits had to go to the main building where our driver had to let us in through three doors which were fingerprint controlled and were clearly only supposed to be open for a specific period of time. I’m guessing by the fact we had to RUN through them that this was set at ten seconds. An alarm would sound otherwise and god only knows what that might lead to. None of us took any chances. We finally arrived and were the only ones in the entire hall and lo and behold behind the desk was the same official who had come aboard the plane. Now they have fingerprint and photo ID systems, this cannot bed done on board the aircraft as it was in the good old days and indeed is the case in most other countries. Local transport whisked us to our hotel in the heart of Boylston Street and after a long day, a comfy bed was welcome.