To say this tour of all tours has ‘flown by’ is understating a plain and simple truth. The end of this leg, or journey has come all too quickly for all of us sailing on this magnificent ship. We’ve had a great voyage, won a few hearts along the way and dealt with the occasional outbreak of Scurvy (just kidding kids) but all in all, it’s been cracking fun, a hoot, a laugh….a wonderful and genuinely heartwarming experience. I’m SO glad that we’re actually only half way through!
Arriving in Barcelona, surely Europe’s most vibrant city, we were relishing the final day off on the tour and a band-crew get together in the evening. The venue was the fabulous Fábrica Moritz brewery/Tapas bar in the Ciutat Vella part of town, cunningly located within stumbling distance from both band and crew hotels. The beer, made on the premises was sublime and the waiter-served tapas delicious enough to impress even our very own catering department, Dave, Chris and Steve. The mood throughout the evening was jovial and the bonhomie was omnipresent. With the beer disappearing and the food all but gone, the basement private area soon emptied and we all made our very merry way back to the hotels.
The next day, the final day of the tour was an early one for the crew, setting up in the heat of the day in the familiar setting of the Poble Espanyol situated in one of the most emblematic areas of Barcelona a few meters away from the Fountains of Montjuïc. It’s not that the weather was hot, we saw far hotter temps in Italy, it was the humidity that raised my particular concern. My trusty weather apps were hinting at some late night action. As it turned out, they were correct. The band arrived at the venue in time for catering to serve up the last supper. Dave and Chris pulled out all the stops tonight and I’d reserved extra space for some delicious salt-baked sea bass.
With dinner out of the way, I wandered towards the stage and noticed heavy cloud cover. I mentioned to Kerry that I thought there would be some lightning before the night was out. Within minutes the heavens opened and soon afterwards, it became apparent that the waterproof capabilities of the roof structure was far from adequate. Huge leaks soon opened up and Kerry’s desk, the lighting racks (high voltage there!) and all the guitars were right underneath. It was panic stations on stage as the crew franticly tried to move equipment out of danger. It goes without saying that water and electricity do not mix. In the meantime, management and promoters were trying to work out how much of a delay there would be to the show. I’m so glad it didn’t start raining later, when we were on stage as we would certainly have had to pull the show.
Optimistic Kevin Hopgood (production manager) and pessimistic Henrik Hansen (film director) ponder the rain situation.
Film director Henrik Hansen is in town once again as the venue had been chosen to shoot some more footage for Henrik’s project.
I left the crew to do their level best and headed to production to find a program for a disabled lad whose parents had contacted me asking if they could come to a meet and greet. This kind of request comes in quite often and I’m rarely able to assist but this was different as they had traveled from Alicante and on their travels had been robbed of money and passports etc. As there was no meet and greet planned, I asked Mark to sign a program and thought I’d head out with Henrik to see if I could find them. The father spotted me and I followed him and met his wife and son Fran. I felt it was the least I could do and pose for a few pics before handing over the signed gift. I understand they are about to embark on hospital treatment for his condition and we all wish them the very best.
There was a little end-of-tour dressing up going on in catering…Robbo gives the thumbs up for the show at 10pm.
The local promoter made an announcement that the show time would be delayed by half an hour. The roof had clearly not done its job, with gigs like these, one should always prepare for rain. I would suggest the promoter was lucky in this case as a cheap, poorly designed roof could have meant no show. 10 o’clock neared and we readied ourselves for the final European show. The rain stopped and stayed away for the whole show! The atmosphere in the Poble Espanyol was electric, the Barcelona audience giving us what we expect from this town. We played a great set and the venue seemed to live up to its reputation of being one of the best. Dave Dixon has done a great job of making the Front of House sound as good as it could possibly be in some incredibly challenging locations. Here’s an interesting article on an element of Dave and Ulf’s world.
We stayed behind after-show to have some relaxed drinks and time for farewells etc. The next morning, it was an early bag call, the Americans heading out to the airport early for their flights home and the Brits piled onto the Embraer for our final flight home to Northolt, the airport where we started the whole thing back in May. On our approach, we flew over the Selsey peninsula (with the Pagham spit in clear view) on what was a beautiful clear day in the South of England. Cars took us home and the August break was underway. A rest is exactly what we need right now but we’re all looking forward to September when we head out to the States for the continuation of the remarkable tour. Until then….adios.