Three in one…

On previous tours we’ve had many examples of traveling to and through three cities in one day, well today I’d say was the first ‘long’ day of the tour.

I woke at home after a lovely relaxing day off (during most of which I slept) after the Bournemouth show. An early departure time of 9am and I was in-car on the way to St. Pancras Eurostar terminal to meet up with the lads who had spent the day off in the beautifully refurbished St. Pancras Renaissance hotel. we’ve taken the Eurostar to France and Belgium many times before but this is the first trip since the London location was moved from Waterloo. Looking forward to the new high speed British section, we settled into our, I have to say, slightly tired first class seats and enjoyed the ride. It certainly was swift, we arrived in Lille only an hour and twenty minutes later after enjoying a Eurostar lunch which was not exactly memorable but fine, and turning away some dreadful coffee. As Mark pointed out, it’s a shame that the British side of this amazing union lets the side down by offering up undrinkable coffee, when in France it’s a whole different kettle of fish. I suppose cost is the determining factor. What must the French think? Answers on a postcard. I write this from my Paris hotel room enjoying an extraordinary cafe au lait. I rarely go for coffee in the mornings as regular readers will know, it’s all tea with me but how can one resist the coffee here?

Ever reliable Dirk, met is at Lille station and drove what seemed like a few hundred yards to the Zenith arena. None of us recognized the exterior of the venue as we pulled up but memories of a fantastic show here in the past are never far away. I’m not sure which tour it was, probably 2005,  but I do recall the audience being very loud!

Since the journey was trouble-free, we found ourselves in the dressing room with three hours to kill until sound check. Richard and I got out the new Yamaha THR10 amp to give it a run-through. First impressions are good as the amp is light and appears simple to use. Richard grabs his MK strat and proceeds to run through the possibilities.



The clean sounds are nice and warm and the Bass, Mid and treble controls are quite feisty and certainly give you plenty of variation. The effects section is simple and very clever. The EFFECT knob gives you Chorus, Flanger, Phaser and Tremolo and the DLY/REV knob offers Delay, Dly/Rev, Spring and Hall settings, you control the amount of each effect by where the knob is positioned. With preset sound groups (Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brit Hi, Modern, Bass, Aco and Flat, you can cover pretty much all bases. The story doesn’t end there though as this little box of tricks offers a digital tuner and a USB hookup to your laptop and comes with a version of Cubase AI6 to record your flashes of inspiration on the road or wherever you happen to be. There’s more to it of course which I won’t cover here for fear of losing you, but you can learn more at 
All in all the THR10 will be a very useful little amp.

In the meantime…..John sat in the dressing room, finding new ways to enjoy the world of Mac.



Whilst I took over Richard’s Strat and annoyed everyone within earshot, Richard got on his laptop and Skyped home.



…some Balls….and….


Three hours can go by very quickly but I’m afraid these three didn’t and it wasn’t long before I was fast asleep in one of the three ‘comfy’ chairs in the dressing room. I’m not complaining, far from it, but it is rare to find a dressing room with as many chairs as band members. That’s why we carry our trusty roller-mats so we can stretch out, space permitting.

Catering was announced as ready and while our crew changed over sets after Bob’s sound-check, we popped in for a spot of dinner. We then sound-checked in the usual fashion and ran the three set-list changes for the evening’s show. A slightly later showtime this evening, as we enter Europe.

We walked onto the stage at exactly 8pm to a rapturous welcome and steamed through our part of the evenings’ entertainment finishing with one of the oldies, again to an unbelievable reception. We all agreed, as much fun as we’ve had in the UK and Ireland, it’s great to be back on the continent and these stand-up shows are exciting in the extreme. Then it was a slow amble back to the dressing room, and a brief wind-down before boarding the TWO buses for the trip to Paris. This evening we picked up the other bus, known affectionately as the ‘talent’ bus, half of us will travel on this luxury double decker thus relieving the strain of eleven of us squeezed into the band bus which we used in the UK. Mark, myself, Glenn, Jim, Pete and Richard were all aboard and our new driver Carl set off on the 135 mile drive. We enjoyed cheese and biscuits in the bottom lounge courtesy of Pete and a little later on, Jim and I gravitated to the top lounge where we enjoyed the forward view listening to fabulous music from Jim’s iPod. I fear my long-established position as band DJ is in serious jeopardy these days, especially with Jim around. Not that I mind in the slightest, Jim’s profusion of musical knowledge and indeed his collection of weird and wonderful tunes leaves me in awe. …it’s great to have you back Jim!



Wise Cow



Pretty soon we were on the familiar Boulevard Périphérique, one of the busiest sections of roadway in Europe, passing the Stade de France and gliding our way into the centre of Paris. The 205 year old magnificent L’arc du Triomphe was soon in view and the hotel was just round the corner. Another new hotel for us and leaked reports were good…and justified as we were soon to enjoy luxury and Parisian hospitality rarely experienced, making me feel extremely privileged.

I was escorted into my delightful room where my bags were already parked up neatly. Once I found the bathroom, hidden behind mirrored doors, I drew breath. Wow.



A sad footnote –

British Indy car racing driver Dan Wheldon was killed yesterday in Las Vegas in a 15-car pile-up. As a motorsport fan and after being particularly moved by the wonderful movie ‘Senna’ on Saturday, I felt I should give mention to this sad loss.