Wherever we play, we meet lovely people and enjoy wonderful audiences but tonight, Newcastle was special. Mark began his musical journey not far from the Metro Radio Arena and every return visit in the past has been emotional but this evening was different. From the minute we walked out onto the stage, we all felt genuine warmth from the audience, even more so during the farewells. Many of the fans in the crowd have enjoyed the shows in the past, sometimes on multiple occasions but I’d like to think this show was the most special, so far.

How lucky are we? Here to do a job to the best of our abilities, but also to have fun and perform Mark’s songs in the best possible way. With the combined talent on the stage, this amazing crew and the technology available to us now, we have everything we need. There are no excuses.

Years of trial, error, failure, success and bloody-mindedness seem to be culminating in the music we play now. From the ethos behind Mark’s British Grove Studios to the touring team that have stuck with us for 30 years or more, I feel we might be onto something. That, combined with the many ‘character-building moments’ up there (nobody is perfect), make every performance a night to cherish. There is a tremendous energy… for a bunch of old ‘dudes’. Horn section not included!

As we left the ‘puzzling’ Vermont hotel to go to the venue, I wondered about the meaning of the word ‘unrivalled’ as quoted on the hotel website. As I write this in London, it is clear there is a giant chasm between Vermont and our London experience. Extreme ends of a galactic scale. There is however, one thing about Newcastle, the people are wonderful. So friendly, accommodating and warm. It’s hard to be negative about anything in such a wonderful toon.

Years of touring mean our crew is tough and experienced but it certainly hasn’t  dampened their spirits. There is a real camaraderie and when we arrive at the venue, there are many smiles and laughs, particularly from Kevin Rowe, Stage Right guitar tech…and Ben Byford (pictured behind him). Gazing out of the dressing room window across the car park at the rear of the Arena, I spot Dan, from lights, perfecting a one-legged technique on his ‘Segway Ninebot’. I make myself some Peppermint Tea. There’s a tour joke. It goes like this…”what are the three things you don’t want on the road?…headache, stomach ache and Greg Lake”. Well today I had the stomach ache, three days of German indulgence, so I was looking for some simple White Rice to settle it. Dave, in catering, had a huge tray of exactly that, bloody amazing. Combined with the Tea, it did the trick. I was fine for the show. 

Everyone had a great gig. Mark was playing some beautiful stuff and sang well no doubt buoyed by the welcome-home atmosphere. It was all too soon when we left the building, piled into the cars and headed to Newcastle International Airport for our short flight to Luton and a day off at the hotel of all hotels in London. Daniella served an amazing looking Curry. I of course could only eat the Rice. It was not long before we were in our beds, resting up for our next show. One of the shows we all look forward to. Thanks to Aidan Williamson for sending couple of shots.