Our flight in and out of Paris today takes us to the Normandie town of Caen, the closest we’ll get to the UK without actually being there. Situated 12 km inland from the English Channel, Caen is known for two things, being the final resting place of William the Conquerer and the Battle for Caen and the heavy fighting that took place in and around the town during the Battle of Normandie in 1944.
A house in Carpiquet, near Caen.
Once on the ground at the tiny airport, we were greeted by a couple of airport officials who asked for Mark’s autograph, we boarded the Range Rovers and were at the venue in ten minutes. A typical Zenith building. In 1983, the go ahead was given by the Minister of Culture of the time, Jack Lang, to maintain the rock and roll scene to Paris and thus the first Zenith was built. In 1983 Le Zenith became a registered trademark in France, indeed the word zénith is now synonymous with ‘theatre’. There are around 20 of them across France and they all carry a similar design. I can’t say I’m a massive fan of the dressing rooms, in any of them. Today’s was probably the most ill-conceived. Frightful decor and strange plastic chairs that Mark thought were reminiscent of Bulgarian garden furniture, which rendered your arse completely numb within 10 minutes. There were no windows, no air and there was a token couch but it had no back cushion. I resorted lying on one of the roll out rubber mats we carry with us. In order to compensate for Parisian traffic which can be insane, we left our hotel at 1:30pm in order to be absolutely sure we’d make the 5pm sound check. Of course in the event, we arrived in Caen at 3pm so had a fair bit of hanging around to do. Ruth Moody and her band are with us once more and we sound checked with Ruth at 5. It was three songs with Ruth in the show tonight. Delight.
Dinner was described by Chris and Dave as “a little off the wall” today. “It must be that point in the tour” I said. They were busy in the kitchen rustling up a menu that would embarrass many a top class restaurant. Fine dining on the road is what these guys bring. Today’s soup had a story. Codonite? What on earth is Codonite everyone was asking. It turned out to be essence of tomato in the broth, to which Cod, our merchandiser is allergic. Hence ‘Codonite’.
For dinner, apart from George’s amazing salad bar, there was
• Madeira Marinated Veal sautéed with Potato Gnocchi, Celeriac, Shallots and Mushrooms in a Cream Sauce.
• Tandoori Guineafowl, Tomato and Red Onion Salsa and Yoghurt
• Squid Ink Linguini with Prawn, Clams and Squid
• Asparagus, Parmesan and Livarot Cheese Risotto
All our acoustic instruments used on stage have dual source pickup systems. This comprises a pickup and a microphone either internal or external. The only guitar which still used a single source was my HD28. No longer. Last night and tonight I used one of Mark’s D42 guitars fitted with a dual source system. The difference is amazing. I’ll continue to use his guitar whilst mine is being fitted.