Filling with warm Summer sunshine, the tiny hotel courtyard was the default assembly point for musicians as departure time drew near. Chris (our promoter) took the band for lunch to a local restaurant that I had visited on my time here preparing to record Vicente’s album. Incredible food once more, as you might guess. Just as coffees were being served, our tour manager Tim received a call from Pete who had gone ahead to the airport with our bags, we needed to get there ‘sharpish’.

Expansion has been slow at Cordoba’s tiny airport and when we arrived there, Pete was shaking his head. In a virtually empty terminal building, security were arguing amongst themselves as to which screening machine should be used for our suitcases. Best to stay out of the way whilst management handled things! We did have a departure slot which got pushed back due to air traffic into Lisbon. This is controlled Europe-wide from the ATC centre known as ‘Eurocontrol’ in Brussels. We made ourselves comfortable inside literally the only jet in town and the whole band fell asleep in perfect synchronisation.

Lisbon was only an hour away for us but for the crew buses and our six trucks it represented an overnight drive and a typical hold-up at the border. Nothing unusual, just added time which meant they didn’t arrive at the venue until 11am. Thankfully as our stage manager Dave Hall explained, the Lisbon local crew are hard working and efficient and the venue is a perfect place for a quick load-in as all trucks can be parked and unloaded inside the arena.

In 2005, on April 1st we played here and the gig was well remembered as it was the day that Danny Cummings saved the day. We had just finished romping around Australasia and drummer Chad Cromwell decided he could not continue on the tour so at extremely short notice, Danny stepped into a baptism by fire and remained our drummer for the next five years. As I’m sure those who have seen the show can see it’s great to have him back in the engine room playing percussion with Ian (Ianto) Thomas on drums.

Zoning out on a day off is essential and Lisbon offers much. For me it was an extremely windy round at Oitavos Dunes golf course with my new friend Miguel F. Sousa, president of the Portuguese Golf association. Miguel and I seemed to hit it off straight away and on day off number two, there was more golf, this time on the Quinta da Marinha course. The day ended with a relaxing 5 hour feast at the Mar do Inferno seafood restaurant on the waterfront in Cascais with Miguel, his lovely wife Marta and their two young boys. It clearly a popular spot with touring musicians as Metallica, who seem to have been following us around Europe walked in and enjoyed a day off band dinner there. I think I’ve had my fill of Percebes now..