Bearing in mind the short distance between Manchester and Birmingham, it was no wonder the logistics team decided that a drive was the way to get to the next venue. Happy to be back in cars and vans driven by our wonderfully smooth German drivers, we left Manchester’s rain and floated down the M6 in relaxed convoy. An early getaway meant we pulled into the backstage area at the NEC well before the crew had finished their ‘line-check’, which is the process of literally making sure every signal ‘line’ is fully functioning after setup and load-in and before us hooligans show up. If we turn up early and go onto the stage, they get pretty annoyed, with good reason. So we respect their work time and only venture to the Stage when called by Dave, the stage manager.

Rarely do we get to the venue to find lunch is still set up in catering but today, Steve got wind that we’d be early and kindly kept lunch running. Probably the best Chicken and Leek pie I have ever tasted. I made my customary visit to the kitchen and chatted to Dave and the boys about the dinner menu. Birmingham usually suggests a curry of some sort and today, Dave was prepping a Tandoori Chicken plate with Dhal and Onion Bhajis. All I can say is OMG. I asked Steve Bond (catering guru) about his day and was reminded just how hard these boys work. Steve checks the venue backstage areas at 6:15am to ensure there is power, light and the necessary requirements before he takes morning tea to Dave, Chris and Scott. That is if Chris isn’t already out with the local runner buying up the day’s foods at the local market or supermarket.

Until February 1976, there were very few, if any, exhibition halls outside of London and the NEC, which is actually located in Solihull, was originally planned to be built just off the M1 near Leicester. However, Leicestershire County Council turned down planning permission with claims that “the big shows won’t move away from London.” The NEC now comprises 20 halls. The one we play in has been a staple touring venue ever since I can remember, I played 2 shows here back in September, 1982 with Roxy Music. Now called the ‘Resorts World Arena’ it was actually opened in 1980 and has undergone the customary facelifts over the years. These halls do take a beating and backstage can look tired but there is plenty of space and the crew has no difficulties with load-in and load-out.

Much has been said about the Orbitsound Dock E30 over the past weeks. The studio quality compact speaker which features ‘Airsound’ technology is a huge hit with Mark and the whole band. My brother Dan came along today with Patrick and Lisa from Orbitsound to shoot some interviews with the boys. It is without doubt the best way to listen to music, especially in a hotel room, after a show with a few drinks. It’s an astonishing device. Take our word for it, if you’re looking for something to put in the kitchen, to travel with or to have at the office…just get one. I promise, you won’t look back. I have been referencing tracks on it and checking the mixes from the shows. The show tonight was quite lovely, our final UK audience of the tour didn’t let us down. Simply a wonderful night. We left the stage after the encores. It felt like a dress rehearsal for the end of the tour, slightly sad, with all band members heading off in different directions, some heading home, some to airports and some back to the London hotel. 7 days off at home for me and I shall be relaxing and recharging before resumption of this amazing tour. Cheerio for now.

As has been requested, below is the latest Walk-In playlist.