It’s hard to believe I’m writing the penultimate page documenting this ridiculously great tour. It really is coming to a close and we can all feel it today. The crew had a great day off in a hotel on the beach here in Clearwater and no-one deserves a break more than those boys. Colin handed me a USB stick this afternoon containing images from various evenings on the crew bus, in particular, Kev’s Kitchen. Every evening after load-out, when the crew bus got under way, Kevin Rowe would prepare delicacies which over time became legendary.
Finally, we have photographic evidence of these private culinary happenings. A montage…
As for the band, it was another delightfully luxurious morning on the beach and for me it was with paddleboard and a lovely little swell in West Palm Beach, Florida.
We met outside the hotel and our fleet of rental Mercedes driven by the management team (as per LA) drove us to Palm Beach airport for our final two flights on the magic carpet. Debbie, who incidentally has been truly wonderful on this leg of the tour, supplied us with a befitting final lunch – Sushi of course. It was perfect. Blake and Bill seated themselves in the cockpit and we were flying once more. I love the speed at which these private planes can take to the air once the door closes.
Clearwater is known for a few interesting things. According to our local driver, the crime rate here is particularly low, there also appears to be no graffiti or homeless on the streets. The bizarre (and frankly quite disturbing) Church of Scientology, uses Clearwater as its ‘flag land’ base. I can’t imagine these facts are in any way connected. As we drove across the Bayside Bridge linking the Tampa Bay areas, I couldn’t help notice the numbers of fish in the water on either side. The flat-calm conditions meant that any disturbance was easily spotted and it was clear that the food chain is alive and well here on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Paddleboard fishing (something I do in the Summer months in the English Channel) in these waters would be incredible.
At the venue, the wildlife theme continues as there is a large pond adjacent to the gig which feeds into ‘Alligator Lake’. Yes, it contains real Alligators. I went for a wander with Steve who had checked earlier in the day to meet the local Gator along with a pair of American White Ibis birds.
Sound-check was exactly what you’d expect it to be on the second to last show – swift. Afterwards, we assembled the entire touring party for our traditional Band and Crew photograph. The image will appear in the Fort Lauderdale (final) diary entry. Backstage catering was adequate but once again the staff were a delight. As for the audience – well they seemed quite extraordinary. Very excited, happy, loud and at the end, quite moved. We finished the set with Piper to the End which has a tendency to tip the emotional scale and I noticed a few tears of joy.
So it was, we found ourselves in-car once more on the way to the plane where the crew were waiting to fly us back to Palm Beach for the last time. Debbie laid on some lovely Greek food and we toasted and celebrated this amazing trip.
As we left the airport in Palm Beach we all felt the walls of the bubble thinning slightly as we said goodbye to our plane and crew for a while. A few snaps on the tarmac and hugs all round.
Today’s Track of the Day is Buffalo Hunt – I Draw Slow (this 5 piece from Dublin have been striking a chord in the USA lately)