The final day brings with it a bittersweet feeling, mixed emotions…a small part of you is glad that it’s all over, the traveling, the trying not to eat too much, the mental preparation for each and every show, the recovering from possibly one too many drinks the night before. However, another part is telling you “you’re gonna really miss this”, the people of the touring party, the audiences but most of all – being a part of this extraordinary band. The band would not function as we do however without the dedication and commitment of this truly amazing crew. Not enough gets said about their work ethic. Each and every day, their working day starts well before most of the band have even thought about crawling out of bed and the levels of concentration during our show is equal to that of the band and then when we come offstage, the crew kick into another gear for the load-out. It’s intense, physical and potentially dangerous, requiring yet more focus and concentration. I honestly don’t know how they do it. All of this is why it’s easy to describe this little entourage as an efficient, well optimised, hard working team. But it’s a lot more than that. It’s a family.
The management team of Paul, Tim and Peter and the preparation for this trip have been exemplary. Certainly from the band perspective, hotels have been great (notwithstanding the odd teapot theft), travel has been wonderful and venues have been pretty much sold out along the way. We’ve also met some wonderful people wherever we’ve been and the feeling of friendship has been a refreshing change from what a lot of us are exposed to in daily media and life in general. Anyone who has seen a recent show of ours will hopefully recognise that we think we’re onto something special with Mark playing as well as ever and being as relaxed as at any time I’ve known him. The feeling in the band is that we’ve only just begun and this, our 87th show, felt like it was our first. Our good friend Derek Bell, whose birthday it was today was at the show with his wife Misti, actually said that and I thought, yes, you’re right. It did. That’s unheard of in all the years I’ve been doing this.
For the next few nights, come 8pm, band and crew fingers will be tapping and feet will be twitching as our collective subconscious minds will be saying “isn’t there something you need to be doing”? The answer is new….and it’s NO.
I must make a mention of Laurence Adams, our keyboard tech whose compulsive brilliance has been a big part of the reason Jim and I always take to the stage so relaxed. His setting up of the keyboard rigs each day is as close to perfect as it’s possible to be, everything not only works but is millimetre perfect. The detail is quietly astonishing. The same goes for each and every one of our backline technicians. Kerry and Ben have been brilliant and at front of house, Dave Dixon (sound) and Tellson James (lights) are reported to have been extraordinary.
The other thing I will miss of course is doing this. I’ve had as much fun documenting and sharing my perspective, thoughts and insight on the whole thing as on any tour prior. We often think about and discuss other musicians and people less fortunate than ourselves. It’s tough out there, we know that, we’ve all done our time in the trenches…which makes us ever-more grateful for what we have now. Rest assured, we NEVER take it for granted!
As for Mark. What else is there to say except the biggest thank-you for writing the tunes, for building the studio, for so diligently recording the records, for putting this band together, for standing out front every night, carrying the load and being as generous and supportive to all of us, as ever. Long may it continue.
Until next time…..