Morning sunshine pours relentlessly through a small gap in the poorly drawn curtains, committing me to fully fledged membership of the day ahead. I creak out of bed, half blinding myself opening the curtains fully and head to the outdoor pool over which the room looms. Completing my, wait for it, ten lengths, I lay back on a towel and top up on natural vitamin D, direct from source.
Every extended stay in a country hotel is special but this has offered unusual levels of serenity. The band depart, re-energised, in convoy once more to Bordeaux airport where we take a very short hop to Toulouse. Tijana, our flight attendant served up lovely, small Charcuterie plates which were despatched without hesitation. On the ground we headed for the Zenith and as we have done at the entrance to every venue so far, Mark stopped the car to sign a few things for some particularly faithful fans. A signature Les Paul AND a now pretty rare Martin ‘Ragpicker’ acoustic were waiting for Mark’s ‘actual’ signature. Mark happily obliged.
Recollections of Toulouse are hazy although the Zenith seemed familiar once we rolled into the backstage area. The Toulouse Zenith is another typically French, acoustically friendly arena. A swift ‘Google’ revealed we were last here eleven years ago and the place doesn’t appear to have changed at all in that time.
Congas? How hard can they be to play? We should ask Mike McGoldrick. Today before sound check, Danny Cummings gave him a lesson upon which I eavesdropped. As is often the case with seemingly simple things, there’s a whole lot more to it than you think. Danny of course makes it all look so easy.
In ear monitors were a revelation when we first used them back in 2001 but the advances that have been made in recent years are something else. We now use ‘Ultimate Ears’ UE7 Pro’s. They are extraordinary. The whole band love them and now that we have no amplifiers or cabinets on the stage at all, apart from our two Leslie cabinets for the Hammonds, the sonic potential is huge. It’s a long way from anything we’ve used in the past. I think we also now have a PA to match. That would appear to be the case, certainly if based upon the audience reactions this evening. Merci beaucoup, Toulouse.