Yerba Mate
The city of Łódź (amusingly pronounced “woodge”) is often referred to as the Polish Manchester because the huge textile empire that thrived here owing to the favourable chemical composition of its water. At one time it was one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. Now with a steady population of around 700,000, it is the third largest city in Poland. I wasn’t sure what to expect on our first visit but the welcome we received was touching.
Our afternoon flight from Prague was swift and efficient as usual and we landed at the small airport and quickly spotted the Range Rover train which were airside to collect us from the steps of the aircraft.
As we pulled out of the airport we saw a large banner being held by two fans which read “Welcome Mark”. The short drive to the venue (6 minutes) was notable as we passed a car with two guys holding a Fender Strat out of the sun roof crying for Mark to sign…When we pulled up at the backstage gates, Mark asked Mannfred to stop the car, got out and went over to the guys to sign their guitar. They were delighted. Inside the venue we learned of another delayed border crossing for the backline truck which meant that the backline load-in didn’t get under way until 2:30pm. This inevitably delayed soundcheck but only slightly.
Keen to glean as many tips as possible from our celebrated kitchen staff, I discovered one of Dave’s little secrets. Natural Red Bull as Dave calls it, Yerba Mate is something I’d never come across before. It’s a species of Holly used on the Southern American continent to make a beverage which is sipped through a metal straw. The taste is reminiscent of a green tea but VERY much more bitter. I had a try and can safely say that I’m not giving up the PG Tips just yet.
A shot of the stage and PA before soundcheck which illustrates how compact PA systems are these days.
With soundcheck completed, we headed for catering and the early evening battle with foodlust. A ‘small’ bowl of tempura shrimp with Soba noodles and I was ready for the show. A very early show time of 7:30 was held for 15 or 20 minutes to allow in the latecomers and we were under way on what is already our tenth show of the tour. And what a show it was too, the sold-out 11,500 crowd were exceptional.
Then it was back on the magic carpet with drinks at the ready and a short hop into Germany. On to a favourite city of everyone’s, Berlin.
Unbeknownst to us at the time, one of our fleet of Range Rovers was stolen from the drivers hotel in Lodz. I’m not sure if they ever recovered it.