Saint Julien en Genevois is a small town on the border to Switzerland that plays host to the Guitare En Scene festival each year. It’s one of the few occasions we can potentially visit 4 countries in one day as we fly into Geneva. Today however, it was simply a hub flight from our base in Rimini, Italy. As I type this I wonder how any hotel can possibly operate with internet speeds below 10mbps. It’s 4G for me as my phone becomes my Rimini hotspot. It’s hard to imagine life before these remarkable devices existed. Similar to smoking, Mark and I reminisced about how we used to smoke everywhere we went, Dunhill Blues. Quite horrific, when we think back now.
Cruising at 30,000 ft above Northern Italy, we marvelled at the plates of Antipasti that Daniella laid before us. Italian food. Say no more. Geneva appeared on the horizon and we descended and touched down just after 3pm. A very short drive across the border and we were backstage at the small festival and as with some of these shows we’ve been revisiting, it felt like we were here yesterday. Last time we were supported by Sonny Landreth and tonight it was none other than Albert Lee.
Èvents today seemed to be dominated by sport as Wimbledon hosted its men’s final, Silverstone hosted the British Grand Prix and England were about to end their 14-year wait for glory in the Cricket World Cup. An intense match as always when England are playing, it went right to the wire, twice. The match finally being decided by what is called a ‘Super Over’, something I’ve never seen and neither had any of the crew who seemed to all be huddled in a small room watching, cheering and groaning in unison as the match entered its closing stages. I hadn’t followed any of the cricket until this point. What a time to join the party! 2 runs were needed from the final ball, and when delivered, a hit, a sprint, a dive, England ‘running out’ the desperate batsman in black, lying on the ground, his willow coming up just short of the line. It was a brilliant piece of fielding that ensured a well deserved victory and a loud cheer from all in the crew who then scurried back to work as Albert Lee finished his set and the stage needed to be reset for us.
Neatly segueing from sporting occasion to show, our backstage hang was nearly over. Oh yes, Dave, in catering, made the best Fish and Chips we’d ever tasted. That came from nowhere! We made our final preparations, tactical coffee for me, pre-show rituals that I won’t go into, and we wandered across the road to the big white tent which was bursting it seems, at the seams, with 6,000 anticipant French fans.
Entering the cauldron from behind the stage, a couple of white lights that represented house lights were extinguished and we walked on to rapturous applause and cheering. whether or not it was Albert’s warm up, this was one excited crowd. They were simply amazing. When we came on for the encores, everyone held up cards which simply said ‘Thank You Mark’. What a wonderful gesture. This was probably the most ‘in touch’ with an audience we’ve felt all tour. At one point during Mark’s band intro’s, a group at the front waved to gain Mark’s attention as someone had fainted. We called for some security but whoever it was, was carried out swiftly. I hope all was ok there. The show continued and even though we were without our beloved Sound system, the local PA, lights and crew were fabulous and we left the venue all too soon feeling that we’d been a part of a special night. Thai food, drinks and laughs on the jet back to the tiny airport at Rimini which had been opened specially for our arrival. I’m not sure quite how that works but… I’m grateful, for that and everything else on this amazing tour.