Perfect break. After 57 shows is such a short space of time across Europe, the whole touring party needed a good rest and 3 weeks felt like the perfect amount of time to recharge the batteries. Heathrow Terminal 5 was the meeting point for those flying to regroup in the US from the UK and British Airways was the carrier. A day after news headlines described BA business class as ‘Ryanair with free meals’ I was apprehensive. The main terminal lounges were absolutely heaving, as usual. I bumped into Danny and he and I were told by one kind BA staff member that there was another BA lounge at the gates. So we headed there to find a deserted, luxurious, chilled, hang. We felt privy to privileged information as we helped ourselves to luxury sparkling water and bags of Kettle Chip crisps.
Easing into my cramped, semi-functional BA business reclining seat on the ageing 777 bound for Boston, I missed the slightly more advanced equipment found in Virgin Upper Class. At least the tea on board is ALWAYS good on BA and the cabin crew were great. They’re a tough lot and I admire what they do in sometimes pressured situations.
Queuing is something the Brits are good at and it was just as well as when we arrived at Immigration, the ‘lines’ as they call them here, were long and winding. Eventually I found myself at the front next in line for interrogation by a supremely surly officer who never once looked at me and who fired off a stream of quick-fire questions. “Papers? – what do you do? – No, What do you DO? – Why are you here? etc.” Nothing particularly unexpected. He waves me through and suddenly I’m officially in America again and it feels great.
Unsurprisingly, once we got through the airport and to the Four Seasons hotel, an old haunt, I was hungry. Clam Chowder had been on my mind for the past 24 hours so a trip to Legal Seafoods, just around the corner, was on the cards. Jim came with me as he had just arrived from Los Angeles and was equally in need. We went and ordered identically. Clam Chowder, Crab Cakes and a Samuel Adams Ale. Heaven.
Often when we come Stateside, it coincides with the start of the Football season in the UK and this time, we headed here one game in. It seems like an appropriate time to post something sent to us by a very well known man in the game, Scottish Head-coach, former player and top man, Gordon Strachan. He has been to many shows in the past and this tour he came to see one of our RAH London shows and sent us a wonderful report. See below.
The show was our second visit to the ‘interesting’ Foxwoods Resort Casino at the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation. It’s a strange place this. I huge concrete hotel and casino, the largest in the USA I’m told, set in the middle of the beautiful Connecticut countryside. We arrived early afternoon after a very short magic carpet ride from Boston, Logan on our favourite jet, a Gulfstream G5. Sadly we only have this plane for today as the airfield has a short runway which requires a powerful jet for take-off and the G5’s have twice as much power as a Challenger. It’s the aviation equivalent of ‘headroom’, seemingly limitless thrust, and you do feel it. We soundchecked for a good 2 hours to familiarise ourselves with the set. It was great to play with the band again, everyone sounded fantastic and this was carried over to the show itself. We had a blast. It’s so great to be back in the USA. After the show, we ran back to the Gulfstream and flew on to Philadelphia. We’re off and running.
Albert hall formation – by Gordon Strachan
Bennett (RB) Great player, not easy to be that good considering you have a legend playing inside from inside. Still would have liked to see him come inside and playing closer to MK.
Graeme Blevins (GB) Have to look at Graeme and Tom as a partnership. Both are terrific players but seemed scared to leave each other’s side. Obviously both have great lungs but neither moved more than two yards either way. Would have liked to seen them making runs beyond Mark and allow him to drop off. Both came to the fore when needed.
John McCusker (J MC) Typical Scots player, all action, tenacious, multi talented, lacking in physique and hair .. but gave it his best and handled individual moments when called on brilliantly.
Mike McGoldrick (MM) Endless amount of talent and energy . Unfortunately we lack a goalie and as mike looks like he can play anything in any position he has to play behind . Has the ability to come out and play any position (think Ederson Man City).
Jim Cox (JC) Another who could play for any team/band in the world. Doesn’t need to make to many forward runs as Jim has enough energy for two. Again stood and counted when the pressure was on.
Glenn Worf (GW) A class act, never flustered, would like to have seen him playing between Graeme and Tom and a bit deeper to allow to go forward. Don’t know how that would affect them being so far apart from each other.
Guy Fletcher (GF) Didn’t get forward enough. Seemed happy to stay with his back four. Probably seen Richard right in front of him and thought there was no room for him to get forward. Terrific player and has mastered the art of keyboards. Having thought about it, must be near impossible getting forward with a keyboard, even Andy Robertson would have trouble.
Ian Thomas (IT) Danny Cummings (DC) Again another strong partnership. Technically first class, mobility a problem, probably due to the instruments maybe that’s why they keep the full backs at home so not to be isolated, but showed when they were left on their they could handle the pressure.
Mark Knopfler (MK) One of the best front men in the world. Technically first class, great brain. Unfortunately lost a bit of pace since last seen and may need a visit to the nutritionist. Strangely still looks healthy.
Magnificent performance, I likened the performance to Man City. Every player was technically brilliant. All players could work in a team shape but when individual brilliance was needed they could all deliver. A performance to be proud of.