Belval is an area to the West of Esch-sur-Alzette, in south-western Luxembourg which was once the home of the country’s steel production. As I’ve mentioned in previous diaries, when production was abandoned in 1994, the Belval works became derelict. A project of regeneration which started in 2001 has seen 18 years of steady growth and each time we pass through to play the Rockhal, the original site becomes more and more unrecognisable.
Each new construction lends an architectural contrast to the original blast-furnace structure and accompanying buildings which still remain. It’s quite eerie.
Lyon was good to us but it was time to say goodbye. The tour rolls on relentlessly. We left the wonderful Villa Maia and headed in cars driven by Alex and team ‘B’ towards Lyon airport where we cleared security in what seemed like a makeshift VIP room. We ‘auto-stopped’ an ‘auto-bus’ which took us to the jet of joy and the patiently waiting Daniella. I don’t know what it is but whenever we get onboard the plane, we’re starving, well I am. The sound of crisp packets being opened behind me was all too much, I caved in.
Visually stunning cloud formations accompanied us all the way to Luxembourg as nearby storms left their telltale patterns. The pilots skilfully dodged just about every shower en route and we soon landed, gently kissing the tarmac, always a lovely feeling. Driving team ‘A’, led by Goran collected us and we sped off toward Belval, time-lapsing through the traffic.
A bowl of STUNNING Lentil and Bean soup (OMG), a sound check and a health-conscious dinner of Dorado and Mackerel on a bed of Salade Niçoise and the show time of strictly 8pm show-time was soon upon us. The standing crowd is always great here and the room always sounds fabulous, well it does for us, I assume it’s similarly good out front. We had another wonderful show which sadly was shortened by one song due to an irritating 11pm curfew at Luxembourg airfield. We left the venue with the amazing crowd still cheering for more. It’s a humbling feeling every time and I can’t say there isn’t a tinge of guilt as we speed off into the night leaving crew and audience and venue staff to clear up our mess.
Luxembourg once again became a day trip, but that didn’t diminish our appreciation for the place and everyone who came along. The plane awaited on the tarmac and once we cleared the security in the small but perfectly designed GAT area, we walked to the plane. Daniella had sourced a Mexican meal that was delicious, hastily devoured by 11 hungry musicians and the team of 3 management. Quite how she managed to serve the entire band drinks, the meal and clear it all up on a 30-minute flight, I’m not sure. We drove into Brussels and our 3-day base, a hotel that was surrounded by police. I’m talking hundreds of late-night armed officers, all here to ensure we arrived safe and sound. Well…indirectly. They are here as several heads of state are staying in the hotel. A few of us made it to the hotel bar but were prevented from entering as the bar itself was roped off for the convenience of the aforementioned dignitaries. There was of course not a soul in there but they MIGHT turn up any minute. They did, followed by a herd of media. I instinctively started taking pictures. They didn’t like that. We drank Leffe and were happy.