Somehow it is only now that the tour really feels fully underway as we head onto the continent and the UK contingent finally detach ourselves from home and the bags are fully loaded, teapot, teabags and kettle safely on board. We met up at the gate house at RAF Northolt where we are now recognised as familiar faces although this in no way alleviates the stringent security measures enforced in order to gain access to the Royal Air Force base. This facility is actually older than the RAF itself and opened in March 1915 becoming operational in June 1915 when BE2c aircraft flew defensive patrols against Zeppelin raids over London. During the Battle of Britain, Northolt was ‘home’ to a series of allied and British Hurricane and Spitfire Squadrons, including a complete Polish Wing.
There was quite a queue in the small gate house building which only has two people processing all visitors as the Metallica band and back-line crew were heading out for a show in Germany. Luckily, they boarded their plane as soon as they were inside the terminal…there is only room for one band at a time at Northolt!
Back in the bubble and on board the Legacy, loaded to capacity and climbing to our cruising altitude, Laetitia served up huge platters of sushi and antipasti. There was no danger of any of us going hungry today. Not much later the plane started its descent towards a balmy Milan Linate airport where the waiting VW convoy was ready to whisk us directly to the Forum.
We were in the dressing room discussing sound-checky type things in no time at all.
Dave and Chris in catering look forward to Italian dates as the produce here is generally top notch which inevitably makes for some spectacular dishes. Today it was a simple selection, all of the choices being sublime and since Steve had set a couple of tables up outside in the Italian afternoon sunshine, it seemed churlish not to dine ‘al fresco’.
It was fantastic to perform once more in front of an Italian audience and the most notable aspect of tonight’s crowd was the fact they listened so intently. I adore the way Italians show their immediate appreciation for ‘moments’ during the show such as solos, song recognition and more traditional parts of well known songs. The warmth and excitement being generated in a sold-out Forum arena was felt by all on stage. The only small negative moment in the whole day was during the journey back in the cars to our hotel. The bottle of Chianti which I have the dubious honour of pouring after-show for Mark and Glenn was corked. Three glasses of wine were poured unceremoniously out of the rear window onto the tarmac as Lars drove away from the venue being perpetually cut up by a succession of lunatic motor cyclists, apparently customary here in Italy. Once at our destination, we convened in the opulence of the hotel bar where we were served a wonderful couple of bottles of Tuscan Sangiovese along with bowl after bowl of dangerous freshly cooked potato chips. A wonderful Italian welcome from all sources it seems. Ian, Nigel and I continued into the very small hours in my room, listening to music from the Spaced 360.