Against a backdrop of blue, the city of Pamplona appeared on the horizon as we approached from the North. AGUR is the ‘traditional’ Basque word for both hello and goodbye, somewhat appropriate I thought, for this evening. It has been 27 years since our last visit. Our shiny, new venue was only finally inaugurated on 29 September 2018 despite being 9 years under construction. The Navarra Arena nonetheless, impressive as well as extremely accommodating to touring crews with full access and ample space behind the stage for trucks. What did strike me as odd, was the seating on the floor. It was as if it might have been an afterthought….
Garden chairs were deployed, lined up and strung together with ‘cable ties’. After so many years in the build, you would imagine someone might have considered floor seating. Maybe they did!? However, we were made to feel very welcome and the staff and security were courteous and efficient.
Unusual flavours is something we are accustomed to on recent tours with resident chef Dave Eskinazi today producing a particularly ‘killer’ dish of Giant Red Gambas with Atlantic Cod in a delicate broth and Saffron Potatoes. As usual with notable culinary presentations, after finishing, I head for the kitchen to quiz Dave about the creation of the dish. I asked if he used Pernod in the broth as the French do, he said, not Pernod but Pacharán La Navarra, a sloe flavoured liqueur drunk in this region. I headed for the dressing rooms along with other band mates, thus avoiding further temptations.
Running of the bulls, as it is known, is the practice in Spain and other countries, of the audience rushing to the front of the stage at some point during our shows. Last night it was quite clear that the security had misunderstood our briefing as no one was allowed to do this. That was a shame but it didn’t appear to dampen spirits in any was as the audience was spectacular, as they have been for every show we have played in Spain. It is with immense sadness to think we are at the end of an era. Spain has been somewhere we have loved visiting over many years and the people have always been very special. “Eskerrik asko denagatik” – “Gracias por todo”. We were soon being delivered to the aircraft after a very swift security check at the airport. Drinks were waiting and we were in the air before we knew it. Time moves so swiftly when the enjoyment levels are this high, it’s hard to grasp it all, but we try. Mark, Glenn, Danny and I clincked glasses and the toast from Richard and the seats behind us was “to the best days of our lives”.