So today began in Leipzig. The continuance of the fitness regime saw me in the gym, today with Graeme and Tom. A typical luxury hotel basement facility, cold, quiet and empty with standard Technogym torture machines. A bowl of Bircher and we were off again, in cars to airport and then on to Frankfurt where we would meet Goran’s team for the 50 minute drive to Mannheim. With no speed restrictions on this stretch of Autobahn and little traffic, Goran opened up the V6, 275 horsepower S Class. With 4-up, we were cruising at 260 kmh or in British money, 160 mph. Normally, this would raise alarm bells for myself and Mark, but good, safe driving is not hard to recognise and we fell asleep.
As we pulled into the conveniently located venue (just off the main Autobahn), 20 minutes ahead of the vans, there was a congregation. In Germany, there are always a few autograph hunters who are prepared to wait for our arrival, whatever the weather. We now drive on by and Saint Peter goes out to collect albums, and posters etc. for Mark to sign in the dressing room. We have certain rules, only one item each and no scratch-plates OR guitars now. (more about that tomorrow) Too many end up on ebay, the hardcore spoiling it for the genuine. Mark does appreciate the support and if there was time, he would sign more. For such a hi-tech arena, the backstage areas at the SAP in Mannheim are strangely confused. The load-in bay is straightforward enough but dressing rooms seem more like an afterthought and the kitchen area is a long way from the seating area. Hardly and issue though as the arena itself is fabulous. Probably a great place to see a show. It’s a good place to do one, and we have done many here since its inauguration in 2005.
Purring away outside the dressing room, the twin washing machines that travel with the gear were laden with band and crew clothes and Jo Lee, our wonderful production assistant was hanging laundry to air dry in the sweltering dry heat of the afternoon. The breeze was up too, so I can’t imagine it took long for anything to dry. We used to have laundry taken away daily to a laundrette by a local runner but there were too many lost socks, shrunken shirts and mixed bags. This system works so much better but I can’t help thinking that it’s all to do with the way Jo runs the operation. Dinner was stunning, as usual and the dressing rooms were chilly. So much so that we were shocked at the heat inside the venue when we took to the stage. Better hot than cold though and we had a fabulous show. What a crowd. You gotta LOVE Germany. We were back in the cars en route to the Villa Kennedy for our shortest stay there. A mere 10 hours. The reason being the small matter of a 1200lb unexploded bomb discovery in Frankfurt. We would be up early tomorrow morning to clear the area as a mass evacuation, including a hospital and a Police headquarters is to take place for its disarmament and disposal. This also means a no-fly zone hence our early flight slot of 11:30. It was virtually a full turnout for a drink in the beautiful Villa Kennedy courtyard before we all wound our merry way to bed.