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It was a beautiful day in England when we set off for Paris, the hottest day in many years apparently. And it was the same in Paris which led to one of the hottest gigs we have ever known. But more on that later.
We took the Eurostar from St Pancras so an early start for me in Hove - 7am, not the best way to start a show day! Train to Victoria and then 4 stops on Victoria Line and met my partner Andy for a cup of coffee before we boarded. Have to say Eurostar is an easy way to travel and the boarding and arrival is so much more pleasant than airports which are becoming increasingly forbidding if you prefer to be treated like a human being. Met by transport at Gare du Nord and just 10 minutes to the hotel -- a Sofitel due to Paris hotels being overbooked as it was fashion week -- oh dear! We have stayed at some really good Sofitels but this one in Paris should be sued on the trade description act for what they class the rooms as, and the prices they charge.
We went up Bercy quite early for the first of the two nights there -- its usually a horrendous drive up there as its on La Peripherie, or ring road (flash but probably the wrong spelling), and traffic late afternoon in Paris, like most big cities, is appalling. But I think we had Alonso as our driver as he roared through the traffic not heeding all the threats and gestures made his way by irate Parisian pedestrians and drivers both. So we got there mighty quick. Spent time with the Premier drum guys and others and especially good to see Herve along with Francois. Herve doesn't speak English and although my French is reasonable Francois helps greatly in communications on all the terrific event shirts Herve is painting for us. Also we met up with the EMI France team who presented us with gold albums. We thanked them for giving us our first ever No 1 album in France -- a number of near misses but great to finally get there.
There is no air conditioning at Bercy and the heat outside was intense, also hottest day in Paris for some time, so in the building it was really heating up with the sun beating on the roof all day and with the hall starting to fill up with 17,000 fans. Unusually Bercy is completely GA, or General Admission as we call it, i.e. a ticket is for anywhere in this arena -- you stand or sit where you can if you are early enough. But it seems to work here without any fighting -- every seat was full and the floor rammed all the way back to the extent I couldn't even get to the mixing desk from behind as I usually can in an arena. And of course to take up position the fans were in early which of course added to the heat. Rise to Remain got a fantastic reception from a full hall and they came off like drowned rats, soaked and knackered after just 35 min. We are a bit (!!) older than them and play for 2 hours with the heat of the FULL lighting rig bearing down on the stage!! The effect of this incredible heat on both the band and the fans concerned me greatly so I spent a lot of time preshow with Patrick and our guys thinking what can be done. Water, oxygen, fans... anything that could help was considered and applied. I think there we a number of fans taken out over the front barrier feeling faint, it really was that hot. I felt for the band, they always try to hard not to show any discomfort but this really beyond the call of duty, and, believe me, I do not exaggerate one bit! But, as always, we survived and it was a great show with a fantastic audience -- I don't know how they had the energy either. Everyone in that hall was completely soaked and literally ringing wet with sweat. A memorable gig for both the right and the wrong reasons!
The second night thankfully it was still a hot sunny day but not as hot as the first day, but still soaked everyone. Another 17,000 -- both shows were sold out well in advance, the strongest sales ever for us at Bercy, even on a Monday and Tuesday night so I guess we were doing something right.
We all went out for a few beers after -- well we had to replenish our liquid levels and hydrate, didn't we!! Two "hot" shows, a beautiful city -- what more can you ask.
Next day I returned home, missing Roskilde. Only I could book such a major show as Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg on my wife Kathy's birthday!! We celebrated from midnight until too late and I was up at 7am to jump very groggily into a car to Heathrow to fly to Gothenburg. And felt like **** all day. I do need over 3 hours sleep nowadays.
Roskilde apparently went very well with great support at our first show in the Nordics on this tour. Roskilde is one of Europe's biggest and most renowned festivals -- all the profits go to childrens charities all around the World apparently. We were sold out to 85,000 tickets. However all the staff are volunteers, working for nothing other than to be there. So with 30,000 people involved I guess we were playing potentially to 100,000+. What a fantastic way to do things. And they still use the trade mark orange tent over the stage -- this gives us a lot of production problems as we can't fit stuff in but you shouldn't mess with the tradition of such an especially cool and worthwhile event.
That's it for now - next .... ULLEVI !!!