23 Jun 2007 - Rod in Bilbao

On flight Bilbao to Brussels 2pm Fri June 22

What was supposed to be an easy journey up to Brussels turned into a pain in the **** this morning. Started well with a lay in after a late night, a short swim and a good breakfast, again on the balcony of the room. Very nice when you can do that. Down to check out at 10.45, everyone on time for a change, got in the cars to the airport -- just a 10 min drive -- with a view to taking off by 11.30 and arriving in Brussels about 12.45 where Bruce, who is going home for the evening, had a 2.30 BA connection to LHR. But turned out not so straight ahead. We arrived at the small airport where we landed and they wouldn't let the cars through as they had no x-ray security devices there. Then they told us our plane had moved to the main airport, although the charter company never bothered to tell us this. By the time this was all apparent it was past 11.30. We set off for the main airport, fortunately not far away, and got to the gate for private flights only to find they couldn't open it as some baggage trolley had somehow got stuck. Yes really. Waited 15 min and a chap came along with his tool kit and got it fixed. Got to departure area and x-ray machines but again delayed as the handling agent hadn't got all our passport details (which he certainly should have as we forwarded the info) so had to go through all that. Finally got through and then everyone who had contributed to the delays wanted photos with the band and autographs!!!! Travel is wonderful but can also be a right pain.

Anyway here we are and Bruce, who has been remarkably calm through all this bull**** , will have to get a later flight out of Brussels .

Anyway enough bitching. Really good night last night. I went straight down to the show when we arrived in Bilbao for a meeting with Dick and Ian about our plans for 08 which are taking good shape now. I do like to work well in advance and started on the plans and bookings last October. The venue was beautiful with 2 stages and pretty decent backstage facilities tucked away in the hills just outside Bilbao. The main stage is in front of a natural bowl. The production values were pretty good. Very good quality screens

Anyway on arrival -- it would have been about 4 l guess -- Dick told me our equipment hadn't arrived yet. This show was a later addition to the tour and as Rome was already in and the 21st was the only day we could really do we had to air freight all our on stage gear and production out of Rome and fly the crew in by charter. But the Italian ground handlers were in no great rush and managed to complete their job five hours late -- yes, FIVE HOURS!!  We always knew we couldn't get gear and crew to Bilbao in time to set up beforehand so we when we agreed to play there the promoter had agreed that we would have the main stage for two and a half hours before our onstage time so we would have time to set the show up. The support bands would play the second stage during this  period. So after Stone Sour, who have been doing quite a few shows with us, we would get started. So the gear being late wasn't that great an issue as long as they got it to us in time for us to unload and start setting up on time. It did, just. But then one of the generators blew half way through the set up so again work ground largely to a halt. A replacement generator was driven up to the site, but more time wasted. In the end we managed to get on stage just 15 mins late but the crew didn't have time to really implement all the checks they would normally do. But again they were heroes -- the only malfunction we had was the red lights behind the ruined city at the start of the show didn't work but this was rectified for the end of the show. I think that's a pretty good result in the circumstances.

Whilst all this was going on l had my meetings, got a massage (yes, bloody luxury backstage you know) made some phone calls, communicated on the invaluable blackberry (which means l don't have to keep getting my laptop out) and generally got in everyone's way. Bruce and Steve were also down quite early so it was also a good chance to catch up on some stuff with them.

In the end the show was really good. Enthusiastic audience as is usual in Spain. Interestingly Bruce asked the audience how many were from Spain and a few hundred put up their arms and yelled. But when he asked who was from the Basque region thousands roared. So from then on he referred to the Iberian Peninsula!!!! The band were very relaxed and played really well. Another good show. Afterwards it was off stage and into the cars again back to the hotel about 15 min away. Everyone except Dave (who was out every night in Rome) was down in the bar pretty quickly, all in a very good mood and we had a good laugh. They kept the bar open til about 3 for us.

Today is a day off and tomorrow Graspop then of course Sunday is Brixton so you will hear from me again early next week.

- Rod

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