Lisbon-LaCoruna-Pamplona 1-5, May

Lisbon, May 1-2

Having played Lisbon we had two days off in the city. The always luxurious Four Seasons never fails to deliver with it’s welcoming bar, rooftop gym with it 360 degree view, spacious and comfortable rooms complete with espresso machine and walk out balcony. Over the years i’ve consumed much caffeine as I took in the sweeping view of the harbour and city and this stay was no different. The familiar sight of the wide, tree lined pedestrian walk-way leading to one of the high points in the city always intrigued and after all these years I decided to walk up it. Well worth the effort as at the top, with the massive flag of Portugal waving and marble fountain, is one of the most spectacular views of Lisbon. There’s a small park even further up from there that I took on as well. I stumbled across a small, unassuming and great restaurant called Everest Montanha, Cozinha Nepalesa e Indiana…. cuisine of Nepal and India. A mid-afternoon lunch of Chicken Karai (stewed chicken curry fried with peppers, ginger, coriander and butter), garlic nan and a large creamy local draught beer…. it couldn’t have been better. So good that I went back for dinner the following evening for a Lamb Vindaloo with Glenn Worf. Fresh, fragrant and fab….

La Coruna, May 3

After two restful days off we launched into a very busy one. Checked out of Lisbon and an hour flight to La Coruna, straight to our venue for tonight Coliseum… an arena with standing floor and seated circumfrence capacity 7,670+. A short sound check, dinner followed by a three hour hang as the show didn’t start until 10 o’clock. With this tour we’ve had the luxury not only of a large comforatable band lounge but also many smaller rooms for quiet or practising, nearly as many rooms as band members. Lots of space to stretch out, practise and relax. It was much appreciated tonight. Once we finally hit the stage it was a great gig and always getting better. I had a number of technical problems but that never gets in the way of a good show. La Coruna gave us all a wonderful evening. It was a midnight runner to the plane, a couple of G&Ts then arriving in Bordeaux where we will base for several days. It was past 2 in the morning when we arrived but are staying out in the country at a working vinyard. Exploring to be done and a day off.

Pamplona, May 5

A civilised 3 o’clock lobby call and a short flight landed us in Pamplona, Spain late afternoon. I’d never been to Pamplona and I think the last time Mark played here was with Dire Straits in 1993. Pamplona is best know for it’s “running of the bulls’ those visuals well documented…. people scrambling to outrun a stampede of bulls. Not my cup of tea but to each their own. Tonight’s venue, Navarra Arena is a new one, clean and sounds good. A quick soundcheck, dinner then on stage at 9. One of the best shows we’ve done so far and the audience of 6,000+ agreed wildly. A runner back to Bordeaux and a quick beer with John, Mike and Graeme. Bed.

Richard Bennett