Lyon-Luxembourg 19, 20 June

18 June

Another day off here in Lyon. Having sworn off this hotel’s gym I got my exercise another way by walking off this hill and down to the town below. Long and steep going, longer and steeper still coming back up. Most of the activity in this area of town is to do with the Cathedral Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon. Construction began in 1180 on the ruins of a 6th century church and was completed in 1476. Lots of noise and people in there this afternoon with tour groups and school children, so it wasn’t particularly contemplative but I do enjoy going into the ancient cathedrals for their beautiful stone architecture, wood carving, statuary and paintings. Although I am not religious, I always make a donation, light a candle and enjoy a few minutes of the cool, dark and, usually quiet. It was a warm afternoon and that coolness was particularly welcomed. While most of the shops and cafes revolved around tourism I managed to find an Irish pub called the James Joyce. This dark wood establishment was inexplicably deserted at 3 in the afternoon and in I turned for a delicious pint of Guinness. So good it was that I was wanting a second but knew I had to make my way back up that long, steep and winding hill so regrettably it was au revoire. I made it back up the hill with only one stop at a small garden with an overview of the city. Once back at the hotel and being a glutton for punishment I decided to give the gym another chance. It couldn’t have possibly been as bad as I remembered a couple of days ago. In I went to find Mark on the treadmill which he graciously ceded to me while he opted for the exercise bike. It was even hotter in there than I remembered and we both must have lost a half stone (7 lbs.) each just in sweat. Later that evening most of that band had congregated at the bar on the veranda where we stayed ’til dark drinking and devouring pizzas. A worthwhile day off all around.

19 June

It was a quick late-afternoon drive to Halle Tony Garnier here in Lyon Built by it’s namesake and opened in 1908 as a slaughter house and cattle market. During the the First World War it served as an armoury until 1928 when it returned to it’s original purpose ’til it’s closing in 1967. Renovated, it reopened in early 1988 as a concert hall. As you’d imagine from it’s history the Halle is a massive concrete floored, steel girder and brick structure and we’ve played here many times. Reverberant would be a good word to describe the acoustics. Hot, muggy and airless would be good words to describe the atmospheric conditions inside. Add to the cocktail 7,000 people. The good news is that they soaked up a lot of the echo and the bad news is they soaked up what little air and oxygen were in the place to begin with. Nonetheless, a fantastic showing from MK & Co. and audience as well. A runner back to the hotel and a rare evening when I was too knackered even for a nightcap. Bed.

20 June

Check out from Lyon and a flight to Luxembourg to another familiar venue for us. We’ve played Rockhal as long as I can remember. For years it was the only thing going in this area of Luxembourg having once been industrial with large, dark and forbidding looking factories. They remained deserted shells and a massive concrete block structure, Rockhal, was the only sign of life, it’s how I remembered it from just four years ago. That’s changed now though the venue is exactly as it always was. Office buildings, shops, schools, apartments and a sweeping overhaul of the are is underway. There are still remnants of the area’s old industrial hulk but new life has taken hold. The gig is a big concrete box, interior painted black, standing audience with bleachers in the rear. We’ve always had great shows here, never fails and tonight’s was no exception, even the more intimate tunes were greeted wildly. A runner and a 30 minute flight to Brussels. What Daniella did in that half hour was nothing short of miraculous. She’d somehow found a proper and authentic Mexican restaurant in Luxembourg and purchased loads of food then dished up platters of chicken tacos, quesadillas, pico de gallo, guacamole and kept everyone’s glasses filled at the same time. Served, devoured and cleared in 30 minutes. Daniella should be in line for some kind of national service medal, she is the best. Arrived at our hotel in Brussels to find it surrounded by police with automatic weapons. Apparently, heads of state are staying in the hotel. A little unsettling. Another long day and another night to bypass the nightcap and embrace the bed. A day off here in Brussels tomorrow.

Richard Bennett