Alesund-Bergen-Oslo June 7, 8, 9

I had a fantastic week off here in London with my wonderful wife. Lots of to-ing and fro-ing. Highlights? The Sorolla exhibit at the National Gallery… food on the east end, Poppie’s and Pho….. The Imperial War Museum where we relived the horror of WWI, my wife having lost a relative in the Battle of Somme. Visiting our niece, her husband and children with Christina’s brother and sister-in-law as well. Had a terrific visit and dinner with Christina’s cousin Patricia and a fab dinner with her at Malabar in Notting Hill. I caught up with my friend Justin Sandercoe for lunch, the brilliant guitar payer and educator based in London, check his videos on YouTube. We fought the humanity on Oxford, Regent and Piccadilly Streets then quickly bolted into a cab and fled. We ate and drank for America. London, one of the world’s great cities, it never disappoints and I always love coming for an extended stay.

7 June

Farewell U.K. We made our way through typical London traffic to Farnborough Airport and a two hour flight to the west coast of Norway. Alesund is a city I’ve never played in before. Driving from the airport to the town centre I remembered what a beautiful country this is, the air, mountains, water and homes. The show was at Sparebanken More Arena, essentially a very large quonset hut with a standing capacity of 8,500. This show was the quickest one to sell out, in a matter of minutes after it was announced. People were shoe horned in shoulder to shoulder. After 10 days off, we were all a little nervous about remembering the tunes but once we hit the first song our memories proved just fine. There was a noticeable din throughout the entire show, start to finish. Don’t know if it was people talking through the whole thing or what, but it was very distracting. Anyway, we made our way through a very well played show and the reception at the end was fantastic. We did our usual runner at just past 10 in broad, blinking daylight…. Norwegian summer, and flew to Oslo where we’ll base for a few days.

8 June

Departed Oslo and made our way to Bergen another city on Norway’s west coast a little further south from Alesund. An outdoor, stand-up gig tonight that I remember from our last trip here four years ago, The Bergenhus Festning. The entire day had been like the old saying…’if you don’t like the weather, give it 5 minutes and it’ll change’. Rain, cool, sunny, warm, on and off all day. By soundcheck the sky had cleared, the sun out and by dinner it was back to a steady rain. When we played this venue four years ago it was wet and cold with the wind blowing the rain onto the stage. I think we all felt the same thing going into tonight’s show… bundle up and work our way through the set. When we hit the stage the rain stopped , the clouds cleared and the 8,000+ standing crowd gave us an incredible gig, one of the very best of the tour so far. We all talked about what a fantastic audience they were. Thank you Bergen. A short flight back to Oslo and a show here on Sunday.

9 June

It was our usual Oslo venue tonight, Spektrum. Another wonderful Norwegian audience and the band in top form. Our itinerary listed the capacity at 8,000 but it felt larger than that. The floor of the venue was seated along with very steep seating wrapping the entire way around the arena, every seat filled. It was a runner to the plane, the sky light at 10 o’clock. Arrived in Stockholm just past midnight. Tomorrow’s a day off.

Read More
Richard Bennett
London-Manchester-Birmingham 28, 29, 30 May

Up early the morning of the 27th to meet my wife at Marylebone Station after spending the weekend in Redditch, England with her brother and sister-in-law. Once settled back in at the hotel we took the tube to the east end and Spitalfield Market and surrounding area. We indulged in a late lunch of fish, chips and mushy peas at Poppie’s. The place is busy at any hour but we did catch a small table for two. I’ve written about Poppie’s Fish and Chips in past and won’t rehash it again apart from saying if you’re in London…. GO. It was an early evening in bed with books in hand on this day off.

28 May

We piled down the Underground and took the tube to London’s O2 Arena. A straight shot on the Jubilee Line, 9 stops and there in 15 minutes. At that time of day in London traffic would have take an hour and a half. A massive tent-looking venue with a capacity of 20,000. MK & Co. manage to convey a real sense of intimacy to that large an arena and tonight’s show was no different. A few technical glitches like the stage lighting going dark for what seemed like a long time but was probably just 30 seconds as well as a malfunctioning guitar cable of mine that rendered some wicked noises. Still, nothing rattles this bunch. A massive ovation at the final walk off. We rarely have after-show receptions but do when playing London. The couple following the Albert Hall shows were large affairs but given the size of O2 tonight’s was staggering, just the sheer noise and heat of all the people. My wife and I ventured in, made one quick round and threw in the towel, too much of a crush for me. We got back to the hotel for a night cap with Jim, then happily off to bed.

29 May

An early afternoon drive to the Farnborough Airport and a short hop north to the Manchester Arena, everyone relaxed and in good spirits. Our usual routine…. drop the bags in the dressing room, a bowl of soup in catering then on stage for a sound check. The technical problems of the previous night were long sorted but the time we got there and we ran through a couple of tunes to warm up and give our front of house mixer, Dave Dixon, a fighting chance for the show. Dinner, a quick practise then the show. Well, not quite yet. We held our 8 o’clock start until 8:30 due to the audience still streaming in. When we did hit the boards it was to a capacity 6,600+. Tonight’s show really had it all, completely at ease within itself, playing so inside the songs, great performances and musically at the top of form for everyone. One of those gigs where you could do no wrong, whatever you tried worked. A thunderous standing crowd at the end.

30 May

This afternoon we drove to Birmingham, roughly 90 miles for tonight’s show, the last in the U.K. run and also the final gig before a week off. Everyone going home after the show. My wife and I are spending the week in London and looking forward to it. We’ll head to Scandinavia when the tour picks back up again on the 7th of June, but for now a week off sounds very good. Tonight’s show was at the Birmingham Arena, formerly N.E.C. National Exhibition Centre, the same venue where I met Princess Diana and Prince Charles when here with Neil Diamond decades ago. Had a wonderful visit with Mark’s son Ben who’s a brilliant drummer and teacher as well, and in the long running band, Rocket Dolls along with the Rocket’s guitar player Nicky. Although Nicky and I play very different music, we absolutely connected on so many guitar geek levels. Wonderful guys. Also had a good visit with Guy’s brother Dan and the good folks at Orbitsound. I’ll write a bit more over the next week or so about a brand new speaker system they’ve developed that’s small, revolutionary and sounds magnificent called Dock E30. Watch for it. Great show tonight, audience too. Lots of goodbyes within the band as well all go separate ways for 10 days. You’d think it was goodbye forever, that’s how close this bunch is. Everyone was driven back to London to various locations; homes, airport hotels and in my case back to where my wife and I have been staying the last week and will continue for another as we take a break from the tour and become London tourists. So that’s it, I’ll pick these notes up again once we commence with the next leg of the tour around the 7th of June.

Read More
Richard Bennett
Dublin-Glasgow 24, 26 May

Our itinerary is relaxing a little now, though this tour has been far from strenuous. Today was off following the two Albert Hall shows. We’d closed down the hotel bar at sun up the morning of the 23rd following the second show and our hotel had a fire alarm test that morning that sent everyones smoke detectors into red flashing, siren screaming mode…. a blurry beginning for what turned into a warm, blue sky day off in London. We’ll continue to base from the city flying in for shows in Dublin and Glasgow with days off after each back in London.

24 May

My wife is here with me as we base from London and we were up early for her to catch a train up to the midlands to visit her brother and his wife who live in Redditch. I dropped her off at Marylebone Station, took the tube back to my hotel and it was off to Farnborough airport for an hour flight to Dublin. Tonight’s show as in past gigs in Dublin was at the old Point which was enlarged from an intimate rock venue into a 6,000 seat arena. It’s been rechristened a few times and is currently called 3 Arena. A fab show and brilliant audience. Someone has posted a clip of Money on YouTube from this show and it’s great. Pints of Guinness were on hand as we finished the gig and headed to the waiting cars that took us back to the plane. Today was Guy’s birthday and he was duly saluted and toasted. Back at the hotel at 1 in the morning and too tired for a nightcap so straight into bed. Tomorrow the 25th is a day off.

26 May

Cold and blustery when we got off the plane in Glasgow, but of course it is Glasgow. For the flight over, Daniella arranged platters of delicious chilled shellfish, crab claws, lobster, large prawns and some oysters on the half-shell thrown in for good measure. Having not eaten up to that point, it was a welcomed spread Tonight’s show was at the SSE Hydro Arena to a capacity 6,300 crowd. It all keeps getting better. A runner back to the plane where once more Daniella hit a grand slam home run. Where in the world she found properly smoked pork ribs in Glasgow was beyond us all. We devoured platters of them while winging back to London, all the while our glasses were never empty. An hour later we’d landed at Luton and 40 minutes after that were sitting in this hotel’s very inviting bar for a nightcap. Tomorrow is another day off here in London. What a life.

Read More
Richard Bennett
London 21, 22 May

May 21, 22

It’s a 2-night run at The Albert beginning tonight. One of our favourite venues and always special shows partly due to the history of the venue, our history playing it and the wrap around audience so close you can reach out from the side of the stage and shake hands. Tom Jones came backstage before to say hello to MK and Ianto, who played drums for him years ago. Lots of family and old friends down for these very intimate shows and always a mad scramble for tickets, every seat spoken for. As many times as I’ve stood on that stage, going back to the ’70s with Neil Diamond, it still makes my knees a little weak. A wonderful show the 21st and a brilliant one the 22nd, unexpected standing ovations after after some songs and an overwhelming one at the end of both evenings. Thank you RAH.

Read More
Richard Bennett
Leeds-Newcastle 18, 19 May

Leeds 18 May

One of those days where we spanned 3 cities, 2 countries, 2 air flights and 1 show. We departed Berlin after several enjoyable days in that great city. I suspect there will be a massive restocking of beer and sausages at Augustiner now that we’ve decamped. It took longer to get to the Berlin airport than the actual flight to Leeds. Tonight’s show at First Direct Arena was to a sell out capacity 6,300 and we all thought it was a great night of playing and people loving it. A runner for a 19 minute flight up to Newcastle where we’ll spend the night and play tomorrow

Newcastle 19, May

The hotel we’re in is trying very hard to be upscale but is simply tatty, old and tired. The internet is in-op, the rooms are little larger than a walk in closet with no ventilation and windows that will not open. The gym is what I expected given everything else. Two treadmills, one not working, sorry for the inconvenience. Several other bits of equipment also tagged with ‘sorry for the inconvenience’ notices. When I piled in there this morning it was mercifully empty so I took the one working treadmill and managed to get a work out with few bits that were functional. Got back to my room and, it was hot and airless. The hallway was at least 10 degrees cooler so there was little else to do but prop open my door to get some cool air circulating. I happily sat there playing guitar to passing maids and guests. We’ll all gladly check out this afternoon prior to the gig. It’s the Utilita Arena tonight in Mark’s hometown, Newcastle. A sell-out to the ceiling crowd, MK & Co. it top form. A runner and a short Indian food fuelled flight down south to London’s Luton airport. We’ll base from here for nearly three weeks while playing shows in the U.K. as well as having numerous days off. A late night-cap with John and Jim and off to bed. Tomorrow being one of those days off.

Read More
Richard Bennett
Berlin-Hannover 15, 16, 17 May

Berlin, 15 May

Awake at 5:30 this morning…wide awake and ready to go. Tried to get back to sleep with no luck and threw open the curtains, ordered up a pot of coffee, read the paper and began the day. Went to the hotel gym for a full push, got all my e-mails written and answered and began gathering my suitcase together to leave and it was still only 9 o’clock. Long day ahead. We departed Cologne bound for Berlin and I did manage an in-flight cat nap. We landed in Berlin’s ‘ghost airport’ Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport. A massive high tech facility that has never opened since ground was broken in 2006 due to mismanagement and crucial mistakes made in construction. It’s original cost estimate was €2 billion that estimate now soars at €7.3 billion. The airport is a comedy of errors, government mismanagement , an embarrassment and financial drain to the city of Berlin. Many say it will never open and should be scrapped and rebuilt. Gates sit empty, monitor screens glow and apart but it is is deserted. The new opening date is 2020 but there’s quite a lot of skepticism as more money is thrown at it. You can read all the tragic details here: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20181030-what-happened-to-berlins-ghost-airport At any rate it seems they are allowing private and corporate plane use as they don’t require the terminal facilities. We made our way through late afternoon traffic to the Mercedes-Benz Arena for a quick soundcheck, dinner and an 8 o’clock show followed by a runner to our hotel in this city. The Augustiner Beirgarten Restaurant is only a few blocks away and is never missed by us. Tonight was no exception as we devoured grilled sausages, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut all washed down with their signature Augustiner Helles lager. A grand way to end this day.

Hanover, 16 May

Don’t know what’s up with my sleep cycle but it was an early one again this morning. Rang down for a pot of coffee at 7:30 then opened the curtains and window to a cool, grey drizzle. I wrung four cups of coffee out of the pot, read the N.Y. Times, climbed back in bad and when I opened my eyes again it was noon. Shower, pack the day bag and down to the lobby where the waiting cars took us back to Berlin’s ghost airport for the short flight to Hannover. Our air hostess Daniella is back with us for another run and she knows what this group likes having flown many miles with us on past tours. A tasty light Mediterranean lunch was served, devoured and swept away in a matter of minutes. The TUI Arena was our office for tonight, full to a capacity 8,700 folks. These tours always take a couple of weeks to really get solidly on it’s feet but we’re there now with consistently great shows to wonderful audiences. Tonight’s was no exception, thank you Hannover. A runner back to the plane, Daniella had drinks waiting or freshly poured for everyone and served another delicious meal of Thai curries and fish cakes in the short amount of time it took to return to Berlin, all the while managing to keep drinks topped up. Our Guy, Pete and Ianto all helpiing to serve and tidy giving Daniella a hand. Landed back at the ghost airport around midnight, a 25 minute drive to our hotel and I was happy to call it a day. Tomorrow is a day off in Berlin.

Berlin, 17 May

A day off in Berlin that was spent in the gym, lunch with Jim Cox at Augustiner and walking. I attended the Glen Hansard show in the evening with Mike, his son Rory and John at the Admiralspalast concert hall. Hansard is a great singer and songwriter as well as actor and activist. It was a brilliant performance with his great band that included a string trio, guitarist from Spain and musical influences from Celtic to Iranian. Powerful, dynamic songs and performances to match, it was one of the best shows I’ve seen. If he is ever performing in your area, don’t miss him. After the show the four us ended up at Augustiner for beer and sausages and following that we had a pint with Glen Hansard’s sound man, Leon, who Mike knows and it was Leon who’d arranged the tickets. Got back to my hotel at 1 and glad to hit the hay. A perfect day off and a lucky life. Tomorrow we decamp Europe for a while and head back to the U.K. for a series of shows there that will take us through the first week of June.

Read More
Richard Bennett
Strasbourg-Cologne 12, 13, 14 May

A couple of general bits before we get started. I want to thank everyone for their great support of my e.p. Four Buck Folk. I’d always intended it to be somewhat exclusive, as a download only and available through CD Baby for a limited time. To that end, Four Buck Folk will no longer be available as of the 1st of August, 2019. If interested, you can scroll down a little further to find out more, hear some excerpts and place an order. As the title says, it’s only $4.

Also, I’d like to make the readers of these notes aware of a relatively new music streaming boutique called Craft Brewed Music. In short it is a curated library of music by very unique musicians and artists who normally fly outside the radar. I’m very proud to be of their artists and highly recommend CBM for a different listening experience. It’s very inexpensive, $5 per month for unlimited access to the library. If you do subscribe, please put my name in the drop down “recommended by” box. That’s Craft Brewed Music www.craftbrewedmusic.com Check them out.

A short afternoon flight from Milan, Italy on the 12th to Strasbourg, France on the eastern border of Germany. A beautiful city that unfortunately we only saw through the car window on the way from the airport to our venue, Zenith. Jook Ross opened again tonight and received a well earned enthusiastic response. We took the stage at 9, rested from the previous day off and delivered a confident, relaxed show and changing the set list a little. A runner as the last notes still reverberated in the arena, in the cars, on the plane and at the hotel in Cologne by 1 in the morning. I walked into my room to the overpowering smell of stale cigarette smell, even though these are designated non-smoking rooms. A non-starter for me so it was back down to reception and a room change. We’ll base from here for the next three days including a day off in this great city.

Up early the morning of the 14th, ordered an omelette with ham and pot of coffee to the room then went down to the gym for a good 75 minute push. Tonight’s show was the usual Lanxess Arena here in Koln to another sold-out capacity audience of 10,300+. It’s hard to imagine this show getting better than the previous night, but it does. I continually use the same words to describe them… relaxed, confident, professional, polished but not too, always different and immensely human. Tonight’s performance had all that and more. The 2+ hours on stage flew by in what seemed like 30 minutes then it was a runner back to the hotel and a full attendance celebration down the bar. Glasses of delicious Kolsch bier and the always winning gin tonic combo. We retired to Guy’s room for one last night cap before calling it a day.

Awake at the crack of noon yesterday, feeling fantastic but having missed breakfast, I got a quick shower with plans to head over the bridge to the old city for something to eat. I bumped into Danny and Guy as they were leaving on the same mission and tagged on with them. The iconic Hohenzollern Bridge that crosses the River Rhine was built in 1907 and leads directly to the Cathedral and the old city. Since 2008 people have attached ‘love padlocks’ on the fence between the footpath and the rail lines, each inscribe then clicked shut, every link in the fence taken… hundreds of thousands of them I’d say. In 1945 this bridge was blown up by German military engineers as Allied troops began the assault on Koln in an attempt to cut them off. Pictures of the destrruction are a grim reminder of the insanity of war. The bridge ends at Cologne’s famous land mark… The Cathedral, begun in 1248 and finally completed in 1880. Massive, ornate and jaw dropping. Dan, Guy and I chose one of many cafes with outdoor tables, sat down in the warm Spring sunshine and had a splendid German lunch of sausages, potato salad and fried eggs with ham on bread… all washed down with several small glasses of light, cold, reviving Kolsch bier. Lunch completed, we went our separate ways. I walked the streets enjoying being a tourist again after several of our last tours having not made much effort. A great dinner to close the day at Pane & Cioccolata (Bread and Chocolate). A simple and delicious Italian restaurant that was a hit with us all. You can find them at: http://www.paneecioccolata.de/

Read More
Richard Bennett
Bordeaux-Toulouse-Zurich-Milan May 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

The Metropole Arena in Bordeaux was packed to sold to capacity…. 7,500 for our show of the May 6th. On occasion we will have an artist open the evening and tonight it was Jook Ross, a singer-songwriter with a beautiful voice and melodic songs, who will be with us for the next couple of nights. Jook’s set was very well received. After a short interval, we took the stage and played a great show. It was a runner back to our chateau and a band party in Guy’s room… the first of the tour. Full attendance, great music, patters of French cheeses and breads, umpteem bottles of brilliant French wine and a dozen beer for good measure. We wrapped up about 2 in the morning and poor Guy’s room looked like a proper rock and roll casualty complete with a splintered chair. More like the ‘mild ones’ rather than the ‘wild ones’ I can assure you there was no intentional trashing, merely situational.

Up early and feeling better than I had any right to, I got myself out for an hour’s walk through the forests and vineyards of this beautiful area we’re staying. As I was walking through the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte winery I heard a rhythmic banging and followed my ear to what turned out to be a cooperage and a cooper making a barrel by hand. The banging was him setting the metal bands that hold the barrels together. A quick coffee back at the room and it was time to leave for a short flight to Toulouse and tonight’s gig at Zenith… one of those landed spaceship looking places. The usual soundcheck followed by dinner. Jook opened again tonight. We took the boards at 9 o’clock and played what I think was the best show of the tour so far. They just keep getting better and the crowd was so good to us. A runner and quick return flight to Bordeaux. Tomorrow we decamp for Zurich and a day off.

8 May, The day off was cold and rainy and found most of us hanging at the hotel. A lot of us gathered in the hotel bar astonished by the prices for a drink and the restaurant as well. Ended up in the downstairs “Bond” bar complete with ‘60s decor and a cocktail piano player. We ordered a load of club sandwiches and devoured every scrap. A few of us ended up in Guy’s room for a nightcap and some music.

The Zurich gig was, as Dan said, a listening audience and a concert vibe. The most relaxed gig of the tour so far and the best played. Sold out at 10,000 it was a fantastic audience and show. A runner back for a night cap and early to bed.

The afternoon of the 10th we departed Zurich, south bound for Milan. Tonight’s show at Mediolanum Forum was, again, for a capacity audience of 9,000. MK & Co. have hit a new level over these last few nights. Hard to describe but they’re very emotional performances from everyone, Mark singing and playing things I’ve not heard before. The true friendship, mutual admiration and musicality of every man on that stage is hard to imagine in any other situation. It was a beautiful show here in Milan. Guy, kindly again, turned his room into a hospitality suite with music and night caps. Tomorrow is a day off in this wonderful city.

Read More
Richard Bennett
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…. www.everestmontanha.com

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.

Read More
Richard Bennett
Madrid-Cordoba-Lisbon 28,29,30 April 2019

Sunday’s show in Madrid’s Wiznik Centre was to a capacity audience of 10,300 good folks. The Wiznik however has a wicked slap-back, meaning the sound of the music hits the back wall and bounces back to the stage somewhat delayed. Playing with in-ear monitors certainly helps as they seal a good deal of outside sound from your ears. Still, it wasn’t enough to diminish the volume of slap-back enough and it was a little challenging to play. We simply put our heads down and worked straight through it, enjoying every minute.

The following morning, April 29th, we departed Madrid for Cordoba. Madrid is a wonderful city and one that I feel I could live in, but for now it’s time to move on. Our driver got lost on the way to the airport but thanks to the good guidance of our tour manager Tim Hook along with Guy Fletcher, both armed with smart phones, we finally hit our target and were soon aloft. Our favourite air hostess, Daniella has been with us again for a few days though sadly will not be along for the entire tour. Daniella had platters of chilled, delicious langoustine, shrimp, crab, lobster and smoked salmon all served, devoured and cleared quickly for this :50 minute flight. We last played Cordoba in 2010 at this same bullring, Plaza de Toros Los Califas. I immediately remembered the large main dressing rooms with numerous, mounted bull heads. Flamenco guitar star, Vicente Amigo popped in to say hello. A number of years ago Guy produced a wonderful album for Vicente in London at British Grove Studios. Also good seeing our friend and promoter for the Spanish shows, Chris Ortiz. The outdoor shows are always relaxed and this evening was no different. A quick runner from the stage to our hotel in Cordoba where nobody could get the fancy, over engineered digital keys to open their rooms. Once inside, the internet was in-op. This left only one option; adjourn to the bar. It was already late when we got there and after a couple rounds the barman went home leaving the place to us. A real case of inmates bing in charge. By the time we called it a day it was indeed…. 4:30 in the morning.

Later that morning before flying to Lisbon, our friend Chris Ortiz kindly took us all to the spectacular El Envero restaurant in Cordoba for an early lunch. It will be useless for me explaining how delicious everything was from multiple starters of freshly baked rolls with dark green olive oil, tomatoes in a thin basil pesto, pureed almond paste, local cheeses, lightly fried croquettes…. all prior to the entree. I ordered a beef tenderloin steak dusted with coarsely ground salt that you could cut with a butter knife, served on top of whipped, mustard mashed potatoes. A serious and memorable lunch. If ever in Cordoba don’t fool around, get yourself to El Envero…. www.elenvero.com. After lunch we arrived at the airport, boarded the plane and were told our flight would be delayed for an hour or more due to landing slots in Lisbon. Between the night before and the massive amount of food consumed at lunch, everyone simply put their seats back and took a siesta.

We arrived in Lisbon and went straight to the venue Altice Arena for our Tuesday night show. I think a few brave souls made it to catering but I was not one… still too full. On stage at 9:15 and a great show, some remarkable moments. Then a runner to our hotel, one quick night-cap and off to bed with two luxurious days off ahead.

So long,

Richard

Read More
Richard Bennett
London-Barcelona-Valencia-Madrid

I spent the three days off in London doing mostly nothing, a calm before the storm. Got a much needed haircut and revisited a couple of old fave restaurants with Jim Cox and Glenn Worf: Malabar Indian and Maggie Jones.

MK & Co. flew to Barcelona on the 24th of April, were greeted by a fleet of Mercedes vehicles and drivers then whisked straight to the venue Palau Sant Jordi for a short soundcheck before dinner. That was followed by a full run through of the show to work through any last technical or band errors. It’s common for many tours to have the venue booked an extra day with no audience prior to opening. it was a long and productive day that ended in the bar with lots of good cheer.

Opening night the 25th was filled with lots of nervous chatter and anticipation, the band dressed and ready an hour prior to taking the stage. That’s the ONLY time that will happen all tour. As I’ve said before in these diaries, there is nothing like the first show of a tour for sheer on-your-toes energy and tonight was no exception. Well rehearsed but not overly so, it was as if we’d played a gig last week instead of four years ago. The 2-hour+ show felt like it flew by in 20 minutes and the sold-out audience was fantastic.

The afternoon of the 26th we boarded our jet for a short flight to Valencia, a city I’d not been to before. The show was held at the Plaza de Toro bullring and unusual to be playing an outdoor gig so early in a tour. A gorgeous day in Valencia, bright blue skies and billowy clouds, giving way to a breezy cool evening. By the time we took the stage it was chilly. Guy wisely brought a sport coat which he made good use of and the rest of us layered up as we could. Another sold-out show, I think this entire tour has sold out as soon as the dates were announced. Great audience and already the show has taken on a wonderfully relaxed feel though only our second gig and we’re still working out a few bugs. A long, waving farewell from the stage and a runner back to the plane. The flight was short to Madrid with barely enough time to serve a snack and rustle up a couple of drinks for everyone. Due to the late start of the shows here in Spain, we didn’t arrive at our hotel in Madrid ’til nearly 2 in the morning. Completely, knackered. Straight to bed.

Saturday the 27th, a day off. Given the lateness of turning in I was looking forward to testing out these blackout curtains and a sleep-in this morning. At exactly 7:30 a roaring, swirling, reverberating roar put an end to that. It quickly gathered into a steady, rhythmic pounding that shook the window of my room and as I surfaced from sleep realised it was some sort of massive sound system coming up from the street below. I threw open the curtains and eight stories below my window was the inaugural point of the Madrid Marathon. There was no going back to sleep no matter how I tried. It was 2-hours of non-stop rock and roll and public address announcements all hyped up to a frenzy of hopelessly false excitement. Nothing to do but ring room service for a couple of scrambled eggs, coffee and New York Times. Following the blasting of the song “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” it all mercifully ceased. The quiet was deafening.

I made my way down to the hotel gym which I immediately recognised from several years ago as an airless one. The decor and equipment have been up-dated but apparently not the ventilation. Never mind, it was a well needed push and I’m glad I did it. With most of the day in front of me I decided to walk to Madrid’s legendary Museo del Prado, about a mile from the hotel and along the marathon route which was still buzzing with participants, pedestrians, police and portable toilets. I first visited The Prado in 1996 on my first tour with Mark and felt the need to go back again today. The Prado is celebrating it’s bicentenary year, 1819-2019. Always humbling to stand in front of the great works of Goya, Velazques and I never fail to marvel at the staggering and imaginative panels of El Bosco…Hieronymus Bosch. A long afternoon walking and on my way back to the hotel I stopped in for a late afternoon cerveza and quesadilla. A fine day from a rocky start, after all.

Read More
Richard Bennett
Down The Road Wherever

Here ’tis…. the first edition of Notes From The Road 2019.

I’m pecking this out from London on Easter Sunday, having just completed three weeks rehearsal. I’ll have a few days off now in the city before leaving for Barcelona and the first show of Mark’s Down The Road Wherever Tour. We’re all looking forward to taking the boards again and can’t wait ’til we get to Spain.

Without going into many details, there will be a lot of surprises, a couple of terrific new band members along with our old pal and ever brilliant Danny Cummings returning to play percussion. There’s a brand new sound system that I must say, having heard some rehearsal playbacks, sounds like a finely tuned stereo system. Tremendous lights as well. As usual the whole package, only better.

On past tours I posted nearly every day. I’m not sure I’ll be quite as verbose this time out and will likely do a weekly as I did on the tour a couple of years ago with Neil Diamond. I’d far rather post when I really have something to write about. That said, who knows. There will no doubt be the occasional profanity laden rant about some crap gym or something inexcusable.

I do plan to enjoy every minute of this adventure, each show, every meal and all the cities. A long adventure it is, this tour runs through the end of September and I’m very proud to share a stage and the fine company of this grand pack of friends through it all.

So long,

Richard

Read More
Richard Bennett