Cordoba, Spain...25 July, 2010

Take a look at the date, I can't believe that we're beginning the final week of this fab tour. A bittersweet time for all as these final shows take on added meaning. I just realised that after all these months of carefully keeping my spiral bound tour itinerary in the front pouch of my roller bag, I have left it at the hotel in Barcelona. Tiredness no doubt.

We decamped Barcelona late this afternoon and flew to an airport an hour and a half from Cordoba. We were met there by Manfred and trusty crew of drives and settled in for the trip. Depending on who you spoke with, the temperature on landing was 46 to 52 c.! The only time I've felt anything close to those temps was Death Valley in the summertime.

We arrived in Cordoba, a beautiful modern metropolis and made our way to tonight's venue, another bullring. In these notes I normally name the venue but as mentioned I no longer have my itinerary and have forgotten. The heat was staggering and the fabricated dressing rooms were tremendously hot, a fan blowing in each did absolutely nothing. A museum of famous bullfighters was in an upstairs area of the ring and it was air conditioned. We all relocated up there among the stuffed and mounted heads of famous bulls that were defeated here and framed advertisements of fights going back to the 1860's, as well as an entire wall of photographs, sort of a hall of fame, of the well known toreadors from this area.

Tonight the world renown Flamenco guitarist, Vicente Amigo, was on hand to greet us. He's a fan of Mark's and was visibly honoured and humbled to meet him.

As we left the air conditioned comfort of the museum to take the stage, it felt like WE were going into the ring to face the bull. The audience was singing the universal football chant...oe...oe oe oe...oe...oe. Jam packed it was, standing floor and very steep grand stands surrounding. I'd say we have a winner for the hottest gig of the tour. I don't know what the temp was, even with the sun down, but I'll bet it was still in the mid to high 90's and not a whisper of a breeze. Right...here we go. By the end of the first song we were sweating and covered in large flying ants that were very distracting though mercifully they did not bite. Those wearing light colours attracted more of them and unfortunately Mark wore a brilliant white shirt and was covered with them...no doubt he ate a few as well. Between the insects and the heat it was very much a case of man against nature and all of a sudden the analogy with the bullfight became a little more real. Added to the evening were sticky guitar necks due to sweaty hands from the heat and stinging eyes from dripping perspiration. Add to that a potentially disastrous broken string on my little cavaquinho during the play off of Hill Farmer's Blues, which breaks down at the end to just John and me finishing the song alone. We were nearly at that point when the 3rd string expired and it would have been impossible to work around it. I very quickly made the decision to abandon the cavaquino, pick up the Start that was already tuned and waiting for the next song, and finished Hill Farmer's with that. Tricky as the cavaquinho is tuned differently from a regular guitar and frankly I'd never played it any other way...having played the cavaquinho on the record. I strapped on the Strat, quickly figured out what needed to be done and was ready for the wrap up which I barely made by the skin of my teeth. The bull just kept coming. By the end we succeeded and it was a well fought and fantastic show. These Spanish crowds are the loudest we've encountered, so much so that I lost track of where the beat was during the intro of Sailing To Philadelphia. It was all part of a show that we had to work hard to pull off...and did.

A sweaty runner to the waiting cars, an hour and a half drive to the airport and an hour flight to Lisbon. It was 1:30 in the morning when we finally got on the plane, Daniella waiting with wine, beer and once airborne, steak and grilled veg, a monstrously delicious late night 'snack'.

We arrived very late to check in, waited for the bags to arrive and it was off to bed.

Tomorrow's a much needed day off and the first 'last'... our last day off before the tour ends.

So long,

Richard