Miami Beach, Florida
Here we are, the final day and show of the tour. Down to breakfast again with Glenn, Dan and Mark, all of us drinking far too much coffee. I headed out to the beach for a few hours sun and surf then back to the room to a little pre-packing for tomorrow's early departure home, got a shower then off to the Fillmore Miami Beach and tonight's gig.
The Fillmore is the old Jackie Gleason Theatre the theatre that his early 60's Saturday night variety shows televised from...a real piece of history. It was a strange vibe as the end came upon us. I spent most of the evening seeking guys we've toured with for five months out, saying good-bye and thanks. Among the band it was very tender and awkward at the same time, nobody wanting to get too choked up but feeling that way. In the end it was loads of hugs and 'see you soon'. Not quite what you wanted to convey but everybody knew the message.
The show was great tonight, a real sense of the last night and loads of love on the stage. Funnily enough after all these shows we were still figuring things out and how to play them better...after 94 shows! The audience was great and we were all gawking around the stage knowing this was the last time we'd be together for a while. An outpouring of hugs backstage on the walk off, then out for the final three songs of the 2008 tour. After the final bows, the Brit boys doing a runner to London. Pete McKay will go off to tour with Rod Stewart tomorrow, Guy, Laurie, Max and Leon off to L.A. tomorrow then Hawaii and Matt, Glenn and I doing a runner to the hotel in Miami, Matt off to San Francisco to meet up with his wife and Glenn and I going back to Nashville where we both do some quick re-packing and head off to family holidays. The three of us meeting up at the hotel bar for the last night-cap after the gig. A bittersweet ending to the day and the tour.
When we began rehearsals for this tour the first week of March, it was impossible to imagine the end of the journey. Even a couple of weeks ago as it was looming, the idea of wrapping up was something nobody really wanted to look at too closely, we've had that much fun playing 94 shows in 30 countries in 125 days! There's no telling how many people we've played for or all the miles travelled but I've become a wiser person, a better musician and have loved every minute of it.
Here are a few high and low points of the past five months, my best/worst list....not a band vote, simply one reporters opinion.
Best hotel: Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey
Worst hotel: Grey Street Hotel, Newcastle, England
Most unusual hotel: Byblos Art Hotel, Verona, Italy
Best hotel gym: Four Seasons, San Francisco, California (again), Ritz Carlton, Boston, Massachusetts
Worst hotel gym: Wedgewood Hotel, Vancouver, B.C.
Best bar: Wedgewood Hotel, Vancouver B.C.
Worst bar: Is there such a thing?
Most memorable meals: Lagana...Roma, Italy. Allard...Paris, France. Casa Tua...Maimi Beach, Florida
Least memorable meals: The majority of American catering (again!)
Best newly discovered beer: Augustiner...Munich, Germany. Creemore Springs...Ontario, Canada
'Wow' museums and tourist attraction: The National Gallery, London, England. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art--Frida Kahlo exhibit. The Spice and Grand Markets of Istanbul, Turkey
Most listened to records: Wynn Stewart "California Country, The Challenge Years". Johnny Smith "Spring Is Here"
Coolest re-visited cities: Edinburgh, Scotland. Portland, Oregon
Most exotic newly visited city: Istanbul, Turkey
Best gig: Hard to single one out, they've all been very special for different reasons
Most memorable musical experience: Playing "Picture Of You" with Joe Brown at the Royal Albert Hall, three times!
....and Guy and I getting a uke lesson backstage from Joe.
As always, there are so many people to thank for making the show happen every night. They are the real heroes of this or any tour, the guys who turn up at the venue at 10 in the morning after having slept on a bus and work their tails off all day so we can stroll in at 5 in the afternoon, the stage and lights are set, the hums and buzzes eliminated, the instruments tuned and ready. We go on stage and play for a couple of hours, get all the applause then hop in cars that take us to the plane and fly off to a comfortable hotel, while the crew tears down what they'd spent all day setting up and get back in the bus to begin the process again the following morning. Often six and seven days in a row before a day off.
These are the people that made this tour happen:
Peter Hillier-production manager, Glenn Saggers-Mark's guitar tech, Dave Hall-Stage manager, Colin Barton-Glenn Worf's and John McCusker's instrument tech, Robbo Robertson-drum tech, Tom Calcaterra-my guitar tech, Laurence Adams-keyboard tech, Dave Dixon-front of house mixing, Simon Tutchener-lighting director, Kerry Lewis-monitor mixing, Ben Byford, Jason Vrobel, Guy Habosha and Stefan Krista-sound technicians, Mike Humeniuk, Ewan Cameron, Robert Colvin and Tom Crosbie-lighting techs, Johnny Ashton-rigging, Cod Tallowin-merchandising, Steve Ricalis, Chris Desmond and Angus McKinnon-European catering. Also the bus and equipment drivers who transport the crew and equipment hundreds of miles each day. Thanks to you all.
Our road managers, Peter McKay and Tim Hook have made these five months completely carefree and smooth as silk for us. One of the difficult things about ending these tours is having to be in charge of your own life again. Mark's personal manager, Paul Crockford also played a big part in this as well as looking after MK. A million thanks guys.
I can't begin to express my love and admiration for the boys I have the privilege to stand on stage with each night. It's a very special bond we share and I'll miss them all terribly until we get together again. Mark, Guy, Danny, Glenn, John and Matt...it's always my honour and pleasure to make music with you. The tone and vibe of a tour comes down from the top and we couldn't have a better leader than MK. I'm always tremendously flattered to share the stage or a studio floor with Mark and my unending thanks go to him.
By the time you read this, I'll be home strapping on the car-top carrier, loading up to leave the following morning for the Gulf of Mexico and a couple of weeks holiday with my family. Come autumn I'll be settling back to session work in Nashville, some producing as well as beginning a new album for myself.
To the many thousands who came out to see and hear the show, I especially thank you. Like those mentioned above, without you there's no show. Finally, to everyone who has kept up with our comings and goings via these notes from the road, I appreciate your time and readership. If you've followed these notes in the past you'll know that I don't like good-byes and there have been far too many over the last couple of days. Guy said yesterday that he couldn't think of tonight's gig as being the last and preferred to think about the next time we're all together. I agree. So this is not good-bye, simply....
So long 'til next time,