Wide awake at 7:30 a.m., threw the curtains open and was greeted by a grey, drizzly Manchester morning. Not exactly motivation for bounding out and taking a walk, but the very inspiration to ring room service and have a pot of coffee, toast and The Guardian sent up. That devoured, I hauled myself down to the hotel's gym, a small but efficient facility especially when no one else is in it which was the case. The best part of the solitude was being able to shut the ever present television off and have 90 minutes of quiet exercise. I realise folks like different things and many prefer distraction, I am not one. This was the antidote to my Pure Gym experience and subsequent rant the other day.
Still bleak and raining I spent the rest of the afternoon playing guitar and reading 'til it was time to zip the bags and go to the M.E.N. Arena for tonight's gig. It's our usual spot to play while in Manchester, it's initials standing for Manchester Evening News, one of the cities newspapers. The largest of the shows we've played so far on this tour with Dylan, it was filled to capacity...10,500 people.
As we are guests on Bob's tour, there were a number of question marks about the different crews loading in and setting up, how two soundchecks would work and the set change over between Mark's portion and Dylan's. It took a couple of shows to get things worked through and everything has found it's routine. Our is to arrive at 5, Bob and Co. have their soundcheck while we settle in and have dinner, followed by our soundcheck around 6. The house opens at 6:30 and we go on promptly at 7:30. Mark's 70 minute set is followed by a 25 minute set change over and Dylan goes on from there.
So it went last night, with a different set list and everyone playing well, none better than Mike McGoldrick who did himself proud in his home town.
A two hour journey on our bus expertly driven by Dirk, delivered us to Nottingham for the next show.