Saint Julien en Genevois, France 22 July 2013
Monday the 22nd. It was my birthday. I don't bring it up soliciting good wishes, in fact just the opposite, I tried my very best to keep it under wraps. When you get past a certain point you don't want any fuss about birthdays and beyond that you no longer want to acknowledge them. At least I don't. I'd asked my wife not to tip anyone off out here on tour about it and I certainly wasn't going to say anything.
I got up, ordered a couple of scrambled eggs and a pot of coffee sent to the room. When it arrived the lady who brought it in exclaimed, "It's your birthday!" On the tray was a chocolate drenched cream filled something with a white chocolate slab leaning against it emblazoned with Happy Birthday. After breakfast I opened the computer to check my e-mail and there was birthday wishes from Manfred Frank who heads up the team of drivers that gets us around in those Rovers. I got myself down to the gym and pushed harder than usual for 90 minutes, in denial that overnight I'd added another year to the roster and wined when I entered my age into the treadmill. The kind of numbers I never thought I'd reach but here I am and lucky to be. Later in the day while checking out of the hotel, one by one, everyone of the band wished me a happy birthday. On the plane once airborne, the pilot got on the intercom and made an announcement in the cabin, something we've not experienced before, wishing me happy birthday. Ilza our attendant presented me with another chocolate covered cake and the song was sung. So much for keeping it quiet.
Tonight's show was in Saint Julien en Genevois, France part of a three day guitar festival called Guitares en Scene... Guitars on Stage. When we arrived at the venue there was a lovely bottle of Burgundy Chablis for me from a friend with more birthday wishes. It will be chilled and enjoyed on our next flight. The show was neither outdoor or in but inside a massive tent set up in an open field, crammed shoulder to shoulder with thousands of people. The itinerary says a capacity of 5,000 but I'd guess there were many more than that. It was a vast sea of people, many spilling outside the tent. The afternoon had been blistering hot, nearly 100 degrees so you can imagine the heat that'd built up inside that tent. Combined with all those folks it was very close, you could actually smell the crowd and was the hottest gig we've done in a long time. The audience was absolutely deafening, maybe the loudest of the whole tour. The show was fantastic, one of the best and the roar of approval after the final encore was ear splitting. A great and wonderful gig.
Drenched with sweat we piled into the Rovers, cleared airport security, boarded the Legacy and took off for Barcelona. Food and drinks and more birthday toasts on the flight. We arrived at our hotel and as I walked to my room I thought about what a great birthday it had been in spite of not wanting any fuss. I opened the door and there on the table was a bottle of posh champagne on ice along with another chocolate thing, this one the size of a cube of butter topped with strawberries and dark chocolate squares, sitting on platter with the words Happy Birthday drizzled in chocolate on the plate. What are you going to do? You gotta drink the champagne.