Zagreb to London.
The band headed back to Nice after last night's show, but I stayed the night in Zagreb in order to hitch a ride on the crew charter flight to London today. The flight time was 11am which, given that many of the crew finished load out at 6 or 7am, meant that there was an exceptionally high percentage of dark glasses present in the airport terminal. Only the promise of a full day off tomorrow was keeping body and soul together for most people.
As with Sweden, I seem to have managed to get through two days in this country without ever taking possession of any local currency. (In fact, I don’t even know what the local currency here is called). Mind you this isn't entirely surprising, given that the sole content of my visit has been airport-van-stadium-van-hotel-van-stadium-van-hotel-van-airport. My very first retail opportunity arrived upon arriving at the flight gate and seeing a great number of my tour mates gathered at an adjacent coffee bar. I had managed to miss breakfast entirely so was gagging for at least a cup of tea but realised I was penniless (or whatever they have here) and assumed they wouldn't be interested in a credit card for a single beverage. However, to my deep joy on the countertop by our touring personnel, was a pile of local currency available to anyone who needed it. The system in place was that anyone with spare local funds added them to the heap for the benefit of those like myself who were devoid of any other way of obtaining refreshment. How very touching - socialism in action! I took advantage of the scheme to buy myself a tea and a toasted sandwich, both of which were surprisingly good and kept the wolf from the door until we landed at London Stansted.
The tour buses were waiting at Stansted to take the crew to their hotel, but I hopped on the train as I was off for a flypast home. When you've been on tour for a while, a brief home visit can be a very strange and disorientating experience, but the lure of offloading laundry and finding some things to wear that I haven't been carrying around for two months proved irresistible.
Thursday 13th August 2009. London. Load in day.
Wembley stadium is one of the more iconic venues we are likely to play on this tour and, notwithstanding the fact that it has recently been demolished and rebuilt from the ground up, it definitely adds something to the event. I've managed to live an almost entirely sport-free existence and I can feel it, so it must be more impressive for others more that way inclined.
Team 360 had had a relatively straightforward day loading in, and we had arranged to take possession of the stage around 10pm in order to look at some new video elements on the screen. We've been exploring a way to continue the tour's relationship with the International Space Station, having done the live link from Barcelona. It was clear that it wasn't going to be possible to repeat that operation on a nightly basis and in any case even an idea as extraordinary as that would run out of gas after a while. We have another (non-show) link up with the space station next week so we came into Wembley to look at various ideas up on the big screen and see if we could kick the new idea to touch.
The whole band showed up and joined us around 10.30pm, so we all crammed into the upstairs control area of the mixer tower out in the field. Now dubbed 'The Enterprise', the upper level of the mix is built to accommodate six people and there about 20 of us in there, so it was a tad cosy. We looked at several different video pieces and played with them in various ways, leading into a lengthy discussion about how best to finish off the idea. We certainly have something good coming.
Once the discussions were over, most people left and my team and I took advantage of a rare moment with the entire show system in a quiet and dark stadium. I've mentioned before how, once the tour begins, this kind of quality time is almost non-existent, so we jumped on this moment. Managed to revitalise the lighting looks for Streets and re-do Mysterious Ways from scratch, which really needed to happen (OK, so most of the audience probably won't notice, but we care about this stuff...)