Turin. Show day.
First show day at last and, all things considered, it was relatively straightforward. Down at the stadium before doors open there was an absolute media scrum going on, largely from the countries we will be visiting over the next month or so. I did a couple of interviews with TV crews from Turkey and Russia. The Russian crew asked very nicely, so I took them under the stage. The first thing you come to in 'underworld' is a row of sound consoles which take care of the onstage sound for the band ('monitors'). The be-headphoned monitor engineers were doing their line checks in a state of complete calm, which must not have looked sufficiently exciting to our Russian TV presenter, as she announced deadpan to the group of guys: 'Could you please pretend you are working?'. I'd say we€™ll get plenty of mileage out of that.
The rest of the day consisted of getting back into the 'show day' routine. It will be second nature in a week or two but today I had to think about every step. Set lists, final tweaks, pep-talks, encouragements, remembering to have dinner, heading to front-of-house.
It was a pretty great show for an opening night so we can breathe a sigh of relief and move on. I was happy with the new show elements (particularly the two 'Meatheads' in their flying saucer who appear at intermission whistling 'Where the Streets Have No Name') and there was a solid first airing of the new songs.
I didn€™t do the 'runner' to the plane with everyone else as Smasher has brought his own vehicle. Given that there's no water between here and Belgium, he decided to bring his little van which will be very handy as we're hubbing out of Nice for the next while. It's only a three-hour drive from Turin, but I thought it better that Smasher didn't drive alone after the gig, and besides, it would be a bit of an adventure.
Once the show was over we didn't linger too long before setting off on the drive. The vehicle is a little two-seater van so I felt like we were delivering pizza. We got through the gig traffic, out of the city of Turin, onto the freeway and into the darkness. Our conversation fell quiet as we sped along, thinking over the gig we'd just experienced and I realised in a moment that we were in fact the two 'Meatheads' going home from the gig in our little craft. I didn't say anything but just started whistling 'Where the Streets Have No Name' and Smasher started laughing so hard he almost crashed the van.
We drove for a couple of hours before stopping for fuel and a snack at a roadside gas station. The place was in the middle of nowhere, just a regular, tiny petrol station at 2am, but they not only had an espresso bar with barista, but also a sandwich counter with a man making fresh panini. This was a joy and naturally we took advantage of the situation but it also brought a wave of despair for my own nation, which seems to have given up on feeling such food rituals are at all important. Even the making of a cup of tea (which, if properly undertaken, is a task of comparable complexity to making an espresso) has been relegated to the throwaway process of sticking a bag in a cup. The Kiwis still have it down - you can barely get a cup of tea in New Zealand that doesn't involve teapots, hot water jugs, saucers and strainers, etc but the Brits seem to have given up entirely.
We docked the flying saucer in Nice at about 3am and joined the rest of the touring party on the roof of the hotel for a nightcap. They'd only got there about half an hour earlier, which made us feel good. I'd say that we'll sleep well tonight.