Paris. Load in day.
It's never a disappointment to wake up in Paris and knowing that the production load in at Stade de France was probably still in its early stages, I allowed myself a bit of a day off. My first mission was to get a haircut, as I was getting excessively woolly. You take your life in your hands when randomly choosing a place to go, so I solicited some help from the concierge at the Hotel Fabulous (and this one really is Fabulous, let me tell you). I explained carefully that I wanted a barbers shop rather than a poofy salon and the very effusive concierge lit up like a Christmas tree ('Ah, Mais Oui! Sacre Bleu! Waffer Thin Mint! etc., etc.,') before giving me directions to possibly the most over the top fluffy coiffieurserie I've ever seen, never mind set foot in. Ah well, we're here now so let's be brave. I emerged half an hour and sixty Euros later with only a marginal difference to my appearance but who doesn't need a shiatsu head massage on a Friday morning?
Subsequently, I installed myself at Les Deux Magots on Blvd St. Germain and attempted the IHT crossword over a leisurely omelette mixte. My brain, it seemed, was definitely taking the day off as I comprehensively failed to fill in more than a few of the blanks, so moved on to Village Voice bookshop on Rue Princesse and picked up a copy of The New Yorker to take to le Jardin du Luxembourg. It's been a bit of a gloomy day with the sun making an effort now and again, but it was still a great pleasure to sit and read with ducklings and sparrows providing occasional cabaret. There's a piece in The New Yorker about Sonic Youth having been together for 30 years now, transmuting from underground anti-heroes into an American institution. I can't say I've ever explored their oeuvre with a fine-tooth comb but I became acquainted with them via their opening for R.E.M. off and on in '95. Seeing them play frequently over a period of time helped me find a way into their otherwise borderline impenetrable world. There's something reassuring about their still being around and still being interested in each other.
Retired to the Hotel Fabulous for a while to catch up with a few civilian chores and checked in with some of the crew at the stadium to see how things were going with the second 360 load in. All good apparently, so perhaps this thing might be tour-able after all, you never know. That said, I was politely told that there really wasn't any need for me to come in to the stadium tonight, and I can live with that.
Saturday 11th July 2009. Paris. Show 1.
The Stade de France is possibly the most beautiful stadium on earth. It's also the largest one we'll play this year with a capacity of 95,000 for this show. The aesthetic of the 360 show depends enormously on the building and consequently it is hard to imagine that the show could look any better than it did tonight. It was quite breathtaking at times and the crowd were wonderful too which always helps the party go with a swing. I didn’t do the 'runner' so it was a while before I made it back to the Hotel Fabulous where the bar was absolutely hopping. I stayed for a couple of drinks with Penelope Cruz (OK, not with exactly, so much as at-the-next-table to) and can confirm she is every bit as dazzling in the flesh as she appears on film. Lasted till about 2am then hit the sack.