Hi again, everyone :)
Before getting going on this one, I must apologise for being away for a while. The combination the busy schedule, lots of travelling, sporadic internet access in Eastern Europe and having been a bit under the weather has meant that I am a bit behind! I started writing this about a week ago, so some of it might be old news if you're keeping up to date on FB or elsewhere! I'll leave what I already wrote as it is, though, and add some more recent stuff on the end...
So, the first leg of the tour is over - and we are officially over 1/3 done in terms of number of concerts. There are 52 gigs in this leg of the tour and we passed that landmark in Magdeburg. One of the more difficult venues but, as always, everyone did a great job in making it work and the show was very well received. (Truth to tell, I don't think we've not had a standing-o anywhere yet!) From there, we had one more stop in Germany before saying "Auf Wiedersehen" (we'll be back in April) to the home crowds and heading East.
First stop was Warsaw, in Poland - one of our favourite cities and our favourite venues. It's a big old communist era hall, originally built for political meetings and, in that sense, the architecture is very typical. Backstage it's a bit dated, though there's plenty of room, but the auditorium is wonderful. Standing on that stage looking out is an experience indeed! And, apart from several thousand happy Poles, about 20 people made the journey from South Wales to support Dan Williams, one of our new monks - I think they made as much noise as the rest of the crowd put together ;)
That kicked off a run of great arena gigs which just continued to get better and better: Gdynia (also Poland), Vilnius and Klaipeda (Lithuania), Riga (Latvia) and Kaunas (back to Lithuania). Then we skipped to Tallinn (Estonia) - another place where we know we'll always get a great reception - for a gig in (sorry, but my musician’s geek hat is going on here) one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls anywhere. The sound was so clean and so easy to work with :)
OK, hat off again ;) We also caught up with Frank (Peterson) there and it was great to hear that he's happy with the way things are going... Tallinn was also celebrated as marking the half way point of the tour - 26 out of 52 concerts :)
And now, we're in Russia. Last night we were back in one of my favourite cities in the world - St Petersburg. It is a truly beautiful place with some stunning architecture, wonderful canals and waterways, and enough history to keep even the biggest scholar happy. We had fun - and a great concert with, I tentatively suggest, the loudest audience so far (yes, that is a challenge to those places we are coming to next ;) ).
Long bus journey today to Moscow but I picked up a few bottles of Russian champagne (which is very cheap and very drinkable) before we left to help liven up the mood en route. It worked ;) But, nevertheless, we're glad to be here now and looking forward to what promises to be another big show tomorrow.
That's it for now. More soon...
PS Oh, and if you doubt the dedication and work ethic of our crew, have a look at this short film about how they transformed one of our venues for our concert... (It's in German, but you don't need to understand to see the amount of work involved.) The show simply wouldn't happen without them. End of story...