Almost Xmas, the year is almost over and it’s been one hell of a roller coaster ride. Having said all this, I can’t think of a better way to finish the year off than with the Future Publishing Fanpack release of Journey to the Centre of the Earth and a wonderful tour of South America.
Starting with the two weeks in Chile, Argentina and Brazil, it was probably one of the hardest two weeks I’ve ever done on the road, but undoubtedly one of the most rewarding.
We did three different shows over the two week period and here is a brief resume of what happened.
We flew from Heathrow on Saturday the 17th and landed in Sao Paulo on Sunday 18th in the morning. We were late arriving, due to a delay at Heathrow, (no surprise there), which meant we missed our connection to Porto Alegre, but due to wonderful organisation from our agent down there, we were all transferred to another flight without a hitch.
From the airport in Porto Alegre we drove to the hotel and checked in and a few hours later after showering, (yes we do shower), we all went off to a theatre in Novo Hamburgo, about an hour and a half’s drive away to check that all the equipment had arrived, and thankfully it had, and all in one piece too.
We finished checking the gear after it had been set up, around 3am and drove back to the hotel, but were up again at 7am for an 8 o’clock leave for rehearsal back in Novo Hamburgo.
We rehearsed from around 9am until 7.30pm and then did a warm up show at 9pm, finally getting back to the hotel at around 1am. The next morning, (well the same one really), we were back for more rehearsals, although this was mainly me changing the odd arrangement here and there)!
We did a show that evening in Porto Alegre and as all South American audiences do, they lifted us to a great level and the band were playing fantastically, Nick Beggs slotting in as if he had always been in the band.
The next day we flew to Sao Paulo and went straight to sound-check as this was always going to be a very busy two days as the first show had sold out and a second had been put in straight after, so there was a show at 9pm and another just before midnight. They were two great shows and we arrived back at the hotel at around 4am, not to sleep, but to pick up our bags’ to go to the airport to catch an 8am flight to Santiago in Chile!
A somewhat tired band arrived in Chile and whilst most of the band spent the evening catching up on some sleep, I had a wonderful dinner with my son Oscar, (who lives there with his beautiful wife Macarena), and his new in-laws, who were absolutely delightful.
There was a show the next day which again was fantastic. I can’t believe how well the band played. I was extremely proud of them.
Then it was off on a flight to Buenos Aires where we jumped on a tour bus and drove for about 6 hours to Rosario, a lovely city on the River Plate. On arrival we went straight off for the traditional tour dinner and where it has to be said, it’s not particularly ideal for vegetarians! The best steaks in the world are in South America and I can only hope that the two vegetarians amongst our party of 9, enjoyed their salad!
The show in Rosario was again wonderful, fabulous audience and the band played superbly again.
Then it was back on the bus to Sao Paulo for a very intensive four days, probably the most intensive I can ever remember.
On the morning of Tuesday 27th, we were at rehearsals shortly after 7.30am where the band rehearsed the new version of Journey with the new links and new pieces and also with Cecelia, an Argentinean girl vocalist who was singing the two songs that Hayley had sung on the album.
The orchestra and Argentinean narrator, (a wonderful actor called Ivan), arrived at midday and rehearsals with them started in earnest at 2pm until almost 6pm. After they had gone, the band stayed on for another 6 hours to rehearse the orchestral version of The 6 Wives of Henry VIII. It was the early hours of the morning before anybody got to bed, but there was not much sleep as most of us had found that our brains were hurting!
On Thursday morning rehearsals started at 7.30am again with the orchestra doing the 6 Wives with us and the rest of the day was spent with people doing individual practise!
Thursday 28th was a real red letter day for me. It was to be the first concert of Journey since it’s rebirth and indeed the first time it had been played with an orchestra in any form for more than 35 years.
When the first orchestral notes struck up playing the fanfare theme I will admit to having more than a lump in my throat. It all worked wonderfully and Guy Protheroe did a fabulous job as did the band, Cecelia and Ivan. I don’t think I have ever heard the band play better and Ashley was on top form.
The full ensemble on stage in Buenos Aires
The audience lifted us to new heights again and after two encores, (especially written), we had literally run out of things to play and many of the sold out audience were still there after we had eventually left.
No time to relax though as Friday was the turn of the 6 Wives of Henry VIII and again the band exceeded all my expectations and indeed, we ran out of encores, thanks to another amazing audience, and in desperation played Starship Trooper without the orchestra of course!!
The next day saw us all flying home. Pretty exhausted but deep down, all very happy and pleased.
This was made possible by the greatest team of people I could only dream of having around me and they all deserve a mention.
Aquiles my agent, promoter and great friend (and everybody in his office).
Lupe........who looked after us as the best tour manager anyone could ask for.
Paul the most efficient stage manager you could ask for.
Erik Jordan.....the best studio engineer and keyboard tech you could possibly have.
Ian Barfoot.........the number one out front sound man.
Ashley Holt.........as singers go...he’s the man.
Dave Colquhoun..........the best guitarist I have ever worked with.
Nick Beggs............brought a new dimension to the band and his stick playing was just amazing.
Tony Fernandez...who just gets better and better if that’s possible.
Guy Protheroe....whose unbelievable dedication and brilliant conducting, just made it all possible.
The audiences............so special.
Well that’s the tour report over....now onto December..;....off to Hungary for two piano performances for a charity in Budapest and Pacs and then after a few meetings in London to start sorting out next year it’s off visiting the kids and grandkids with their Xmas presents....and then I’m shutting the door for a couple of weeks. I’m not going anywhere, not seeing anyone apart from my lovely wife Rachel and her mum and dad.
...and if there’s a nice day...I may even open the garage door and start clearing it!!
Happy Xmas everybody and thanks so much for all your support.