We had finally reached the last day. Woke up in Köln and prepared to head off. We were actually on the outskirts and in, what were in daylight, pretty bleak surroundings. The guy who showed us to our apartment was from Galicia and a nice dude, but the whole area was pretty grim. When we drove out we passed a ton of industry and about thirty tiny, scruffy little caravans on the side of the road. There were enough open windows to see that each one had a girl in it. Pretty sobering sight to be honest.
So we high-tailed it for the border, tore through Belgium and were back in France in good time. By now Reece and I were both feeling pretty tired even with short drives. We had a five hour run and checked in to the hotel before heading to Le Forum; an excellent venue with – once again – amazingly helpful and friendly staff, right down to the large security dudes.

It was great to see my old friend Laurent Nozérac who came down to the show wearing the Kill and Destroy shirt I designed while in the Blaze band. Haven’t seen one in a while. Laurent is a top guy; well in to his music and just a pleasure to hang out with. He also very kindly brought a nice bottle of wine as a birthday present 🙂 Cheers Laurent.   

With soundcheck done in good time, we, Fire and Water and the Mindcrime band and crew all sat down for an excellent meal. Was nice to just relax and talk for a while.

Before long, doors were open and the place quickly filled – probably the biggest crowd of the tour Tomás and Clodagh hit the stage and gave a spectacular performance. They were joined by the Operation:Mindcrime band on ‘The Liar’ which was great. Plus Thomás and Clodagh gave a shout out for my birthday – much appreciated, thank you.

We hit the stage ready to bring the noise and had quite a cracker of a gig 🙂 The audience were fantastic. It was slightly surreal at one point during a tuning break when I looked around and saw a bunch of people on stage. The first person I saw was actually Emily – with her bright blonde hair – and she was carrying a bottle. Clearly my train of thought was still boarding at the station, and I wondered why she was on stage. Was she bringing extra water? It was hot after all…

Gradually the cogs in my mind meshed together and I saw she was also with the rest of the Fire and Water and Operation:Mindcrime people. They came onstage with Champagne for us. John got on the mic and said some very very nice things about I.C.O.N and then got the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to me. I know it makes me sound like a sap, but I actually felt quite emotional at that moment. Ha! Must be getting old 😉 Thank you very much ladies and gents for the exceptionally nice gesture. 

With a glass of Champagne to steady the nerves we blasted through the second half of the set and then our part was done. The crowd were spectacular – what a way to end our tour. 

All that remained was to watch Operation:Mindcrime one more time, while also flitting around between friends old and new. They were – predictably – superb.

After many goodbyes we were eventually off to the hotel. Calais tomorrow and then home eventually – I wonder if The Lord will send another nun to guide us?

This tour has been quite a trial in many ways. By the time I get home, we will have driven 7,000 miles in four different vehicles – one of which is still stranded in Trieste with a bunch of grinning imbeciles who claim to be mechanics.

But, as difficult as that has been, the people we were on tour with made it incredibly easy too. Tomás and Clodagh of Fire and Water were always a joy to be around. Incredibly talented and equally nice, it was great to meet them and I know we will be seeing more of them. Geoff, Kelly, Scott, Randy, John and Simon (fantastic drummer!) of Operation:Mindcrime were the same – an absolute pleasure to share a tour with; hugely talented and very very cool people. Tour manager Ingo was awesome – a great TM and great guy. It was nice to see Emily’s smiling face at each gig and she was not only a really cool person to be around but also helped us no end with our Merch. Susan was fantastic and without her idea to haul our backline we may have been well and truly fucked when our van broke down. And last, but definitely not least, the hardest working crew, Ty and Ollie – two fine gents that it is my privilege to know. 

This may sound like mindless gushing – but I can honestly say it’s a great thing when everybody you are on tour with is so cool. I’m going to miss them all, but hopefully we will cross paths again soon.

And, of course, thanks to our guv’nor Anna who organised the daunting – and ever changing – logistics that meant we never missed a hotel or scheduled arrival (apart from Rome which nobody could have made happen!)

What a blast this tour has been. If you ever get a chance to check out either band – don’t hesitate. You won’t be disappointed!