We arrive in Whistler pretty dazed and confused. The travel has been fairly brutal once again - but hey, nobody said it was easy...
All I knew about this in advance was that it's a festival. I think I vaguely got the idea that there would be some trees. But the van ride from the airport to Whistler lays it all out before us in glorious technicolour. Mountains, lakes, glacial streams, it's all here. The road hairpins its way around the mountains revealing another breathtaking vista with every turn. By the time we reach the hotel, pretty much the entire crew have decided that they're going to knock touring on the head and retire here to write their memoirs. OK, maybe that's just me, but it's pretty much as gorgeous as planet earth gets here, so suddenly the sleep deprivation seems a little more worthwhile.
The fact that the hotel itself is an out of season ski-lodge can't help but bring to mind 'The Shining'. This doesn't improve when I meet Production Assistant Marguerite in the lobby at 3am for the load-in. She tells me there is only one road in and out, which has been closed due to an accident. I decide to go back to bed, but the first sign of a little bloke on a trike shouting "Red rum" and I'm off.
Cutting to the show itself, I can't not mention standing at the side of the stage to watch Jay-Z's set. Not only is he more than able to blow a crowd away, but the punters are right up for it. As for his band - well any tighter and they'd have imploded. He "bigs up" our boys generously before he leaves and walks away from a job well done - not to mention leaving the bar set rather high.
Never ones to shy away from a challenge, our fellas throw themselves into it with abandon. It's one of those size crowds where you start to wonder whether the people at the back can see for the curvature of the earth, but they're clearly trying to project right to the very back. As they steam into In My Place, every part of Will's drumkit is bouncing,rocking and swinging in an almost cartoon-like slo-mo explosion. It looks like he's literally trying to break his kit to pieces - and may well succeed!
Inevitably, the hits get the rowdiest response. Festivals are ever thus. It's telling, though, that despite the prospect of utterly horrendous traffic and the temptation of leaving early, the crowd hardly dwindles until the outro is run. It's been the first run for the Pemberton festival, as well as the first festival show for us on this tour. I reckon we all did pretty damn well.