Kaotican Alphabet

Roadie #42 – Blog #116

#42, the Parachutes song and the farewell dinner

As I write, we’re only hours from the final closing bell on the Viva Tour. The realisation that we’re reaching the end seems to have hit everyone simultaneously after the Guadalajara show. The fact that there is "just one more gig" – that the Monterrey show tomorrow is "the last one" flicks the switch and we’re all faced with the knowledge that it’s the end of this chapter.

We’ve already "done" the end of the tour once, of course. The Wembley stadium shows were the end of a very long concentrated run. In the back of everyone’s minds then though, was the fact that we still had these Latin American shows to do – so it wasn’t *really* over. We were just stopping for a while. We mused about this over breakfast this morning. Guy remarked that it’s like we’ve already had the season finale, but the cast has been talked into doing a Christmas special.

Planned nights out and parties have been arranged a couple of times on this tour-leg for band and crew to get together and break bread, but events have continued to conspire against. Franksy and Marguerite though, have decided that enough is enough. Last night we all gathered at a restaurant for drinks and a final meal.

The evening starts somewhat inevitably, in the bar. It feels very slightly formal as everyone comes together. Talk is of what folks are doing next, how crazy it is that’s been nearly two years. The gathering feels mildly like a wedding reception or a Christmas works do. It’s rare that we’re all in the same place at the same time with the sole purpose of enjoying ourselves.

As the drinks continue, we ask each other about loved ones; many of us have attended weddings of our crew-mates over the years, or have crashed in each other’s spare rooms on at least one occasion. We have met each other’s kids and can even say "my how they’ve grown". It’s rare (and lovely) though, to chat with each other about "real life". Somehow, shop talk or the latest office drama can tend to get in the way.

As well as the family at home, we also talk about the family "out here". We ask if we’ve heard from folks we’ve worked with together over the years. Some are doing well, some are a cause for concern. Like all families, we can tear them to shreds with a mere few words, but care deeply enough to go into battle for any of them at the drop of a hat.

The meal ends and Mr Champion rises to put a seal on things. He gives a speech to thank everyone present for all their efforts both in these last few weeks and over the last two years. He’s eloquent, very genuine and above all very funny. I would have taken photos, but it’s so dark in the restaurant that I’d have been posting either silhouettes or photos of folks shielding their eyes from an annoying man with a flashgun. Besides which, it was supposed to be a night off…

It’s lunacy of course, to behave this "finally" with a show still to do. Roadie superstition dictates that it’s tempting fate in a quite kamikaze fashion. Tomorrow though, will doubtless disappear in a flash. We’ll go from tearing around carrying out that day’s duties, directly to each being fired at a thousand miles an hour at the brick wall we call our "normal lives". Having celebrated what we’ve had and what we’ve done is only right and proper.

As the dinner plates are cleared away, we’re urged to re-convene in the bar upstairs. Dan Green and I go up for a quick look. It’s dark, it’s full of painfully fashionably dressed folks we’ve never met before. Worse still, there is a DJ playing some terrible jazz-funk at a level that makes talking unlikely. We head back downstairs, where everyone has very sensibly decided to stay floating about the dining room. Slowly it thins out as folks head off to brave the noise – and doubtless completely redefine the character of the bar.

I make my excuses and bail. I have Guadalajara to write about, after all…

That’s right, we’ve done a show since I last wrote. Guadalajara was another new destination for me. Similarly to Mexico City and Bogota, it’s placed at a very good distance above sea level. This has left folks pretty short of breath a lot of the time. Indeed, there have been tanks of oxygen at the side of stage each night for use when the band give it a little too much welly.

Here’s Mr C in the pitch blackness behind the drumriser. He’s grabbing a lungful before Viva, while Chris sings alone on the C-stage. And here’s me saying I didn’t want to post photos of silhouettes….

The thinner air is allegedly playing havoc with the table-tennis backstage. Trainer Dan claims that it explains why every shot where he applies topspin goes "way long". He calls that "applying science". There are others who might say he just can’t stand losing…  😉

The show is a belter. The weather is truly gorgeous and the crowd wonderfully bonkers. It’s a smaller stadium than some of the others that we’ve been in recently, but they make enough noise for twice their number. Out of nowhere, the intro to Yellow becomes an impromptu rendition of Parachutes. Not sure how often that’s been heard live, but I’ll wager it’s very, very few!

And that brings us to Monterrey. The arrival is pretty spectacular as we skim in over the mountains. We’re held up at the airport waiting for the president’s wife to clear the field. We’re then pursued by paps who appear to know no fear whatsoever. Us – not so much. We have a healthy understanding of danger and they are clearly behaving very, very unwisely. Despite a flank of motorbike police outriders and completely blacked out windows in our vehicles, the pap vehicles continue to buzz us like angry bees. It’s silly, it’s pointless and it’s plain bloody dangerous.

And that brings us to dinnertime, which is where we came in. Best get this posted and pack. Home tomorrow….