Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rome, day of the show

We had breakfast at 9 am on the hotel rooftop terrace before walking the 1/4 mile to board the “hop on hop off” sightseeing bus.

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It was still very hot, but as we’d made an early start, we were able to sit on the top deck of the open top bus. We got off at the 2nd stop—The Coliseum. This was somewhere that Ole had wanted to visit since he used to read the Asterix books when he was a kid. I don't think he was disappointed at all. I’ve been in it three times now, and it still leaves me in awe when I try to imagine when it was built and just how it must have been built!

View from the sightseeing bus                    Ole being Spartacus!                                  Probably one of the earliest walls!!

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After getting a drink outside the Coliseum and a short walk to nowhere, we waited at the bus stop to “hop” back on. We carried on the whole of the bus route passing lots of amazing building and sights without getting off until the last stop.

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We got off at the Pantheon, had a look around, and then stopped in at a restaurant for a drink and some lunch, followed by my one and only cup of Gelato the whole time I’d been in Italy!

We’d arranged to meet up with a few people at the Hard Rock Cafe later on in the afternoon and started the walk back to the hotel to chill out for an hour. Half way back we decided to take the rest of the 5 minute journey in a taxi.

It was great to see Johan and Anders at the Hard Rock. I also got to see one of my Italian friends, Rocco, who I’d met last time I was here. Glenn had been complaining of an upset stomach earlier on in the day, and, as he put it, he had had trouble getting off the shitter before coming back out! Stuart was already at the Hard Rock when we got there and had also been complaining of a bad stomach, but the two couldn't think of anything they had eaten the same that could have caused the problem. (Later on in the day at the show Stuart had to leave the gig half way through due to not feeling well at all!)

Stuart, Glenn, Ole, and I took a taxi out to the venue. Frank, Dora, and a couple of others followed behind shortly, and upon arrival at the venue we proceeded to pick up tickets at the box office. The gig wasn't due to start till 9:15, and it was only 6:30. I hung around outside waiting to meet everyone else while Stuart, Ole, and Glenn headed in to get good places on the floor.

I met Anders and Johan first, then Frank and Dora arrived, and then Mike, Fran, and Ray. We all chatted outside the venue for a good couple of hours before heading in to find our places. Michael told us how he, Fran, and Ray had received a police escort just to pick up their tickets at the box office! I mean, seriously, you couldn't make this stuff up what they have been through and doing this past week!

Anders and Johan                                       Few of the pre show group                         Ray and Fran ready to go to the show

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Upon entering the venue we had an incredible view of the wall and the area behind it—a unique view not normally seen at most venues.

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The stadium was a fantastic venue built for the Rome Olympics, and I believe has a capacity of 85,000 when totally full! I’d guess that by the time the show started there were 68,000 people there to watch the show! I don't believe it was totally sold out, and there were a few people outside selling tickets and still tickets available online on the day of the show.

I wanted to take the whole show in again and sat at the side where I was able to see the whole of the floor area and the people in all the level all around the stadium

Ole took some pictures from where they were stood on the floor, and it looks like they had a fantastic place. Thanks to Ole for the pictures below.

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The same new Spartacus graphics came on after the pre show music tracks, and the reaction of the crowd even this early on was amazing. They went crazy screaming, shouting, chanting clapping—you name it they did it—anything they could do to show they were ready for the show!

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The plane was mounted real high up on the back of the roof tonight, and the timing was just right as it hit the wall making the flames and smoke erupt behind the wall. I think that point was the loudest of all the music, explosion sound effects, and crowd screaming I have ever heard. It truly was totally deafening, even where I was. I can’t begin to imagine what it must have sounded like on the floor. Phil, Ole, and Glenn said afterwards it was absolutely incredible! Phil and Laila had gone in early to get a place near the rail, Stuart, Glenn and Ole had gone in an hour or two later, but made their way through to Phil and Laila by Glenn shouting out “Move to the side, I’m a Dr, let me through!” They all found each other eventually! I didn't know until after the show, but Stuart had to leave at intermission due to him having a bout of food poisoning! He thinks he may have caught it at the restaurant we ate at the night before. I’m just glad the bathroom wasn't in Bangladesh and that he made it to the one in the stadium!

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The crowd sang most of the words to Another Brick, Mother, and a few others. The PA sound was incredible tonight, very loud but crystal clear. Robbie's vocals sounded amazing. It was like the guy was sat right next to me while he was singing—you could even Hhear his sharp intakes of breath during his singing. he was the best I’d ever heard him. Dave K’s sound was just the same, too. The guitar squeaks on Young Lust and the clarity of his notes were incredible. You can hear the crowd singing a little in the video below, but nothing gets it across just how loud they were all around the arena. Take a listen at 5:30.

The show went pretty much with incident apart from, again, Roger having problems with his mic at the beginning of Nobody Home. It sounded like they forgot to fade his mic up, and we missed hearing the first couple of lines before Roger had a go at the sound crew saying “About time guys.”  This was the second show in a row that he had had problems at this part of the show, and even though tonight he had a spare mic, which he swapped to as soon as he realised, it was obvious they hadn't faded it up as the replacement mic wasn't audible either. (You can hear this on the video below.)

The crowd during the second half, and especially Run Like Hell, were amazing. Every hand in the arena was in the air clapping in unison with Roger. The pig came out as usual and stayed around in the air until the wall fell when it was lowered to the ground and ripped to pieces by the crazy Italian fans.

There was a new “tweak” to the animations tonight that I’d not noticed before. During The Trial when the animated wall spins around 360 degrees, and as the wall come back around and meets the other wall projections, there was a little “whisp” of animated dust as the two pieces meet. I'll try grab a video of it in Oslo in a couple of weeks.

Of course, after the wall came down there was the obligatory Italian singing of Ole, Ole, Ole, which Roger joined in with. This is incredible to hear, and it makes the hairs on my arms stand up just thinking about it now! Roger commented  after Outside The Wall, “This is why we like to come back to Italy.” Listen to the crowd on the video below from 5:15 onwards.

I did a runner the second the guys walked off the stage—ran like hell to the end of the street by the venue entrance and jumped in a taxi. I’d said goodbye to Mike, Ray, and Fern at Intermission, and from what they said then, they were enjoying the show a lot! 15 minutes after I got back to the hotel, Ole came into the room and  headed downstairs to the pizza restaurant outside the hotel to have a final drink with everyone before we all went our separate ways in the morning.

I have to say that Rome was THE best show I've seen. I’ve now seen this show 128 times, and tonight was the best of them all, The crowd, the sound, the performance, and the people made this my favourite show of them all. It’s not over yet, though! I’m now home for a couple of weeks, unless I find a cheap flight to Frankfurt or Prague, and then its out to Oslo for the two indoor shows there and the outdoor show in Gothenburg.

A few more pictures from the show:

 
Pictures from sightseeing:
 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The morning after Padova

Ole and I had breakfast in the hotel. We were staying a 5-minute walk out of the town and a 10-minute walk from the railway station. We were heading to Rome on the 1 pm train along with Stuart, Glenn, Frank, and Dora.

View from the hotel breakfast room!

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Ole had not seen the wall exhibition, so we decided to check out of the hotel and grabbed a taxi to the conference centre. After having a look around at the pictures and exhibition, Ole and I got invited to morning coffee with Gerald Scarfe! I’d met him briefly once several years ago in London and remember him being ever such a nice guy. We had 90 minutes to kill before our train, so we took a short 10-minute walk to the cafe bar and met up with Gerald, his wife Jane, and his son Rupert. I felt so honoured to be sat at a table with the guy, let alone chatting to him like we were friends! The seven of us shared stories about Roger and the show last night  over some great iced coffee. The three of them were heading up to Venice today, hiring a car, and setting off for a couple of weeks driving around Europe—wherever the wind took them! I think you can see by my smile how proud and honoured I was to meet him in the pictures below, Even though I was sweaty from the heat, as I put my arm around him, I felt he was sweaty too!! Gerald and I sharing the sweat together LOL :)

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Ole and I said our goodbyes and took a taxi to the train station. We met up with Stuart, Glenn, Frank, and Dora, all of whom were taking the same train as us down to Rome. Stuart, Ole, and I had booked the train early enough a few weeks ago to get a cheap first class ticket while Frank, Dora, and Glenn were a few carriages away in second. You don't know how much of a good thing Glenn being 3 carriages away is!! Glenn has been around the “Floyd Scene” for a long time, we've known each other going on 15 years and have always met up at shows, hung out before shows, and done sightseeing in cities around the world. He’s written a couple of books on Floyd, the main one being “In The Flesh,” and then one called “Echoes” a few years ago. He’s a great guy, and I love him to bits, and we always have a laugh when travelling, but, he does seem to be………..I don't know how to put it. Not accident prone but……. Well, let’s just say things always seem to happen to Glenn! I’ve copied a couple of his Facebook status posts from the last couple of days and posted them below, and you’ll see what I mean! You know I’m only messing with you mate, and once again, a great time was had by all. It wouldn't have be the same without you!

Glenn Povey, Day 1:

Today I headed to Padua via Venice airport to give a talk at a Pink Floyd exhibition that’s tied in with Roger Waters’ concert at the local football stadium. Listen to some annoying Australian two rows behind me holding court on global warming and the ice age. Keeps saying “Epileptic” instead of “Apocalyptic”.So far so good. Get taxi from airport to hotel in Padua with the man with no name (or voice). Drive past stadium en-route. The stage looks fucking enormous! Taxi driver does not get a tip, even though he was on 10 Euros per word.Get to hotel and bump into mien host, Alberto. Known the guy for 25+ years but never met him. It’s like meeting a long lost relative. His associates, Marco and Gian-Luigi, also there, become my new best friends.
We go to the exhibition and after a quick look around and a cheeky beer I take my place. It’s not so much a talk as press conference and audience Q&A on my various books. All goes well, but remember that Italians talk at 300mph and use 20 words instead of one, so my translator has difficulty translating and I have to talk really slowly to make my translator understand what I’m saying to the point that I’ve forgotten the bloody question.Fortunately I get through it, but not before some pedant points out a typo on a date in one of my books, which in the Italian edition is incorrect. Fuck me, I didn’t translate the bastard! Another seriously deranged man wants to know the name of the fan Roger Waters spat at in 1977. Like I’d know or even give a shit about? He then shows us his paintings, all of which makes Van Gogh’s look like the product of a sane, rational man.
A few signings later and its back to the hotel. Dinner with Gerald Scarfe and Jane Asher. Eh? That’s right, Mr. Scarfe has not only designed the poster for the exhibition he’s also doing the press conference thing tomorrow, and hence dinner with the Scarfe's and the organisers this evening. Dinner is via a long walk through the old town (architecturally spectacular as most Italian towns are) and into a traditional Italian restaurant with an alarming collection of old radios, gramophones and typewriters on the shelves. It’s a museum. I manage to sit myself next to Jane Asher. We have a good old chuckle all night long (she is a genuinely lovely person), but not before managing to completely fuck up our orders by both accidentally ordering a prawn cocktail for starters (pictured) and some weird meat dish for a main.
The family Scarfe take an early night, but the rest of clan eat pudding (me tiramisu) and order coffee (me a huge brandy – they’re all lightweights!) followed by limoncello. I attempt, but fail, to convince the rest of the party that the night is young (despite being up 17 hours) and so we all head back to the hotel and our respective beds...

Day 2:
Begins well, ends in bruises.
Get up and have breakfast. So far so good. Meet up with Alberto and the gang and the family Scarfe in the hotel lobby to head off to his press conference. We’re led into the holding tank before Gerald takes to the stage in what was the old courthouse cells, although thankfully now renovated and looking very plush and, more importantly, very cool as its a furnace outside and its only 9.30am.
Gerald gives a remarkable talk about his career and fields many questions from the audience over the next two hours. Afterwards I meet up with some very old friends who are in the audience and we have a natter whilst Gerald signs things until his hand drops off.
This takes us neatly into lunch at the art centre and we all sit down for a couple of beers and food. However, presenting the menu seems to be a difficult task for the waiter to accomplish and after six attempts and an hour later the menu finally appears. We order. I had a rather excellent tagliatelle, so I conclude that the wait was indeed worth it.
As the party dissipates, Gerald and his son Rupert go for a stroll around the exhibition and I sit and chat to his wife, Jane Asher. After a while she decides to join her husband, and this is where things start to go very wrong because she completely fails to see the plate glass door that I thought she was going to open and crashes nose first straight into it. Ouch! She didn’t see it. Blood everywhere! I then become her first aid carer and take her to the bathroom with a box of tissues and with the help of one of our friends, Stefano, get a pack of ice from the bar straight onto her hooter.They go back to the hotel and I head off to meet friends Simon and Phil at a nearby bar. Many beers later and Phil, his wife Laila and Dave (who I kept calling Steve and has an Australian accent but insists he’s Irish) are heading to my hotel to pick up the shuttle bus to the concert via a bar to grab some bottles of wine for the show. The bus takes us to within a mile of the show and a vast influx of Pink Floyd refugees make their way to the stadium. We drink wine. I have heard rumours that the show was very good. In the excitement I lost my hotel room key, which would have made for a very entertaining episode in a sit-com as I tried to explain to the night porter that I was a fine upstanding English gentleman, a guest at the hotel and no, I wasn’t some staggering drunken British idiot with a bloodied knee who was trying to blag a room for the night.

The train journey was fortunately uneventful, and 3 hours after boarding, we arrive in Rome. I’d looked at the weather forecast before leaving the UK and had seen Rome was 37`C (about 95`F). Padova had been hot, but the second we walked out of the station into the sun, we looked at each other in amazement as to just how hot it was in Rome!

Train speed!                                                                      The weather for all of Italy as shown on the train. SUN!

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Stuart took the bus to his hotel, and Ole, Glen, and I walked the couple of blocks to ours. Phil and Laila had flown down from Venice, and as for Fran, Ray, and Mike (known as “the Americans”) who knows where they were! Last I saw of them was outside the gig at Padova, and for all I know, they could have still been there or anywhere else in Europe for that matter!

Mike, Ray, and Fern the last time I had seen them!                                   Don't let the water in Mike’s pocket put you off. Its a front!

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It was just gone 4:30 pm, and we arranged to meet Stuart at an Irish bar he knew around 7 pm. When we got checked into the hotel I e-mailed Phil to let him know our plans and sent an e-mail to Frank, too. I also sent an e-mail to “the Americans.” None of them had a cell phone, and only Mike had e-mail access. Would they get the e-mail? Who knows. Would they turn up ? Who knows. Were they even in Rome ? No one knew!

We chilled out for a couple of hours before walking over to the bar. I‘d been to Rome a couple of times before and seen all the sights. So had Glenn, but it was Ole’s first time visiting. We walked past the Trevi fountain and a couple of other sites before settling down at an outside table at the Irish bar with an ice cold pint of Strongbow. The heat really was unbearable. The second you stepped out into the street, everyone broke out into an instant sweat! And walking in it wasn't nice at all, but hey, we were in Rome. Pasta, wine, gelato, and with great fiends—we didn't complain much.

Ole at the Trevi fountain                              Glenn doing who knows what!                     Glenn, Stuart, and Ole at the Irish bar.

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The last we had eaten was at breakfast around 9 am. Glen had eaten a tennis-ball-tasting bread roll on the train. We hadn’t had the luxury of eating such a delicacy and were all pretty hungry. We got to the bar around 6:30, Frank arrived around 7:15, and we ordered something to munch on while we waited for the others. Phil and Laila arrived around 8, but where were “the Americans” ?

2 minutes later I looked up and saw Mike, Fern, and Ray. Phew! They had made it back! But only just after listening to their story! Mike had received the e-mail I sent but, due to them only just getting up and showered, had taken no note of where the bar was. He just knew it was near the Trevi fountain. I headed inside the bar and had a chat with them to find out how their trip back had been. After the show in Padova they had taken a taxi  to the bar we had met up in before the show. After listening to their tale I’m still not exactly sure what happened but the phrases, “Wrong train in Bologna,”  “Fern chased by homeless people on bikes,”  “Children telling them they were in the wrong part of town at this time of night,”  “Our taxi was overturned by Italians,” and “We finally got back at 11 this morning,”  had me very thankful that they had made it back to Rome in one piece!

Glenn, Stuart, Ole, and I walked up the street a little to a small Italian restaurant just up one of the small alleys and had dinner while the others remained at the Irish bar. After a couple of bottles of wine and some great pasta, Ole started to tell us all a story about his couch being flushed down the toilet! I have no idea what on earth he was talking about, but it had us all in fits of laughter. I need to hear this story again, Ole, when we’re all a little less “happy.” Before paying the bill and leaving the restaurant, Ole asked our waiter where the bathroom was. I don't think any of us were expecting the reply he got when the waiter looked at him, smiled and said “Bangladesh!” I said he better start walking now if he was desperate to go, and that we’d see him in a few months’ time. Either Bangladesh has moved several thousand miles round the corner from a restaurant in Italy, or the waiter thought Ole was asking where he was from in his heavily accented NorwEnglish!

Stuart left and took the bus back to his hotel, and the three of us decided we would do the Rome sightseeing bus the next morning and arranged to meet for breakfast around 9 am.

Speechless!

 

Best show ever tonight! Out of the 127 I've seen, for me, this was THE best one. Italy really did Roger proud.

I want to thank Michael, Fern, and Ray, my three friends from Florida that flew over on Monday and saw the two Italy shows. I think they had THE most amazing time. You guys are great, and I’ve had so much fun hanging out, They are the only three people I know who got a walking police escort to pick up their tickets! Safe travels back, and see you again soon.

Rome tonight:

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

UK to Padova

 
I arrived at the Padova station at 2:30, walked the 20 minutes to the hotel, and checked in. As I was checking in, my friend Frank who had flown in from Phoenix came down to the lobby. Had a quick chat and arranged to see him and his girlfriend Dora, who had flown over from Hawaii, at the meet up bar at 5 pm.
The weather here was hot. VERY hot. And the humidity was very high—something people from the UK are not used to at all!
My friend Alberto was hosting an exhibition at a conference centre in the town, so I took a short taxi ride to the exhibition and had a look around. Alberto had headed out to pick up his parents from the station, because they were coming for the show, but I met with the other people that organised the exhibition who were all very passionate fans from Italy. I was surprised to see so many of my photographs were on show, and they looked excellent blown up to a larger size!
 
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They’d done a really good job of showing things that all related and had several unique items—including a full brick from the show in London where Gilmour played, plus the original “Pink” from the 1980 shows!
 
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Gerald Scarfe had done a Q&A with an audience earlier in the day, and my good friend Glenn Povey had also done a short talk with the audience.
I headed off to the bar to meet up with everyone, and, of course, Glenn, Phil, Dave, and Laila were already there lining up beers on the table! Stuart and Ole arrived next, then Frank and Dora, a few guys from Yeeshkull turned up to say hi, and then my friends Michael, Fran, and Ray who had flown in from Florida arrived! The 3 of them had flown over to Rome on Monday and were only planning on doing the Rome show and then flying home. However, he e-mailed me earlier to say they were getting the train up from Rome to Padova, seeing the show, and then getting the 4 am train back to Rome, of course filling the few hours between the end of the show and their train with a few beers! I’ve no idea if they made it, but we’ll see when I get to Rome later on today! Kevin, Philippe, and Georg arrived later, and it was great to catch up with everyone over a “few” drinks—well, 250 Euros worth!
 
Glenn & Phil discuss cocktails!                  Some of the group                                     Kevin and Frank
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Fran, XXX, Michael, and Georg                Ole and Stuart                                      Fran and Ray
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Around 7 pm, four or five of us headed out to get the shuttle to the venue from Glenn’s hotel. The rest of us had a few more drinks(including a free bottle of wine that the bar gave us for spending so much in such a short amount of time!) We then all walked to the taxi stop to get taxis to the venue. I’ve been in Italian taxis many times, but this was an experience like no other!! How on earth Kevin, Ole, Stuart and I got to the venue alive, I will never know! In fact, more to the point, how we got there without taking anyone else out on the road is a mystery to me! The guy was nuts—he was all over the road, honking at anyone and everyone that got in his way. Start is fluent in Italian and was chatting away to him in the front seat. Start lived in Rome for  nine years, so I guess he was used to it. However, when we arrived at the venue even Stuart said the guy was mental! As we got out of the taxi Kevin asked one of the security staff where we would be able to get a taxi after the show. I said, “Kevin, turn around.” As he did he saw a sign no more than 18 inches away from his head that couldn’t make it any clearer!
My three friends from Florida needed tickets for the show, and they wanted standing tickets. Georg had one spare, so now they needed two. Kevin set to “work” as soon as he arrived, and within minutes he had secured two tickets for little money, and everyone was set for the show.
The bootleg T shirt and merchandise is crazy in Italy, and even before the show there are stalls and stalls set up outside the venue selling everything you can think of with Pink Floyd and Roger Waters written on it! We all hung around for an hour taking in the atmosphere as the show didn't start till 9:15. Apart from the pre show meet up, for me, this is one of the best times—just hanging out before a show with friends all expectant of what's to come, some having never seen the outdoor show before and some even not having seen the show at all. This is what makes all the travelling around and meeting people fun for me. I love this shit!
 
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Kevin and I had seats for tonight's show I had also been given a couple of seats by my friend Chris who was in the USA. He was due to come over to see the shows, but because of problems with his back, he had arranged to have the tickets signed over to me with Rogerwaters.com. Unfortunately, after 30 minutes of trying to sell these outside the venue for Chris, we found so many people had tickets that we didn't even get any offers and the tickets went unused. So sorry Chris. These big shows have big attendance, and the more people at the venue, the more tickets there are for sale outside, and the cheaper they are! Scalping is perfectly legal in Europe, and as I've said before to friends that come over, don't ever worry about getting tickets before the shows—there's always plenty around outside.
 
Click the picture below for larger panorama.
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Everyone else had floor tickets for tonight, and as much as I do like to be on the rail for the show, I’d been awake and travelling for just over 20 hours, and the floor was jam packed with probably 30,000 people, so I was more than happy to sit down for one show and take in the projections from a decent distance. Stuart messaged me to say they had so far made it up to the soundboard and Phil, Glenn, and the others had made it to within 3 or 4 rows from the front right in front of Dave K.
 
View of the stage from Stuart’s camera       Glenn and Laila having fun!                           Glenn checking out Phil’s BO!!
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The shows started with something different tonight. When the I’m Spartacus speech came over the PA, the words I’m Spartacus were projected onto the wall in white text. It was then projected many times over in all different languages! It worked very very well, and its probably the biggest new addition to the show for some time.
 
 
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The pyros were as awesome as we have now come to expect at these outdoor venues, with fireworks not only onstage, but also off to the top of the stage roof too.
 
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The crowds in Italy are always good, especially when it’s general admission, and they are standing on the floor. Tonight was no exception. The applause and cheers as the airplane crashed through the wall was tremendous. The Italians are ever so passionate about their music and show it in how loud they cheer and applaud.
As hard as it was for me to see this show from so far back (well further back than I’m used to!), it was great to see the new projections fully and be able to appreciate them how they are meant to be appreciated. I’m still impressed with how bright and how much better these new projectors are, and therefore how much more details is seen on the wall.
 
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Roger had some serious problems with his microphone during Nobody Home. It was constantly cutting out, and he tried three or four times hitting it hard on the end to fix it, but to no avail. He then resorted to holding the microphone out towards the crowd to sing the lyrics for him!
The crowd were amazing for Run Like Hell—following every clap in unison with Roger—and when he told them to clap louder, they did. I still think this is just like a warm up show for how the crowd will be in Rome!
 
 
The pig came out during “Flesh 2” and stayed out until the wall came down. Then is was lowered and slaughtered by the crowd—ripped into to “take home sized pieces” by the Italian crowd.
 
 
The battery on my cell phone had gone flat towards the end of the show, and the chances of finding Phil, Glenn, and everyone else from the floor was pretty slim, so the second the band left the stage, I ran like hell to the taxi stand and jumped right in one. Within 20 minutes of the show ending, I was back in my hotel room! Ole came back to the room around 2:30 am, and he and Stuart had walked the two or three miles back from the venue! I later heard it took Frank and Dora a 45 minute wait in line for a cab, and Phil and Laila had to walk Glenn back to his hotel, but that's another whole blog post in itself!! Trips are never dull when Glenn is around!