Sorry it's taken so long...
Please forgive my tardiness in posting the next in the series of my 'Tour Portraits'.... I have no excuses really only my heartfelt apologies for the silence.
We have spent a large proportion of the last six weeks or so in the US and had a brief sojourn into Canada but I feel I should wrap up the Far East for you before we go any further.
Following on from Japan we went on to visit Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and finally Hong Kong - all fabulously different places. Even though, when travelling between each one, they seem so close I am left wondering how they could possibly be so diverse? From the relative calmness in the mountains of Genting, Malaysia to the whirlwinds that are Manila and Hong Kong, the differences are as sharp as can be but the one thing they all share is their love of music, and moreover our particular variety - 'Popera' as I like to call it.
The Genting gig was a particular stand out for a number of reasons. Firstly, I hadn't been to Malaysia before. Secondly, we were performing in a mountain top venue - above the clouds no less for most of our three day stay. Finally, I experienced my first full-on tropical downpour which flooded the entire floor level of our venue and threatened to bring the show to an early close as all the cabling for our stage equipment was under a significant amount of water. The show did go on, thanks to people power (venue staff in bare feet with mops, towels and sweeping brushes), and the professionalism of our entire team to make sure that everything was safe for us to continue. Jakarta is always fun... such a mad place for a boy form Wales... utterly bonkers and compelling in equal measure and, of course, more extreme weather - a thunderbolt hitting the hotel at ground level no less and the customary Indonesian police escort to the airport on our way out to Hong Kong. Hong Kong was a joy this time round (I was first there in 2012) as we had a night off to go and explore its vibrant nightlife - firstly the electronics markets and stores in search of the latest gadgets (nearly always a copy but cheap nonetheless) then on to a restaurant overlooking the harbour and finally a ferry ride back to our hotel. Good times!
So, following the last East Asia show at the Hong Kong Convention Centre, it was straight on to the US and some much needed R&R. We flew to Phoenix where the US part of the tour was to kick off. Arizona is one of America’s golfing paradises with more courses than one can shake a 'talking' stick at... so a few rounds later and I was ready to do battle again with what has to be said was a pretty punishing schedule. Concerts in Phoenix, Indio, San Diego (where I took the above picture of the wonderful "Unconditional Surrender" statue), Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle got us through to Canada, a country that I have a great affection for and have an ever-growing appreciation for in terms of its way of, and attitude to life (I will also at this point nail my colours firmly to the Seattle mast as well. It is possibly my favourite city in the US, but at the time of writing this I'm sitting in the Cafe Maspero on Decatur Street, New Orleans and this town has really grabbed me too. Seattle does have a wonderfully cosmopolitan and, dare I say it, decidedly European feel and I have had wonderful food and great times on each of my visits). In Canada we had concerts in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, the former another of my favourites but the latter two hold a secret that I wasn't expecting. We played two identical concert venues in the respective cities. In explanation, the two halls were built in 1977 to an identical blueprint to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee as a gift to the two largest cities in Alberta - trust me, it is a very weird experience when you travel overnight from one to the other only to have a real ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling..... spooky!!
We are now back in the US after a quick trip down to Mexico for three shows in Monterrey, Peubla and Mexico City respectively. I have to say that my experience of this wonderful country was much better this second time around having first visited in 2012. We had time to take in a little of the vibrancy and colour of the different cities and yes, before you all ask, the local brew – tequila - was consumed and very nice it was too. Audiences in Mexico are extremely vocal and vivacious which I have to say is an amazing thing to experience, very different from the vibe one usually gets in a concert hall for an evening of Mozart.... or indeed at a US or European Il Divo show as these are lively in a different kind of way.
So back to traversing the interstate highways of the US and then through to Canada over the next month. I'll promise not to leave it so long before the next portrait and don't forget to add your own thoughts below. Also, as customary, the ‘what's’ are below:
What am I watching?
Still with Breaking Bad I'm afraid. Gripping!!
What am I listening to?
A lot of Glenn Gould, the Canadian 'God' of the piano, and mainly his playing of all things Bach.
What am I reading?
Mainly my tour book now - counting down the days to home as this one has been a very long trip.
What do I miss?
Well obviously team Chalk but I'm now going to add a damn fine cup of tea!