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As we arrive at the airport in Zurich, ready to head for Bologna, we see that there are some fans gathered at the entrance. Not so unusual, except that they are the very same fans that were waiting outside the hotel when we just left. Not only do they know our movements, but they've done the same journey as us and beaten us here.
It gets even more strange when Trainer Dan (who keeps the fellas in shape) mentions that they were around when he and Guy went out for a run. I'm not even sure if they weren't at the airport when we arrived yesterday. They've collared the guys for photos and signatures several times in one city. It's like some strange inverse micro-touring.
The band are travelling from city to city to play to as many fans as possible and here are a group of fans travelling all over a single city to see the band as many times as possible. They're harmless enough and pleasant, but you have to wonder how exactly they know where everyone's going to be and when - particularly when we generally have little idea from one minute to the next!
The trip to Bologna is quick, but beautiful. Here's a quick view from our morning ride into work:
It's another very boomy arena in Bologna, which once again brings out the RAWK! in soundcheck. Back In Black gets another rollicking run through, which morphs into 136. I'm not sure I've heard that one since they did it in Reykjavik in 2002 with Tim from Ash on guitar. Also this afternoon, comes another run through of Glass of Water. Today sees another rather interesting additional guitar player join the camp for this track. The chorus on this one is pretty monstrous. It seems to fit huge echo-y arenas perfectly. It's rocky and it's joyous and it expresses a band at the top of their game very well I think.
Italy can occasionally be somewhat challenging for roadies. Things here are, hmmm, how does one put this? "More relaxed", I guess is the best phrase to use. Vital things such as the huge electrical supplies that power the entire show can be rather cheerfully vague and efforts to correct major issues can be met with an even more vague shrug. The thing that overrides all of this though and makes it worthwhile is the Italian crowds. They are unfailingly wonderful.
I'm under the stage having a tidy up when the doors open to the punters in Bologna. This lot are already singing the Viva tune as they stream onto the floor. An Italian fansite has also organised the bringing of balloons, which they're bouncing and batting about the place long before the band take the stage. If they're this noisy and excitable at an empty stage, the gig can only be a good 'un.
And indeed it is. I can't remember a louder crowd this whole tour. It's a great point in the tour to get a crowd like this. The set has settled to the point where the band can actually start really relaxing and enjoying it, as well as being aware of what's going on around them. We're also about five weeks into a run of shows and frankly, everyone is knackered. A vibe like tonight lifts everyone like a very, loud cheering and screaming shot in the arm. The balloons make an appearance on the B Stage, as one makes its way up. Chris announces that he will perform "the next song as a fat man. This is what Coldplay will look like in thirty years' time" The balloon goes up the shirt and true to his word, the song is delivered in a most overweight fashion.
As well as balloons, there are gold paper crowns, presumably in tribute to Anton Corbijn's Viva La Vida video. Chris picks one up in the midst of the song and it soon ends up perched on Guy's head. Rather suits him, actually.
This brings us to Milan. Glass of Water gets another airing, again with mystery extra band member. The crowd arrive with even more balloons and even more gold paper crowns. They're also just as loud as last night. It's a top, top show which brings us towards the end of what has been an utterly fantastic touring leg. There's a whole bunch of touring to go before this campaign is over, but if it's all as good as this past month or so has been, we're all going to go home for Christmas very happy.