The anticipation of the Barcelona show for both the fans and the band was large; even though we played the smaller of the arenas, it turned out to be one of those special evenings in the end. The short two days we spent in this remarkable city were somewhat unusual in our experience because of our location and the events going on around us.

The Formula One Grand Prix of Spain (Grand Premio de Catalunya) was taking place and missing a race for me is a drag when I’m 6000 miles away but when it’s 15 kilometers, what a total drag. The full downtown hotels pushed us out to a fancy new tower near the airport that was not quite finished. The neighborhood is undergoing a transformation from a lower middle-class apartment building area to whatever the developers have creeping up the highway. The hotel’s position seems to be slightly ahead of the renaissance and hopefully won’t be passe by the time the area catches up. The 24 hour gas station across the street was a plus, complete with convenience store and roadside hooker.

The hotel’s rotating spaceship rooftop restaurant (not finished), spa and gym (not finished) and free wireless internet (became password protected halfway through our stay) were nice touches as were the walk in power shower, automated blinds, Whole Hog touch screen elevators and crazy fashion seating. I especially liked the art piece separators at the reception desk that looked like 1960’s KLH speakers that had had 10 years of cat abuse done to them… far out, man. The last stop on the Metro Red line was right outside, so for 1.20 Euros you could jump into the fray of central Barca in 20 minutes. A little out of the way but not undoable.

I sure would have liked to go to the race; I sure would have liked to have seen the TV coverage as well, but as we were getting ready for the band at the arena (and there was no TV), I was out of luck. Alonso was quite happy to win his first home country Grand Prix and said so on the German language highlights I saw this morning.

The arena was a ways away from our hotel but being a Sunday morning the traffic wasn’t too bad. We had the extra added challenge of the fire marshals requesting a 4 meter firelane on either side of the stage. We had to have platforms constructed on either side of the stage so that running screaming fans could escape under us in case of emergency. It was strange being above the band and looking down at them. All of our knees got a workout going up and down all day.

The show was late (9:30 pm) and the crowd was in full swing way before the start. The crowds in Spain and Italy love to participate by singing, chanting, dancing, jumping and waving their hands. They abandon all inhibition and go for it, no WASPy restraint, just a joyous union that you see in their sporting events and other crowd gathering attractions. They were singing some songs and soccer chants before the house lights went down; after they did it was loud, happy and non-stop. Often the melody was offered only once and then they were off and running, nearly co-opting the show; luckily we have a guy that is pretty good with crowd control.

This has been a remarkable city to me since my first visit in 1986; oh, how it has grown since. The Olympics, the success story of the FC Barca football team and the continuing development that doesn’t eliminate the original feel of the city, but adds to its sumptuous warmth. I’m a great fan of Gaudi and really love to wander down the Ramblas with all the life it emits. Though I’ve mentioned events and architecture, it still comes down to the people. The Catalonian people are one of a kind. I hope that all of you have a chance to experience them for yourselves.

AND LET ME NOT FORGET:

Thank you to the very nice lady who found my dropped boarding pass in the M2 area of the Barcelona Airport and brought it all the way to the M4 area and left it with the gate agent so I could get on the plane. There are good people in this world and I have been repeatedly blessed to find that out.