54. Porto, Coliseu do Porto, 27 July 2002

In the morning we find ourselves in a hungover daze wandering around the huge and incredibly well stocked FNAC record shop. It’s a department store sized depository of music with large generically organised sections. I get lost in Funk & Soul and then wind up looking through the further reaches of Jazz. I find the Steve Reid album that has the track I’ve been dancing to at the end of the shows, and some rather natty Studio One compilations. On my way to the checkout I pass Jonny’s guitar tech, the unmistakably tall Duncan, staggering under a gigantic armful of CDs. It would be nice to be able to buy whatever I wanted without having to think about the bill.

Before the show, we take a last wander around the riverside, then Yasuko and I go for dinner. I make the mistake of eating a big bowl of spaghetti and feel like I should go back to the hotel for a nap. When we get back up to the venue, it’s time for the gig to start and I don’t feel like I’m ready to go through it again. Loads of the others are staying on and going to Spain for the rest of the tour and I can’t. I have one more day here after this and then I have to leave. I’m never in a great mood on my last day of a tour and today is worse than ever. They’re going on without me, to beautiful places that I would really love to visit. I have my new job to go back to, and not enough money in the bank to stay.

When I’d told Thom that I was only here for the first part of the tour, he’d tried to console me by saying that at least I was there for the start. I had wondered aloud about coming back for the final show; I could fly into Madrid and go to Salamanca… but he shook his head. I think if he’d have responded with: “Sure I’ll put you on the list,” I would have thrown caution to the wind and come back.

They played a selection of new stuff again and somewhere towards the end, as they hit the encore, Keiko arrived. Her plane had been late and she nearly missed the show completely, but she made it. It was like I was handing the baton on to her. As if to mark her arrival, they unexpectedly played Creep at the end of the show. By the time we found each other we were both in tears.

We staggered out into the foyer, to find Mungo manning the W.A.S.T.E. merchandise stall. Keiko bought T-shirts and chatted to him while I attempted to pull myself together.

Tonight’s mission was making sure Sam and Naz got their interview with Thom. Back in Lisbon, when I’d had his ear, I’d mentioned to Tim the Tour Manager that they were shooting a film about the tour, and that as it was “for and by fans as a present for the band” it would be great if we could pass it on to them. I’d also hinted that if there was any way we could get the band to take part then it would be the icing on the cake. He took the hint and said he’d see what he could do. I’d left it in his hands until now, knowing that there was no use in pestering them into doing it – if they wanted to get involved then they would.

Tonight, when we got to the aftershow, I found Sam and Naz already there. The little back room where the crew catering had been laid on contained a few people sitting on plastic chairs, finishing off the remaining drinks and chatting in a subdued, deferential fashion. Phil and Ed came in and went out; there were a couple of faces I recognised but the band were mostly elsewhere. Tim appeared and invited the French filmmakers to accompany him, leaving the Japanese contingent and myself to the warm beers.

About 45 minutes later they reappeared drinking Champagne from small plastic cups. Thom had granted their interview. He had apologised as he was still eating his dinner, but he’d answered their questions on camera… Naz and Sam were thrilled and more than a little tipsy.

I was pleased to have been able to help set it up, but sad not to be able to say goodbye to the band in person before I left. Outside, round the back of the venue, as the local crew in their special W.A.S.T.E. T-shirts packed up the gear, a few of the die hard boardies were hanging about on the pavement, still reeling from the show.

I stumbled out expecting the familiar reception: hard stares from people as thy deduce that you are NOT one of the band and therefore not worthy of attention. But on this tour most of the people hanging about were now my friends.

In the morning I made a cursory visit to the Port caves on the other side of the river, but I was too tired and deflated to really take it all in. And then it was time to go home.

Back at my new job I spent most of the next 10 days on the RHMB, keeping up with the people who were still in Spain. San Sebastian, Bennicassim and Salamanca. I felt more and more dejected with each set list that got posted up.

On the final night, August 7th, resigned to the fact that I wasn’t going to make that last minute trip back for the last show, I joined Edinburgh boardie Melody Nelson at a DJ Shadow gig taking place as part of an off-shoot of the Edinburgh Festival. It was at the Corn Exchange, not the greatest venue the city has to offer, but my new job had allowed me to get hold of some tickets. It was small consolation, but it was better than sitting at home thinking about a show I couldn’t be at.

After the gig (of which I have no memory whatsoever) I went to catch the last bus back to Glasgow, only to have it drive straight past the stop (already full up – one of the perils of Festival season). With the offer of a sofa at her mum’s flat, I followed Melody back to a pub near her place and then had to go outside to take a phone call from Clarabelle, who like a large group of the boardies, was in Salamanca. The gig there had just finished.

Radiohead had played requests. They played You (for the first time in years). The venue was amazing…
With every bit of news I felt worse. Standing out on the street in chilly Edinburgh, about as far away from Spain as I could be, screaming with something between excitement and despair at my friend as she ran up an astronomical mobile phone bill. It was hard to hear how wonderful the rest of the tour had been. Not being there is still my biggest regret… but at least I’d been there for the first plays of the new songs.