65. Ferrara, Piazza Castello, 11 July 2003

Going on tour has become an increasingly social activity, meeting up with people from the Message Board, travelling and sharing accommodation with them. Running into the regulars before the show is par for the course. The whole Italian trip had been a holiday that just happened to have five Radiohead gigs for us to plan our time around. The usual pressures didn’t seem so important, I hadn’t had any after show passes up to this point, it had been harder to make contact with the band as the shows were all large scale outdoor events.

We took the train to Ferrara, where we were booked into the large youth hostel, along with most of the other people following this tour.

Ferrara was a pleasant surprise; a sandy coloured Renaissance city with a castle dominating the centre, the adjacent square cordoned off for the shows. It felt like the band had commandeered the whole place.

Unlike Florence, Ferrara lacked the cultural pressure to cram things in, less touristy, with wide streets and beautiful buildings to stumble upon. We dodged into air conditioned shops when the heat got too much.

The queue, under umbrellas and hastily jerry rigged shade with the regulars sitting on broken down cardboard boxes in orderly lines between the metal crowd-control barriers. We pay them a visit when we buy our lunch of cheese and tomatoes from the nearby supermarket. I bring bottled water to a few people and offer to share food, but most of them are limiting their intake in the usual organised fashion.

I don’t really remember much apart from the heat. I got used to getting changed out of my sandals for shows but I think for this one I kept them on, risking having people stand on my toes. I’m not built for weather like this, I live in Scotland for goodness sake, and after a week I’m still not really acclimatised.

I can’t do my usual dancing for very long, it’s too dehydrating. My view is obstructed and the Italians seem more than usually keen to do their “vocalised guitar parts” trick.

The set is mostly Hail To The Thief songs. Thom has sweat bands on his wrists and Phil still has his suit jacket on. They seem in good spirits. There is a rocked out version of Talk Show Host fairly early on, usually a good sign. By now it’s dark, but the castle surrounded by a moat over-shadows the square, the dry ice from the stage and the steam rising from the crowd creating a strange coloured cloud.

Upon entering, I’d had been given a pair of after show passes, but when Clara and I approach the security at the exit at the end of the show, we are turned away. There is no party. After leaving too soon in Florence, I’m a bit disappointed. I’ve not seen anyone to talk to the whole tour, it would be nice to say hello.

We have to walk all the way round the cordon to get out, as the stage blocks off one side of the square. On the other side of the fence I spot Big Colin and shout something cutting to him about being a party-pooper. He just says they changed their minds and there will be no afters tonight.

I follow the rest of the gang back to the hostel, where I try to cool off and end up talking to a girl who is here because a friend she was travelling with is a neighbour of Radiohead’s Manager Chris Hufford and she has been given tickets. We stay up late talking and finish the last of a warm bottle of Martini Rosso.