94. Milan, Arena Civica, 17 June 2008

The journey from Nimes to Milan was complicated by a cancelled train, a diversion to Dijon and a sleeper into Italy. A few other fans were in the same compartment – Laurence, who being French, was able to translate all the instructions and Japanese fan “Curly” whose presence caused the border guard to wake us at an ungodly hour for a non-European Union passport check. I find myself in Milan very early in the morning and gratefully take refuge in the lobby of Laurence’s hotel.

My plans have been knocked a little off course. I reluctantly purchase an hour of wi-fi so I can look busy and wait for my B&B to open. I’m at a low ebb. A run of late nights spent outdoors have left me with a cold, I’m tired and in need of a hot meal.

I catch up on a little sleep and briefly explore central Milan and the spectacular Piazza del Duomo. I wander in a trance around an exhibition of photos of Italian film stars, dazed by the glamour of it all.

The following day, having discovered the venue is near the Castello, I do a little more wandering (but omit the main attraction of Da Vinci’s Last Supper) before I find the faithful already installed in a queue in the rain.

In an array of improvised waterproofs, I stand by the sound desk with some of the chaps. We go for sound quality over view, a vista of umbrellas before us. Nothing quite works tonight. It might have been the late night pizza, but here’s what I wrote when I got to bed afterwards:

This is the dip. The one in the middle after the ones at the fabulous venue. When you think you’ve had the best they can give you and it’s never going to be topped. This the one where you start to feel tired and wonder if you’ll hit the heights again, have they peaked? Have you? Are you just going through the motions? Does that set list bare any relation to the songs they actually played? Was that Ed reading the football results or Thom? Was it because it rained and you were at the back and you couldn’t see? Should you queue up tomorrow after everything you said about not queuing? Maybe it’s your last chance

Maybe it won’t rain tomorrow? Maybe it was all those people singing along to Karma Police yet again. Or the way those Italian guys behind you were humming the guitar parts off key. Shouldn’t you be asleep by now instead of staying out with your gig friends? Don’t worry. This is the dip.