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  • Writer's pictureDora Somrani

A glimpse into Touring Life from my Parisian window

Tuesday 5th November 2019, The Grand Rex, Paris, no more sound in the room, the singers look at me, the sound-desk is flashing red lights. No one knows what is happening. F*ck.

Here is probably the highlight of an unforgettable concert tour in France with Queen Symphonic and the Yellow Socks Orchestra. 16 concerts, 13 cities, 23 days, 80 people on the road, 5500km, 48000 people who rocked with us and an unknown potential love interest coming my way.

I am Dora, I work as a Tour Manager at City Lights Entertainment Uk, artist managers and show producers worldwide.

I will try to tell this epic adventure in the most concise way, as a lot has happened in those 23 days. It was before Covid-19, before I got my beautiful cat (@Fiji_the_french_cat), before the forever lasting strikes in France and after we toured around the world. We were healthy, energized and excited.

This is it, it is with this excitement that we board the plane at London Stansted, ‘en route’ to France. The tour starts in Nantes, where we have dinner with our producers in this legendary Brasserie - no better way to get started. The Nantes gig is sold out, everything goes flawless, followed by Rennes, Bordeaux and Toulouse with standing ovations everywhere!

5,000 people standing on their feet, stomping, clapping, is like a jolt of energy injected through your eyes, ears and heart. You feel beating in the innermost part of your being.

Aix-En-Provence is another success, I even jump on stage to take a picture of the singers with the crowd:

As it was Halloween, after the gig, Jenna Lee-James (one of the lead singers) and myself decided to go to a theme park to get chills, should I say, even more chills.

The tour goes on, Clermont-Ferrand, Lyon and two nights in Paris, everyone starts being sleep deprived, a few clothes have been left in hotels (farewell to Jon’s bag of underwear). Off we go again, Rouen then Strasbourg, making sure we pop in at the bar round the corner from our hotel for a drink. I started noticing this guy who plays percussion in the orchestra and seems to like me. He comes to our table and gets a round of drinks. I ran away shortly afterwards.

And here we are travelling again, Dijon, Amneville and back to Paris for 3 days. Jenna, Rachael Wooding (the other lead singer) and myself, might have gone to DisneyLand… And here we are, back to the start of my story: Tuesday 5th November 2019 at the Grand Rex with a full house.

Everything goes well until I cannot hear any sound coming out of Rachael’s mouth. I look in the room from the backstage area, we have journalists from Israel, our company’s guests, friends, and yet no sound. The sound desk is flashing red lights. At this stage we don’t know if the sound will ever come back as we don’t know why it was cut off in the first place. The singers and band walk off stage. We discovered that the brass and percussion sections could play some very popular French songs a few days before.

We decide to give it a try, and the audience plays along. 20 minutes later, we are back on with sound. Thank. God. This is our last night in Paris and it was so eventful that we celebrate at the venue’s upstairs bar. And this is also when my love life took a turn.

I’m aware you’re all guessing what happened and yes, that guy who kept buying me rounds of drinks during the previous touring dates, yes, we have finally started talking ever since. After a good wake up call from Rachael (she knows me well, her advice was unexpected but spot on) and some really good champagne I decided to give him a chance. Despite it being against my own personal idea of not dating someone from the industry (it’s the music industry after all, full of beautiful and interesting people!) I thought whatever, the tour is almost over and this percussionist has a ‘je ne sais quoi’. (if you haven’t guessed where I’m from yet…)

We are now in Roubaix, where this tour will end, the city strangely reminds me a lot of East London. The gig is sold out as usual. Taken by surprise, the brilliant bunch of artists I travelled across France during this tour calls me on stage to hand me the most gorgeous flowers - I don’t deny it was one of the most embarrassing moment of my life but exciting now looking back - and the rest of the gig turned into just a massive celebration of life & music. The producers even joined in, getting on stage and pretending to play instruments at the back (basically just being producers).

It is with joy, emotion, euphoria that we end the tour, leaving the venue to stay in Lille for one last night of celebration in one of the smallest bars I’ve ever been to (oblivious at the time as social distancing wasn’t in our lives yet).

The next morning, we all kiss goodbye with a heavy but happy heart. On the train back home, I reflected on how crazy tour experiences are, how fantastic it is to be part of this industry and how much joy and excitement music brings to people’s lives - but also I started thinking about this guy who I had no idea would later become my most romantic love story...

(How beautiful? @Fiji_the_french_cat)

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