Fish 2008 - Rocky Mountain Way
Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,
Somewhere in Utah on a bus outside a Hampton Inn. It's sunny and breezy and the only place of interest to visit to while away an hour is a Home Depot store snuggled in the valley between snow-topped ranges of mountains. Food options are at "Wingers", a chicken shop where I talked a waitress into delivering a take away to the bus while we watched the Switzerland v Turkey Euro 2008 match live on the TV via our on-board satellite station. It's America and every day starts and ends with a smile. We're on our way to Boulder. It's a day off.
Last night we bounced LA. Second night of the tour. It wasn't as good as the San Francisco gig and I had a bit of a mare. I couldn't get my rhythm together and stuttered through the between song banter and had a complete brain storm during "Dark Star". I usually keep lyric sheets handy as a safety line but this time they were in the wrong order and I couldn't find it on the stand. I'd missed the intro and was trying to find the right place to enter but couldn't find the "in". As it is tied to a loop sequence we couldn't just jam and find a space. I had to go in with the right lyric at the right place and could I find it? Could I hell. It was one of those "dig a hole" moments, floundering on stage and trying not to freak out. The gears finally meshed and I reached the end with a sigh of relief and a "that didn't really happen did it?" look to the others.
We could have done with more numbers as, unlike the Great American Music Hall the night before, it was a venue that had little in-built atmosphere to help you out.
San Francisco was special and was always going to be hard to follow. The band and crew had got in late the night before with flights delayed, Frank's and Foss's flight into Chicago having to drop into Indianapolis to refuel. Everyone was fighting to stay awake as we were now 8 hours behind UK time. We would be going on stage at 9pm - 5am back home and on our body clocks. I wasn't too bad as I'd been over for a few days already.
Gavin had the hardest job and was struggling with the first few numbers trying to combat the tiredness. Foss had the additional stress of finding his Roland Jd800 lead keyboard had died and having to patch a replacement in at short notice after a sound check which was gruelling as we tried to sort out what needed to be covered by Chris Johnson's delayed presence due to the visa hassles.
The boys did great and although we knew where the holes were and what was missing I don't think the audience really noticed. It was strange not having him around and we all felt a bit short when it came to assembling for stage. I know Chris was hugely frustrated and disappointed at missing the West coast shows but there was nothing we could have done.
The gig was a great start to the tour. After soundcheck I headed for the meet and greet at the Edinburgh Castle a few blocks away. It was dark and in a colourful neighbourhood. To discover a Hibs pennant behind the bar I took as a fine sign. Everyone there was friendly and smiling. No pushiness or too much "in your face" routines. We were a bit caught out on the first day of set up so Billy, our new merch guy, was held in the venue sorting out the newly arrived stock and couldn't make the pub.
Tara decided with only weeks to go that she didn't want to go on the tour. I was extremely disappointed with flights already booked and paid for. I am sure it's something she will come to regret in the future as she is missing out on an epic and memorable tour. If I had known in advance I would have brought someone else in to cover the merch and the filming but as it is I have had to find alternatives.
So we were two short on the original company. Musically as I said it didn't unnerve us and the band filled in brilliantly. The San Fran gig was excellent all round and the after show was glowing.
One of the fans, Jeff Mockus, stepped up to the plate and as a sound engineer and audio engineer happened to have the same keyboard as Foss was using. It's a model now deleted so the chances of finding someone who had one and who could spare it for the tour was terrific and we were hugely grateful. He would deliver the keyboard next day in LA and get his hero badge!
We had met with a few old friends and made some new ones. We met up with a guy called Doug Hackett who turned out to be a famous wine maker and our new "best friend!" :-)(more later)
Next day he delivered 15 cases of red and white wines from his vineyard directly onto the bus at the House of Blues. Armed and dangerous!
The thing was everyone was smiling around us and it was proving very catching. I can't remember a tour that has been so relaxed and friendly.
Lee, our bus driver, is a real find. The bus is a Godsend and I wish I could bring it back over to the UK.
I can walk upright in it!!! The bunks are all over 6.5ft and the lounges spacious and with HD TVs that are linked to the roving satellite dish on the bus which means we can tune in to HBO and the ESPN Euro coverage on the move. There are also wireless networks for the PCs and more than ample room for us all to move around. However I still can't get rid of old habits and memories of painful head knocks in Europe on the Trathens submarine and catch myself moving around in a crouch position even though I have ample headroom above me!
I passed out after the San Fran show and was in my bunk minutes after getting on the bus.
Like most of us I was up at around ten for the footy and a walk across to the Saddle Ranch for a traditional humongous breakfast. A cup of porridge which could have fed all three bears and then a landing craft full of corn beef hash with three eggs the size of islands. It's going to be tough keeping the weight down on this tour as all the servings are platoon size!
The day went quickly and the meet and greet in Red Rocks took me by surprise as so may fans turned up. A plethora of personalities and characters. It was nice to catch up with Jeremy Lawson who now works for "Live Nation" in LA. He was part of the old Dick Bros set up in the '90s.
The gig went well as I said before but it wasn't as good as the SF show. Both high end performances overall but the glitches in LA and the out of tune spiritually singer made the difference.
Another interesting piece of "Fellini" was that the stairway down from the dressing room to the stage at "House of Blues" had murals painted on the walls including panels of hand painted star symbols identical to the 13th star cover and the Egyptian tombs. I had a wry smile!
I knew we would take another result that night!
This ends backstage in Boulder. A dark dressing room as always and an afternoon spent positively. A haircut in the "Silver and Blue" barber shop, my Raybans and long distance specs repaired and a fine meal in "Fatcats" Asian speciality restaurant run by Steve from Glasgow. The meet and greet in The Sink went down well and everyone is up for the show tonight including myself.
I miss home, the cats and the garden and especially Tara and Katie but such is the Life I chose. It makes it a lot easier when you are on a tour where there are so many smiles surrounding you and so much goodwill to wrap yourself up in. I am having a ball out here.
Looking forward to seeing Chris J in a couple of days. It'll feel whole again!
thanks for all the support out here from afar and up close,
on the trail of torn out twisters tomorrow!
lots of love
Onkel Fish xx
Email 13th June 2008