US TOUR: WEEK ONE
Ahh, that old, familiar feeling, headed towards LAX in a car at an inhuman hour, bound for the great beyond and the first show of a tour. This time, it’s with Steve Stevens sitting next to me, both wearing shades and hanging on for that first large caffeine injection which will be given to us at the airport. Time to batten down the hatches, hoist the main sail, and shiver yer timbers, cos the Billy Idol tour is about to traverse America (with some Canada thrown in for good measure) and we’re coming your way. The three weeks off went by in a haze and a blur, and we just finished three days of rehearsing with the new stage set. By the time I post this, the first of the new Morrison tour diaries for the US tour, the set will have been seen live, and no doubt spread worldwide on the ubiquitous You Tube, so I can tell you that it is fucking amazing! The panels surrounding the amps, the stairs and the platform light up and just having the different level now gives us room to run around and give you guys a real performance. We have also written and integrated another new song into the set, called ‘Scarred For Life’ and the creative energy that is flowing right now is really inspiring. So sit tight, and let me guide you through the next two months, day by day and week by week. Derek, McG, Morrison, Stevens, Colson and Idol are coming!!
The first show of the tour was Tulalip, WA, and it will forever be known in my head as the ‘wardrobe malfunction’ show. After deciding on some really old Vivienne Westwood boots for footwear. I made my way up to the stage. The new stage set was looking amazing and as we walked up the stairs and Steve started the opening chords of Ready Steady Go…..I felt my feet do something weird! I looked down and the soles of the boots had literally parted ways with the rest of the shoe (I think the glue had just melted in the heat) – felt like I had some kind of old punk rock flippers on my feet or something!! But I couldn’t walk – and had to shuffle my way through the first two songs, screaming at Jimbo to grab me a pair of sneakers from my wardrobe case, and then did a quick footwear change after the second song – absolutely hilarious, if you actually knew what was going on!! The rest of the show was great, and we began getting used to the extra real estate available to us with the stairs and the platform. The audience was noisy and enthusiastic and it felt good to be back onstage together. The brand new song, Scarred For Life, really kicks and I love playing and singing it with Billy. So here we go again, one down and a whole bunch to go. The day off after the first show was in Eugene, OR and quite frankly, I say its best if we skip over that and just move straight into…….
Roseburg, OR. Beautiful scenery, stunning countryside and the assault on the senses that is the Douglas County Fair. The faint aroma of farmyard animals mixed with corn dogs greets us as the bus pulls in to the natural amphitheater and fairgrounds. 10,000 people expected at the show tonight and Derek, Jeremy and I head out to sample the sights and sounds of the venue. The rabbits look cute, the chickens…..um…..cluck a lot…….and the place is filled with people enjoying their weekend. Good vibes all around. The show itself is fine, and we play an energetic set, running around and making use of our new stage. I’m absolutely loving my new Gibson 335 – I’m using it on White Wedding, Eyes Without A Face and the new song, Kings and Queens, and it plays and sounds just perfect. Lower output than my Les Pauls, so perfect for a change of feel and tone. The Roseburg crowd make the appropriate noise and we finish as usual with Mony Mony, and that’s it done. Show number two in the bag and a long overnight drive to Reno, NV.
Casinos look so absolutely perfect when Sharon Stone is gracefully running around them coked up to her eyeballs and De Niro is smashing things up and rolling around in more money than we will ever see in two lifetimes. The reality is that they are dry, air conditioned money pits with a lot of extremely unsatisfied people trying desperately to change circumstance and ‘get theirs’….although the ‘coked to the eyeballs’ part can still be very much evident. But…..Rock N Roll and Casinos go hand in hand, and Vegas and Reno are the places that do it the best. Tonights show is at the Grand Sierra Hotel And Casino and the place is another huge skyscraper, sprawling across acres of land and with a killer venue attached – a kind of old school looking theater. Unfortunately it also seems to be full of wireless gremlins and after hours of tweaking and messing with the wireless guitar equipment, I have to make the decision to play with a cable (meaning that I am back to the old school and tied to my amps). The new lights look amazing inside (the first two shows were outdoors, so this is the first time we see it all in action indoors) and cable notwithstanding, I do my best to enjoy the space we have. The new song, ‘Scarred For Life’ seems to go down really well again, getting a loud response from the crowd. Sweet Sixteen and LA Woman are highlights for me tonight, and all too soon we’re nailing the end of Mony Mony and it’s goodnight Reno. Back on the bus and we head out towards 5 days of basing the tour out of Los Angeles. This is both a good and a bad thing for me. Although we will be playing the next three shows ‘from home’ (which means my wife, my favorite sushi restaurant and my motorcycles!) it also means that the headspace of leaving to go on the road is broken. I guess those who have not toured may not understand this, but once I leave town, say goodbye to people, pack a suitcase and mentally prepare to do this for a couple of months, it’s weird to come back again so soon.
The two days off are, for me, spent cramming more of life into the short space of time that 48 hours seems to offer – buy shit I forgot I needed and didn’t know I wanted, unpack, repack, mani/pedi (oh yes indeed, that’s right boys and girls…..keep those nails shiny and fresh!), filmed a scene for a new documentary on the Sunset Strip, got a massage, saw my chiropractor (CRACK, OUCH!), ate a shitload of raw fish, and slept well. Wednesday rolls around and its off to jolly old Temecula, CA for the first of two nights at Pechanga. And the first night is all about the H.F.C.C. For those who don’t know, the Hellfire Canyon Club is a loose-knit group of friends and musicians who ride motorcycles in Los Angeles – I am an original member, and Mr Idol has also ridden with us more than once, and I am sure most of you have seen the Hellfire tee shirts that I sometimes wear onstage. So, anyway, a few of the guys decided to take a road trip out to the first Pechanga show, and one of our OG members, Danny Boy O’Conner (from House Of Pain) had whipped up an HFCC X Idol tee shirt! Killer design – respec’ Danny, thank you! It’s nice to have them out to the show and the band hit it hard. Tonight feels tight, loud, rock. The intro to Ready Steady Go packs a punch and it steadily gains pace from there. I really enjoy playing this show and Steve Stevens and I have some great moments together doing the whole ‘two guitarists’ – it feels very cool indeed. The sound of the fruit machines mixed with loud Les Pauls is ringing in my ears when we crawl into bed late that night.
Well, I’m happy to be back on the road with Billy and the guys. The three weeks off went by so quickly and to have written more new music with Billy and Steve during that time feels good. I look forward to getting more songs together with these guys and seeing some of it released soon. Being in the band and touring with Derek, McG and Jeremy is good for the soul. These guys are solid, professional, and very funny, and it is extremely easy to live in a mobile tin can with them all for 8 weeks at a time. And having Billy Idol and Steve Stevens at the helm of the ship is inspiring. The age old imagery that I opened with, the whole ‘rock n roll pirate’ thing, is really in effect with these guys – they have had long, winding, successful careers that continue to change, grow and move forward. I’ve just joined the crew as one of the band of pirates that gets to sail with them and enjoy the bounty! Have a great week, be nice to each other, and I will be back next week with another diary. Thank you all.