US TOUR: WEEK SEVEN
There’s something special about New York. It’s been written about, sung about, analyzed, dissected and examined. But it’s the intangible air of toughness that hangs low throughout the city – the hustle (and the bustle), the street vendors, the taxis, the skyscrapers and the fact that one of the most beautiful park areas in the world is set right in the middle of the madness that makes this city so special. Pizza and neon and subways and pretzels and characters on every corner. As the tee shirt says – I Heart New York. Now I’m not so sure I could live here – I like my constant sunshine and palm trees – but visiting for a few days and playing a sold out Hammerstein show with Billy Idol? Well, that I can handle! Dean And Deluca’s gets a visit from me for a coffee and a croissant before jumping in a cab for a swift ride over to the venue. Not. Oh my God! Never get in a cab at 5.00pm in Manhattan….it’s rush hour and shift change time as well. The whole journey (about 15 blocks) takes us an hour from hotel to stage door. Horns blaring, pedestrians all over the place, it takes me back to living in London. It’s a hectic vibe, no doubt.
But once inside the venue, things return to the relative normality of the tour. A beautiful theatre with all the stage set fitting nicely on the stage and a ton of room to move around. Once the place is packed with people, the noise levels rise and from backstage, we can tell this is gonna be a good show. Techno/Metal/Dance/Indie guru, Moby pops back to say hi before the show, and then the intro tape rolls and its time to throw the ears in and get on the platform. It sounds perfect from the get-go in my ears, and I have a killer show. I manage to grab a decent bit of air at the start of King Rocker by launching off McG’s monitor (although the landing is a bit rough!!) and the set goes by in a blur of loud guitars, louder cheering and ….well, that’s it really! A huge slice of pizza gets devoured after the show and it’s Goodnight New York. And thank you for a great show.
Tourism in it’s purest form is just about the picture. The experience is great, the sights, tastes and sounds are fine. But years from now, it’s the picture that you’ll be showing to your grandchildren that really matters. And it’s this kind of mentality that just gets in the fucking way when I try to walk up 6th Ave towards the park on our day off. People stop without any warning or any personal awareness and stare straight up in the air. Groups of out-of-towners covering the whole sidewalk suddenly stop dead in their tracks, apparently suffering from a ‘lemming-like’ mentality, all deciding that they need a fake Louis Vuitton bag at the same time. I am, of course, an out-of-towner myself. But I try to maintain some kind of respect and manners when visiting a city. And I learnt a long time ago that if something is worth buying, buy the real thing, fer Chissakes!! I get dragged by our manager, Robert Richards, into Carnegie Deli (apparently one of the top places to visit in the world, according to the sign outside) to experience possibly the most miserable and rude waitress I’ve ever met, serve a plate of food so large it could feed a small continent for a week. An experience? Yes. To be repeated? Not in this fucking lifetime! You can take the boy outta London, but….etc etc etc. But a trip to Soho proves extremely fruitful, and a new pair of Nike Dunks gets added to the wardrobe case. Cos I needed more sneakers. A decent sushi dinner with a bunch of us rounds off the day and I fall asleep with a smile on myself. God bless New York – you always entertain me, feed me, and wear me out….all at the same time.
After a late lunch we head out to Atlantic City. And I gotta tell you, I prefer the place through the eyes of Martin Scorsese in the new Boardwalk Empire than the reality of the overcast, windy, rainy oceanfront place that greets us when we pull up. I can imagine that during Prohibition, when the alcohol was hard to come by, and everything was surreptitiously organized behind closed doors, there was a sense of danger, excitement and rebellion. These days, with cheap, legal liquor being poured down the throats of the average gambler, there is little sense of danger or excitement. Danger that someone may fall off the barstool, perhaps. That’s about it. And it’s the second to last show. Not that anyone would be able to tell from the performance. But we are ready to go home. We’ve lived together for a couple of months again and its just time for our own beds, our favorite foods, some TV and a whole lotta nothing. It’s bizarre to think back to the first date. How the tour seemed to stretch off into the distance with no end in sight. Acclimatizing to the bus, getting our bunks personalized, settling in to the routine of travel. And now, seemingly in the blink of an eye, it’s nearly done. I know that within a week of being back home, I’ll be raring to go again….”where’s the show, what time we onstage”! But tonight, I have the end in sight and it feels good to have accomplished this leg of the tour.
The last show – the HFStival in Maryland. I played the real deal with The Cult back in 01 at RFK Stadium in Washington, and my memories are good. It was a huge, prestigious event in a football stadium. And of course, Billy also did the event back in those days. Tonight’s gig is with other bands that have played it before – Fuel, Everclear, Third Eye Blind….and everyone is hanging out backstage at the outdoor venue when we arrive. It’s a good vibe, nice to see a few friends, and we immediately start getting ready for the gig. My tech, Jimbo, suddenly rushes into the dressing room about 15 minutes before we play and tells me my main amp is fucked. Excellent. The last gig of the tour and my sound just got cut in half! Apparently there is no cure at this last minute, and so in a haze of “shit, shit, shit” mixed in with “fuck it, just get through it and its over”, I decide to play the gig as it is – one amp, no real sounds to speak of, and just wing it. The gig is fine, and my lack of main amp doesn’t really get in the way too much. The end of White Wedding and that’s it. Done. Over. Finished. There’s lots of hugs, back-slapping and handshaking, and we simply get on the bus, headed back to the hotel for a 5.00am wake up call to fly home. The equipment will meet us back there a few days later. Just like that, the US tour is finished.
So here’s the retrospective….the wrap-up….the rounding off and the closing of the chapter. The facts and the figures – the stats and the numbers. In the last four months, we have played 50 shows in 17 countries. Well over half a million people (I just don’t have the energy to do that math) have watched us perform and we’ve had more fun than most of us deserve! And I’d do it all over again in a second. It was a fantastic experience and you guys took it over the edge every night. For me, it has been amazing to grow as a guitar player, and an honor to be a part of the line up this year. I have memories of playing in the worst rain I’ve seen in 10 years, to a sold out Donnington main stage crowd. Riding motorcycles with McG and Vacarro in Germany. Scuba diving in Greece. The tour diaries tell the tale, so I guess all that’s left for me to do is thank the crew and the band for making the summer a memorable one. And to thank each and every one of you for welcoming me, coming to the shows, and being a part of Billy Idol 2010. I’m pretty sure that’s not the end of the story – merely the closing of a chapter. With new songs being written, and a positive energy flowing throughout the camp, I hope we’ll be back soon, touring the world and playing those wonderful songs again – night after night.