2001 – AEROSMITH TOUR WEEK NINE
Beyond Good And Evil World Tour 2001
FALL/WINTER LEG – WITH AEROSMITH. Week Nine – Champaign, Dallas, New Orleans, Little Rock and Oklahoma City
Champagne conjures up images of ice buckets, crystal glasses, Paris in the spring, a moonlight evening with a lover that………well, I’m exaggerating but you get my point! Champaign, however, will forever provoke images of empty seats, silence and a severe lack of rock and roll sensibility. This show was completely without vibe or atmosphere for both The Cult and Aerosmith, and the venue was nowhere near sold out. Of course, when we get to the stage, most of the people that are at the show are out in the parking lot, with their kegs of beer and ‘Nine Lives’ playing on the pick up truck stereo. Not a good start! Then our intro tape gets stuck and has to be turned off. So we kick into Rise, not exactly brimming with excitement and confidence!! We play ok, but the energy is just not there. It’s a hard thing to do when the underwhelming crowd just sit still and stare at the band, while we are doing our best to stimulate them. It’s a long forty five-minute set, and I think we are all glad to walk off that stage. Later on in the evening, Billy D and myself go out into the arena to watch the ‘smiths and it’s the same for them, except that the parking lot rock and rollers are now in their seats. The majority of this tour has been rocking, so Champaign, Illinois gets put in the ‘one to forget’ file, and we set off on the marathon fourteen hour overnight drive to Dallas.
We arrive in Dallas tired and moody – the drive is a killer – so we all disappear to our rooms and rest up. Billy and Ian both have follow up interviews for the VH1 Behind The Music that they are doing on the band, so they are off doing their thing. (The rest of us did our interviews back in New York). I make a trip to the dentist to get a check up. He loves the gold teeth, and we discuss the possibilities of getting some more. A few injections, a bit of sandblasting (seriously, the guy blasted my teeth and gums with sand!!) and one filling later, and I am out of there and back to the hotel. Showday, and it’s the Reunion Arena in downtown Dallas today. Most of the day is spent hanging out at the hotel, as there is not a lot of time to do much else. By the time I have ingested enough caffeine and nicotine to motivate my mind and my body into taking a shower, it’s time to check out of the hotel, and get down to the gig. So we then spend a few more hours in another concrete parking lot, with a view out of the window of…….the other busses!! Nothing to do but watch TV, play the Playstation, and wait until catering opens. It never ceases to amaze me how uninteresting some days can be!! Don’t get me wrong – the highs of this job are amazing, but they don’t come every day, and sometimes the space between the highs can be mind-numbingly boring!! A decent plate of salmon, rice and veg is the highlight of today so far, and I decide to hang out in the dressing room and warm up until our 7.30pm onstage time. The arena is full when we play, and at one point, Ian tells everyone to get their hands in the air, they put the house lights up, and all I can see is hands in the air everywhere. It looks fantastic, and I can see just how many people are out there. It feels good, and Dallas, Texas is on our side. We finish up with Wild Flower, Sanctuary and L.R.M. and leave the stage to a massive cheer. Another good show. I have a few friends in the arena tonight, and after the show, I meet up with some of them, and watch a fair bit of Aerosmith with them. As always, Mr Tyler and Mr Perry are nothing short of amazing. Draw The Line and Sweet Emotion get me every night – even after watching them do it every night for two months!!
New Orleans is always a blast, and this time is no exception. We have the whole day to chill out, and Billy D and myself get breakfast in the Quarter, check out the French Market, and enjoy the relaxed vibe that N.O. always offers. (Shit – maybe I should have written holiday brochures!! ) I take a walk down St. Charles, looking for sneakers and jeans, and get into a cool jam with one of the many blues singers that hang out in the French Quarter, just playing and singing. He’s a blast – looks about eighty years old, and has a fantastic voice, and I play guitar with him for a while. People throw money into his guitar case, and I figure that when it all stops for me, I can relocate to New Orleans, find my own street corner and earn a living singing the ‘tattooed Starbucks blues’!!! The show at the House of Blues is a good one. It looks full when we hit the stage, and we play well. I’m down to one cabinet, so my onstage sound isn’t as full as I like it, but I trust that it sounds ok out front, and from the look of the first ten rows of people, it does. Everyone sings along and makes a noise, and Firewoman, as always, gets everybody jumping. It’s a hot one again, and by the time we do Love Removal, I am absolutely drenched in sweat. It’s like going swimming with your clothes on! After the show, we have a room in the Foundation Suites set aside for guests, and we all hang out up there. Our friends from N.I.N. came down to watch the show, and Ian goes for a drink with Trent and Chris. It’s great that they bothered to come down and support us. Respect. After the party upstairs, we all figure that ‘when in Rome…..etc’ and we hit Bourbon Street with a vengeance. I see various members of our crew wandering around, and almost everyone that’s on the tour finds their way at some point to Rick’s Club (a gentleman’s establishment, famous for it’s …er..…..excellent dancers!) which is where we have a table. New Orleans always has something to offer, and it’s nearly always at 4.00am!!! We leave the city very, very late, and move on to Little Rock, Arkansas for the next Aerosmith arena show.
Little Rock – famous for an ex-president, and……….er………Anyway, here we are in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the last time we played here was in the summer, on a floating stage, with Cheap Trick, I believe. This time, however, it’s on a solid ‘terra firma’ arena stage. Most of the day is much the same as any other – hotel room, shower and shave, coffee and cigarettes, bang head slowly against wall until boredom subsides……you know the sort of thing by now. Eventually, its time to hit the dressing room and warm up. Just so that you guys know, we don’t just walk onto the stage cold. Ian does vocal exercises, Matt stretches and works out, and both Billy D and myself spend at least half an hour playing, warming up the sausages, so that our brains are connected to our fingers. A bit of shit in my hair to spike it up, a quick last minute visit to the bathroom and I’m ready. We can hear the crowd making a lot of noise as we walk down the long corridors towards the stage, and that familiar feeling creeps up as we hear our intro tape rolling. Tonight’s show is fine – no dramas, nothing breaks, no one has any serious problems. The crowd are ok, and we get ‘em standing in the end. It’s a tough thing to do, when a lot of people are just in the arena to see Aerosmith, but Ian does an amazing job every night, and always manages to get the lazy ones standing up and cheering by the end of the set.
Oklahoma City is the final straw for some of us. We have three full days here, and it’s one of those cities that has absolutely NOTHING in the downtown area. I mean nothing at all. Banks, warehouses, a restaurant area called Bricktown that’s closed, and that’s it. We arrive at 7.00am and after moaning in the lobby of the hotel for a little bit, the hotel concierge agrees to drive me to the ‘local’ Starbucks – which is a 25 minute drive out of town!! I feel a bit silly after driving all that way, getting back in the car with one drink, and driving all the way back to the hotel!! And that, folks, is it. That is all that happened in the three days we spent, rattling around the hotel in Oklahoma City. Apart from the actual show, I couldn’t find one thing to amuse me. At one point, Phil and myself set out on a walk to find a swap meet that we have heard about. Four miles later, and one run-in with some local homies, cruising around town in their late 80’s Caddy, we give it up and walk back. That has got to be the most exercise I’ve had since I left Los Angeles, all those weeks ago. We are all seriously bored by the time we meet up in the dressing room at the arena, and thank God we have a show to do, otherwise I think some old-fashioned rock and roll room trashing might have occurred. As it is, we walk on stage to a healthy cheer, and we all play well. Sanctuary is starting to sound better – I’ve been using a different bass on that song and its taken a while to get it sounding good. But tonight, it seems ok, and the song grooves well. The audience is noisy, and Steven, Joe and assorted Aerosmith types watch our set from the side of the stage. Billy D takes his position stage centre for the solo of L.R.M. and Ian’s mic stand goes flying in the process. And then its all hell breaking loose for the final few bars of the song. FINALLY, the crowd on the floor is standing up (how can you watch a rock show sitting down?) and we finish the gig to loud cheers and whistles. Another show down and only ten days left on this tour. It’s the homebound run, now, and the energy should pick up again as we can all smell the Burrito’s from Baja Fresh, the 3rd St Promenade in Santa Monica, and the lazy Los Angeles mornings that await us all on our return. Two more diaries to go, and then I’m gonna take a well–deserved Xmas break. Until next week.