2001 – AEROSMITH TOUR WEEK ONE
Beyond Good And Evil World Tour 2001
FALL/WINTER LEG – WITH AEROSMITH. WEEK ONE – CALGARY, EDMONTON AND MINNEAPOLIS.
Having enjoyed four weeks of Mexican beaches, Baja Fresh burritos and a lot of rented DVD’s played on my new 5.1 surround sound system, I found myself back at LAX, with the rest of the band, crew and management, looking forward to boarding the plane to Calgary, and to getting back to what we enjoy the most – playing live rock and roll. Because of the recent events, the airport was like a ghost town when we arrived, and we were checked in and through to departures about three hours before our flight. A bit of food, some more coffee, a few cigarettes, and it’s time to get on the plane. Everyone seems to be smiling and I think we all feel the same – glad to back on the road.
At Calgary, we are met by our bus, and it’s a nice one. We drive into town, check in, and myself, Billy Duffy, and Tony (our assistant) meet up with Whitey, who plays guitar with Iggy Pop, and we go out to a bar to pass an hour or two. So we’re sitting in a booth, just chatting away, when Mr Drunk Knobhead comes over, recognizes our Billy, and sits down with us!!!! Now I have to say that for about twenty minutes, Billy is very cool about it, deals with the annoyingly slurred questions this guy is asking, and is generally nice to him. But eventually (and predictably) the guy overstays his welcome, Tony asks him to leave, and he spends the rest of the evening leaning over the back of the booth, drunkenly shouting….’yeah baby, Billy Duffy……..Sonic Temple…..er ……yeah, I’ve got a Les Paul……cool…..have ya got a spare cigarette?…..’ Christ!!! GO AWAY, IDIOT!!!!
The Saddledome is a big arena, and we don’t get a chance to see the actual layout of the staging until we walk on to play. There are ramps everywhere! Extensions out to the sides, ramps leading behind us into the seats behind the stage, a huge runway straight out front that goes all the way into the centre of the arena……the whole thing looks like a giant spider. Ian’s mic stand is on a lowered part of the stage, in front of us, and it takes a couple of songs to get into it. No sound check, so the monitors have to be worked on as we play, and we are unsure of where we can go and where we can’t. Ian sings really well tonight, and puts on a great show. True Believers goes out to the people of New York and gets a very cool reception – it’s a great song, and is also the next song from Beyond Good And Evil to go to radio. The whole set is only nine songs long, so it’s quite a different show from the last seventy that we’ve played. But we are all very relaxed and when we finish, we all know that it’s been a good gig. 8.30pm and it’s job done for the night…..how strange! I’m used to warming up about now!! I go out to watch a bit of Aerosmith with Billy D, and that’s about it. We have plenty of time to watch them over the coming weeks, so we leave The Saddledome, and head back to the hotel. One down, forty nine to go!!!
The next day is a day off – plenty of coffee and Mall walking. Matt, Phil, Rick and myself go to the Imax in the evening, and I’ve gotta tell you, we are all blown away. We watch a double feature of The Living Sea, which is just beautiful, and makes me want to go diving again, and Everest, which is the film of an Everest ascent in which, although the party being filmed made it, their friends in another party died on the way up in a storm. For anyone who hasn’t seen this, I advise you to go. It put our lives into perspective in a big way. I complain of boredom after five hours in a hotel, and these climbers casually narrate that they spent five WEEKS acclimatising half way up a bloody mountain in minus seventy degree temperature!! A problem with the Special K on the bus, or the coffee in the dressing room suddenly seems very, very silly!!!
The Skyreach Centre in Edmonton looks EXACTLY the same as the Saddledome! This is going to get very confusing, if all 32 arena shows look this similar! But we change the set around and put Rain third, just to keep ourselves on our toes. There’s not a lot you can do with a nine song set, but we intend to keep it fresh if we can. The show is good and we watch the place fill up as we play. By the time we hit Love Removal, the arena is pretty much full and they are rockin’ out! Another successful forty five minutes, and we move on to Winnipeg for another day off.
As the Anthrax scares sweep through the country, we are all just a little on edge, and keep one eye on CNN, and the other on Sunday Football. Although I’m originally from England, and Ian and Billy are both very keen soccer fans, I’m more of an NFL follower, and I watch the Giants play St.Louis, and then, later on in the day, my team, Oakland, play Indianapolis. It’s nice to be able to chill out, lay on the bed, and do nothing but watch a couple of games, and I complete the day of watching screens by going to the movies to see Training Day – what a great movie. A little slow in parts, but great performances, a few laughs, and a good plot make it very enjoyable. By the time the movie finishes, its time to get back on the bus and do the overnight drive to Minnesota. Now, I have to tell you that I probably drove everyone mad on the bus……Billy, Rick and Tony are down in the front lounge, watching the HBO series, Band Of Brothers, and I am COMPLETELY obsessed with my latest Playstation 2 game, GT3!! I show anyone who appears in the doorway what car I have, how you can customize the body and wheels, add various stages of tuning to the engine, brakes etc etc…….this game is amazing!! Having sent everyone else to sleep long ago, I finally turn the game off and climb into my bunk. Apart from being woken by phones ringing at three in the morning, because our guitar tech, Vegas, is held up at the Canadian border, I get a good nights sleep, and wake up in the land of Purple Rain…..Prince’s home town of Minneapolis.
After our set, Billy and I walk out to the sound desk for the final half an hour of Aerosmith’s set, and they are nothing short of awesome. You have to go and see this tour. Steven and Joe are just phenomenal, and the rest of the band – Tom, Joey and Brad – sound fantastic. They use every inch of ramp and stage space, and Sweet Emotion, Back In The Saddle and Livin’ On The Edge shake the arena to pieces. The lights and sound are perfect, and it is perfectly clear why this band have sold so many albums. It feels good to be doing this tour with them. Both bands are in the same hotel, and we hang out in the bar for a couple of hours, just talking, and Tom Hamilton, Billy D and myself start discussing giving up smoking. Billy is a successful quitter, Tom smokes casually, and me?……well, anyone who reads this diary knows where I am in the scheme of things!! – I believe it’s suddenly my bedtime. I say goodnight, light a cigarette and run to the smoke-filled safety of my room!! I picked up The Godfather set on DVD today, as well as The Phantom Menace, so I fall asleep watching movies.
Next week, the tour rolls into such glamorous surroundings as Grand Forks and Ames. I can’t wait!! More Target stores in outsize shopping malls, more diners, more inane questions like .. ‘ so what’s it like, being in The Cult?’ and, most importantly, more big, live rock and roll shows. Until next time…