At 7.15am I rose to a breakfast of crackers, peanut butter, avocado and an apple. After a brief futter in my room, I met with Dan in the hotel lobby and we boarded the 8.30 van to the Save On Foods Memorial, one of many venues in North America named after something which makes the whole thing sound rather daft. It’s our first arena setup of 2013 and it is a busy one. We load more equipment into places like these due to their size; extra speakers carry the sound further, and of course to run them we need additional cabling and rigging equipment.
Upon my arrival at the venue I admit to doing little until after 11am when the requisite truck filled with the necessary backline equipment was positioned for unloading. The Winning Team, now fully assembled after the others alighted from the short ride on Camelot, set to ordering the carpets, risers, and backline.
Unfortunately it was slow goings for the lighting and PA departments and we took longer to get the place ‘show-ready’ than hoped. But some time before 4pm the place was tidy and sound enough to accept Leonard for his lone soundcheck. When the band join him, it’s another reasonably quick affair and by 5pm many of us enjoy the delights provided by the in-house catering team who did a wonderful job at feeding this lowly soul who likes to eat vegan.
Come show time the venue remains a little chilly, but soon enough it warms. Almost automatically these days, we’ve delayed the show by 15 minutes allowing the audience to get in their seats, but this is a prompt crowd and for the first time in many months, an audience seems to be waiting for us.
The first set passed much like the previous young days of this tour and the second set is where the laughs begin. As per the congregation in Oakland, Victorians shower the master pianist with praise for his tinkerings in Tower of Song. The response from a stunned Leonard: ‘Are you humouring me? Taking advantage of an older chap?’ Anyhow is ‘got’ here in Victoria; the bawdy number fosters wolf-whistles and hoots from the islanders who also revelled in the lines from I’m Your Man: ‘If you want a doctor, I’ll examine every precious inch of you.’
It’s likely each one of us in the venue was stunned at the rarest of occurrences, the full-on stop of Closing Time; early in the song, Leonard seemed to fluff the lyrics and like any real man who takes his medicine, halted proceedings; from the top and with a grin the song was restarted to a flawless finish with I Tried to Leave You.
Load-out was a lot quicker than load-in; The Winning Team’s stuff was packed and stacked in the truck timely, and we spread forth to help out a little here and there before showering (separately — behave) and boarding the bus around 1.30am.