The inside of the Fox Theatre looks a little like a vision of Camelot; a blue sky ceiling with gently twinkling lights makes for a starry veil amidst the castle tower reliefs and pillars that seem to be inspired by some Romano-Arabic fantasy. The load-in is pretty easy, two trucks backing onto an outdoor dock with a shutter door leading to the stage left wing; the gear rolls off the trucks and onto the stage. The weather is cool but in the doorway it’s a cold and mighty draught, like a wind-tunnel at the Ice Hotel.
Something mentioned a few times during the last North American leg was the breakage and repair of reverb tanks inside Mitch’s Fender Supersonic amplifiers. For the last few gigs I’ve had on my to-do list a note admonishing me to mend yet another tank, and I finally got round to it today. The problem is with the manufacturing; Accutronics use incredibly cheap wires inside the unit which simply break at connections. Finally, rather than re-soldering the joints on the connectors, I replaced the wires themselves with a more hardy alternative. Now my repair list is empty and as luck will have it, everything will catch fire at once at the next show.
During soundcheck the band rehearsed Banjo and Joan of Arc a couple of times each, working out the ripples, perhaps in preparation for something soon — who knows.
There was a holdup with dinner; the food was prepared off-site and transported to the venue via a van and insulated containers. With a nearby traffic incident and shooting, traffic was held up, but in time the food arrives and everyone gets a chance to eat. Not once did I hear anyone surprised by the incident or show outward signs of concern for those involved. Maybe I’m just a small town girl living in a small-town world, but this shit ain’t right.
One hour before stage time and the set lists are unveiled: identical to the last few gigs. Once underway, the set goes like clockwork, the Atlanta audience showing enthusiastic appreciation. From our position in the stage left wing, things are very quiet. We’re surrounded by thick fabric soaking up sound, which lends the idea that dropping a grain of sand might incur a penalty. I found myself sitting on my drum stool and forgetting where I was. Minutes seemed to drift by and whole sections of songs entered one ear and left through the other before I thought ‘oh yeah, better tune a guitar.’ However I performed no boo-boos, such is the deep, intense level of my professional mind-holidaying.
Every so often, one does have an incident in which the tiniest of clumsy forget-mes lead to something special. Saving some dessert for later, Micky had set aside in a cup some sort of strawberry and whipped-dream on his worktop. With Leonard’s guitar ‘on blocks’ (lying flat with its neck in a steadying rest) Mickey must have had a slip of the hand (for it is quicker than the eye) and in a sudden, the guitar’s neck was flavoured with whipped cream. I found it hard to contain the laughter, and worse, I thought it was yoghurt, which would have been horrible, with a stronger bouquet, but using a simple micro-fibre cloth, the skin-surface blemish of cream-in-a-can was erased from history… Until I wrote it down. Honestly, little things happen from time to time, and if that’s the worst, then it’s a good night. Once the guitar was cleaned up, Mickey ‘destroyed the evidence’.
We got a bit of a jolt in the 2nd set with the surprise addition of Heart with No Companion. A little extra here and there does us good to keep us on our toes. It’s like a hockey fight without the adrenaline. After the show, on the bus, Dan and I spared Earth from another 1,293 zombies. We’ve stopped counting which of us racks up the most kills — it is sufficient to say Dan would have caught up with me and likely surpassed my numbers, but it was less fun that way. Now the tally is combined and the ass-kicking shall continue with renewed teamship and comedy bloodlust. Next stop Memphis.