The angels breathe a chorus of elation; it’s the last gig of the leg; the last North American date for the Old Ideas tour, in Regina. 50 days ago, we assembled in the upper loading bay of the Brandt Centre to cross-load a bunch of gear that wasn’t coming with us to Chicago. We return to Regina today, to the lower level, to the stage, to set it all up for real. First things first; let’s have some brekkie. Dan and I came in early to give Nicky a hand with making the backstage area a little nicer than the stock hockey dressing rooms, but there was a small wait for the case containing all the pipe and drape materials, so we scarpered into catering for some nosh. After a simple exercise of fluffing and folding, moving sofas and prissy-ing up the place, our gear came off the truck and we could begin some off-stage preparations while waiting for the lights to get into the air.
The rigging wasn’t as quick as Winnipeg; rather than dead-hangs, we have bridles today, and they take longer — in theory, twice as long, because for nearly every ‘thing’ you want to hang from the roofspace girders, two points have to be plotted, and certain lengths of steel rope employed to make the correct angles, meeting at an exact point from which the ‘thing’ must be hung using a chain motor. Although it is a bit slower today, it’s still pretty quick; the carpets and risers are built, the backline, monitors, and audio niceties are forklifted up, and by (roughly) noon, the place looks familiar.
Everyone’s in a decent mood; back in December, finishing in Brooklyn, there were a few sourpusses, and it only takes a few to become infectious. The problem lies with (I think) looking forward to things. Everyone looks forward to getting home, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up with obsessing over the future at the cost of the present. When you have your eyes so firmly set on something 500 yards ahead, the little pothole in the road takes you by big, unpleasant surprise. This time round, I planned ahead. In the van on the way here this morning, I had a little chat with the guys:
“Alright, we’re coming up to the last show — I don’t want to see any smiling faces, good cheer, or pleasant demeanours. Fuck that. We’re going out in style, we don’t want happy people to ruin the bad attitudes, so get out there and grump up!”
I figure the little bit of reverse psychology might have actually worked.
So anyway, I try not to get too wrapped up with going home; there’s still a gig to do, stuff to pack away, luggage to check in, planes to grab, connections to make, and taxis to sit in. For me, I tend to get excited in the taxi on the way home. Having said that, ohmygoditsthelastshowIcantbelieveitletsgetthehelloutofherequickhurryup.
Today’s soundcheck songs: Gypsy Wife, Choices, La Manic, Can’t Forget, Dance Me, and The Future.
During the past several weeks, since my olympic barfing in LA, I’ve been meticulously watching what I eat; but today I danced all over my food-diary’s grave. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, cookies, cheesecake, you name it, I opened my mouth like a black hole and all things organic were pulled in, clawing at a plane of reality ultimately failing them. Wood-chips, skunks, soups, you name it, it all went in. To the rear of the stage hung black drapes over the arena’s entrance and as if crossing into a netherworld of olfactory bliss, the invisible wall of popcorn hit me. Someone in this building is making a cement-mixer of popcorn and I want some. But I shall resist; the etherial tendrils of my good-sense diet have burrowed upwards through a cheesy man-hole cover plugging my gullet; ‘Stop eating man!’
The faithful reader might expect, being the last North American show, Regina would offer a crescendo of apexes, a climax of summits; perhaps it did, but I was too busy with my woes to take notes. Every so often, your head just isn’t in the game. I forgot to do little things, my mind subliminally distracted. And of course once you discover your failings, you over-think your doings, and every movement becomes a second-guess. It was just one of those nights I’d PREFER to forget. I forgot to put out set-lists for Alex and Mitch, a rather embarrassing situation, considering I put them out every other night. There was something about the atmosphere tonight, a certain amount of practical thinking ahead which, of course, comes at the cost of the present. I forgot a couple of other things too (by no means crucial) and it’s just one of those days in which you think ‘what the hell is wrong with me?’
Bass Tech Chris had a run of bad luck too; Roscoe’s bass rig was acting up; at first it might have been a faulty speaker cable, but in the ‘heat of battle’ it’s tough to troubleshoot. My appearance on stage, mid-song, to retrieve a spare cable for him makes us all look a little unprofessional, and it was noticed by a higher-up, but hey — things work until they don’t. If there’s a way of predicting how and when things will fail, I’d gladly buy shares in the process. At any rate, where should we keep a spare speaker cable? In the truck? No, I believe if it’s going to be needed anywhere, it would be on the STAGE. At the end of the first set, Leonard called The (not so) Winning Team out again; we waved and smiled, with one half of the final show under our belts, thank the gods.
The second half of the show saw a change in the set list, and NO, I didn’t forget to put them out. Before it got going, a few of us gathered around the bass rig to get a handle on what the cause of the ongoing problem was, a drop in volume. It might have been the amp, or the Lexicon reverb in the effects loop, we’re not entirely sure, but unplugging and replugging cables can have an effect on things, clearing dust, making a more solid connection, etc. With only five minutes to go, there’s no luxury of dissecting the rig. The remit: get it working and get off the stage, so we did.
As if we’d reset the wrongs of the world, the second half of the show was ok, back to a level of normal again. During If It Be Your Will, most of the musicians come off stage While the Webb Sisters and Neil handle the song. I shared with Javier the woes of my shitty first half, and he laughed, saying:
“It’s good to make mistakes — it makes you human.”
His is the kind of book I like to take leaves from; it’s the last frickin’ gig, we’ve been out for something like 66 days, it’s been a great run, and there’s no need to get all crazy. I should mention that neither Alex nor Mitch were upset about a missing list. I guess some higher-ups are just as edgy as the rest of us.
At the very end, during Save the Last Dance, Leonard called us all on stage and we did our little steps, watching you, Regina, watching us, and our last rug-cut of Canada, last in North America; thanks for coming.
Our load-out took a little longer than normal — we had to ‘pack the shit’ out of a sea container; filling every space we could, completing a 3D jigsaw puzzle, ramming the steel box to its doors with gear. We have two of these containers but The Winning Team and Team Audio managed to get (nearly) all our equipment into one container. The other will be filled with wardrobe & production cases, risers, and a bunch more stuff to be handled by their respective departments.
In the production office, Dave and Renée put together our flight info and on ice, there was some pink bubbly. Our flamboyant plastic glasses met as we cheersed to a closing chapter.
On the way back to the hotel, it dawned on me fully: hey this was the last show.