During the day, the arena was quite cool; long sleeves were the fashion with many, but this manly, burly soul chose to stay bare-armed because, well because I don’t know why, I just wanted to mention temperature. Come showtime, the air had warmed a bit, but not uncomfortably so, and best of all, it remained a fairly constant temperature which makes the guitars happy. Steady temperatures make for stå-tuned guitars; one can tune it, leave it for ten minutes, and be assured its temperament will remain equal, not like in September 2012, when we played Paris — which you can read about in the No Ideas book. Hey, did you know there’s a No Ideas book? I can assure you, there is!
We started the show at 8.16pm and 61 minutes later, Leonard was introducing the band members as Lover Lover Lover closed the first set. Around 9.45 we were back at it, and after Tower of Song and Suzanne, Chelsea Hotel was freed from its parentheses to touch the sold-out and subdued audience.
Tonight’s crowd are a quiet lot to be sure, but still enjoying themselves — you could tell because arms were waving in the air and someone waaay at the back waaaved their bright cellphone; perhaps it was for Leonard. During Famous Blue Raincoat, and in particular, after Alex Bublichi had finished his violin solo, a tiny smattering of applause sounded, but this would not do; Leonard extended his open palm, a gesture directing attention to Alex, and the applause reached a healthy level. This act gave me an idea: I want to try leaving a construction boot on stage, and at a predetermined moment, have a spotlight shine on it, and see if Leonard extending his hand to it has the same effect on an audience. I will call the experiment The Psychic Tazer.
As Take This Waltz came to a close, the crowd picked up a little, literally; they took to their feet and the familiar pit-invasion took place in wait for So Long Marianne. When the encores seemed like they were coming to a close, and some folk rose to leave (getting a jump on traffic I should think) they stopped on the stairs, and in the aisles for a last shot: I Tried to Leave You. With so many standing, occupying every available spot in the arena, it was like being in a big bowl made of people; I just wanted a helicopter to drop 80-million tons of chocolate into this bowl and stir it with a giant wooden spoon — just to see what would happen.
Getting out of the O2 was easy, a pretty quick load-out for The Winning Team. After our truck was done, this soul finally enjoyed a warm shower after a gig; the last two shows saw me chattering my teeth, wincing, and batting away tepid water like it was trying to pinch my nipples. After tonight’s success in personal hygiene, we would drive overnight to Ljubljana, where I have a mission to accomplish: laundry.