After last night’s warm reception but questionable onstage sound we’re ready for a change for the better. Up and over the mountains we fly on another Air New Zealand flight with charming employees displaying personality, wit and a sense of self-worth.
Leafing through the in flight magazine Mick Brigden notices a mention of the tour. We’re all sitting together on the aircraft and of course our noise attracts the attention of the flight attendants. One, in particular, points out to Luke that (to her at least) he looks like Billy Joel. They harangue each other good-naturedly for awhile and she ends up name checking him on the mic at landing. Luke launches into “Piano Man” loud enough for all to hear and she replies (still on the mic): “don’t stop!” Luke’s response, still loud in the cabin: “…that’s what you always say!” General hilarity ensues and continues, Luke leading the way.
On the shuttle to Auckland from the airport Joe requests the radio be turned up as “Africa” from Toto’s fourth album blasts out of the speakers. Luke cringes but relaxes when Vai explains how much Frank (Zappa) loved the band and used to have those songs played over the P.A. system before some of his shows. Luke is touched, never having heard this tidbit before. He responds with some stories about how many hands were required to mix all 72 tracks of the song slaved from three separate 24 track machines, this in the days before automation.
Mick spreads passports out in a fan. Efficiency is the key when traveling with a large group. In our case it’s simply avoiding at all costs the 13-headed dog effect, with everyone wandering off in different directions. Luckily everyone has spent enough time on the road. “It’s not my first rodeo,” a crew member points out.
Our hotel in Auckland would like us to do as they suggest.
At the venue in Auckland the dressing rooms are supplied with various food and drink, including this interestingly named cereal.
Backstage just after Luke’s set and before Vai’s, the Bass Fundament gathers. We have a quorum.
During Vai’s set, a view from stage left. Davros, our monitor mixer, keeps tabs on signal.
Sometimes when the shutter goes off the lighting cue cooperates in an odd way. Here Eric Valentine is blasting away during the Vai set in what looks like house lighting.
But while Steve Vai and his band are shredding the Universal Sine Wave Luke and Joe adopt a fetching pose backstage.
The show is sold out and the crowd is very enthusiastic. Everybody feels much more comfortable, relaxed and ready for Australia.