Two shows in Melbourne, Southern Australia, back to back, a luxury in some ways. The crew don’t have to tear it down and build it back up and we don’t have to travel again. We can wake up slowly and wander into consciousness.
Happy greetings at the Palais theatre in Melbourne. Built in 1927, it’s a funky monument by the sea. God knows what stories it can tell.
Like everything else by the ocean the Palais is constantly falling apart. And like any architectural monument to show business from another era it’s worth preserving.
A new and surprising notice provided by catering. While no one’s copping to anything, I suspect this is spillover into the band world of an old gastronomical prejudice for life on the crew bus.
Backstage there are sacred relics of a sort.
From the window of our dressing room behind bars, the ocean breeze brings the scent of freedom.
As a teenager I was in love with Yes; the melodies, songs, singing, harmonies, production, visual aesthetic and, of course, the bass playing. The bass player was my all-time hands-down favorite bassist. I lived those classic albums and, oddly, never learned the bass parts. It was enough to listen to the songs, whole. In 1976 I ordered a brand new (my first) Rickenbacker 4001, in Autumn-Glo, a particularly hideous brown burst finish. When the instrument arrived at the music store I rushed over and laid the case on the floor and opened it up wide. It smelled so noxious it almost knocked me out. Was it the finish? The case? Hide glue? Who the hell knows…I thought the invisible repulsive chemical cloud billowing up into my nineteen year old nostrils the most sublime scent imaginable. To this day I can conjure the smell and the feeling. This was *it*. Of course I played the hell out of that bass, with a pick, and loud too, in my high school rock band “God Only Knows” (named by our drummer’s Mom – a nurse – a regional hospital slang for a disease of which there is no known cause or cure). That same year I graduated from high school, barely, and soon after that traded in my prog rock aspirations along with my Rickenbacker for a 1977 Fender Jazz bass, a Philadelphia musician’s union card and a six piece uniformed disco/show band working six sets a night six nights a week at the Jersey shore.
What would I say to Chris Squire if I met him today? Thanks? Certainly, yes. What else can be said? Thanks, Chris, wherever you are.
Upstairs at the Palais a skylight casts an odd glow through a translucent glass door.
Downstairs at the Palais a silent early Twentieth Century internal combustion engine dominates a small room out back.
Across the street from the Palais an amusement park presents no attraction whatsoever.
The beach in front of the Palais reminds me of the Jersey shore on a flat day. A warm on shore breeze fills my head.
Out front of the Palais theatre a newlywed couple chooses to document their union in an ostentatious and only slightly American way.
Catering: what are they trying to tell us?
There’s no appropriate words to accurately paint the picture of crew life. I wouldn’t last two days – the hours, the responsibilities – I’d be booted off the island pretty quick. Crew work doesn’t ever appear to cease. The story goes that if a poorly performing employee were to be let go from a certain rock tour they would only find out when management politely inquired of them whether they preferred a seat on the aisle or by a window?
God forbid you should miss the van or bus. The admonishment “bad form” wouldn’t even begin to cover it. It simply isn’t done. “Don’t be a stain” is a caution I’ve heard referring to one who shows up late to the “runner to venue” call. It refers, apparently, to what you’re left with – the oil spots on the driveway in the location where the now departed vehicle stood.
Near our hotel evidence of the fallibility and impermanence of all things – a positively Buddhist moment – is displayed by the failure of even this iconic material.
On a walkabout near the hotel I allow myself a present – new shoes. They’re not that different from the old ones, either. Now, after two relaxed and enjoyable shows in Melbourne we all catch the morning bus on time and, like a flock of migrating birds (“an ‘itch’ of talent”?) morning finds us waiting for a plane to Adelaide. Mr. Lukather digs into a page turning mystery while Mr. Vai absorbs a few extra kharma points.