I totally got sucked into American History X and then M*A*S*H* (the original Robert Altman film) as they played on the seatback screen in front of me…. but I am already ahead of myself. Let me back up to where I left off.
After Boston, we drove all night to Long Island, got there about dawn. I woke up in the bus and found out that the van was leaving for the hotel and showers in just minutes, so I slammed a cup of coffee, threw a bottle of water into my carryon bag, along with my shaving kit and some clean clothes, then off Mars and I went to the hotel. I was able to shower there and shave for the first time in days. (I wish I could grow a decent beard, but I have no real facial hair to speak of. After three days it looks like I am growing a nice little volunteer fireman mustache, and after a week I just look like a catfish.)
We played in Westbury, NY, which is right smack in the middle of Long Island, I believe. The venue was called the North Fork Theatre, and it was sort of interesting. Built in 1966, apparently, it looks like nothing on the inside so much as some sort of rock and roll flying saucer. It is possible for bands to play there in the round, though we had the seats behind us blocked off. (I have to admit that I was a bit relieved about that. I like the idea of playing in the round in theory, but in practice it would make me a bit uptight…)
The backstage was once again palatial, and the chef, a woman named Wendy, turned out the most amazing meal of the tour! There was a lovely Penne Bolognese, a Chicken/corn tortilla casserole, three amazing desserts, several vegetarian options, some really fine local bread… one of the desserts was a puff pastry stuffed with a mango cream… I’m telling you, it was amazing.
The afternoon was spent, for me, doing some laundry in the venue’s laundrette and later hanging out with Pat Egan from Relapse Records. Pat’s a huge fan of the Alarm, so it was nice to be able to hook him up with a ticket for a good seat to see his boys ROCK Long Island.
The Furs show that night was VERY well played, and Richard did his best to bring the audience into the show, but the North Fork’s stage has a barricade and a thirty foot gap between the band and the audience. Richard leapt over the barricade and tried to engage the audience in the immediacy of the rock and roll spectacle that was unfolding in front of them. Somehow, probably because they were sitting down on comfy seats, they sort of watched and listened… intently, certainly, but there was precious little dancing in the aisles.
After the show, the Butler brothers were having a tete a tete about the crowd, and I realized that the subdued response was a source of some distress to them. I found this very interesting, in that it reassures me of something that I really like about this band (and for Richard especially): Every show counts. It really upsets these guys if the audience seems detached or if the show itself doesn’t go well. I think this speaks very well of their commitment to their fans and their music. It’s good to be part of an organization that really cares. There are plenty of bands who, at this stage of their careers, might turn in some half-assed performances and count on their catalogue of hits to continue to pull crowds. The Furs, fortunately, still want to play great shows.
John rushed off after the show, as his lovely wife is having a baby! (I think I can speak about that without jeopardizing the band’s privacy.) The rest of the band took the bus to the Ramada next to JFK to get some rest before the next day’s flight to California. Tricia and I got a bunch of the gear loaded into her room for safekeeping for the night. That was a real trial…
The next day, we loaded out of the hotel, got a shuttle bus to JFK and checked 22 bags of assorted guitars, flight cases full of keyboards, an odd drum here and there, and all of our non-carryon bags. We flew six hours to the Long Beach airport and deplaned at nine pm local time, midnight EST. We were pretty beat. I don’t particularly care for flying. (This will come as no shock to regular readers of this weblog.) Yesterday’s flight wasn’t THAT bad, as flights go- nice big plane, so turbulence was minimized and I had a little screen to stare at to keep my mind from racing.
We checked into our hotel here in Long Beach and today was a fairly relaxed day off.