Nashville. Show day.
After waking up to the best non-ironic mainstream newspaper headline in the history of the world ("This just in! Bible may be allegory, shock!"), I took a couple of the tour crew to Mas Tacos for lunch, which made me feel like quite the local. Turns out that they do a breakfast taco on Saturdays, which was almost more than a man could have wished for. I’m having a great Nashville.
Today sees our 100th show of the 360 tour. One hundred performances beneath the space station! By way of joining in the celebration, Tennessee arranged for a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which was very touching. It was stupefyingly hot outside but being a humidity-free heat, I confess to secretly loving it. Growing up in England, the notion that the temperature could ever be too high, or the weather too sunny, would simply never cross your mind. To say that the weather was awful because it was too hot would have been right up there with complaining about the inconvenience of having so high an income. I remember going to the south of France for the first time one teenage Summer and hoping against hope that there might be a day when it was ‘unbearably hot’. Had I holidayed in Nashville that year, my hope would certainly have been realised and today, uncomfortable though it was, I still couldn’t help but enjoy it.
I managed to get myself a brief art fix, having been tipped off that the “Warhol Live!” show at the Frist was worth a look. The premise of the show is that it presents the elements of Warhol’s work that relate to music, dance and television and it’s a nice collection. The only disappointment was a room supposedly decked out to represent The Exploding Plastic Inevitable – Warhol’s trippy multimedia performance evenings that would feature the likes of The Velvet Underground or The Mothers of Invention, depending on which coast he was on at the time. The gallery room set aside for this was curtained off and contained suitably 60’s films, light projections, strobe-lights, etc., and a huge padded seat/bed in the centre, covered in cushions and pillows. There were a few people walking through the gallery and looking a little intimidated so I, being imbued with 60’s performance art spirit, lay down amid the cushions to see if I could induce a few hallucinations. Moments later a little security chappie runs in yapping tersely “I’m sorry sir, you may only sit, you may not lie on the pillows”. “Oh,” I replied confused, “I rather thought that was the whole point.” I can’t imagine that lying down would have been much of an issue at The Factory.
It’s all very well for me to be loving the heat, but I wasn’t the one having to run around in a leather jacket for the evening. However, the band did well despite, I’m sure, being at the point of near-collapse throughout. Shane Kimbrough was at the show, he being one of the NASA astronauts that we met in Houston in 2009. It was great to catch up – he was asking about the tour and I said how sad we were that our grand project was about to come to an end. “Well, we feel the same way about the Space Shuttle,” he replied. He also told me that he’d been the one to strap Cmdr. Mark Kelly, the astronaut in the 360 show, into his shuttle seat before take off, so they especially enjoyed Beautiful Day.
We did a runner from the stadium to the Air 360 plane and headed to Chicago. I had a window seat and began to notice occasional flashes in the night sky. We seemed to be heading towards them and as we got closer I could see that it was an electrical storm, strobe-lighting the clouds into incredible momentary shapes and colours. We ended up flying right over it, looking down onto a thunder and lightning storm, which looked like the Earth below was melting or exploding. It felt more like a ride in the Space Shuttle than an aeroplane.
Landing in Chicago, for some reason I kept thinking we were in Canada. On arrival at the Hotel Fabulous, we gathered in the bar that had thoughtfully been kept open for us. It was 2am and a few of us bellied-up on bar stools, chatting to pleasant and helpful bartenders and having a bit of a laugh. Having a lot of a laugh, actually, especially when they brought us a plate of chicken wings the size of a small car. I was aware that we were just talking rubbish and were borderline demented but somehow it just wasn’t possible to go to bed before 5am. Adrenaline maybe, or just a perfectly normal side-effect of this perfectly abnormal life.