07 June 2011
'Oakland, I owe you one...'Oakland. Show day.
Oakland lies in what they call the 'East Bay, being across the water from the city of San Francisco itself. For some reason, San Francisco has never had a stadium suitably for rock shows (well, I suppose there’s Candlestick Park where the Beatles played their last ever show, but that’s not used for gigs now and besides Candlestick Point is a wind tunnel 300 days of the year). In point of fact, San Francisco doesn’t have a decent arena gig either, (well, there’s the aptly named Cow Palace but… whatever) so there is ever the trek to Oakland. Parts of Oakland are very nice, up in the hills neighbouring Berkeley. Parts of Oakland are ever so not-nice, so you need to pick your moments carefully. I actually lived in Oakland for a little while, on 65th St., right next to the Jack-in-the-Box fast food outlet where people died from eating the burgers some time in the late 80’s. Coming back from the bar one night, a guy passed us, carrying a chain saw. Now I suppose if you live in outback Oregon this might not be entirely unusual but on the dark streets of downtown Oakland this was a tad disturbing, not least because the chainsaw was running at the time. Anyhow, I digress…
Today’s experience of Oakland was entirely stadium-bound so we could have been pretty much anywhere on the planet. It’s been another gorgeous day though, which is a relief, and the band didn’t sound check which makes for a shorter day.
The guest list was commendably out of control, with Green Day , Metallica, Lou Reed, half the Lone Star and half of Apple Inc. rammed onto the mix platform. Mark Kelly’s duet from space brought the house down once again and we had one of the best fog nights of the whole tour. When you’re working with light it’s all about the fog. Haze up a room and you have beauty, turn on the air conditioning and you have diddly squat. Outdoors, with variable, unpredictable wind conditions, it’s always a throw of the dice even if you are armed to the teeth with industrial haze machines, as we are on the 360 tour. Doing my end-of-show runner through the crowd, I passed the stage right legs of the Claw. Glancing up at the mirrorball atop the pylon I had to catch my breath it was so spectacular, burning into the night sky. Thank you Oakland, I owe you one!