Thursday 17th September 2009. Toronto. Show 2.
What a difference a day makes. It's funny, both the cities we've played on this leg have been two-night stands and on both occasions the first night audience has been dead and the second night riotous. A man could think of all kinds of reasons - heavy media presence on night one, the night of the week, the weather - but all these things are quite arbitrary when it comes down to it. Whatever the reason, tonight's crowd were well up for it and I spent much of the gig in and amongst them. I hadn't done a tour of the nosebleed seats for a while and it's always an extremely helpful and informative thing to do.
The high seats of the Rogers Centre (aka the SkyDome) are way up there and I had a few Spinal Tap 'Hello Cleveland' moments trying to navigate to them. On arrival though, there really was a party going on. The SkyDome has a retractable roof, which, fortunately, the good weather allowed us to open. The audio department always love this and even way up in the rafters it sounded great - very 'present', like the gig was happening right in front of you, rather than way off in the distance. (I guess Joe had actually 'Let them in the sound', ho ho).
I've noted before that there's a strange side-effect of the architecture of the stage which makes it seem bigger from further away. The closer you get to it, the more it disappears, but as you climb higher the presence of the thing becomes more apparent. I've been a little bit mix-position-centric for the past week or two, so it was a great joy to see the production from afar.
Another favourite pastime of mine is to watch a section of the audience when I know that there's a great moment about to happen. The intro to Streets is always a good one and tonight I'd noticed a group of lads who'd clearly come to rock. They'd been air-guitaring their way through City of Bling and Vertigo, then sat down during the dance remix of Crazy, presumably waiting for something more rock to occur. I purposely watched them when I knew the drum intro to Sunday Bloody Sunday was about to kick in and it was wonderful to watch them register it, realise what it was and what was about to happen. They leapt up, punching the air, whooping and leaping about before the vocal had even started. It really is a very great privilege to bring people so much happiness through relatively little effort.
I gradually made my way back down to the field and clearly it was a great night for all. Stuck in a Moment (never a huge favourite of mine, I have to confess) went off with the crowd singing it like it was Still Haven't Found. I love the differences that local culture brings to a show.
We did a 'runner' from the venue at the end of the show in order to beat the traffic. We had a police escort, which is not unusual, though usually it's because we are trying to make it to an airport to get off the ground before a midnight curfew or something. Tonight however, we were just going back to the Hotel Fabulous, twenty blocks uptown. I appreciate that if the band cars got stuck in traffic amongst a crowd of pedestrians who'd just been at the gig it could well create an unsafe situation, but when we were well clear of the venue the situation struck me as absolutely hilarious - particularly for our vehicle which contained not a single rock star. We were in the back of a van, with a police escort whisking us through the relatively empty streets of downtown Toronto on a Thursday night, so that we could get to the bar ten minutes sooner than would have been possible if we had had to wait at the occasional traffic light. 'Clear the streets!', we cried, 'We need cocktails!'
I tell you, sometimes we are just so rock and roll...