On a day like today, there tends to be quite a high guest count on the U2 plane. The band are taking a day trip to perform in an easily reachable city, so its no big deal for friends to come along for a day out. Consequently U2's tour 727 was packed to capacity today. Guests included Cameron Crowe, director of the movie "Almost Famous" and his wife Nancy Wilson, singer from the band Heart. I made a point of talking to Cameron Crowe because I enjoyed his movie so much. Its very hard to make a film about a rock tour without it becoming cliched or hokey (or just "wrong"), but I really thought he nailed it and I told him so. I was looking at portions of my own life, with a mixture of amusement and horror. He was very appreciative and we laughed about some of the details which were what made the film seem so authentic. The backstage catering for one thing - it was so perfectly "1970's rock tour", and also the singing on the bus. In this one scene of the film, the whole band entourage are on a bus and one person starts singing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer". Other people join in and eventually the whole damn busload are howling at the tops of their voices. Anyone who'd never toured might look at that scene and think it was unlikely, too cute or just plain stupid, but I tell you... I've been there. Its quite sweet really.
Phoenix welcomed U2 back like returning native sons, with an extremely loud audience, so we had a great time. We did a runner after the show & were soon back on the plane, Westward bound. Yesterday was the birthday of both audio engineer Joe and Sheila from management, so there was a general mood of celebration in the air. Before we knew it, we had started our descent and were soon on the tarmac, back in L.A. I was sitting next to Joe, who was peering out of the window into the darkness saying "is this Van Nuys?" (the airport we have been using in Los Angeles) "it looks too big, do you think we've come in to LAX?". We then look across out of the windows on the other side of the plane and to my absolute disbelief I see the insane strobe-lit pyramid of the Luxor Hotel. Just at that instant, Bono bursts into the rear cabin of the plane singing at the top of his lungs "Viva Las Vegas.....!!! Happy Birthday Joe & Sheila......let party!!!" A text book stunned silence followed as we realised that Bono had basically hijacked the plane and taken us all to Las Vegas - and not just us remember, but also the entire plan load of guests who thought they were getting a day trip to see U2 in Phoenix. Well, what's a man to do? When in Rome and all that. Most of the touring party haven't been back to Las Vegas since we built and opened the PopMart tour here, so this was in no small way a kind of communal exorcism. We piled onto a coach bound for The Strip, with Bono at the onboard microphone, belting out "King of the Road", followed by his favourite duet with Edge - Rolf Harris's punk classic "Two Little Boys" (What were we just saying about åAlmost Famous'?). First stop was the Bellagio Hotel where we descended upon a cabaret bar featuring the most perfect lounge-act cover-band who were in the midst of an Earth Wind & Fire medley. We stampeded towards the dance floor, filling it beyond capacity and I can imagine the poor performers didn't know whether to laugh or cry. They bravely soldiered on, with cries of "U2 in the house!", etc. and did really well to maintain composure. If it wasn't enough to have the dance floor filled with pogo-ing lunatics, it must be a pretty tough gig to have to stand and do a burnin' lead guitar solo with The Edge boogying on down about three feet away from you. Back at the bar, some confusion was reigning over the monumental drink order being placed. A cocktail waitress told me that Margaritas had been ordered, but she wasn't sure how many to bring. "Bring as many as you can carry", I replied and sure enough, bless her, ten minutes later she staggered back with a tray of forty Margaritas. Things went severely downhill from here.
I wandered across the Strip to the mind bogglingly tacky "Hotel Paris-Las Vegas", complete with half size replica of the Eiffel Tower (one can only imagine the speed at which the interred Alec Eiffel must be revolving). My over-active kitsch gland had kicked in and I had decided life was incomplete without a Paris-Las Vegas beret or string of onions, or some other item of swag which I was sure they would be selling. This very nearly cost me dearly, as the party moved on to the Mandalay Bay, and I came frighteningly close to being left behind (can you imagine the trauma....?). Frankly I was amazed when some time before dawn we were rounded up and herded back to the plane to continue on to L.A., finding our beds just as the dawn chorus was kicking in. Such a laugh, so wildly, commendably irresponsible, being kidnapped by rock stars and forced to go to Las Vegas in the middle of the night. Cameron Crowe must have gathered enough material to make about another three movies.