I could get used to playing these amphitheaters, with the gorgeous sky slowly turning from day to night while we played, I thought. I’d probably change my mind the first time we had a rainout, but that night in Mesa I could see the appeal.
It was a tight crowd, focused, and the acoustics were terrific, not a lot of concrete echo. They sang. They really really sang. There were long moments where Ziggy just gave me a look of mischief and held his mic out to the crowd and let them do the work.
Then there was a moment when I picked up the solo in Why the Sky, which was now the big “Arizona” song. Us being in Arizona I decided to do it bigger, better, and I worked up to a peak when I would normally have ended the solo after sixteen bars. Bart and Zig were right there with me as I kept it going. Some in the crowd tried to come in with the next verse and Ziggy cut them off with a conductor’s close-fist and a snarl. It was great.
We did the extra-extra encore again, because why the hell not, the people wanted it, I wanted it, Ziggy wanted it, and I knew the timetable was in our favor.
And then it was time to hit the road. I sat down in the dressing room and watched the hustle and bustle around me while waiting for the shower.
I don’t know how much later it was Colin sat down next to me on the couch. “Hey boss?”
I blinked. “Um, what?” Apparently when I sat down? I shut down. Huh.
I felt like I didn’t want to move, but I forced myself to. “Yeah.”
He handed me a bottle of Gatorade.
It tasted really good so I must have needed it. “Fuck. I forgot about me and the Southwest.”
“And we’re headed to Texas next,” he warned. “And Colorado is fucking dry, too.”
I nodded. “Hey. Try to remind me to drink something while I’m on stage. And shove some down my throat between encores.”
“Will do,” he said, then sat there staring at me.
“You okay?” I asked him.
“Just making sure you finish drinking it,” he said, pointing at the bottle in my hand.
“You’re really serious about this.”
“Yes, I am.” He cracked a smile. “Gotta make sure I get my next guitar lesson.”
“When we get there,” I said. “We’ll drive everyone insane if we do it on the bus.” I slugged back the rest of the Gatorade. “Shower free yet?”
I was out of it enough that I got in without soap or shampoo. Someone had left a little hotel bottle of something in there, with a teensy bit in it. I put a little water in the bottle and shook it up, dumped it over my head, and sudsed as best I could. The stuff really smelled like oranges, or maybe that was because of the orange Gatorade I’d just had. I felt like the stuff was coming out of my pores. I stood there a long time under the water.
Someone poked me through the shower curtain and I looked out, expecting Colin. It was Ziggy.
“Hey, just making sure you didn’t drown,” he said. His own head was wet and he had a towel around his shoulders, over his clothes. “Our bus is almost ready to roll.”
“I’m coming, be right there,” I said. I switched off the water and climbed out. He handed me a towel and I stuck my face in it.
Marty had slept all day, he said, and was ready to drive all night. Night was better, he explained, because there was no traffic. We’d have plenty of daytime driving tomorrow, too, anyway.
Into the bus we went. Someone, probably Carynne, had made off with a bunch of the catered food, an entire platter of miniature chicken drumsticks and a plate of celery and carrot sticks. We sat around the lounge eating them and talking about the show and generally chatting a mile a minute while Marty drove us out of town.
At least, I was chatting a mile a minute. All the sugar in the Gatorade maybe. And a good show.
The conversation turned to Red Rocks. Chris had a magazine with a thing about the place. “Holy shit,” he said, while reading excerpts aloud to us, “the fucking Beatles played there.”
“No kidding? How long has it been a concert venue?”
“Since like 1906!”
“I thought it started in like the seventies. Wasn’t that where the Jethro Tull riot was?” Bart asked.
“It was,” Chris said. “So there were no rock shows for a couple of years after that, city ban. But the ban was lifted.” He read us the relevant section of the article, which called it the best venue in the United States.
“I told you,” Carynne said. “There’s just one big drawback. The back road up to the stage is so steep and windy that big trucks can’t get up there. You have to transfer your equipment to a box truck to bring it up.”
Fortunately, our equipment was already in a box truck.
The bus party didn’t go as late this time. When the chicken wings ran out I drank another Gatorade upon discovering that someone had stocked the small refrigerator with it. Then I got into my actual bunk, which was just above Colin’s.
Someone had put a full bottle of Gatorade in the nook by my head, too. They were really serious about not wanting a repeat of the puking and fainting the last time we were in Austin. It hadn’t exactly been fun for me either, so I was fine with that, even if it could become annoying if they went overboard with it. People cared. How could I argue with that?
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