Minneapolis-Milwaukee-Chicago 30, 31 August .... 1, September

30 August

Fully caffeinated work out at rooftop gym. Definitely the winning facility of the North American leg so far. An early afternoon departure from Midway Airport to Minneapolis and the Orpheum Theatre. Natalie had platters full of Chicago deep dish pizza, not exactly my favourite but as it was the first thing I’d eaten all day I devoured a piece and some salad. One piece is a full meal and held all the way through the show, bypassing the venue’s catering. The theatre opened in 1921 and for a period in the ‘80s it was owned by Bob Dylan who sold it to the city and it’s restoration began. It seats 2,600 and was a sell out. Another enthusiastic audience here in Minneapolis and a stellar, relaxed show on our part. Glenn Worf’s friends brought their usual gift of cases of Original Leinenkugel Beer brewed in Chippewah Falls, Wisconsin. The brewery has become synonymous with all manner of flavoured beers that are unspeakable, I can’t stand them. However, their “Original” is one of the best straight ahead American beers ever and sadly you can’t find it outside of a very limited area in Wisconsin. Many cases were delivered along with sausages and cheese. This bounty ended up on our flight back to Chicago and was a great way to kick off the journey. To top that off we had a hot Thai dinner served as well and the Leinenkugel was a perfect foil to it. Back at the hotel just past midnight and straight to bed.

31 August

Probably a record set for the shortest flight of the tour or maybe ever… 19 minutes from Chicago to Milwaukee. Natalie still managed to serve hot Italian beef and cheese sandwiches and clear the tables in time to touch down. Tonight’s show at Riverside Theatre is on the Milwaukee River. We’ve played this one several times as well and the 8th Floor catering is always memorable, one example of a venue with in-house catering that’s great, definitely on a par with our European catering crew. The dining room is warmly lit with racks of record albums, a turntable and amplifier and three vintage, full screen, in-cabinet video games from the ‘70s. Shelves with books and posters on the wall. A typical old theatre back stage, small, lots of stairs leading to landings with single dressing rooms on each. One lift with operator and accordion style door. Long wait. Good exercise up and down the stairs. Another good one tonight and great audience reception, a sold out crowd of 2,400. A runner and a 19 minute return flight to Chicago, fuelled by Leinenkugel, bratwurst sandwiches, summer sausage and cheese. An amazing amount of food crammed into a short time frame.

1 September

This year has flown by. I can scarcely believe it’s been 5 months since we all convened in London to begin rehearsals and here it is September. It’s Labour Day weekend in America a holiday that for all it’s backyard barbecues and beer, really commemorates the hard working women and men and the organised labour movement, unions, that ensured safe working conditions and a fair wage. So if you are celebrating, just give a thought to that while you enjoy your families, hot dogs and hamburgers. After basing in Chicago for five days, we actually played here tonight at The Chicago Theatre. Built in 1921 it became the flagship for 28 theatres across the midwest in the B&K chain. A lavishly appointed theatre typical of it’s time, it presented movies and live shows including a 50 piece orchestra as well as it being a pioneer in the use of air conditioning to attract customers. As early as 1922 it promoted jazz concerts regularly into the 1930s. As part of it’s original attractions it had “the Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ played by Jesse Crawford, well known theatre organist from that period. The Mighty Wurlitzer was restored in 1970 and is the oldest of it’s kind still in existence. Seating capacity is roughly 3,500 and was sold to the rafters. Always a great gig at the Chicago Theatre. It was an hour flight following the gig in to Nashville. Nice to sleep in my own bed and have a day off at home. Planning a family barbecue for the holiday.

Richard Bennett