Monte Carlo, Monaco...19 July,2010
A re-run of lukewarm coffee and stale croissant on the veranda but the view cannot be beat...another picture perfect sea and sky lays before me. Picked up the trusty guitar and put a couple of finishing touches on a new song I'd been kicking around for the last few days, a little shambling piece of exotica that will no doubt have Monte Carlo in it's title.
There's a small public beach just next to the hotel. The beaches of the French Riviera are not sand but rounded stones. It sounds very uncomfortable, but really isn't after you lay a towel or two down. I spent a couple of hours there this afternoon in the hot sun and beautiful Mediterranean water...crystal clear and warm. The women are not modest about going topless so all in all it was a splendid way to spend the afternoon. Got out of there just in the nick of time before getting sunburned.
The venue is part of the resort we're staying in and only a few hundred yards from the lobby. Since the show doesn't begin until 10:45 tonight we had a 5 o'clock lobby call for a quick soundcheck and a bite to eat then returned to the hotel for a few hours before heading back to the theatre. It's a supper club called Le Sporting Club and holds 900. I'll do my best to explain but suggest you check Guy Fletcher's website as he'll have pics. The structure is round, mirrored, retractable ceiling and windows. Two stages, both retractable depending on who's currently playing. There was a small show combo playing prior to us on one of the stages. When they were finished that stage pulled in and the one with our gear extended out. We've played a few casino gigs but never for a supper crowd...tables, plates, silverware, etc. This was no average Joe supper crowd, this was the very well heeled, jeweled and jacketed...there to be seen more than to see us. I saw folks on cell phones, people wandering in and out. I don't know how much the price of admission and dinner was, but you can imagine if only 900 seats at the tables are available it wouldn't be a bargain. In the end I think we won them over.
A few thoughts about casino/dinner/lounge entertainment. It's a very valid endeavour and reached it's pinnacle in the 1950's and early 60's in Las Vegas. Great artists like Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Sinatra, Dino, etc. tailored there act to the work at hand; catering to well heeled folks who wanted to be entertained while eating and drinking. There's a real art to it and not as easy as you might think even though it's easy to pillory and parody. The other very important part of the equation was the repertoire, the greatest from the American songbook, written by brilliant, sophisticated and witty songwriters ala Cole Porter, arranged and swinging like a well oiled gate. The whole package was appropriate to the occasion. Fast forward 50 or 60 years. The dinner clientele really hasn't changed in what they want from the experience, they're sophisticated or trying very hard to be, monied, there to see, be seen and entertained. What has changed is the style of music that now plays in these venues. It's from the world of rock music for the most part and frankly it is a misfit with the surroundings. Rock music is everything that these places are not. Looking at the line up to follows us, some artists will fare better than others, Charles Aznavour and Julio Iglesias, but they are throw backs to the old Vegas model. Even Elton John who is doing several nights here, while he'll be received wildly, somehow the music doesn't fit the mirrors, table cloths and spangled patrons. Anyway, that's how I see it.
We came off stage and back to the hotel. Danny, Mike, John and I wandered next door to a bar for a drink but as Dan and I had shorts on we were not allowed in. It's fine, I perfectly understand. We came back to the hotel to find every bar closed. Ended up in Danny's room for a quick gin and tonic from his mini bar followed by a beer with William and Rebeca Topley who came from England to see the show, then off to bed.
It seemed like a very early evening when I turned in, but I looked at the clock before shutting the lights off and it was 3 in the morning. Enough.