It was good to be home this past week. The seven days seemed to fly by catching up on 10 weeks of mail, phone calls and errands. We had a couple of bbq's, some dinners out, some dinners in, a little gardening and an evening at The Ryman Auditorium with Eddie Izzard who was brilliant. We also saw our daughter and her boyfriend off to Memphis where he will be attending pharmacy college for the next few years. It was bittersweet watching their moving truck roll out the driveway as we waved good-bye, but they have a great apartment in a very cool part of Memphis to begin the next chapter of their lives. It has always been one of my favourite cities, good food, museums, record stores and now an excuse to pop over now and again for a weekend as it's only 200 miles west from our door to theirs. The last couple of days I succumbed to a head and chest cold that I'd held at arms length all week, one of those that leaves you feeling very spaced out. In preparation for yesterday's flight to Denver I began loading up on decongestant which did the trick, no problem with the ears on the plane and woke this morning feeling like I might just live after all.
I was raised in the west, Phoenix, Arizona as a youngster then nearly two decades in Los Angeles before moving to Nashville. There's something about the western states that makes everything line up for me; a drier atmosphere, the high jagged mountains surrounding the city basin, the pioneer spirit of the people is still present...open minded like the open skies. It was great stepping off the plane last night and feeling the geographic pull again.
After an early breakfast and a couple of hours in what will be a finalist for the best hotel gym, I bumped into our tour manager Tim. He asked if I'd heard the news about John McCusker our fab new member of the band. No, I hadn't, what the hell happened to John? Well....John was denied his visa for America and more than likely will sit out the remainder of the tour in Edinburgh!! Something to do with a previous misdemeanour and there is nothing anyone can do about it, it's in the hands of the embassy and that is that. I suppose this kind of thing happens frequently. Just last week Martha Stewart was denied entry to the U.K. It's a tremendous comfort knowing our governments are protecting us from terrorism, feather dusters and penny whistles. So, for the moment or perhaps the duration, we're a six-piece again.
We arrived at Red Rocks far earlier this afternoon than usual to do a little re-arranging of the songs, everybody picking up various bits of slack due to John's absence. This is where real professionalism saves the day. Many lesser or inexperienced groups would have been in disarray faced with the same problem, but we calmly went about the task in fairly short order and not a feather ruffled.
The venue is about 25 miles outside Denver, a gorgeous natural amphitheatre surrounded by the most awe inspiring red coloured boulders. I first played here in 1972 with Neil Diamond and always look forward to coming back. It was a hot, clear day, then later in the afternoon the clouds came in and the wind whipped up, cooling things down nicely. We took the stage for our first show of the North American tour minus a key member and having not played in over a week. The band was unflappable and I am very proud of us all, cool as cucumbers and delivered one of the best shows ever, a man in every corner at the top of their game, not only filling the gap that John's left but adding a couple of new songs to the set as well! The audience of 8,700+ was loud, enthusiastic and brilliant. A fantastic launch to the final third of the tour.
A runner back to Denver and a quick gathering in MK's room for a glass of wine, quick being the operative word. The Brit boys are jet lagged and exhausted and the Yanks were not far behind. The end of a well saved day. Onward and westward-ho tomorrow.