Unbeknownst to us, tonight’s show was going to turn out to be one of the toughest of the tour. The weather in Denver was gorgeous and after the Oxygen-starved, euphoria of a Red Rocks show, it was time for me to visit Target once again and replace my dysfunctional Fitbutt Charge 3 device. As expected, no problem, except that they didn’t have the black version, so I took the other one, a worrying shade of purple I discovered when I got it to the room and unboxed it and thought, “yuk”. No time to return it yet again, so I thought… “I can do that tomorrow in Seattle”, plus, they carry the black in stock. I checked. I love America like that, you can return goods to stores in cities a thousand miles apart. In the meantime, there was a show to be done in between these two important Targets. Salt Lake City, home to the progeny of the great exodus of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) in 1847. The fact that the Mormons crossed the Great Plains to the East and then negotiated the Rocky Mountains with their two wheeled, hand-pulled, wagons, seeking a refuge to safely practice their religion away from the violence and the persecution they had experienced in the East, is thought provoking, especially as we cruise across America and Canada at 32,000 feet..
Take-off from Denver was swift and we climbed and headed West across the Rockies. There were thunderstorms ahead and Chris and Gary kept the bird as stable as they could as we hit the customary turbulence, experienced every time we take this route. It was 7 out of 10, bumpy although if you were to ask Natalie, she’d probably only rate it a 4. I say this as she continued to serve a delicious Lobster Cobb Salad, unhindered. We soon pulled through the grey and gazed at the vista the travellers saw when Brigham Young, the Salt Lake Valley, president of the church exclaimed…”This is the right place, drive on” back in 1847, albeit from a greater altitude. The boys took the aircraft into approach and we swung around the great Salt Flats, so colourful in the afternoon sun. Touchdown and we bundled into the limos for the drive through the city to the University campus and the venue, the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. We played here 4 years ago and we all recall the rain. It didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits though.
After an extensive sound check, we retired to the cramped dressing rooms and had a bite, catering was lovely. We’ve been looked after so well on that front, Steve Bond may have had something to do with that! We soon dressed for the show and a few of us stood outside the dressing room area and noticed the temperature dropping, not unusual as the sun was setting. Pete came along the corridor and said, It’s cold and getting colder, so we all added an extra layer. We finally took to the stage at 7:45 and everyone in the band immediately knew, we were fucked. It was freezing. The temperature had dropped further and there was now a cold breeze from the North which whistled through the stage with ease as its rear was open. By the time we got to the end of the first song, ALL our hands were numb. The extra layer was a futile attempt and did no good for any of us, with the exception of Danny who donned his French puffer jacket. Even the Galvin Green golf top I ran and got halfway through the show didn’t make much difference. I wondered if Mark would make it through the show as he was the one exposed to the worst of the breeze, at the front of the stage. Totally exposed.
Hardly a bar went by without some silent exclamation of pain from the band as fingers simply refused to operate in the unknown conditions. Everyone had to adapt to ‘plan B’… whatever that may be. The crew did their best to A, stay warm themselves, and B, bring on hot bottles and towels for the bands, hands. If we had spent a minute and actually gone out and witnessed the audience wrapping up in their winter gear we might have acted accordingly. It wasn’t exactly the scene in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ where the North eastern seaboard freezes, but it was simply, very cold. The look of shock on everyone’s face when we came off from the main set confirmed no-one got off lightly. Jim, Richard, Glenn, Mark, Mike, John, Tom and Graeme all struggled with inoperative digits for the whole show. Mark’s hands couldn’t even hold a cup of tea, which Steve so cleverly provided. We piled back on for encore number 1. We rocked as hard as we could as it was our only way to generate some warmth. Then we came back on for the final number and go through it unscathed. The end couldn’t come fast enough, I’ve never thought that before, and we were back in the limos with the heating on full blast. The 30 minute ride was only just enough to bring our body temperatures back to normal and as we got on board the plane, I was still shivering. It took me another hour before normality was restored. 2 hours later we descended into Seattle. It was a day that felt like a week. Time flies, sometimes.