There’s much more to this theatre than meets the eye, well I’ve always assumed this but today I learned a little more about the Orpheum. For starters, Bob Dylan owned it, for a period of 9 years before selling it in 1988 to the City of Minneapolis who renovated and reopened it in 1993. In 2005, the city transferred ownership of its theatres to the Hennepin Theatre Trust. Steve Bond, our catering chief, spends his day overseeing the local catering ‘situations’ in all venues for both band and crew. Steve was with us in Europe and his expertise and quality control ensures all catering is as good as it can be. His role means he gets to know the local staff as well as the building, he grabbed me and took me, with camera, to the lower basement level where there lies a dungeon-like museum of disused dinosaur equipment. I’m talking projectors, air treatment machines, pumps. Apparently in the days before air conditioning, they used to run water over ice in a deep well with a CO² compressor, with a hose blowing mist through the air. It would be 90 degrees in the balcony, and they used to call the show ‘Tropical Camelot.’ At intermission they’d be rushing for the exits, gasping for air. Clearly all the original equipment has never been removed and is now covered in decades of dust
With Labor day weekend weather looking good in the Chicago area, our ride to Midway airport was beset with traffic, the mass exodus in full flow. Eventually we arrived and were dropped at the signature GA building where Captain Chris met us and ushered us through the doors to the plane, all of 10 yards away. I still find it utterly incredible that I can be in my hotel room at 2pm and by 4:30pm we’re in Minneapolis at the venue… and that’s with heavy traffic. Mind you, in North America, even regular internal air travel is so much easier than in Europe.
I met with some friends of mine in catering who live in Minneapolis before the show, we had a chat, about music and golf since Barry works here with Toro at their world headquarters, one of the biggest manufacturers of turf maintenance equipment. Also, Glenn had his guests, from the Leinenkugel beer company, they come to every show we play up here and always bring plenty of ‘Original’ Leinenkugel pilsener, Sausage and Cheese for band and crew. For starters, there were 36 bottles which were already on ice, which of course found their way to the plane for our journey home. Leinenkugel is one of the oldest breweries in the USA and the oldest business in Chippewa Falls. Founded in 1878, it was sold to the Miller Coors conglomerate in 2016.
Naturally, the beers they now produce fit in with today’s modern idea of the beer marketplace with flavoured concoctions like Chocolate and Lime Ale, Cheese and Walnut Pilsener, Lard and Cardboard Porter. I’m kidding of course but the original brew hardly sells anymore. However, the locals insist they continue brewing it, for very good reason. It’s beautifully clean and delicious. Glenn’s pals gifted Mark a signed Leinenkugel paddle. An honour I’m told.
Steeling ourselves away from chatting all night, we prepped for the show. The audience were ‘mostly’ in by 8pm so we held for 10 minutes as has become the ritual. Once again, what a crowd. As always, we had a great time, the set just flowed. It was over all too soon and we found ourselves in cars, no drinks of course, as is the law here, salivating with the thought of fresh, icy Leineys. With ramp access, we hopped from the cars to the plane, Chris closed the door and fired up the twin General Electric CF34-3B1 turbofan engines, each capable of producing a thrust of 38.84 kN (8,730 lbf). As we sped down the runway, sipping ice cold beers, I gave a thought to Laurence, now back in the UK with his mother who is unwell. Sending our thoughts. Brent Jeffers, who replaces Laurence as keyboard tech got his first show under his belt without a hitch. Back in the Chicago Peninsula at half past midnight, I think we all felt the waves of tiredness.