Almost exactly five years ago we flew in to Ann Arbor from Chicago for a show at the same venue with an evening flight after-show to Toronto. I recognised this fact whilst on the plane looking out somewhere over cloudy Kalamazoo. My one and only experience of Kalamazoo. We landed at Willow Run airport, a dozen miles to the East of Ann Arbor and whilst taxiing, spotted a Coyote standing, surveying the wild open spaces available within the airfield confines. A beautiful animal and a canid native to North America, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen one before.
Deplaned (I use this word with reluctance) and into our proper car, we sped off to Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan. Did you know? – in the 60’s and 70’s, Ann Arbor became a focal point for political activism and served as a hub for the civil-rights movement and anti-Vietnam War movement, as well as various student factions. It certainly has a student town feel about it today. The campus and fraternity houses are pretty spectacular (just like in the movies), as seen through English eyes.
Mike and I took a brief stroll along the streets with the primary objective of photographing the frontage of the venue. This we achieved with ease, bumping into the odd unsuspecting, slightly shocked ticket holder for tonight’s show. On the few occasions any of us actually get recognised, it’s always a pleasant and polite affair, a quick handshake and a thank you, we really meet some very nice people. Then I suppose if you want to get recognised – I thought to myself – stand out front of the venue an hour before doors open. We wandered on and found a vinyl store and proceeded to search for one of William Onyeabor’s records. None were forthcoming so I took a snap or two.
Bob’s touring legacy lives on…….!
When we returned to the venue, we met up with our old pal Ken Haas from Reverend guitars. Ken and Reverend are not too far away from here so he dropped by to show us a few goodies in the ultra-cramped backstage areas. Mike loved the cream Flatroc and Mark was seen running his fingers over a Descent H90 Baritone. I got my hands on a Mercalli 4 Bass.
Time for a soundcheck in a room which seemed to have all the hallmarks for a tricky night ahead in terms of sound….the PA was well behind it’s normal position, the only available rigging points meant there was no other choice. When we took to the stage, our fears were confirmed for the first few minutes…until Dave Dixon managed to get all that low end under control. Certainly for the band, the rest of the night was not perfect but still great fun. The audience saw to the fun bit, fantastic, once again.
The waiting cars and plane were soon to be deployed and suddenly we find ourselves leaving the country. Canada? already? Toronto airport at 11:30pm seemed a vast, other-worldly place while we waited 20 minutes for two nice young gentlemen of the Canadian Immigration Authority to come on board and welcome us into the country officially. A very nice welcome it was too as the flagship Four Seasons was only a 25 minute drive away.
The growing size of Toronto never fails to amaze. With construction cranes seemingly everywhere, it sprawls farther than the eye can see in all directions apart from South-East. Obviously, as that is water.
The Bleeker Street Concert USB Sticks are up and running once again the US leg is available (or to pre-order) at http://www.bleecker-street-shop.com/collections/mk-tracker-northamerica
Today’s Track of the Day is As Tears Roll By – Daniel Lanois (One of Daniel Lanois’ very first rock productions was Hamilton, Ontario’s answer to Rockpile, The Shakers in 1979)