Cowboy Junkies and Son Volt – Monsters of Alt Country Tour – Denver (July 7 and 8)
Denver, CO (July 7 and 8, 2009)
We had the misfortune of travelling on Michael Jackson Memorial day. If I was at home I would have been able to avoid the TV coverage, but sitting in terminals and bars and hotel rooms it was kind of hard to not see some of it. Is there anyone else out there that was disturbed by the fact that the family trotted up Michael’s grieving eleven year old daughter in front of millions of people? Is there anyone else out there that thought the family members hovering around her look like a pack of predatory animals smelling fresh meat? Is there anyone else out there that doubts that right now, in some opulent office in LA, there is a meeting going on of the Jackson Family brain trust, who are trying to figure out how to best exploit this beautiful little girls pain, who in the last couple of days has had more face time on TV, the internet, print media than anyone since…well….Michael Jackson (I could write the premise for the reality TV show)? Wasn’t Michael eleven years old when he burst on the scene? Didn’t Michael go out of his way to keep his children out of the public eye, even covering their faces with towels whenever they were in public (even while dangling them from hotel balconies)? Does anyone see the irony, the tragedy the hypocrisy in all of this? Repugnant, salacious, hypocritical, decadent, distasteful, unsavoury..…I don’t know which word best describes the whole event and the media coverage. Watching it made me feel complicit and dirty….the sloooow decline. Rest in peace Michael, you supremely talented fish-faced freak. I’m not sure where you are, but it’s got to be a better place than the cesspool you escaped. May your children escape your fate.
We always seem to start our west coast tours in Denver. It’s the most obvious jumping off point. We fly in from Toronto are greeted by a bus and off we go. It’s a great place to begin: as you drive in to the city from the airport you see the Rocky Mountains looming up from the horizon, much like those original rock bands must have seen when they first crossed the country in covered wagons. We landed as the sun was setting and were treated to a spectacular sunset as the sun and the plains and the mountains all did their part, as if to say, “welcome to the West, it aint like the East”.
This is a start of a two and a half week tour with Son Volt. It’s a co-headlining bill where we will be swapping opening and closing positions each night. We are doing sixteen shows in eighteen nights, so it will be a brutal pace. Co-bills are interesting animals, especially if the two acts have never worked together or don’t even know each other (like the two of us). For the artists they can be fun, exciting, inspiring events or nasty, petty affairs….The goal is to turn a co-bill into a great night of music, despite any drama that may be happening behind the scenes. Stay tuned.
Opening night was at the Ogden Theater. Opening nights are always difficult no matter how many opening nights one has had in a career. In a co-bill situation there are all sorts of logistical issues that need to be ironed out, so that adds to the stress. The Ogden Theater is a theater in name only. It’s one of those venues that was once a movie theater but has long ago been gutted, had a bar put in to the back of the room, outfitted with a shitty soundsystems and had a couple of storage closets turned into dressing rooms; voila, a music club. These types of venues are all over the country and we usually try and avoid them. They are uncomfortable for the audience, uncomfortable for the band and crew and don’t usually inspire the most memorable night of music: tonight held true to form. We had a tough time with our sound on stage, fought it throughout the show and never really settled in to a groove. Despite the venue and despite our troubles, the audience seemed happy enough and they maintained a generous energy level throughout the show. Sometimes the gulf between what is happening on stage and what is happening in the audience is huge: it seemed that most people were having a good time and in the end that is what really matters. I didn’t catch any of Son Volts set….it was just one of those days.