Sunday, 5th June 2011 in US Tour 2011.
To Los Angeles in a cloudy sky and with a lot of traffic going both ways – even though this is a Sunday. I guess those malls do their main trade then, so it is a slow stop -starting sort of drive, to find the HIX we booked had no pool and not much else. Although we were both tired, we decided to try and go to the beach and find a restaurant before the show. Came instead to a busy street near the beach with lots of street performers and an Italian restaurant where we had chilled wine, shrimps and lamb really well cooked, serenaded by an Italian singer just a few feet away from us. He had a good voice and really grabbed each song by the throat. A huge crowd was forming around him and you wondered if he liked performing like this or whether he was waiting for the big break. Knowing what we all do about those ‘big breaks’ I thought he was probably better off here singing to an appreciative audience on a sunny day, without the benefit of agents or managers or record companies siphoning off what little he makes. Then a race to get back to McCabe’s for the sound check, a little late. But they are so professional that all was set up and sound checked with half an hour to spare. Lots of friends come to McCabe’s each year and we saw John Altman, Emo Philips and Martin Lewis in quick succession. Also Bonnie with lovely son Robby and friend in tow. The show went well. McCabe’s is a very well loved and intimate venue and tonight the fans relax into the show, laughing in the funny bits, singing along in the join-in bits and quiet in the thoughtful bits. What with tonight and last night, you might be forgiven for thinking that Neil should definitely carry on touring. But the drag of driving hundreds of miles to a place to be given an unusable piano or a venue which sees fit to put on a loud band next door at the same time as Neil, takes the pleasure away from touring generally. Tonight we find a bar where we can all sit and talk the night hours away and then we drive back to pool-less HIX.