Wake at 3.30 with a desperate need for coffee so walk a block to an all- night deli called Smiles. I buy a cappuccino and a tea from a machine and walk back past the night-gangs of road repairers and shadowy shapes in doorways. When I get back to our room I find the cappuccino is, in fact, hot chocolate – so Neil has that and I have tea, then both of us sleep again till woken by a phone message from JJ around 5.30 who is waiting in the foyer with real coffee and croissants. By the time we locate the phone to say ‘come up’, he has left, so I guess there has been a lot of jet-lagged night- walking going on
Then the news we have been waiting for. The drum has been found and is being sent round to the hotel. Oh Joy now we can get rid of the cloud and start enjoying ourselves.
Get to Dillons around 11.30 to meet Martin, one of the managers of Dillons, in the flesh, so to speak. I have had an on-line relationship with him over the last few weeks. Good to meet him – a very enthusiastic fan of Neil’s. Tried not to notice that he had written ’ Neil Innes of The Ruddles’ on the posters, but had to mention it. He is suitably embarrassed. Anyway Thomasis arrives – a Greek technician who is on the ball musically speaking, so that things began to move. The stage is bigger than I remember and with a baby grand piano, so it all looks great. JJ goes out for a smoke and I join him in time to see one of the porters from our hotel wheeling a trolley towards us with one large bass drum on it. Joy all round – ridiculously big tip for porter. JJ is looking whole again and immediately gets his kit set up properly We had to hire a double bass in New York for Tom because his own bass would probably not have survived the journey from England. Although this is definitely an ‘orange box’ ie not a quality bass, Tom is able to get a good sound from it – more due to his own virtuosity and Tomasis’s prowess as a tech. than the actual instrument. Even the bow supplied with the bass is cheap and nasty. Luckily Tom has bought his with him. Neil’s guitar, ukele and piano all OK-as usual he is careful not to push his voice too much before the gig. Monitors adjusted so JJ can hear the other two so that after a couple of hours everything sounds great.
Later we eat at an Italian restaurant around the corner. We sit in the front open to the street but JJ and Tom still have to move a few feet away to smoke. Is this carrying the non-smoking policy a bit far I wonder. What about exhaust fumes, diesel, general dust and dirt etc etc.
We separate agreeing to chill for a couple of hours then meet up. What happens, however is that Neil and I lie down for a nap and wake up four hours later feeling dire. So we stagger out into the night, find a seat in a pavement restaurant where Neil can smoke with his drink, to find he can’t, even out on the pavement. So we take a ‘smoker’s walk’ till around 1am when we get back and watch the Conan O’Brien show. Guess there might be another ‘early coffee’ morning tomorrow .