A second night sleep in Hollywood was just as effective as the first one, although shorter. Had to do quite a bit of driving today to get to Phoenix, AZ, so we left early (around 7:30am) to eliminate any chance of traffic. Yes, I know it’s Sunday; no, I don’t take chances.
That strategy seems to have proven itself once again as we left the Los Angeles metro area without any problem. As soon as we felt like the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles is behind us, we stopped for a quick breakfast / coffee / tea at Starbucks.
(Honestly, I tried to avoid it. We went to a few coffee shops as per my GPS’s advice but they were all either non‐existent or closed)
Starbucks… Oh, Starbucks. Funny how the only massive North American chain, dealing with espresso products, does it so poorly. Someone please tell them to stop over‐brewing the coffee. No, Starbucks, it does not make you special. No wonder that most of your revenue comes from food products and not coffee.
But at least you can trust them to be there. Oh, and they are out there, aren’t they. In Manhattan, you cannot possibly swing a cello without accidentally knocking a Tall / Grande / Venti paper cup out of somebody’s hands.
In Canada, It is so successful that it made Tim Horton’s, the Mecca of Canadian coffee drinkers and a national pride by itself (which was once owned by Wendy’s… Oh, the national pride), shed quite a few sweat‐drops and decide to attempt selling espresso‐based products (not much success there, though).
OK, enough with that.
Once food consumption was over with, we continued driving highway 10 eastbound towards Phoenix. The drive is not that bad at first; we actually got some nice views.
However, within an hour or so, the views change for worse.
There is no word in English short enough to describe what’s happening on that road without feeling that I spent too much time typing.
Sand, saguaro’s, weed…
And repeat that, 250–300 miles.
As you get further away from the ocean, the air becomes dryer and dryer and the heat… God, the heat. Car in convertible mode so at least we got some air flow going on. Imagine doing that drive in a compact car with no air conditioner.
And this is April. 97℉ / 36℃. Imagine August! Hell.
Here and there, you could notice some nice‐looking hills on the horizon:
The night before, we bid Nancy goodbye as she was leaving Los Angeles back to Philadelphia. However, as soon as she mentioned that her flight stops in Phoenix, we knew what was going to happen. It was inevitable that she would change her flight plans and join us at the concert. She had neither a ticket nor a place to stay, yet I had little doubt that we’ll see her again in Phoenix; and at around 2:00pm, I received a text‐message confirming it: Nancy got a hold on a front‐row ticket for the show, and she’ll be staying at the same hotel we’re going to stay.
Insane? I wouldn’t go that far. People who feel just the right “connection” to the band’s music may do all sorts of “adjustments” in order to attend as many shows as they could, because it’s really hard to get enough of this band’s superb performances. The fact that the setlist varies only slightly, does very little to de‐motivate: it’s the entire experience as a whole that counts. The perfect harmony between the band‐members, even the occasional mistakes; Mark’s continuous improvisations—no two solo’s are the same. It’s the whole experience, really. You have to be there to understand.
We finally made it to Phoenix at 3:00pm local time:
Phoenix is a big city. Maybe not population‐wise, but area‐wise… massive, really. It was 98℉ / 36.6℃ when we got there. Clear‐blue sky, and the air was dry dry dry. We later learned that this is typical April weather; at the summer, temperature climbs to 120℉ / 48℃ (!). Humidity is negligible, if any.
Got to the hotel—Radisson City Centre—tired of a long day of driving. We were very happy to get to the room already, and much less happier when we realized they gave us a one king‐size bed room instead of two queens. Events like these are great conversation starters, so I went back to the front desk and told Sasha, our receptionist, that I highly appreciate her compliments however, alas, two beds “should be just fine”. A few embarrassed looks later, it turned out to be the travel agency’s fault. Luckily they had exactly one available room in that hotel with two beds.
Quick shower and we met with Nancy, then drove to downtown for the concert.
Downtown Phoenix is very boring on Sundays. Hardly any people on the streets; nearby the venue, a sign saying “Restaurant & Bar”, with an arrow pointing left, led us to what appeared to be the only open eatery around. The place was almost full; Tim & Mike (band members) were there, and my guess is that the restaurant was full of people who were there for the concert.
The Dodge Theatre seats 5,500—I’m pretty sure that’s the largest venue hosting the Get Lucky tour so far.
The venue’s orchestra pit is divided in half, named “Pit 1” (right) and “Pit 2” (left), with a narrow aisle in between. I was assigned with Pit 1, Row 1, Seat 1 (Nancy somehow got a hold of Pit 2, Row 1, Seat 1). Right at the front and at the centre, which was a mild annoyance during this show because the speakers were just too loud (mental note to self: BRING THE EAR‐MUFFS YOU BOUGHT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE TOUR, WITH YOU TO THE VENUE).
Pretty excited, though hardly‐ever‐standing, crowd tonight. As for the band, the dramatic change in weather conditions didn’t appear to have affected them at all.
Half way through the show, when Mark was telling the crowd about the song he was going to play, he interrupted his speech and sent the so‐called finger of death towards the crowd, asking someone to stop recording the show. Interestingly enough, the pointing lasted longer than usual as the recorder appeared to be very persistent in his / her recording attempts. After about 30 seconds of Mark & the audience trying to figure out what the heck was going on, Mark figured out that it was actually an aisle light; an extremely funny moment for the crowd and the rest of the band. Mark later apologized to the aisle light.
No new songs have been played, yet the setlist varied comparing to the previous concert. Great ending for a very long driving day.
Upon returning to the hotel, we decided to give Nancy a ride to the airport at 4:30am and drive as far as possible towards Denver, CO—where the next concert takes place on Tuesday. I ended up not sleeping at all due to all sorts of things running through my head.
Today is going to be a really long day.