Compiled by Terry Kilburn
Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 20th 21st August 2019 – New York NY
How would you describe New York to someone who has never been? Teeming, 24-hour, crazy, cool, colourful, hip, funky, energetic? It’s certainly loud. By day, on the street it’s a unique, sometimes scary experience and by night the ‘echoes and roars and dinosaurs’ do the monster mash unlike any in other city. There do exist a few quiet places however. My hotel room high above 57th Street offers a calming retreat, the heavy double glazing doing its job. The sanctuary of the Beacon dressing room on the 7th floor of the iconic theatre also provides the peace and quiet tired musicians need to prepare for a show.
Unusually, the desire to get out and about hasn’t overwhelmed me this trip and with one of the nicest gym and pool complexes on the top floor of the hotel, I’ve spent a lot of time indoors, reviving my pact with the quest for fitness. 2 Peloton bikes are the star attraction for me. Spin to win. The temptation to eat is everywhere in this city as the restaurant choices are as extreme and varied than anywhere else in the world. You really can get any type of food in Manhattan and so much of it is wonderful and on our first night off here, I found myself heading to a small Mexican Cantina on 9th Ave which was superb, with Peter, Tim and Kevin, our Production manager.
Daytime temperatures have been extreme once again in what appears to be a heatwave in the NorthEastern US. Walking to Whole Foods to get provisions was a sweaty event. Provisions are necessary when staying at our chosen hotel. I had forgotten, well it’s been 4 years. The startling reminder of this came after ordering my first room service breakfast. Granola, Plain Yoghurt, Honey, Cappuccino and Orange Juice came to a staggering $83. If you fancy eggs Benedict, it’s a hundred dollars. Call me old-fashioned but that’s rather a lot, especially when you consider the value of the pound at the moment. Bags of groceries procured, the giant in-room fridge accommodated the unexpected influx with ease. Up until this point, I’m not sure I’ve turned on the TV once on the tour but here in the US, The Weather Channel is now an in-room companion and I subconsciously ingest details about wind-shear, average rainfall numbers, wildfire statistics and life insurance packages.
Seemingly an age ago, I recalled our touring caterers and their stunning presentations, each dish as irresistible as the next whilst standing in the basement of the Beacon. Here we are back in the land of the bain-marie as I cast an eye over the most appalling looking vegetables of the tour so far. I had a small piece of beef and it was surprisingly tasty, as was the rice. The one thing even venue caterers know is how to cook meat. Presentation is another story.
Of all the times we’ve played shows here in New York City, I don’t remember an audience quite like the one that greeted us on our first show at the Beacon Theatre. They made themselves known from the start and after Romeo, gave us an incredible standing ovation. The contrast was stark compared with the crowd on the second night, they were quiet, listening and seemingly from another city, or even country. When considering that the shows went on sale simultaneously and the shows are on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, this is difficult to understand, so I won’t continue trying. In any case, both shows were memorable as all shows here are. Upon returning to the room after show number 1, looking forward to a lovely cup of PG Tips, I noticed almost immediately that my teapot was missing. Yes, the one with the big sign on it that says ‘DO NOT REMOVE FROM ROOM’. Naturally, I was straight on the phone with as many hotel managers and guest services as I could and met with disbelieveiung staff to show them photos of the teapot. I went for a beer with Danny whilst they tried to locate it, which thankfully they did. Major incident averted. I’m pretty sure that teapot has been in my suitcase since 2005.
Night-time drinking is simple in New York, there are so many late night or all night cocktail bars and restaurants. A place I remembered from last time here is the interestingly named ‘Manhattan Cricket Club’, a cosy cocktail bar only three blocks from the theatre. After each show there was a small after party at the venue and on the second night, some local guests of mine and a few from the band popped along to the Cricket Club for some ‘proper’ cocktails. we could have stayed until 4am, but we didn’t.
Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.