Compiled by Terry Kilburn

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 22nd September 2019 – Los Angeles CA

September 30, 2019

The history of the Los Angeles Greek Theatre dates back to 1882, when Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, came to America from South Wales to seek fortune in gold mining. Colonel Griffith settled in Los Angeles and purchased the Los Feliz Rancho, which he later donated to the City of Los Angeles in 1896. This three thousand acre gift to the residents of Los Angeles was given with the intent that Griffith Park would be made an ‘eternal place of public recreation’.

Here, as I write at 33,000 feet, on our way to New York after last night’s show at the Greek, we find ourselves crossing the Rocky mountains, this time in an Easterly direction. It’s always bumpy at this point so fin d myself correcting many typos, apologies if I haven’t caught thm all. I can’t help thinking about the poor travellers affected by the Thomas Cook collapse. Yesterday, Britain’s biggest oldest and largest global travel group went into liquidation after a slow-motion downward spiral that started in 2006 when the company’s handling of an incident when 2 children died of carbon monoxide poisoning on a Thomas Cook holiday in 2006 was sorely criticised. The lure of cheap holidays and air travel mean that currently nearly 600,000 customers are affected by the announcement, many stranded. Thankfully the British government have stepped in to assist repatriation as best they can by laying on homeward bound flights across the globe. 

Eastbound, we said goodbye this morning to Los Angeles, Santa Monica and the fabulous Casa Del Mar. Our stay there has been as enjoyable as it always is. It’s difficult not to enjoy a beachfront location and beautiful secluded pool area, with weather to match. Of course this building is well known as being the home base for the Synanon drug rehabilitation program in the 70’s and 80’s. There is a permanent reminder of its former status as when drawing the curtains in the morning, inevitably you will see some of the local homeless population waking after a night under the palms on the beach. People struggling with mental illness or substance abuse issues and who are living in encampments are often the most visible, but it is a myth that people experiencing homelessness decline help or prefer to live outdoors. The incongruous luxury of a beachfront room seems less so as I find myself watching the morning routines of some of the guys as they roll up their sleeping bags and towels. I reluctantly break the spell…It’s show-day morning, I decide to have one final attempt at ticking that Huevos Rancheros box properly so Laurie suggested we head for the Mexican Restaurant a couple of blocks away on Ocean Avenue. Success, at the final attempt.

Great breakfast demolished, it was time to consider the day ahead, and what a day. The Greek Theatre is one of the most iconic venues of the tour and even though we’ve played here many times, it still holds such respect from the band. It is LA after all. We left the hotel mid-afternoon and found that the drive wasn’t too interrupted by traffic. Sundays in LA can be unpredictable but the 10 freeway was smooth running. The day was hot and the gear covered with space sheets to protect it from being baked.

Retreating to the basement area of the Greek, the band were to be found in catering where Steve was overseeing the presentations. The food was absolutely excellent, in contrast to last time we played here, I seem to recall. At 5pm, we headed for the stage which was now just about coming into some welcome shade as the sun dropped behind the hill beyond which lies Griffith Park. My attention was drawn to a peculiar tree which appeared to have many small boxes attached to it. It turned out to be a 4G repeater, not a tree at all. A completely man-made lookalike with dozens of transmitters enabling locals, park-goers and Greek-goers to receive adequate coverage. Prior to the existence of this tree, there was none, the locals being the ones who complained the most. They got their wish to the detriment of Glenn and Gavin on the crew who battled with interference in some of the acoustic instruments. Of course, by the time we arrive, most of these issues have already been solved. You’d just never know. I’m just nosey, so I find out.

Every sound check is as useful as the one prior, Mark and I were just discussing this. The band dynamic is such that it’s only by playing in some of these tunes at the venue before the show that we can really deliver the way that we… at least think we do. Judging by the audience reactions, we seem to be doing ok. It will never be perfect of course, even after 85 shows.

Even after 85 shows. My god. Here we are, right at the tail end of a remarkable tour. Just one more after tonight, seems impossible to comprehend. Obviously so many mixed emotions that we all choose not to think too deeply about it all. The diaries are there partly for that reason, research, reflection and reality.

Knowing there would be so many friends and guests in the audience, the band always comes to a Greek stage with something extra, it’s human nature, and the energy on stage tonight was as perfect as the weather. One thing that was a little unexpected was the crowd. LA audiences are expected to be quite challenging, one of the most knowledgable musical crowds in the world is often subdued and contemplative. Not so tonight. What a reaction, right from Paul Crockford’s extravagant entrance and introduction belted at full volume in full Union Jack jacket regalia and Ianto’s 1, 2, 3, 4, count-off, they were UP and they stayed up. all in all it was quite a night, one to be remembered for all time, at least our time.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.