LOVE is more than words
May 4 2002
When I woke up Thursday morning, it was all still fresh in my head yet I still really couldn’t put it together very well. After washing up, I walked down stairs and there was Gene (Kraut, Arthur’s Mgr.), working away on his lap top, taking care of business, a smile firmly planted on his face. The show at the Knitting factory was a success on many levels; not only did it bear the fruits of labor that has seen Arthur, David Green, Dave Chapple, Rusty Squeezebox and myself work so hard in rehearsals to play this music well, but it also saw LOVE fans in Los Angeles (of all places!) give London fans a run for their money (as a matter of fact, a fan came up to me and challenged any city to be better than that Knitting factory crowd…I told him London and Glasgow were determined to prove him wrong and he put both cities on notice! So we’ll have to see!)
After Gene finished up some business, we walked a few blocks down to the beach for coffee (Rusty and I live in Santa Monica, 4 blocks from the water) and just sort of reflected on the night before. How it was such a great, fun night. We did well on the merchandise (almost everything sold out, INCLUDING the LOVE PANTIES! That David Chapple designed!), and not only was the Knitting factory full to the brim, the club informed us they’d never had such a high demand for tix before. As I sat and took in the cool maritime breeze and 11am sun, I thought to myself how the day before had unfolded and how I walked into the Knitting factory at 4pm Wed and walked out 3am Thursday.
Rusty and I pulled dup to the KF parking lot around 4pm for sound check but we couldn’t get in the lot due to the huge RV mobile home that was stuck under the ” 8 feet or under” sign. (for our friends out there who aren’t familiar with the American travel phenomenon known as the RV, it’s basically like a huge motel on wheels that people usually take on vacations or holidays. RV stands for “Recreation Vehicle, by the way.) After a few minutes (and a little destruction), the RV was out of the way and we pulled into the lot and walk into the backstage to assess the stage. It was a nice room and it had a balcony. Good, I thought to myself, this ought to be fun! A few minutes later, Arthur walked up to me to say hi and to tell us there was a film crew filming a documentary on Arthur and that they would pretty much follow him (and us) for the whole night (they did. they went everywhere except the bathroom!) Although we were being filmed, I soon forgot about the camera (they were very non-obtrusive) and went about the business at hand, which was to stretch my guitar strings (they were new and this is how you break them in-with a little abuse) and to find a nice cold beer, and it turns out there was ice cold Heinekens in the backstage fridge. I was in business.
Fifteen minutes later, David Green, his very attractive wife, Traci (also our Merchandiser for the night), and David Chapple showed up and we were ready to sound check. Our awesome guitar tech, David Jenkins (we call him “Cookie head”), was there with extra things we might need for the show like cables, strings ect. Arthur was all smiles, in a good mood no doubt. The KF show sold out about a week ago and 25% if the shows on this tour have sold out so far and we don’t leave for 12 days! As a write this, Stockholm is sold out and Paris is close to selling out, if it hasn’t already. If you’re thinking of getting tix but haven’t, don’t take my word for it; just ask all those people outside the KF wed night that couldn’t get in because they either waited too long to buy tix or found out about the show too late. You can imagine the excitement/ nervous energy anticipating this show, not only from the fan’s perspective but from the band’s as well. We knew this show had to be better than any show we’d done, and simply obliterate the memory of the Spaceland show, which was a really great show but this one had to be 10 times better.
By the time the opening act, The Quarter After, finished their sound check, it was closing in on 7:30. The KF provided some food and beverages backstage that I found to be a bit on the “not so good” side. The people that work at the club are really nice but the food was awful and it tasted cheap. I changed my clothes and decided to join Rusty for a beer at the bar in the club. No sooner had we opened the door than none other than Barry Breshnahan was standing there, hanging out. Then, (I think Brad is his name? Forgive me!)), another fan came up who’d flown in from Seattle with his girlfriend. This guy had also come down and seen us in ’95 at the Teaser in West Hollywood.
Both Brad and Barry started talking and then they realized they’d been posting responses to one another on the LOVE website! Barry was a friend from several years back, as he once wrote us a letter when he lived in Dublin (where he’s from) and then when he got a job working south of Los Angeles, he met up with Rusty and I and we hit up 2 pubs and got completely out of our idiot on Guiness and Bushmills, a great combo! Then Barry moved to Boston and when David Green and I were on tour backing Michael Shelley and opening for They Might Be Giants in ’98, we ran into Barry again! So it’s always great hearing from and seeing the guy, especially since he flew in from Charlotte, North Carolina this time!
So, with beers in hand, Brad, Barry and I (Rusty took off somewhere) chatted about how exciting the night was. By this time, the opening band had started playing and the club was filling up nicely. I went out to the Merchandise table and by this time, Dave Green’s wife, Traci, was joined by Dave Chapple’s exotic babe, Nathalie, as well as Traci’s friend (and resident cutey), Alexa. No wonder they sold so much stuff that night!!! After I left their table I bumped into Bill Bartel. You might recall I was not happy with him from Spaceland because I thought he was trying to disrespect Arthur. Bill cleared everything up (he’s read the diary so he knew I’d gotten on him about it!) and all was fine. Bill came with Eric Erlander (guitarist from Hole), whom I’d met several years ago when Bill introduced me to him and Eric’s then-girlfriend, Drew Barrymore.
I thanked them for coming and walked towards the bar again and bumped into Roger Manning, who is HANDS DOWN one of my all-time favorite songwriters/musicians. If you’ve ever seen Beck, you would recognize him behind the keyboard. But if you knew better, you’d know he was one-half the genius in the dearly departed, Jellyfish, who were easily one of the greatest (and very misunderstood) bands ever, in my humble opinion. I spoke to Roger and his girlfriend for a couple of minutes. They were real nice. I first met Roger Manning backstage at the Universal Amphatheatre where they opened for Tears for Fears in 1995. I somehow got backstage and he was talking to people and signing autographs and I casually said to him,” I love your music. Thanks for the show. I play with Arthur Lee and I played him your…” Roger stopped me. “You play with Arthur Lee?”, he inquired? I told him yep and he had the singer, Andy Sturmer come over, and they were both really nice to me and didn’t seem to mind my bootleg Jellyfish t-shirt i had on.
By now it was close to show time, and the backstage area had swelled to about 30 people, or so it seamed. The was a case of Rolling Rock beer (yuk) in the corner on ice but, after having a few Pilsners with Barry at the bar, it was difficult to fathom a Rolling Rock. Still, I poured 2 beers in a cup each and had them put on stage, next to my amp (I get thirsty, ok?) Gene let us know it was show time and we made our way up the ramp that leads to the stage and words can not do justice to the absolute excitement and joy on so many faces in the crowd. People were screaming and smiling and jumping up and down and we hadn’t even started yet!
Someone announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, LOVE with Arthur Lee!” and we hit the stage. Arthur said hello with a wide smile, grabbed the tamborine and launched into the intro to “Little Red Book.” Several songs later, the crowd was still going wild. I looked into some of the faces in the crowd and I swear every single person in the first 3 rows sang EVERY SINGLE WORD TO EVERY SINGLE SONG! The most amzing thing happened in the second half of “You Set The Scene.” The part where Arthur sings,” I wanna love you but oh oh oh oh oh…”, not only did EVERYONE in the Knitting factory sing that line, they sang it LOUDER than Arthur! (This beat out the Powerhaus crowd in London, ’96, who’d previously held the crown as the most intense, loudest LOVE fans). Then the crowd screamed right afterwards (I don’t know why!) and then the band kicked it up a notch. Drummer, Dave Green had the beat right in the pocket and Dave Chapple had the Bass foundation down. Rusty was rocking away and just to Rusty’s left, on the side of the stage, I could see Andrew Sandoval, who’d written the liner notes to LOVE STORY and was currently working on the FOUR SAIL re-issues. He was enjoying ever bit of the show. And so were we!
We played about 15 songs ( over an hour’s worth of music) and left the stage. The scene in the dressing room was one of joy, satisfaction and accomplishment. We’d all waited almost 6 years for this night. And by we I mean you, me, the fans, Arthur, EVERYBODY. The Los Angeles Times had Arthur on the cover of the Calendar section in Wed’s edition and now the Knitting Factory was sold out and the crowd was singing all the words and everyone in the building was feeling the LOVE. Arthur headed back out to the stage, to deafening screams and hand claps. He looked at Rusty and Rusty looked at me. It was “The Red Telephone” we were gonna play. As the guitar intro started, Andrew’s face shows disbelief; no one thought we’d pull this one out. But we did. And we did it pretty damn good! We played 4 more songs, ending with “My Flash On you” and headed to the dressing room. Everyone was happy and I sat on the couch next to (Knack Drummer) Bruce Gary. Bruce had watched from the wings as well and he thought we played great and said so. The vibe backstage was loose, merry and quite celebratory!
After a while, I felt a bit cramped and made my way back to the club bar, only to be swamped by friends and fans who wanted to share with me how much fun they’d had and many of them said thank you, which was really nice. I made my way to the t-shirt table where Traci and Alexa were talking about how they sold pretty much everything (especially those LOVE panties…had to say that again…) A made my way to the bar up front and caught up with Ireland’s favorite son, Barry. Barry was kind enough to sport me another pint. Some guy actually tried to pick up on me, telling me he loved my fingers when I played guitar, but Barry shoe’d him away (thanks Barry!) and we enjoyed our pints some more. Bill Bartel and Eric Erlander said bye on their way out and my friend, Lisa J. came out as well and told me she enjoyed the show. It seams everyone enjoyed the show, I guess! Barry took off, I thanked him for the pints, and I headed backstage, which was even more crowded. But things finally wound down as I was chatting to Dominic (he’s the guy who wrote that AMAZING book about the Beach Boys called “Smile! Vibrate! Listen!”) and his nice girlfriend. Rusty, Gene and I said goodbye to Dave Green and Dave Chapple and Arthur and Cookiehead and the Knitting Factory staff and that food! The feeling was still that of unbelievable excitement for me. Gene had a smile on his face as well. We walked to the car. It was almost 3am as we picked up a 6-pack of Becks and pulled onto Hollywood Blvd.