The Bowl.

Without wishing to rub salt into the weather wounds of those back home enduring what is by all accounts a pretty dreadful October, the weather this morning in Santa Monica was forecast to hit the 90’s. The only dilemma being how to best enjoy the final day off in our LA stay. The usual morning surf-check revealed Santa Ana winds in Santa Monica but not down in the San Clemente area. With a paddleboard rental shop a few hundred yards from our hotel, the decision was made. Laurie and I left the kids (not really kids anymore) at the hotel pool and we headed south for…San Onofre State Beach, dreams DO come true.

The drive down was a good hour and a half and by the time we set off it was midday. Two hours later we were unstrapping the boards and applying the sun lotion. No need for wetsuits today, the water was warm, the sun hot and NO wind! A small swell (originally typed seal) meant it couldn’t have been nicer. With me on an SUP and Laurie on her Donald Takayama (may he rest in peace) longboard (which she flew from the UK with) each with our own surf break as this beach is far from crowded, we caught wave after wave after wave and surfed until the sun started to set.

Paddleboarding in the USA has finally taken off, as I predicted two years ago. The only surprising thing being the speed at which it has done so. Apparently it was the Greek uber-surf-god Laird Hamilton himself who kicked the West Coast into submission as he was for weeks seen paddleboarding off the coast. Laird is probably the best known surfer since the Duke Kahanamoku (The Big Kahuna, Father of Surfing ). If you’ve ever seen Laird Hamilton paddleboarding, it’s quite a sight. He’s a bit like the bionic aqua man and has pretty much single-handedly changed the face of extreme surfing.

Aching and sun-blessed we packed the boards back up and enjoyed that moment when the sun drops over the horizon. A truly beautiful day at a truly wonderful location. The drive back to Santa Monica was busy but we made it back in an hour and 45 minutes and headed straight for Lula’s Mexican restaurant on 3rd Street. One too many Margueritas later we joined a few of the guys in the hotel bar.

Show Day – Full family breakfasting at the Market restaurant we see other band members dropping by for their morning fare. The sun is up again and the Santa Ana winds of Santa Monica have subsided and it’s just plain hot today. Since the Hollywood Bowl is a fair trek from the hotel, a few of us spent some time lounging by the Casa pool before readying ourselves for probably the most prestigious show of the tour.

The bus ride wasn’t all that bad in the event but guests who journeyed later suffered the full torment of Los Angeles traffic. We arrived at the bowl and as always with these big American shows in the major cities, once load-in is complete, scores of local motion picture and theatrical trade teamsters mill about the place, mostly lounging in deck chairs backstage enjoying the Hollywood hills scenery whilst texting or gaming on their iPhones. Local union rules prevent our crew boys from moving flight cases so each task is delegated and the union folks do the carrying, all very well and a great job creation and protection scheme but it can slow things down for us. Having said that, the whole operation is well organized and there is certainly no shortage of security with sometimes up to four staff at each post. The only issue being the available space for the trucks as once the venue is full, most of the available hill space is taken up with parked cars thereby preventing the trucks from driving up to backstage which of course is necessary since our boys load out during Bob’s set. Luckily, the Hollywood weather is sublime and so there’s plenty of space backstage for our gear to be readied for when the audience leave and the trucks can move in.

John was busy taking pics…

showpics Shawn Smith

We took to the stage to an almost full house. Inevitably there will be latecomers for what is quite an early show time for us but it seemed pretty full and the scene at the Bowl is of course unique. A truly historic venue which can hold 17,000 people. The view from the top of the hill is pretty special. We had a great time up there on stage although there were a few inevitable ‘moments’ during our set, it being ‘the bowl’, none of which I think were really noticed by the crowd. All too soon we vacated the stage for the crew boys to do their amazing 30 minute turnaround in readiness for Mr. Bob. We didn’t hang around too long deciding to have a few drinks back at the hotel bar where there was a truly awful trio playing in the lobby. Too loud and too crap for words. Luckily their curfew was 11pm. One drink and a very tired me trundled off to bed.

We just played the Hollywood Bowl!