A very low key last full day. I went back
to Mums and spent the day there. In the afternoon we had a visit from Lisa -
fun as always. That evening the Sheargolds joined Mum, Craig and I for dinner
atRed Centreat the Entrance for dinner. The
Entrance hasn't changed much, but it seems a little busier than I remember.
Jason, Kelly, Mum & I @ The Entrance
Packed and done. 3 weeks back in Australia
is not enough. It gets harder and harder every time I leave. But of course the
other side of that is I get to see my Amy again. Kel drove me down to the
airport (in 105 degree heat) and from there it was smooth sailing. Before I
went through customs I bumped into 1 more set of old friends. Roberta's parents
and brother were seeing off his in-laws, and we had a first catch up in 11 odd
years. Seems like retirement really is treating the Lindbecks well, and to see
Paul with a child was surreal. My flight was pretty smooth (thanks to Lunestar)
and what a sight to see Amy 17 hours later!
On the 19th, Mum and I drove to The Entrance to see if
the Byrnes were home. We got a quick visit in with Caitlin. Mum had to head to
Craig's, so I had her drop me at Long Jetty and I walked around Tuggerah Lakes
(4 miles) and met her there. It was yet another day that was perfect to be
outside, and I enjoyed every moment by the lake. I did try and get round to see
Mrs Kern tonight, but she was not home. I did get to spend some time with Nan
Friday started as a low key morning had me teaching Mum how
to use her new laptop and transfer a bunch of photos to her computer.
afternoon, Kel picked me up and we set off for Dads. We stopped for lunch at
Red Rooster as well as stopping at Hornsby along the way. Dad, Nan Hutch,
Trish, Moz, Kara, Tim, Kel & Jase were all there. Again we picked up
take away from Victoria Village Chinese. A last dinner with the family for a
while. We drove back to the Sheargolds the same night, and after watching I Love
You Man, I stayed the night in Terrigal.
Monday morning and I was up with Trish and on the train
back to Tuggerah. Mum picked up from the station and we spent the afternoon
hanging out with Kel in Bateau Bay. We also had a visit from Amy Carpenter and her 3
week old daughter, Caitlin. Cute baby. Craig and Jase came round in the evening
and we had one of mum's lasagnas. Again, I am spoiled.
Tuesday was very low key. All Mum and I did
was go to Erina Fair and meet Kel for lunch at Spurs.
On Wednesday (the 18th) I did my walk down to Shelly Beach (4.2
miles) again this morning and spent a lot of time by the water enjoying the
beach, though it was not warm enough to go in. By the time I got back Aunty Sue
& Riley had arrived from Fairfied West. We had a good visit and I got
to spend my first amount of time with my cousin, Grant's son. This kid has
genius written all of him - and personality to match.
Later in the afternoon I
had a visit with another old school mate, Caryn, who was up visiting her
parents. Always good to see Norris - even if it is briefly.
That night was
spent in with the Sheargolds and Nan and Grandad Fay, as they came around to
mums for a fish and chips dinner (I'm going to miss that).
Greg and Jill cooked up breakfast which we
had on their balcony before Greg & I drove to Watson's Bay to meet up
with some friends for a picnic. We were met by Brooke, Adam & Jesse,
Jane, Benno, Josh & Emily, Katy & Creany, Anthony, Lis
& Andy, Roger & Lee, & Bernie. What a great afternoon
again. Relaxing on the Harbour with some great friends, fish and chips fromDoyles,
great weather - so good is life.
During the day, the fabulous news of Reggae
& Phil’s engagement filtered through. Very happy for the 2 of them.
Josj, Benno, Jane & Emily @ Watson's Bay
Brooke, Adam & Jesse @ Watson's Bay
Bernie, Katy, Creany & Greg @ Watson's Bay
Afterwards Greg drove me to Central where I caught the train around to Concord
West to the Hutch / Coffey compound. There we had dinner cooked by Manuia.
Greg, Jill & I walked down to the
wharf to meet Reggae and Phil for breakfast at Thelma & Louise Cafe.
What a place. Right on the Harbour, great food, superb location. Could not have
asked for more.
After breakfast Greg, Jill and I take off on a walk along the
north side of the Harbour. With no real plans we meander through Cremone,
Bradley's Head, past Taronga Zoo and eventually come to a stop near Clifton
Gardens. In all we cover 7.2 miles over 5 hours. We make our way back to
Bradley's Head Road and pick up a cab back to Neutral Bay.
The afternoon is
spent relaxing and recovering. We order Thai take-away and rent The
International on DVD for a quite Saturday night in.
Reggae, Greg, Jill & Phil @ Thelma & Louise Cafe, Neutral Bay
On the morning of the 12th, Kel drove me to Tuggerah
station so I could catch the train to Chatswood. Here I wandered around the
mall, did some emailing and had a beer at the Orchard (where I used to go when
I worked for Centrelink) before meeting up with Barnesy and heading back to his
place in Neutral Bay. We walked up the hill toThe
Oaksfor dinner and a couple
of drinks. We were joined by Reggae & Phil - which guarantees a good
night. Thankfully the walk back down to Greg's was much easier.
Greg had gone to work by the time I got
up. I wandered down to catch the ferry over to Circular Quay, where I tried to
go to a few old record store favorites, but Red Eye was the only place still
around. I walked to the other end to have lunch with Reggae.
After lunch I
walked through Hyde Park to try and see the War Memorial, but it was closed. I
did, however, go to Hyde Park Barracks and looked around. Funny how history is
more interesting now that I am into Genealogy. I vaguely remember coming here
as a kid for a school excursion, but that's all I remember. Having said that,
it is one of the creepiest museums I've been in.
I walked in the rain through
the Botanic Gardens, past the Opera House and back to Circular Quay, where I
caught the ferry back to Neutral Bay. Here I quickly shower and change and get
on the ferry back to Circular Quay again to meet up with Tammy, Anthony, Greg
and Jill atRockpool Bar & Grillon Hunter Street.
Dinner was fantastic - as was the company. After dinner we stopped at Jill’s
Office, so she could pick up some luggage (she'd just got back from Singapore
that morning). From there we caught a cab back to Greg and Jill's over the
Got up Tuesday morning and walked from Mum's
to Bateau Bay Beach & Blue Lagoon via Crackneck before returning (about
3.25 miles). In the early afternoon Mum and I picked up Nan and we drove into
Gosford to have lunch atIguana Joe’s. Was a great lunch, sitting
on the patio over Brisbane Water. The real reason we went into Gosford was so
Nan could go to the doctors. We had some time to kill before the appointment so
we walked through Gosford. It was like a ghost town. Not the same place it was
when I went to TAFE here 17 years ago. That night, Mum and I had pizza from
Bruce's, another local favorite.
On Wednesday morning, Kel came to Mum's and picked me up so we
could drive to Copacabana for lunch. We ended up across from the beach at
Copacino. We went back to Kel’s in Terrigal and took Poppy to the beach. I have
never seen a dog take to the beach so well. We could hardly keep her out of the
water. And she was fearless. Because Jason was in Sydney for the night, I
stayed with Kel, and we went for dinner at Hungry Wolfs in Terrigal. We sat out
on the sidewalk and enjoyed a great dinner.
I had a Sunday morning visit from Reggae. She had
just got back from a week in Tasmania. She picked me up at the Upcroft's and we
went to hers, and I met the enigmatic Phil. Later that afternoon they dropped me
off at St. Leonard's station so I could catch the train back to Concord West
where we had a BBQ with Trish, Dad, Manuia, Kathleen, Nan, Kara, Tim, Moz, and
Trish's friends, Janine and Stewart. I stayed there the night
Monday morning I got up with Trish and Moz and walked
over to Concord West station with them, where I caught the train back to
Gosford. Kelly picked me up at the station and took me back to Mums. Later that
afternoon Brooke came round to Mums and I got to meet her 1 year old daughter,
Jesse. What a sweetie! That evening Mum and I were joined by the Sheargolds at
Craig’s for one of his famous roast dinners. Am definitely being spoiled coming
Early Saturday morning Trish drove me to
Strathfield station, where I caught the train to North Sydney. There I was
picked up by Bob, and taken back to his and Linda's Mosman Home.
during the morning and the 4 of us took a cab to Randwick for a day at the
races. We met up with Greg & Jill, Suze & Brad and their friend
Claire, Graham Hart (who I hadn't seen in 10 years) and his wife, as well as
Anthony. A great day was had by all, especially me, I won on a horse racing in
Race 6 at Flemington. All American come in at 40/1 and paid $260. All the signs
pointed to me backing this horse. The name (if that doesn't say Amy, what
does?), black and gold colors of the jockey (same as the Wests Tigers), and his
fathers name was Reg Ransom (Amy's middle name). Jill also picked it as well. I
also won on 3rd place Handsome Stash in Sydney's 5th race.
We left and went to
Doncaster in Kensington for drinks. Again it had been years since I'd been here - and it had
been done up nicely. We walked past UNSW into Kensington to have dinner at Dong
Dong Noodle (a places the Upcrofts had been before). What a fantastic meal! And
cheap - in Sydney. 4 of us jumped in a cab back to Upcofts to finish the
Thursday is miserable, it rains all day. Mum
and I leave the house to meet up with Kel & Jase at Erina for lunch.
Later that night Nanna Fay and Craig join us for dinner at theBateau
Bay Bowling Club.
On Friday morning Mum drove me to Tuggerah
station, where I caught the train Concord West to spend the night in the Hutch
/Coffey House. When I arrived, Trish and I went and picked up Nanna Hutch from
Concord Hospital. The afternoon was spent hanging at Trish's. That night we
ordered take away dinner, with Dad & Manuia, from Victoria Village
Chinese (on the other side of the station).
We left Salamander Bay at around 10am,
headed back to the Bateau Bay. On the way home we stopped at The Oaks in Hexam.
This is a place we had stopped many times as kids on one of our many trips up
the north coast. However this is nothing like I remembered. Although the name
remains, it is now merely a Hungry Jacks, and not the great rest stop I
After we arrived back at Mum's, I walked around to see Nan & Grandad Fay. I love the fact that I still have the opportunity to visit with my
grandparents, though they are not quite themselves after the recent loss of
Uncle Gary. Still, I'll take every minute I can. Mum picked me up and we bought
some fish and chips to eat at Shelly Beach. This is one of most favorite
rituals to do when I come home, even if it was way too cold to be sitting in
the wind at the beach. Tonight I stayed at Mums - the house I grew up in.
Mum, Craig and I drove into Nelson Bay
this morning to have breakfast at the Sidewalk On Magnus. After a quick look at
the beach we went back to the resort where the day was spent relaxing in and
out of the pool. In the afternoon Jase and I played tennis (something I hadn't
done in years - and now remember why). That evening we went back in to Nelson
Bay to have dinner at an unnamed Chinese restaurant in celebration of Jason's
Mum, Craig, Kel, Jase and I are heading to
Salamander Bay for a few nights at theOaks Pacific
Blue Resort. We stopped at the local shopping center for lunch before
checking into the resort. What a great way to come back to Australia. The afternoon
was spent in the pool, before we headed over to Salamander Bay Tavern for
dinner and some pool.
On Tuesday, 20 October, 2009, I finished
LakeLasVegasafter nearly 5 years in order to take
a new Concierge position atAria, on the Strip. I left early in
order to go back and see my family in Australia. It had been nearly 2 years
since I’d been back, and my sister is due to have her 1st child just after
Christmas, and this new job probably won't allow me to get back and meet out
new niece. So it was time, even though Amy could not join me.
After 13.5 hours from San Francisco I
arrived in Sydney to have Dad pick me up from the airport. We went back to
Concorde West to see Manuia, Kathleen, Aunty Trish and Nan. Dad, Kathleen,
Trish and I walked over the railway to have breakfast atThree Spoons. Later that morning
Nan, Trish and Kathleen drove me up to the Central Coast for Kel’s Baby Shower.
I got to catch up with some of the female members of the family before Jason
and I escaped to East Gosford to have a beer while the girls had their
afternoon. I was pretty surprised by the fact that I didn't have jetlag. But
that night at Kel & Jason's I slept like a log
Well this was not quite the night I had in mind, but it turned out pretty good anyways.
It was supposed to be Motorhead headlining, but when Spoon and I got to the House Of Blues, a sign says they had cancelled (apparently because of a problem with Lemmy's voice). Bummer! They were offering full refunds for anyone, or half refunds for those that went into the show. We had only paid $10 for $40 tickets, so we were in front.
Reverend Horton Heat put on a good 2 hour show, including a cover of Ace Of Spades with Motorhead's drummer. I was surprised of the size of the crowd that stayed, and while they seemed to enjoy it, in the end they wanted Motorhead. I felt the same way. But a 2 hour show means I won't need to come back for the Reverend's real headlining show just after Christmas.
Thanks to the SNHCA, ABH and I got an invite to see the limited run of Chazz Palminteri's one man show "A Bronx Tale".
We had a little problem locating tickets, so our dinner was limited to splitting a pizza at the bar of Enoteca San Marco. Food was great, and I love dining in the Venetian's faux St Mark's Square.
I didn't know much about this production until about 2 weeks before we saw it. While skipping through the TV one Sunday afternoon, I came across the Robert De Niro directed movie version of this Broadway play. The movie was fantastic, and I was pumped to see the play. Palminteri had originally written the play back in the day, and was based loosely on his childhood. Apparently De Niro saw it and decided he must make his directorial debut with the 1993 movie.
In the play Palminteri plays over 15 different characters, and the performance was spot on. I wondered how he'd be able to pull it off, but he did so with ease. However I was glad to have seen the movie beforehand to give the characters more depth.
The show was in the Wayne Brady theater, which was just the right size for the performance. It was intimate and our seats near the center were great. I hope he gets the opportunity to come back to Vegas and perform a longer run.
Our last day turned into one of our more
active - if you can believe it. While Amy wanted to go to Mother's for
breakfast on our last day, they are not open on Mondays so instead we went toPazzoinstead. Our main meal for the day.
Last night I had checked into renting a
car for the day, and was told to check back in the morning. Fortunately
Enterprise had a Yaris available and we were able to drop it off at the airport
(all for the same price as a cab to the airport. Now - where were we going to go?
We had thought of heading out to Canon Beach, where we had been in 2000, but
instead we decided to see some new and drive east along theColumbia
Columbia Gorge - looking east - from Women's
Forum Overlook, OR
We started off in the Hawthorne District
(SE Portland), where ABH first lived when she moved to the city. From there we
jumped onto the 84 before linking with the scenic Highway 30. Along the 30 we
stopped at a couple of view points to see the Columbia Gorge before stopping at
many of the waterfalls just off the road. The first stop was Latourell Falls.
Here, like most of the other stops, we got out and hiked to view the
waterfalls. Next stop was Sheppard's Dell, followed by Bridal Veil Falls. We
also stopped at Wahkeena Falls before the major attraction on the route,
Multnomah Falls. We had been to Multnomah Falls 9 years ago, and it is still as
breathtaking today, though we did not hike up to the bridge to get the full
effect as we wanted to see more of the beautiful Oregon / Washington Scenery.
Us @ Sheppard's Dell
Us @ Bridal Veil Falls
After Multomah Falls we continued east (back on 84) until we came to the Bridge Of The Gods, which we crossed over
into Washington. We continued east through the town of Stevenson, just taking
in the shear beauty of the river and its mountainous surroundings. In Bingen,
WA we crossed back over the river into Oregon at Hood River. We stopped at the
river for a while to watch all the windsurfers and kite-surfers. It looked like
it was a blast, but it must've been cold out there. At Hood River we briefly
ventured south into orchid country. Unfortunately we only had time to stop atThe Gorge White House. I say
unfortunately because this place was nice and there are 31 other orchids in the
area. The Gorge White House grows pears, has a winery and an art gallery with
old and new photos of the area. We picked up some fruit (the best pears I'd had
in years) and turned back towards Portland. again, if we had more time we would
have continued on to Mt Hood, which unusually, had no snow on it's peak.
We took the 84 all the way back to the
airport, where we dropped off the car and waited for our flight home.
What a great weekend! There is no way
we'll wait 9 years to come back here again. Portland is such a great city -
maybe one we'll live in (hint again Amy). I'm pretty sure she enjoyed her
We left the hotel around 10am this morning
for our hike up to Washington Park. We stopped near the hotel for a snacky
breakfast, before our climb into the West Hills. Being the unfit old man that I
am, the walk up the hill was a killer. But all so very worth it. Washington
Park is a beautiful, large open space with a massive Rose Garden centering it.
The view east towards Mt Hood is spectacular - even if there was no snow on the
mountain. We spent a good couple of hours meandering through the park and its
neighborhoods, before heading back down the hill, through some uncharted
streets, just enjoying Portland's west side.
On the way back we stopped at Whole Foods
to grab lunch before meeting one of Amy's old work friends, Nancy, in the
Benson's lobby bar. As with the rest of the hotel, the lobby is classically
beautiful and just a relaxing place to have an afternoon drink.
When Nancy left, Amy and I went to the bar
she has been longing for for 9 years.Hubersis
a 130 year old restaurant - Portland's oldest - and home of the famous Spanish
Coffee. Amy's favorite drink on the planet. After our drinks, we continued with
an old tradition of hers and went shopping briefly before the stores downtown
The evening finished off atJake's
Grill, another landmark Portland restaurant. We celebrated our last night
in Portland with a great dinner, and our mandatory walk through the city. It
seems a shame to be leaving tomorrow, but, back to reality.
Marketswere our first
priority on Saturday morning. Located under the Burnside Bridge, down by the
Willamette River, the markets are typical of markets all over the world, with food,
local fare, music and knick-knacks. We spent 2 hours strolling through, buying
gifts for ourselves and others. We bought a real nice photo of Cannon Beach,
where we had our first real date 9 years ago. I also got a sleeveless sweater,
to cope with the cool Portland weather.
I Think the Sign Says it All
After taking our stuff back to the hotel,
we walked over to theBridgeport Brewpubto have lunch with Mike, Amy's old
flatmate, his wife Jenny and their 3 week old son, Layne. We had a fantastic
feed out on the patio of this old brew pub. This was Mike & Jenny's
first trip out with the baby, and I think it was a success.
We explored more of the Pearl District
after lunch and headed into some of the south east streets of downtown.
We went back to the hotel at about 5pm to
chill before we went on our mini dine around (again in the Pearl - are you
seeing a pattern?). We started atOba, a fantastic Mexican restaurant,
with drinks and some of the best tacos I've ever had. Andina (a Peruvian
restaurant) was to be our next stop, but you could not get near the bar. Same
problem at 50 Plates. We could, however eat atTouche- an Italian restaurant ABH had taken
me too way back when we were first here. Hummus and a quick drink and we moved
on.Bay 13turned out to be our last stop (who
new appetizers could be so filling), where we split some mussels, edamame and
Us @ Bay 13
I love that this city is so walkable
(though Amy says I need to come back in January). Feels like we've covered a
bunch of miles in the last 2 days, yet we've hardly left the NW section of
town. Maybe tomorrow we'll explore further.
So I wanted to do something to celebrate Amy's graduation, and incorporate that with us getting out of Vegas, so where better to go than where our romance began. Portland, Oregon. We had talked about going there for a long weekend forever and this was the perfect opportunity for us to get away. Thanks to Amy's boss for allowing me to book her time off, I managed to keep this a secret until the week beforehand (had to let her know so she could organize her week at work).
We left on an early Southwest flight, which went off without incident until our thudding landing in Portland. A quick cab ride downtown and we were able to check in at 12pm at The Benson, an historic hotel that Amy has been talking about forever and a day. This beautiful hotel was built in 1912 and has kept a lot of its original interior design. Located in the heart of downtown, our huge room was the start to a wonderful weekend.
First stop was lunch, so we headed up Burnside to Henry's Tavern for a quick bite. After lunch and a beer we walked up to NW Couch & 17th to Amy's old apartment. She was in heaven, picking out some old regular haunts and surprised by the many changes in the 9 years since she'd last been there. We continued our walk in the Northwest neighborhood up to 21st and 23rd Streets, where boutique stores and small cafes and brew pubs lined the sidewalks. We probably spent 5 hours all up just taking in the city - and I know there is so much more to explore over the next few days.
That evening we went to Bluehour for dinner. An upscale American restaurant in the Pearl District that a couple of people had recommended to Amy. Walking to the restaurant I felt pretty overdressed compared to others in the city. That is until we were inside. It must be the only sports jacket wearing restaurant in town. Food , service and atmosphere was pretty spot on. The Pearl District used to be known as an arty area, but it has now been gentrified into restaurants and lofts as well as the occasional gallery. We took some time wandering around this area after dinner, stopping for a drink at the Paragon. A great area very close to downtown. This is where we'd live (hint, hint, Amy) if we were to move to Portland. We ended up back at the hotel not long after 11pm, exhausted after half a day exploring Portland on foot. Much more to come over the next few days.
Part 2 of the road trip sees me head down to San Diego. I left Spoon in Hollywood at about 11.30am, after breakfast at Mel's Diner.
On the way south, I stopped in Carlsbad to catch up with the Nagle family. Saw Chris and Casi in July, so twice in a year is unusual for us. They have a great place right near the beach and their son Baden is a little man now - hadn't seen him for 2 1/2 years. Also got to catch up with Nags' parents, who had flown in from Oz yesterday. After a drink at the local, I pushed on down to San Diego, twas slow going in afternoon traffic.
Got checked into the Comfort Inn in the downtown Gaslamp District, before a quick wander around in search of food. Wednesday night may not be the best day to do this as downtown seems to be a ghost town. Ended up having a quick bite at Buca di Bepo (first time I'd eaten there and won't be racing back).
The House Of Blues was only 3 blocks from the hotel and I got there early in case it was like the Vegas one, where all ages shows finish at 10pm. Walked in as Murder By Death were coming on stage. I know nothing of this band, but I thought they had a good sound - rock with a cellist is not something you see every day. But again this not the reason I'm here.
The Gaslight Anthem came on to mild applause - which turns out to be standard fare for the San Diego crowd. However Gaslight Anthem put on a energetic, entertaining show. All of their songs are a great stories, and you can see in their performance that they love what they do. It took a few songs but Brian Fallon's between song banter also has a story-telling feel. I got into The Gaslight Anthem earlier this year, when Drew gave me a copy of "The 59 Sound", and I've been hooked ever since. Tonight's performance has highlighted most of that album and a couple that I had not heard of. After just over an hour on stage, they came back for a 3 song encore, which included a rousing cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl".
While this show did not reach the fever pitch of last night's Arctic Monkeys performance, I am glad I made the effort to get down to see them (again not coming through Vegas). Having said that this show was miles ahead of their quick performance at Coachella earlier this year - which, although feeling sick, I really enjoyed.
Gaslight Anthem Setlist
High Lonesome / Casanova, Baby! / Old White Lincoln / Even Cowgirls Get The Blues / The '59 Sound / We Came To Dance / Film Noir / Miles Davis & The Cool / The Patient Ferris Wheel / I'da Called You Woody, Joe / Angry Johnny & The Radio / Great Expectations / Here's Lookin' At You, Kid / The Backseat
Encore: Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts / American Girl (Tom Petty cover) / Say I Won't (Recognize)
The Crap Facts:
This is my 292nd concert.
House Of Blues San Diego is the 79th venue I've seen a concert.
San Diego is the 42nd city I've seen a concert in.
This is my 6th concert in California.
This is my 99th concert in the USA.
Murder By Death is the 292nd band I've seen.
This is my 2nd Gaslight Anthem concert.
Ever since their debut "Whatever People Say I Am...That's What I'm Not". I have wanted to see the Arctic Monkeys live. But again they are not coming to Las Vegas, so I will go to them. With work a little quiet, I have taken a couple of extra days off, talked Spoon into coming to California for the night to see some rock.
We drove down in separate cars as I am going to San Diego the following day and Spoon is going to do some furniture shopping before heading back to Vegas. We met up at our hotel, the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, just after 2.30pm We wandered up and down Hollywood and Sunset and spent a lot of time at Amoeba, looking through actual records and posters, before heading back for an afternoon kip before the show.
I had seen Bloc Party earlier in the year at the Palladium and suggested we get there early, as last time they only let a limited number on the floor. And we were there as doors were due to open, and the queue was around 2 corners. However there was no limit to who was on the floor for this show.
We got in, checked out the merchandise (meh!), bought a couple of $12 beers - yeah worse than Vegas - and was in our spot as The Like kicked off. This LA all girl band played a good blend of pop/surf rock, though it got a bit samey in the end. Was a fairly good match up for an opening act.
The Like Setlist:
Catch Me If You Can / Wishing He Was Dead / He’s Not A Boy / Release Me / Walk Of Shame / Narcissus In A Red Dress / Fair Game / I Can See It In Your Eyes / In The End / Square / (Shhh) Don’t Make A Sound / Why When The Love Is Gone
But we weren't there to see the Like. And when the Monkeys came on stage the noise from the crowd was deafening. At first it seemed if being on stage was a hassle (geez it's only the 2nd show of the tour), but it wasn't long before they lightened up and really let go. Sound was fantastic and the songs brilliant. I knew they'd play a lot of their latest album, which I'd heard only a couple of times, but it was all good. Definitely was an enjoyable show, even though they only played 3 songs from the 1st album (which is my fave). Actually in hindsight, I'd have gone to San Diego the night before if I'd known how good the show was going to be. Definitely worth the drive down from Vegas. Highlights were I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor and the cover of Nick Cave's Red Right Hand.
Arctic Monkeys Setlist:
Dance Little Liar / Brianstorm / Crying Lightning / Potion Approaching / Pretty Visitors / House Is A Circus / Still Take You Home / I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor / If You Were There / My Propeller / Red Right Hand / Dangerous Animals / View From The Afternoon / Cornerstone / The Only Ones Who Know / Do Me A Favor
Encore: Secret Door / Fluorescent Adolescent / 505
Afterwards we caught a cab to Chateau Marmont to have a couple of late night drinks. Quiet there, and unfortunately no celebrity spotting.
The Crap Facts:
This is my 291st concert.
This is my 2nd concert at Hollywood Palladium .
This is my 2nd concert in Hollywood .
This is my 5th concert in California.
This is my 98th concert in the USA.
The Like are the 360th band I've seen.
Arctic Monkeys are the 361st band I've seen.
ABH's annual work retreat sees the group heading to SW and Le Reve at the Wynn this year.
I almost didn't make it because of work, but when a free dinner is on the cards at your favorite steakhouse in Las Vegas, you tend to find away. And my timing couldn't be more perfect. I got the restaurant just as they were serving a giant seafood platter for everyone. Crab legs, shrimp, oysters, ahi tuna...all good. And then a perfectly cooked petite filet for my main. Because we were pushed for time so as to make the show, the experience of the restaurant was not as good as it had been in the past, but the good great nonetheless.
Le Reve is a show that I love to see (this is my 3rd time) and again it did not disappoint. There have been different elements to the show each time, but it still amazes me the agility and strength of the performers. And I have to ask, how do you come to the thought that you can perform these type of "stunts"? (I say stunts as the first time you do any of these acrobatics, it has to be dangerous). An entertaining and mind-blowing show was enjoyed by all 14 of us there.
After the show we had a couple of drinks with the Hills before I called it a night early. (Damn 7am starts on a Saturday!) The rooms at the Wynn are still very elegant and ours had a great view south, overlooking the Strip, however all we did is sleep in them.
After 20 months of some of the hardest work I have ever seen anyone do, Amy has come to the conclusion of her Global MBA at Thunderbird, and no one could be prouder than me.
She had been in Phoenix for the last week, finishing classes - and winding down with the rest of the class. I flew down on a flight landing mid Thursday afternoon and met up with her after finishing her last class. Later that afternoon the school had a small welcoming function for family and friends of the 3 different classes graduating tomorrow. Was an affair that I got to meet all the people who's names I had been hearing about for the last 2 years. A bunch of very relieved people.
Then party then moved to a residence of someone's friend from the class. A great get together where we watched a photo montage of trials and tribulations of the course. The students then gave their family members a certificate of appreciation for the support they had given then during their study. Things got crazier afterwards when we ended up at the Thunderbird Pub. A lot more people were letting their hair down.
Friday was Graduation Day and after breakfast in the cafeteria, Amy left for early preparations for the day, and I drove a colleagues' husband to the Marriott for the ceremony. She looked fantastic in her cap and gown and to see her walk and receive her degree was such a mixture of emotions. Elated. Relieved. Proud. Excited. But most of all, Happy for her. I was surprised that at the end of the ceremony that everyone went their own way. I supposed everyone was just so thankful that it was done, that they needed time to themselves.
The Graduate & The Proud Husband
Later that evening we drove across Phoenix to Lon's At The Hermosa Inn and had dinner with Amy's fellow graduate, and good fiend, Tom. This restaurant was fantastic - great food, good service, great company and an southwestern ambiance - even when the lights flickered out twice during a thunderstorm, the likes I had not seen in a very long time. I sense that Tom is someone Amy will keep in contact with now that school is all over - a very smart man, who was a great help to Amy throughout. After dinner we met with the group again at the Thunderbird Pub to continue the celebrations.
Saturday morning we made our way back to Vegas in the Mini - through torrential rain for most of the way. Amy made a great observation of how much prettier the desert is in Arizona than it is in Nevada. That greenery makes a world of difference. A good 5 hours later and we were back home. A quick Nanna nap in the afternoon and we were ready for the evening's festivities. We were to meet 7 others from Amy's class at Sushisamba at the Palazzo for dinner. Fun crowd and great food before we kicked on to Lavo and Tao. The night and celebrations ended for us not long after 1am. I'm pretty sure Amy had a blast over the weekend, and I'm so glad, as she deserved it.
The Melvins - one of the most unique bands anywhere - and one that I haven't seen often enough (this was my 4th Melvins show). It seems like an odd mix, Melvins supporting Down, but it works for me. The Melvins walked on stage while the house lights were still on, to no fanfare and just started to rock as only they can. Moz saw them earlier in the year play Houdini in Sydney as a 3 piece, but tonight they were back to a 4 piece twin-drum musical assault. Big fan of the guys from Big Business being in the band - same line up from when I saw them at Celebrity a couple of years back. I love the Houdini and Stoner Witch albums, so the setlist tonight was unfamiliar to me, but a highlight was definitely a blistering cover of Devo's Mr DNA. We certainly got a full 45 minutes out of the band as "Thank You" were the only spoken words from the band as they finished their set.
Crowd seemed a restless at the end of the Melvins, and when Down come on they went out of control. I've never seen the HOB security have such a rough night - but I gotta say they did a pretty good job. I saw Pantera 13 years ago in Oz, and had an absolute blast, so was pretty interested to see Phil and Rex's latest incarnation. So there was a bit of disappointment when there was no Rex. And I'm not sure if Phil's voice or the sound guy were having problems, but it took a while for them to get in the swing of things. When they did, however, Down put on a good show. Which means the band and crowd compliment each other. A small but wild pit middled the fans singing along with fists raised, while constantly the band stopped to acknowledge their legion of fans. I'm not really one for metal anymore, and while I probably won't see them again, I'm glad I got to see Down.
Ghosts Along The Mississippi / Lysergik Funeral Procession / Pillars Of Eternity / Lifer / The Path / Losing All / N.O.D. / Something On My Side / Hail The Leaf / Nothing In Return
Encore: Stone The Crow / Bury Me In Smoke
The Crap Facts:
This is my 290th concert.
This is my 32nd concert at House Of Blues.
This is my 88th concert in Las Vegas.
This is my 88th concert in Nevada.
This is my 97th concert in the USA.
This is my 4th Melvins concert.
Melvins are the 50th band I've seen at least 4 times
Down are the 359th band I've seen.
An invite was issued to the Concierge Association to check out the 100th Las Vegas performance of The Lion King. That, and free food and drinks - who were ABH and I to say no?
A function at Eye Candy, the bar in the middle of Mandalay Bay, gave us a couple of free drinks and a tasting of 5 restaurants from the resort. We got our tickets (and coffee mug gift) and filed in for the show. Much to our surprise, our seats were in the 3rd row, just right of center. Sweet!
From the moment the cast walks down the aisles in their animal costumes you are enthralled for the next two and bit hours. The story closely resembles the Disney cartoon (from memory), and the cast are superb. Costuming is spectacular and all the performers do such a great job of bringing the cartoon to life. It'd be a hard person to please if they didn't like this.
This show is dynamite, and brings another option for families to take kids to a show - though with tickets ranging from $53 - $168 your kids better enjoy it!
Many, many years ago a band played the Coogee Bay Hotel, supported by Unwritten Law and The Porkers. Who were these nobodies? How did they get a headlining gig over two great bands? I'm not going in to see them! 10 years later I saw this band - No Doubt - and kicked myself for not seeing them sooner.
Amy and I got in early, after a great dinner at Paymons, to see Panic At The Disco. I knew of one song and considering the price of the ticket ($130) thought I'd get my money's worth with both bands. Panic At The Disco were easily forgettable for me - but as usual the youngsters enjoyed them. Their last song "I Write Sins, Not Tragedies" was a redeeming feature of the set.
Panic At The Disco Setlist
Time To Dance / But It's Better If You Do / The Only Difference Between Martyrdom & Suicide Is Press Coverage / That Green Gentleman (Things Have Changed) / Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off / Northern Downpour / New Perspective / Nine In The Afternoon / I Write Sins Not Tragedies
From the start No Doubt were on fire! From behind a white curtain, No Doubt strolled out to much fanfare and applause and instantly raised the energy level inside the Joint. I'm not a huge fan of the music on CD, but live, Gwen Stefani brings a new dimension with stage presence which you can't help but be drawn to. Hella Good was the song I wanted to hear most - and they played it 2nd - and it was beyond great. If they'd played that continuously all night, I'd have to have been taken out on a stretcher. What also makes their performance great is their love of their fans. Twice she pulled fans onto the stage, read signs made by the crowd, took a scrapbook gift from a fan and kept the banter going all night. The rest of the band all have a skill and showmanship that outweighs a lot of bands I've seen, but it is just so hard not to watch Gwen. She is simply the greatest front woman I've seen. Who else in the world can make the men in the room sing "I'm just a girl in the world"?
Imagine how good they probably were at Selinas all those years ago. That was a bad decision that I rectified with Amy at the Joint. Will definitely make the effort to catch them again.
No Doubt Setlist
Spiderwebs / Hella Good / Underneath It All / Excuse Me Mr / Ex-Girlfriend / End It On This / Simple Kind Of Life / Bathwater / Guns Of Navarone / New / Hey Baby / Running / Different People / Don’t Speak / It’s My Life / Just A Girl
Encore: Rock Steady / Sunday Morning
The Crap Facts:
This is my 289th concert.
This is my 3rd concert at The New Joint.
This is my 87th concert in Las Vegas.
This is my 87th concert in Nevada.
This is my 96th concert in the USA.
Panic At The Disco are the 357th band I've seen.
No Doubt are the 358th band I've seen.
Ahhh a nice relaxing weekend at the beach - catching up with some family and some friends.
We left early Friday July 31, for the 4 hour drive from Las Vegas to San Clemente, where we are to meet the Naags' for lunch. It's been over 2 years since we last saw them in Coronado. We meet at the Beachfire Grill in the middle of San Clemente. Both are looking good and seem really happy. A bit sad Baden couldn't be there, but it sounds like it was good for them to get away without their son for an afternoon. Amy's brother joined us during lunch. Drew is staying with us at Newport for the weekend. After lunch the Naags' took us down to San Clemente Pier where we had drinks at Fisherman's Restaurant looking out over the ocean.
The drive up to Newport on the Pacific Coast Highway should have been a quick one but Friday afternoon traffic was slow and laborious. We checked in to the Hyatt, where we've stayed a few times before, and had a newly renovated room tucked in a corner in the Lido building. By the time we arrive Drew is not well and relaxes while Amy and I take in the pool. He is still too unwell to come to dinner with us, and we head off to Harborside Grill on the peninsula side of Newport. This is a favorite spot from last time we were here, and again the dinner was great, and the view - perfection - watch boats cruising between us and Balboa Island. Picked up some supplies for Drew on the way home.
Got up on Saturday and walked to Balboa Island for breakfast at Wilma's Patio. After breakfast we walked around the island a little bit, but Drew is getting sicker, so we head back to the hotel. Amy's a little worried so we stay close and camp out by the pool for the day. We were out there for about 7 hours (which has to be some sort of record for me). What a relaxing day, with just Amy, my iPod and an Esquire magazine to keep me entertained. Drew is still not well enough to come out for dinner again, but we head to Oysters in Corona Del Mar (at the recommendation of the Doorman) for dinner. This place was awesome. Food was soooo good! And the jazz trio just made for a perfect ambiance. I had a perfectly cooked rib-eye and Amy's halibut was just perfect. And the chocolate lava cake we split for desert was to die for. Originally I had booked a water-view restaurant, but I'm glad we changed our mind to eat here instead.
Drew is marginally better Sunday morning, but a trip to the urgent care is on the cards to make sure all is good. Doctor says the problem is viral and Drew is happy to continue resting and not worry about the prescription. We leave him at the hotel and head over to the beach. Parking is a nightmare but, Amy spots a secret space and we are set for an hour. The surf is kinda rough. 4-5 foot waves breaking right on the beach, and a rip just beyond the waves in an area too deep to stand. But it's just nice to be on the beach. Everyone is relaxed and having a great time - us included. I don't handle the sun as well as yesterday and we head back with the dreaded thought of packing and driving back to Vegas. Drew is well enough to come to lunch with us, and we head back to Corona Del Mar to Gulfsteam. Just lunch food, but everyone enjoyed their meals (shame we didn't wait for a table outside though). After lunch we packed the car and made the uneventful drive back to Vegas, making it back in good time. We left Drew behind as he flew out of Orange County on Monday morning.
As per usual, we didn't want to leave, but it was nice to get away from the Vegas heat and relax for the weekend.
One last day on the town, before returning to the nasty summer that is Hell Vegas.
For some ungodly reason, Robbie had the need to see Chicago from the Sears Tower. I wonder how long, if ever, it will take for it to be known as Willis Tower (NEVER! is my guess). So we walked over to the Tower and while Robbie made his way up the tower, I kept my fear of heights in tact, and zigzagged my way over bridges on the Chicago River. I was back before him, so I relaxed with a paper and a smoothie in the park across the street.
Once done, we followed the river up to Michigan Ave, where we met Amy. She had meetings in the morning. A last minute shop on the Magnificent Mile before we jumped on a 90 minute Wendella architecture cruise of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Amy and I had done a similar cruise last time we were here with the Meyers', but this was longer, included going through a lock into Lake Michigan, and was far warmer than doing it in November. The cruise travels west along the river (towards Sears Tower ironically enough) and our guide outlined tons of the buildings, old and new, visible from the river. Out on the lake gave us a great overall perspective of the city as well as an opportunity to get a feeling of how Chicago was built after the Great Fire. I feel like I've learnt more in the last 4 days than I have in a very long time.
Cruising Chicago River
As it happens, time was running short and the South Water Grill was between the boat cruise and our hotel so we stopped there for lunch (again) before taking the taxi out to O'Hare. We dumped Robbie off at the American terminal before swinging back to United for our flight back home. Which went off without incident (unlike the previous two trips Amy and I have made together).
I need to reiterate how great a city Chicago is - maybe one day we'll live there - who knows. Was great to catch up with Bob again, even if his lovely wife snubbed us again. Hope to see him in the new year when if head back to Australia. Chicago is our kinda town!
Unfortunately today is the day Amy has to work, so Rob and I are off for a boy's day.
The day started with us walking down towards the Field Museum of Natural History, where we are to take in a great display of history before heading down to see the White Sox take on the Orioles. This building is grandiose at best. From the overwhelming size, to the columned frontage, to the spectacular view of downtown and Lake Michigan from the front door, it is a building that can match some of the great buildings of Europe. However the building is nothing compared to the collection inside. From the moment you step in and see "Sue" the most put-together T-Rex, you are in awe. So much so, we spent the next fours and a half hours inside. We didn't even get around to the featured Real Pirates, and Water exhibits. We spent a long time in the Evolving Planet Hall, with it's dinosaurs and timeline of the world. There is also a fantastic exhibit of the Americas, which finishes with artifacts from Pacific Northwest Native Americans (my favorite). All the masks, totems and imagery really catches my imagination (again like the Dali Museum in St Petersburg - I don't now art but I know what I like). Another highlight was a photographic retrospective of the Civil Rights Movement. 150 black and white photos, each more powerful than the last. The photo that summed it up for me was a Will Counts photo of Elizabeth Eckford, who on her own, tried to enter Little Rock Central High School in an attempt to desegregate the school, even when the rest of the Little Rock Nine did not show due to a miscommunication. It is a compelling image of a strong and proud woman holding her own in the face of the worst adversity. The picture can be found here.
Once we'd finished, and missed the start of the baseball by 2 hours, we opted to walk over to the the Adler Planetarium - cause one museum a day is never enough. While the Adler had some interesting stuff - I particularly liked the Apollo 11 and Telescope exhibits - it was a bit benign after the Field Museum.
We walked back to The Essex Inn for a drink, while deciding on where to eat dinner. Not a lot of thought was put into it as we ended up back at the Weber Grill for burgers and beer. By the time we finished the day it was near 9pm and we'd walked at least another 4 miles, as well as trekking through an amazing museum. Sad there is only one day left.
Today is a day of walking. And we cover some ground in Chicago - at least 5 miles.
We walked down towards Robbie's hotel to meet him for an extended breakfast, before the three of us wandered across Millennium Park to the lake front. From there we casually strolled up to Navy Pier. A beginning regatta had the lake full of boats and plenty of people enjoying the perfect weather (70 degrees with a light breeze). So much more pleasant than the furnace that is the Vegas summer.
We headed west along the north bank of the Chicago River, back to Michigan Ave where we walked up part of the Magnificent Mile til lunch was decided upon - The Weber Grill. I really like the warm feel of this place. And you can't go wrong when burgers and barbecue is cooked on a Weber. Afterwards a bit of shopping was done before we made our way back to the hotel via Cloud Gate sculpture in Millenium Park. This is such a simple piece of art, but it brings so much pleasure to people. Everyone enjoys it, and makes the most of the reflective photos.
Bob & I @ The Bean
Robbie had been given the tip of Gibson's for dinner by a friend. So we thought we'd see if we could walk in on a reservation. A quick cab ride north of the river and the area around Mariano Park was hopping. No chance of getting a table at Gibson's, but we walked into their next-door-sister restaurant, Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House, and were seated in the bar area of yet another busy restaurant. Score. Again it's steaks for Robbie and I and a nice piece of fish for Amy. The food here was magnificent (better than last night) and the noisy atmosphere made for a great all round meal.
Me, Amy & Robbie @ Hugo's
We lucked out again across the street at the Hunt Club, where we walked in and found a couple of guys leaving what was to become the only vacant table. A few drinks and shooting the shit - a great finish to a productive day. We finished up there when the club started getting going. A cab back to the hotel and a good night's sleep after an exhausting day.
Ahhh! Chicago! 2nd visit here and I loved this town the first time. I could live here if it weren't so cold in the summer. ABH has work to do in this great city, so I must accompany her to ensure there is no bad shenanigans going on. And as a bonus, Robbie, who has been in New Orleans for work, will be flying in to join us.
Gratefully ABH booked the tickets so we arrived at the hotel at midnight last night and we wake up ready to take on the city (well at 10am anyway). We are staying at the University Club of Chicago (on Monroe & Michigan), right across from Grant Park. Not too impressed with the hotel. For a private club with all it's pretentiousness, I was gobsmacked to find two huge holes in the wall outside our room, with no indication that work was taking place. But it's a great location, and free - so that's the last of you hear me bitching about it.
We started with a late breakfast / early lunch at a favorite place from last time. The South Water Kitchen. Just typical bar and grill food, but a nice restaurant, good food and good service to get the whole shebang started.
From there we walked back down to Grant Park and Art Institute of Chicago to begin our cultural education. There is a lot of Modern Art which is too highbrow for Amy and I , but there is plenty for us to enjoy. Like Seurat's "A Sunday On La Grande Jatte", Wood's "American Gothic", some El Greco, a Lichtenstein and some Monet. Glad we stopped in there, even if he museum layout is a little confusing.
As is usually our want on trips away, the afternoon nap called us away from the city for a period of time. I rested while the boss did some studying. Basically we were killing time waiting for Robbie to fly in that evening. We ended up meeting him at his hotel (The Essex Inn) before we headed up to the Chicago Chophouse for a late dinner. This restaurant is a legendary Chicago steak house and it did not disappoint. Beer. Wine. Steak. Potatoes. It's all good. We did head out to look for a bar to have a drink after dinner and ended up at the Hard Rock Hotel. It surprises us in other towns when last call is midnight. Las Vegas has spoiled us. It was this time last year we last saw Bob (his annual work pilgrimage to a meeting in the US) so it was good to catch up with him. But we still have 3 days of adventure....
Time for a bit of Aussie rock (it has been too long between gigs). Tonight I came to see Jet for the second time in Vegas (the first was 5 years ago at the Joint when they were wedged between the awful Vines and the awesome Living End). Was also curious to check out Wasted Space as a live music venue.
Wasted Space seems to be more of a nightclub that put up a stage as an afterthought, as it is an oddly shaped venue. But no complaints from me. Being 6'4", I was stoked to be 8 feet from the stage, leaning against a railing, and not blocking anyone's view. I'd guess that about 300 people made the place fairly full, and everyone erupted when Jet hit the stage. From the get go Jet were ready for a good time, and the crowd reacted accordingly. They played a mix of songs off all of their 3 albums, none better than the early-played Are You Gonna Be My Girl? Plenty of good banter with the crowd. Nic did a couple of songs from the bar and spent some time on the dance floor as well. This was heaps better than last time and a much better venue.
Rip It Up / Killed In Action / She’s A Genius / Are You Gonna Be My Girl? / Seventeen / Cold Hard Bitch / Look What You’ve Done / Goodbye Hollywood / Money Mouth / Black Hearts / Get What You Need / Get Me Outta Here
Encore: Bring It On Back / That’s All Lies / Holiday
The Crap Facts:
This is my 288th concert.
Wasted Space is the 78th venue I've seen a concert.