I was so excited the night before the show that I barely got any sleep in anticipation of things to come. I woke up at 6:30am & made the 2 hour drive to Cleveland from Pittsburgh with the bootlegs blaring. This show was to be the first this tour that I attended on more or less a solo basis, without the support of my Backstage Crew friends, like Elizabeth. I did make arrangements to hook up with Micawber (Curt), a friend of mine who shared Columbus 97 (the scarf incident) & Houston 98 with me. I arrived at the Ritz Carlton & checked in about 12:30pm, Curt arrived about an hour later. We were starving & figured we'd better grab a bite to eat, because learning from previous experience, if we don't eat lunch we usually never eat again & that makes for a rough night & morning. We got a table near the window in the Riverview Room of the Ritz with a rainy dreary view of the downtown Cleveland riverfront. I had a caesar salad with shrimp & a Tanqueray & tonic and Curt had a veggie sandwhich with portobello mushrooms deciding to forgo the drinking until tonight.
After lunch we headed back to the room around 3:30pm to change for the show. We were a bit miffed to see that the main bar was closed for a private party (not with the Stones) and all that was open in the afternoon before the show was the smaller bar where they were having afternoon tea complete with a harp player-not quite the pre-Stones show atmosphere we were hoping for. So, we skipped the bar & hung in the lobby waiting for whoever might pass by. Around 4:45 we were rewarded with seeing Blondie, Bernard, Lisa, Bobby & Darryl leave. More & more people with cameras & pens gathered outside hoping for a glimpse of the four big boys, but it was not to be. Between 5-6 it became obvious that they had snuck them out another way, as we chatted by the elevators with my friend Joe from Pittsburgh. At 6:15 we headed back up to the room to grab our tickets & get everything we needed for the show, including my scarf & Curt's mini bottles of Jose Cuervo.
At 6:30 it was off to Wilbert's Bar & Grille for the Glimmer pre-party. It was a small gathering, much more mellow than any other I have been to, but nice just the same. Problem was, I didn't quite know what anyone looked like that I was supposed to meet, always a problem with internet gatherings. Curt & I had a few Bass Ales, picked up the article on the City Paper thanks to some folks there & talked with John, Norman, Dave & Sunny & Ruby Tuesday. Stones tunes were blaring on the sounds system & everyone was geared up for the show.
Around 7:30 or so we headed back to the room (great that everything was in walking distance to the venue & the weather was FINALLY warm!). At 8:15 we arrived at Gund Arena, in time to walk into section 107 & stand in the doorway to see a bit of Jonny Lang's set. I was surprised to see that even for the opening act, a good 50% of the seats or more were already filled. Before Jonny's set ended, we wondered back into the hall for a beer & I ran into Skippy & little Brian, Bri was decked out in his tongue tee & raring to go! At 9:10 I wondered down to the floor to find Section 7, Row H, but before I ever found my seat I ran into Norman again, who had section 6 row A, dead center of the B stage. I asked if I could mosey up to his area for the B stage set since I was only a few rows back, Keith's side & he invited me to join him for the whole show (thanks Norman!), which I gladly did. Before the lights went down we were able to read a sheet taped to the stage which read something like: 6:30 Soundcheck, 8:00 Jonny Lang, 9:30 Stones, Curfew-None & above that on the surface of the stage was Mick's cue sheet for Get Off My Cloud, giving him the first lyric of each verse. Soon a setlist was posted directly in front of us & we knew what was to come...no big surprises, this being my 6th show, but glad to see Keith was doing Silver again. One other thing I noticed was that the guitar picks that were in front of the place where Pierre DeBeauport sits were all different colors, not the usual just white with the red tongue. Keith's mic had some red & some white ones.
Finally the time was here, the lights went down, the crowd roared its blare of approval & readiness & the video screen lit up. I can watch that clip over & over, what a great segment that is! They just look so damn cool strolling down that dark hallway in their black leather. Before I know it, bam, Keith hits the riff & JJF gets the crowd on its feet. The Cleveland crowd seemed to be very enthusiastic early on, which was a good sign of things to come. Here's the setlist:
Highlights for me were Memory Motel, Keith walking up to the main mic, at times seeming anxious for Mick to move away so he could sing his lines...and the crowd loved it! They cheered wildy with approval each time Keith sang..."she got a mind of her own...". It was so wonderful to see Mick & Keith up there "together" in the front (and nice NOT to see OR hear Dave Matthews). The ending to Some Girls seemed to be a bit flubbed to me, but we all had a laugh. Saint Of Me, was the best crowd participation to date this tour, not quite a match for Europe or Argentina, but for the US I was very proud of the Cleveland crowd & so was Mick. In fact, he seemed so pleased that we carried it so well that he walked halfway down the catwalk to keep it going! Afterwards he even commented on our effort, so that was special for me. Keith did You Got The Silver, always a most sentimental moment for me, I just leaned my chin on the B stage railing & watched the man play that acoustic slide & sing those words to me... "hey babe, what's in your eyes..." Magical everytime. And then rocking out on Before The Make Me Run-there ain't a dry eye in the house! Keith even wore a new shirt tonight, it was black with what looked like a leopard skin rug plastered on it-tres cool. Thanks Keith!
As for the B Stage-what can I say? Front row center & Keith rips into Rt. 66, slipping the tongue, God, what more could a girl ask for? The B stage set just purely rocked, Keith, Mick, Ron, Charlie, they all just kicked ass! Norman & I periodically looked at each other during the set, with that Stones fan face that only the die-hards understand-Stones ecstacy! Mick had on a short purple shirt, exposing those washboard abs as he danced frantically in front of me, and Keith wore his red silk shirt & black vest, skeleton & black scarf dangling from his microphone stand. Bras & panties flew, and the boys gave little winks & nods of appreciation. Keith was particularly taken with a couple of young, bra-less, bouncing babes stage left & he slapped their hands & gave them guitar picks. Yo Keith, the real fan is over here! LOL Midnight Rambler just blew us away, man I've seen it many times now, but it just blows the roof off the joint every time. Mick even took a sip of water & threw some on us. The guy who handed him his cup and/or towel was right in front of us and we watched Mick each time he wiped the sweat from his face...aaahhhh.
When the B stage set ended, Mick grabbed a camera off Chuck's keyboard & began snapping photos of the B stage crowd-how cool was that? Norman & I tried in vain to get a setlist or a guitar pick, but it didn't happen. But as fate would have it, once again the Keithian Gods were smiling upon me. As the began to clear off the B stage, which if you've ever noticed begins to happen as soon as the boys return to the main stage for Tumbling Dice, I noticed Mick's cup of water still sitting there. I held out my hand & lo & behold the guy just gave it right to me! Damn. Here I was holding Mick Jagger's blue plastic cup, the one his lovely lips had just touched moments before! Norman & I were giddy about it & we both drank from the Holy Grail & finished Mick's Holy Water. Then, as if that wasn't enough, another blessed event took place. I watched the man take down Keith's mic & pick up Keith's red cup & I said to myself "oh my God, now I have Mick's cup, but Jesus if I could get Keith's!". Once again I stretched out my hand & in that moment I was handed an almost brimming full cup, complete with ice cubes & Keith's new drink of choice as I pointed out to Norman in my disbelief of the moment "It's Keith's Stoli & Orange Fanta!" Holy shit! I lifted the grail to my lips & took a big swig, just what I needed, not only was I parched after the B stage excitement, but the alchohol, Keith's alcohol, just satiated me immediately. "Give me little drink from your loving cup!!!" Norman & I passed the cup back & forth during Tumbling Dice, toasting Keith & Mick with THEIR cups, man what a night!
IORR, Start Me Up (with a long false start intro), Brown Sugar, the streamers coming down, Sympathy, the end. Keith put on his own skull scarf (the one from the B2B press conference) for the final bow tonight-lovely. Norman & I just sighed, wow what a %$#@! fabulous show that was! I can't even put my shows in order now, I have had so many great experiences at so many excellent shows, they are hard to rate, but for sure Cleveland was up near the top with Philly 2. Met Curt outside the 110 section where he had been sitting steps away from Keith's corner of the stage. He said Keith even asked to have his amps turned up, and damn the guitars were sure loud! Love it. Curt had to go in & retrieve his binocular case which he had left at his seat, then we made plans to meet Norman at the bar back at the Ritz.
It was so hot in Cleveland that night that the outside air felt beautiful, I was drenched with sweat even though I only had on a sleeveless shirt & light jacket. We waded through a large crowd downstairs, showed our keys to get to the lobby elevator, waited in line & again as fate would have it, got on the "right" one, for as soon as we got in on floor 6, the next stop was floor 7 & none other than RONNIE WOOD & his daughter Leah jump in with us!! My,oh, my. It was me & Ronnie shoulder to shoulder & on the other side he had his arm around Leah, she said "hi Dad" as she stepped in & then told the guy Griff in the corner to put his key in for the 14th floor to which Griff replied he didn't have a key & Ron said "Griff, don't give me no Griff". Then we stopped on floor 9 & Ronnie said "number 9, number 9, who's number 9?" And the couple behind us got off as Ronnie said "ladies lingerie" when the door opened. Ronnie said "who's number 10?" We said it was us & as we got off the elevator & turned to Ron with a smile & said "thanks for the elevator ride Ron!" to which he smiled & winked. Ronnie sure is an easy going guy, he really does make you feel at ease, he'd be a great guy to party with! So Curt & I turn the corner to go to our room 1032 & as we look at each other the same words come out of both our mouths at once "How f**king cool was THAT?!!" Man.
We freshened up back in the room & made our way back down the elevator to retrieve my friend Joe, who due to hightened security couldn't get upstairs without a hotel guest. The bar was already crowded & a strange mix it was. Norman, Curt, Joe & I stood by the grand piano & I bought us the first round to get us started. Two interesting chicks sat down at the piano & began to loudly play things like chopsticks & the Peanuts song, and so on, which not only annoyed us, but also got stares from Blondie & Bernard who were seated on the couches next to us & asked Arnold to tell them to knock it off. They played on. Later the same chick was alseep on another couch with her feet across the other girl. I was surprised that security had let some of these folks slip in. There were some REALLY young girls in the bar too, in much too small clothing & much too high heels for their age (16!). Shit, we can't get into these places in our 30's, 40's, 50's & there are 16 year old chicks drinking at the bar.
We finally got a seat at the bar close to 2 & around 2:30 Curt left to go back to the room & Norman needed to drive home. Joe & I stayed & chatted, when at about 3:15 there was a loud sound of breaking glass & all this liquid & ice flew across the piano onto my pants leg as I looked behind me & realized there was a major league fight happening in the hallway just outside the bar. A security guy was there pronto, but he got punched twice as well & the other guy ran to the side of the elevator & was bent over holding his head when we saw a massive pool of blood start to seep across the hall floor! Oh my God, that guy had just wacked him across the face with a beer bottle or glass of some sort & cut him right open, he was bleeding heavily. There weren't many in the bar at that time, but luckily Blondie happened to be talking to two nurses who rushed to aid the guy. Sandy, Joe & I all went out & checked to make sure someone was calling paramedics & police. The guy who did it was right there in the hall. Man what a weird scene. Shocking really, especially for the Ritz. We checked to see how the poor guy was doing all covered in blood & towels and then headed off to bed.
At 11am, Curt & I went to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, checked out their Stones stuff, a Keith guitar, some R&R Circus pix, a pic of Keith & Patti, then Curt drove back to Detroit. I came back to the room & Elizabeth called me around 3 or so, and we chatted for quite some time, me filling her in again on all the strange and wonderful Stones happenings that had occured the night before. After we hung up, I tried again in vain to sleep, so I figured I might as well just do a Keith & stay up 3 days straight. I went to Tower City & did a bit of shopping & when I was in Chico, guess who came in to shop at the same time? Lisa Fischer! I said hello & we exchanged a few words & both of us left for other stores. I grabbed lunch to go at Arby's, I was starving again & went back to eat in the room. I met a lot of great fans & had a great time speaking to Blondie. Blondie told me why Mick had introduced Charlie as "Charlie 'Fingertips' Watts" the other night, because Charlie's fingertips were splitting & bleeding from playing! Finally around 2am or so, I wondered up to bed, finally ready for a good night's sleep. I tried to sleep, but I woke up every 2 hours & looked at the clock & just pinched myself to see if it had ALL been a dream. It wasn't.
In the morning, I was up at 8:30am & hung around & finally showered & got dressed at 10, since I had to check out (I extended it to 1pm though)today & drive to Columbus for the next show. Went down & had a bagel with salmon cream cheese for breakfast & Diet Pepsi to perk me up. I came back & packed. And so, it was onto Columbus, Ohio...
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