Adventures of the X-Pensive Groupies-The California Tour 2005

On Saturday November 5, 2005 I flew from Pittsburgh, connecting in Chicago, onto LA. I met my partner in crime, E, at the airport and we headed to Beverly Hills, checking into the Crowne Plaza around 6pm. The evening was spent amongst friends drinking & partying at the Four Seasons.

Photo Blue Lena

The following day, Sunday the 6th, we left the Crowne Plaza and checked into the Four Seasons ourselves. We had the most fabulous Sunday brunch on the patio, checked out the pool and mostly just hung out since it was a show day. Getting to the Hollywood Bowl we assumed might be a problem, and all hotel cars were already spoken for, so we took a cab around 4:30. Never having been to the Bowl before, we had no idea what to expect. Walking up the hill to the entrance was like going to Disneyland. We saw the cool shirt they had made for the venue and immediately purchased it, fearing a sell-out.

Photo RS.COM

We stood in line briefly, and then the gates opened around 5pm. Shortly before that my cell phone rang and I got the instructions to meet at the front of the stage to pick up Rattlesnake passes for the evening! Not in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be backstage for the Hollywood Bowl shows. We were so excited and we walked quickly into the venue down to Keith's side of the stage. We were asked "Can you get up here?" meaning onto the stage...and I was like "I'll sure as hell give it a shot!". Climbing onto the Rolling Stones stage at the Hollywood Bowl was a surreal experience and one I shall never forget...we got to walk across Keith's side of the stage, out through the back of the stage and backstage into the Rattlensnake Inn. Wow, how cool was that?

Photo Blue Lena

Backstage both nights it was a venerable who's who of the Hollywood celebrity set. We only really saw Jim Belushi & Jim Carrey in person in the Rattlesnake and James Spader & the Edge up close sitting near us, but other celebs spotted on screen and lurking at the shows included Paris Hilton, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Kimberly Stewart, Jennifer Lopez, Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong sans Sheryl, Anjelica Houston, etc, etc.

But, we did see Mick twice, once on the first night as he was leaving the tent and we were returning to it and once on the second night when he literally stood by our table talking to Jim Carrey. So that was cool. Ronnie was also inside at a table next to us during the second night with his family.

So, by the end of the California trip I had seen all 4 Stones in the Rattlesnake: Mick 4 x, Charlie 2x, Ronnie 1x, Keith 1x and the whole band walked out of the dressing room 1x. Aside from Charlie, it's unusual to see any of the band in the Rattlensnake, especially Keith!

Photo AP Wire

The show itself was spectacular and easily overtook the top spot for me as the best show I've seen so far this tour (up until this show Pittsburgh was #1). The stage was so low and so small, that being in the pit we felt we were at a club was easy to forget the other 16,000 plus sitting behind us. We could literally rest our elbows on the stage, there was no gap. Hearing Back of My Hand, Dead Flowers (just awesome, with Keith on backing vocals), Midnight Rambler, All Down the Line and Night Time is the Right Time all in a row...WOW.

The B stage, well, there really wasn't one...they simply moved Charlie forward and headed out onto the little ramp between the pit, so we were front of the B-stage as well! And the real treat was that we were directly in front of Keith's amp...and oh man, we could hear note for note of that set with no delay, and it was astoundingly brilliant.

The show and whole experience of the evening was just beyond words. Afterwards we walked quite a few blocks before catching a cab back to the Four Seasons, where we partied on the patio until the wee hours, and went to bed with sweet dreams of the Stones in our heads.

The second night was great as well, although our seats weren't as good. We had a garden box on Keith's side, about 4 boxes back from the pit. The highlights there were hearing the debut of "It Won't Take Long", which I thought was kinda rusty and a killer, killer "As Tears Go By", with Keith on acoustic-brought tears to my eyes.

Also while in LA we went to Largo to catch Tim Ries's show promoting his Rolling Stones Project cd, with Bernard on vocals and Michael Davis on trombone-a brilliant reworking of Stones tunes in a jazz format,I highly recommend the show. After that we headed to the Joint to catch Blondie and Bernard play with Waddy Wachtel and friends. Thanks to Jerry for taking us upstairs & backstage there.

Hollywood Bowl Setlists Nov. 6 & 8, 2005

November 6: Jumping Jack Fash - It's Only Rock'n'Roll - Live With Me - Tumbling Dice - Oh No, Not You Again - Back Of My Hand - Dead Flowers - Midnight Rambler - All Down The Line - Night Time - Intros - Slipping Away - Infamy - You Got Me Rocking - Wild Horses - Get Off Of My Cloud - Sympathy For The Devil - Honky Tonk Women - Start Me Up - Brown Sugar - You Can't Always Get What You Want (encore) - Satisfaction (encore).

November 8: Start Me Up - Shattered - She's So Cold - Tumbling Dice - Rough Justice - Rain Fall Down - It Won't Take Long - Bitch - Night Time - Intros - Slipping Away - Infamy - You Got Me Rocking - As Tears Go By - Get Off Of My Cloud - Sympathy For The Devil - Paint It Black - Honky Tonk Women - Brown Sugar - Satisfaction - You Can't Always Get What You Want (encore) - Jumping Jack Flash (encore)

We left LA on Nov. 9 and spent the night in Monterey, before driving to San Francisco on the 10th for the night to see our friend's band Tainted Love play at the Tongue & Groove. We hung out with our friend's Franklin & Trey, former guitarist and drummer of a local Rolling Stones cover band until the wee hours and ended up having breakfast at 5am and getting to bed around 6am. We had to be up at 8:30 for our drive to the airport and flight to San Diego.


We arrived in San Diego around 2:30 and checked into our hotel suite which had a perfect view of downtown & the water. We headed to the Stones hotel, to pick up my skull ring that was graciously made for me by Tony Creed. The ring is custom and so cool, it says Blue Lena + Keith on the top of the skull and on the inside it says Riffman. Many thanks Tony! Tony has made some great stuff for Blondie Chaplin in the past and fills orders for many celebrities. Do check out his custom silver at Tony Creed .The weather was great, too bad we didn't have more time to spend there. We ordered room service and a bottle of champagne and chilled out a bit before heading to the show.

Petco Park Setlist

Start Me Up - You Got Me Rocking - She's So Cold - Tumbling Dice - Oh No, Not You Again - It Wont Take Long - As Tears Go By - Midnight Rambler - Rocks Off - Night Time - Intros - Slipping Away - Infamy - Miss You - Rough Justice - Get Off Of My Cloud - Honky Tonk Women - Sympathy For The Devil - Brown Sugar - Jumpin' Jack Flash - You Can't Always Get What You Want (encore) - Satisfaction (encore)

Photo Blue Lena

We tried to head to the VIP, but couldn't find it and were directed t o the Rattlesnake, which was fine with us. It was packed tonight and the beer was warm, ew. Ollie Brown was in there, remember him? We lucked out with front row Keith's side for this show and it rocked as usual. Highlights were hearing "As Tears Go By" again, and "Midnight Rambler" is always a treat, as is "Rocks Off". During Keith's set, his daughter Angela came by and shared her red wine with us-she is SO sweet.

The next morning it was back to San Francisco.

We spent the evening of the 12th at the Four Seasons, sitting at a table next to the Wood clan, what a riot that was. I can't elaborate on the conversation, but Leah was a trip. On show day, we were once again treated to Rattlesnake passes, much to our delight and were again met at the front of the stage and escorted through the backstage area. Upon arriving at the Rattlesnake Charlie was leaving the tent, and I was introduced to him with a "Charlie, this is Blue Lena" to which he replied "Yeah, I know". Well, I had met him several times before, but it was quite funny to have him say that. We heard a mention of "meet & greet", and went in to get a Beck's beer, and in literally the time it took to open the beer and turn around, there was Keith standing behind me! No shit! He was speaking with an older gentlemen whom Charlie had been speaking with earlier. We waited for Keith to finish his chat and then Keith was told "Keith, this is the girl that does your web site", and Keith turned right around and gave me a big hug and a kiss! He said "I gotta zoom" and left the tent. Spectacular. Quite an unexpected treat & Keith was gracious as always. Later we saw Patti Hansen and Angela Richards again, Mick himself, as well as Mick's girlfriend L'Wren. The whole band walked by us from their dressing rooms too, I assume for the official band meet n' greet.

Photo Blue Lena

Metallica was the opening band, but we missed them both nights...but their dressing rooms the first night were in a trailer by the toilets, so we leaned on their road cases while waiting for the loo. It was quite funny really. When the Rattlesnake closed and we returned to the restrooms, they wouldn't let us in because Metallica had just come off stage and were in the dressing rooms and their security guys were afraid we were trying to get back there and see them to which I replied, "I don't give a shit about Metallica, I just have to pee!" and then Stones security left us go-bless them.

SBC #1 Setlist

Start Me Up - You Got Me Rockin' - Live With Me - Tumbling Dice - Oh No, Not You Again - Rain Fall Down - Sweet Virginia - All Down the Line - Night Time - Intros - Slipping Away - Infamy - Miss You - Rough Justice - Get Off Of My Cloud - Honky Tonk Women - Sympathy For The Devil - Paint It Black - Brown Sugar - Satisfaction - You Can't Always Get What You Want (encore) - Jumpin' Jack Flash (encore)

Highlights the first night were definitely "Rain Fall Down" and "Sweet Virginia" back to back no less. God I love hearing "Sweet Virginia" which they have to play in California as well as Virginia due to the line "Thank you for your wine California". We made our way back to the B stage, but we almost got killed, there was a fight in front of the B stage and guys were pounding each other on the floor and pushing us into the chairs in front of us, until security finally got it under control. That was scary for a moment.

The following evening we managed to get on the guest list for Ronnie's art show at the San Francisco Art Exchange, so we went there from 7-8:30 until Ronnie & family arrived and then we went to Yoshi's in Oakland for some sushi and another Tim Ries Rolling Stones Project show. If you've never heard Bernard sing outside the Stones you must, he is simply devine...Wild Horses with Tim's band was beautiful. We hung out at Yoshi's with Angela and the band and a few other fans until the place closed at 2am.

The second night at SBC, we were meeting friends in the VIP Lounge, which was possibly the best VIP lounge in the past 2 tours. It was located in a suite level corner box, stage left, so you could see the opening bands from either inside on a leather couch, or outside in the seats. They had candles lit and Corona & Anchor Steam. We had a few Corona's and some popcorn and were hanging with our friends, and Everclear's set had just ended when my phone rang...we couldn't possibly be this fortunate, but we were-invited backstage again. So we said goodbye to our friends and headed downstairs for some shepherd's pie & Beck's beer. Met some friend's in there and sat with them most of the night before heading to our front row center seats in front of Keith.

Photo Blue Lena

SBC #2 Setlist

Start Me Up - Shattered - She's So Cold - Tumbling Dice - Rough Justice - Rain Fall Down - As Tears Go By - Midnight Rambler - Night Time - Intros - Slipping Away - Infamy - Miss You - Oh No, Not You Again - You Got Me Rocking - Honky Tonk Women - Sympathy For The Devil - It's Only Rock'n'Roll - Brown Sugar - Jumpin' Jack Flash - You Can't Always Get What You Want (encore) - Satisfaction (encore)

Photo Blue Lena

The highlights on the second night were "Rain Fall Down", "As Tears Go By"...which was beautiful with Keith sitting on a stool playing acoustic right next to Mick...I did shed a tear on that one. "Midnight Rambler" is just awesome whenever. But, during Keith's set, both Angela and Theodora came out and they stood on either side of me, Theo on the left and Angela on the right and we were all dancing together while Keith sang and we shared some wine, and Keith looked down and gave us all a devilish smile...and it was a full moon and Keith was singing "first the sun and then the moon, one of them will be round soon..." and they showed the moon on the big screen behind Keith as he sang...ah, what a moment in time. Can't get much better than that! I even got one of Darryl's picks at the end of the show, and E had gotten one earlier because she had asked Darryl to throw us some earlier in the day when we saw him in the hotel.

Photo Blue Lena

Back at the Stones hotel, we got one of the last tables in the bar. We were treated to an impromptu piano show, not once, but twice by Chuck Leavell, which was very cool. I went and stood behind Chuck as he played and then realized that Ronnie was sitting just to the right of where I was standing. I told Ronnie how I own one of his signature Gibson J-200 acoustics and that I loved his art show the day before. Later on, I went to say goodbye to Angela and she was sitting next to Leah Wood and Theo was on Leah's lap, and Ronnie, Jo, etc were all at the table. Ronnie was SO funny, he and Leah and various others singing choruses to "Streets of Love" which the bar piano player had played earlier and they all sang along to, it was great.

The California trip was quite a way to end the first leg of the tour for me...14 shows in 9 different cities in a span of 2 months. And I want more! The Stones are playing Las Vegas tonight as I am typing this, but I had to skip Vegas this month...maybe March. But, I will be back on tour in January in Chicago!

Photo Blue Lena

Backstage in San Francisco 11-13-05

My sincere thanks and gratitude to Bill without whom the many adventures of this trip would not have been possible. You and Keith are THE BEST!