A Dream Come True
The Whisky A Go Go "Rehearsals"
By sockii (Nicole Pellegrini) February 14, 2007 (originally posted to the stewartcopeland.net forum).
I confess I debated up until almost the last few hours about even taking a chance on winning a ticket from the four available on stewartcopeland.net. As much as I wanted to be there, I didn't know if I could afford the time away or the travel expenses. But then I realized that more so than any of that, I just couldn't afford to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity like this. I submitted my entry and attempted to settle the butterflies in my stomach after hitting that "Send" button.
That attempt lasted until later I saw that email from Giovanni telling me I was in!!
It took a while for the reality to sink in. Not only was I finally going to see the band I've loved for twenty years for the very first time, I was going to see them in a tiny club, at the very start of what we all hoped was going to be a worldwide tour. As soon as the shock subsided (slightly) I was booking flights and making plans. I found out that Maggie (of AUI) had won one of the sting.com passes and I asked her if she might like to share a hotel room. Things were in motion, also with our own Divemistress and Conroy, plus a few other folks from Sting.com. I left Philly at 10am Sunday morning and was met at LAX by Maggie that afternoon, and the adventure was underway.
My very patient and understanding boyfriend back home in Philly made sure to call me at 8pm EST Sunday night so I could hear -- at least partially -- the Police open the Grammys over my scratchy cell phone connection. Just hearing the roar of the crowd over the phone was enough to wire me up. This was all really happening! Even the boyfriend was starting to get excited for me, after nagging me for two days about being nutty enough to fly cross country "for maybe one or two songs in a dive bar. Won't be like when I saw them at Grendel's Lair in 1978!" he'd kept bragging at me. Only now he was suddenly wondering if he shouldn't have come along after all, ticket or not...
The Beverly Pavilion Hotel provided cheap lodging just a short drive away from the Whisky and an even shorter walk to Backstage Cafe. (The hotel's "renovated" decor straight out of "A Clockwork Orange" also provided considerable amusement.) By 6pm most of our rowdy party of contest winners were waiting for them to unlock the doors at Backstage so we could get ready to see the Police on the Grammys. The sting.com contingent was growing, and soon I spied Conroy and Divemistress so I felt right at home with our "crew" in effect. A local friend of mine made it just in time for the Grammys to start as well. We all raised a toast to Ian and by the time the Police were about to hit the stage, we could barely contain ourselves.
We watched, even if we couldn't hear much over our own shouts and hollers, and only grew more giddy as the adventure ahead of us on Monday drew nearer. We probably would have stayed there until way into the morning chatting and sharing stories, except we knew the day would start early, and some of us were still on East Coast time and exhausted!
Of course, in the end Maggie and I barely managed to sleep anyway as we were too excited about what was coming up. Even though the official line-up to get in wasn't to start until 9am, we were determined to get a much earlier start. Alarms set for 5:30am, we both found ourselves wide awake by 4 and decided we might as well just give up on the pretense of being able to sleep any more than that. We were at the Whisky at just past 6:30am, where crew and security were already in full action securing the site and bringing in equipment.
Some of the folks from the night before were soon to join us. After a brief chat schmoozing with security, we were okayed to take matters into our own hand and start an unofficial lineup across the street, out of their way but giving us a chance to watch everything unfold--and secure our place at the door. Maggie was the queen of organization over our little endeavor, and the number "1" on the back of my hand thanks to her trusted black sharpie just had me giddy with excitement all over again!
I thought the four hour wait to get in would seem endless but in reality it just flew by in all the excitement of meeting and talking with so many fellow fans. By nine, our merry group had crossed the street in time to see first Stewart, then Andy, then Sting all arrive at the backdoor and we let out our cheers of delight. By now the news crews were starting to notice our rowdy band as well and began to start coming over for interviews.
|For some reason I have absolutely no fear of the camera and can spout good sound bytes, which I ended up providing to at least about 4-5 film crews by the end of the day. I wanted to make sure to get some shout-outs in to our kool kats here at stewartcopeland.net and it seems that at least one of those clips made it onto the end of the web feed, as did Divemistress's and a number of the sting.com folks we were hanging with. (I also heard from a friend later in the day that I was on Fox News nationally proclaiming "I haven't slept in four days and I'm WIRED!" The single shot of espresso that was all I'd dared to put on my stomach that morning probably wasn't helping...)|
(See one interview clip here - about 3.5 minutes in. Even my infamous Police purse got its moment of fame!)
Once the official queue up began, the excitement was only growing worse -- especially once we could hear--and feel--the soundcheck underway inside the club. Hands and ears on the walls, we tried to figure out what songs were being played--giving out shouts on recognition and generally only growing further and further convinced that this had to be a dream.
We finally were inched up to the door once all the VIPS were in, though a few late stragglers passed by us, including much to my delight my *second* favorite drummer in the world, Taylor Hawkins! We started a shout out to Taylor who shouted back at us, "The Police!!!" looking and sounding as excited as we were to be there.
Once through the door, the first thing I thought was, "Wow. This place IS small." It was also pretty well full of press and VIPs by now, so we were momentarily dismayed that all our hours of waiting for a good spot might have been for nothing. But then I spied that sparkly blue drumkit at the other end of the room and decided that I was NOT going to be deterred from getting as close to it as possible--VIPs or not! I managed to slip, duck and maneuver my way to a spot right at the edge of the stage near Andy's pedals and one cameraman. A fair number of folks were trying to crowd over to Sting's side of the stage, but I was more than perfectly content to stay right where I was.
Not much longer to wait, then, which was good as I don't think we could have stood for much more waiting (and even my best walking boots were giving out on me). By the time I saw Stewart, Andy and Sting coming down the steps toward that stage, I couldn't contain myself. I'm sure my throat is ruined for a week from screaming. I don't think I stopped grinning like a fool for a moment. Andy was right there in front of me, and though I've seen him numerous times in small clubs before it was never like this, and I'd never heard his guitar sound so perfectly clear and magical. I've only ever seen Sting once in concert, for about twenty minutes at a Today show appearance, so to hear and see him so close--with Andy and Stewart, no less--was suitably unreal.
And what can I say about Stewart? I could barely keep my eyes off watching him play, me and the obviously fellow drumming-geek next to me who was air drumming like one of the possessed the entire time, and Stewart of course seemed to be having more fun than all of us in the room combined.
|I was right next to one of the cameramen and caught him turning right to me in time to send "out an S.O.S." to the world at large (this immediately earned me three phone messages on my cell from friends back home who spotted me bouncing around like a fool.) If "Message" sounded amazing, the "Voices inside my head/When the World is Running Down..." medley just blew the roof off the place, particularly the incredible solo by Andy. Looking around me, half the floor was filled with musicians like Taylor, guys from OK Go and The Roots, obviously folks like us who had grown up as fans of the Police and were as amazed at what they were seeing and hearing as the rest of us.|
You all have mostly no doubt heard the details of the press Q&A that followed. It was interesting to us to hear how many of the questions asked seemed to mirror those we have been wondering about here and elsewhere in recent weeks--and how on some issues (like the background vocals), the guys were genuinely interested in hearing what we might prefer to hear. It was all just really fascinating to watch it all unfold like it did, to be able to feel, in person, the incredible energy that just seemed to be coming out of this reunion and how into it everyone genuinely seems to be.
Then it was time for more music! "Roxanne" was not unexpected, though it was nice to hear a longer version of it than on the Grammys the night before. "Can't Stand Losing You" was the finale, incredible if just for hearing and watching the way they seemed to be hashing it out and remembering the way it went before our eyes. Perfectly polished? Hell no, but this was supposed to be a "Rehearsal", after all. There will be plenty of time for polish and shine this summer.
And then it was over--so much but not nearly enough! We waited and wondered if we might luck into an encore or one extra song, but soon the lights were going up and the crew coming out to start packing up gear. I had a chance to quickly say hello to Danny, couldn't get to talk to anyone else as they were shooing us to the door by then. I grabbed a couple of the leftover Press Kits and staggered out into the light of day, only to be accosted by yet another news crew looking for reactions from the fans. But how do you even begin to put all of that into a few words? I don't think I was anywhere near as coherent at this point as I was a few hours before.
We waited to reassemble across the street, hoping for one final glance of the guys as they were leaving. The images in "Everyone Stares" of frenzied crowds flapping against car windows still fresh in my mind, I felt uneasy about getting too close and just hung back to watch it all unfold. Sting and Andy made the swiftest escape they could, though still signing a few things thrust into their car windows, Andy also whipping out his camera to photograph those filming and photographing him in return. I only got a bit closer when Stewart came out, because he actually stopped and took some time to answer questions, shake hands and sign autographs. I didn't get that close before he ended up making his exit as well, but just as always I just thought it was so cool to see the way Stewart is so open and appreciative of us fans.
By now we'd also collected Omaha into our happy band. We said our good-byes to most of the sting.com folks and decided we'd take one more trip over to Backstage for lunch and to collect our thoughts. It was a great spot to chill out for a few hours and talk about how awesome it all had been. We also got the chance to talk with Ian's daughter Chandra, who certainly has her father's warmth and incredible spirit. He was deeply missed by everyone that day.
It was hard to say good-bye, but the day was slowly winding down. Dive, Conroy and I managed to find an internet cafe at last to begin to catch up on the news hitting the net, and I was almost too overwhelmed by the sheer volume of activity to even begin to read it all. I had a phone full of messages from folks back home who had seen me and the webcast, including of course one from the boyfriend who had to sheepishly admit defeat.
"I think that just beat Grendel's Lair in '78," he admitted morosely, no longer able to torment me with his favorite way to get me insanely jealous. "Now where do I go to sign up for the new fan club?"
With still a few hours to kill, we drove down to the Santa Monica pier with the intent of scoring some ice cream, but given the breezy weather hot coffee seemed a better plan of action. Eventually it was time to get me to the airport for my red-eye flight back home, which is where I'm sitting now, at 3:30am Philly time with three more hours until I'm back to the reality of freezing temperatures, ice storms, classes, real work and real life to deal with. It's going to be hard to come back down to earth from this weekend of living out a dream. But I'm beginning to think the rest of the year ahead could prove just as unreal and incredible.
Well, maybe not quite. But it could come awfully close.
And of course, absolutely NONE of this would have been possible without Stewart & Giovanni making those passes available for us so we could be there. As much as I've rambled on already, I don't think I could ever find enough words to express my gratitude for being able to be there for all of this. For twenty years, I've kicked myself for missing the chance to have seen The Police perform together. But even in any dream I had of changing that sad state of affairs, I never imagined it could happen like this, and to be there with so many great folks to share the experience.
The Police really ARE back...and as far as I'm concerned, they've never been better.
The gang's all here at Backstage Cafe, Sunday night!
sc.net's own Divemistress and Conroy
You can spot the Snarks a mile away by our matching ibooks.