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Thalimer/Keane Trip Report Pt II
Thursday, Jun. 10, 2004 - 2:29 p.m.
Monday, June 7, 2004 -- this day began bright and early. I know this to be a fact, because between the carbohydrate overload of the previous evening, along with sleeping in a strange hotel bed, I don't think I recall going to sleep. But after daylight broke, it was pretty easy to start the day. I figured the oppressive heat would catch up with me and Todd eventually, but for now, the morning was fine.
Todd had his Pomeranian Katy with him. Since my room was air conditioned, it was decided that she would be most comfortable there while we were out traipsing around downtown Denver. Todd also brought the clothing he was going to wear to the concert later that night -- and we essentially made my room base ops for the entire extent of my visit, since it was conveniently close to so many things we were going to see and do.
The first thing we did was seek out somewhere to eat breakfast, and in a sweetly ironic twist, we ended up at an IHoP. Todd and I had met for the first time in person at an IHoP in Sacramento, back in December of 2003, when he and Heidi were coming home from the trip they made to California. Even though things are obviously different now, Todd and I are both glad that we have a nice memory of the four of us together (us plus our spouses), and he and I agreed that from now on, whenever we were able to meet, either in his neck of the woods or mine, we'll go to an IHoP at least once.
Over breakfast, I finished filling out my postcards and added the address labels and stamps. Todd claims I actually said clever stuff, but I don't know. I think it was the altitude getting to me.
As we were leaving the restaurant, I literally ran into a mailman, who was entering IHoP as I was leaving. So I handed my postcards to him, which saved us the time of finding a post office.
Downtown Denver beckoned.
At last, we were on our way to see Keane.
We arrived at the Virgin Megastore shortly after noon. According to the little flyer Todd picked up the day before I arrived, Keane was scheduled to appear at 12:30 pm. We walked in -- and there was the display, featuring the US version of their album Hopes and Fears. There was also the signing table, with three pens, and to a right angle of that was the keyboard that Tim Rice-Oxley would be playing. It was wide open, being serviced and tuned.
The music store itself was spacious and trendy, as are all of the Virgin Megastores I've been in -- and in the back, standing in the Christian music section, were the members of Keane. They were so self-effacting and unobtrusive I wouldn't have known who they were if I hadn't just seen them in San Francisco. Tom was quietly pacing, and every once in awhile, he and the other band members would stop and glance over at their potential audience to see how many people were there.
As of this writing, Keane is the number one band in the United Kingdom. And they must surely have marveled at the fact that there were only about twenty people in the store waiting to see them. I wonder if they miss those days back home.
I'd brought Todd my UK copy of Hopes and Fears, the CD part of which I had dropped on memorial day and scratched the shit out of, so he inherited it with the thought of enjoying the liner notes and maybe getting it autographed. The US version was on sale that day for ten dollars, so Todd and I each got one of those, too. When we purchased the CDs, the cashier also put a complimentary show ticket into the bag.
The sound check went well, and Todd and I staked out our space right in front. I'd brought my little disposable camera, was also armed with the camera in my telephone, and Todd brought his digital camera. We were all set.
Finally, somebody from the store stepped to the mike and announced Keane. The crowd had grown to around thirty; most of whom were random passersby who stopped in on their lunch hour, but some of whom knew who Keane was. Their instore appearance went beautifully. There was no drum set, instead, their drummer, Richard Hughes was sitting on a stool and playing a shaker. Tom Chaplin, the vocalist, was in fine form. I've never been able to describe his voice to people who have never heard it. And Tim Rice-Oxley was at keyboard, and really enjoying himself.
They sang several songs, including the two I'd most often heard on Virgin Radio UK: "Somewhere Only We Know" and "Everybody's Changing".
When their set ended, Tom thanked everybody, and said they would be around for a bit to talk and to 'sign your socks if you want us to'.
Todd and I were the third and fourth people in line. The fellas were really surprised and pleased to see somebody here with a UK version of their CD for them to sign; Todd received his autographs, and I was next. It's been a very long time since I've seen somebody so absolutely star-struck and agog over something. Todd was lovely; he turned into a goshgeewow fan right before my very eyes, and thankfully, the moment is captured. Todd was also able to talk to Tim Rice-Oxley for a bit about their respective keyboards.
Then the fellas signed my CD, and my comp ticket, and of course, while I was standing so close to them, my lucidity and wit was absent.
The only thing on the face of this entire planet I could think of to say to Tom was "I saw you in San Francisco last week because that's where I live; drink extra water today and tonight, or the altitude is going to kill you." He looked up and said that was a good idea, and that he also had a bit of a cold. Next was Richard Hughes, and I said the same thing to him, to which he responded "That's excellent advice; thank you." And to Tim Rice-Oxley, I simply said "Thank you for your beautiful work."
At last, Todd and I made our goodbyes and headed back out into the sunshine. We walked for a bit down the 16th Street Mall, but the lack of sleep, along with the heat, and the excitement of the previous hour was finally taking its toll on me. In all of the activity in the store, I had forgotten to get -my- picture taken with Keane, but I was so tired and disheveled and borderline crotchety that I just didn't have the energy or motivation to go back and stand in line again and even stand a remote hope of getting a halfway decent image of myself with them, even though Todd very graciously offered to go back. So instead, we went back to his car, and he gave me a tour of Denver, including the neighborhood called Washington Park. This is where the older bungalows are, and Todd says if he were to relocate, he'd probably choose something in this area. Among other things, I also saw the capital building, and the step upon which the mile marker was.
Eventually, we did get back to the air conditioned hotel room, where Katy was very glad to see her daddy and go for a walk. After Todd and Katy returned from that, he and I washed our faces, and then the three of us collapsed for a couple of hours in the cool room.
After our siesta, Todd and I emerged back into the heat at around six, with a plan to go eat dinner and be done with that by seven, then get downtown between seven thirty and eight when the willcall window of the Bluebird Theatre opened and he could pick up the Keane tickets. We had changed clothes and I had made yet another attempt at doing something with my hair, but at last, I just gave up. My hair had begun to bite me whenever I touched it.
Dinner was at a salad bar place called Sweet Tomato; I'd been adamant about only having one high-carb day, so it was nice to get back to salad.
The waiter eventually came by us and placed mints on the table, and if that wasn't a 'here's your hat what's your hurry', then I don't know what was. But we held our ground until around seven fifteen, then headed on out.
We got to downtown Denver at around seven forty, found free parking on an adjacent street by seven forty-five, Todd got his tickets by seven fifty, and the show was set to begin at eight thirty. Forty minutes to kill. But we had an interesting piece of luck; there happened to have been a Pagan / Wiccan / New Age shop right down the street from the Bluebird, so after I took a picture of the theatre marquee, we ducked into the store for awhile. I did actually find something in there to purchase; a small piece of amethyst to replace the one I had lost. It's now on my altar.
We finally went into the Bluebird at around eight fifteen.We found the guy selling stuff, and I got us each a T shirt. The Keane t-shirts are in a word, lovely; not garish or overstated at all, but instead this lovely dark grey with almost an olive cast, with a delicate white pattern of leaves and a small KEANE logo on it. I'd made my own personal Keane button with my button maker and a picture harvested from the Internet; I had pinned it onto the little purse I'd switched to to take to the event, and the Guy Selling Stuff perked right up when he spotted it, and said "Hey, wow, where did you get that? That's not one of ours," and I told him I made it, and it was the only one. "It looks great!" he said. We got our shirts, and I shook hands with the Guy Selling Stuff, wished him luck, and we went in. Guy Selling Stuff is actually named Greg, and he's from New Zealand.
It was kind of sparse, audiencewise, but still very funky and cool. Todd and I staked out a table and two chairs, but then of course, right before showtime, people crowded down around us and blocked our view. And the other thing that was a mild annoyance was to find out that indoor smoking in public places is still allowed in many places in Colorado, the Bluebird being one of them.
This wouldn't do, so we got up and actually went down to the very edge of the stage, after the first act had ended. Aveo was from Seattle, and they were really very polished and good. Apparently they had had some equipment trouble and a late start, but the subsequent band members, Matt Pond PA, had helped them tremendously with the move in and setup.
Aveo played a really good thirty-minute set, and then Matt Pond PA took the stage. I have never seen a band work so hard schlepping its own stuff, and even the other band's stuff, as the members of Matt Pond PA. They were also an excellent band.
Between Matt Pond PA and Keane, Todd noticed things that I didn't know; like, when the large light in the little side room went off, he turned to me and said "That's the last thing the techies do before the band comes out -- switch to penlights."
Somebody standing next to me asked me about my button. "How did you make that button?" and when I responded "With a button maker," his eyes opened wide, "Seriously, you put a picture in the middle and it puts the components together and crimps em down like a bottle cap on a beer." This seemed to satisfy him and he shambled back over to his friends to issue a report.
But finally, at around ten thirty, Keane took the stage.
Todd and I were standing right at the edge of the stage, between Tom and Tim; to try and take pity on everybody's eyesight up there, I couldn't bring myself to use flash photography until the last song, but here are a couple of my favorite images:
To the left is one of Tom, while he was singing the first Keane song I had ever heard, "Somewhere Only We Know." This image was taken with my phone camera, so there was no flash for him to contend with.
And to the right, this is how close I was standing to Tim. He was playing the final song of the evening, "Bedshaped." This image was taken with a disposable camera with a flash.
Overall, it was a spectacular evening except for the fact that Todd drank too much beer, and after his buzz hit, he ignored me for the remainder of the concert. I disappeared for twenty minutes to hit the bathroom, and he never knew I was gone. Nevertheless, at the conclusion of the concert, when Tim stood up to leave, he looked down, recognized Todd standing right there, and gave him a thumbs up. The look on Todd's face at that moment made my night.
When the show let out, Todd and I walked arm in arm through the night back to his car. "Well, there it was," he said, "One of the main reasons you came here. Was that a great show or what?"
I blinked back my tears, and turned to him and said "Yeah, the SHOW was fine." But he didn't pick up on my inference. Oh well.
The next day would be my final day in Colorado. Todd would be taking me to the mountains.
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