Thursday, June 16, 2022

Following the Dark Horse Tour - part 2

The last time we read about the group of friends following George Harrison on the Dark Horse Tour.  In part 1, they saw him in Chicago and were on their way to see him in Cleveland when a snow storm came through and the Cleveland concert was canceled.   That is where the story picks up and they get a wild idea to see George in Detroit.   This part of the story was written by Pat Simmons. 

We went to drown our sorrows at McDonald's and then trudged on home, ending up amusing ourselves by looking thru photo albums and scrapbooks, listening to the Chicago concert tapes we had made, and realizing how fortunate we were to have seen George at all.  Then we were posing for insane pictures, singing obscene spontaneous songs, and just generally getting slap-happy in trying to cheer ourselves up.  Stephanie and the rest of the Cincinnati gang left for home later the next afternoon, Tuesday and Tempy left for Boston and I left for work.  I met Kris for lunch that day to cry over our Cokes – why Cleveland?  We kept moping.  It had finally stopped snowing (after 3 days of blinding blizzards) and the road had been salted and plowed and the airports finally opened the day after the concerts had been scheduled.  If only the concerts had been on December 3rd instead of the 2nd.  We got to wondering if Detroit’s road were cleared up like Cleveland’s now and if so, wouldn’t we just be stupid enough o drive up there, despite the show being on a weeknight and both of us having to get up at an ungodly hour for work the next day, to try to get scalper tickets, if the concerts there weren’t canceled.  Kris called the Olympia Stadium in Detroit later that afternoon and found out the shows were on one at 5:30 which we’d never made, and one at 10pm.  10PM???  Would we really be that sick?  I called the Cleveland Auto Club to find out how many miles it was to Detroit and learned it was only 177.  That’s only a 3-hour drive maybe.  Kris obtained directions to the Stadium by calling there for information.  By 6:00, armed with Howard Johnson’s popcorn and potato chips for supper, she and I and Joy and Deb were on our way to Detroit, never having been there before, hoping we had the right directions, realizing we’d only be getting there about an hour or less before the 10:00 show was to start, having no tickets and praying we’d be able to find scalpers, knowing we’d be up the entire night and Kris and I not only having to show up for full-time jobs the next morning but also both of us having to work part-time jobs that night, all with no sleep and only 3 nights ago, I’d had another night with no sleep and not more than 4 or 5 hours each night ever since Thanksgiving!  We only regretted that the Cincinnati girl and Tempy and Brenda had already left and couldn’t be insane along with us.

When we got there, we found the Olympia to be in a VERY bad area and there seemed to be no such thing as a parking space, so I invented one, on a side street practically in the middle of a snowdrift.  We found a scalper with 11th row seats, learned that the first show had started over an hour late because George had still been stranded in Chicago and figured out show probably wouldn’t’ start until nearly midnight, so heaven only knew when we’d be getting home!  It was about a half hour after we arrived when people started to pour out of the stadium after the first show, and we waited over a half hour more for the doors to open to let us in, and over another half hour before everyone found their seats and sat down.  The crowd was very loud and rowdy and I was wondering how this concert was going to go – I’d heard of Ravi nearly getting booed off stage in some cities, which needless to say really upsets George, and I was praying that after all this, things would go well.  While waiting for everyone to sit down and while choking on that horrible smell of pot and feeling slightly ill as a result we artistically went about drawing up a sign signifying “CLEVELAND” thanks to some artistic talent and a magic marker, for which we were sure George would be most thrilled when and if he would see it.  Some guys in the row ahead of us were just incredulous we’d come all this way and that we’d also been in Chicago.  One of them had coincidentally been in Tulsa on business while George was there and he’d attended that concert and said that Leon Russel had joined George on stage and sang with him!  Anyway, these just were most impressed we’d come so far with no tickets and took such a chance, especially learning we’d have to go to work the next day as well and we received a round of applause from them for a moment.  That was most swift.

Finally the concert began.  George came on stage and said, “Good evening Detroit – take two!” and as usual George seemed a bit reserved at first, as if waiting for the audience’s reaction to him.  Billy Preston has seemed to outshine him in getting the audience enthused and participating in the concert and I think his feelings must be a little bruised that he can’t generate the excitement Billy can.  Once the audience is going, once Billy has gotten in a participating mood and enthusiastic and on their feet, then George is fantastic and seems to love the concert and generates just as much enthusiasm as Billy, but the audience has to respond to him before he seems to want to warm up the audience.  Tonight we was wearing light blue blue jeans and a white shirt.  He and Billy did the can-can again during “Outta Space” which George seems to really love.  George explained that Ravi was sick and back in Chicago, and he seemed at a loss without him.  Ravi’s sister had to direct the Indian musicians in place of Ravi and she was really nervous over how she would be accepted, it seemed, but everyone gave her a resounding burst of applause when George put his arm around her and said how she didn’t want to be doing this, but with Ravi sick, she had to.  The applause seemed to make her feel a little better and each number was patiently listened to by the audience and applauded to.  George was off to the side, beating a tambourine against his thigh, singing along and having himself a great time off in his own little corner as he looked on.  He thanked the audience profusely afterwards, saying he was glad we liked it.  His voice was even more horse tonight even though he hadn’t done a concert for four days, and now he was coughing.  He hadn’t done that in previous concerts.  He really sounded awful.   One time he had problems with the strap on his guitar again and had to put on foot up on a platform and balance the guitar on his knee so he could play it.  During one of Billy’s songs George and Billy continuously pulled faces at each other while George harmonized (or tried to with what was left of his voice) and they kept cracking up – George was changing the lyrics a bit but I don’t’ remember exactly what he was singing.  It sure was funny at the time!  The audience got more and more enthusiastic and were on their feet on top of their chairs clapping and in a permanent standing ovation from after Billy Preston’s songs – who seemed very surprised and pleased at the fantastic reception each of his songs got – and the enthusiasm never died down until the end of the concert.  George was enthused and excited by the audience and put everything he had into the last 5 songs – Maya Love, Give me Love (that one got a fantastic reception), Dark Horse, What is Life (really got the audience going – shouting for more) and of course the encore, My Sweet Lord.  He seemed to happy the way people were so enthused and involved. Well that is until he got them to try to shout the various names of the Lord during My Sweet Lord, which always seems to go over like a lead balloon, though he assures everyone he’s not swearing when he chants “Om Christ” and he said “call he Lord anything.  It doesn’t matter.  I don’t give a shit what you call him.  It’s not important.”  Oh, after In My Life he said “God blues Joh, Paul, Ringo and the ex-ex-exes.”  And during What is Life, the house lights came on and we stood up on our chairs, Joy and I, and held the Cleveland sign up and he looked directly at it, did a double take, a quick grin and said into the microphone “Yeah, sorry about that!”  And just as he went offstage for the last time, pulling Billy and Willie together in a quick hug, the audience was cheering so loud and demanding more and more, that he came on the speakers instead of Indian music as he usually has it and everyone began to pack up and leave, unable to believe it was all over.  It was really about the most exciting of the concerts I saw.

Somehow we stumbled down the street (the sidewalks were still covered with snow), managed to find the car and were on our way back home again, finally arriving at my house at quarter of 7AM, one half hour before I usually get up to go to work.  I just had time to change, take Kris to the rapid transit so she could go to work (she has to be at her job an hour before I do) and go to Joyce’s with Deb to eat breakfast and try to wake up enough to be able to function all day at work.  How I made it through that day until 9:30 that night after going to my part time job in the evening, I’ll never know.  But somehow, George makes it all worth it and you know that if I had to do it all over again, I sure would!


1 comment:

  1. very fortunate to see George so many times