It’s nearly midday and the sunshine is scattering the shadows across the patio of my suite at the London West Hollywood. Someone is smoking dope on a balcony high above me, someone else is playing Nirvana and singing along. The low thrum in the near distance is the endless stream of cars snaking their way along the stop start procession that is Sunset Boulevard at any time of the day. We’ve been here five days now as I’ve stood around watching Rush packing up their metaphorical tents and saying (maybe for the last time) goodbye to the road.
Spirits are high though, earlier in the week we all stood around a pool at the Canadian Consulate as the sun moved sluggishly through the sky making the light liquid and a breeze picked up, diffusing the smoke from the tight clutch of people in the corner nursing their cigarettes. The Mayor of Los Angeles had sent a framed note of thanks to the band (to which Alex responded: “do we have to get him one now?”) while the band signed a print of the recent Rolling Stone cover article, which sat on a stand as people nodded at the figures in the picture approvingly as if the real thing weren’t just standing some few feet away. Jack Black wandered past, his hand on my arm, “Are you Canadian? Me neither, I live here, but tell me…”, he said, an actual glint in his eye, one eyebrow so arched it looked like someone had drawn a tick across his forehead, “Right now, are we in Canada or are we in LA?” He smiled before asking the next person who caught his attention, keen to canvas opinion. By the time he’d made it across the patio and beyond the outdoor dining area and to Matt Stone he seemed no clearer on whose soil his feet were currently planted.
Jack wasn’t at the Irvine Meadows on the R40 tour the next night, though Steven Adler was, being politely told that he didn’t have the right pass for where he wanted to go. He shrugged it off with a smile and wandered back to the VIP hospitality with his friends. The word is Jack Black will be at the LA Forum tonight though, Jack White too (pleasingly) as well as most of rock’s glitterati who owe something to Rush or simply want to wig out as they thunder through Cygnus X1. Which is what I was doing side stage that night, Geddy Lee some twenty feet away rushing the lip of the stage as the first three rows air drummed at the stars forming in a deep blue dome high above this natural ampitheater. The delighted cries of a throng of middle-aged men almost girlish in their startled response. It’s easy to see why Geddy might not want to let this go, the euphoria that erupted as the star man descended and settled on to the rear projection screen as 2112 crept into life was almost histrionic. Lee so caught in the moment even he played air drums along to Neil Peart’s much mimicked roll across the toms during Overture.
The band ran from the stage that night, the buzz of Working Man still rattling teeth and rafters and made straight for their cars and back in to LA before the traffic clogged up the highway as surely as an auto accident. I talked to the crew and to the band and though no one was saying it out loud, it was there, the inevitable elephant in the room, one more (show) and then no more. Maybe. There’s nothing in the diary, no plans drawn up just yet. And so we wait for the R40 tour to draw to a close, drinks and a party afterwards and then inevitable goodbyes. Someone asked me if I could make the article I’m writing bittersweet, how could I not? That’s all this feeling is, bittersweet. If someone doesn’t shed a tear during Closer To The Heart later tonight then they clearly haven’t been paying attention these last forty or so years. But for now we wait for stage time and one last curtain call, seven hours and counting.