Sunday, 10 August 2008

1997 April - PopMart San Diego, Flowers and Hotel California

April 26th saw us at Dianne's home for a short stopover before heading out to San Diego for the next gig. It was the first time I had been to her house, it was lovely, set in a quiet neighbourhood, single story, and very big.

The back garden was beautiful, it had a pool and jacuzzi. There was a towering saguaro cactus that woodpeckers had bored into and made their nests. There were lots of cacti (I'm a big cacti fan and Arizona's the place to see them!) palms, mesquite trees and colourful flowers in the garden. Bird treats hung in the trees attracting a plethora of feathered friends. Hummingbirds came to nectar feeders, tiny, luminescent, swift birds that could disappear in the blink of an eye. I'd never seen hummingbirds before.

There were little hidden areas to sit all over the garden and it was really relaxing to sit there once the heat of the day was over. We met Dianne's husband and her grown son, both very welcoming and friendly. I felt very at home there.

Next morning we were up early ready for our drive to San Diego. We put The Joshua Tree on the car stereo as this was true Joshua Tree country and much of Outside It's America was filmed in this area. As we passed Picacho Peak (an unusual rock formation by the highway between Tucson and Phoenix) In God's Country was playing just as it had in the TV programme, magic U2 moment!

Like U2, we stopped at Gila Bend (founded 1872) - there was nowhere else to stop! It was a very small town in the middle of this amazing barren landscape. I found I loved the desert, stark and unrelenting, jagged mountains, it was nature in charge, and had a awe-inspiring beauty about it.

Gila Bend was a one street town, you could almost think you were back in the old Wild West! It was hot, dusty and run down. We wanted to go into the bar U2 had ten years earlier, of the two bars that we saw, one The Owl, was boarded up, the other, Shelby's was open so there was no choice, Shelby's it was! We walked in and it was full of men who all seemed to turn to look who had arrived, I suppose you don't get a Canadian and three Brits walking into a bar in Gila Bend very often! It wasn't the bar U2 had been in and we drank our Cokes, and left and headed on towards San Diego. (Picacho Peak - Photo © by Jeff Dean)

The landscape became more boring as we approached Yuma which seemed a God forsaken place and we were glad to leave it behind. Eventually, we arrived at San Diego, it was cooler there and I immediately liked the city, not too big, flowers everywhere. We checked in our hotel and then decided to find the Jack Murphy Stadium as we had no idea where it was! We found it quite easily and got talking to two fans Milton and Chelsea. They were really nice and suggested we go to the world famous Hotel Del Coronado (known locally as the Hotel Del) for a drink. As we had nothing planned for the evening we said yes. Chelsea said she would guide us and just to follow her. It was my turn to drive that night and it seemed miles and miles to the hotel, Chelsea drove fast and I spent most of the trip verging on a panic attack as I tried to keep up with her and not cause an accident! I was so relieved to arrive at the hotel!

The Coronado opened in the early 1890's and has been popular ever since with the rich and famous. It has featured in quite a few films over the years. It is a rambling, many turreted hotel with white walls and red rooves situated right beside the Pacific Ocean. As we arrived at night we couldn't see it in all it's grandeur, but our approach was lovely enough, with the old building floodlit giving it a fairytale appearance and the sound of the Pacific's waves crashing on the shore nearby.

It was very grand inside and we found some seats in the lobby and ordered extremely expensive coffee, we couldn't afford anything else though we were hungry! The building's history was well preserved which was good to see.

After a while, Dianne and I went downstairs to where we could hear music playing. An Eagles tribute band was on stage and we really enjoyed listening to them. I never forget when they played Hotel California thinking that yes, I was in the grand old lady of hotels in California, it was so appropriate, it was one of those magic "moments" you get in life that you never forget.

We also went outside on a walkway facing the Pacific from which there would have been a glorious view if it had been daylight. Smelling the salt in the air and hearing the waves break on the shore was still very pleasant though. I vowed then that one day I'd come back to the Hotel Del as a guest. I haven't managed that yet, but maybe during U2 Tour 2009?

After an enjoyable time at the Coronado we headed off for our hotel. Chelsea was going to guide us back there as we had no idea where to go! Luckily Jane was driving on the way back so my nerves were not frazzled and I got the chance to appreciate San Diego at night and it looked wonderful, I really liked this city.

Next day April 28th was show day! We weren't sure what to expect of the second show of the PopMart Tour after the near disaster at Las Vegas. But we needn't have been, right from the start it had the magic! Bono seemed driven, probably smarting from negative reviews from Las Vegas.

Last Night on Earth rocked. Bono dedicated Pride to his daughters "Jojo and Evie" which I thought was sweet. It was a night of dedications as "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was for all the fans who had stood by them all through the years and through all their "mutations". We all smiled at that, nice to have our dedication recognised by the band.

The set list was much the same as Las Vegas except that "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" wasn't played - phew no hugging a dress on a stand! The new songs were performed much better too, they must have been rehearsing like mad over the last few days.

At the end we all looked at each other and smiled, the U2 we knew was back and I felt that familiar high after a good U2 show. We were relived they'd got it together after the shaky start to the tour. The U2 magic and passion was back in a big way!

No comments: