The first three nights with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra were a riot of full houses and audience participation by the bucket load,Of course helped by a hysterical volley of knockabout Humour from Nigel as usual that seemed to help to relax the Orchestra members quickly into their stride and swinging the Ellington music just right each night!
Two of the three nights ended with the Scottish jigs that he plays sometimes at the end of shows the first thing you notice is the sheer panic on Orchestra members faces when he just announces out of the blue "lets do a jig", As he simultaneously launches into the jig! The first time was at a really furious pace that threw everyone off guard and we were all trying desperately to catch up and keep up with Nigel! However the 2nd time their bows were working furiously as we were all on top of the music and big smiles all around the stage accompanied the audiences enthusiastic response! Two of the nights the band also got to stretch out on an impromptu "Caravan"that works as a nice contrast to the rest of the evenings programme!Followed by generous amounts of After party fare in the Green Room!
The rest of the time as you can imagine from my earlier blogs about the tour are normally spent in a kind of Spinal tap type band scenario, highlights include Tomas the Sax Player sawing into a finger while cutting some bread backstage and needing to be rushed off to hospital to have 4 stitches inserted then arriving back at the hotel at 5;30 in the morning,which is actually an early night for the group!Adam the Bass player needing a serious session done on his back by a Professional Masseur!
Nigel told an hilarious story on stage about nearly being thrown out of the hotel by security for throwing bars of soap at a tennis player one morning who was playing on the Tennis courts in front of the hotel! Apparently when Nigel was questioned as to why he had decided to pelt the Tennis player with Soap,Nigel replied "Because he was crap and wearing a Red shirt" maybe something to do with the upcoming League Cup Final opponents!
I was really humbled to meet and speak briefly with the Legendary violinist Wanda Wilkomirska from Poland who attended the 2nd nights performance and paid us a visit backstage as well.
Tonight we have the last performance at the Opera house,Yesterday Sunday was a welcome day off,So I managed to finally take a boat trip on one of the harbour ferries choosing an area known as "Watson's Bay" on strong recommendation from friends Amanda & Dinilo who also advised having Fish & Chips from Doyle's restaurant and eating on the sandy beach,It had looked like the boat trip might have to be cancelled as the early morning news lead story was about the earthquake in Chile and a Tsunami that was now heading through the Pacific so the authorities were advising everyone not to go to beaches etc as the tsunami aftermath was heading this way,however by mid morning the warning had been scaled down and it was possible to go out!I Took a lot of photos of some Beautiful views of the harbour and the various stops along the way,that I will remember for a long time!
Meanwhile on our day off the Opera house was being used for a photo shoot by famous nude photographer Spencer Tunick, who is known for his nude group photos in public spaces and on this occasion had managed to fill the the large steps leading to the Opera house with 5200 Naked bodies!!"It was difficult to get the straight participants to embrace the gay participants and vice versa," Tunick said. "So I was very happy that the last set up finally got done and everyone came together (in a) united, friendly kiss, a loving kiss in front of this great structure."
I Also witnessed a a monorail crash at Darling Harbour where one Monorail went into the back of another leading to passengers climbing through safety hatches in the carriages and then onto the station platform to safety!Tv cameras descended really quickly to film,fortunately no one was hurt but it made quite a dramatic picture!
I Had breakfast this morning in the hotel sitting on the next table to Madeline Allbright!
Believe me you couldn't make this stuff up, this tour never has a dull moment!!
Now for the last concert here followed by a jam session at the Basement club tonight to which Alan Zavvod has arrived in Sydney from Melbourne!