Our first performance day was met, of
course, with the predictable modicum of hurry-up-and-wait
beginning with being called to the venue two hours early - my goodness, we hardly had time to shower the
dust of the pebbled Monte Carlo Beach from our virgin Euro-tanning bodies!
We readied ourselves quickly and
incompletely, departing the Hotel Olympia in a grey Mecedes Benz
Arriving at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club, we met the security officers, who would check our passes (and faces)
every time we accessed the venue. Entering the backstage area, we could not begin our preparations and rehearsal
because Diana Ross' ensemble just had begun their soundcheck.
I knew that the music would be memorable
and that the musicians would be "from home" so, that expectation
easily was met.
I was hoping (against hope) that Ms. Ross' reputation as a (I don't use THAT word anymore), would have been a folk tale,
but sadly, she's just a mean, old and bitter hag, not unlike Jesse Jackson. The dressing crew and stage crew was happy to see her leave,
and we never even had a chance to see her offstage. She wouldn't take a picture or have any kind of audience with us for the two days she performed.
Percy Sledge -
Even though, "When A Man Loves A Woman"
is the only song you might remember out of Percy Sledge, the 70 year
old soul music icon
sang for over 90 minutes, non-stop! He represented songs from the good ol' days of soul, channelling Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Ike Turner
among others. His wife assists and accompanies him onstage and off. The brother still sports a full, black (with help, I'm sure) natural!
We had a few laughs and remembrances backstage after his single night performance. An original "Soul Brother" indeed!
Carlos Santana -
With two full percussion ensembles plus
Dennis Chambers on drums, the old NY Latin Rock vibe was kicking for
a full two hours!
Santana was a total crowd pleaser, with a mixture of his classic body of work interweaved with biting social and political commentary.
We stayed after our own opening act on both nights to sift into the crowd (as best we could, easily being recognized by the French
and Italian paying patrons) as we amplified the all night party atmosphere.
Celine Dion -
Playing to her sold out, $1,000.00 per
ticket audience, she wowed everyone with her over-the-top production
and world-known selections.
Celine is a serious showwoman. Her pianist played a nine foot grand piano, which had been gutted completely, the acoustic innards
being refit with a full blown and visually undetectable electronic synthesizer, rendering the polished wood piano frame to a fine piece of stage furniture.
Even though she is respectful and friendly, Celine is something of a "germophobe", who refuses hugs or handshakes.
Jusqu'a la prochaine fois!
Fino alla prossima volta!