What Neil Peart Thought of the Quad Cities
During the tour for the “Moving Pictures” album, Neil Peart kept a fairly detailed journal chronicling the day-to-day life of a rock star on the road. On February 22, 1981 Rush performed at Palmer Auditorium. The band and crew stayed at the former Jumer’s Castle Lodge and Neil takes note of everything from the weather, dressing room amenities, concert hall acoustics, and other seemingly insignificant details.
Sunday, February 22. Davenport, Iowa.
It has rained steadily all afternoon. Through the leaded glass window of room 228, in "Jumer's Castle Lodge", (an unlikely Midwestern version of Bavarian Gothic!), is the bleak, colourless flatness of suburban Bettendorf, one of the Quad (Quint? Qued?) Cities. The work might be dreary.
I'm fortunate to be reading a hilarious book: "A Confederacy of Dunces", by John Kennedy Toole. It reminded me of Mervyn Peake or John Barth in its dark, erudite silliness. The perfect book for such a day. It soon has me laughing out loud.
As we board the bus to drive to the hall, Whitey tells me that Iowa has the highest percentage of millionaires in America. Who'd have thought it? Driving through Davenport, however, we do notice a lot of new, up-market cars, and a grander than usual display of huge, old Victorian monstrosities lines the residential streets.
A silver-haired lady drives by in a big brown Buick, sporting brilliantly colored, knitted Afghan seat covers! Her license plates proclaim her as "BETTE F". The ones on the car in front of us advise one to "B KOOL". Who can argue with that?
The hall is bad; in fact it's one of the absolute worst: a college gymnasium. The usual abysmal acoustics, of course. No seats for the audience, no room for our projections, bumbling stage and security people recruited from "Delta House", the most institutional of dressing rooms, and ask any student about the quality of college food! All this offers welcome to the weary traveller.
The dressing room! Walled around by the obligatory concrete blocks, painted in "Penitentiary beige"; one wall filled with shower stalls in "Hospital green", the other with metal lockers in a particularly offensive gash of "High school orange". The megawatt fluorescent lights glare greenishly down, on to sickly faces and purple lips. The hardest of metal chairs, finished in "Library brown", were manufactured without the least regard for human anatomy.
As it happens, I'm the only one in here, which speaks well for my good sense! I can't imagine where else anyone could go, but they've found somewhere. Maybe everybody went home, and left me here as a joke?
Anyway, I'm left alone to read, which is perhaps just as well: this book has me chuckling to myself frequently. Sure sign of something.
As Max's set finishes, the room is once again full of people and activity. Gathering towels and drinks for the stage, the crew file in and out in their final preparations for the show. Change into stage clothes, tape my shoelaces, give my watch to Kevin, and toss drumsticks around until the "five minute" call is given by Michael, when Ian takes me by "secret ways" up to the stage.
It goes fairly well tonight, with only very few interruptions of electronic and human error. Broon gives an enthusiastic report on the way we are sounding and playing, and he's a tough nut to please. (or is that crack?)
He was also interviewed today by the Japanese people, who have asked if I will speak with them briefly again.
Expecting just some final questions, I consented, only to discover that they want some "Celebrity messages", the "Hello, I'm Neil Peart from the rock group Rush, and you're listening to the Rik Rox show, on..." Oh dear.
It is impossible to deliver these "hype lines" with any sincerity or conviction, and we stopped doing them years ago (perhaps after the first one).
Somehow, through the translator, with much Oriental consultation among themselves, they half-heartedly get a couple of general questions on tape. I sense they are disappointed, and do not understand my feelings, but I cannot bridge this gap.
As I am putting my coat on to go, the ever-persistant photographer, undaunted by previous failures to capture me in his lens, asks for just one picture - "with your coat on!" What!!
It's a five hour drive tonight, to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and a day off. Yaaayyy!!! A day off on the road is a wonderful thing, the possibilities are immense! Maybe go swimming, play baseball, hockey, go to a movie, sleep all day, read a book, watch television, phone home, get falling-down drunk, et cetera.
I enjoy any of the above, while Alex has perfected the "vampire" day off; curtains closed, lights off, heat up full, watching T.V. in bed. Geddy will often be found leading the "Cinema Club" out to a show. We hope to rent some ice time in La Crosse, and play one of our funny flailing hockey games.
~For Whom The Bus Rolls, Neil Peart
That's such a cool look into the his time here in Davenport. After talking about this earlier, a woman called us to say that her brother's license plate is the B Kool one. It's a crazy small world.
All good things come to an end. Sorry that he's gone; glad that he was around!