Los Angeles – week 1

Read about the flight to L.A., a visit to the House of Blues to see Shelby Lynne in concert, and a trip to Pala Casino to see LeAnn Rimes in concert.

I arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday 4th October. I flew with Virgin Atlantic in a Boeing 747-400 which was fitted with the latest in-flight entertainment system, offering 54 cd’s to listen to and 52 movies to watch, amongst other programs and music stations. I watched Finding Nemo (highly recommended) and The Italian Job (not as good as the original, but Charlize Theron is in it!).

I was sat next to an American couple during the flight, who were returning home after three weeks touring the UK. Shortly after take-off the woman delicately asked me, “can I ask you a question?”. Intrigued, I obviously said yes, to which she replied “What is treacle?”. She had bought some treacle fudge in Edinburgh not knowing what treacle was, so I explained the details of treacle, treacle pudding, treacle toffee and my favourite northern delicacy, treacle on toast.

It’s a small world. Just as I was disembarking the plane at LAX one of the stewards noticed the Sheffield United emblem on my polo-shirt. To which he pointed out his father used to play for the Blades and did I remember John Ryan? I replied I did, from the 80’s and the days of Ian Porterfield as manager. I’m getting old.

Sunday was a shopping day, ending up with 13 cd’s (although 10 were second-hand so relatively cheap), a couple of dvd’s (but nothing to play them on!) and a Virgin Mobile cellphone. Monday was the first day at work. Friendly people, free coffee on tap, (together with help yourself free headache tablets, of which there were five different brands to choose from), they do a cracking ‘chicken breast sandwich’ for lunch, and you get free breakfast burritos on Thursdays and do-nuts on Fridays. Heaven!

On Thursday evening we went to the House of Blues club at Disneyland in Anaheim to see Shelby Lynne in concert. She’s a major country artist in the US, whose three albums I have back home. It was an all-standing venue so it was a long night as we were stood for the best part of 3 hours! The first artist on the bill was Steve Conn, a more traditional C&W band but not mine or Graham’s cup of tea. Second on the bill was Anna Montgomery, a rather large lady but with a stunning voice. Her and her band were very good, resulting in my buying her cd that night.

Then about 9:50pm Shelby Lynne came on stage, whose slight shape cut a diminutive figure on stage but betrayed her strong and powerful voice. She gave a great performance, backed by just three musicians and Anna Montgomery on backing vocals. As well as showcasing her latest album she performed hits from her previous two albums including Killin’ Kind which was included in the “Bridget Jones’ Diary” soundtrack.

The comment of the night came from Shelby, who claimed not to own any bras and bragged “look, I’ve got my headlights on tonight” as she ran her hands over her breasts. Use your imagination!! The downside of the evening was the rip-off prices at the bar – a small can of Miller Lite costs £3, whilst’s Grahams plastic(!) cup of Chardonnay cost over £4.

Friday evening I dropped Graham off at Second Spin cd store at Newport Beach whilst I drove approx 80 miles south to the Pala Casino Resort to see LeAnn Rimes in concert. Pala is in the middle of nowhere and took almost 2 hours to get there, but the casino is pretty similar inside to many of the casinos in Las Vegas with plenty of tables and slots. I was surprised how busy the casino was considering its location, it took ages to find a parking space and the queue to get in the theatre for the concert was immense.

I was surprised to find the theatre was actually outside, no mention of this when I booked the tickets online whilst back in the UK. The organisation for the concert was chaotic, with many people having seats that had been double-booked, including mine. Nevertheless, I got a seat still in the original row I was on, but more central so I had an ever better view and only 15 rows from the front.

It had always been an ambition of min to see LeAnn Rimes in concert and she didn’t disappoint. I have all her cd’s since she started at the age of 14, but now she has matured into a beautiful young woman with an amazingly powerful voice. She rolled off the hits, including Blue, I Need You and How Do I Live (theme from Con Air) and a number of tracks from the Coyote Ugly soundtrack. The band backing her were absolutely awesome as well, and the 90 minute set just flew by.

The stage was set outside the back of the hotel/casino on the patio next to the pool, but because of the location many of the hotel rooms overlooked the stage so loads of people got a free show!

After the gig I purchased a tour t-shirt for $25 and an autographed photo for $20, this meant that I wasn’t going to gamble any money in the casino but I was walking through the casino back towards the car park I just couldn’t resist the temptation. I slipped my $20 bill into the $1 slot machine and started playing. Although a $1 machine I was gambling $3 a time to increase any potential winnings. I was down to just $4 when I hit a big one. Two triple bars together with a Double Diamond gave me a $250 win! I was very happy. I had covered the cost of my ticket, t-shirt, photo and them some. I cashed-in my winnings and made a quick exit!! What a way to end the first week in California.

Saturday morning was spent listening to the webcast of Radio 5Live’s coverage of Turkey -v- England as we had failed to find anywhere to watch it, although that was probably a good thing in hindsight. The major problem was that we lost the commentary with about 2 minutes of injury time, so it was an anxious wait until we got confirmation of the final score.

After that it was off shopping, visiting CostCo, K-Mart and Wal-Mart. Today was the best day of my visit so far, clear blue skies and about 80 degrees. That evening we visited the Orange County for the Performing Arts to see Olivia Newton-John together with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. It was a very good evening, but at times a strange mix of Olivia’s band and the orchestra.

On arriving back to the apartment complex a number of fire engines were on-scene, couldn’t see what the problem was but our apartment was still ok. Then at about 11:30pm an armed policeman rang the door bell, asking if we were having a party inside. Now, if I were tell you that Graham and I had invited a dozen young Californian girls back to our apartment after the concert for a party, would you believe me? I thought not!

Right, signing off for this update. More updates soon, but click here for photos of week 1.