Clockwork Angel Rehearsals
Making the Documentary Part 2
By John Cleese, Host Talking Cheese with John Cleese
Music Correspondent on assignment from Codpiece Theater Magazine
Now approaching the zenith of a career, the entire world is waiting with baited breath for the next step in the evolution of Rush. Getting close the end of the rehearsal phase of the massive Clockwork Angels tour, just a few more, and they’re ready to engage the vortex of touring. With the Seven Cities of Gold orchestra dressed in kimonos, a gigantic Ferris wheel, and midgets with cannons in tow, the band has once again forged its own path.
Pulling into Maple Leaf Gardens, the anticipation of a day with Werner Herzog is replaced by dread, and a fear for the worst. Sirens of ambulances wail, and lights of police cars flash. I’m not the first on the scene, but a simple reason for the commotion is easy to find. It’s Metaldad—projectile specialist and hell raiser, being wheeled out on a gurney by his troop, stage left. In a neck-brace, and woozy from an IV drip, the fallen comrade of the British Repertoire Acclaimed Wee Legion makes his way to the ambulance with the help of his fellow BRAWLr’s. Barely conscious yet in good spirits, he’s wearing a shirt that reads “S & A Sucks Ass”. Talk about balls of solid rock.
“It was during Headlong Flight rehearsal. It was my turn to be shot out of cannon 3 behind Alex…as I sailed out, I noticed Mr. Nice massaging a dancer under the landing zone—it was my gal, Coco Budda.” Clenching his fists of rage he says, “We made eye contact in that airborne moment. He mouthed the words ‘she’s mine’ and I missed the nets…ended up on the lighting board. Someone tell Howard I’m sorry.”
Before lifting Metaldad into the vehicle, Treeduck grasps the hand of his fallen comrade and says, “Look at me…look at me! It’s Ducky. Don’t go to the light. Stay with me mate! I…I…I haven’t been honest my friend—I am Buckethead. You were right all along…you were right.” However Metaldad would have none of the syrupy, deathbed sentiment, “shut and get me a beer, my head hurts you idiot.” Whilst being lifted into the vehicle, he left his friend with these words, “never forget Duckman—safety first.” Damn right cannon man, damn right!
Oh…so THIS is the Vortex
Entering the arena, sunlight is replaced by darkness and focused cones of light on the stage and soundboard. A “steamliner” hovers above. Occupied by actor Rupert Grint (Owen Hardy) and hype-man Flava Flav (watchmaker/peddler), slight hints of something pungent wafts in the air. The dancers, clothed and unmolested by masseuses or dwarves, sit on stage with the other stars of the Clockwork Angels show—the Toronto Urban Resource and Developmental League cast. TURDL’s—Inner city kids making the turn from street thugs to model citizens—all with the help of Alex, Geddy, and Neil. No pro team logo knock-offs here, they’re well dressed in quality attire as assorted veggies for the epic song “The Garden.” Today’s meeting is an emergency of sorts—Animal Safety 101.
The cast impatiently waits for revered drum tech Lorne “Gump” Wheaton and security chief Michael Mosbach, who just finish briefing techs Scott Middleton and Jack Secret. Together they form the “dream team” of all things technical, mercenary, and gaseous. Had to do a double take to believe it, but Rush Limbaugh is carting in cases of designer tea next to the soundboard. “Two if by Tea” is the name. Indeed, it is the paragon of scarcity to find a man who holds up his end of an agreement. Word has it he also helps keep the “steamliners” aloft with copious amounts of hot air.
I join Werner, as he sits stage right and we watch greatness unfold together.
He’s Gump…He’s Gump…He’s Gump!
When Gump speaks people listen, especially inner city kids. “Let’s put our listening ears on, Please let me have your attention. We have very special guests for the entire tour that I need to introduce. ‘Mischief’ issues have popped up, so Geddy and Neil have taken precautionary steps and brought in help.” Wheaton motions to stage left. Out comes Neil with Winston, his loveable, tail-wagging retriever, who takes its place in front of the drum riser next his master. Winston looks familiar to the children because, well, he’s famous. He’s a veteran actor of the hit films Air Bud: Golden Receiver, and the Pixar classic, UP. Wearing what looks like a mini-cask of the Macallan under his chin, Winston is ready for business.
Next, Alex comes carrying a Koala Bear, while his guitar tech pushes its Eucalyptus stand right behind. Gump warns the cast, “Ok kids, this is Dudad. He looks cuddly, but I’m afraid he isn’t trained for typical human contact.” Wheaton grows firm and adjusts his glasses, “Don’t feed the bear, or even talk to the bear. This is an alternative medical treatment for earwigs…they’ve been killing Mr. Lifeson. Dudad secretes a liquid from his tongue that attracts them. So, if you see Alex and the bear engaged in therapy, don’t be alarmed, it’s all scientific.”
And lastly Geddy leads two dogs to his station. They sit obediently and stare at the TURDL’s. “Hey ho everyone! Meet Duke and Ewan. Cute dogs eh? Yeahhh…they’re friendly but I gotta warn ya, if you touch anything in my area, these guys’ll eat you alive. Now, they love affection and you can pet ‘em. If you want to give ‘em a snack that isn’t human flesh, go see Chef Frenchie—he feeds them only bacon. No dog biscuits please, can’t have ‘em…nut allergies. And when you feed ‘em, you do so at your own risk.”
“Thanks Ged!” as Gump adds one more item, “Last thing people. If you notice, Winston has a special collar. If you speak to him, he’ll talk back through it. Now he’s a happy dog…a love sponge. Enjoy him. However, if you approach the kit and aren’t suppose to, he’ll let you know.” Gump points to a root veggie, a parsnip, and asks, “Could you walk towards Neil and Winston please? Listen close everybody…” As the youngster approaches, a loud voice sounding very much like Dave Chappelle blurts out:
“Heeeey mutha fucka! Back that ass up!!!”
Startled, Neil and Gump quickly reach for the cask, mumbling to one another. Werner leans over to me giggling and says, “I’ve been here all day. He had it set on Ebonics for Flava Flav, or the BRAWLR’s are pranking Neil—tough to say. It can translate useful phrases into over 50 languages. Neil…he’s a genius. Come, let’s go where the real action is.” Werner stands up and politely asks, “Ladies, if you would, please join us for dinner and a night on the town, we would be so honored.” I second that Mr. Herzog!
The Orbit Room Beware: Men with Money. Scorching Hot Women
Now this is style I thought to myself. Leaving the Garden in a stretch limo, full bar, and the lovely Seven Cities of Gold orchestra. Nowhere to be found are the rancorous shouts of empty hubris from dwarves…just us. This is a fever dream on steroids, with more legs than a bucket of chicken. After a splendid drive on a fine afternoon—we arrive in class to Edelweiss Over Toronto. Home of Schnitzel, Pils beir, and sausages that would make Madeline Kahn blush. I’m particularly craving excitement and a story…Werner and I smile at each other and wonder what this all means. Tonight’s itinerary is quite full. After dinner we will make our way to The Orbit Room, for robust and lively entertainment: The Battle of the Bands.
To be continued…
Edited by Tombstone Mountain, 17 August 2012 - 06:41 PM.