To Salt Lake City
We’re off at 9AM to Utah and after a brief stint in my coffin I make bus coffee and gaze out at the dry West, dust bowl farmsteads and snow-capped peaks on the horizon. A few spindly trees mark property boundaries, some showing a fuzz of fresh green leaf. We hear news that Spiritualized, also playing tonight in SLC, have broken down, losing a tyre on the way from Denver. There’s a picture online. They’re stuck in a mountain pass and it looks cold and gloomy. We will be on that route later tonight (or tomorrow morning if you want to be a prick about it). The mountains loom to our left, on the right are grain silos, truck and trailer graveyards, processing plants. We pass through Ogden, its grid mapped out on the valley floor like a plaid tablecloth. As we near Salt Lake the icing dusted mountains rise around us. We pass a six-engine train hauling an endless rope of carriages, rusty and weather beaten and oozing through the territory like blood. Through West Bountiful we go, with its oil refinery looking like a science fiction film set, black tankers ferrying black liquid along the track. The snowy peaks out west frown in ancient disapproval, soon everything but they will be wiped away.
As we roll in I see that a whole new hi-rise downtown has erupted since we last passed this way. September 11th, the Afghan war, the invasion of Iraq, the property boom, the financial crash, austerity, Obama and Trump — all these have come and gone since we played here. It shows in the flawed reflections from those icy towers, the new apartments, the hipster vintage outlets, the desperate street dwellers. I walk a few huge blocks and find a record shop next to a trendy café. I flip through a few racks of vinyl but can’t muster the thirst to buy. I seem to have reached the stage of life where I no longer wish to accrue but to divest. I have a houseful of shit I will never use, records yet to be listened to, books yet to be read. I’ve run out of time for it all.
After coffee next door I emerge to witness a smoking roller-blader in a contretemps with an old woman on a bike towing a trailer. Once the shouting’s over, he speeds off like a bearded demon. A minute later I pass by a woman yelling across the street at another cyclist threatening to call the cops on them for slinging drugs. To be fair, the chap on the fucked bike does look like a dealer, skulking about with his hoodie up and his mobile phone in his hand. Either that or he’s slinging Uber Eats. It’s all a bit like a bad HBO pilot.
The venue has three nicely appointed dressing rooms and we are kindly supplied with esoteric snacks and beers. Beer has gone mad here since the mid-tens. Once there were about six brands each of domestic and imported beer available at any time, all brewed down to below 4%. Now the supermarkets stock walls of incomprehensible craft nonsense with wildly varying strengths. The one guarantee in life that you couldn’t get drunk on American beer has gone the way of all flesh. Someone in the crowd tells me they levelled the venue we played last time we were here, probably 1995. Things change, buildings rise and fall, mountains remain. Well, for a few hundred thousand years. I keep hanging on but in the end I won’t even recognise myself.
6 Responses to “To Salt Lake City”
Great show that night at the State Room in SLC. I have seen Del Amitri twice now once in Providence, RI at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel and here. SLC has changed a lot since I moved here in 2004 and SLC trying to turn it into NYC and destroying its charm.
Brilliant observations from fresh eyes on what was once a great nation. Was looking forward to a worldly chat after the Oban gig, but C19 rules saw to that! ha
Will see you NYC in the Village Mon 18th with 2 mates and looking forward. Hello to Iain and the Crew stay well and safe. Avoid the subways in NY ! Geo G.. ( Quinners Cuz)
Makes me want to move to a kinder place, open spaces, old lands that don’t change much, where land and people are more respectful, things haven’t spoiled and turn to shit, no smells of rotting trash or lives. I have considered England, my mother was from there, visited once. The 4 hr. train to her home town forever filled my thoughts with green rolling hills and peaceful spaces. I watch programs that take me back there, to dream, as if.
I get the need to divest, books yet to be read, no time for it all. My dream of a tiny house on a green patch with a garden grows smaller too. I hope I don’t run out of time.
Thank you for your always eloquent bilge. The Fitzgerald show was a much needed therapy session, 2nd inside concert in 2 + years. So much has changed, appreciate the familiar taken for granted things so much more. We all do, I know, I am not alone, there. My heart was happy, except for the woman who felt her need to stand was more important than a half dozen peoples ability to see too. Thank you all for coming here. I wish we could have chatted again, worked with you in past here, always a pleasure. Send on hellos to Derek and Eddie if you ever chat anymore. Safe travels and please come back, soon. Don’t ever stop writing.
SABLE – Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy. I am a fellow sufferer.
Things change, but a Del Amitri fan is for life! Next stop, Milwaukie!!
I look at my CD collection sometimes and try to remember when I have bought some of things that are in there…. and why I bought them.
I must say I have no qualms about your solo stuff or the Dels albums.
Thank you for not reissuing everything ten times with the odd teaser track to make things a compulsory repeat purchase, like Elvis Costello does. I stopped at one reissue with him,
That said, the world would love to be able to buy the Dels albums on vinyl again and to get a DVD with the No Better Location show on it.
Make it so.