OK. So, we’re sitting in our Soho hotel room debating what the date is. My head is stuffy from a mild congestion brought on by a pre-flight swine-flu innoculation and I was adamant that it was only Tuesday. Mark said it couldn’t be because yesterday had been Tuesday. We consulted our trip schedule and realised it was indeed Wednesday Dec 9th which wasn’t a problem until we realised if it was Wednesday Dec 9th we had to catch a train in one hour to get to the southern outskirts of New Jersey (a three hour trip) to see the Smithereens
play their Christmas show in Lakewood. EEEEEEeeeeeekkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!You have never seen two people run around a tiny New York room creating such a lather! On went the coats and hats, a cab was hailed and we were at Penn Station in 15 minutes and then on our country train to Point Pleasant Beach before I’d even woken up.Point Pleasant Beach is about a ten minute cab ride to Lakewood so we thought it would be as good a place as any to hang out while we waited for the 8pm concert. We soon discovered not much happens at Point Pleasant Beach. From all the quizzical stares from the locals, our arrival may have been the most exciting thing to happen that day. We mosied around the main street, checked out some lovely antique stores and then hunkered down at the Europa South
Spanish/Portugese bar until it was time to head off to Lakewood.
The three tapas dishes we ordered at the South Europa were delicious – prawn empamadas, mixed grill and paprika chicken with saffron rice – but they were garantuan even by American standards. I hate wasting food. Where was Andrew ‘Hoover’ Cam when we needed him?
At about 7.15pm we catch a cab to Lakewood to the historic art deco Strand Theatre where the Smithereens were playing. Lakewood is so small-town we couldn’t use our credit card to pay for our tickets – the ticketing system didn’t recognise addresses outside the US and Canada! Luckily we have enough cash on us and go inside. While I’m reconfirming our car-pick up which will take us back to Manhattan after the concert, Mark spies Smithereens lead singer Pat Di Nizio in the foyer and they strike up a conversation!!! Pat is slightly bewildered we have trekked half way across the globe to see them perform and gives us one of his signature guitar picks as a memento. Can this day get any stranger?
Smithereens lead singer Pat Di Nizio
The concert is surreal. Even though the magnificent theatre can hold over a thousand people, there are only about 200 fans there – mostly locals. We’re in the centre third row but literally two arm’s lengths from the stage. Pat’s voice is like warm honey and the band is as tight as it was 20 years ago at the height of their fame. At one stage the lead and bass guitarist jump into the audience and move about still playing. Can this get any better? Ah – yes. After the concert as we’re waiting for our lift back to Manhattan, Pat – who is signing autographs at the fan table- calls out to Mark ‘So, do we still have it?’ Baffled, Mark realises Pat is talking to him and says ‘Oh yeah of course. You proved it tonight.’ Pat Di Nizio wanted to know what we thought??? What a strange extraordinary day never to be forgotten.