The Berkley had some bad reviews on TripAdvisor so I was more than a little worried. Here we were and -yes - the room was a little tired in places but it was big, had a comfy bed and great views of the ocean.
We had been to Asbury Park before but only for a few hours. Whilst I wasn’t exactly blase about this visit I had nothing like the feeling that I had when we arrived the first time. That was a magic moment and although it was amazing to be here again nothing will ever beat that first step onto the boardwalk. It’s funny - I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get the same buzz, yet pleased a second visit didn’t spoil the fantastic memories of the first.
Anyway off to our first breakfast at Frank’s Deli. Here is where the help of Badlands really comes into its own. To be perfectly honest I think Mike and I would have given Frank’s a miss, even if we had ventured that far into town. We knew some areas of Asbury were a bit rough and Frank’s, just a basic cafe with no pretentions, didn’t look like a place we would visit. Fair do’s though - it was good. We had a great breakfast and saw some faces we knew. I was beginning to relax into this a bit now.
I did strike up a conversation with Janice who we thought we recognised from our group. It turned out that, although she was Scottish, she hadn’t come over with Badlands at all! Made a mental note to be more observant in future and from then on if people looked familiar my mantra was ‘Do they belong to us?’
After breakfast it was on to Cookman Avenue. This area of Asbury Park has seen some regeneration but to get there we walked down Main Street which is certainly in need of some TLC. It was a beautiful day, very cold but we were well wrapped up and walking along in the sun my mood lifted. After all we were in Asbury Park!
Cookman Avenue had some interesting shops and restaurants and a coffee shop which would be a good bet another day when we hadn’t just eaten breakfast. Looking round shops isn’t really our thing and we had already decided not to go to the daytime gigs so... what to do now? We had passed the bus/train station on our way so headed back to see where we could go.
Red Bank - only five stations on the train, about half an hour - change at Long Branch.
The train journey was so easy, and surprisingly, as we had no map, we managed to get ourselves into the centre of Red Bank without any trouble. More shops but it was a nice little town and we did buy a couple of CDs from Jack’s Music Shoppe and two very gooey cup cakes. A coffee and sandwich at a ‘proper’ diner and off back to get ready for The Stone Pony that night.
Ooooo excitement - Joe Grushecky is just checking in to our hotel! What luck to be passing through the lobby at the right time. We had a quick chat with him and his wife - Lee Anne, shook his hand and Mike had his photo taken. Result for Mike. He is a big fan, has always wanted to see him live and meeting him was a bonus.
Denny Laine was appearing at McLoones early evening and without doubt this was going to be popular. We had decided not to go, so headed down to the hotel bar instead. Hardly anyone there but Joe Grushecky and his family were having a meal - oh god he’ll think we are stalkers! We got ourselves a drink and didn’t have long to wait before we had more company - do they belong to us? It turned out they did and it was here that I overheard the news that Bruce wasn’t coming. It was a definite as he had published a statement on his web site.
I had considered coming to LOD many times before but this year was the first time I thought I could come just for the experience and not to see Bruce. We had both decided that Bruce would be a bonus but I was realistic enough to admit that I wouldn’t know exactly how I felt about a no-show until it actually happened. Well it has happened and I was gutted.
On our way to The Stone Pony we popped into McLoone’s to catch a glimpse of Denny Laine. It was absolutely heaving and the set from ‘Abbey Road’ didn’t particularly appeal. Octopus’s Garden was our cue to go.
Wow! We are at a gig at the Stone Pony - what’s not to love? Nothing actually - well perhaps there was one band we didn’t like. Faces were becoming familiar, people were saying ‘hi’ and I was beginning to feel more at home - this is fun! We must’ve stayed until about midnight and you will hear us singing on the Asbury Angels Theme Song when it’s released. Actually I hope you wont hear me singing as I can’t hold a note.
Back to the hotel and time to dwell on the fact that Bruce won’t be here. Let’s be honest I’m still feeling a bit sorry for myself but I’d said I wouldn’t mind and I’m persuading myself I don’t mind.