When Arena Network’s Natalie Caplan graduated from Northern Arizona University she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do as a career. She moved to New York where she landed her first job working for Studio 54 owner and hotelier Ian Schrager. Caplan found herself drawn to public relations and moved on to work with Atlantic Records.
“I worked for the head of Publicity at Atlantic Records in the mid 90s, and while I loved all the people I worked with, it still didn’t quite capture the magic of music I was looking for,” Caplan told Amplify. “I was still pretty young, so after a few years there I decided to do what you are told never to do, and quit before I had another job lined up.”
Through her connections at Atlantic, she ended up on the road as an assistant tour manager for Tori Amos. Her time with Tori led to loads of travel, meeting her husband, and eventually meeting Ken Scher and becoming Nederlander Concerts’ Artist Liaison for the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Caplan knew the position with Nederlander was going to be something special when her third day in, she had the chance to meet one of her idols.
“My third day there, Brian Wilson and Paul Simon were touring together and I got a call that Paul McCartney was going to come to the show. I am a huge Beatles fan. I thought I had hit the jackpot. This is the best job in the world,” Caplan said.
She explained that his security detail was low key and all they asked was for Paul McCartney to have a parking space where he could get in and out of the venue easily.
“He walks in. The crowd cheers. I’m standing there crying because I am so excited,” Caplan said. “I thought to myself, my new bosses cannot see me crying. They are going to think that I’m a nutcase. So I stood there silently holding it all in with tears streaming down my face.”
When the show concluded, McCartney needed to be escorted out which was technically Caplan’s job.
“I was so green that one of the other guys there said ‘It’s okay, I got this’ and swept in,” and walked McCartney out instead, Caplan said. “That was my one and only opportunity to meet Paul McCartney and I’m not going to name names, but I’m never going to forgive that guy. I will hold onto that story until my dying day.”
Paul McCartney never returned to the Greek Theatre during Caplan’s 14 years there with Nederlander Concerts, but as the VP of Entertainment for Arena Network she is still holding out hope that she will get the chance to shake the former Beatles’ hand one day.
Amplify caught up with Caplan to learn about five other shows that she’ll never forget.
David Bowie at Supper Club in New York
Oct. 13, 1997
I managed to score two tickets the afternoon of the show through Atlantic and thought I’d won the lottery. Bowie was someone I only discovered in the 80’s during his “Let’s Dance” phase, not realizing then the treasure trove of amazing music that came before. I don’t know what the capacity was in that room, but it felt like there were only a hundred or so of us crammed in there (I know it was more). He played a number of tracks from his current album “Earthling” which I loved, but tons of old stuff as well. When he ended the show with “All The Young Dudes,” it is one of those musical moments that stays with your forever. I only got to see him once more when he opened a season at the Greek in 2004. It was still a huge thrill (except when the power on stage completely shut down 30 seconds into the first song), but nothing could top the intimacy and energy of that club show.
Stevie Wonder at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles
Sept. 5, 2007
Stevie is like going to church for me (and I’m Jewish so that’s saying something). His music, especially the early-mid 70s period when he wrote masterpiece after masterpiece, just hits me deeply and always makes me feel better. When he finally played the Greek, my boss Rena knew what a big fan I was. After guest list hell had slightly subsided, my radio was taken away from me, I was given a bottle of my favorite French white wine and two great tickets to watch the show with my husband. While the magic of the Greek was never lost on me even when working every show, being able to experience that night under the stars as a fan, was just amazing.
Jimmy Page & Robert Plant at Cox Arena in San Diego, California
Sept. 21, 1998
I was in LA because Tori Amos was playing the Greek. Luckily we had a day off and I went down to the show in San Diego with an Atlantic friend who was friends with Robert. We had front row tickets and I know she had to be bruised by the end of the show because at the start of every song I’d hit her arm in disbelief at the next amazing Zeppelin tune they were about to play. Singing “my my my I’m so happy” had never been truer! Turning around and seeing thousands rocking out to some of the best blues rock songs ever written by members of a band long ago broken up that I never thought I’d would see live, I was just in heaven and didn’t think it could get any better than that. Then as the last song ended and Robert was walking off stage, he motioned for us to come to the side of stage. Now I know he was motioning to my friend, and I might as well have been invisible at that moment, but it was all so surreal. Security wouldn’t let us back, so Robert ran up, grabbed us and we ran (literally ran) with him and Jimmy to their waiting car. They flew back to LA and we drove up, but when we got back to my hotel we ran into their band who invited us to the Sunset Marquis where Jimmy and Robert were staying. The whiskey bar there shut down for them and we just hung out with them and the band for a few hours. I’m honestly not sure I said more than a few words the entire time, but it was an unforgettable night!
U2 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona
Dec. 19, 1987
I’d seen U2 before when they opened their Joshua Tree tour in Phoenix, but this was my first ever stadium show and it was being taped for their “Rattle & Hum” rockumentary. I remember camping out at either Dillards or Goldwaters department store and tickets were only $5, so you had to go both nights! BB King was support, and in my ignorance I think I missed all of his set one night and half the next (I deeply apologize to the music gods). I don’t think I’d ever been in a place with that many people at the same time and as overwhelming as that can be, and as disconnected from the artist as stadium shows sometimes are, U2 have always had an incredible way of pulling you in. We knew it was being taped which added to the excitement and the set lists were a little different each night. They ended both nights with “40” and I remember singing “how long to sing this song” with the crowd for what seemed like an eternity, all the way out of the stadium and into the parking lot. It was probably the first time I can look back and remember really understanding the power of live music, and the energy that’s created when you’re with so many people all feeling the same way. There really is nothing like it.
Duran Duran at The Roxy in Los Angeles
July 15, 2003
I was the quintessential “duranie” in the early 80s: posters all over my room, pins on my clothes, a fedora… you name it. But when the band came to Phoenix for the “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” tour in ’84, the show was on a weeknight and my dad wouldn’t let me go. All my friends went, and I thought the world had ended in the way only a 13 year-old could. Then in 2003, my friend Amy who used to work at Universal Music told me that they were playing the Roxy that night, all five original members together for the first time in 18 years, and did I want to go?! I might have screamed. It was an awesome show and the 13 year-old in me finally got to sing and dance to songs I must have listened to a thousand times alongside friends and strangers I knew were just as happy to be there as I was, reliving part of our youth. There were a few new songs, but mostly just the hits, one after the other. I left there a sweaty, happy mess and called my dad to tell him he was finally forgiven.