We couldn’t do what we do without the support of these wonderful people
I’m sat in Costa coffee on a Thursday morning planning my day when my phone rings.
“Hi Pete, it’s Adrian” (our manager), “What are you doing Sunday?”
“Nothing in particular” I reply. “Why?”
“Ratt have pulled out of Download and the organisers want FM to replace them, you’re on the main stage.”
“Really? Bloody hell” or words to that effect…
So we’ve been asked to play the main stage at one of the biggest rock festivals in the UK… Bring it on I say.
We know all the band are free so frantic calls are made to see if we can cobble together
a crew at this very short notice. I give Richard our soundman a call. This is an
important one, he is an integral part of our live show. He’s free, praise the Lord!
Merv is having a bit more trouble getting our backline boys sorted. Steve Church
may be ok but not 100%, Smudge is laid up after knee surgery. Jo (Jem's tech) is
fine. Funnily enough Craig and Andy from Romeo's Daughter have heard the news and
volunteer to take care of guitars and drums respectively - “It’s gonna be a right
old laugh, a great day out” comments Andy. We get a call back from a lovely guy called
Charles who is up for doing Merv's gear. Even if Steve C can’t make it we’re cool.
We turn up to our rehearsal room in Kings Langley Saturday lunchtime to work out the set. Rhona the owner (I’m a poet) has shifted bands around so we have 3 hours to set up, work out the set and pack down. We have 30 minutes onstage, we’re second band on so we need a hard hitting half hour, nothing subtle. We write out what we think is a good set, we play it and time it, again the gods are smiling on us - bang on 30 minutes. We’re ready.
We’re staying the night before in a hotel about 15 miles from the Donington Park festival site. Some of us have things that we need to do before we travel. Steve O and I arrive about 2.00am and Merv is in the hotel bar along with Dave Ling who travelled up with him. We have a beer and discuss England’s woeful opening World Cup display against U.S.A. We decided things could only get better (we were to be proved horribly wrong as it turned out things got even worse). Steve and I headed off to our room around 3.00am. We had to be at the festival site by 9.30am latest so our alarm was set for the ungodly hour of 6.15am. Seemingly only a matter of minutes later the alarm goes off and that madman Overland is out of bed and going for a run. Respect mate! I have a shower and start to feel slightly more awake. A slightly flushed and sweaty Steve returns and showers. I head down to breakfast which if you pay in the morning is £15.00, I pre-paid the night before and got it for about a tenner which is still fairly extortionate. Jimmy K has just arrived along with Steve Church. Ant Critchley has also come along to do some filming.
Jim is outraged at the cost of breakfast -
“Fifteen quid, fifteen f***ing quid for breakfast that’s a f***ing rip off, I’m not paying that, I can’t believe you’ve paid fifteen f***ing quid.”
“I paid a tenner Jim”
“A tenner? That’s nearly as bloody bad, f***ing hell… fifteen f***ing quid.”
You can take the boy out of Nantwich etc.
We’re leaving the hotel at 8.30am. Everyone is present - albeit a little bleary-eyed
- and correct. Off up the M1 and to the festival site, we pick up our passes and
board a mini-bus which takes us to the backstage area. We’re shown our porta-cabin
dressing room, everything is good.
It’s so early the festival gates are yet to open so Merv and I go out front and have a look about. We head back and go up onto the stage, bloody hell it’s big. I get the first pang of a few butterflies as it hits me we’ll be performing on that very stage shortly in front of thousands of people.
It’s really well organised backstage. Our backline is being set up on movable risers, as is each bands, so it’s just a case of roll one lot off and one lot on. A silky smooth operation. I go and see Andy who has set my kit up perfectly. We have a good laugh together, he’s a top man is our Wellsey. The gates are open and people start running towards the stage just as the first band on start up. A young band called Dommin and they’re sounding really good. They do a really rocking cover of Cutting Crews “I just died in your arms tonight”. Nice one fellas! They finish and we have only a fifteen minute changeover. It’s filling up nicely.
I’m not sure if it’s nerves (probably) but I can’t be bothered changing, I’m happy as I am. With a mixture of excitement and jangling nerves I make my way up the steps to the stage. We’ve no intro tape… just get up there and do it. Bang, we’re off and into Wildside, it’s sounding pretty good where I am. Merv turns and gives me a wink and a smile. The applause and crowd is growing after each song. I can see cowboy-hatted festival organiser Andy Copping and our agent Steve Strange, arms around each other, singing along to our songs. We’ve known Andy from when he used to book us back in the day at Nottingham Rock City.
The singing marathon runner is on fine vocal form as usual, but especially today considering our late night and it’s not even lunchtime. The set flies by and our time is up. As the final chord of Grapevine reverberates around Donington Park we take our bow and leave the stage. The boys done good.
Download photos with kind permission of: