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Firefest 6 - A view from the wings: A few personal circumstances conspired to make Firefest 6 more difficult than Firefest 4, even though we knew from previous experience what to expect.
Firstly, Ali, my wife, had her leg in plaster after a bike accident in Portugal and I had had a knee operation 4 days earlier. Smudge was going to be busy! New boy in the crew Warren Mead would be looking after Pete, with me organising stage and Smudge doing everything else.
Build up to FF6 was really relaxed and easygoing with Jim K picking up everything pretty quick. Rehearsals were mainly at Kings Langley, just off the M25, although a couple of times we did use the old faithful at Hanwell Football Club. Jem’s set up is different now, with his Nord housed in a dummy Hammond cabinet. I came to realise that every bit of gear Jem has is packed away and set up in an idiosyncratic way. It should be a degree course learning his rig!
The other complication this year was that Smudge and I were also looking after Romeo's Daughter during their set. We both went to Watford for the warm up gig so that we had an idea of set up for each member.
We arrived in Nottingham on Friday night and the evening was spent trying to crowbar the band out of the bar to sign the Vintage & Rare CDs as well as slamming down a curry over the road.
The best thing for me about the day was the curtain which was put up between sets. It meant that all the bands could tune and set up without being seen from out front. The knock on from that is that everybody plays with a bit more confidence and I think, are a little more relaxed.
During the gig, everything that could have gone wrong from a crew point of view, did!
Romeos went on about 5pm, from memory, and after the 2nd song I could hear the guitar
starting to breaking up. Craig the guitarist sidled up and shouted “valve is on the
way out - might last till the end of the gig”. I got the spares out ready and switched
on the Marshall backup just in case. Two songs from the end, there was a massive
bang and a plume of smoke from the back of his combo. Craig unplugged and threw me
the lead, I banged it in to the Marshall, hit the standby switch, moved the PA mic
over to the new cab and off he went! Up and running within 10 seconds. I spent the
next 5 minutes nervously eyeing up the smoke and glowing embers from the back of
FM's turn as headliners came really quick. Everything was going to plan. Merv had tuned up under the cover of the curtain and was happy and ready to go. Intro tape started which is about 2.5 minutes long. With approx 20 seconds to go before the big opening power chord of 'Wildside', Merv shouted (in his very finest northern accent) "Nuthin, I've got f***in' nuthin!" A lead had gone, and after a few frantic moments we discovered which one (after Merv had unplugged everything) and sorted it with a spare. With seconds to spare, the rig worked and off he went with that big grin on his chops as though nothing had happened. There was an adrenalin surge side stage…
Business as usual, as far as the boys were concerned. Jim K dun good and everything from here on went well. Bit of a grin with Dave Ling, Kieran and the Ashcrofts dressing up as 80s FM. So much of a grin in fact that I forgot to set up and organise Jem’s Bat for ‘Purple Rain’. (Sorry mate!)
Good stuff –
Rock City House crew as awesome as ever.
FM crew showed we can work as a team and got it all done, even under challenging circumstances.
FM as crash-hot live as always!
Romeo's showing what's to come!
Not so Good Stuff –
I have always kept all my set lists from all of the gigs I have either played in or crewed for. I saw a stage-hand taking my set list from inside the lid of my tool box during the load out. I couldn’t do anything as I was the other side of the stage and occupied. Before I knew it, it was folded up and in his pocket, and he was gone! Mate, if you're reading this, you don’t take anything from peoples' personal tool-boxes without asking. If you’re a proper geezer you’ll send it to me, because you never know, I might be your stage manager sometime in the future…
I’d like to thank Smudge, Warren, Dave T and family (awesome Meet 'n' Greet) and Mark Palethorpe for helping make the day a little easier for me. You guys were awesome!
I’d also like to thank the band for giving me the opportunity to get involved. Brilliant
weekend and thanks PJ for the knee bandage! Here’s to 2010 and beyond. Something
tells me you guys are going to get the recognition you have always deserved!