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"How the f**k are we going to fit Jem in here?" I’m thinking to myself - 10 days to go and I’ve just had a ‘sticky beak’ down at the Roadhouse to meet the security guys and suss out the stage. We’ve got enough room - just, to fit the rest of the band on the stage and squeeze in Chris the sax player and our special guest, rock legend and 70’s stalwart, Mick Ralphs for one number.
It’s going to be tight but then Jem has a brain wave… not too common these days, but a good one all the same. "Let's put the keyboard the other side of the column by the stairs".
It is a good idea, but it means Jem will have to play the gig a little isolated from the rest of the boys. But he has got loads of room. Everything else falls into place and after speaking to the sound guys, they understand what we need for the night.
Time goes really quickly leading up to the gig, with a lot of rehearsals at Kings Langley, although I have noticed the boys don't seem to need as many rehearsals these days prior to a gig. The new songs, Metropolis, Flamingo Road and Over You all sound excellent live.
The lead up to the gig is spent with my old mucker Smudge, making laminates for the crew, artists, guests and production staff. Because there is a delayed release of the album, we also decided to incentivise fans to pre-order the new album on the night by giving them a limited edition, handmade VIP laminate. Smudge and I made approximately 250 laminates leading up to the gig! Mrs Church is still complaining about the slithers of the laminate plastic she keeps finding all over the house!
The load-in at the Roadhouse is horrendous. Apart from the dramas with parking, all the gear has to come down 2 floors, past the kitchen at the back of the stage. There is no room to move and the floor is covered in cooking fat. For those of you who ate at the Roadhouse, you probably don't want to know that! At the end of the gig, it all has to go back the same way. Unfortunately, gravity is not on our side at the load-out!
As you all know, the gig went really well, the band were hot and for me, the sight of Mick Ralphs onstage with the boys will be a lasting memory. "Feel Like Making Love" was the first song I ever played live on stage many years ago, so this makes it even more special for me. I had a quick chat with him backstage, and he is a true gentleman and did everything to make our life easier when it should be the other way round!
There was a great vibe at the gig and it was good to catch up with many old faces from Facebook as well as some new ones. A couple of days before the gig, Merv had asked me to set off the ‘pyros’ during the show. It's all a blur when I look back now, but through more luck rather than judgement, the videos I have looked at on the YouTube show that they were on the nail!
Thanks again to all the FM fans from all over who showed up, joined in and contributed to make this a special evening for the band and crew alike. There are so many people who love this band and give their time for free to make events like this work. So at the end of this diary entry I have added the letter of thanks I wrote to all the crew and musicians who made this a successful evening - in fact, one of the best gigs I have ever seen. Thanks to Lidia Samson for collating all the crew and band diaries and handling the (very extensive!) guestlist.
Letter of Thanks - 8 February 2010
Well, what a night and I’ve just dragged myself out of bed, it’s 10am and sitting here reflecting on another premier league performance by the FM ‘team’.
I don’t just mean the band… they were awesome as usual of course. I seriously think they are better now than they ever were. Great atmosphere and the special moment for me was Mick Ralphs up with the boys.
What I mean is the crew I had the pleasure of working with. It was a difficult venue because of the hour-long aerobics work out during the load in/out either end, with all those bloody stairs! However, we coped admirably largely due to the sterling input of the following:
First mention goes to Tiff and Dave Thomas: Dave came up with a stunning array of posters and graphics, which looked brilliant. Tiff ran the merch stall even though she was suffering with her knee. It looked fantastic (not to mention the 5 hours of driving to get to London and then back to the County of Wales).
Mr Mark ‘can I help’ Palethorpe did a great job in filming the whole event (Merv is over the moon!) and was always around to lend a hand.
Jo Mitchell, who I hadn’t met before, was there as a punter and used to help out Jem years ago. Jo helped break down the Keys and was tireless in humping gear up the back stairs to the van. Thanks Jo!
Warren Mead, was his usual self in handling Pete and the percussion part of production. Worked tirelessly all day in spite of suffering with a bug.
I would not be able to handle running a production of this type without any of you, but I have to again reserve special mention for Smudge. He did merchandise, he humped, drove, counted, supported and executed all this with his brilliant ‘can do’ way.
I learnt one of the set tracks for the soundcheck so Merv would be able to get a listen out front, err… the wrong track, one they weren’t playing!
I found a piece of gaffer tape stuck in between my shoulder blades this morning. How the…?
Quote of the day from Jim Kirkpatrick:
“Can somebody move my van, I have inadvertently drunk 8 beers.”
Thanks again everybody and here’s to the next one!!
Photo courtesy of Jae Rocka