I have just developed a new and deeper appreciation of that much maligned species called the ‘Roadie’.
This was caused by the experiencing of two completely diametrically opposed events that took place within the space of the same week for myself and Mrs RG.
The first was our annual outing to see the American rock stalwarts Bon Jovi at the Bristol City Football club stadium.
True it was only five minutes ago that I was writing exuberantly about our experience at the O2 in London (it was in fact exactly 12 months ago) but if Mrs RG doesn’t get the annual fix she may cast a wander ear to other sources of musical entertainment, and as there is some unbelievable tripe out there I for one rejoice that at least the recipients of her audible interest are in fact blindingly good song smiths.
However; to the point. Bon Jovi tend to favour big (I and by that I mean HUGE) arenas in order to cast their musical net as widely as they can to as many people as possible.
With this in mind, in order that those in the ‘cheap seats’ can actually see a show the tour have remarkably large stages and even bigger video screens.
Apparently, if my information is correct, Bon Jovi travel with two complete set ups so they can move from town to town every single night. So if they are performing in say Bristol they can then play again in Manchester the following night. And believe me, that is no mean feat.
Those stages are absolutely enormous.
What you are basically getting is a team of ‘Roadies’ descending on a stadium perhaps on the night before the gig and have the whole place rigged, set up and live by about mid afternoon the following day. Then at about 10 or 11pm, the whole lot comes down, is packed up and off to another arena or stadium.
I am extremely impressed and the reason for that was brought home rather vividly at the end of that week.
To set the scene.
Once upon a time I was a Boy Scout. Mrs RG in turn used to be a Girl Guide. As part of our childhood uniformed activities we would camp in tents. This was never as cheery a ‘singing round the camp fire’ experience as you mind imagine. Myself, Quicksketch and Bassbin were once sent on a patrol leaders camp in order to make us into ‘men’ and enlightened leaders. What actually happened was myself and Bassbin nearly got sent home for fighting at the tender age of 10 or 11 over, believe it or not, a woggle (that was the plastic thing that held your neckerchief together and was the colour of your troop, or Six as they were called).
We were tired, fed up and cold and getting extremely grumpy and tetchy with each other. I have no idea what caused the fracas but BB wrenched my woggle from my throat and threw it definitely to the ground. I instantly demand that he pick it up immediately or I would rearrange his charming and boyish good looks. He of course fully aware that mobile phones were not to be invented for at least another 25 years or so knew that I had no way of contacting my lawyer told me to ‘Sod off, and to pick it up myself”.
Of course the gauntlet had been thrown (well, the woggle any way), honour had to be satisfied and with that punches were thrown.
Neither of us were or are men of violence (BB went onto be a Policeman and having left the force I was informed by one of his former colleagues that he was ‘way to nice a bloke to be old bill’ something I feel that he should be proud of) and so the air of aggression was short lived and probably more akin to a couple of squabbling girl guides.
The fight was short however not because we were not fully committed. No, the rise in temper was at least keeping us warm, unfortunately the fact was that we were caught in full ‘Fight Club’ mode my Baloo (it’s probably best not to ask but all the Cub scout leaders were named after characters from the Jungle Book). Anyway, the first rule of Fight Club is never to talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is don’t get caught fighting by Baloo.
He was not happy and we both had our ears soundly bent on how we had brought shame and ignominy to our troop and only apologising to each other and shaking hands prevented us from being sent home to our parents under a cloud of disgrace and further punishment.
The point of this little aside is that my childhood experiences have taught me that I do not under any circumstances ‘do’ camping. If it doesn’t have air conditioning, a flushable toilet and a shower I ain’t interested.
Back in the day of a more flourishing rock career I would wave the fee for festivals that I performed at as long as I was housed in a decent hotel somewhere close. I hate festival camping even more than Scout camps.
However; as you are all aware we are in the grip of a global economic down turn and times are to say the least, hard.
So now that that the sprogs have flown the nest myself and Mrs RG decided that we would dip our toes back into the ‘camping’ game. Besides ‘woggles are a thing of the past and such things as ‘electric hook ups’ exist enabling the use of such luxuries as heaters, microwaves and laptop computers.
Now this is where my new found appreciation of the remarkable skill of the Roadie comes in.
They can set up an entire stadium with stage, PA lights, screens and goodness knows what else, AND take it all back down again in just over 24 hours (that includes sleeping, eating and other necessities.).
The tent we had purchased for our big camping adventure had claimed (rather loosely I beg to proffer) that the canvass living quarters could be fully erected and habitable within 25 minutes. My response to that is ‘Horse manure’.
Two hours it took us, yes TWO hours, and that was just to get us to a point where we would be dry to unpack if it should have rained.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I long to have a crew of roadies to take care of my musical needs. I am now wondering if one them would fancy the occasional weekend job taking up and putting down our tent.
Guys (and girls) of the road crew profession. I salute you!!