Roadie #42 - Blog #147
26 September 2011 2:24 pm
#42 is watched in his hotel room and sees Queen Elizabeth moshing...
We’ve finished the most exhausting six day sprint in recent memory - and, somewhat predictably, I can’t sleep.

The final two days of this leg of promo-mayhem first take us over the desert and into Vegas. The venue is a huge arena with an even huger hotel / casino complex on top of it. We have “day rooms” upstairs to give us somewhere to rest up until we’re required. An absolute godsend given how knackered everyone is. It would appear that the event has produced promotional materials extending to the DND signs.

If anyone can think of anything quite so disturbing as closing the door to your hotel room thinking of crashing out for an hour and finding your employers glaring down at you from the back of the door, I’d like to know what it is…

The Vegas show is a big radio festival affair on a revolving stage. It’s a full-sized arena with a huge stage and video screens and Coldplay share the bill with Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Jane’s Addiction, The Black Eyed Peas and several more.

With this many large bands all arriving with all their complete touring kit, these events always have the feel (from the crew end), of catching a massively oversold economy flight on a public holiday. We’re squashed cheek by jowl alongside all the other folks trying to do their job in difficult circumstances.

Each act has a short set of around 30 minutes. For the first time I can ever remember, the setlist kicks off with Viva today. It’s not Coldplay’s audience. It’s a Vegas crowd in amongst a bill of pop and hip-hop heavyweights. Today is about hitting them very hard and then getting out.

Everyone sticks around to watch Jay. His band are absolutely on fire and he’s a total master at his work. Always a joy to witness.

The whole crew is travelling on the band plane tonight, so we wait until load-out is finished and we’re in the air by not long after 1am. Given that we left the hotel at 7 this morning, it’s turning into something of a long day. By the time we arrive in Atlanta, the clocks say 8am. The entire touring party look more wrinkled and dishevelled than a pile of wet laundry.

Everyone staggers around the tarmac saucer-eyed. It’s like an out-take from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. The inmates in that particular asylum, though, didn’t have to go and load in a festival show in just four hours. These folks are beyond hardcore.

The Atlanta crowd, by contrast to last night, are clearly very, very excited from the word go and are not “too cool” to be enjoying it. The Viva chant starts up a whole hour before the band are due onstage. Once the intro rolls, the cheers are positively thunderous. What a superb way to end an exhausting leg.

It’s a high point of recent shows, for sure. Coldplay and Atlanta have a long history. They played here on the Parachutes tour and had one of their first truly great American shows. On Rush of Blood, Elton John joined them for a show here, to play Trouble to the most deafening applause I have ever heard. A few years later, Michael Stipe turned up and duetted on a wonderful version of Night Swimming.

And tonight, well Michael might not be here in person, but REM are very much in everyone’s minds. Us Against The World takes a break from the acoustic section tonight and instead there’s a rather wonderful version of Everybody Hurts in its place.

The guitar Chris plays in God Put A Smile has been the subject of much discussion of late. Its one of his nicest sounding telecasters, which Dan Green loves recording. The song has seen the guitar launched high into the air rather a lot on this tour - each time landing rather dramatically on the stage. It’s only a matter of time Dan says, before something unthinkable happens to one of Chris’s best guitars. Tonight it refuses to co-operate after the first chords of the song. As a result, Chris heaves it over his head and it gets perhaps its last flight skyward for this tour. Chris then starts the next verse guitar-less and grins goofily and mimes playing guitar in a slightly “when I’m cleaning windows” fashion. Clearly the exhaustion and delirium is universal.

My other standout memory of the show was the fact that someone down the front (presumably a Brit) had a huge sign with a Union Jack flag on one side and a photo of Queen Elizabeth on the other. At regular intervals, I look out over the crowd and see what appears to be the Queen of England pogo-ing along to the new tracks. It’s definitely time for a few days off…

R42

Tagged As: roadie #42 blog jay-z america rem