Kaotican Alphabet

Roadie #42 – Blog #164

#42 reports back from the BRITs

New Year’s Day is often referred to as “guaranteed first hangover of the year”. For the British music industry, I’d hazard a guess that the day after the BRIT Awards sees a hilariously impressive spike in the number of email accounts set to auto-respond with “I’m not in the office today”.

Somewhat disappointingly – or indeed not, I find myself fully able to function today. But then, I did have a job to do last night…

From a crew perspective, the show was pretty full-on for under four minutes’ worth of telly. Huge pyro, lasers, a huge ‘orb’ crammed with even more strobes, lasers and exploding stuff. Once the band jumped off the stage, the gear was strapped in and the whole stage flown into the roof above the heads of the diners below until the end of the show. Never a dull moment.

I was set up way out the back behind the stage – definitely the furthest I’ve ever been from the band during a performance that I can remember. For the rehearsal day I was pretty incredulous as I heard Will hit his drums in my in-ear monitors a good second or two before the cavernous arena echo of it made its way back into the draughty loading dock where my gear was piled up.

I did manage to make my way out to watch Chris’s rehearsal with Noel Gallagher though. Back in the day, I used to work (and for some time *live*) in a rehearsal studio complex where Oasis spent a good deal of time. I always had a huge amount of respect for the way that Noel carried himself back then. Seems he’s still a gent, too.

Their tune kicks off and Chris is unsure quite how he’s going to fit his piano into the fearsome wall of sound. With a little work though, it all starts to come together.

The piano is right next to Noel’s amps. As you’d expect, this is the place to be for getting the full effect of the Gallagher guitar. Noel stamps on a pedal and starts off a loop of glorious noise. Immediately Chris is on his feet and shouting “what the hell is that?”.

Chris has his iPhone out to record it, excitedly proclaiming it the most amazing thing he’s ever heard. Noel is laughing as the pedal loops away through the stack.

Fast forward to the dressing room on the show day and Chris is handing me the pedal responsible for all the fuss. It turns out that Noel has come in today and motioned Chris over to his dressing room next door with the words “I’ve got a little present for yer…”

Chris is holding it with great reverence and excitement. “Can you record what’s in here immediately? And then give it Rik? We’re going to take it back to the studio and run it through Jonny’s rig and mic it up”. The pedal is only the size of a block of butter, but I find myself carrying it through the backstage in both hands as though dropping it could send the whole place up in smoke.

Where it’ll end up, I’ve no idea, but if it finds its way into a song, Noel could easily be playing on the next record without ever having set foot in the studio. Wonderful madness…

The show went pretty damn well, I thought. You may well have seen for yourselves. They won one, too – which is always nice.

In a further reminder of my previous life, Blur take to the stage to remind us all what a majestic noise they make. There’s an aftershow bar and a boat moored out the back of the venue, heading up the Thames for a boozy night out. I take the quiet option and slip out the back door. It’s been a pretty enjoyable couple days. No point in milking it…