Kaotican Alphabet

Roadie #42 – Blog #23

#42 reports from last night's BBC show

Like the school summer holidays, our three weeks at home went all too fast. In many ways, starting again at the BBC is perfectly consistent with the "back to school" analogy. The BBC has that wonderful institutional feel, a similar must and polish smell and a strict adherence to regulations that is at first mildly annoying, but eventually becomes quite endearing.

We’re at the BBC Radio Theatre today, in the West End, which I’d guess holds around 250 people.  The stage is undoubtedly the smallest space we’ve tried to fit the gear into on this tour so far. There’s a good deal of juggling and repositioning until it all begins to make sense.The soundcheck is a relaxed affair, with Chris dropping into Gravity (as per 24th June 2003 in the Timeline) at the piano for a brief moment. Chances of this making it into the set are well below slim I’d say, as Jonny didn’t even recognise it and Chris couldn’t remember half the chords. I’ve always loved that track myself though. Easily the best song they’ve never released!

After the soundcheck, it’s a quick run around the BBC buildings to do a couple of radio interviews. It truly is a one stop shop here at the BBC! First up is Dermot O Leary, possibly the most affably chipper man in broadcasting. Dermot goes onstage to warm up the crowd and introduce the band later this evening, so it’s a nice way to hook up with him prior to the event.

Then it’s on to Steve Lamacq. Once described by Mr. Buckland as "like the Yoda of radio", Steve gave the guys their first huge step up on British radio (as per 25th Feb 1999 in the Timeline) with a live session before they even had a proper record deal. There’s laughter aplenty, then a rather out of the blue announcement of future plans. Steve has Michael Stipe on the phone for an interview, so the fellas chat with him and talk about plans for an EP, asking him to choose a name for it. It’s a multiple choice question, but he’s emphatic in his view, so it looks as though he’s settled the matter of what the next Coldplay release will be named (no doubt Anchorman will be making that official before very long). There was also time for Will and Jonny to check the football scores…

There is really very little point in me describing how the gig went, as it went out live to radio.

There was a particularly amusing roadie tale doing the rounds as stage-time approached this evening, though. Apparently, the lampies loaded in and started programming the previous night. Now, when pointing beams of light, it’s much easier to see them if there’s a bit of "fog". Apparently, Sparky (our lovely lighting man) dutifully checked that there would be no trouble with smoke detectors. After being assured that all was well, he pumped out a rather generous amount, ready to get to work. Somewhat inevitably, the BBC’s smoke detectors had a major panic attack. This led to the whole building being evacuated. Apparently the BBC chaps were most apologetic to him and took the heat (probably not the best phrase under the circumstances, I agree…). They assured all concerned that their errant fire alarm system had been recalibrated and that all would be well. The fire chief was less than sure and insisted that before he leave, the smoke machines were fired up again. Needless to say, alarm bells and flashing lights ensued and all and sundry were out on the pavement once again.  Apparently, the result of all this fun and games was that Radio 3 and Radio 4 ended up being off air for some time. Now if this man’s smoke machine trigger-finger can bring down two national radio stations, empty an entire building and summon half the London Fire Brigade, you really do have to wonder what it was he did that earned him the nickname Sparky…


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