Kaotican Alphabet

Roadie #42 – Blog #35

#42 is on a Swiss roll

Today marks the first day of the tour where I genuinely don’t know where we are. We get into the van at the airport and I catch myself asking what country we’re in before I realise how utterly rubbish that sounds. Turns out we’re in Switzerland. Zurich, to be precise. The first time I ever visited Zurich it was snowing, I was hungover and it was my mum’s birthday. For some reason, I’ve thought of Zurich the same way ever since. Today however, it’s clear and bright, I haven’t had a drink in days and my mum is the same age she was yesterday.

It’s another day with no soundcheck. Chris, though, has an idea bubbling away and wants a piano in the dressing room. We still haven’t really got a "warm up room rig" together yet, so the easiest way to give him a piano to play without disappearing into a tangle of cables, laptops, speakers and "but this SHOULD be working" is to drag one of the uprights off stage. Previously, we would always have used the "spare" piano, but this is down on the B-Stage now. The punters are already in the venue when the request comes. This means we’re performing a somewhat comedic double act of trying to discreetly move the piano off the B-Stage in front of all the punters who’ve grabbed a spot on the barrier. With no room whatsoever to manoeuvre, Neil ends up walking backwards down the wheelboard carrying his end of the piano. I can’t help humming the Laurel and Hardy tune as I realise our cover as professional technicians is well and truly blown…

Being as we’re all hidden under the stage during the show, we’ve had to find different ways of doing simple things. Getting messages from the band is easy when they are close enough to shout, but in order to make things work now, Will has a mic next to his drumkit that only goes to the ears of myself and his tech Bash. Proof that this is a more civilised approach than having the band yelling and gesticulating at roadies who have to try and work out what on earth the problem is, comes at the end of In My Place. Over the earphones comes the voice of Mr. Champion:  "Bash, do we have any other towels? This one’s a bit like trying to dry your face on a dog…" I’d have liked to have seen him trying to get that one across using only facial expressions and gestures.

They do the most bizarre thing in Switzerland. (Although I admit, I’m the one talking about drying your face on a dog…)  I’ve seen it a few times at gigs, but mainly, I’ve seen it on TV coverage of ski events. Basically, everyone in the crowd stretches their arms out and waggles their fingers whilst making a "wooooooo" sound. I’m in the pit (the gap between the stage and the crowd – it may be time for a roadie glossary…)  just before Yellow and suddenly behind me the whole venue is doing it instead of clapping or chanting for an encore. It’s amazing. A photo cannot possibly do it justice, but here we are anyway.

Roadie #42