We often get asked what it's like to get to travel around doing our shows- so we thought we'd try to remember to write a few notes along the way, to let you see a little peek behind the scenes.........
It's March 23rd, at around 5pm and Hotter Than Hell prep is in full swing already. Straight from work, Marty has to collect the van (this time it's actually a mini bus that is waiting for him) and get it loaded with all of the equipment before setting off for the ferry. Tonight he is traveling alone, and has to meet Rory in central Belfast to collect the "Demon"'s suitcase, before heading to the port to board the ferry.
22:30 and there's time for a quick cup of coffee before getting some sleep on board- although the announcement that it is time to get up comes around all too soon.......cabins must be vacated by 6am! Bags gathered, and it's back to the bus to head to Stoke on Trent. Everything is going well until the news comes on the radio that the motorway has been closed, and it's a long, slow morning moving very intermittently, until finally reaching Stoke.
Around the same time as Marty is joining the motorway, over in Italy, Patrizio and Luca are boarding their flight from Rome to Manchester, they arrive in the city around 10am, and have a little free time before their train to Stoke on Trent, although a suitcase laden with cymbals and a snare drum is limiting their activity!
An early check in at the hotel for Marty, a short lunch and it's off again to collect last minute bits and pieces, and pick up the Duallist double pedal that has been brought here for Luca to use this weekend. Once again, it's a stop/start journey in the traffic, and it means that, on their arrival at the train station, Luca and Pat get a taxi to the hotel to freshen up in readiness for the show, instead of being collected there.
A short time later, Rory also arrives straight from the airport - after a hurried change from bus ticket to train!= and plans are made to meet at Eleven to get everything out of the van and into the venue.
Marty arrives slightly early,enthusiastic about the night, and starts to unload all the cases- Rory arrives in time to help lift the logo out, and it is all ready when Paul, the owner arrives, and everything is taken up the stairs; the stage quickly taking shape. As Marty and Rory run through some sound level and tuning checks, news comes that Pat and Luca are still waiting at the hotel for their taxi, and are going to be another ten minutes late. Finally, everyone is on the stage, and a quick blast of Parasite opens the soundcheck.......a few songs later, and there's just enough time to set the pyrotechnics, lights and props before retreating to the dressing room.
The noise filtering through from the incoming crowd is increasing, and as the makeup goes on, the anticipation builds. A little tweak of a wig, costume checks, and a quick selfie (or 4) and there's a knock on the door- tonight's sound master is about to start the show. A last glance in the mirror, and it's time to go!
Selfies! The stage for tonight Essentials!
The crowd is really close to the stage, the cheers are loud, and the pyro even louder as we kick off with Love Gun for a fantastic show.
View from the sound desk .....and from beside the stage
The end of the set, and it's a quick diversion into the dressing room before heading back out to chat to our amazing audience. It's not long before we see the first pictures on Facebook, but there's no time to look at them all yet; it's time to get the greasepaint and platforms off, and get everything packed up again. A couple of hours- and a few checks later, it's back to the hotel, for some well earned sleep- but not before grabbing a quick bite to eat on the way!
The only clear bit of road we saw! Stage prep Setlist for Grimsby
Saturday morning brings beautiful sunshine- not quite warm enough for half of the band, but nicer than rain nonetheless! Check out, and it's lunchtime before we have to hit the road again. Time to discuss the outcomes of the previous night, catch up with some of our well wishers, and go over the plan for tonight, while we are waiting for our order, then it's off to the bus again.
Pulling out of the car park, the traffic immediately grinds to a halt; the traffic lights don't appear to be working, and we sit in the same position for a lot longer than we'd like. As we crawl along the road, there are places which bring back the memories of gigs gone by, and stories are exchanged- Pat doing double the talking in order to translate to Luca the intricacies of the humour. An hour later, and the stories have run dry, every road on the route is slow and the prospect of getting to the next venue as planned fades, and the realisation that we will not be there on time sinks in. An apology is sent, and the mood in the bus is low...... after carefully planning the route, and allowing extra time , it's all going wrong. Everyone is frustrated as the road finally clears, and the miles count down. Getting to Grimsby feels like a huge relief, and as we arrive at Yardbirds, the energy returns- a fast load in, and as Luca sets up the kit, a familiar face arrives to say hello. Danny from Dressed To Kill, and now Whitesnake UK, has been invited to join us on stage tonight, and glances over the organised chaos that surrounds us.......a check of the equipment that Pat uses is enough and as Danny leaves, it's immediately into sound check for us. Marty decides to give being Eric Singer a try, before Luca resumes his place with a laugh, and it's straight into a short blast of Shout It Loud to get everything going.
Gathering the debris off the stage, and clearing out, into the back stage area, spirits are high again, and it's time to start preparing for stage time. Even with a later time slot than we had originally thought, there's no time to eat, but everybody is too busy to notice. The room is a flurry of activity as everyone picks a place for his mirror- the makeup cases are unpacked; costumes hang on every available chair/rail/door and the smell of hairspray is already noticeable.
As everyone is ready, there's time for a selfie, and a quick live Facebook feed before We Will Rock You blasts through the doorway, and it's showtime again. Before we know it, we've done Firehouse, and it's time for Danny to join us. He's 'ready and willing' at the side of the stage, and adopts his stance as soon as Pat hands him the guitar. Everybody enjoys Strutter and we decide keep him with us for I Love It Loud - Pat graciously working his pedals during the song! Normal service resumes, and we step back into our routine until Rock And Roll All Nite and the confetti cannons signal time to finish.
It's not long until we are back out, catching up with friends, and meeting new ones- it's always great to hear people have enjoyed themselves, and time slips away as conversations flow, then it's back in to get some sleep. It's well after 3am before everyone has found their bed and lights are out.
A few hours later, and it's a 10am departure for Manchester airport, where Pat, then Rory and later Luca will be flying home. Everyone is pleased at the reception in both venues, and plans are made for future shows as we make our way across the moors.....although the journey provides a great opportunity for a sneaky shut eye for some!
We arrive at terminal 3 with one hour before Pat's flight, and he makes his way to his flight to Milan, where he is going directly for work. Rory and Luca gather their bags and follow close behind.
Marty is left with his music and thoughts as he continues to Holyhead for the ferry crossing, where he too can have a short sleep while there's nothing else to do. It's a fast sailing, and then back behind the wheel, heading home ......the bus still needs emptied, cleaned out and everything put away before he can switch off from his duties, but eventually it's all over, and back to reality. Until the next time!
After everything has calmed down, there's time to catch up on all the comments, photos and messages from everyone over the weekend- there's a great review from Friday night, and lots of new "likes" on the facebook page- it's the best way to end a busy weekend. To know that all our work is appreciated, and the people who have chosen to come and see us have had a good time, and that we have done a good job makes everything all the more enjoyable for us. We wouldn't be getting to do this if not for you, the venues and promoters who hire us- THANK YOU, PEOPLE ! Looking forward to seeing you SOON!