PUTTING THE UNFAMILIAR TOGETHER IN FAMILIAR PLACES…
- Posted by Rich Spillberg
- On May 24, 2013
- 0 Comments
Hi Good People!
I write to you from Stockholm, Sweden on the night before our third show in the European leg of our tour. The show will take place at the Ericsson Globe Arena, which is just across the parking lot from our hotel – quite convenient indeed. This is a nice venue – we played here on the last tour, and I remembered it as being a particularly good show. The venue is, as you can see from the picture above, actually a globe. I’ll take some pictures of the inside tomorrow so you can see how it translates inside as well. One very peculiar by-product of it’s shape is that when you are in the center of the building, and you speak, your voice bounces around in a natural slapback echo, and when I initially heard it, I became slightly disorientated. The intensity of the effect was unexpected, but pretty cool nonetheless…
The first two shows of this leg – Moscow, Russia and Helsinki, Finland – are now behind us. The shows were great. Russia was a first for us (and for Josh), and the crowd was really into the show. Helsinki was even better, where we have been there before, and the crowd was just chomping at the bit to get into the music. There were people dancing in the aisles, and there was a lot of interaction between Josh and the crowd. A top notch Josh Groban show.
From a technical standpoint, he most significant piece is that we are now back into finding a rhythm. I know – I did write in one of my previous posts below that we really found our rhythm in the New Zealand/Australia leg. So you may ask why – if we mastered our show by the end of the Australian leg – do we not simply ride that rhythm into this next leg? The answer to that is simple – and will in fact be the reason that we will face this type of challenge prior to each of the legs in this world tour – because the production of the show has changed.
So what does that mean? To explain, I can reference a Rolling Stones tour – their “Licks” tour – that happened in 2002-2003. On that tour, they played three venues in each city, back to back – a stadium, and arena, and a theatre. The fact is (and I’m sure you can imagine) that the gear needed for a football stadium – huge stage, PA, lights, video screens, explosions – could never fit, let alone be required in a theatre, right? Exactly. They had to scale the show for each venue, and in doing so, they created three separate productions for that tour. Even the set lists (also a major part of the production) changed for each type of venue, and although an altered set list doesn’t seem like something that can cause a lot of extra work, I’ll explain in our situation (and I’m sure the Stones’) how it can.
On our tour, the first and second legs differ in a few ways; One, we are now (since the Finland show) carrying our own backline, lights and PA, where in New Zealand and Australia (and Russia, for that matter) this gear was for the most part rented and partially set up by the time we arrived to each venue. On this leg, we are setting up from scratch, in the same amount of time, a lot more gear in comparison to the first leg. It’ll take a little bit of time to fall into the new rhythm of unpacking, setting up, doing the show, tearing down, and then packing up again. Even the most mundane details, such as recording how we packed the truck so we can pack it the same way every night, are extremely important in achieving a timely stay in one place.
Also changing in this leg – on the music side – will be the set list, and also the orchestra personnel. In fact, we will host a local orchestra in every country – a sort of celebration of each area that we play. It’s an amazing concept, but one that will require lots of preparation and rehearsing by our core band. It’s all in an effort to give the most dynamic show we can. As I mentioned above, even a set list change can require a lot of preparation. From one song to another song, there are many different possible instrument configurations. For example, in guitar world, any song could have a combination of nylon string guitar, steel string acoustic, twelve string guitar, one of a bunch of electrics, or even a mandolin. That alone causes major moves for both our guitarist and his tech. Then the keyboard player might be on his Hammond B3, or maybe his Fender Rhodes, or the grand piano – lots of possibilities per song. The percussionist may have to use his “B” rig for any number of songs, as well… Each musician and their techs must be prepared for these changes, and they each take a little bit of time to prepare and choreograph.
All of these changes in songs and in instrumentation cause other departments to need some preparation as well. For example, our Front Of House engineer must build mixes for each new song. Our Monitor Engineer has to build multiple mixes – a mix for each musician – for each new song. Our Lighting Director must build a scene for each new song, lighting the stage where each member will sit… All of these things take time, and we basically hit the ground running from the first show in a leg. There really is not enough time in the day to prepare for all possible songs, so we prepare for the evening’s set list, and if another song gets added tomorrow, well then we’ll prepare for that tomorrow.
The last few days have been eventful despite the lack of shows. In fact, a few of us had to fly to London immediately following the Helsinki show, to do a morning TV show the next day. Another private jet in, did the show, then flew straight to Stockholm to await this show. The morning show (called “This Morning”) went well. Text book promo…
Anyway, I have to get uop super early for load in tomorrow, so I’ll leave y’all now with a few pictures from the last week or so…