Thursday, September 20, 2007

'Station to Station', 'Time is Tight' etc etc

Regular readers of all this semi-coherent rambling (I'm told there are some- you know who you are!) will be aware that most Thursday mornings I'm up at The Dominion Theatre on London's Tottenham Court Road, helping Stuart the guitar repair man with his work at the 'We Will Rock You' stage show. This week was an unusual one as there was an extra show on Wednesday evening at 'The Night' (how do they think of 'em eh?), a corporate event for LCR who I believe are the people involved in the new cross channel rail link at St. Pancras Station. Compare for the evening was Al 'the pub landlord' Murray who also turned up at the recent 5th anniversary show (I believe he mentions Queen a lot on his T.V. show; I'm far too miserable to watch anything like that) and the cast of 'W.W.R.Y.' were to be 'surprise guests'. Stu spent much of Monday and Tuesday up at the theatre going through things with the organisers- the plan was for everyone to travel down to the site near St. Pancras after the show with a view to performing again at 11.25, only an hour later. There would be drums, amps and keyboards already set up which would just mean getting the guitars and pedals from the theatre; cast and musicians were to travel by coach from show to show. Theoretically it would all be possible- but things are always fine in theory aren't they?

9p.m. and Stu and myself are at Kings Cross station- his car is parked nearby and we're going to take the tube to Tottenham Court Road for the end of the theatre show when we'll pick up the gear and take it back to Kings Cross; from there we'll drive to 'The Event' and get things set up for when the band arrive. We'd decided to take the tube as there's more than one way to get there by train whereas if you're stuck in a traffic jam in that part of town you're in trouble; that said we'd still need luck to be on our side for it all to work out. The journey took 15 minutes- so provided we were back on the train by, say, 10.30 we should be on site by 11. Time for a drink then...
We often get something to eat in The Tottenham ('the only pub on Oxford Street') after the theatre work so it was strange to be in there at night. After a couple of pints and the usual ranting (we really must cheer up!) we went across to the theatre at 10.15, just as the show was finishing. The band play in 2 raised areas either side of the stage, guitar bass and drums stage right, keyboards percussion and conductor stage left; we fought our way through the smoke and climbed the steep stairs up to where Neil Murray (bass), Laurie Wisefield and Alan Darby (guitars) were just getting ready to leave for the coach. Stu and myself packed the guitars and pedals away and, remembering to pick up some plectrums 'just in case', made our way out of the theatre and back to the tube station which was heaving with people. Somehow we made it to the dangerously crowded Northern Line platform and on to an even more dangerously crowded train up to Warren Street; from there it was the Victoria line to Kings Cross. As we crossed the station forecourt heading towards the side exit the station clock said 10.45.
Outside and it sounds like we're in a warzone. That'll be the fireworks then; we're supposed to be setting up the band while everyone's outside watching them. Stu hands me an event pass and puts his foot down. We're there in a couple of minutes- it's an enormous tent on the wasteground at the back of St. Pancras station. Suddenly we're lost- it all looks different during the daytime and there's people everywhere. Finally we find where we need to be- but it's now all fenced off ('it wasn't like this earlier') so we go in through a side door. A security man's not happy but we keep walking, find the main hall and get up on stage. I get the guitars out and tune them, Stu wires in the pedals- we finish just as the band arrive, along with 20 or so members of the cast. There's barely time to say hello before 'We Will Rock You' kicks off to a near-empty hall, Al Murray bellowing an introduction over the opening drumbeat. Eventually some people drift in; it's a typical corporate event like so many that we play at in that no-one's particularly interested in what's happening on stage, it's just part of the evening and anyway they've been drinking for the last 6 hours and don't really like live music... the song finished to muted applause, probably the quietest reaction that a live performance of that song's ever had.
20 minutes later and the show's over, 10 minutes after that Stu and I have packed the guitars and pedals away and 5 minutes after that we're leaving for the theatre. We were on site for just under an hour. Most of the audience had probably already forgotten that a band had played at all. As we left Al Murray stopped us to ask where the coach was leaving from. That was that then.

This morning we were back for a 'normal' Thursday. We put everything back to where it usually is, changed some strings, checked that everything worked ok and left. Like I say, that was that then.

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