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...But how many people does it take ...

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IMO ein aufschlussreicher Blick auf die "Dinge dahinter"

By Pauline McLeod, Evening Standard

David Bowie rolls into London this week, playing a huge gig at Wembley Arena. But how many people does it take to get the great man's show up and working? A mere 80. Pauline McLeod meets some of the hard workers in question.


David Bowie is about as easygoing as it gets. He travels with us on the bus, and reads or watches DVDs. As for me, at the risk of sounding like David Brent, people-manage is what I do most, dealing with not only the most famous artists but also the guy driving the bus

Everyone is equally important. The ultimate responsibility of the tour's logistics are down to me: travel, transport, hotels and making sure that everyone ends up in the right venue, at the right time and on the right day.

That might sound stupid but we can do three cities in 24 hours - start from Hamburg, do a show in Amsterdam, then fly on to Helsinki. Glamorous? Hardly.

I never get the time to see any of these places. And with 80 people on the tour, any one of a million things can go wrong: vehicles breaking down, air traffic control strikes, weather situations.

Patience, common sense and keeping calm are essential and you draw on your experience. I started as a loader for a trucking firm that hired vehicles for rock tours. I drove the minibus for Black Sabbath's support act and set up their gear. I didn't have a clue what I was doing. The tour was a disaster.

Then I drove for Joe Jackson. I was also his one and only road crew. He became successful quickly and I became a tour manager. I progressed to bigger acts, building my reputation. I've worked with Bowie on and off for 20 years, and Madonna, Paul McCartney, The Pretenders. I love what I do but it isn't easy on my family.

My son is 18, and I have a 14-yearold daughter, and my work is all they have ever known. Being away for six or eight months is very hard, missing their sports days and birthdays but then I can have a block of three months at home.

Salary: from £1,000-£5,000 a week; roadie (backline technician), from £500-£1,500.


David Bowie is an absolute sweetie, very charming and a joy to cook for. He is not at all fussy and simply likes fresh, healthy food. But you have to remember-that artists and crew travel the world and have sophisticated tastebuds.

Dinner will have five options for main course: from a roast to Thai, Malay, Japanese, Moroccan, Chinese and eight different salads and four desserts. I work for a London -based catering company, Eat Your Hearts Out. There are five in the team, including three other chefs, all with strong backgrounds in professional kitchens which is essential.

So is stamina, a good sense of humour and a gipsy spirit. I shop in every city, which is fun, but I'm limited on time and rely on a good runner to take me to local markets.

The more you do this job - I've done it for 15 years - the more you get to know where to go and what's good to buy locally. We set up our kitchen and dining room at the venue, prepare breakfast for the crew, lunch is until 4pm when the band arrives for the soundcheck, by which time we have put out snacks and beverages in the dressing room areas.

Dinner is until eight, when it's show time. Before cleaning everything down and packing it back into flight cases, we prepare sandwiches or cold cuts for the musicians because for many it's too much to eat a meal before the show. We clear their dressing rooms, everything is loaded on to trucks, then we go on to the next city and do it all over again.

Salary: from £500 a week to negotiating your own rate.


It's a different world to when I started in Dublin at 17, making the tea, navvying and trying to make 30 or so lights look appealing.

Technology is so advanced that anyone-starting out needs to be computer-literate. Ideally, go to college to learn the technical side of things and then - to get knowledge from the ground up - work for a local theatre or promoter.

Like any theatre production, I go in and plot out the lighting after the set is designed.

With an artist like Bowie, who is very dramatic, I have an awful lot to play with. He is a dream to work with in the sense that he really understands what I do and although I have carte blanche in what I design, he is very hands-on and has very good opinions.

I'm not the most technical person but I have a lot of technical people around me. What I have is my imagination and blarney. I'd done four or five shows with Eric Clapton and about 12 years ago his manager, fed up with TV lighting people, called me in and that opened up a new career for me.

I live in the United States: my wife's best friend lives in Miami, it's a lovely city and we thought, why not? So now, I also design lighting for film and television shows, including work for VH1, MTV and the HBO Discovery Channel in the US.
Salary: from £900 a week to the-sky's-the-limit.


I fell into this job 12 years ago after working next door to the Simply Red production office. I ran their London office when they went on a big tour. I worked on the road for them and from then on I've not stopped touring with bands including Oasis, Travis, Kylie Minogue, and The Verve.

I'm not married which is not good for your social life when you are away for six months but without wanting to sound corny, it's like being part of a family on the road.

Basically, I run an office-ontheroad, setting up at the venue at 8am with fax machine, computers and a wireless internet connection: the bane of my life because I always need an IT person to fix it. I deal with local promoters, phone calls the production manager doesn't need to take, organise security passes and whatever the day takes on. What still fascinates me is how a huge production goes up and comes down in one day and is in another city, often another country, the next day.

Salary: around £875-£1,750 a week.


My first job is to overcome acoustic problems. The venues are often cavernous places, mostly not designed for rock gigs. I have always had a good ear for balance.

I'm from Massachusetts and have lived in New York for 10 years. I got into the business long before digital audio became part of our listening environment. These days you need at least a small amount of formal training to get the technical aspects under your belt.

The other side of the coin is having the right mind-set and attitude. How you deal with artists, musicians and so forth, plays a huge part in whether you are going to get a gig or not.

Everyone on David's tour is fantastic. There are no egos, no attitude and David is wonderful to work with. One word of advice: it is not something to get into for the glamour or the money because for the first few years you will earn very little: it is something you have to love to do.

Salary: from £500 to about £4,000 a week at the top of the scale.

...But how many people does it take ...

Antwort #1
vielen dank für den artikel!
wollte schon die ganze zeit herausfinden, wer das licht für die show gemacht hat - hatte aber gerade selber premiere am wochenende (nicht ganz so spannend wie ein bowie-konzert, aber immerhin goethe: "Iphigenie auf Tauris" ;-) )
als ich die show gesehen habe, habe ich mal wieder lust bekommen, mich auch in der richtung umzutun. bisher habe ich ja "nur" im theater licht gemacht... und das light design bei bowie hat mir gut gefallen: nicht zu prätentiös oder nur reine effekthascherei ("schaut her, wie viele moving lights ich habe!"), sondern gut gemacht...

dann muß ich ja jetzt nur noch tom kenneys email-adresse herausfinden ;-)


...But how many people does it take ...

Antwort #2
David Bowie is about as easygoing as it gets.

David Bowie is an absolute sweetie, very charming...

He is a dream to work with

David is wonderful to work with.

aaaaach jahhhh! seufz!

gruß, Z

...But how many people does it take ...

Antwort #3
Danke Zicky, du hast genau das ausgesprochen, was ich auch gedacht habe.
Ist 'n bisschen sehr viel Zuckerguss. Aber vielleicht stimmt's ja wirklich...

...But how many people does it take ...

Antwort #4
die nicht so sehr easy going phasen werden sicher nicht erwähnt werden..Wer beisst schon die Hand die ihn füttert :wink:

...But how many people does it take ...

Antwort #5
Ähhh, brauchen die vieleicht noch jemand der sich um Mr Bowies Bücher kümmert????

...But how many people does it take ...

Antwort #6

...But how many people does it take ...

Antwort #7
Das ist ja süüüüüßßßßßß, michi :-D !

Außerdem natürlich herzlichen Dank für den aufschlussreichen Bericht, Dweny!

@donizetti: Falls du's allein nicht schaffst, würde ich dir bei der Bücherarbeit gern ein bisschen zur Hand gehen - brauchst ja vielleicht ne Assistentin, wie die Samtpfote auf Michis Pic...

Liebe Grüße, Felis

...But how many people does it take ...

Antwort #8

Stelle schon besetzt!

...But how many people does it take ...

Antwort #9
Ich will mich auch um die Bücher kümmern!

Stelle schon besetzt!

Gut, dass ich meine Katze zum Platz freihalten vorgeschickt habe! :-D

...But how many people does it take ...

Antwort #10
Sehr interresant. So geht's also Backstage zu. Also ehrlich gesagt möchte ich keinen dieser Jobs machen. Wenn da mal was schief geht, dann kommt der ganze Apparat ins Stocken. Man muss absolut zuverlässig funktionnieren wie das Rädchen in einer Schweizer Uhr. Das ist nicht mein Ding. Ich hab auch mal schlechte Tage...

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