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Road Tales, #4: The Show Went With A ‘Bang’…

5th January 2004

Rock bands (as is their wont) like to put on a show.  If possible, a big show.  If the band is doing pretty well and has a bit of money... a really big show.  If the band has some contacts and a shrewd manager who can pull some strings... it can get silly.

Ice Tiger was my band through the late 80s and early 90s, and we prided ourselves on putting on a good live show.  Being a hard rock act in the style of Whitesnake, Bon Jovi et al, we felt that anything they did in arenas, we could do in hotels and clubs.  This is all well and good, until you start talking pyrotechnics.  That's right – explosives; Things that go 'boom'.

To make things go 'boom', you need someone to set up the pyro's and press the 'boom' button.  These powder monkeys are usually right into their work, and most of the time get it right.  The cue comes, the button gets pushed, and stuff goes 'boom'.  The crowd goes wild, and the band looks really cool.  There are those times, however, when things don't go exactly according to plan...

One of our nifty production tricks was to have a replica ship's cannon roll out between the drums and keyboards on cue and shoot smoke and confetti into the audience.  This was always a showstopper - especially the night that the cannon itself exploded, showering the drummer and keyboard player with bits of burning plastic.  Needless to say, that was the end of our "arr, me hearties" phase.

I have also leapt off a drum riser toward the front of the stage, only to look up and see that I was sailing towards a wall of flame - the flash pots on the stage were set off half a beat late, and I was silently cursing the fact that God didn't give us air brakes...  Fortunately, a few singed arm hairs was the extent of the damage - oh, and the pyro guy's eardrums, after the bollocking he got when we got off stage...

When observing a road crew, it's easy to spot the pyro guy's assistant... It's usually the kid with no eyebrows and an unusually high forehead.  They do learn, of course - eventually.                                 

Graham Greene


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