Touring – a tribute to our strengths in times of darkness

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness- only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate – only love can do that.’ Dr Martin Luther King


The horrific events in Paris on Friday shocked the world, and hit the industry which I and many of my friends call home, the touring music business.

These murderers targeted not only human lives, but joy, happiness and community. People enjoying a meal with friends. People united in their love of sport. People who loved music, rocking out at a gig – and the people who make that possible, the touring musicians and crew.

Fans of the band and members of the crew and touring party alike were taken hostage at the Bataclan that night. Some managed to make it out alive. Many, tragically, did not.

I won’t begin to try to make sense of what happened that evening – we call it senseless violence for a reason, and there can be no justification for such appalling actions. Instead I’d like to pay tribute to all of those who have been affected by this real-life horror story, and remember everything that is so wonderful about our touring family.

I’ve written before about the strengths of roadie-dom and the way we pull together to make shows happen in the most unlikely and challenging of circumstances. I can think of no better folk to be amongst when you need to pull off the seemingly impossible, and whilst we may not go in for deep and meaningful heart-to-hearts (at least not until the wine is flowing), we become very attuned to each other and quickly sense when someone isn’t ‘right’. I’ve lost count of the ‘is he/she ok? Will you have a chat or shall I?’ conversations I’ve had over the years. Even when it’s just a case of the tour blues and you’re missing home, it’s good to know that you’re surrounded by friends who have been there too and who get it. Friends who will let you get it off your chest and then jolly you along.

We have each other’s backs in a way that more formal industries can only dream of. Because we literally live together for months at a time, strong bonds are quickly formed, and this motley bunch become your touring brothers and sisters, your family away from home.

On Friday we lost members of our family.

In remembering them, let’s remember the shared qualities which make our industry so damned special.

1 – We are resourceful. Rock concert up a mountain in a blizzard? We’re your gang.

2 – We are determined. Blizzard or not, that concert has to happen. The punters have paid, and there WILL be a show.

3 – We are practical. We roll up our sleeves and get stuck in.

4 – We are logical. Things happen in a certain order for a very good reason.

5 – We are adaptable. If that order can’t happen (lighting truck falling down a ditch is one that springs to mind), we find ways around it. Because, see 2.

6 – We are responsible. Yes, we might like to party on our down time. But don’t let that fool you – when you’re dealing with large amounts of electricity, hanging tons of gear in a roof, and lifting heavy cumbersome flightcases, you’d better have your head on straight or someone’s going to get hurt.

7 – We are efficient. Non-touring folk are amazed at the speed in which we can set up and pull down a spectacular show. Especially after the 100th time we do it!

8 – We are hard-working. There are no sick days in our world – I’ve mixed shows with a bucket next to me when I’ve had a vomiting bug, and most of us can relate similar tales. But if you are seriously, properly, get to a hospital ill…

9 – We are there for each other. If one of us is truly too ill to do the show, we pull together our collective skills and make it happen. It might not be perfect, but the punters will be none the wiser.

10 – We are friends. We laugh and joke and share truths, we fall out and make up and put it behind us. We take the piss out of each other mercilessly but stick up for each other when it matters. We don’t see each other for months and years and then pick up right where we left off.

We are family.

1 thought on “Touring – a tribute to our strengths in times of darkness”

  1. Peter Miles aka Twizzle

    Great Post thanks for that. I am no longer a Roadie but had some fantastic times in the late eighties and nineties. Learnt a load of life lessons that I have often referred back to in recent ventures.

    You’ve nailed the key ones above – I also enjoyed the ‘If Roadies Rand the World..’ article. I know for sure it would be a lot more fun!!



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