Grannies: drug's. smashing up hotel rooms -‘-’hey, that's the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, isn't it? In our latest inlat-‘the-deep-end assignment, our hack at the backofthe gig finds out what it's like onthe other side of the mikes. ’ . Trew Photograph: Craig Sanders
THERE IS A saying along the lines of ‘those who can. do: those who can‘t. teach‘. It might be worth adding that some of those who ‘can‘t‘ go intojournalism instead.
Like many in their adolesence. I wanted to be a rock star. Since I never got beyond half learning the first few bits of ‘Stairway To Heaven‘ on a mate‘s guitar. l‘d assumed that a rock ‘n' roll career path was closed to me. So. one night in the pub. when it was suggested that I might like to be the lighting technician for a couple of dates on Magicdrive‘s Scottish tour. ljumped at the chance.
‘l)oesn‘t it matter that I can‘t change a bulb without danger of frying. never mind know which end of a lighting control panel is
which'." I enquired of Dave Stuart. Magicdrive's manager.
‘Nah. it's a piece of piss.~ he replied optimistically. ‘You just twiddle some knobs and push a few buttons.‘
Theory is a line thing. It's just a pity that reality is more of a dog's dinner. Still. a couple of months later. I find myself loitering around
22 THE “31' 2—16 Apr 1998
I... .. 3
light up my life: Jonathan Trew twiddle: with his knobs
Edinburgh‘s Venue. Magicdrive are soundchecking on stage and I‘m
surreptitiously trying to watch the bloke who‘s footering about with the lighting console. ‘lt‘s a piece of piss‘ has become my new mantra.
‘Hi.‘ I squeak nonchalantly. before forcing my voice down to its post-pubescent tone. ‘l'm doing the lights tonight. How do they work‘."
‘I dunno. I'm here to do the bar. Just fiddle with those buttons.‘
Oh good. I feel like the cabin boy left in charge of a nuclear sub. ‘Those buttons’ look about as familiar to me as a map of London’s sewer system and I‘m as likely to get to grips with them as I am with Pamela Anderson.
Visions of newspaper headlines along the lines of ‘Band
Gone To Earth‘ ﬂash through my head but. after tentatively poking a couple of switches without seeing Magicdrive go up in smoke. I’m beginning to get the hang of this. Piece of piss indeed. I wonder if U2 are looking for a lighting technician for their next world tour? There’ll be more expansive riders backstage and I can travel the world by private jet while cultivating an exotic drug habit.
The promoter wanders past and brings me back to earth: ‘Oh hello. Jonathan. Has The
Electrocuted — Sound Engineer
List fired you'.’ You working as a lampie now‘."
‘Lampie' doesn't sound half as good as ‘lighting technician'. but then neither term would be as accurate as ‘clueless dolt'.
Down in the dressing room. ten minutes before Magicdrive hit the stage. frontman David Robertson notices the fact that my face has turned a funny shade of alabaster and l‘m sweating so much that my backside is sticking to the seat.
‘l.ight the songs. not the band.‘ he advises before sniggering. ‘think theatre.‘
I‘m thinking sharp exit but. when Magicdrive take to the stage. I manage to get the lights working; occasionally they even
synchronise with the music. After a couple of
songs I begin to relax. to let the rhythm of the music control the lights. My fingers are grooving across the keys and. to my mind. the lights are dancing gracefully over the stage.
Dave Stuart has other ideas. ‘Just calm it down. man.‘ he hisses. ‘C‘hange the lights every four bars. Not with every single bar.‘
I lack the guts to tell him that l have absolutely no conception of how long a bar is. Needless to say. my fledgling career as a lampie has nose-dived. Unless U2 are looking for anyone. of course.
Magicdrive's new single 'Bang 2 Rights' is released on Mon 11 May.