13 Sep 1999 - Steve - St John
Pre-Production in St John, Canada
After finishing rehearsals in Lille, France, I flew to St John Canada (with a stop over for a couple of days business in New York on the way). St John is a beautiful part of the world, and the people are very friendly, so it made a great place to do pre-production rehearsals, as they have a perfect venue for this kind of thing and we were able to do a warm up gig in the same place.
Pre-production is definitely needed with a brand new big show production like this because everybody has to work at lighting, pyro cues etc., plus obviously on and off stage sound levels have to be sorted so that everybody's satisfied. It makes a big difference to everybody's performance if we are comfortable with everything what's going on around us. We all saw a model of the stage set when we were doing a load of press in Amsterdam back in March, and it looked great, but there is always a worry that it might not turn out as grand as you would like it in reality. We shouldn't have worried - it looks fantastic! The set itself and the lights are superb.
So then it was a question of getting down to sorting our on stage monitor levels, which surprisingly didn't take long - considering there's six of us! We just ran through a few songs and we have a fairly methodical way of doing things which avoids too much chaos ( I suppose we ought to know what we're doing after the amount of tours we've done!)
The following day we were able to watch the show from out front, the only time we ever get to see it, apart from videos! Doug Hall, our ever present sound engineer, made a tape of the set in running order so that we could all watch the show with lights, production, pyro etc. and make notes of anything we didn't like, or wanted to add or whatever, as the songs were playing through the PA. I made notes throughout and afterwards the band and Rod discussed things before going through them with Martin Brennan, our lighting designer, and Dick Bell, our production manager. Martin had to programme any lighting changes, cues etc. into his computer and the set production people had to fine tune a few bits of the set. It was late, so we decided to have another run through the next morning, which was also the day of the show. We were much happier with everything after the second run through, although we still made notes, but not as many. Nicko's drums needed more light, so changes were needed again there, possibly hiring a few extras to sort the problem, but over all everything looks spectacular and Martin has done a great job, yet again!
Everybody's put so much time and effort into making this great, so thanks to all concerned. A special mention has to go to Alan Chesters, who has surpassed himself with the stage set - Ed Hunter lives!
Nicko mentions the gig in his piece, so all I'll say is that we were nervous, a little rusty, but it went very well for a first one! Hope you enjoy the show when we're in your town.
See you soon (Montreal tonight!)
Cheers Steve Harris 13/7/1999