The Millennium Dome is, believe it or not, the busiest music venue in the world. The crown was taken, rather ironically, from Madison Square Garden, in 2008, when the Dome got fully up to speed after the conversion from its original use, the rather underwhelming, Millennium Experience. At one point during transition, The Dome was costing over £1 million per month to maintain.
However you look at it now, it’s one of the biggest venues of the tour, the Dome has more of a phycological impact than other arenas. It’s a big old shed and it’s in London and from the outside, it’s footprint is enormous, as can easily be seen on Google Maps. Great to see it’s now so popular after such an inauspicious beginning.
Entry to the venue can be awkward as the only realistic way to get to it is via the tube or the Docklands Light Railway. Getting 14,000 people in for an 8pm show is a challenge and queues outside the entrance are guaranteed. The show had to be held for longer than usual. We actually had a little bet on how long exactly. Mark was confident the venue was capable of running everything on time, Gavin, our monitor guy thought a 5 minute delay would suffice whilst I went for 10 minutes. We were all wrong… we held for 30 minutes.
During a routine and methodical sound check, it was discovered that the accordion had a note not working. The shock of it. We nearly cancelled the show but our keyboard tech, Laurence Adams came to the rescue and got to the bottom of it. Now we are properly on tour, these things do happen, which is why we carry spares. Virtually every piece of equipment on the stage has a spare or a reserve, in case of failure or breakage. We have spare master keyboards, spare synths, spare Kemper amps, spare onstage mixers etc. etc. I actually run a ‘redundant’ computer rig where, in the event of failure, I hit one button and the second rig becomes active. I use 2 MacBook Pro’s which both run Mainstage and Ableton Live. The computer is the brain of the rig and makes all the necessary midi connections, program changes, generates clicks, samples and some plug-in based sounds. There will be a full video rig-rundown soon.
Our set itself wasn’t without its technical difficulties. At the beginning of the second song, the entire lighting rig failed. It took LD, Tellson James, a few seconds to react and hit Mark with a spot whilst the lighting boys re-patched or rebooted (I suspect the latter) and a couple of minutes later, it returned. It was interesting playing in the darkness for a few minutes. There were also a few rather off-putting crackles emanating from an electric guitar, I suspect from stage left and Richard’s rig. Not sure what happened but considering we’ve done 22 shows and it’s the first instance of such things, we’re not doing too badly.
Much of the show was enjoying the audience once again. The reactions to songs was amazing and there were sporadic shouts of “we love you Mark”, with Mark’s reply being “I think I could possibly love you too, sir”. Needless to say we had an absolute ball up there, as usual.
Evenings like these are special and after show parties can extend well into the night, except for the small matter of another show tomorrow. That thought prevented us from enjoying ourselves too much. It was quite enough, just to get to say hi to each of the many guests. It’s probably the most tiring part of the day in reality but as I’ve said before, these are the best times and we are determined to enjoy them. It’s not difficult.