Sunday, September 30, 2007
As for our show in Victoria, it was more fun for us and the crew than for the Def Leppard fans, or so it seemed from my perspective. Let's face it...there is NOTHING like Zootopians! We had some problems with the sound board in the afternoon, so or only chance for rehearsal before the show kind of evaporated, but the Devils came through anyway! The guys in the band - Brent, Jim, Larry, Scott, and Terry all gave 1,000% and shined like the stars that they are. The crowd seemed a bit lifeless for the first couple of songs, but the guys played their arses off! I went out on the thrust that goes out into the audience to try to get the crowd going, and when the people just sat in their seats as I was singing to them, I decided to take it up a notch and jumped off the stage to take some laps through the crowd and bring the music even closer to them. I am sure they thought I was nuts, but since I am - it either entertained or frightened them. I think that's what I was after, and I succeeded!! I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the show and the load out, so I am sorry I didn't post something here sooner.
I still have 3 more Def Leppard shows to go, and the days are quite busy. After I get home at the end of this week I will give more details, and as soon as we can get the technology together, I am sure we will have some video. We are hoping to go into the studio in October to record our new song "Domino", so we will have something for you if all goes well. Mostly I wanted to say THANK YOU to all of you for your love and support. I am humbled by everything you do for us. Thank you so very much!!!!!!!
Love - Rocko
See the amazing pictures of Rocko and the Devils in concert in Victoria on the Photos page at www.rockoandthedevils.com.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Vancouver/Victoria, BC, September 28th, 2007.
According to Joe Elliott of Def Leppard ‘what happens in Victoria, stays in Victoria”. I’ll have mercy on you and disregard some of that :-)
Thursday Rocko met me at the box office outside the venue. I could see him coming from about 100 ft away (I know that stride!) As he came toward me, two concert fans waylaid him to chit-chat, and as he finished talking to them, I stepped into his path. He moved to avoid bumping into me and I stepped back into his pathway, and he finally looked up, saw me, and a huge smile “Donna!?!”. Moments later, massive Rocko hug, totally spontaneous, totally enveloping, totally wonderful.
We picked up my pass and ticket, and ‘follow me’ and we’re off. In through the backstage door, right up to the back of the stage and the grand tour. I got to see Rick Allen’s custom drum kit, Larry Gowan’s keyboard on a circular base which allows him to spin it and do crazy things with it, and some tricks of the trade for which I’m sworn to secrecy but which looked pretty damn cool and which Rocko invented for the band. Rocko told me to dig out my camera, then took my picture in front of some of this damn cool stuff and told me ‘look like a rock star’. (easy for him to say!). I also got to stand out on the end of the stage in front of 60,000 (nearly) empty seats and see the view from the band’s perspective – something I’ve always had an inkling to do ‘one day’.
We did the rounds around the stage, around the venue, talked to venue security about a multitude of things, including some special info regarding 8 lucky kids who got to do a meet and greet with drummer Rick Allen through his charity venture Raven Drum Foundation. Everywhere we went, Rocko introduced himself to people that didn’t know him (which was very few btw), and introduced me to everyone he spoke to (which was just wild, really). A few times I hung back, not wanting to get in the way, and he would smile and wave me over close, and include me in the conversation. It was a small gesture with huge impact to me. ‘Keep up’ again, and we were off to the Devil’s dressing room to meet the band. He’d introduce me to each member as we found them, and as he said my name, they’d smile a little and say hi, shake my hand and Rocko would add ‘from our website’ and their smile would get huge and then would come the hug. Jim is hugely tall! And gorgeous hair. Brent seemed a touch shy, but a beautiful smile, and Larry I’ll never call you by the wrong name again J. We met Scott on the way back out of the dressing room, and I was introduced to another fellow (production manager?) and to keyboardist Terry. I didn’t realize until the next night which Terry I was shaking hands with hah. Rocko had to go do something so told me to make sure to get a picture with the Devils. Being in a photographer’s frame of mind, I literally pushed Jim over to the rest of the guys (sorry Jim) and told them to 'line up.' The other fellow (sorry I just cant remember your name) told me I had to be in the photo too (doh!) so I said, well, who’s going to take the photo? He took the photo for me and I felt dwarfed (literally and figuratively). They pulled me into their ranks and it was surreal being surrounded by such a great bunch of guys.
Rocko came back and we were off again! Believe him when he says he walks miles! In fact, he’s being conservative with his estimates, I figure. We went off to gather Rick Allen’s guests and Rick came out to meet and greet them and you should have seen their faces! It was great. I was introduced to Rick once he’d finished, and found out he’s from Sheffield (home of actor Sean Bean and Sheffield United Soccer team -great accent too).
Just before we said our goodbyes, I gave Rocko the Banner book. I took it out of the bubble wrap, opened the first page where Tina inscribed the book to him, and he was very touched by the gift. He looked at a few of the pages real quick and was amazed at how a book had been published already, promising to read it at first chance.
Another hug, and Rocko was off to shower and get into gear for the show and I went out to find my seat. We said our goodbyes, which was easy, as I was going to say hello again the next day.
Friday a friend of mine, TM, came with me to the venue. We met just after 6pm, picked up our tickets and passes and weren’t sure what to do – wait for Rocko to come out, or go in ourselves. We saw about 30 people go inside but couldn’t find out which door they were let in, so decided to go around to the back door like I did on Thursday night. The venue security looked at our passes and waved us through, and we found ourselves inside the loading dock area right behind the stage. I heard music (loud, good music) coming from the stage, and was suddenly filled with an unexplained excitement and giddyness. My friend and I rounded the corner and we were on the floor right in front of the stage, and Rocko and the band were on stage doing a sound check. I stood off to the side a bit, and Brent noticed me first, and his face lit up. The song ended, Rocko gave instructions about tweaking the sound here and there, and then into the next song. By this time he’d noticed me as well, and smiled, and kept on singing. It was ‘I don’t wanna fall in love’ and he jumped of the stage on the side furthest away from us and disappeared… just this disembodied voice as he walked here and there testing the sound as he went. I knew from Hawaii show that he’d walk around the entire ramp area, so kept watching the rest of the band and Rocko ended up right behind my friend TM who had no clue he was there. When I turned and smiled at Rocko, TM turned around and was shocked to find Rocko right there, and singing to her! She broke up laughing and he jumped back on the stage to finish off the song.
They had a few other songs to burn through, but Rocko took the time to come over and say hello to my friend and said he’d try to come see us between acts if he could. (True to his word – he did come and find us between sets just to say hello and goodbye) so TM and I went to find our seats and wait for the show. (and I finally got to meet Maris and her friend just before show time).
After a Roadie stand-up comic (who was hilarious), the Devils were on. I told my friend that I’d be down on the floor taking photos for most of it and she was okay with that. I went down to the floor and showed my pass, and the venue security lady wouldn’t let me in. She didn’t recognize the pass. Rather than argue with her, I went over to the security guy near the backstage area. I showed him my pass, and he said I couldn’t go in without an escort. I tried to patiently explain to him that the pass was all access, that I was there to take photos for the Devils, that the Production Manager for Def was also a Devil (hah… pun not intended), and had signed my pass etc, but he wouldn’t budge. Meanwhile the beginning of Eleanor Rigby was playing already. I was panicked! Hans and Germana, Tina, Sammi, the rest of the devils fans wouldn’t let me come home with no photos.
I looked over and saw Terry, and asked if he remembered me from the night before and he said ‘yes, Donna’. I explained what was going on, so he told the security fellow to let me in. However… that got me beside the stage on the crew side and I still needed to be able to wander on the floor to take photos. One of the Devils came over and heard what was going on, and gave me his pass. Armed with this light saber, I was able to part the security venue staff like the proverbial Red Sea and got to roam everywhere and snap as many pics as I could! I roamed and snapped, and I’ll tell ya… lead singers move at the speed of sound and are impossible to get clear shots of! Rocko… buddy, you move at the speed of light!! I was at the end of the ramp figuring on getting a good shot as he 'meandered' down the catwalk. Right…. He moved so fast I couldn’t focus the camera on him and the resulting shot is Rocko’s smiling face about 6 inches from my face.
The set ended. I don’t know all the songs (sorry guys) but there was Road Rage, Broken Brains, Domino (yes… I do love that song!), as well as Eleanor Rigby and I don’t wanna fall in love and a few more I was unfamiliar with. There was a cover tune of Cheap Trick's Cool Voices (which i loved), and Vivian from Def came out to play guitar on two songs with the Devils. The Devils played at least 30-45 minutes and the crowd took a bit to warm up to the show, but once they did, they couldn’t get enough. The set was over, the band went off to do whatever they had to do and Rocko was back into Production Manager mode as they changed the stage over. I went out to look at the merchandise and heard many people talking about Rocko and the Devils, had quite a few stares at my Devil’s t-shirt (felt good btw), and there was incredible feedback on Domino. People were mentioning it by name and I heard someone humming it as I walked past.
The rest of the night passed quickly, Def Leppard were good, the crowd was appreciative, and then it was over and time to try and wind down from the whirlwind of the last two nights (which was veeeery hard to do)
Just also want to add this: there is a definite excitement in being part of a large touring production, even though I know the job takes its toll on mind and body more than any other job perhaps. The people I met both evenings were professional through and through. They each know their jobs; they strive to do the best they can to make sure the audience is only aware of the people on the front of the stage, and not about what goes on behind it. Rocko is a consummate professional, always polite, always positive, always ready to find solutions, and still able to smile endlessly throughout every stage of what he does. I was given 5 star treatment, made to feel comfortable and welcomed, and Rocko didn’t miss a beat with his job all at the same time. I didn’t manage to get a photo of Rocko and myself together in those two days, but those smiles and the warmth of the hugs is worth more than any photo in the world.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Seattle, September 25th, 2007.
Much of the work I do in activism is relational, concrete… we develop professional positive relationships with key people and I occasionally run into some amazing people. And then, much of the world of rock and roll is virtual… we are fans of people and bands who, well, they are one in a million or more, we are one OF a million or more. Sometimes the world collides, and in the world of U2 it’s a beautiful thing.
Rocko and his band of merry men deliver this atmosphere that both enforce and eliminate the velvet ropes, the distance between us and the band we love, and other bands that many love, of stages and ellipses, lights and sounds and walls. The artists can concentrate on communicating with us from the heart knowing Rocko and others pave the way for this. Nobody in the industry does it better… and that’s not just my personal opinion. And our Rocko's an unpretentious rock star in his own right who really loves his fans and has time for us.
He can pack 40 hours into a 24 hour day, and I feel he has a way, like I'd heard Bono does, of when you are with him the rest of the world can wait. He had to take a call or two… he’s a man in demand, but folks went to his voice mail too. He serenaded me… there’s a magic that happens there. He introduced me to other hard-working production crew, shared about some of the folks he worked with, gave opinions of the state of rock and roll in the world today, of life and love. Of previous years of the rock and roll lifestyle and what it has evolved into as these rockers grow up and still wanna rock and tour but live more grounded with wives and families here and at home. Teaching me the difference between tour manager, stage manager, production manager, I think there’s another manager or two in there I missed! Just an amazing amazing time.
Maybe the joke is true that it used to be sex, drugs, and rock and roll, it's Lipitor, Viagra, Starbucks and VH1 Classics! In fact that is the channel that is on in his motor home all the time, a mobile home he shares with about a dozen other staffers, one of many motor homes. While the world sleeps they roll down the road.
He has done one of the most awesomely, amazingly things I've ever seen done with a guitar… he takes all six strings and tunes them to an E chord. So an open strum is an E. And then he plays his new song Domino, and he plays chords on top of this E-strung guitar. I've got to try that. It sounds full, it sounds unlike anything I'd heard before. And he loves the response it brings, how it lights up fans like me on a new song he is so proud of. Just blew me away. Rocko, I never got to thank you for Blackbird. That song, I’d never heard in full-on chords, only picked thru as a ballad, it was great and affected me deeply. But I think you knew that.
The busses and rocker with a guitar on the curb attracted the attention of a few local people… we met a young guy who says he was a producer and even came back a while later to introduce his buddies. We sang them a hunk of broken brains. I’m not sure Rocko noticed the two young girls at the end of the drive, watching all this… I can see how rock star egos and groupies can develop quickly, and how refreshing it is when some like our man here, and often those he works for, realize this rock world is bullsh*t and the end of the day and busyness and heady-ness of it all, those at home really matter, and a handful of fans and friends who appreciate them for just being them.
He told donna previously that he would call her when he was with me, so on the way to the airport he called her and we sang part of Domino to her and I got to say hi. That was almost surreal, so cool. Unbelievable, can you believe our Rocko is an honorary fruitcake?
Sometimes when times like this happen I leave with tears of joy or as high as a kite or even sad it ended. Here with Rocko, I felt, feel valued. He wanted to see me, just me as I am, not a fan of anyone but him, I could have seen these bands in concert probably, but those of you that know me know I know more of them academically than their music, and Rocko was not on stage, missed him by two days. This time. He had an errand to run, about a 40 minute drive and it was awesome. And I got a concert on the curb like Germana and Hans did. And the laughter.
Thanks Rocko, see you soon. Stay close.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Rocko is on tour with Def Leppard these days as the Production Manager and he invited us to the show of this historical rock band in Marysville. We got to the venue without any problem and went looking for 'a guy named Mike under an umbrella', who had our names on a list but didn't immediately realize it, and first sent us towards a sort of V.I.P. area of the parking but then came running after us to point us in the right direction... backstage parking. Next gate, and another guy wanted to steer us away and asked for credentials, but we did the magic move... we called Rocko. At this point the guy was probably starting to worry he was doing the wrong thing and he let us through even though he had no idea where we should go, and neither did we but our man came to rescue us and to open the final gate.. into the backstage parking lot where the big red/silver trucks were all lined up together with several tour buses.
He greeted us with his typical huge smile and a bear hug, put the backstage stickers on our Rocko and the Devils shirts and took us on a tour through the backstage area. And there we were, following the boss backstage shortly before the public was let into the venue. It was all ready for Foreigner to play, with Styx' equipment just around the corner ready to be rolled in, and Def Leppard's stuff already on stage, like Rick Allen's drum kit.
As we cautiously followed Rocko, it was obvious that he was in his element. How many times have you seen him in that position, overseeing everything? He showed us the video screens and mentioned that two of the three were a new design which makes the screens much lighter and allows the wind to go through. He asked us to compare the two different types of screens during the show, the new design had a lower resolution, but it was still much better than the screen of U2's Vertigo Tour which was in fact the older design cut up in smaller pieces to allow the wind to go through.
On our way to the catering tent we met Rick Allen, and Rocko introduced us as the ones responsible for the Rocko and the Devils web site. Rick mentioned the Def Leppard web site and MySpace and agreed on the importance for a band of having an online presence. He is a very friendly, very cool guy (also for being around backstage 3 hours before his show!).
Rocko also introduced us later to a bunch of people, a couple of which he has known and worked with for ages, and we also met Jeffro, original member of Rocko and the Devils when they were still simply the "Journey Crew Band" or "Jeffro and the Mooncrickets". The tour continued inside the "video control truck", which was densely packed with high-tech equipment and the crew member in charge explained how the video screens are controlled during the show. Seeing all this technology and the professional crew doing their magic is just amazing. There is a whole "small city" behind the stage with a great diversity of talented people all working together, perfectly coordinated, to produce an amazing concert night after night. Crew members deserve a big part of the applause after each show.
Dinner was veeery good, lots of options to choose from! and then they tell us it's a hard life on the road... HA! ;-p Scott came to meet us there, and once we were done with our food, ice cream in our hands, we went to visit Scott's "cave"... hehehe.... guitars, guitars, guitars... He explained how he prepares the guitars each day with the final check shortly before Def Leppard hits the stage. Germana had the honor of holding one of Phil Collen's guitars, a heavy one that was!!! Phil Collen only played a part of one song on it during the show.
A quick visit to the tour bus where we could see how the crew travels and lives while on the road...and then it was show time!!! No, no... not Def Leppard but the show we actually went there for! We sat on the asphalt "like a bunch of hippies" and got our private show, with the songs some lucky Canadians will get to hear from the whole band in less than two weeks... And did you know that With or Without You can seamlessly morph into "I want to hold your hand" by the Beatles? and into another 3 or 4 songs? But I digress... Rocko's new song is an extremely catchy tune, I still had it stuck in my head after 2 days, stay tuned for some surprise.....
We noticed several crew members with very original T-shirts and discovered that one of them designs these shirt (you can see some of them at thisgigsucks.com). One shirt had the text: "No Picks, No Sticks, No Set Lists, Beat it!"
Five minutes before Foreigner were scheduled to start, we went to find our seats, smack center 4 or 5 rows from the b-stage. Now a short side note... all of the Def Leppard's fans were very surprised and pleased by this "new" addition to the stage, that lets the band come out and play right in the middle of the crowd...
Foreigner played a good gig and after Foreigner's set we went backstage again to discuss their performance and we took the chance for a few pictures with the rock stars... Rocko and Scott! ..and one with Tommy Shaw and Lawrence Gowan from Styx, when they were getting ready to take the stage.
Styx were also pretty good, unlike many young opening acts you see these days it didn't feel like they were playing the same song over and over again just changing the lyrics... you could actually hear very different songs. And the crowd, maybe because it was already dark at this point, was very much into it!
Foreigner and Styx were both so intense that when Def Leppard's turn came it felt like we had already come to the end of the night, but their show was also so good that time flew! We only knew one song of their set (Two Steps Behind), which was performed acoustically at the end of the B-stage, right in front of us.
We rushed as soon as the last song of the main set started, and backstage we ran again into a Rocko so busy he didn't even see us... we knew it would have been like this, he had warned us before, so we just made our way to the car and left, beating the traffic.
It was a very special night, so much that it *almost* makes up for the fact that we will miss the Devils playing in Victoria... but we know there will be other opportunities!
A huge thank you to Rocko for taking the time to show us around backstage, playing some songs in the parking lot, dinner and everything else. This man is a real pro in what he does, and on top of that he is a great guy with a heart of gold. Also many thanks to all the people who were so kind to talk to us, and give us a glimpse into the backstage world of a huge concert production like this one. And thanks to Foreigner, Styx and Def Leppard for putting up a great gig!
Germana and Hans.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Love - Rocko and the Devils
... 2 days earlier :
HELLO EVERYONE! THE DEVILS ARE CALLING! Boy oh boy! It has been a busy time on the Def Leppard tour for us Devils. The day after my birthday, August 21st in Raleigh, South Carolina - about 10 minutes before the show a huge storm came through and tore the roof off the stage we were set up on! Pulled it back like a sardine can and dumped tons of water all over the equipment....Check out the video on YouTube ( http://youtube.com/watch?v=OO3voY4--F4 ) No one was seriously hurt, but the show was postponed until a week later. Unfortunately that put us on a schedule of 10 shows in the last 13 days, with long bus rides on the few days off.
Sorry I have not written to you all sooner, but it has been a bit hectic. We have been working on a little something in the mean time however.......and I think you may already know what it is.......... OK......We have been very anxious to tell you this.........but after the embarrassment with the TV people, I was hesitant to say anything until it was a "for sure thing".
We got permission from the Def Leppard band members, we got the OK from the promoter, we got the OK from the booking agent, but we are still waiting for the top brass in management to say "IT"S A GO" before we announce that ..................ROCKO AND THE DEVILS WILL BE THE OPENING ACT FOR DEF LEPPARD ON SEPTEMBER 28TH IN VICTORIA, VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA!!!!!!
Love - Rocko and the Devils