After a 20-minute drive under a pale grey sky to the König Pilsener Arena, and upon the Winning Team’s grand entrance, our truck, Number Six, opened its doors and the magic ponies trotted gaily skyward on arcs of butterfly dust, ridden by escaping illegal migrants. When we started this leg, the load-ins were scheduled for an eye-encrusted 6am, allowing the larger worlds of PA and lighting to get their gear in order. After a few shows committing the technical processes to muscle memory, we were to reschedule the load-ins for 8am, but apparently the early-birds were quite happy to split the difference. Now the load-ins begin at 7am and yours truly arrives around 8.30 or earlier to get those ponies fed. The extra hour in the day adds a certain ease, allowing me to fiddle with guitars a little more, and take a bit of time testing things; hurrah I say.
I simply had to photograph a certain row of equipment — Row 5 in the backline truck — a vision of Borg-perfection, things seemed to slot together practically. But — they went and changed it on me. Just when you think you’ve reached the zenith, the gods thrust another pillar of basalt through the mountain’s eye, and the boxes that fit together beautifully are reallocated to another truck. We’ll configure something different else out during the load-out; we’re good like that.
We had a power issue this morning, a struggle if you will, similar to our experience in London, and decided to go ahead with a slightly hot voltage of 126 volts; even if we can’t dot and cross them, we like to at least inspect the is and ts.
Charley Webb’s guitar has been acting a little funny of late: some inexplicable interference found its way into the signal path, manifesting itself as an unpleasant noise. After some digging, Winning Team member Chris struck gold and found a blown, 5 milliamp (mA) ‘ground-fuse’ inside the guitar. For those who don’t know, 5mA is a tiny fuse value, and I’ve never seen one in a guitar, so some explanation is in order. But we don’t have one, so I’ll speculate: if you’re a guitarist/singer, and you’ve played a gig or two, you may have come across a situation where your lips touch the microphone and you get a nasty electrical shock right in the kisser. This unpleasant phenomenon happens when the microphone and the guitar’s earth/ground connection are at odds, creating a voltage difference between them. Holding your precious guitar, playing your awesome music, proffering your masterpiece of singuistic infallibility, you blow yourself up good — blowed up real good. It’s nothing personal; the shock to the lips happens because you’ve acted as a bridge between the two different voltages. You’ve become the conduit of electrons excited to go somewhere, and they travel from your lips to your fingertips.
Now — with a fuse between you and the unnecessary tragedy, the pain of the lips could be minimised if not negated, and that’s why (I think) Charley’s guitar has this funny little fuse in it. Anyway, as we know our rig is safe, and we don’t have the technical conditions which allow the above unpleasant situation, a quick fix in the absence of an exact replacement for the fuse can be found in the form of a guitar string. Yep, a guitar string (a G to be precise) can be bent into a staple-shape and fit into the tiny sockets where once a fuse sat. It’s a fiddly little job, requiring a steady hand and keen eyes; but as Chris said himself, there’s nothing like watching a guy who drinks way too much coffee trying to essentially thread a needle! More like thrusting a pillar of basalt through a Ming vase. (Sorry Chris, I couldn’t help it, it’s the words, they make me write them!)
Normally, this sort of thing — ‘fuse-bridging’ — would be heresy, something I would never recommend. Supplanting fuses with something that isn’t a fuse is very bad practice in nearly all situations, but we know the risks and they are…. none really. The ‘staple’ does its job: the guitar sounded clean, free of noise, and the next chance we get, a suitable replacement for the blown fuse will be installed.
As for the show, well it transpired much as the one before it. Lover Lover Lover was a huge hit, and Tower of Song included a little banter from the boss: when applauded for his skills on the keys, he asked the crowd if their approval was some form of “charitable gesture”, and asked further, “Do you think that’s all I can do?” before elbowing the keys in a chromatic scale up and down, earning a cheer. The laughs may have been plenty, but after the joviality comes the beloved Suzanne; the camera flashes were not as prevalent tonight, but there was a pair of small solar systems in the universe of humanity — binary stars in the form of sparklers waved by two fans who fancied something a little different from the classic cigarette lighter.
The rest of the night was in step with the previous show and as such, I shall close the unvarying tale with the lovely news that we have two days off between tonight’s and the next show; if you haven’t yet discovered the No Ideas Twitter account, feel free to ‘get all up on this’: https://twitter.com/NoIdeasTheBlog.
If Twitter doesn’t float your boat, and you prefer a bit of book on the face, you can join me there: https://www.facebook.com/leif73.
As I draft, it’s nearly 3am; so, good night and zzzzzzzzzz.