Rick Wakeman's Caped Crusades

There are two sides to touring and one only happens when you’ve made it. Any band that has enjoyed a modicum of success will be in a position to make ridiculous demands of everyone around them.

A six week tour is likely to have at least 20 staff which include crew, tour manager , tour manager’s assistant, and an assistant for the assistant tour manager , plus chefs, management, PA and lighting, merchandise crew and lackeys on beck and call.

The dressing room crew arrange the banquet that is on the band’s rider and include everything from smoked salmon to caviar , champagne and vintage wine plus the removal of blue Smarties.

The band will dine in their hotel room after being gently woken no earlier than 10am . Suitcases collected around 11. They will be escorted to their limousine, driven to the airport, whisked through security, boarded and wined and dined in first class.

Upon arrival limousines will drive them to their hotel where they will already have been checked int. They will be handed keys and luggage will

4pm , there will be a sound check , which may well be done by the crew as it could be a strain on the artistes to travel there and back.

At 7pm they will be awakened from their slumbers (or occasional naughtiness if reunited with an old friend), driven to the venue, and taken to separate dressing rooms , mainly because they can’t stand the sight of each other.

On stage they perform the same set as the previous eight tours to a wildly enthusiastic audience of eight thousand who can’t remember what was played before anyway .

Merchandise sales top the £60,000 mark.

After leaving the stage feigning total exhaustion, they attend a short record company reception . (A band will know how well their records are doing by who attends. If sales are good , the President will be there. Not so good , the A&R man).

Back to the hotel, bags bulging with the smoked salmon , champagne and other goodies.

Next day ….same again.

Not all bands are lucky enough to be given the rock star treatment though, and there is another side to touring. The Dung are a band that’s been around for some time , but yet to make it. They make their own CDs and have sold 9 copies of their latest album “Tossers”.

They take it in turns to drive the knackered Sprinter van that has bald tyres , no heater and some nasty stains on the floor from various social activities.

They meet at 5am to drive to somewhere near Carlisle. The journey takes 8 hours..

The venue supplies PA and lights.

After a harrowing journey with 6 enforced stops to accommodate the drummer’s diarrhoea, they finally arrive at the old Nissan hut where they are playing . The PA system is woefully inadequate and the lighting consists of a string of coloured bulbs.

There is one dressing room which stinks. The toilet has no seat and is overflowing.

Sound check is finding out what is working.

No catering.

They perform to a less than enthusiastic audience of 37. Most of whom leave before the end .

They sell one CD and have three returned from their last appearance.

They can’t afford to stay anywhere so drive 300+ miles back home .

It’s tough at the top.