When it comes to rock music then you all know I’m a big fan so when a chance to work with Hollywood Vampires came knocking at my door you can only imagine how excited I was. It’s not the biggest drop I have ever done or the highest but a drop is a drop and it has to work first time. You don’t get a second chance.
The project started in November 2017 with an initial email from the Tour Manager and Production Manager asking for a quotation for a balloon drop. At this point in time no band name was mentioned. They also need 1000 3ft printed balloons for the entire European tours and being the company with a machine to handle this little project I leaped into action, sent a conformation of order but could I meet their deadline. By the middle of January 2018 the order was placed and the cogs started to turn. Sample prints were sent to America for approval, confirmation was sent back, a stock order was placed. All the balloons need to be printed and dispatched by the start of March. Now this is quite a large order and will take time to turn-a-round so a plan was hatched. Due to our large client basis for 3ft printed balloons we decided to print this order in-between jobs. Turn-a-round from other client was demanding to say the least but with a bit of juggling and good communication with the print floor every job went out in time and the Hollywood Vampires balloons reached their final destination in good time.
Checking the band out..
The Hollywood Vampires were not suppose to reach the UK until the 16th June where they played at the Gentings Arena, NEC which is about 10 miles from my office. I was invited go back stage at the concert and meet both the Tour Manager and Production Manger as well as other key members of the tour. This was our first face to face meeting so good impressions mattered. I watched the concert from Stage Right, it was absolutely amazing. They were supported by The Dammed and The Darkness who again were fantastic. After the gig I went back stage, collected Access All Area passes for the gig at Wembley Arena in London.
D.Day. 20th June 2018.
Early morning call as needed to be onsite at 8am. The drive at that time of the morning was about 2 hours. I had Mike Harris by my side as usual and also my daughter whom I had a big surprise for. (All will be revealed)
We arrive at Wembley Arena by 8am, off loaded and went in search of Coffee and Breakfast. The band were in Glasgow the day before and had a long overnight drive to London and the crew were not arriving till 10am. We set up camp next to front of house, stared inflating and filling the nets. The drop would consist of 300 x 3ft balloons. Inflating took about 2 hours and all nets were ready to rig by 11am. The production manager paid us a visit, told us he would trust out better judgement on where to rig and left us to it.
I decided to check out the grid with Mike Harris, Carol Dack and Heather Elis. We observed the in-house rules as per my RAMS and climbed 35m above the area. Wembley Arena is quite an old building so no lifts to the grid, it was a manual climb on an open sided metal staircase with took us up over the stage and main arena. Once the inspection had been done we all descended. Mike and Carol went back up to the grid to lower ropes and I stayed on the ground to attached ropes to nets. This whole process took about an hour and once all 4 nets were in place and drop lines secures we stowed out kit back stage and went for lunch
Let the show commence.
Once lunch was over a meeting was required with the Show Manager who told us our cue to drop the balloons. It was on the final number “Schools Out for Summer” a track I know so well. All the crew were permitted to watch the show from stage right and had a great view of the entire band as well as both support acts. We had all arranged to meet at the stairs leading to the grid 3 songs prior to the end of the show. A long climb was ahead of us. Now I don’t care what anyone tells you about balloon drops but I never take anything for granted and for those of you in my balloon drop class at WBC will know, I still get that feeling in my stomach prior to any drop. It’s one of those feeling you cannot really describe. It starts once the nets have been rigged. A slight fluttering in the stomach, a feeling of uncertainty and then clammy sweaty hands as you take you position in the grid. As the moment approaches you take up the slack on the drop line, you feel the tension, your mouth becomes very dry and then the moment you have waited for, you pull the line at an even and steady pace and watch as all your balloons and the balloons from the other 3 nets fall towards the 15,000 strong crowd below. That feeling changes with in an instance, your immediately on a high as you see the balloon dance over the crowds below as the hit them back into the air. There is nothing better than a mass balloon drop to keep you young.
Surprise for Harriet
As I mentioned earlier I took my daughter Harriet with me as I had arranged a little surprise for her. Having got on well with the Stage Manager I asked if Harriet could take photos of the band whilst live on stage. I explained that she was only 20 and just finished a Fine Art and Photography 2 year course at college and how it was her ambition to be a Professional Photographer within the music industry (She’s just like her dad and loves Rock Music). Not only did he say yes but arranged for her to have a Media Pass giving her access to the pit in front on the stage for the first 3 songs by each band. She would be in there with other professional photographers and fighting for her own space. This would be a fantastic introduction for her and totally in at the deep end and the girl did well, stood her ground and got some fantastic shots