21 July 2001
Show Day: Turin - Stadium
I'm sure a question hanging on the lips of every reader is 'how do the road crew get their laundry done?' When moving at high speed (and the crew party moves faster than the band party by a factor of about 300%) through unknown territory, how do you get your smalls washed? As with every aspect of road life, a system has evolved to deal with this. You take your laundry bag to the production office, fill out the front of a specially printed little envelope with your name and bus number & put $20 in local currency inside. Whilst you say a few Hail Mary's a local person hired for the day as a 'runner' then takes all the bags to a nearby laundry who wash & dry your clothes, take your money & put any change back in the envelope before the runner returns to bring all the bags back to the gig. What could possibly go wrong? Well, of course, practically everything. I won't bore you with endless tales of laundry disasters over the years, but it's a sure fire way of getting to know some of your colleagues perhaps more intimately than you would have liked. I remember well the occasion in Zagreb, with everyone's laundry coming back in one giant bag and being poured out in the middle of the production office floor (funny how no-one ever claimed that funny looking vinyl thong).
Having given the runner my bag of washing yesterday I was rather dismayed to find that he had simply failed to find a laundry and returned it this lunchtime still dirty. I was already at crisis melt down point with lack of t-shirts and underwear, so this came as a bitter blow. However, as fate would have it, a window of opportunity opened up. There is a washer/dryer which the wardrobe dept. carry as part of their touring gear for band garments which can't be trusted in the hands of strangers. As it happened, the proprietor of said machine hadn't come into the gig yet, being 'unavoidably detained' after a bit of a bender last night, so I saw the gap and went for it. My lighting pal Bruce, finding himself similarly sartorially challenged, joined in & so we crammed this washer to capacity and went off to do other things. Returning an hour later the machine appeared to be finished, but opening the lid I found it half full of water & soggy clothes. And then depression set in.
The source of the problem soon became apparent. The washing machine had been set up in the players tunnel, behind a gate right by the edge of the football pitch. It was plugged into a power strip which was gaffer taped to a faucet - a metal water tap - which was gently dripping. Anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of physics, or indeed anyone who's ever owned a hairdryer, will know that the combination of water and electricity can bring spectacular results, including sparks, death, etc., or in this case a completely melted plug spectacularly welded to the water pipe, resembling a tiny Dale Chihuly sculpture in black and brown. Drum tech Sam said that on farms in Ireland they have photographs of things exactly like it with 'Whatever You Do, Don't Do This' underneath. Anyway, to make a long story even longer of course it took forever to get this sorted out, but eventually the Italian electricians came through for us. By the time all was washed and dried the opening acts were well under way, so Bruce and I were able to experience the bizarre pleasure of folding up our tumble dried clothes whilst standing inside a cage being watched by 70,000 young Italians bouncing to the strains of raging thrash metal from some local punk band currently on stage. Nice day for it though.
Show was great too. They do love a gig in this part of the world and they don't come to watch, they come to be a part of it.