I have been reading How Music Works by David Byrne. It’s a wonderful book and I would recommend it to any music lover. It reminds me of a very funny story that I will share with you here.
In 1992 I was asked to support David Byrne on his NZ tour.
We played Wellington and Auckland and in both cities me and my band spent a bit of time with him talking about life and music and sharing the usual whisky that seems to accompany these tours. But that’s another story.
The David Byrne support was a very exciting one for me. I was a huge Talking Heads fan and to have the chance to perform on the same stage as one of my favourite song writers of all time was a dream come true.
The first show was Auckland, and we were at the Logan Campbell centre waiting for our sound check. It is standard for the support act to wait around for hours while the main act works out the best sound and lighting for the the night. To be honest that’s all part of the fun.
But this night the clock was ticking loudly and the doors were only half an hour away from opening – everyone was getting very concerned that we might not get a sound check, but there was nothing we could do so we just sat and watched and waited.
David Byrne jumped down from the stage and came up to us. “I am nearly finished and I know there isn’t a lot of time so why don’t you all set up your gear now, while we finish what we are doing, because I would really like you to have a sound check.”
Yes it’s true. He really was that nice.
I have this theory that very talented people are also very generous of spirit and have great manners. They have a confidence that only arrives with a complete acceptance of their work.
Anyway, we set up our gear while David Byrne finished his sound check .He wrapped up and came over and said something like – “Have a great gig, I look forward to hearing your music”
I think we had about 15 minutes left until the doors opened, so we had to hurry to get a sound check done. Wayne Bell was hurriedly tightening drum nuts and the guitarists were mucking around with their guitar amps.
We were all very high-spirited when we heard a great thunderous voice.
“I HAVE A PURPLE SHIRT!!!!”
We all looked up and saw this guy saying over and over I HAVE A PURPLE SHIRT!
The band looked at each other and we all agreed that – yes he had a purple shirt on.
“I have a purple shirt! See this purple shirt. I am the stage manager. NOBODY FUCKIN MOVES until the man with the purple shirt says so.
He walked up VERY close to Wayne Bell and said in a menacing voice, “Get this fuckin’ gear off the stage now”
We are all like – whoa!!!!
For me it was all getting a bit much. I was already nervous about the performance and very close to tears.
The doors were about to open, the purple shirt man was adamant we had to take our gear off stage, we were really confused and couldn’t believe what we were hearing.
We tried to explain how David Byrne had suggested we jump up and start setting up – but Mr Purple Shirt was not listening. We started to disembark.
Next thing Greg Peacock of Oceania Sound was on stage. He said very quietly to the man with a purple shirt…
“I have a green shirt, and the thing is I own all this sound equipment –so lay off the band or me and my crew are going to pack up all the gear and go home.” So that was that.
We had a 5 minute sound check and played our show.
Then we watched David Byrne. He was amazing.