The trip to Calgary was filled with delicious anticipation. I had bit the bullet and decided to go for broke and bought an OnStage ticket. I really wanted to get a different perspective and figured this would do it. The OnStage package included all the bits and bobs that come with VIP packages (T Shirt, souvenir ticket, ect.) with the exception of also sitting on stage and receiving a backstage tour.
Our tour guide, Andy, a carpenter by trade, had the job of building everything that was needed for the massive stage production, which included set up, take down and obvious other tasks (such as tour guide, lol) and apparently that massive metal Q was damn heavy. He, along with 44 other stage crew would be with Queen throughout their tour, which, so far, is set to finish in Australia. For the North American leg the crew travels about in one of 13 buses. However, Roger, Brian and Adam (and likely the rest of their band and entourage) fly from venue to venue, usually leaving from the concert to go directly to the airport and rest assured, they do not fly commercial.
Andy showed us around and introduced us to several members of the crew. They were all a lively bunch and seemed to love their jobs- who wouldn’t?! I found out that the big screen used on stage has a million pixels. Also learned, that some of the guitars Brian May travels with are the same ones he used from the early days. Andy also remarked on Dr. Brian May’s great intellect and how England should be knighting him any day now.
Andy had great praise for Roger, Brian and Adam saying that they are friendly and great fun to work for and often take the time to greet or chat with the crew.
Finally we were shown to the VIP pit and warned that there would be absolutely “no touching the performers”, what? damn!
The VIP pit was situated on the left of the stage beside a ‘screamer’, which is what they call the metal steps that jut up and off the stage on both sides (a performer runs up them and the crowd screams, hence the name). There were 10 of us and I sat in front, next to one of the screamers. The pics from this view would mean taking a lot of side shots but the live views would be incredible as Adam’s water station was beside the pit. Most of my fellow VIPers were contest winners. (lucky devils)
Only two of this group had personally met Brain and Roger, during a white hat ceremony, a Calgary tradition apparently, where they presented Brian and Roger with white cowboy hats. They did not meet Adam. (We had been told prior to our tour that any meetings with the band would be by chance as they were all in their dressing rooms prepping for the show).
Sitting next to me was a lovely, buxom blonde who amply filled her stunning outfit. (this will have relevance a little later).
I realize I might be biased but the Edmonton crowd were louder and more enthused than that of Calgary. Edmonton had stomped, sang, and cheered for Queen to come out; the noise level filling the air with such excitement that it had showed on the faces of the band when the curtain went up. As Adam noted on Twitter with a tweet later that night, Edmonton was pumped!
Whereas Calgary’s crowd seemed willing to patiently wait with sporadic hoots and whistles. I asked my lovely new blonde friend if Calgary seemed quiet to her and she commented that they were a rather reserved crowd in comparison to other cities. (Her boyfriend was a musician for a famous performer, so I figured she should know.)
This is not to say that Calgary didn’t go crazy when the curtain finally went up. Adam was in fine form and gave his all. He sang with emotion and the crowd responded. The day off between shows was evident in his vocal acrobatics as he sang more glory notes and runs than he had in Edmonton, where he had performed back to back concerts. (Saskatoon was the night before Edmonton.)
Brian May, Roger Taylor, Neil Fairclough, Spike Edney and Rufus Taylor all came over to us at some point to say hello and we were close enough to touch the face of any one of them but behaved appropriately (under threat of tackle and expulsion by security, hahaha!). Roger and Taylor were class acts and their touching songs and nostalgic videos of Freddie and them in their youth brought a tear to the eye for many, I’m sure. Brian’s guitar solo although different from Edmonton was equally impressive as were Roger and Rufus’s drum duelling.
Adam also acknowledged us in the pit as he came over to get water- he waved and smiled, yes- there was swooning. HaHa! During ‘Somebody to Love’ he walked towards myself and my lovely blonde friend, stared right at us and held the mic up to our faces. If he wanted us to sing, which he did, it wasn’t happening. He laughed and joked with my lovely buxom blonde friend and said (to paraphrase, as Adam’s language was much more colourful) that with her large bounty, surely the girls could sing. We erupted in laughter and with that he twirled about and finished the song. After the show Spike shook our hands and Rufus Taylor presented my lovely blonde friend with one of his drumsticks. (apparently she has quite the collection).
Sitting OnStage was a fabulous experience to get up close to the band and I’m really glad I bit that bullet. Bear in mind the following pics are from the side stage vantage point. I also took some short video clips but since I am working on an ipad I am having some issues with loading them and will do that when I am back home. Next stop, part 3- Vancouver!!