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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Killing Company and The Who - a review from backstage

Killing for Company + The Who - a review from Backstage

(PICTURES BY ANDREW PRITCHARD -The good ones!! and by Jeff Collins - The wonky mobile phone ones!)

Friday June 1st. The big day has arrived for Killing For Company. The big gig! Supporting The Who at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. I arrive at the ground with my friend and photographer Andrew Pritchard in tow. At the side entrance - where all the band's buses and trucks are parked - we catch sight of Killing For Company bassist Steve Williams. Andrew and I had already covered the band at their warm-up gig at The Point in Cardiff in front of a few hundred people four days earlier. The band had been in awesome form - especially as it was only their fourth gig.

Steve takes us backstage where we're given access-all-areas VIP tour passes. Then its up to the band's hospitality suite. The band are nervously waiting to discover if they'll be getting a soundcheck. (TOP PICTURE IS BACKSTAGE AT WHO GIG)

The Who's stage crew are still testing the band's instruments and have over-run into the rehearsal slots allocated to the support bands. It's a tense time.
4-10pm. To much relief, Killing for Company are finally led up onto the stage. It's huge. A gigantic video screen and monstrous lighting rig hangs above our heads and to the right, off stage, are dozens of guitars ready for use by The Who. I watch from the side of the stage as Stuart Cable sets up his drum kit and puts it through its motions. 9FOURTH PICTURES DOWN IS STUART SETTING UP HIS DRUMS ON STAGE)
One by one the rest of the band get their turn. Steve Williams cranks up the bass while Andy Williams and Richie King plug in their guitars. Finally vocalist Greg Jones gets a try out. Then the band have an unexpected suprise as they are told they have time to run through one song. They play She Won't Wait, stopping near the end as Stuart is having problems hearing the bass monitor because Steve is so far over the other side of the stage from him. It means he has trouble keeping time. The problem's corrected and Luckily the band get to run through most of the song one more time. This time its perfect!!!
"Everybody happy with that?" asks Stuart. "yes" comes the unanimous reply. "Good we'll go with that". Stuart turns to the sound guys "It's sounds great boys. Cheers" and with that we head backstage -- only an hour from the performance itself!!!
After a very nerous wait - the band and I are led from the hospitality suite on the third floor back down through the bowels of the stadium to the backstage area. Once up the ramp and through to the side of the stage - The Who's stage manager asks the band if they want someone to introduce them. Well the job falls down to me. "Go on Jeff." shouts Stuart while Steve gives me a big smile and the double thumbs up. I walk out in front of all the equipment to the front of the huge stage and stand in front of the middle microphone. The crowd pay attention to the sudden activity on the stage and gaze my way. Having had no time to think of anything to say I simply welcome the crowd to the stadium. "We've a great time ahead ending with the Legendary Who" I say "But now, the first band ever to play at this wonderful stadium. Get ready to rock. It's Killing For Company." To huge applause for the band, I step back as they take to the stage. (SECOND PICTURE DOWN IS ME INTRODUCING KILLING FOR COMPANY AT THE LIBERTY STADIUM)

The launch into the superb song She Won't Wait. By the second song Enemies - the crowd is clapping along to the catchy choruses drifting across the arena.
By the third song - my favourite - The Boy Who the audience is hooked. There must be between five to seven thousand people out there absolutely revelling in Killing For Company. The band is so tight. Stuart pounds away ferociously forming a marvellous rock rhythm section with Steve Williams. The two guitarists Andy Williams and Richie King blaze away furiously weaving intricate and heavy riffs at the same time. Singer Greg Jones is a sensation. A bundle of energy, he twirls, spins and rampages across the stage swinging the mic - and at any given chance he's off the stage - down with the photographers and then up onto The Who's two big bass speakers in front of the stage. He's captivating to watch and has the audience eating out of his hand by the last song Say About Me.

The half hour set is over and its been a resounding success.
The Who take to the stage two hours later. They open with Can't Explain, The Seeker, and Who Are You among others. The opening numbers are dogged by a series of power failures. Song five Behind Blue Eyes is the first to be played with a power glitch. "A song from beginning to End!! The wonders of modern technology!" says Roger Daltrey sarcastically.
The Who motor through a two hour set which has the crowd dancing and clapping along. They finish with The Kids Are Alright, Pinball Wizard and See Me, Feel Me..
Afterwards Roger Daltrey is clearly upset by the techical problems and tells me he didn't feel the night went well. I try to reassure him by telling him that the crowd loved it and didn't mind the slight hitches, which were humourously dealt with by the band. (THIRD PICTURE DOWN IS ME SPEAKING TO ROGER DALTREY)
Stuart Cable supported the Who back in 1997 with the Stereophonics. He and Roger are friends and The Who's frontman predicts big things for Killing For Company. "They're a tight unit and could go far" he insists after the show. With an endorsement like that - who could argue (forgive the pun!).

Jeff Collins

ROCK LEGEND AT ROCKFIELD a book - featuring Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Robert Plant, Rush and many many more - is out on September 15th published by The University of Wales press. It's now available for pre-order on Amazon and all good book stores including WHSmith, Walmart, Tesco, Waterstones etc.


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