Tour Managing with The Ministry of Sound

I recently found a diary that I wrote for an artist management I was setting up in 2008 (failed to get off the ground) which outlined a few of the shows that I managed during my time at Ministry of Sound. Unfortunately I wasn’t very organised so didn’t write all my tours down, or even get photos at every event – but it’s all I’ve got!

I was 23 at the time of writing these and of a rambunctious nature – please take that into account when reading!

21&22/09/08 – Ministry of Sound – Aberdeen with Tony P

This weekend was fun, two clubs in Aberdeen booked Ministry of Sound so me and Tony P went to sort them out. I also met Will Mellor who was staying in our hotel and seemed like a nice bloke!

Both events were fun and full of freshers from the University. I got to relax and look around the city which was novel, look forward to going back some time.

09/07/08 – Housexy & Smoove – Abu Dhabi, UAE. With Paul Deighton and Skins

It took aaaaaages to set the venue up and I earned an unfortunate nickname which I won’t mention as I was likened to an 80’s pop singer! The club was lovely but it was steaming hot because the air conditioning had broken making it a sweaty night.

The DJ’s were great and really got the crowd going, the promoter was awesome and I’ve tried my best to get back over but have had no luck.

14/10/08 – Smoove – Bahrain, UAE. with Hanif

I spent hardly any time in Bahrain, it was literally a case of picking up the décor, dropping it at the venue, letting the club set up, going for dinner, going to the club, setting down, going to the hotel then going home. Although I did find out the promoter makes the staff eat rotten eggs if they get to work late or don’t show up.

Bahrain seemed nice and I’d like to go back some time but preferably for longer than 22 hours.

23/05/09 – Ministry of Sound – Dhaka, Bangladesh. With Shane Keyhoe and Dancers

Having never been to Bangladesh I looked forward to seeing what the country was like. For a while it looked like I wasn’t going because the flights weren’t properly booked. But after the epic flight I arrived and went straight to bed.

The next day I relaxed around the pool in the 37 degree heat before setting up the venue, which took no time at all. The actual night was quite good but poorly attended. The crowd seemed almost too embarrassed to drink at some points but loved our dancers.

We were actually meant to fly the following day but instead spent the day chasing up new flights for the following day and then went shopping in downtown Dhaka. Meanwhile one of the dancers came down very ill and had to retire to the hotel. Downtown Dhaka was like nowhere else I’ve seen; very run down and bustling but at the same time very friendly.

We were then taken to a clothing store where we were given free clothes for modelling them, which we were all very happy with. We then went to a bar where I found out one of our hosts was a huge Pantera fan!!!!

The next day both of our dancers were ill with sickness but we had to fly home! So Shane and I became baggage men and helped them through all the connections and security. Finally we got home….just in time to see Southampton relegated……maybe I should have just stayed there?

27/12/08 – David Guetta – Brussels, Belgium. With Tara McDonald, Cozi Costi, JD Davis and David Guetta

Absolutely awesome event. Tara and I had just arrived from the Romanian mountains and were excited to see the setup and the 10,000 person venue.

After a nice meal, Tara and I went to the venue, getting slightly lost on the way. The backstage area was packed full of really nice, friendly and interesting people. All the singers sets were fantastic and David was great too!

After the event we went to JD Davis’ apartment where we had a great after-show party which lasted until about 5am when I had to leave to check-in for my flight at 5:30am.

Needless to say, I was tired when I got home.

06/12/08 – MN2S – Cardiff, Wales. With Seamus Haji and Danism

This was one of the most décor heavy nights I have ever been involved with and I received absolutely no help whatsoever. I drove to the venue, set-up, got bored as nobody was around, ate, got bored, went to the club waited for the DJ’s listened to them play, bored, took the décor down then went to the hotel.

There was no atmosphere, no crowd, too much décor and not enough pay. DJ’s were good but it’s a bit hard playing to 30 people.

03/08/08 – Ministry of Sound – Split, Croatioa. With Danny Rampling

The club was situated off the beaten track up in the mountains looking over Split. The newly built outdoor club had a pool and several dancing areas. However, the club didn’t have a consistent crowd.

Danny played a great set and we were treated very well by our driver and host. I managed to oversleep when we were on our way to the club which I was embarrassed about, Danny was absolutely fine about it.

Work aside, I was most impressed by Split; the fish restaurant on the sea was amazing and the views of the bay were really nice. I recommend going there for any kind of holiday.

11/10/08 – Housexy – Croydon, England. With Jake Duval and Richard Murray

Earlier this day I had played for my football team and lost to our rivals, so whilst taking abuse via text I made my way to sunny Croydon.

The line up was great, Jake and Rich are awesome, however, the crowd were rubbish. A poor turnout meant that it became more of a private party to the promoter, not exactly what is best for the brand. I ended up not drinking and driving home after the night. Not one to remember.

25/05/08 – Clubbers Guide – Edinburgh, Scotland. With Nilesh Parmar

Nilesh Parmar, aka Bass Slammers, played a good set to an average crowd. The Scottish crowd are always up for a laugh though, so this kind of made up for it. The staff around the venue were good fun too! Everyone I spoke to seemed to have a good night!

I was a bit worried about the décor so had to put banners where I could see them so they weren’t stolen. It was nice getting tokens for alcohol up-front – this can be an issue when TMing!

The venue (which cannot be named) was a good size and had a good vibe to it. The monitors were a bit rubbish but this is always an issue!

05/06/08 – Housexy – Cairo, Egypt. With Shane Keyhoe and Tara McDonald

My first and only trip to Africa was a bit of a mixed bag really. A weekend in the heat with good company was slightly tainted by wind, lack of adapters and some fiery people.

The actual event was good, in a nice outdoor setting but the crowd were very small and the high winds made putting banners up quite difficult and dangerous. When actually trying to get to the venue to set up, my lift turned up half an hour late then insisted on calling into several stops on the way making me late which the promoter blew up at me about….an argument ensued.

The language barrier made it quite uncomfortable when trying to sort some of the misunderstandings, so this spoilt the trip a bit. The gig definitely wasn’t a success but not really a failure….just a mixed bag!

On the plus side, I met the amazing Tara McDonald, who I later became tour manager for…

23/05/08 – Clubbers Guide – Paisley, Scotland. With Josh Roberts

This was my first event with Josh, and it was fun. I had a bit of an issue with excess baggage on the plane but everything else was cool. Josh played an awesome set which went down a treat with an electric crowd.

The crowd were mostly students who had just finished their final exams so its not hard to imagine how freely the alcohol flowed.

I was staying in a B&B which was run by a lovely old lass and everything was great in Paisley, I’ve yet to go back so am looking forward to that opportunity.

22/12/08 – Ministry of Sound – Glasgow, Scotland. With Mark Knight

This was a fantastic night! On the day that Woolworths went bankrupt I danced into the night with strangers in a packed underground nightclub.

Mark Knight was great, ‘Man With The Red Face’ was out a few months earlier and it was one of my favourites so you can imagine my delight when he played it. I met some other TMs who I was going to work with about a year previous so it was nice to exchange some tips at the time.

Definitely want to see Mark Knight again when I get the chance!

France (Nice – I think) – date is lost….

Totally lost track of exactly where and when this was. But an awesome gig and time with the legend that is Paul Deighton! Highlight was Paul trying to pronounce Foie Gras and getting a baptism of fire of local cuisine.

The nightclub was awesome and there were some seriously intoxicated people – even more so than Paul and I!

23/06/08 – Housexy – Zante, Greece. With Shane Keyhoe

This was the opening night of the summer events at this club in Laganas, Zante and it was an absolutely awesome party. Shane did a really good job and the crowd loved him. I was left wanting to come back to the club straight away.

This was the first time I met the owners and promoters and it was obvious we were going to get along from the start. They were extremely passionate about what they were doing and I became good friends with the people there.

07/07/07 – Housexy – Zante, Greece. With Tom Murgatroyd

Toms flight was cancelled so I had to ‘go-it-alone’. I flew out with the décor, got the job done in an hour and enjoyed the heat.

I had a good time with the promoter Nicos on his supercharged golf buggy. I always had a great time here and looked forward to going back for the other gigs.

21/07/08 – Housexy – Zante, Greece. With Richard Murray & Seamus Haji

Zante is a great place for a party. Although this night wasn’t as much fun for Seamus Haji as he bore the brunt of poor planning by Greek airlines.

Seamus arrived in Athens to find out his connecting flight to Zante was well-overbooked so he couldn’t travel. So, the promoters of the venue sorted a taxi from Athens to a port where Seamus could take a speedboat.

The problem for Seamus was that he wasn’t accustomed to boats, especially the kind that hurtle at high speeds in the dark in choppy seas.

Needless to say, Seamus turned up looking quite green, and wasn’t feeling quite in the party mood! The rest of the night was great and a good time was had by all the Housexy crew.

08/09/08 – Housexy – Zante, Greece. With Jake Duval

This was the closing night of the summer events and we had a good time but it definitely felt like it was the wind down to the summer. It was quite sad for me because I had been out so many times and mad a lot of friends.

The meal was awesome, we tried all the local dishes at a beach restaurant. The night was good but slightly slow, the cocktails were as good as ever and the staff were as friendly as ever, great club!

26/04/08 – Clubbers Guide – Guernsey, Channel Islands. With Nilesh Parmar

If I’m to be completely honest I wasn’t expecting much of this event, my main association with Guernsey was that one of my heroes, Matt Le Tissier was from there and that I’d met Rolf Harris there as a child (feel like I should cut this bit knowing what we know now…).

Nilesh and I were blown away by a bumper crowd of extremely well natured hyperactive people. We were treated to champagne and all sorts of spirits. The staff were fantastic and really friendly.

I was left buzzing but ended up getting locked out of my hotel and had to phone the owner at his home at 3am to get a code to let myself in. Raging.

P.S. Why am I always pointing at Nilesh?

24/10/08 – MN2S – Ron Carroll, Seamus Haji, Bodyrox, Michael Gray, Joey Negro, Funkerman, Brian Tappert, Danism, Nick Bridges, Johhn Fiasco, Bart B More and Daley Padley.

This event was part of ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) and had a great line-up and a great crowd. The negative for me was there were 3 rooms to dress with a mountain of décor. This took several hours to put up and several hours to take down.

Because of the high ceiling a shady little cherry picker was used which felt like it was going to fall over when 40 foot in the air.

The weekend was topped of by me forgetting that the cakes in the café were actually hash-cakes and eating one with a coffee leaving me in a world of my own…… space cadet.

Apologies to Dave who saw the aftermath – I didn’t realise we were sharing a room and I was on a different planet when he got there.

23/05/09 – Housexy – Rotterdam, Holland. With Ricky Rivaro and Yasmin Le Bon

Not a particularly memorable gig and the Dutch trains didn’t live up to their reputation… we had a nightmare… I was travelling alone as the DJ’s were local so I didn’t really chat to them much. Yasmin seemed lovely even though we didn’t really speak.

The promoter was really nice and she kept me stocked up with drinks. I was quite tired from working on my recent projects for an MA in Marketing Management so I didn’t get too involved but still had a good time.

The trains were awful and I travelled all over the place on a mini tour of Holland; Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht!

18/07/08 – Anthems – Loughborough, England. With Al Taylor

This time Al and I were joined by Henry Walker who was training with Ministry at the time. The event was a multi-stage doo, with Fearne Cotton and Scouting for Girls also in the line-up.

The promoters were cool and kept us well watered, we had our own cosy little backstage area that we turned into a private club, it was lovely. I had to revert to my days as a security guard to evict some unwanted visitors to our backstage area.

The night was far more memorable for the ice-cube fight we had at the end than anything else but we all had a very good evening.

03/07/08 – Ministry of Sound – Skopje, Macedonia. With Damian Wilson

This has to be one of the oddest jobs of my career as a tour manager. First of all I got to the airport to be told the flight (to Sofia, Bulgaria) was cancelled because a nearby artillery base was on fire. So we rescheduled a flight to Thessalonica (North Greece) and got a taxi to Skopje from there.

On the way to the open air gig, we hit a tropical style storm, this meant the traffic went crazy with roads being closed due to flooding, also the lifts in our hotel got shut down, leaving me to carry a 30kg case up 7 flights of stairs.

The staff at the venue were great and took everything from me and set it up. Damian and I went for a meal with one of the promoters then we went back to the venue and waited for his set.

Damian’s set was going well, the goodies were getting thrown out, when on 50mins (of his set) two scary looking security guards came up and told us to stop the music. The crowd were pissed off to say the least and we took a fair bit of abuse. Then all the bars closed down and the security tried to usher us out of the venue.

So then we had an uphill struggle to convince the security to let us get all the décor down and it turned out that the security for the night were actually mostly members of a local gang. We then found out that the reason the event was closed down was because another local gang were jealous that they had been given the security job and wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.

So eventually we got the décor and went back to the hotel, even though people came back to check on us and I had to tackle the 7 flights of stairs.

The next morning we took the several hours long taxi drive and got to Sofia airport (which had re-opened) with about 10 minutes until the check in closed. But….the taxi driver took us to the wrong terminal, and, the other terminal was a 15 min bus link away. On top of that, I had no Euro’s left so I ran down the queue of taxi drivers, trying to bribe them with Sterling and finally the last driver in the queue accepted, we got to check-in as it was closing and we got home.

07/03/09 – Ministry of Sound – Oslo, Norway. With Laidback Luke

This was a fantastic event! Laidback Luke was great! The promoters were extremely warm (even when the weather wasn’t) and the crowd were great. Laidback Luke and his entourage were good fun and I didn’t want to go home after the event.

We decided that after the event we’d go to an after-party in some plush flats where many of the promoter’s friends had gone to. We stayed there for a bit until I was unable to stay on my feet then went back to the hotel.

The next day I walked around Oslo and took a lot of photos, unfortunately my camera wiped and I lost all photos of the event and Oslo! Gutting

18/05/09 – Ministry of Sound – Panama City, Panama. With Harry Choo Choo Romero, Behrouz, DJ Rap and Tom Sawyer

I was looking forward to Panama as I was a big fan of Prison Break and wanted to see if I recognised any of the places it was filmed, alas I didn’t. I did have a very good time though. I spent the first part of the event day looking round the shops and getting harassed by a guy who had a university ID from the 80’s claiming to be a lecturer selling Spanish poems. I don’t speak Spanish and I’m not into poetry…..jog on!

The event was great but I had to put up the banners…. 30 foot in the air with no ladder! So I used some stage scaffold and a few Panamanians (who didn’t speak English) to help me.

The event started at 10pm and lasted till 11am the next day but I didn’t leave until about 12, then I went to the after-party which I left at about 2pm. Needless to say, I was exhausted afterwards so I slept for several hours then went and caught some sun. That night I went to a restaurant overlooking the Panama canal and ate lots of seafood, then went back to the Hotel to pass out.

The next day I left bright and early to fly to London via Atlanta, getting harassed by U.S.A. border security….again.

23/03/08 – Housexy – Skipton, England. With Richard Murray

This was my first event with Rich, and it was shadowed by the stereotypical ‘warm-up’ DJ. The DJ both was tiny and the warm-ups insisted on staying in the booth for the entire gig.

The Skipton crowd were purely reacting to big-tunes so it was less of a Housexy night and more clubbers guide. Its quite typical of younger DJ’s trying to impress us lot from Ministry of Sound, although they don’t realise it makes them look crap.

The night went well apart from that and we ended up staying around till a silly hour talking about the oddest topics. The drive back to Southampton was a long one the next day!

12/07/08 – Housexy – Seoul, South Korea. With Paul Deighton

After a cruel flight with 2 connections from the event in Abu Dhabi, Paul and I were dropped straight to the gig by our driver “Mr Stevens” to find an extremely enthusiastic crowd. We had stops in Doha and Japan which meant we spent a whole day travelling.

Every move Paul made, the crowd reacted to which was great considering how tired we both were. The décor had to be put up while the club was open because we arrived late. The venue was fantastic and had large CO2 cylinders which looked great when they were all fired off at once.

The promoter Marshal was nuts (in a very good way) and spent the whole time trying to set me up with random girls, his method was to pick one then push you into them…..odd.

Everyone really enjoyed the night and by the end many clubbers were asleep on the furniture which was quite funny.

Looking back – I think this is probably my most memorable show – I had such a great time with Paul and we just ended up in so many crazy places – half asleep, having an awesome time.

17/02/08 – Housexy – Granada, Spain. With Tom Murgatroyd

One of, if not my first overseas tour with Ministry of Sound. I learned that sitting in transport and uncomfortable journeys would make up the most part of my job…

Not a particularly memorable night but I did enjoy a lot of alcohol in a converted theatre. The promoters were cool, especially Christian but didn’t speak much English, I felt a bit lost at times and ended up just walking around aimlessly.

Overall not one to remember for the night experience, but an important one for my career no doubt!

05/07/08 – Clubbers Guide – Strabane, Northern Ireland. With Al Taylor

Playing to a very messy and rowdy crowd Al Taylor was on form. Stabane is always fun with a great promoter, I ended up travelling there at least 4 or 5 times. Al had recently lost the top of his finger in a mad end-of-night set-down. Still ripped the place up though.

The crowd at Strabane are insistent on trying to steal all the décor at the end of every night so this was good fun. I caught a bloke and some lass getting it on backstage which was funny. There was one hallway in the club which was full of couples getting up to all sorts – quite the eye opener – excuse the pun.

Another good night with the Legend that is Al Taylor.

24/08/09 – Anthems – Sunderland, England. With Josh Roberts

The event was meant to be Nilesh Parmar so when Josh Roberts turned up I think some people were confused, however, this didn’t stop them from having a good time and the night was in full swing early on and continued like that to the end.

I was training a friend to TM at the time so there was three of us having a proper party. A good night was had by all, unfortunately the following day my exhaust fell off my car on the long drive back south.

20/03/08 – Anthems – Wakefield, England. With Nilesh Parmar

Playing in the backroom of a large club Nilesh ‘slammed’ some bass like only he does. The crowd were requesting the weirdest music and we weren’t going to play any of it until Nilesh gave them some of his own remixes that were extremely popular.

The night was good but getting up a straight, 25 foot ladder with nobody to hold it, the following morning wasn’t a particular highlight.

I ended up touring to Wakefield a bunch of times and I had a funny incident where I thought the promoter was calling me “Arcade” – turned out that he was calling my “Our Kid” but my southern-ears weren’t used to this as a nick name…