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Diary of a rollercoaster ride - by Adrian Holmes

A Postbox, Stourbridge
Thursday 7th March 2002 23:10:
Driving home after rehearsing with my regular band The Herbz, I drop a package addressed to a PO Box in Aylesbury and containing a CD entitled "Ade Plays Mosley" featuring cover versions of several Marillion songs recorded with my 'occasional' outfit Skyline Drifters into the post box. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained!" I think to myself "Here's hoping …"

Outside An Office Building, Staines
Monday 25th March 2002 16:30:
I feel knackered. I've been working all weekend and things aren't going well. Time for a well earned cigarette break. My mobile rings; "Hi, it's Colin from The Racket Club. You put in for Swap The Band, didn't you? Well, I'm afraid I've got a bit of bad news... " I immediately think, "Oh well, never mind..." "…you've been picked to play drums on Between You & Me." OH MY GOD!

Jumpin' Jacks, Cardiff
Wednesday 3rd April 2002 22:50:
I've just watched Brave being performed live for the first time in 8 years. Wow! Despite a few mistakes, it was still one helluva show. I've changed location several times throughout the show; starting off centre back (could only see tops of heads and video screen), then stage left (could see Ian & Pete fine and a bit of Mark) and ending up stage right (great view of h & Rothers, nothing of the rest). The last notes of Made Again have just died away and I'm cheering my head off.

A keyboard sample starts and the band kick into Between You & Me … Arse! I need to SEE this! A very quick sprint around the perimeter of Jumpin' Jacks gets me back to my previous viewpoint where I can watch what Ian is doing. "Oh! He plays it like THAT!" After the gig I get a few pointers from the man himself and manage to track down my fellow Swap The Band drum-mate; a very tall, very friendly Australian named Matt who has amazing rings in his ears (and I mean IN his ears, not through them!).

Pontins, Brean Sands
Saturday 6th April 2002 10:00:
I started out with such good intentions last night; take it steady on the beer and get to bed early(ish). The cunning plan went horribly wrong somewhere. Probably at the point at which a group of us on a post-Brave high agreed to go back to the chalet of an extremely drunk, extremely affable Norwegian named Andreas for a night-cap and a bit of a sing-song.

It's 10:00 and I'm standing outside the main hall by the (closed) merchandise shop nursing a beauty of a hangover. I'm sure the email from Colin said to meet here at 10:00 … the only other people around are those waiting for the shop to open. A few minutes later, Lucy arrives and between us we open the store. A few more minutes later and the real 'shopkeepers' arrive to relieve us. I go in search of some black coffee. One strong dose of caffeine later and I wander into the main hall where Lucy introduces me to the aforementioned Colin and Rich (Ian's drum tech). I get to make myself comfortable behind Ian's black Tama Artstar II kit and do a spot of 'air drumming' to get used to where everything is; the hall is so quiet and empty, I'm frightened to make any noise.

Over the next hour, my fellow Swappers arrive with various partners and friends in tow. Lucy has asked Darren, a mutual friend, to take some photos and Rich (a fellow Skyline Drifter) also wanders in, so at least I've got a few supporters in the room. The crew checks that everything on stage is 'in order' as one by one, the various members of the band drift into the hall. I don't know whether it's the cold (that hall is bloody freezing when it's empty) or nerves (or both), but my knees are physically shaking. After the band run through When I Meet God, it's finally time for the swaps to begin … and I'm first up!

I wander onstage, say 'Hi' to everyone and take over from Mr. Mosley on the drum stool. Mark starts the keyboard sample and following a "One, Two, ugh, ugh!" from H, we're up and running. The run-through goes well and at the end the assembled Swappers, supporters and crew give me a cheer. "Not much wrong with that!" says Mr. Hogarth with a smile. I (finally) start to feel a bit better. I stand and watch the rest of the dry-runs; everyone is nervous but everyone does well. At 12:45 we finish the rehearsal and the doors open. Half an hour until show time. I need a toilet and a Red Bull; in that order!

Pontins, Brean Sands
Saturday 6th April 2002 13:15:
Marillion are about to walk out onstage with a different drummer for the first time in nearly 19 years … and that drummer is ME! I stand with the band at the side of the stage; "Enjoy it! No pressure! Just 1,800 fans and a film crew!" says Mark with a grin. "Ladies & Gentlemen please welcome Marillion." The band, including yours truly, walk out onto the stage and take up their positions. Mark triggers the sample, H shakes his maracas and here we go! Or do we? Rothers has a problem with his guitar! After what seems like a lifetime cycling round the intro, the guitar kicks in and we really are away. The next 5 minutes fly by in a blur; don't rush, watch the metronome, keep an eye on Pete, remember the changes, Bloody Hell There's A Lot Of People Out There!!! CRASH! The song ends and the roar from the crowd gives me a thrill like I have never felt before. Lucy pushes and H pulls me centre stage to take a bow. I wander off to the side of the hall in a daze. The whole thing was like a Disney rollercoaster ride; you watch it from afar, nervously await your turn wondering if you dare go through with it … and then it's all over in a matter of minutes … and you want to do it again!

As I stand clapping and cheering my fellow Swappers, so many people come up and congratulate me. At the end of the set, we all return to the stage for some group photos in front of the still cheering audience. "Oh What A Crowd" indeed! Afterwards as the hall empties, we are interviewed first by the journalist from Q and then by the film crew.

And then it's back to reality and a quick 2.5 hour drive up to Birmingham to play a wedding gig with The Herbz. This means missing all of the Saturday evening set AND all the excellent support acts, but as the gig was booked before the convention was announced, there's no escaping it.

M5 Southbound, Somewhere between Birmingham and Brean
Sunday 7th April 2002 01:00:
Well, that was a bit different from lunchtime! The thought struck me as I was helping to set-up the P.A. for The Herbz gig that I had played with a bigger monitor than our main speakers some 6 hours earlier! Still, the gig had gone well, the people getting married had been nice and the assembled crowd very appreciative. Now it's time to return to Pontins, hear all about the set that I have just missed and get some sleep before the final acoustic set from Marillion tomorrow. I've just put disk 2 of Anorak In The UK into the CD player and Between You & Me starts to blast from the speakers … a smile creeps across my tired face … been there, done that … must buy the t-shirt tomorrow ; )

Thanks to Marillion and all their crew for inviting me aboard the rollercoaster.

Thanks to everyone who applauded, cheered and wished me well.

Thanks to my Sue, Sam and Kate for putting up with my drumming and love of Marillion.

Mr. Holmes' appearance was brought to you by paracetemol, black coffee and Red Bull.

First posted on the Web UK website in 2002.



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