“If we’re going to be on TV, maybe I should put jeans on” I said, standing in the lobby of our Orlando hotel at 7.30am wearing shorts. An hour later we found ourselves being interviewed live on Fox 35 TV. Not only was I still wearing shorts, but my legs had become a topic of conversation and the camera man was pointing his camera strait at them as the presenter commented on their hairiness (they look like I’m wearing a pair of wooly trousers – kind of like Mr Tumnus) much to Paul’s amusement who was also wearing shorts although his legs don’t have the same comedy value as mine.
The news story was not my hairy legs but that we, The Temperance Movement were the band that would be supporting The Rolling Stones at the Citrus bowl that evening. On a large TV screen behind us was an ariel shot of the stadium filmed from the Fox helicopter showing the gigantic stage that we would be performing on later to a crowd of 80,000. The day was already beginning to feel somewhat surreal.
Following the TV interview, we played a couple of tunes live on the radio for Lynch and Taco. We’d been on their show only a month previously when we played a small Cinco de Mayo acoustic gig in a downtown Mexican restaurant. This time, all talk was of the show that night. Orlando had been gripped by Stones fever!
Following this, we drove back to the hotel to collect our thoughts and our guitars before setting off for the Citrus Bowl.
All backline had been hired in for the show as ours was stored on the other side of the country in Seattle so, upon arriving, we went strait to the stage to check it all over. The air was hot and heavy and I became glad of my shorts.
Our dressing room was in one of the corporate sky boxes situated high up in the stadium to the side of the stage. These boxes are accessed by either a lift (or elevator depending on which side of the Atlantic you reside) or about 12 flights of stairs. The lifts were frustratingly slow and, as a consequence, we found ourselves running up and down the stairs for much of the day which took some considerable effort in the hot and humid Florida climate.
Once the Stones had finished their soundcheck, it was time for ours.
Towards the end of our soundcheck, as the 80,000 crowd began to trickle into the stadium, we were approached with a request you don’t hear often -“Mr Richards would like to say hello once you’re done. He’s waiting in his dressing room”. The day then got even more surreal
We were shown to camp X-Ray where we found not only a very welcoming Keith Richards but also Ronnie and Charlie who were equally congenial. They seemed genuinely pleased to see us again. There was a lovely atmosphere in the dressing room owing to various members of the Richards clan. Music flowed from the boom box on the table, the shepherds pie remained hitherto untouched. We felt honoured to have been invited into Keith’s sanctuary. He appeared relaxed and happy and who wouldn’t be, playing in the greatest Rock’nRoll band of all time surrounded by a loving family and friends. Luke and Paul chatted with Keith about guitars and music, Phil was nattering away with Ronnie whilst Damon and Charlie hit it off. I took a moment to look around and take it all in. It was a special moment. Thanks Keith.
The show itself was unforgettable. Whereas on the last shows with the Stones, we were given 25 minutes. This time we had a glorious 45 minutes to perform. We made the 5 minute walk from our dressing room to the stage, adrenal glands pumping hard, and opened our set with “Midnight Black”. It was still light when we began but, as it grew darker and the lights came on, there was a definite moment when everything clicked into place and the crowd were with us. People were there to see the Stones, not us. We were just an amuse-bouche before the main course but we felt an overwhelming amount of appreciation from the people of Orlando and, as we exited the stage, buzzed up and jubilant, we knew that we’d just experienced something very special. Thank you to The Rolling Stones and their touring party for such an incredible opportunity and for making us, once again, so welcome. We tip our hats to you.