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Blog  > What I Have Learned  > International Gigs

26 February 2016

The last month has passed by in a whirlwind of excitement and drive as it was all systems go with two major international artists in town. Rodriguez and Roxette were both resounding successes and although it was a one night only for audiences, it was months of preparation and planning behind the scenes. Working with Big Concerts to make the magic happen, planning began almost a year before the artists come to our shores.

I didn’t know, the artist has the final say

To consider Port Elizabeth as a stop on a world tour, a lot of work goes in to researching:


  • How does PE fit into the tour schedule for South Africa?
  • Are suitable venues available when the artist is in South Africa?
  • Does the venue have the capacity to ensure economically viable?
  • Does the city have the population/demand for the artist to make the concert profitable?

Once this is researched and the city is deemed appropriate for the tour, the proposal is sent to the artist – who then approves the venue and dates.

When the artist signs off, things step up a gear – or ten!

Risk is assessed early on

If more than 2,000 people are expected to be in attendance, the organisers have to apply to SAPS for an event risk categorisation. This is a legal requirement where the risk is assessed and the requirements from the organisers and municipality are stipulated.

It’s a well-oiled machine

During the production schedule planning – everything is considered:

  • The transport times between cities
  • The set up time at each venue, including tech set up and sound checks
  • The logistics of getting the artist to Port Elizabeth
  • Finding suitable accommodation, including artist’s rider requirements and hosting the band and international and national crews
  • Compiling the health and safety plan to present to the event planning committee
  • Creating the food and beverage plan, including queuing systems
  • Booking local suppliers including: forklifts, water, furniture and décor for dressing rooms and backstage

If I had to list all the things from carting people, to hiring golf carts for internal transportation around the venue, to accounting paper trails, the list is honestly endless.  Because during these times, there is an entire team that adopts the attitude of ‘whatever it takes, we make it happen’.  I am proud to be part of that crew.

I didn’t realise the majority of the tech team actually tours with the artist

Most (if not all) international artists require the same tech team for the duration of the tour to ensure consistency at all performances.  As soon as the last member of the audience leaves the venue, the tech team is there de-rigging it all ready to leave at 3am and onto the next show in the next city. 

The stage is dismantled the following morning, and for Rodriguez and Roxette the stage travelled in no less than seven super link trucks!  It takes five full days to build.  During the build and dismantle medics need to be on hand – just in case.

Shew! And I haven’t even covered the incidental logistics! Food for crew during the entire time in our city has to be arranged – plus the artist will usually have catering requirements outlined in their rider.

So much thought goes into putting a memorable show on for the city – the planning spans months, the set-up takes days, all to create an unforgettable experience.  

Having worked behind the scenes in the productions office for these shows myself, I can truly say I appreciate the work that happens behind the scenes – and makes me enjoy the shows I see, no matter the city – just that  little bit more.


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