Photos by Hui-chen, except where noted
There were over 15,000 screaming Thai people at Taoyuan Stadium on April 12, 2009. Now for the rest of the story….
The day at Taoyuan Stadium started out much like last year’s celebration, with the devoted kneeling on a long tarp, with bags of offerings in front of them.
These are objects of veneration to the Thai people.
Here we see the monks that are going to walk the procession line shortly.
It’s not really a procession, but this is a line of monks getting their donations, or “alms” which are offerings from the people, in the form of food usually. As the monks pass by the people with their bowls, the people place the offerings in it.
This shot is funny to me. Normally, Thai people take their shoes off when entering any structure, including the dentist’s office for example. Here, people have taken off their shoes to go into the backstage area, which is basically a tent.
What the monks did previously was on the playing field of the stadium. Now the monks gathered on the stage and used the microphones and sound reinforcement system to pray.
To me, it sounded just like Saturday’s program.
I’m not sure who these people are or why they rated a seat on the stage, but just like yesterday, there were some apparent VIPs who were up close to the monks.
In the meantime, a lot of people were taking photographs. That’s Kevin in the black shirt on the lower left, and David Reid behind the guy in the black and white striped shirt. At times it looked like a press conference on stage.
This is a shot of the camera crane on the field.
This is a shot of the main console area, where the show was mixed. The stadium has been painted since last year and it looked a thousand times better this year!
The devoted gather at the edge of the stage to hear the monks.
This shot was taken around 10:45 and the stadium was still quite empty.
The first part of the music program began with this guy playing a Thai instrument.
He had a couple of other musicians with him and they were playing traditional Thai songs.
I was backstage so I couldn’t see what was going on. Good thing that Hui-chen took these photos or else I wouldn’t have been able to see it.
This gentleman is the flute player. He has 2 of them at once.
There were a couple of dancers doing routines to the traditional songs.
The entire show was videotaped. I’d like to get a copy of that.
Whenever some form of live music came on, people pressed forward to be close to the players.
The flute player is now holding the smaller flute and playing the bigger flute.
From what I could hear, these guys sounded really great. I like traditional Thai music a lot and these guys played some classic songs.
All rather suddenly (as these gigs go) Blue Sky was called to the stage. Here are a couple of sound techs working with Mr. Oath to get the bass going.
This is me, checking things out. As it turned out, my amp settings were all messed up and I didn’t notice it.
Notice the blue cables in the hands of the sound techs. I had asked them if they had any really long guitar cables and they produced several for me to check out. I selected one of them and played a few notes very quietly on my Fender Stratocaster.
All we had to do was to set foot on the stage and the people started coming forward. By this time (11:40) the stadium had really filled up.
We went off on the first tune.
Something wasn’t quite right. My guitar had a very strange tone to it, and there was a squeal between chords as I was playing. It appeared that there was a problem with that long cable I had selected.
Before I knew it, it was time for me to take a solo on that first song. Any guitar player will tell you that one of the most frustrating things about playing is trying to solo when the sound isn’t right. I have to admit that I did play a very glaring wrong note out of key because I was so thrown off. I shouldn’t have been but that’s the truth about it. That song was over quickly, thankfully. I hate when things throw me off like that!
I ran back to the amp where the tech was and asked him to get me another cable. It was then that I notice that somehow, during some part of the setup, someone had accidentally changed the settings on virtually every knob on the amp. I quickly reset the amp. Here in Taiwan I have no personal road crew to set my equipment up. That’s been quite an adjustment from playing in the US and Canada.
I wasn’t the only one with problems. The drums needed a bit of tweaking before things were just right.
We started the second song without me as I was changing cables. Once I got back going again, with a good cable and correct amplifier settings, the second song was about 1/2 way through.
Here you can see the audience dancing and appreciating the music, despite the issues.
With the ending of the second song, RA said “that’s all” and ushered us off the stage. I cannot really say what happened. Was that our soundcheck? If so, we never played those 2 opening songs later in the “real” set. Was that supposed to be just a short teaser for the crowd that was getting thicker by the minute? I will never know because no one has explained the logic of a 2-song set to me. All I know is that we played 2 songs and split.
Just as suddenly as our 2-song set was over, there began a procession line going around the track.
I don’t really know much about what was being carried around so all I can do is present the photographs for you to enjoy, and tell you what little I do know.
I can tell you that these are images of the Thai King and Queen.
These are the same dancers at yesterday’s show in Taipei.
Ditto these guys.
This is some kind of crystal Buddha image.
I was backstage during nearly all of this going on. It was all videotaped.
This is Taoyan County Commissioner, Chu Li-lun addressing the crowd.
This is the crowd’s reaction to a politician speaking Chinese at a Thai celebration.
After addressing the crowd, Commissioner Chu was given the honor of turning on the fire hose to spray the crowd. The photos of the water spraying were taken by me because I didn’t want to risk Hui-chen getting hit with the hose.
After the water spraying, there was dancing. Some of the same groups from yesterday attended today’s celebration.
This shot was taken at just after 13:00 and shows the stadium field filling up.
Finally the dancing was over and it was time to play again!
This Thai gentleman came up on stage, and he sang “Shao Wei” in Chinese for the Taiwanese in attendance in the audience. I don’t know this guy’s name or who he is but he sounded pretty good.
When we hit the stage, I threw out a handful of these Blue Sky flags, and the audience loved them.
Mr. Oath (playing bass in the background) and RA join in the singing.
Now the crowd was pumped, and RA whipped them up into almost a frenzy. He’s a very good front man and he knows how to work a crowd.
The second set started off with a real bang!
On the second set, I (being highly critical) can tell you that the band sounded awesome.
Several people had paintings of Thai flags on their faces.
The crowd started enthusiastically waving the Blue Sky flags!
With the amp settings correct, and no strange noises coming from the guitar, I settled down to really enjoying playing this concert. By my estimate, there were more than 15,000 people in attendance. There were significantly more people there than last year.
I had worn one of my Thai silk shirts over the red t-shirt. It was hot but it looked really good in the sun. Our agent had decided that red was the color of the day so we wore our red shirts. There were no political incidents at all. In fact, there were not incidents of any type whatsoever, despite the fact that many in the audience were drunk.
Peter gets into a solo….
The guy in the center of the photo has a bottle of powder. That’s what made the cloud you see. Thais love their powder for Songkran!
RA works the crowd. Many people beckoned me to come down to the very edge of the stage so they could shake my hand. All I could do was smile and apologize. There was no way I was going to risk falling (or being pulled) into the crowd. This was one of the friendliest and best-behaved crowds I’ve ever had the pleasure of performing before.
If you look closely just to the left of RA’s waist, you can see water drops frozen in space by the camera’s shutter. Someone in the audience was spraying him with a water gun.
If you check out this photo by our friend Ashish, you will see drops of water on my guitar too, from the same guy. I’ll give him credit for trying to miss my guitar at least.
RA doing his thing….
It was a beautiful day, a fantastic audience and a successful concert performance. I wish all of our readers could have been there. That would have made it perfect.
Thanks for reading. We’d love your comments. Feel free to rate this article too!
Articles in series 2009 Thai New Year: