INTRODUCING: MICK FREER, HEAD OF CONCERT TOURING
Pulling in big name acts such as Status Quo, Mark Knopfler and New Order is no easy task but someone’s got to do it! That person is Mick Freer, Head of Concert Touring here at Hawthorn.
Having worked here for five years Mick has opened doors for Hawthorn to work with some hugely respected productions and talent. We caught up with him to find out more about him and what he’s been up to more recently.
Tell us a bit about your career background?
I started out in fringe theatre as Assistant Stage Manager at Soho Poly Theatre in 1979 where I did everything from painting sets, controlling sound desks and lighting design to making lunch and sweeping up. I then joined the Young Vic Theatre as Deputy Stage Manager in 1981.
I went freelance in 1982 and got my first experience of touring productions with Kafka’s ‘The Trial’, Macbeth and Twelfth Night. Over the next six years I worked with a range of dance and theatre companies, providing lighting and stage management. A stint on a cruise liner and even a stab at acting followed – I made a couple of appearances in TV series Juliet Bravo and Hold the Back Page!
How did you make the leap into concert touring and come to join the Hawthorn team?
1988 was a year of big change for me when I joined Samuelson’s Concert Productions; my new boss was not impressed by my theatre CV and said if I wanted a crack at the world of ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ I would have to learn anew how they did things in this industry.
I started by working in the cabling department and driving the van to support shows at gigs across London. Very soon I was asked to assist as a lampy on shows before going freelance again in 1990 and entering the world of touring with bands throughout Europe, Australia, Japan and the USA.
I finally came off the road in 2008 joining Bandit Lites as a Client Representative and starting to pull in my own gigs. It was in 2011 that I was given the opportunity meet Martin Hawthorn where we discussed the ambitions and plans of Hawthorn, and was bought on board to develop concert touring for the business.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake early, around 5am and kick off the day with a short workout to get the brain started and check my emails. From then on there is no such thing as a typical day, it’s always varied but to name just a few things I could be:
• Sourcing new work and identifying new opportunities to further develop our concert touring business
• Preparing for jobs
• Booking crew and equipment
• Meeting tour and production managers, lighting designers and promoters
• Visiting running tours to make sure everything is running smoothly
So who are you working with at the moment?
It’s been a great summer and we’ve been working with the team behind Sundown and Reload festivals, who had some great headliners in Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Pendulum and Craig David. We also supplied a lighting system for a series of concerts held a Caldicot Castle by Monmouthshire Council, which included a performance from Little Mix and an 80’s festival headlined by The Human League.
Right now, I’m working with Squeeze to supply lighting, video and rigging on their forthcoming tour and we’re also supplying lighting and drapes for Ricky Gervais’ run of shows at the Eventim Apollo, which is a real privilege. At the beginning of November we’re supplying a lighting production package for Status Quo’s European and UK dates. It’s a busy time!
If you had to give some advice to someone who is looking to get started in the industry, what would it be?
Be prepared to start at the bottom, work hard and do everything you can to gain experience. Make as many contacts as possible and keep in touch with the people you meet through work. Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams – if you have passion, drive and ambition, you’ll make it.