True or False: 10 Artist's Pre-Gig Rituals

True or False: 10 Artist's Pre-Gig Rituals

A shepherd's pie, toothbrushes, fires and crystal balls are all focal points of some artist's pre-gig traditions. OK, well some of them are. It's up to you to guess which are true and which are false... 

Keith Richards – Legend has it that the Stones' guitarist must eat a shepherd’s pie before going on stage. Not only that though, but he must be the one to break the crust first. Mick Jagger has said on the Stones' tour etiquette that “you never, ever, take the shepherd’s pie unless Keith Richards has broken the crust first.” Richards is so keen on the hearty meal that he allegedly even fired the band’s head of security and tour manager for nibbling his beloved pie before he’d taken his share. They were later reinstated however because it was soon realised the tour was a no go without them.


Alex Turner – The quiffed guitarist demands that every dressing room be kitted out with a new set of combs for him to mould his Elvis impersonation. The Arctic Monkey’s frontman has been known to order staff out to the nearest supermarket to buy some if they haven’t listened.


Haim – The Los Angeles sisters stand around in a circle and pull contorted faces at each other for 5 minutes. Este Haim says the exercise “loosens and relaxes [their] face muscles, warming [their] voices up.” She adds: “It’s hilarious too. It’s important to have a laugh to take the nerves away before a show.”


Robert Plant – Led Zep’s pre-gig ritual isn’t very rock ‘n’ roll anymore. Back in the 70s the group were famed for destroying hotel rooms and indulging in various substances to rile them up. Now the backstage antics involve copious amounts of tea, and a conspicuous ironing board for Robert Plant to iron his t-shirts before sweating them out on stage. Obviously Plant and co have mellowed a lot over the years.


Arcade Fire – Montreal indie outfit Arcade Fire cover their dressing room with glitter before hitting the stage. Frontman Win Butler remarks that this ritual gets the band in the “carnival” mood, which is the “perfect mindset for [their] music.”


Mumford and Sons – Defying health and safety, Mumford and Sons gather around a fire before playing live. The four inhale the fumes from the charred palo santo wood to relieve nerves, sore throats and help them reach the high notes. Marcus Mumford insists that the fumes from the South American wood is the only thing that help ease his headaches: “I’ve tried everything, pills, even went and had my brain scanned.”

Mumford & Sons will be headlining Reading & Leeds Festivals this August. 


Jessie Ware – The female vocalist is receptive to the odd bit of meditation, often sitting with a crystal and her own thoughts.

You can catch Jessie Ware at either Isle of Wight or NOS Alive.


Liam Gallagher – One of the faces of Britpop has his own little fetish for faces… but this time on dartboards. The Oasis and Beady Eye man likes to stick up a photo of Blur rival Damon Albarn or Take That singer Robbie Williams, which he can then nail into. “Well they’re both pricks, ain’t they?” said Gallagher when questioned about the weirdness of it all.


Frank Turner – Cahir, Turner's guitar tech, is instructed to shout how much he hates Frank and the rest of the band. “It’s called the empty pep talk”, remarks Turner.


Foals – Oxford’s finest all brush their teeth at the same time in a case of chronic superstition. According to guitarist Jimmy Smith, it all started out when they had their first A&R meeting. He says: “I remember us dashing to a sink to brush our teeth before that meeting so we made a good impression… and yeah, the meeting was great. So it’s kind of just carried on from there.” 


Ready for the moment of truth? Yes? Then here are the all-important answers:

Keith Richards - True

Alex Turner - False

Haim - False

Robert Plant - True

Arcade Fire - False

Mumford & Sons - True

Jessie Ware - True

Liam Gallagher - False

Frank Turner - True

Foals - False

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