Neville Carseldine has been to hundreds, possibly thousands, of concerts and gigs, yet he has seen no more than a handful of them.
Having spent the better part of his career as security for both huge international artists and hallowed local acts, Carseldine is more likely to have his back to the performers as he watches out over the thousands of fans.
Entertainment security is etched into his veins, much like the ink of his tattoos, and the jovial giant will oversee more than 530 security and hosting staff working for Regional Facilities Auckland at next weekend’s U2 concerts at Mt Smart.
Now 53, he met his wife Ilze Carseldine working security – he was her boss at a Ricky Martin concert.
Ironically, despite both Carseldine and Ilze working at many shows since that night in 2000, it was only at U2’s previous concert tour that they were able to both see a show together as punters.
“After the last U2 360 tour, their security guys invited my wife and I to Australia to see them perform for four days,” he says. “I mentioned to their security that she had never been to a concert and before the second night they gave her a tour of the stage and gave her Bono’s set list.”
Their daughter Kayla was two weeks old when he was working on Westlife’s 2008 tour and their security team invited him to continue their international tour with them – and with Ilze’s blessing he spent three weeks with Westlife in Ireland.
He marvels how this former panel beater from West Auckland found himself staying in a penthouse suite of a Belfast hotel. “I had booked myself into a backpackers but the band all wanted to stay at their homes, so I got their penthouse. We were chauffeur-driven to Dublin. All these girls were banging on the car thinking it was Westlife and out gets Nev.”
After Carseldine returned from his OE in 1998 he started doing security until something else came along.
“I am lucky to have fallen into this space. I like to fly under the radar, and just do what I do.
“I started working in security moving cash in armoured trucks and moved into the entertainment side in 1998.
“The first gig that I worked was Mt Smart – Elton John and Billy Joel. The first night was on the stage, the second night was at Billy Joel’s dressing room. I was wearing a T-shirt that hadn’t been washed since the last guy wore it so many gigs ago.
“When I started working for other security companies I was appalled, I thought they would be done better. They could have washed the T-shirts to start with.
“There was no working relationship between Police and security, quite the opposite. You just waltzed up and did your job with no planning for the what ifs.”
Now he oversees security for Regional Facilities Auckland’s venues – Mt Smart, Western Springs and North Harbour Stadium – and this season will be liaising with the largest line-up of international and local acts ever known in one Auckland summer. He has spent the past week finalising plans for U2’s The Joshua Tree tour, at Mt Smart Stadium next weekend.
“It’s like a wedding – you see people doing so much planning and then it goes in a flash. You open the gates and five hours later it’s over.”
His collection of security lanyards, posters and T-shirts is also huge, but the humble man says it’s not as impressive as the international security teams he has worked with.
Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Guns n Roses, Eminem, Big Day Out for 12 years, Iron Maiden… discretion is key, and Carseldine won’t be drawn on who the divas are but does liken the role to being like a babysitter sometimes.
“You pull the sheets back and put them to bed. I am not there to tell them what is right or wrong, I am there to provide a safe environment for them.
“Sometimes bands would turn up late, you’d see the state of them when they get on stage and wonder if they are going to be able to perform. Then they do, amazingly. But what goes on tour should stay on tour.”
A father of four, Carseldine is aware the hours are a drawcard for him but hard on his family.
“I have tried to get out of it three times – I have left and within six months to a year I come back.”
His 14-year-old son Aidan loves music and made it to the regional finals of this year’s Rock Quest, and his 10-year-old son Lucas is learning to play the drums.
Carseldine describes his own music taste as eclectic. “When you hear music on the radio, it is just music. But when you meet the people and have an involvement, you appreciate it differently, you have an understanding of where it is coming from.”
He is reticent about talking about himself, and says he tries to do a good job and couldn’t have done all he has without the support of the promoters and artists.
“Seeing people leaving dancing and happy is great – I feel lucky to play a part in providing an environment that is safe and allows the artist to put on a really good show.”
Top played artists on Spotify: Pearl Jam, Six60, Cold Chisel, REM, Crowded House
First concert as a punter: Elton John and DD Smash at Western Springs in 1982/83.
I have always been into music, mainly New Zealand music. Some of the best memories I have, have been with local bands, you get closer to them, more connected with them, because they are a smaller touring party.
Not your everyday job: I had 10 days with Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam prior to the Seven Worlds Collide Tour. He was a really nice guy. We did all the rehearsals with him at a woolshed at Karekare. Eddie was the opening act for U2 on the Vertigo tour, and I was invited to go to Hawaii. They said to come over, I took that as lip service until one of their security guys rang me about 3am and asked if I was there yet.
The one that got away: Westlife’s head of security was hired to look after Robert DeNiro in the UK. He asked me to come – but I was in New Zealand and had commitments. Oh well.
Worst gig: The worst behaved audience was Tom Jones, that was just ugly – down to their attitude, alcohol and the age of the patrons.
Sunday Star Times