About six hours - and about 250 people - was all it took to assemble the stage on which the Rolling Stones will perform to more than 35,000 tonight at Mt Smart Stadium.

But don't let that trick you into believing it's a simple task.

The band's production manager Dale Skjerseth, a politely spoken 52-year-old from Arizona, controls a permanent crew of about 63, who buzzed about the stadium yesterday like an army of high-vis ants.

And though it's tempting to suggest that military-like precision might be needed to turn two cargo 747 jets' worth of gear into a stage with three giant screens and a catwalk that reaches into the crowd from centre stage, Mr Skjerseth says it's better than that: "We finish. We move the machine."


Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood bring with them about 75 guitars, each musician has his own instrument 'minder' and guitars are changed after each song.

Generators will power tonight's show with backup equipment locally hired just in case.

Sound and lighting is done by Kiwi companies, the stage is Belgian-made, and once tonight's show - the last of the tour - is over, gear will be stored in 10 locations around the world.

Packing was a fine art and Mr Skjerseth said one incorrectly placed pole could mean starting over.

Despite all this, the only thing that posed a challenge was the weather.

The secret, he said, was keeping morale high, information flowing and bellies full.

Having worked for the Stones since he got a job on the band's Voodoo Lounge tour in 1994, Mr Skjerseth says he's never got bored, and never looked back.

"Every day is a new day, with new people and new surroundings."


His career started with working for smaller bands in the late 70s.

"It was a summer job in 1979, and it became a lifestyle."

As for what it was like working with Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie Watts, Mr Skjerseth said the Stones were "fantastic," and it was an honour, but didn't let much else out of the bag: "They're my boss."

Smiling, he said he thought tonight's performance would be spectacularly exciting.

"Maybe even more exciting this time than last time."