Only video clip i made….why is it i get the tall fookers in front of me ? LOL
I’ve been going to Sheffield arena since 1991. It took a few visits before we wised up to the parking being expensive & a bitch to get out of the place after the gigs. We started parking at Meadowhall. It’s only 10mins walk & free too park. Imagine our surprise to find out parking is now restricted there ! Supposedly there’s ANPR cameras & if you stay too long, you get a fine! We went in Meadowhell & i asked someone about the parking. She suggested going down road towards Arena & to park at “Valley Centertainment”(where cinema is) as it’s free there. Andy was still a bit paranoid about parking there,but after i’d chatted to a couple of people on their fag breaks, they said it would be fine. So we walked back to Meadowhell, did some shopping, had some food (In the most expensive Wetherspoons we’ve ever been in ! Even more than London prices!!) then walked to arena. They had an official booth outside selling the merchandise. Difference between Nottingham & Sheffield was they actually had an event shirt for today ! Just had to buy one 🙂
Once again, on entry, no searching, just checks that tickets matched to I.D.s I really think this is a great step forward to beat the touts 🙂
We had reasonable seats; about half way back on the side. Shinedown play the usual 9 song opening set, starting with “Adrenaline”. Brent comes out with his usual shtick about saying hello to the people next to you etc. Before “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom), he gets the crowd to split down the middle ,so he can walk in amongst them & get em in the mood for some jumping around. What would impress me here is if he was to STAY IN THE CROWD for the jumping. But he goes back on stage & says on the count of three, he wants everyone stood up & jumping. It’s an impressive sight. After that, the mood is brought down a little with the moody “How Did You Love”. “Enemies” is a highlight of the show for me. It just rocks. Then a complete contrast is next when they perform “Second Chance”. Still a beautiful song. Their set finishes with a rousing version of “Sound of Madness”
Maidens set is also the same as ever on this leg of the tour. Tonight, for myself, i didn’t think the first song had got the sound quite dialled in. But it improved during “Speed Of Light”. Next we get the classic old school 1-2 of “Wrathchild” followed by “Children Of The Damned”. Bruce is his usual talkative self. He says ” Ello !” & isn’t impressed with the reaction so then says ” I said Ello !!”. He’s now greeted with the cheers that should have happened first time 😉 He mentions how they’re gonna play a lot of the new album tonight “The clue is in the stage set “. He also talks about how they’re having a go at the ticket touts (which, as we all know, are in fact the ticket distributors who automatically push tix to the resellers sites…which the big companies own!) & have implimented a new system of having to match i.d. to who bought the tix. It’s been long overdue that someone took a real stand against those fuckers & i’m real proud that it’s Maiden who started the ball rolling. I have nothing but respect for them for taking this initiative ! I digress…. “Children Of The Damned” is a timeless classic.
We’re then brought back to the modern day songs of “Death Or Glory” & “The Red & The Black”. Can’t beat a bit of a sing a long 🙂
“The Trooper” is great with Bruce hamming it up with Janick, messing about with the flag.
“Powerslave” is another classic. It takes me back to 1984 when i followed the tour around the UK – such great memories 🙂 I’m still not keen on “The Great Unknown” & would much prefer to hear “Hallowed Be Thy Name” in it’s place. But as we recently found out, there’s some old chancer trying to sue them over the song as Maiden did “borrow” parts of the original ‘Life’s Shadow’. Apparently, the matter was settled years ago, but now someone seems to be trying it on with Maiden.
“The Book Of Souls” comes over great
As ever, as the intro to “Fear Of the Dark” starts, we all have a great sing a long. Great stuff ! They finish the main set with “Iron Maiden”.
Come encore time we get “The Number Of The Beast”, “Blood Brothers” & the final song of the night “Wasted Years”.
Overall, i think i prefered the show in Nottingham over the Sheffield one. But hey, it was still great & maybe i’m being a bit picky. Tonights show was the 51st time i’d seen Maiden, so maybe i have the right to be picky lol.
We didn’t hang about afterwards & went straight to the car. Had a feeling it would be a pain getting out of the place & damn it was ! Just getting out of car park was hard enough, but once on dual carriage way, we just didn’t seem to move ! Andy was getting stressed that the car looked like it was over heating & eventually when we got to Meadowhell, we turned off & parked up a while. We took a totally different route out of the city, via Rotherham, parts of which we remembered from when we visited the “Magna Centre” for the HRH AOR show back in 2013 ! Whilst this was a longer journey, i think it was a wise choice. We got home around 02.00AM & damn was i knackered ! As ever, huge thanks to Andy for driving tonight, it was most appreciated. Will we go to Sheffield Arena again ? Hmm, i dunno….but have already figured out a better place to park if we do go 😉
Last night was a late one, so i was pleased my train too London wasn’t so early. Journey went well & i was soon at Hotel Rob where Kristina greeted me. After a while we set off to Shepherds Bush where we’d meet Rob for pre-gig food/drinks. Jim also joined us. At the venue, there was quite a queue of young uns waiting in line. Fortunately we needed to collect tix from the box office as they held both mine & my “carers” ticket there. We went through side door & waited in a tiny room with about 8 more people. Tonight i was trying the balcony for the first time. I hoped to get a seat on front row,either side. Eventually we all piled into the lift & once up there we were told to go back downstairs ! Reason? PVRIS were doing a M&G in the bar area where we needed to walk through. After a few minutes we once again went up in the rickaty old lift. Started walking through the bar & AGAIN were told to leave ! This time we just waited other side of the door. Eventually we got in & too my disapointment, both sides were totally reserved (assume friends/family & industry peeps). The first row had been took by the M&G peeps already. I thought 2nd row would still be decent view…until some big chap turned up directly in front of me. Live n learn i guess !
The opening band “Pr/des” were pretty bland to me (that’s being nice). Just couldn’t get into them as there wasn’t anything that stood out by them.
PVRIS were their usual selves ; a great little pop rock band. Kicking off with the great singalong song ” You & I “, they set the scene for the evenings entertainment. Sometimes, it’s quite amazing how loud a small audience like this can be. Next we get “Fire”. This really shows what a great vocalist Lynn is. “Mirrors” brings the customary arms waving in the crowd. Lynn has a wee chat to the crowd & things get interesting when they play a couple of songs “stripped”. Just Lynn & Alex up there.
After a stripped version of ” Ghosts “, the rest of the band come back & they play “Smoke”. It’s all quality stuff. Then it’s the real shocker; a NEW song ! It’s called ” Half “. I’ll probably upload it later (quality isn’t great 🙁 ) Oh i thought the old style “street lighting” was different 🙂
The last 2 songs of the night are “Eyelids” & “St Patrick”
Of course, that cannot be all….they encore with “Heaven” & a rousing version of ” My House ” (They always sem to finish with that one). As on previous tours, it was a short set of about 12 songs. Hopefully, when they return later in the year, they’ll flesh out the set as there will be 2 albums to take songs from 😉
Afterwards, we went back to Brewdog when we met a slightly drunk Rob 😉 Stayed there a while with a couple of others. Lack of sleep was catching up with me & i couldn’t wait to get back to Hotel Rob. Had a decent nights sleep & was on my way back home around 1pm.
I’d been really looking forward to this one as after the fiasco of Download to see them indoors once again should be great. Not only that, it was also a special one for me as it’s the 50th time i’ve seen Maiden live 🙂 Andy drove us to Nottingham. We parked up at the park n ride. Got a special “event” tram ticket (only £2 return) & went into the city. Had a wander around & visited a couple of pubs. The Pit & Pendulum was pretty busy & full of metal heads 🙂 Did the usual of having grub in The Roebuck & then walked to the arena. Despite all the advance warnings, such as no large bags would be allowed in & there would be searches, they DIDN’T search ! Though they DID make sure tickets matched the name who ordered them & checked id. We had seats on Row A. They were a bit lower than i expected ( Row B would have probably been perfect ). But still got a decent view even if had to stand up a bit.
Shinedown have some quality songs & they sound great in the live environment (assuming everything IS live 😉 ) I’ve seen them a few times before but i now find their achilles heel is when Brent comes out with the same lines about greeting the person to you left or right… Thankfully they did that early in the set & as they were a support act tonight, there wasn’t as much talking as usual & they delivered a fine 9 song set.
I’d seen a few clips from the German shows so knew Nottingham was gonna be a good one as they’d be properly warmed up. The setlist hasn’t really changed much from last years. They replaced 2 songs. Still looks a nice long set. We had seats on the side on the front row, so got a decent view…
As ever, they play “Doctor Doctor” over the PA, so you know it’s not long till the mighty Maiden hit the stage. Once that’s finished, there’s an animated film shown on the video screens,. Maiden have uploaded the intro film, so here it is for all to see :
Bruce appears behind a smouldering cauldron & it’s straight into “If Eternity Should Fail”
They don’t hang about & carry on with “Speed Of Light “. Already they have the audience in the palm of their hands….
Next it’s real old school classic “Wrathchild”. It’s a nice addition to the set; that song is just timeless to me. Bruce then greets the crowd & says how he’s going to speak ” The Queens fucking English ” haha . He also comments how people have got it wrong about where he originally comes from. He is in fact from Worksop, which of course is in Nottinghamshire. The audience lap it up & cheer like crazy 🙂 He then introduces the next song, another super classic “Children Of The Damned”.
After that we get “Climb Like A Monkey” aka “Death Or Glory” 🙂 Then it’s another “new” song , the epic “Red & The Black”. Next it’s two songs from the real glory years ; “The Trooper” & “Powerslave”. During “The Trooper” Bruce wears the old regalia & jokes around with Janick by covering him with his flag. For “Powerslave” Bruce appears wearing what i call a “Gimp Mask”. Must confess, i prefered the 1984 mask with the feathers….but i guess the gimp mask is easier to look after & the feather mask has died many years ago haha.
Next we get the other change to the set list ; “The Great Unknown”. Afterwards, Bruce has a bit of a rant about the fact there’s “Butt Wiper” beer on sale here. I was expecting him to push the Trooper beer,but he didn’t need too considering the cheers he got when he dissed the American Butt Wiper beer…”…it’s fizzy fucking pop with a little bit of alcohol in it !…” He also explains that after the US tour, where they hope to educate them about real beer, they’ll be packing away this production & will have a think about the future. Of course, the next song is very long “The Book Of Souls “. During this one, the “Mayan Eddie” makes an appearance on stage & Janick jokes around running between his legs. Eventually Bruce rips out Eddies heart & throws it to the audience.
After that, it’s the classic sing along song “Fear Of The Dark ” closely followed by the standard “Iron Maiden”. It’s already been a great show, but of course there’s gonna be the inevitable encores 🙂 The first one starts with the familia intro over the PA ” “Woe to you, oh Earth and sea, for the Devil sends the Beast with wrath.Because he knows the time is short. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the Beast ,For it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty six”. There’s loads of fire up on stage…and it’s not just from the actual flames ! Fantastic stuff all round.
Before “Blood Brothers” Bruce explains how the Maiden audience is one of the most sociable around . He picks out the various countries flags in the crowd. Mentions he hopes everyone goes away happy , despite the fact that most of their songs are about mass murder etc, the irony of which is not lost on him. 🙂
The show finishes with “Wasted years”. Again as is customary nowadays, Bruce jokes around with Adrian moving his microphone around during his vocal parts. It’s all done in jest & you can see they’re having fun up there.
That’s it ! Last song of the night & what a bloody fantastic night it was. I’ll always remember my 50th Maiden show as being one of the best,no matter how long i live. They’ve always been great & will continue to be in my world !
P.S. As a special bonus, here’s a 2 camera clip of Powerslave. Many thanks to “Painkiller” 🙂
P.P.S. Blabbermouth website picked up on my clips
After a change to my original gig schedule, as i would be staying at Hotel Rob & he kindly offered me a ticket for Tunbridge Wells gig, i decided i just had to go to this one.
Rob drove via Cranbrook so he could visit his parents. It’s funny that after knowing Rob for so many years, this would be the first time i’m meeting his parents + “Betty”. Betty? You ask. Betty is the name for their Basset Hound rescue dog 🙂 Despite Betty being a bit timid due to her previous owners, i think she took to me quickly. (As was proven when i wasn’t giving her any attention & she tapped my leg tried to jump up. Dogs have a good sense of the people to trust 😉 ) After a nice cuppa & a brief chat, we were back on our way to Tunbridge Wells.
After my disapointment of the “improvements” made to The Borderline, i’m wondering how tonights venue will be, especially as i’m told it used to be a toilet !
We parked up behind the venue & there was a side door which was open. I couldn’t resist it & had a quick peak in the place. Yes, it is quite small, but i just had a good feeling about this one. Ally & Danny were up on stage still sorting the load in, but i didn’t want to impose myself.
We went for a walk along the Pantiles. It’s a very nice area with lots of little quaint shops & a few bars/eateries. Eventually, we decided to go to The Opera…a Wetherspoons pub about 10mins walk away ! A walk that was uphill lol. This was one of the smartest Wethers i’ve ever been to. Very swish. We arranged to meet Eva there & it wasn’t long before she joined us.
We had food & then went back to the town centre. Ended up in The Duke Of York pub. I sent Danny a txt to see if he wanted to join us. Whilst in there, Evas friend , Ira turned up along with her friend Andy (?). (A funny coincidence was that he plays drums in the band “Saint Agnes”. The main guy in the band is Jon Tufnell. He’s someone i’ve known since he had the band “Plastic Toys” years back. ) Others who joined us in the pub were Andy, Jill, Eric & Sonia. Of course, Danny joined as well.
Eventually we go to the venue. Rob had arranged for me to have a chair, so we went to the front of a small queue to sort that out. I had my chair at the front, at the side. It was an excellent view….well, to start off with lol. The travelling VMs family took their places at the front, centre & right side.
Tonight, i “got” The Hyena Kill much more than i did in London. I’m sure that the better view & sound played a big part in that. I still need to listen to them more though, before i decide yay or nay.
During their set, the venue got a bit busier. A shortish lass & her BF(?) stood just to the right of me. But i could still see the stage no problem. There was another chap with them & i noticed how he was gradually drifting to the left in front of me. Eventually from my seat all i could see was his back. I thought he was just plain ignorant. I mean, he’d obviously seen i was sat down. Eventually, i stood on the first step to the stage & said ” Well, i suppose i’ll just have to stand here to see the show”. He just grunted. He’d wound me up with his ignorance. I then said to him directly ” You don’t realise just how big you are, do ya? “. His reply was some B.S. like “yeah i’m used to it”. The lass realised what i was saying & she dropped back a bit & so did the big ignorant oaf ! Thank you to that young lady who realised there was a reason for me having that seat & basically helping to move the guy. I could now enjoy my night.
Soon enough the familiar intro of ” Feelin Good ” starts & the guys wander onto the stage. As with the other shows, they start proceedings with “Dead Mans Shoes” then go into “Halo In Her Silhouette”. I look to my right & see the front row full of smiles & chanting the ” Waho-o-oh’s ” towards the end of Halo.
Damn, it’s great to be a part of this,even if i’m not down there jumping around like the old days. The quality & dedication from the band to their craft is still as strong as ever. Plus seeing the crowd enjoying themselves, just makes me enjoy the time even more. “Portrait Of Red ” & “I Wanna Take You Home” just fly by. I’d imagine by now there’s not many in the room who haven’t already heard the new song “Sweet Loretta”. I bloody love it.When we get to “Into Dust”, once again i love seeing the front row enjoying themselves so much.
Once again, before playing “Moths To A Flame”, Ally caught me out. He explained how the VMs have been around for a while now & there are people who have been there since the beginning. “There are people who have followed us all over the UK & Europe….And there’s one guy in the room who’s sat right there, called Simon Clapham. He’s one incredible soul who’s smashing the fuck out of something himself..as well as us onstage…so er, this is to him, it’s called “Moths To A Flame”
I can so relate to the words of this song as i’m trying to hold on & trying to be strong fighting this shitty cancer. Every time i hear these words i cannot help but break down. It invokes the tears. (Around the 3 minute mark into the song, my camera wobbles a bit. The reason for this is that Eva has come over from the other side of the room & gave me the biggest tightest hug. She’s such a sweetheart). When the song finishes, both Jill & Sonia also gave me a hug. I’m proud to be part of the “VMs family” & have such great friends.
Time for another new one. “Sitting Ducks” & then we’re “Off To Another Land” 😉 Tonight we get a change of set when Ally says : ” We’re gonna play you a song that we haven’t played all tour. And bearing in mind that Azdas hard as nails..this is his favourite song..This is called “Walk In My Shoes ”
(I’m sure the reference to Azda being hard as nails is with regard to him dealing swiftly with the bloke who got up onstage the previous night in London. He was a big guy, but it didn’t stop wee Azda dealing with him. Respect to ya 🙂 )
After “Through The Sky”, we get the usual closing songs of “Just A Ride & Ends Don’t Mend”.
Ally briefly introduces the new guy Ross (“He’s only been playing bass about a week” lol), thanks everyone for supporting them over the years & he says they’ll keep coming back if we keep coming back. “Please if you think tonight was worth more than ten pounds, help us out with the merch & make sure we can drive around & keep coming back. This is our last song…& we’ll see you guys…in about 10 minutes…This is Bang Bang Bang…”
Sure enough, about 10mins later, the guys come out to say goodbyes etc. Chatting with Danny i mention that later in the year i’m going to see Skunk Anansie at The Ritz, Manchester (Same venue where i i first met the VMs family). Looks like he could also be going to that one 😉 Of course, the evening wouldn’t have been complete without the “end of tour” band photos (for some of us lol)
Eventually we all say our goodbyes & look forward to the next time we all meet. I’ll finish this with the alternate angle of Ally ,Eva & myself. I describe it as ” Eva radiating her love” 😉 (Yeah, ok, we know it’s the focusing from the other camera, but i prefer my description 🙂 )
A while back i thought to myself “Next time i’m in London, i wanna visit The Shard”. Originally was gonna do this with Eva, but her studies kept her away. As luck would have it, another friend, Anette, was coming over from Norway to see the VMs, so we arranged to meet up & do the Shard. (Good thing also was that Eva would be at the Tunbridge Wells gig following day, so we still get that long overdue meet up)
Typically, my train was slightly delayed. Always happens with Hull Trains ! Whilst it was tight, still got to Shard only about 5mins late. Anette & Marco were waiting for me.
My ticket was a bargain at only £ 11.95 for myself & a carer (Would normally be £21.95). It was quite surprising how quick the lift shot up to level 69. After a while there, we went up to level 72 which is more open to the elements. We got lucky with the weather & saw some great views. For sure i’ll visit there again 🙂
We then went for a quick drink in the nearby “Bunch Of Grapes ” bar. Time was getting on & Marco had to leave, so, myself & Anette headed towards the city centre nearer to The Borderline. Had a quick look & there were a couple of people already queued up ! The guy thought he’d got the wrong place till we confirmed he was correct….if a tad early 😉 We then went to my usual stomping ground ; The Montague Pyke. It was very busy. Finally, we went & met up with Rob at The Royal George. Me? At 3 different pubs in one day? With my reputation? 😉
There was a decent queue forming at The Borderline, amongst which were a few of the “VMs family”. But as it was my first time going into the referbed Borderline, i needed to get sorted out with security etc. They were very helpful on the doors & we were soon inside. I couldn’t hardly believe how they’d changed the venue. Yes, it had got a bit shabby over the years so was really in need of a lick of paint. But i didn’t understand how they would take away the raised area & have a totally flat floor. (Well, i did actually as it probably increases the capacity of the venue). If you’re in a wheel chair, i’d advise you to not bother visiting this venue. I had a seat which they’d originally placed on that flat floor on the right. Ridiculous ! Didn’t want to see the backs of the crowd. I moved it to the only place where it was slightly higher, but a pillar partially blocked the view.
I’d never seen The Hyena Kill before tonight,so was interested to see how they’d be. There’s no denying they were both giving it their all. But with a combination of poor viewing & a rough sound i wasn’t very impressed . Sorry. (Maybe it’ll be better tomorrow night in Tunbridge Wells?)
During the course of the night i met a bunch of the VMs family including Eric, Sonia, Andy, Jill & Jim. Still yet to meet/chat with both Glyn & Jody who were also there. Sure it will happen in the future 🙂
The venue got quite busy & i noticed a couple of “Tourists” (A phrase i picked up from Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. At their gigs, if there was someone who didn’t look like a typical Twisted Sister fan, he’d call them “Tourists”. Most times, by the end of the set they were either “converted” or left early haha). I think they were just there to get drunk etc.
As previously on the tour, Virginmarys kicked off with “Dead Mans Shoes” before going straight into “Halo In Her Silhouette”. The crowd was into the show straight away. As the VMs played pretty much the same set each night, i won’t bother listing every song.
Ally introduced the next song by saying “We are Virginmarys from the North !”. He had a right smile on his face whilst saying that. He’s proud of his roots for sure 🙂
The more i hear “Sweet Loretta” in the live enviroment, the more i love the song. In fact, all the new songs sound great.
After “Running For My Life “, we got a bonus song tonight, namely, “Push The Pedal”
Sometime during the night, it kinda kicked off a bit in the crowd (the “tourists”? ). Also , during “Ends Don’t Mend” (i think) someone got a little over excited & stumbled onto the stage. He was a BIG mofo, but wee Gareth aka “Azda”, soon saw it & totally owned the guy getting him off stage promtly ! Respect to you sir 🙂
We’re now at encore time & they come back playing the usual finish of “Motherless Land” & “Bang Bang Bang”. Before BBB, Ally has a little rant about Trump & Brexit also saying that “…we wanna spread some love. Don’t let them fuckers win!”. He asks if everyone has enjoyed themselves & says they’ll return if we do. Of course we will mate. He also asks if we thought the night was worth £12.50 (what a fookin bargain in this day & age when some bands want £100 to see em i a stadium & you’d end up watching the tv screens) then please buy a t-shirt or other merch. I think many people don’t realise how important it is to support the band this way, as they’re certainly not “well off” & the passion for their art will only take them so far.
Afterwards, the security are quick to try get everyone out of the venue. I honestly didn’t understand that because, as far as i’m aware, there was no “club night” afterwards & it probably lost the VMs sales of their merch. We said our goodbyes & went for a swift drink in Montague Pyke again before going back to Robs.
Overall, a great day/night but i doubt i’ll visit Borderline again due to sight lines & the lighting in there.
Tomorrow we’re off to Tunbridge Wells 🙂
I had a last minute (as in they phoned the day before!) consultation with my Oncologist before setting off for Nottingham. Had been awaiting results of my last M.R.I. As expected, the tumor had once again grown. From now on i’ll be having MRIs every two months.
I’d been looking forward to this gig but was really unsure how i’d cope, as previously when they played the Basement i’d always be down the front. With a low stage, viewing from the back would be rubbish. So i thought i’d try it from down on the barrier. Didn’t even bother asking for a stool.
Train journey was fine, checked into “Roomzz”, then went for some food. Afterwards, back to the hotel to chill. Was meant to be meeting Danny before the gig, but it fell through due to the interviews they were doing. A funny thing before going in, i had someone ask me if i worked at Rock City. Been a while since that happened lol
Once inside, i went front left & kinda hung onto the barrier. After a while, my old mate Nigel Natrass came over & we had a good catch up. Hadn’t seen him in ages. More regular faces turned up, namely Rachel, Andy, Jill & then Fi Stimpson.
The support act were a local band, ” Cut The Heroics “. Apparently it was a last minute thing they got the gig. They were ok, but tbh i was just waiting for the headliners.
I noticed they had a video camera at the back of the room. Turns out they were gonna stream it live. (Thought to myself ” I wonder how much of the band will that show ?)
Eventually the VMs came on kicking off with old classics “Dead Man’s Shoes” , “Halo in Her Silhouette” & “Portrait of Red”. The new guy, Ross, had some sound issues to start off. This was first time i’d seen him with the VMs & i was very impressed with his performance. Pretty damn tight & he coped with said sound issues very well.
Whenever they play “I Wanna Take You Home”, i always think of a certain young lady who i’d like to…haha no clues 🙂
Next we get the first new song which was recently uploaded to VMs page. ” Sweet Loretta ” is the first of 3 new songs tonight. It’s very powerful in the live environment. It has that distinctive Virginmarys sound.
More classic stuff follows “For You My Love” , “Running for My Life” & ” Into Dust “. We’re about half way through the show now & everything is just flowing on stage. My VMs friends near me all have huge smiles on their faces…well, that’s not when they’re singing all the words at the top of their voices 😉 The room has come alive.
Next up it’s “Falling Down ” Just look at that sweat pooring off Ally 😉
Nowadays i find that listening to “Moths to a Flame” always brings tears to my eyes. I can so relate to this song after my shitty 2016. I’m still holding on…
We then get another new song ” Sitting Ducks “. From my position, i could see it listed on the setlist clearly, but, for whatever reason, i keep thinking “Shitting Ducks” ! Yeah, i’m strange i know lol. Another new song that has the typical VMs spirit to it. We’re then transported ” Off To Another Land” . Again,classic stuff.
The last new song of the night was ” Through The Sky “. It has a very “bouncy” beginning. A nice song with a great part for a sing a long towards the end. The band are bollock tight with the finish. Spot on.
The adrenaline rush continues with a frantic version of “Just a Ride ” Then the main set finishes with the immense sounding “Ends Don’t Mend”.
They encore with “Motherless Land” & “Bang Bang Bang”.
A good night for sure. I’m quite proud of myself for making it through the gig without dropping back. But it also made me realise, i cannot really do that again. As the phrase goes “My mind says yes,but my body says no” 😉
A couple of other things about the night : Ally said they will record more songs & release eps before a full on album. There was an incident on the right side of crowd where some dickhead was getting over rough. Security eventually intervened. (From what i read online late, the bloke was not only kicked out,but, the police were involved also). Oh yeah, totally forgot i met another lad who i randomly met at gigs a few years back , James Chamberlain. Nice to catch up mate !
Finally, because they had the crappy disco/club night on afterwards, security were really pushing to clear everyone out. So it was all a bit rushed for anyone who wanted to quickly meet the guys from the band. I was stood with Rachel, waiting for Andy & Jill when an old guy asked Rachel if i was her husband ! So funny 🙂 Upon leaving the venue, i couldn’t believe how many kids were queued up to get in ! Said my goodbyes to my friends & was soon back at my hotel…for yet another sleepless night. Roll on The Borderline gig 😉
Originally i fancied the idea of doing a few dates on the tour. But because i had to wait around to see if i had any hospital appointments etc, i had to hold back. Unfortunately, a couple of shows sold out & it didn’t make sense to do what was available. In the long run, it was probably for the better as i’d got a dry cough a few days before the show & i wouldn’t have hacked it. Damn it bugs me sometimes that “my mind says yes, but my body says no”. Whatever…
Got to Notts mid afternoon & checked into Rooomzz. Then just chilled as doors were not till 7pm tonight. Later i met up with a mate & we went for a quick drink. I’d arranged it so he could get in early with me. About 15mins before doors, we go to check everything is set up correct. The same dickhead security guy was there as the TPR gig …” i’ve arranged for a bar stool & early entry..”. Him ” You need to contact the venue manager about that !” Typical confrontational attitude from him ! Me “I’ve already done that…” He shuts the door. He’s about as much use as a chocolate tea pot ! Undetered, i once again phone management. I get a very courteous reply & he says he’ll come down soon to take us in. Got up on balcony & a bar stool was no problem.
Right now, Anthrax are in a very good position. They’d took their time before a proper Euro tour & released a great new album. Announcing they were going to play all of their classic album “Among The Living” was another factor to the interest this tour is generating. Most of the venues seem to be selling out & they totally deserve it.
The first act was “The Raven Age”. I’ve seen them before & wasn’t really impressed tbh. Whilst there’s no denying their hearts are in it & they try to put on a show, i just don’t see anything different or unique about them & a bunch of similar small bands nowadays. Sorry. I think their strongest song is the last one they played tonight.
Pre-Anthrax a bunch of classic songs are played over the PA. It seemed like everyone was singing the chorus to “Run To The Hills”. The vibe in the room has gone up a lot.
The brief intro “Impaled” has a solemn & mournful sound to it. Almost like a funeral march. But tonight will be anything but that! It’s a celebration of all things Anthrax. Going straight into “A.I.R.” they set their agenda for the evening. It’s heavy as hell & the crowd is into it straight away.
“We are the warm up band for Anthrax by the way. We have no name, but we go by the name of something close to the band…whatever” (Scott is kinda laughing as Joey says this) “Hey, how ya all doing?” *cheers from crowd*. “This one is Medusa!”. An absolute classic to my ears. We’re then brought up to date with “Blood Eagle Wings” from the latest album “For All Kings”. This is such a huge ,huge song ! Probably the most epic song they’ve ever wrote. In the live arena things go to another level. I bloody love this song (no pun intended). There’s the usual crowd interaction as “Be All, End All” starts up. It feels like everyone in the place is singing the guitar/vocal part ” Woah-Woah-Woah” ( & how someone near me sounds so out of tune/time on this i have no clue lol). The main set finishes with “Breathing Lightning”. It’s another typical “Anthrax riff” sounding song.
During the interval, the stage set is changed around somewhat. There are now various raised areas on the stage. It just fits perfectly – a big show in a small(ish) room.
Lights go down again & the classic Blues Brothers intro starts up, going straight into “Among the Living”. Tonight they’re playing the full album, though not in the same sequence as the release. It’s like being transported back in time, yet the songs are still as vibrant today as they were back then.
I look down on the main floor during “Caught in a Mosh” & cannot help wishing i was in amongst it all. Looks like hella fun down there. It’s great to hear these old songs played tonight. During “I Am the Law” i remember seeing them at this very venue & i was on the main floor. It was pretty crazy down there ( As an aside, i also saw them in Leicester & Sheffield back in ’87. The covered “Living After Midnight” at both of those shows & Rock City got “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”)
It’s pretty cool to hear these next few songs ,which i think have not been played much over the years : “A Skeleton in the Closet, Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.), A.D.I. / Horror of It All”.
Charlie teases us by playing the drum intro to “Indians” a few times. The audience forms a circle pit & once again it’s like being in 1987 ! Classic stuff.
The show finishes with “Imitation of Life”. But of course, that cannot be all we’re getting ! They finally come back for another encore & truly finish with ” Antisocial” (A cover of the song by French band “Trust”).
What a night ! Just quality abound. THIS was the Anthrax tour we’ve been needing for years. I think they are now at their peak (but would love for them to prove me wrong).
It’s amazing when i think about seeing them open for Metallica around the UK back n ’86 & how their career has ebbed & flowed over the years. Truly an amazing live band.
I quickly say goodbye to my mate & then walk the long distance (lol) to my hotel next door 🙂 For whatever reason i don’t know, but, i had an awful nights sleep. Maybe it was the buzz of the gig or just some rubbish going around my head (there’s been a lot of that recently). Following morning i go down for the “Grab & Go” breakfast quite early & take it back to my room. When i finally decide to check out & take an earlier train than previously planned, i go for seconds at the “Grab & Go” 😉
Went down London a day before gig to meet up with some old school Skunk friends. (As ever, i stayed at “Hotel Rob” 😉 ) Had a nice meal at Belgo, Soho. Great to catch up & as it wasn’t gig day, it was all nice & relaxed. 🙂 Faiz was quite brave trying a new dish
Before setting off to London, the wheels were in motion for me to get a balcony seat (my tix were standing) courtesy of Leigh. I’d contacted Stumpy & he said to either ask for him at stage door or give him a ring around 6.30. Well, that was the START of it all. When we were having the meal, Julia passed me a note.
Basically, she’d been in touch with Ace & had arranged for us to go in for soundcheck tomorrow as a nice surprise ! How cool was that of her?
Gig day. We arranged to meet mid afternoon. Myself & Rob went to a bar in Brixton as he needed food. The Greggs sausage roll i had was enough for me 🙂 From there went to the Academy. As expected, the majority of the Italian Skunk Army were already queued up. Rob asks me ” Do you know any of them?” My reply “Yeah a couple” 😉 So went over to greet everyone. (Funny thing Rob said to me later in the day ; “I thought you said you only know a couple of them? Everyone was coming up & greeting you !” ). After that we started to walk to stage door. Who was walking towards us? Skin ! “Ello Simon! How are you? “. We had a brief chat about how everything’s going. Before she left, asked me if we were sorted to get in etc. Told her i’ve got Stumpys number & we’re just waiting for Julia & Nadine to arrive. Skin said she wouldn’t be long & if we’re still outside when she gets back, she’d walk us in. Off she trotts to meet the Italian Skunk Army at top of the road, before going on her errand.
Julia & Nadine were running a bit late so myself & Rob decided to wait for them. Then, who should come walking along? Erika !. We had a nice chat. She keeps up on my postings on FB & i told her the latest. Such a nice person. She soon went back in the venue & we continued to wait for the girls. Anyways, skin came back & said “I’ll take you in so you can get passes etc”. For a brief moment there, i was even wearing skins AAA laminate 😉 We got passes from Stumpy, were showed the route through to front of house, then went back outside. By this time Julia & Nadine had arrived & were hanging with Leigh & Stumpy. Heard they were struggling with the internet connection for the FB live thing. After a short while, we all went back in & the girls got their passes. Whilst waiting, Mark walks by. He didn’t recognize me to start off lol We saw Ace & he said to go catering for a coffee or whatever, so we did just that. Later he joined us & we had a good old chat. A funny thing ; when he came into catering, he asked “Where’s Simon?!!” I was getting a coffee & pretty much stood right next to him! ( “…that bright yellow t-shirt doesn’t stand out enough..”) Then Cass popped in (From earlier comment “….when we’re in London, most of us go home for a while. Cass is the one who’s usually the last to get here…”). Already, the day has been super special & it’s about to get even better : we go through to watch the soundcheck.
They have a massive & impressive production with them this time. Great big video screens & some pretty special lighting. I’d go so far as to say it’s their best yet. (I’m pretty sure they wont be able to fit the production into all of the dates on the tour). The guys start jamming a few bits & it’s soon noticable there’s a problem with the bass sound. This is quickly sorted & they start playing songs. Whilst they’re deciding what to play next, totally unexpected, skin says ” You know what? Simon can choose ” (Fortunately i’m not so bumbling as when Ally of the Virginmarys asked similar question when he did a solo gig in Peterborough lol). I shout back ” Intellectualise !”. Cass then quips back “…i gave you a clue Simon!..” (he’d been running through the intro).
Unfortunately it sounds rubbish as used my mobile phone to record it.
Later on, skin asked what else i’d like to hear! Anyone who knows me will know my fave Skunk song is “Charlie Big Potato”. But i couldn’t really expect them to do that. So i suggested ” 100 Ways “. I also love that song & it was a small payback from me to Julia for arranging this day (“100 Ways To Be A Good Girl” is Julias fave song).
Another really great moment during the soundcheck was when they played “I Will Break You”. Erika joins on this. Both her & skin have a “vocal duel” singing how they will break each other lol. But the best is that you can see what fun they’re having together. Huge smiles & skin getting a bit cheeking kicking Eris bum a couple of times 🙂 Also played during soundcheck were “Cheap Honesty” & ” Without You” + others.
Soon enough, the soundcheck is over & we decide to go find another place for food. The crowd/queue has grown significantly by now. Walking along i see a few friends who were not there earlier. One of which was Aliyah who doesn’t live that far from me. She took a selfie of us which i’m sharing. The others had got a bit ahead of me as i was gassing a bit. When i caught up, Julia said ” Did you see Laura?!?” Me “What? Where was she?” . I had to go back & see her, shes a great lass from Italy. I’ve Known her since the Skunk reunion at Water Rats in 2009. I was filming those gigs & gave her my ticket so she could get in (A bunch of people came over for the show even though it was sold out. I’ll always help/share where i can). We had a brief chat & then i had to catch up (again! lol) with the others.
Must confess, it did feel a little strange to be leaving the venue at that time & also knowing i didn’t need to worry about getting back in later. But at the same time, i just cannot queue up for hours like i used to as i just get tired due to the illness nowadays.
We went to a nice place called Cabana. I had “Guava-cue Chicken”. Flame grilled skewers ; “Sweet & fruity tropical barbecued chicken”. Was just the right amount.
We had a nice chat about how cool the day had already been & Julia said to me a couple of times ” Just relax! You don’t need to worry about missing anything”. Personally, i don’t think i was fretting much anyway 😉
Myself & Rob leave the girls as we wanted to see the opening act “Pearl Harts”. Why is it there’s always a jobsworth security guy?! Trying to get to out seats he said ” You need the silver bracelet to go to seats”. We only had Access All Areas duh ! He wouldn’t listen so we went back to production office. Stumpy wasn’t about but a chap in there said ” Go via downstairs standing & take main stairs up. Should avoid the guy”. We tried that & guess what ? We came out at same place lol. Amazing thing was, Mr Jobsworth had a totally different attitude. Eventually he walked along the seats & found 2 with ” Reserved Clapham ” & he let us in…without the silver bracelet ! Dickhead ! ( I later see Leigh & even she had trouble with the guy & had to get silver bracelets)
The two girls from Pearl Harts played a similar set to the other times i’ve seen them open for bands (Garbage etc). Dare i say it ? The song “Hit The Bottle” is already becoming a classic to me. Given the earlier circumstances, it’s hardly surprising 😉 The two girls fill out their sound with some guitar loops/tapes which makes it all sound much bigger. The overall sound is a dirty rock n roll kinda thing. Their set flew by & i realised i’d not took hardly any photos & no videos at all. That’s a shame :-(. This is about the only one: So to the mighty Skunk Anansie ! Lights go down, there’s cheers from crowd, white spotlights spinning around to start, which then turn to red & finally just one red spotlight on stage pointing upwards. Yes, it’s for the coolest dude in rock n roll, Mr Cass Lewis. He comes over & plays his intro to “And Here I Stand”. Such a timeless classic. Down comes the back drop, to reveal tonights massive production. When skin comes on stage you can hear the crowd volume just shoot up. Nope, it’s not enough she gestures 🙂
Bloody great start i’d say.
After that, they go straight into “Intellectualise My Blackness”. On “Because of You”, Marks hitting those drums so hard. Skin really has powerful vocals on this. Dare i say it? Mark was on fire tonight…
Next it’s the fun n games with Erika as they duel on the vocals. Whilst not as fun/unique as during the soundcheck, it’s still bloody great. I guess the smiles on the faces give that away.
“Twisted (Everyday Hurts)” has always been a fave live song of mine. Gawd knows how many times over the years i’ve been jumping around during that one. It does feel strange for me sometimes. I mean, i used to always be down the front, getting in the thick of it all. But i just cant nowadays….
Next we get “My Ugly Boy”. To me, probably their most poppy sounding song. Following it with “Weak” & “Hedonism” redeems them though 😉
It’s funny how an old songs lyrics can still relate to the times of now. For instance, with all the B.S. from Trump nowadays, you could be forgiven for thinking “We Don’t Need Who You Think You Are” was written towards him. Following that with “Yes It’s Fucking Political” , there could be a message in there ?
During “Little Baby Swastikkka”, skin does the now expected visit into the crowd. Though tonight, there seems more members of the audience who DON’T get down when she asks them to. Either way, it’s still a great song to finish the set with. I see my mates Nom & Liz in this clip. Again, sorry we couldn’t get to meet this time mate.
When they come back for the encore, skinny has a right old rant about Brexit. “Fuck Brexit ! Me & my family are going nowhere! I’m British ! ” She doesn’t mince her words. Total respect to her.
A couple more modern songs follow & i’m then surprised they play “Charlie Big Potato “. I still will always prefer it to be played as an encore as the intro is a great build up to the song. Personal opinions aside, i’ll love that song where ever they put it in the set list. It’s just fantastic.
They come back for one more song “100 Ways to Be a Good Girl” & that’s it for the night. And what a night it was !
We go downstairs to meet Julia & Nadine before we all go up to the after show. (A little secret; i struggled with those stairs this time. My energy levels were depleted, even though i watched the show from seating). Damn that place was super busy as well ! Fortunately, Rob spotted a couple of settees that were available so we went there. It was all catching up with me tbh. Whilst sat there, Cass made his way over & sat on the back of settee whilst we had quite a deep chat (It’s the first time all the Skunk people have seen me since the proverbial shit hit the fan). As ever, he was charmed away by some young lady with drinks 😉 But for me, we had a nice catch up. Eventually, i decide i’ve had enough & we try make our way through the throng. Skin is holding court with the Italians again & we continue by.( Julia later on ” Simon i’m impressed you passed by her” 😉 ) I quickly had to have a word with Ace, to thank him for arranging the day. Final photo of the day/night was this :