Andy drove us there in my car (i’m not allowed to drive now) so gave it a nice run again. Parked up at Park n Ride. Cheap tram ticket as going to an event (Only £2.00 return). Went to the usual place for food & then to the venue. Was nice to briefly chat with Hana (front of queue as ever & had done the V.I.P. M&G). Hadn’t seen her in ages. Then went had a chat with my mate Gary (Pleased to hear all went well mate 😉 ) Soon enough, we were first people in venue. They didn’t have any bar stools upstairs so had to wait a while for those to arrive. Still managed my usual spot
First band tonight was Girlschool. I’ve been seeing them live since 1982, with my first gig at Leicester De Montfort hall. In the mid ’80s i traveled to a bunch of places around the UK to see them. Tonight, it’s going to be a short set, 30 minutes or so. Personally, i’d sooner see them switch positions with Fastway & get a longer set. I guess it’s down to “politics”. Whatever, they played a great little set. They kicked off with “Demolition Boys” , from the debut album “Demolition”. Then went into the title track of their second album ” Hit & Run ”
It was quite funny when Kim asked if anyone remembered “Rockstage”. That was a tv show where they broadcast gigs from the Theatre Royal,Nottingham in the early ’80s. Girlschool were featured on the same show as Motorhead which was broadcast in 1981. The general consensus was “…you really are far too young to remember it aren’t ya !? “.
Kim dedicated the song ” Take It Like A Man ” to Fast Eddie as this was the last night that Fastway would be on this tour. Next they played ” Future Flash”. That’s always been one of my all time fave songs of theirs. Enid then gets to sing the oldie ” Watch Your Step “. The show finishes with ” Emergency ” (what else could it be ? 😉
Next up it’s Fastway. Whilst there’s no denying there’s some legendary musicians in the group, it was a band i could never get into back in the day. Tonight i also thought Fast Eddies guitar was too loud. “What?” you’re saying? It can never be loud enough ;-). Or maybe it was more a point of Tobys vocals seemed a wee bit too low in the mix? Either way, i’m sorry to say that everything just seemed to merge into one.
Finally it’s Saxon. What a band & what a career they’ve had all these years ! The one constant during those times (even if there were a few weaker albums) is you know you’re gonna get a great live show ! They always play nice long sets & often change the set lists along the way. ( A good example being, i heard it was very cold in Sheffield & the audience requested ” Frozen Rainbow “…the band played it )
I’m not going to list all the songs they played, but you can be sure they covered stuff from all through their career. Interesting choice of intro tape ; ” It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock n roll)”. I’ll always associate that with Twisted Sister from back in the day 😉 When intro finished, they brutally hit us with ” Battering Ram ” followed by a nice fast one ” Heavy Metal Thunder “.
Stand out tracks for me tonight were ” See The Light Shining “(change to set list) ,”Strong Arm Of The Law ” & ” Princess Of the Night “.
They played something like 21 (?) songs tonight. Such great value. As a footnote, it’s great to see that Saxon are (yet again) on the rise. Many dates have either sold out or been very close to selling out. Good on ya guys Denim & Leather brought us all together…
Ady picked me up around 4pm. Once in Nottingham, we parked on a side street which was free, but a bit of a walk to venue. Ady went off for a Subway whilst i went to sort out my bar stool in the venue. We went up the back stairs in the bar & she left me a stool there. Seemed silly to have to go back outside, but i guess it’s protocol. Once outside, i bumped into Carl & Lisa. Wasn’t expecting to see them, so was a nice surprise. Had a good old chat Once we were let in i went straight up to balcony. My stool had gone! There was a couple on the right side with a stool & a bloke on his own on the left with a stool. Seemed obvious the bloke on the left wasn’t disabled, so i asked him ” Are you disabled?” His reply was ” No”. So i told him he’d took my stool ! He was fine about it. Easy mistake to make 😉
First act was Bernie Marsden (ex Whitesnake). Being honest, i wasn’t looking forward to it! But, i found his banter was funny & he certainly sings a LOT better than Coverdale nowadays 😉 Ended up really enjoying his set as did most of the audience by the looks/sound of things.
It’s quite amazing to think that ” Indiscreet ” was released 30 years ago ! That would make me 20 years old at the time. When i look back to that era now, i think how lucky i was to be experiencing the early years of acts like Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer etc etc Unique times for sure. But i digress…
FM start with the usual intro & go straight into “Digging Up The Dirt”. Then it’s an old classic “I Belong To The Night”. Only two songs in & the whole crowd seems to be behind them. As always, Steve Overlands vocals are spot on. It’s funny how some singers from the same era are sounding rough nowadays & yet Mr Overland is pure quality as ever.
We get a couple more old classics from the album ” Indiscreet”, namely “Let Love Be The Leader”
…..followed by the hit “Frozen Heart”. I always associate “Frozen Heart” with a lass i was seeing back in the day during that era.
There’s good crowd interaction on ” Face To Face ”
They play all the tracks from ” Indiscreet ” tonight & it’s fleshed out by songs from the albums ” Heroes & Villains ” & ” Rockville “. I found it interesting they encored with ” Story Of My Life “. I always thought it “plodded along” tbh. However, i’d imagine a lot of fans like it as they may see it as an “anthem” & something to wave the arms about 😉
The strangest thing of the night for myself though, in a similar vein to what Heart did recently, was they finished the show with a couple of cover songs by Whitesnake (Heart did the same playing Led Zep) ! Ok, it’s obvious it gives them the chance to jam with Bernie & the songs were great,but, i prefer bands to finish with their own songs 😉
Whatever, it was a great night !
I really like ” Bones ” & had never seen ” Band Of Skulls ” before, so thought i’d give it a go. I got totally lucky with my hotel as it only cost me £10 (Yes, a tenner !) Just look at this place for the amazing value i got :
Took a late train to Nottingham as couldn’t check in till 3pm. Chilled in my room using the free wifi. Found out a friend, Diletta, was also here for the gig. She’s a massive fan of Bones 😉 Unfortunately they hadn’t sold enough tickets to open the balcony. So myself & another couple went to my 2nd favourite position, under the stairs ( It’s raised here)
Place was slow to fill up, but eventually there were not many spaces on the main floor.
I’d imagine Bones were new to most of the crowd. I’d previously seen them open for Skunk Anansie & also PVRIS, so knew what to expect. To start off there wasn’t much “movement” amongst the audience, but, they were gradually turned onto the band as their set progressed. I made a few videos 😉
Their short set ( 30mins? ) went by very quickly & they finished with the one two of ” Girls Can’t Play Guitar ” (preceded by telling the crowd about the infamous guy in Camden who said the immortal line “Girls Can’t Play Guitar”) then final song ” Pretty Waste “.
Band Of Skulls i really don’t know much about. First thing i noticed tonight was how their back drop of 3 ecclesiastical looking windows reminded me of a similar thing ” The Mission ” did back in the ’80s ! Move the outside ones closer to the centre & there you have it . By now the main floor was considerably more busy.
They kick off with ” In Love By Default ” & then it seems to be the same setlist most places on this tour with “Light Of The Morning” , ” Himalayan” & ” Bodies” following.
Sometime pretty early on, i was filming a song & got a tap on my shoulder. It was Diletta coming up to see me. She didn’t realise this was the “disabled area” & the chap behind me who i’d been chatting to kinda of tried to make her move. Once he realised we knew each other, he was fine. ( Afterwards when we talked about that brief moment, Diletta said ” It was like he was your personal security !”. Funny & good point 😉 )
Before “Patterns” , Russell mentions how they love playing in Nottingham 😉 This song really starts to get the crowd going during the singback section. They then jump forward to present day with the song “So Good” from the most recent album ” By Default “. Very smooth how they merged from one song to the next.
I knew something interesting would be coming as Matt, the drummer, was given a guitar. So had to film this track. Turned out to be an old song which had been used a few years back on a tv show (A little digging & i found a bunch of their songs were used on tv shows & movie soundtracks over the years). There were some great little vocal harmonies going on between Russell & Emma
The rest of the night it was more high energy songs & i’ve got to say, i really enjoyed the night. The couple near me left early. I assume to beat the swathes of people leaving at once ( She needed a stick, so wise choice i reckon) They finished with ” Asleep At the Wheel ”
Afterwards, briefly had a chap with Diletta & then i went back to my hotel. Oh yeah, before hotel i went in multi storey next door & scanned an app where each time you park there, after 6 scans i think, you get free parking session. Whatcha mean….my car wasn’t there ?
The following morning, before checking out of my fantastic hotel, there was one last piece to be completed here : ” The Grab & Go ” breakfast ! At no extra charge, they have pastries, muffins, croisants, coffee, juice etc. Would love to stay here again….at the right price 😉
What can i say except my day started pretty shitty when i awoke to a couple of Whatsapp messages. My mate Rob was meant to be driving today but illness put a stop to that. Then there were msgs from a close friend who seemed in a bad place (to say the least). What to do ? After a few attempts to contact,with no replies, i decided : Priorities. I couldn’t help the friend so i had to look into if it was possible to go Nottingham or not. With it being so last minute, i couldn’t find any hotel which i thought was reasonably priced. (There’s no way i’d use a scummy B&B as it’s too easy to pick up bugs etc…especially with my immune system being rubbish nowadays). I was all set to write it off when Rachel suggested i go see Virginmarys & come back home. I thought the last train would be earlier than it was. Realising it was an early start for the gig (Kick out 10pm so they can have the club night), it was possible to go ! So off i went ! Another train ticket purchased, Nottingham here i come
When i got to the venue, i explained to security that i’d been chatting to someone about getting a bar stool (as sometimes i get tired nowadays) & they agreed to let me in a little early, “Just ask at the bar for a stool”. On the way in, i saw Alixe still setting up merch so quickly grabbed the new yellow t-shirt ! Yay ! Finally i got a VMs T-shirt 😉
Once upstairs, got the bar stool & set up in my usual position centre of balcony. Jobs a good un !
The place didn’t fill up that quickly & i’m sure many people missed the usual killer set from the headliners…erm i mean Virginmarys 😉 They kicked off with ” I Wanna Take You Home “. Always a good one to get you in the mood. Next up it’s ” Halo In Her Silhouette “. The band are on fire,unlike what can be said of the audience. Seems pretty tepid down there & not a single person on the front row seems to be getting into it. Their loss.
Next up it’s an old classic (well, it IS !) “Dead Mans Shoes “. Just flys by.
Ally asks the crowd if anyone has seen the band before…maybe opening for Skunk Anansie here ? Pretty much silence from the crowd except for one lonesome voice. He in turn dedicates next song to her…
It’s quite fun to see Gareth playing invisible drums sat behind Ally 😉
We then get an oldie but goodie ” Running For My Life “. I just love hearing this stuff. I actually find it a little annoying that the guys are really working their assess off up there & the crowd just seems a bit lame We’re then brought up to the latest album “Divides” & the plough through ” Into Dust “. Another 3 or so songs & we’re at the finishing line with ” Just A Ride “. It’s just great & i get the added bonus of a shout out from Ally at the end Nice one mate!
Sometime during the show Ally mentioned there will be more *headline*shows later in the year. Whoo Hoo ! Also mentioned the “food donations” from his recent solo show & probably doing it again later in the year. I don’t want to misquote, but, i’m also pretty sure he said something about they’ll play anywhere “So if you could put us up for the night, that would be cool “. ** Don’t take that as gospel ! ** I had hoped to try verify some of the quotes after the gig, but i ran out of time to be sure of catching my train home.
I did have a good old chat with Alixe though. Very pleased to hear these dates were not a “buy on” as often happens nowadays. Proud they’re doing things their own way as always Must confess, it did seem strange to be leaving Rock City so early, but everything ran smooth & most important thing was i got to see the VMs
31-10-16 EDIT : Ally has just confirmed about wanting to do gigs for food donations https://www.facebook.com/TheVirginmarysOfficial/videos/1436101046417369/
(Sorry Tess, i just couldn’t resist the opportunity)
It was quite hilarious when Rob came into the room. Tess was fast asleep & Rob made her jump & wake. No doubt there was the milliseconds of thoughts ” Where am i ? Who is that “? etc. We both totally cracked up ! (Soz again Tess). Good lad that Rob is, he gave her another hour before getting up 😉
The other night we were so impressed with “Flat Iron” in Shoreditch that we decided to try another branch, this time in Denmark street. We both bloody loved it We then left for Shepherds Bush. Once there, we pretty much went straight to the pub ! 😉
Whilst there, we noticed a few police cars zipping by & then the next thing they’d blocked off the road so cars couldn’t go down Shepherds Bush Green (the road directly outside the Empire). They even closed the Underground station. Never did find out what happened. Probably a security scare. But of course it will have messed up some punters travels. When Rob arrived he said he didn’t know anything about station being closed etc. We left Tess in the pub as it was time for us to go in. We actually went in through side/stage door. All smooth & got the position i wanted. Later on, Tess & Nick joined us there.
Wasn’t impressed with Peter Murphy ( ex Bauhaus). Honestly, for myself, it was just dire ! Little or no interaction with the crowd & just boring. Sorry.
Soon enough it was time for The Mission. The good old intro from the ’80s is still being used & they go straight into ” Beyond The Pale”. It’s quickly followed by a real classic “Serpents Kiss”. I’ve already noticed that Mr Hussey doesn’t seem quite on point & he confirms he has in fact got a cold before ” Like a Hurricane”
We’re then brought up to date with their first selection off the latest album ” Another Fall From Grace “, it’s “Tyranny Of Secrets”.
Next there’s a couple of old classics “Naked & Savage” & ” Garden Of Delight”. Interestingly, before “Like A Child Again”, Wayne asks how many people are actually from London. The audience is pretty quiet ! Seems we all travel for The Mission shows
I dunno why,but tonight i’m just not feeling it, despite the fact it’s a decentish gig. Maybe it’s cos i’ve had 3 gigs in 3 days & i’m just not as fit as i used to be (related to my illness) ? Probably doesn’t help i’ve got some inconsiderate woman behind me who’s coughing & spluttering all through the show. Should have at least put her hand to her mouth to cover it.
I also noticed that Tess didn’t seem too comfortable (not with this woman,just an overall experience). I’d got her to play around with the settings on my camera to try make her feel more “at home” in the environment, but unsure if it worked.
We stay for the first encore, but i’m getting bored & weary tbh. Say goodbyes to Tess & myself & Rob leave early.
So, to sum up the last few days; it involved a lot of travel & “some ups & downs”. Great company & some killer food. Of the bands i saw, Royal Republic were easily the one i enjoyed the most. The energy levels were just great & it was all about having FUN ! (Both onstage & offstage)
Today, the first thing on my mind was PANTS ! Whilst i’d brought a spare pair of trousers (which unfortunately, had a rip in the crotch area) i didn’t have spare pants. So that’s todays mission. Didn’t have enough time to check out the shops in Bristol though. Our train left at 12.30. Once in London, we needed to meet Rob so we could drop off our bags at his place. I think, due to lack of sleep, i just wasn’t on my game with finding where Rob works…even though we were nearby a few days earlier ! All worked out in the end. Once in Stratford bought the pants! After going commando in trousers with a rip in an awkward place, it was great to get fresh new ones hahaha. The day was going so fast. After Tess had shaved me (head!) we were soon off to meet Rob at the Forum. Erm, i mean the pub nearby 😉
Today was the first time i used the “companion ticket” offer for me & Tess. It worked well. Rob came to this gig because Kristina decided to zip off to Stockholm to see Amaranthe….as you do ! When security let us in, Rob winged it & managed to get in same time as us 😉 We had a good spot/view,just above the main floor.
Whilst i have got the OM&M album “Restoring Force (Full Circle), i don’t really know much about them. So this gig was more of a case of slotting in between Royal Republic & The Mission. One things for sure, i can’t be accused of just liking Metal or whatever ! But that’s the way i’ve always thought. If it’s got a good beat,interesting lyrics or most importantly it touches me & makes me listen, i don’t give a damn about the genre. So this gig is going to be all new & fresh to me.
Being totally honest, sometimes i find support acts a pain to watch. So many seem to regurgitate the same stuff. Both ” Hands Like Houses ” & ” Crown The Empire ” don’t do anything much for me. Don’t get me wrong, the kids love them & i’m sure both bands will progress over time. But i’ve seen it all before & it left me feeling “flat”.
Another thing, whilst looking at the mosh pits, i couldn’t help but think how many of this crowd are actually listening or watching the bands?
OM&M hit the stage full on with “Pain”. The crowd straight away becomes a total mess with the mosh pits. It’s not all that often i’ve seen a crowd go for it THIS much on a first song. It’s all so intense. The only downside is I think the sound is pretty poor, especially the vocal mix.
Next up is a song more familiar to me “Feels like Forever” (off the album “Restoring Force:Full Circle”) It’s one of my fave OM&M songs as is the following track “Would You Still Be There?”. I think i prefer these tracks as there’s more singing & less “shouting”. The same goes for later song “Never Giving Up”.
Going back to the earlier subject of mosh pits, there was something i noticed from my vantage point which a lot of people wouldn’t have been aware of : Security stand both sides of venue on the stairs,looking over the crowd. They were very quick & proficient at spotting someone who totally went down. Respect to them for getting in there & taking the bloke out.
When the band came back for the encore, Austin got the crowd to squat down for the build up to ” You’re Not Alone”. How many acts now must have copied that move that Slipknot “invented” ? (Well, i assume it was Slipknot as that was first time i experienced it a few years ago)
All in all, not too bad a night. We went for a quick drink before heading back to Robs 😉
P.S. I later read online that after attempting to play the last couple of UK dates in Portsmouth & Cardiff the band cancelled the rest of the European tour as Austins health is not good. https://www.instagram.com/p/BLbtme2BSgd/
Wishing him all the best for a quick recovery.
5-10-16 (Day before gig)
I put a lot of work into the planning/logistics of this show & the ones which followed. It was to be the first of 3 gigs in 3 days which involved a lot of travelling. As well as the gigs, it would give myself & Tess a few days together… I suggested we meet in London & stay at ” Hotel Rob ” the night before as train tickets would work out much cheaper this way instead of Me : Boston>Bristol OR Tess :Bournemouth> Bristol. After meeting up we were gonna visit Montague Pyke (why change tradition?) but it was rammed. Instead we made our way to Hotel Rob where we were greeted by Miss Grigorova 😉 After a while we left to meet Rob at a bar (surprised?) & then he took us to a place called ” Flat Iron “. All i can say is OMFG those steaks were great ! Will most certainly visit there again soon, thanks Rob ! http://flatironsteak.co.uk/ ( WE went to the Shoreditch place first)
6-10-16 (gig day)
I deliberately booked a train to Bristol for around midday. But when you’re up until 3am gassing & both Rob & Kristina leave early, it makes for a L-O-N-G day…Some of us coped better than others 😉
Once in Bristol i wanted to locate venue before checking into hotel,but, we were both too tired.So finding hotel was first priority. As we’d got VIP meet & greet tix, we also needed to be at venue for 5.30 onward.
That worked very well. All the guys in the band were very talkative & a good laugh. I learnt something from Per which surprised me & yet at the same time it didn’t. He told me that for Download festival they were offered £500. That’s for whole band & crew ! Of course, they said it wasn’t enough to even cover their costs, to which Live Nation replied ” There’s plenty of other bands that will take that slot if you don’t ! ” So they took it. Nowadays, it seems it’s really hard for bands to tour & make any money. They always have to put their own cash into things. The whole industry seems to be so rubbish , especially for “new” bands or ones that are trying to reintroduce themselves after being away (well, unless it’s an old “big” band reforming). It just shows the dedication & passion that acts such as Royal Republic, Virginmarys etc have. I knew Adam was tall, but blimey i look so short next to him !
Dinosaur Pile-up were decent enough,but, i got the impression they so want to be Nirvana 😉 Whatever, the kids loved them…
So to the main course : Royal Republic ! After the intro, what a great, in the face, full on start : “When I See You Dance with Another” straight into “Walk!”. Already the vibe is UP !
I just love the latest album ” Weekend Man “. A strange little secret i have is that i play the first two songs when i have a shower in the morning ! Why? The fast beats make me lather up quickly & i’m soon out of the shower thus saving water (Nothing kinky that i’m sure some of you were thinking !)
Next it’s back to the album “Save The Nation” with an outing of ” Make Love Not War “. We actually get about 4 from that album tonight as next up it’s “Strangers Friends Lovers Strangers”. Then it’s back to basics, or rather, where it all started with the classic ” Underwear ” from the debut album “We Are The Royal”. How many times have myself & friends quoted the line “..I can see your underwear from down here..” lol All done in the best possible taste 😉
Tonight Tess has free reign to take photos all through the show. There’s no photo pit,the punters of first row are against the stage. As the venue is so small, we have the great idea of her leaving her camera bag tied to the balcony railing next to me. This way, she can come back up & take photos from this position also. Yo Tess! When are we gonna see those pics online ? 😉
Adam tried to explain about “Weekend Man” saying that “…The Devil on your shoulder is like a choir boy compared to the Weekend Man..”. Make of that what you will
After that it’s back to the STN album for “Everybody Wants to Be an Astronaut”. I’m really enjoying this set. We’re getting songs from all the albums & they all fit so well together. It’s just a sign of a quality band. The biggest or nicest surprise is the inclusion of a “Nosebreakers” song. For those not aware, about 2 years ago, Royal Republic covered their own songs acoustically on the album ” Royal Republic & The Nosebreakers”. They did even tour it around Europe, but, unfortunately not in the UK It was really cool to hear “Addictive” this way :
We’re then took back to the album ” Weekend Man ” & the brilliant song “Kung Foo Lovin’ “. Oh yes, you need to check out the latest merchandise where they have a “Kung Fu Lovin’ Adam” on the design Bloody love it & had to get one as the old school baseball shirt with this caricature just works so well
The main set is closed out with the killer song from debut album ” Tommy Gun “.
Something i noticed about this place/crowd was that despite there being only a few hundred(?) in the place & it was sold out, the audience was loud. I mean real loud! Already i love this venue. It’s nice n cosy with a cool balcony.
The first song of the encore was ” Here I Come ” (The first song of Weekend Man album…the one i shower too 😉 ) Full on rocking. The atmosphere was then took down a little with the moody ” Follow The Sun “. Of course, there was really only one song to finish the show with & it was the amazing ” Full Steam Spacemachine “. Just love it when Per hits those drums so hard.
Afterwards i decided i’d have to get a t-shirt. Got the Kung-Fu Adam cariacture one. I think it’s brilliant (though mine could be faulty as there are a few “black dots” in the print which are not on the one featured on their merch page ) Still, it’s supporting the band & helping them to carry on touring. Everyone should buy their merchandise as it really makes a difference (especially when they are partly self funding the tour). I wish i could have got to more shows but they clashed. A mate said Nottingham was great also.
Hopefully they won’t be long before their return & the venue sizes will jump up next time. Hope for Rock City next time as they deserve it. Soon afterwards we were back at the hotel hoping to catch up on the sleep. Again, it didn’t quite work out…I was really knackered & Tess was checking through the photos she’d took. Hey ho, got there eventually….& following morning was another early rising before the trip back to London