The Virginmarys, The Hyena Kill, The Forum, Tunbridge Wells 22-3-17

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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”.Β Betty? You ask. Betty is the name for their Basset Hound rescue dog πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜‰ ) 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.Β 

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.Β Β 

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. Β 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” πŸ˜‰ 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 withΒ 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 πŸ™‚ )
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 πŸ˜‰ Of course, the evening wouldn’t have been complete without the “end of tour” band photos (for some of us lol)

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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” πŸ˜‰Β Β (Yeah, ok, we know it’s the focusing from the other camera, but i prefer my description πŸ™‚ )

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The Virginmarys, The Hyena Kill, @ The borderline, London, 21-3-17

Β Β Cheers to Gareth for giving me the setlist πŸ™‚

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 Β£ 11.95 for myself & a carer (Would normally be Β£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 πŸ™‚

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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 πŸ˜‰ 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? πŸ˜‰
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 πŸ™‚
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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚
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 Β£12.50 (what a fookin bargain in this day & age when some bands want Β£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 πŸ™‚

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The Virginmarys, Cut The Heroics, Rock City basement, Nottingham, 15-3-17

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.Β 
Whenever they play “I Wanna Take You Home”, i always think of a certain young lady who i’d like to…haha no clues πŸ™‚
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 πŸ˜‰ The room has come alive.
Next up it’s “Falling Down ” Just look at that sweat pooring off Ally πŸ˜‰

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” πŸ˜‰
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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜‰

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Skunk Anansie, The Virginmarys, @ Razzmatazz, Barcelona, Spain 10-2-11

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This was a good one. Was queued up outside & Cass came over & invited me in for a drink to warm up etc. After a chat with Leigh, i went out front & Cass was doing a small photo shoot. I watched a bit of the VMs soundchecking. The venue has a strange balcony where people dangle their legs over the side. Of course, it’s too much of a temptation for skinΒ P1000873

 

Another great show By da Skunks & Virginmarys πŸ™‚

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Skunk Anansie, The Virginmarys, @ Lisbon Coliseum, Portugal 8-2-11

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Whilst walking around during the day we bumped into the VM guys. Collecting my pass, the venue had my name down as “Simon Chap man ” haha For the Virginmarys, i did a bit of a balancing act as i used 2 cameras to record..

Quality set as always from the guys. Skunk were just great as ever. I filmed their set & gave the master tape to Leigh (Skunks manager). Got a photo with the VMs afterwards..P1000720

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