VIRGINMARYS , Massive Wagons, Big Boy Bloater & The Limits, Lincolnshire Showground ,21-4-18

This was another gig hanging in the balance for a couple of reasons. Firstly, was unsure if Alice would be able to drive us there & secondly, i was still waiting for appointment with my Oncologist. Obviously, i didn’t want to buy a ticket & then not be able to go. I mentioned this to Danny & he kindly offered myself & Alice guest list places. That way, if couldn’t make it, wouldn’t be out of pocket etc. In the end, everything fell into place very well.
Earlier on gig day, Alice had been playing her own gig which was part of some sort of a small festival in Horncastle. She had a 30minute slot. She told me that she enjoyed it. If any of you are interested in hearing any of her songs, here’s a link to her latest song :
https://alicekat.bandcamp.com/track/i-want-everything (She’s released a 12″vinyl EP & a CDr of some of her songs, which you can purchase there ;-)).
You can also listen to her songs for free (or make a donation) on Soundcloud : https://soundcloud.com/alice-kat

Can’t remember what time Alice picked me up, but we made sure we’d be there in good time before the doors opened. We went the same route as she’d done earlier in the day, via Horncastle, skirting around Lincoln (Which would have been very busy at that time). It was nice weather for travelling this day (unlike a couple of days before). When we got to the Showground, the sat nav sent us to the wrong place, but it was easy enough to find the correct entrance. (Btw Alice,please get some kind of a holder for your mobile phone so it will be higher up & you wont have to look down at it. We all love you & don’t want you to have an accident just because you looked down).
They had a one-way-system to the parking, so that was nice & easy. We drove past loads of people enjoying the sunny day drinking their beers etc.
I had the fore thought to take a pack up because i hadn’t eaten anything since brekky & i doubted that Alice would have had any lunch. So we shared that. I told her that the plastic container is older than her ! I used to use it when going to Monsters Of Rock/Download. But i didn’t put much food in it then…i sneaked in my camcorder using it ! (I’d wrap it in kitchen foil & take the container out when they searched bags 😉 )
As the doors to the venue were open, we wandered in there. The guys were just finishing their soundcheck. First person i spoke to was Gareth. After our hellos/hugs & introducing Alice to him, I mentioned that Danny had put us on the guest list & i hadn’t arranged the seat. Good old Gareth then went off to sort out the wristbands & seats! (As ever mate, it’s always appreciated) We also saw Stuart walking around so said hellos & introduced him to Alice.
Looking at the stage barrier, i think if the crowd gets rowdy, it wont be much use. As this is the first event to happen here, if it’s a success & they subsequently get more people attending, then they’ll most certainly will have to get a better barrier 😉  When sound check had finished, Ally came & had a chat with us. I introduced him to Alice, but he said he remembered her from when he did a solo gig at Brewery Tap,Peterborough.Nice one.
After a while, we went out of the venue to chill for a while near the car.  Later we went & sat on the benches in the lovely sun. I did take a wee video as i was walkin back. But seem to have lost it.
There was a great vibe as everyone was hanging drinking beers on this glorious day.
I don’t know how long it was before doors opened, but i suggested to Alice, if we want to get photos with the VMs, it would probably be best to do it before they play. That way we could get a quick exit when leaving & not get stuck in traffic. I think at the time, the lads were watching the footy on TV. Can’t remember who i asked to get the group photo.(Might have been Danny) 

The lads wandered off & Ross stayed for a while. It was cool as this was the first time i’d had a proper chat with him. He most certainly has his heart in the right place. A great chap. It’s obvious he has a passion for playing. No disrespect to Matt,but, i really think he fits in well with the VMs. Hopefully they’ll make him a permanent member 🙂

Eventually it was time for the first band. When we went in, the seats hadn’t been moved, which kinda surprised me. Obviously it’s a crowd that respects others. First act was “Big Boy Bloater & The Limits”. I’d never heard of them before. They had a typical rock n roll kind of sound.
They seemed to get a good reaction. 

Next up it was “Massive Wagons”. From memory, i think i saw them open for The Wildhearts in 2017. They have a lot of energy & to me, seem more professional than BBB. They rock like crazy & get an even better reaction from the crowd.

Finally, it’s time for Virginmarys.
I love it how, at the beginning of “Dead Mans Shoes”, Ross plays air drums ! (Didn’t quite capture it unfortunately)

A couple of songs in i try to have a little jump around/dance, but it’s not the same without the VMs family. Alice took a sneaky shot of me doing it 😉 

Also, i think i had more enery than Alice did. (But as she’s already had a long day, it’s hardly surprising)
In general, i think the audience was probably the weakest i’ve seen of all the VMs gigs. Only saw a couple of pockets of people jumping around etc.
As always, they finished the show with “Bang Bang Bang”. It was so cute to see a little kid hit the gong…& was pretty much in time :

So, overall, a nice day out. Can’t remember when it happened,but, Primordial took a group photo of everyone outside…i duly pinched it 😉  We got out of the car park nice & quickly before everyone else started leaving. Took a different route home, through Lincoln, as there wouldn’t be much traffic by then.

 

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VIRGINMARYS + Dig Lazarus + Kynch + Callum Cook ,The Soundhouse, Leicester, 6-4-18

Woke up early in Sheffield & decided i’d go have breakfast at The Bankers Draft. Went straight upstairs as knew it wouldn’t be busy. In fact, there were only about 3 tables taken. Had a nice breakfast, then walked through the city back to my hotel. As my train to Leicester didn’t leave until 12.49, i stayed in the hotel as long as i could do 🙂 When i got to the station, my train was running a bit late. No problem though as couldn’t check into hotel in Leicester ’till 2pm. Once on the train, they pretty much managed to make up most of the time that it had been delayed.
When i was younger, i used to visit Leicester a lot as i’d see gigs at De Montfort Hall, the University & the Poly.I drove there so often that i didn’t need any map (this is pre sat navs days lol). Ah that’s just brought a memory back of when i was very young & my dad used to drive me & my mates there. Somehow, he always seemed to take a different route in the city every time ! It’s a funny, but nice, memory of him.
When i arrived via train, it didn’t seem that much had changed. I was quite surprised how close both my hotel & Wetherspoons were to the train station 🙂
I’d booked the Mercure Grand Hotel. It might sound posh, but it isn’t ! It was a nice room, with a separate bathroom. The bathroom windows could certainly do with an upgrade though,as they didn’t close properly! In fact, the bathroom was quite cold because of that! Certainly was the quickest shower I’ve ever had ! Thankfully, there’s a door between the bedroom & bathroom, so the cold couldn’t get into the bedroom 😉 Still think it was ok for £60 though.  Once i’d checked into the hotel, i did my usual thing : Walking the route to the venue. Again, it was pretty close to my hotel. I was surprised to see that the venue was closed as i thought it was a pub with a small room for bands. Maybe it’s just a bit too far from city centre for them to open in the afternoons? Who knows, maybe they don’t get much trade until in the evenings? Whatever, i found the venue easily & my next stop would be the either my hotel or the Wetherspoons pub 🙂
I already knew that for this gig it would be one of the biggest fan meetups…a lot of the regulars + a few more.
The first two people i met today were Garry & Ross. Where better to meet than the local Wetherspoons ? 😉 . “The Last Plantagenent” was in the perfect location; on same road as my hotel & not far away from the venue. Now usually when i meet up with the VMs family, it’s just a quick hello then get down to business with the gig. But today, it’s different, as we have a lot more time to talk with each other. I can safely say, we got to know each other a lot more. Was interesting sharing our stories about previous gigs etc. Though i have to confess, i had to ask Ross to repeat a couple of things due to his heavy Scottish accent 😉 Eventually we decided to mosey on down to the venue. Was quite surprised that it was still closed. Not only that, we were the only ones there ! Garry decided he’d nip off to get a sarnie or whatever as he hadn’t eaten all day. I took a couple of photos of Ross outside the venue :  Eventually, a few more people arrived. When doors opened, going in i told the couple taking tickets that i’d pre arranged a seat/stool for tonight. The chap said wait over there & i’ll sort it out. Seemed like after 10mins he’d either forgot about me or was more interested in getting the punters in. Now at most venues, they get the disabled people in BEFORE the main crowd as it makes things easier for everyone.A lesson to be learnt there i think 😉 Seeing how tiny the room was, i was getting a bit bothered as he’d not sorted out the seat. During this wait, a few more of the VMs travelling family arrived. Said our hellos etc. As luck would have it, Ally came walking towards me (from direction of the doors) & asked if i was ok. I told him i’m still waiting for the geezer to get me the seat. So what does Ally do? Yep, you guessed it, HE goes to find me the seat! (Thanks Ally) He brings back a short stool. Intitally, i go down the left side right against the stage & close to the ladies toilets. Then i think it would be better on the right side seeing as i might be in the way of peeps going to the loo etc. That was a good choice to move to the right.
Tonight there’s 3 support acts. I sit on said stool for most of them 😉 The first one up is Callam Cook. Just himself & an acoustic guitar. He’s got a fine vocal abilty. He plays some cover songs etc. It’s a gentle start to the evening. Next it’s “Kynch” followed by “Dig Lazarus”. I thought that both of these were a bit “samey”. Certainly nothing that i hadn’t heard before by numerous other bands. Out of those two, i think Dig Lazarus were notch up over Kynch 😉 

Am i too harsh as regards support acts? I dunno. For myself, after seeing so many bands over the years, i’ll only prick my ears up if i hear something different or quirky.
During the Virginmarys set, the front row was mostly the VMs travelling family of fans. From what i can remember,starting on the right side, going left, it was myself, Eva, Simon B, Ross, Garry, Rachel…any more ?  (Thanks to Simon B. for the photos) I’d already decided that tonight i was gonna have a bit of a jump around etc. Maybe one last hurrah? Who knows? (Yes, i did film a couple of songs & took a few photos-it’s ingrained in me-but i most certainly jumped/danced or whatever you wanna call it for the longest time since 2 years back. I bloody loved it!)
As ever on this tour, they kicked off with “Portrait Of Red”. It’s great seeing everyone having big wide grins on their faces & jumping around like there’ll be no tomorrow….& this is just the first song of the night ! Next we get a one/two of “Dead Mans Shoes” & “Free To Do”. Then it’s one of my faves off “Divides”, namely ; “I wanna Take You Home”. Just 4 songs in & i’m already thinking this is a totally special night.

The video clip is a little shaky as couldn’t help myself not moving around etc 😉 During “Halo…” i just had to switch off the camera & have more of a proper jump/dance. After that, i thought to myself “I don’t want to burn myself out too quick”, so decided to film the next song “Sweet Loretta”

From then on wards, i was pretty much on my feet for the rest of the show. Living in the moment, feeling so happy to be doing this. All the shit went from my mind & i was kinda elated to be sharing this time with not only the band, but also the VMs family. Best time ever this year for sure.   The evening just flew by. I’m sure a lot of us got a bit tired after jumping around etc. Encore time was a good moment to catch our breaths. 
For the very last song of the night, they did something different : Rachel had the honour of banging Dannys gong ! (take that which ever way you like 😉 ). As this was a unique thing to happen, i took a few photos & then realised i should have made a video of it. Soz to Rachel i didn’t capture it all..  

When the gig finished, someone said “hello” to me. In all honesty, i recognised his face, but couldn’t put a name to it! All i could think was that i knew him from meeting at a gig somewhere.(That happens a lot to me). Later on i realised it was James Chamberlain, who, yes, i had met at a gig 🙂 Damn what a night this was ! I loved every moment of it all. All my troubles were washed away due to the music & the community of the fans. I’ll never forget this show ! The one thing we did miss tonight though, was the group photo ! I only realised that after some people said they were leaving. We all said our goodbyes & went our separate ways. Walking back to my hotel, i think if anyone saw me, they’d think i was high on drugs or something. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat & thinking about what happened today/tonight. The only slight downer of the day was when i was walking down the street where my hotel was, there were a bunch of kids having a fight. It wasn’t a fair fight either as it seemed a few of them were ganging up against one lad. I just kept my head down & stayed on the opposite side of the street as didn’t want to get involved in it all. 

P.S. There’s one thing i didn’t tell anyone on this night. By a very strange coincidence on this very date, 2 years ago, i had the seizure which would eventually be diagnosed as me having brain tumors. Think i did quite well to keep that quiet .

 

 

 

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VIRGINMARYS + Ten Eighty Trees + Quesey @ cafe totem, Sheffield, 5-4-18

This gig & the next one were kinda hanging in the balance. I’d recently got my last M.R.I. results & they were not good. Tbh, to start off with, i wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be going. After speaking with my nurse, i decided to go. As i’d never been to this venue before, i wondered if i’d be able to SEE anything or not. When i emailed them about having a seat, it all seemed a bit sketchy….
Last time i visited Sheffield i checked out where Cafe Totum was, cos i’d never heard of the place ! (It used to be called “The Rocking Chair”)
I left Bostonia at 11.50. Changed train at Nottingham & finally arrived at Sheffield around 14.45. Stayed at Jurys Inn this time. A nice room, at a reasonable price & pretty close to the venue 🙂 

After checking in, i had a walk to “The Waterworks” & had a late lunch. As it was Thursday, i had to have the usual Curry Club deal 🙂 On the way back i decided to have a look in Cafe Totum & confirm about the seat for later. The lass at the bar said the manager was downstairs in gig room, so i went down. Door was locked though! Luckily, i could see in the room & caught the eye of Gareth. We kinda sign languaged lol, Telling me to go back up stairs. Met him there then he took me into the gig room. The guys were finishing off sound checking. Even though i thought the room would be small, it really surprised me just how tiny it was. There was no way, even with a stool, i’d be able to see the stage. I noticed a kind of ledge right at the back, so decided to try perch myself up on there. Simon (another one ….too many Simons!) said he’d already took a snap from up there. It was a bit of a balancing act once up there, but seemed ok. Gareth got me a stool so i could use it to get up there (+ also put a note on it to say it was reserved. Nice one mate). Myself & Danny then went up to the bar for a drink & a natter. There was a slight problem at the bar 😉 During which time Stuart also came up. So i bought the round of drinks. We had a real good chat about “the business & contracts” etc (Hey Danny, don’t forget about those master tapes i filmed 😉 )
The closer to doors time, the more busy the bar got. I later saw, Gary, Ross et al turned up & they went over into a corner. Do i smell bad ? 😉 Then i saw Helen Tate & her clan arrive. She came over & had a chat with me (Maybe i don’t smell that bad after all lol). Always nice to see her & Lauren. Again, we briefly talked about the music industry & how hard it is for small bands to make it big. She mentioned about how Facebook has changed. Apparently, if they paid something like a tenner the posts would get more views. HOG have around 14,000 subscribers, but after the change, the most recent announcement for a new gig was only seen by about 160 people. What a load of rubbish is that eh? After a while she went back to her kids. I then noticed the room wasn’t so busy. Most peeps had gone downstairs to the gig room. So i went down. as expected, it was pretty rammed. I was surprised that no one had pinched my stool. I sat on said stool for the support acts; neither of which really did much for me.
There was a lad near me who was already pissed up. I told him i’d be going up on that “perch”. He said “Yeah…reckon i’ll do that as well”. I’m thinking to myself “I can see him having an accident just trying to get up there!”
The guys kicked off with “Portrait Of Red” & then went straight into “Dead Mans Shoes”. I then realised that the lighting in this venue is REALLY poor. Basically, i could see Ross & Danny ok, but there wasn’t any lighting on Allys side. Trying to film a clip, the camera just couldn’t see Ally. So i ended up just filming Danny, Ross & Garry ! Garry? Yes, he was nicely lit up on front row 😉

Next it’s “Free To Do” & then, one of my faves from “Divides” “I Wanna Take You Home”. Again, due to poor lighting, the photos i tried to take are pretty naff. 

A bit later, they played a new song called “Don’t Wanna be Free”. Was interesting to hear that. About half way through the set, i noticed the pissed up guy next to me was wobbling on the perch & then he started knocking me. Sorry to say it, but, i was thinking “Just fall down already!” 🙂 I think i lost my focus then as was bothered about the chap next to me ! The guys played a lot of good uns, namely “Running For My Life”, “Into Dust”, “Blind Lead The Blind” etc. Again i had a go at filming another song:

When they got to “Lost Weekend”, i thought i’d try my mobile to see how it picked up the band in low lighting (I’ve never used mobile to film stuff as i’m sure sound would distort) As it was, it did pick up Ally better than my camera, but the resolution was a lot lower. Was an interesting experiment 🙂

“Sitting Ducks”, from the last ep they released, always goes down well. Then another classic VM song is played, namely, “Motherless Land “. We’re then treated to another new song “Look Out For My Brother”. Lovely stuff 🙂
The main set finishes with “Just A Ride” & “Ends Don’t Mend”. From my perch, i didn’t see much jumping around during the gig & also the crowd were not over loud. I think waiting for the encore even had a brief time when no one was clapping/cheering for them to come back !  Eventually they return & we get “Northern Sun” & “Bang Bang Bang”. Tonight they didn’t use the gong though 🙁 A few people hung around for a little while in the gig room, whilst others made their way up to the bar…or left ! Oh yeah, earlier in the day, an old local friend from the ’80s sent a message to me about meeting up as he was working in Sheffield. We ended up meeting after the gig had finished. He came down into the gig room, then we went up to the bar. Had a real good catch up. Hadn’t seen each other for years! Was great seeing you again Graham 🙂 .Before i went to my hotel, i said my goodbyes & got a quick photo with Ally & Danny. 

P.S. The Hero of the evening was Ross. Why ? Because he’d not been well recently but battled though the lurgy & played the gig. Good on ya Ross 🙂 

 

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Camden Rocks Festival, Virginmarys, Royal Republic, Hands Off Gretel, 3-6-17

 

As always, we got to Camden early. Once we’d got the tix exchanged for wristbands, we hung in Worlds End pub for a while. Whilst there, various friends turned up. Quite a shock to see Benoit as he pretty much never visits the UK ! I’m guessing it had something to do with meeting Kitti 😉 The ever present Jim also joined us as did lovely Eva. The rest of the “VMs family” were in the other part of the bar, but we gradually said our hellos. Couldn’t help goofing around a little 😉

There were a few bands i was looking forward to,but, generally i think the lineup for the day wasn’t that great. Obviously VMs headlining, Ally solo, Royal Republic, Hands Off Gretel were my priorities…anything else would be a bonus. Whilst sat in Worlds End, watching everyone go by, someone noticed a lass outside wearing bright purple/pink glitzy trousers. Soon realised it was Lauren from H.O.G. Great idea for the band to hang around there giving out flyers & posing for photos & drumming up more people for their set (Not that the extra bodies were really needed. I mean, they’re kicking up a storm & have already got a great following….but i suppose it was a good idea with a personal touch to turn peeps onto H.O.G. ). As the window was open, i had a quick chat with Helen (Laurens mum) as hadn’t see her for awhile.

Can’t quite remember what we did after the Worlds End pub ! But the first band i saw was Hands Off Gretel in the Underworld (probably saw last minutes of the act before them). The place was rammed, as expected it would be. It was interesting to see the varied age of the audience. H.O.G. obviously appeal to all ages, so that has to be a good thing. Lauren thanked the crowd for choosing their gig instead of any of the others. As ever, they played a great gig. At the end, the crowd really wanted more & kept shouting “one more song,one more song”! Unfortunately, due to time restraints, it wasn’t possible. Managed a couple of videos.

Next we went to the Crowndale to catch a bit of The Kut. Rob spotted a great place in a mini balcony, which was perfect to see it all. I’d not previously heard anything by them before, but i enjoyed what i saw. 

We then made our way to Koko to see the amazing Royal Republic. We caught the tail end of “Moses” set. (Didn’t really do anything for me lol)
Soon enough, it was time for the Royals. As ever, they were full of bombast & were bloody great ! They’re such a FUN band to watch !

As ever, they finish with “Full Steam Spacemachine”

We started making our way back to the market. Wandered around looking for food. To start off, i wanted some, but then i got a whiff of something & it totally put me off ! Rob had some though.
Went to the Kraken stage which was billed as an “amphitheatre” to see Ally acoustic. All the VMs peeps were already there. It was quite nice sitting on the (false) grass steps. The only downside was that the sun was shining, behind Ally, towards us all. Must confess, when Ally spotted a sound problem & the local(?) guy didn’t agree with his opinion, it brought a smile to my face. (I think it was sorted by replacing a cable or something?). As always, Allys performance was pure & from his soul. I’m sure everyone enjoyed his show.   ( I pinched Erics photo)

Me? Take sneeky photos? 😉 

Dunno where the time went today, but soon enough we headed to the Underworld in preparation for the maid band of the day, Virginmarys. But before them, we ended up watching quite a bit of ” Ruts DC”. They were a laugh. (In a good way). Was obvious there were some diehard fans in the crowd. Was surprised i knew a few of their songs (mighta been covers?)
So, to the main reason for coming down to Camden Rocks : The Virginmarys !
The place was soon heaving. We had a nice view from above to the left. They kick off with a ferocious version of “Portrait Of Red”. It’s really cool to see the crowd dancing away down there. Smiles all around 🙂 Without taking a breath, they then play “Taking The Blame/ Halo in Her Silhouette”.

Next it’s one of my faves off the album “Divides”, namely “I Wanna Take You Home”. I always think of someone when they play this song 😉 We’re only 5 or 6 songs into the set & i notice it’s already getting quite rough in the pits. As much as i wish i could be down there, it’s times like this i appreciate NOT being down there !
The (relatively) new song “Sweet Loretta” comes over great. The VMs family already know this so they’re singing along with passion.

Then we get the old classics “Free to Do Whatever They Say” & “Running for My Life”. It’s getting noticeably more heated in the pits & i can see there’s 2 or 3 idiots who just seem to be there to push people around. During the super new song “Sitting Ducks” it’s very cool to see Ross stomping around the stage but conversely, i notice the audience is now getting quite violent.
Hell, i even switch off my camera as i’m concerned some of my friends are taking a battering down there.

Next we get “Off To Another Land” & “Into Dust”. I find myself looking more at the audience than the band. I’ve never seen a VMs show where a small minority in the crowd seem to spoil it for the majority. I very much doubt those dickheads even knew a single VMs song. They’d probably rolled in from the bars & just wanted to thrash about. Some people seem to have no respect for others who are there to have a good time. During “For You My Love” it really kicked off in there. I could see at least one of my friends was visibly distressed about what was happening. I ended up filming the guy who was seemingly confronting her…

Got to say, this was the least enjoyable VMs show i’ve witnessed. Not down to the band, but due to some dickheads in the crowd.
“Walk In My Shoes” & “Motherless Land” seemed to go by without the previous altercations in the crowd. The last song, “Just A Ride” flew by. A bunch of us hung around for a while afterwards. Someone took this great photo of us with Ally 

Eventually we all spilled out onto the road & started walking in the direction of Koko. My mate Rob had gone there to see Feeder, so we arranged to meet at the pub opposite. I think Feeder ran over time a little, but whatever, i’d had enough for the night. So once Rob was out, we were on our way back to Stratford. I got a txt from a mate in Boston saying there had been some sort of incident & he was asking if we were ok. (Thanks Andy G. ) On the tube back, we stopped for a few minutes at Mile End. The opposite line was also held. We were beginning to think the tube had been shut down. Eventually, we were on our way, but still wondering exactly what the incident was.

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Ally Dickaty (Virginmarys) Brewery Tap, Peterborough, 7-12-16

I had planned to go to the Virginmarys/Therapy? gig at Union Chapel in London. Everything was booked. Planned to meet Eva & we were gonna go around “Winter Wonderland” etc. But i had to cancel due to my chemo meds just made me real rough (having had 2 weeks where my bloods were rubbish, everything gets delayed/put back. I was quite depressed about it all really) But health is more important, so skipped the gig 🙁
As luck would have it, i’d previously mentioned the gig in Peterborough to my niece, Alice. She had planned to go xmas shopping, so, needing my fix, i dropped her a message to see if she fancied doing the gig. ” Yes ! ” was the answer, so here we go 🙂
The venue had been changed from Cherry Tree as it closed down! Probably a blessing in disguise as The Brewery Tap is more central & a great pub. (They even have their own micro-brewery). There’s a nice size side room, “The Tap Room “, where the gig was gonna be.
This tour is a great example of the humility of the guys. Making people aware of how others often cannot get the basics to survive. The idea of “People Help The People” is great. You make a food donation as your entry to the gig. (Or give them £5 on the door. We thought it’s lazy to just hand over a fiver, so went shopping)
Had a quick look in the Tap room, said a brief hello to Ally, then off we went for food. Leaving the place, saw Danny at the bar, so said hi .
After a little Xmas shopping with Alice, we went to get the food donations. Dropped em off back at the car, then went for our food. Guess where we went? Yup, easy with me, a Wetherspoons pub, “The Drapers Arms” 😉
On way back to venue, we picked up our donations from the car & in we went. Bit early though as we were the first in ! Met ” Fi ” , who was organizing this event & had a nice chat. Alice was promoting herself to Fi very well 😉 Then we went back into main room for drinks.
Eventually we go back in Tap Room. The support act was a guy called Richard Combault. Apparently, he used to be in a local band called “Midget”. I seem to recall the name from the early 90s. His set was pretty decent. Had some great little songs & good lyrics…especially about a divorce lol. Very entertaining. I think he must have brought a bunch of his mates with him as a few people left after his set.
Soon enough it was time for Ally to hit the stage. A funny thing; there was a big “dining room table ” on said stage. This had the keyboard on it ! Why ? well it appears they lost the proper keyboard stand (+ a mic stand) already on this tour ! Don’t forget the list guys 😉
I love hearing these songs in the naked & raw versions. Really shows the emotion & you see what great lyrics they have. Tonight we get a bunch of the “classics” including “Walk In My Shoes” , “Lost Weekend”, “Motherless Land” , Moth To A Flame” , “Northern Sun “, “Cast The First Stone ” etc.
Ally , as ever, is very open & appreciative. Early on he mentioned about the whole “Food & Awareness” campaign on this tour. Apparently ” Fi “, who put on this event, was one of the first to sign up to the idea. Before “Lost Weekend”, he mentions this.

Later on, totally unexpected, Ally asks me which song i’d like to hear ! I had a total brain freeze ! After already hearing a bunch of great songs & getting totally drawn into it all, i just blurted out “…urm… Brother hold on…” (Moth To A Flame of course). Allys reply was ” I usually play this on the keyboard, but i’ll do it on guitar for you”. So, unique version on this tour 🙂 Afterwards he mentions ” This guy has been following VMs around the UK for about 5-6 years or so & even saw us abroad?”. I say “Yeah, abroad on Skunk tour “. (I went to Porto,Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam..+ a few UK dates back in 2010)

An unexpected highlight also followed; “Northern Sun”. Brilliant stuff. The show is finished with “Cast The First Stone”.

Afterwards we briefly hang & get some photos. My niece Alice was VERY impressed with the show (first time seeing Ally, so will check out the VMs stuff)
Big thanks to Ally & Danny as always. Look forward to the gigs next year 😉
Ok, this was somewhat rushed, as i’m off to Amsterdam for weekend. Just wanted to get it out there. Apologies for quality of video clips. Not enough light & my camera is for sure on its way out.

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Virginmarys (Missed Feeder) , Rock City, Nottingham, 14-10-16

Scans0692 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 😉 IMAG0415_1

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/

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Virginmarys, Michael Monroe,Therapy?, Darkness, Alice Cooper, StoneFree Festival, Indigo at O2 , O2 Arena, London 18-6-16

 

Scans0672 No, it wasn’t a complimentary ticket (you hand them in on entry & collect them after gigs finished), i paid over £70 for a CRAP service, but to got see some good bands 🙂  * Let me just get this rant out of the way *

From the start, i knew this one would be a balls up.In their wisdom, they didn’t post out the tickets (a service i paid for). When i chased them up, they said could be collected from the box office from 11am on gig day.I then requested my postage costs to be refunded, as i paid for a service they didn’t provide. Got the reply : ” Unfortunately, we are unable to refund your transaction as this also covers the cost of placing your tickets for collection from the venue box office”. Oh how typical, anything to rip off their customers.Well,before we got there, Jim contacted me to say the box office wouldn’t be open until 12pm ! Yeah, just know how this is going to go….
When got there, had a little wander around & bumped into my old mate Dave Ling. Not seen him for ages. I asked him how he was & his reply was something like “More to the point, how are you?” That was nice of him. Next we had a little wander around the venue looking at the overpriced eating places 😉 Then i noticed a familiar face coming towards me. It was a lad from Sheffield, Tonito, who i’ve met at loads of gigs (Sheffield/Nottingham etc). Thought it was time we connected on Facebook, so we did 🙂 Went to join the box office queue & after a while, Eric & Sonia arrived. First thing Sonia said was “You’re looking well”. That was very nice to hear. It may seem small, but to me, that’s a big boost to my well being/confidence.
When box office opened, a few people in front of us came away with no tickets! Strange eh? Once it was our turn, they said that the tickets hadn’t arrived at the box office yet! Oh See Tickets/O2 arena are such professionals ! (sarcasm). Every subsequent customer was told “The tickets will be here in an hour”. So, the first act started at 12.20 & majority of us didn’t have tickets yet ! Personally, i don’t think these so called “professional companies” should be able to get away with this. We paid for a service which they did not provide, TWICE now. Cunts.
Eventually we get our tix & just hope that not many have gone in before us. Poor old Jim was STILL left waiting as his ticket (different company) had still not turned up. Now, i’d planned to go in the balcony & it seemed empty. Asked security & they said ” We won’t open the balcony until the main floor fills up”. I was still livid from the ticket B.S. so had a word with the production manager, a very nice American lady. She said i could have a seat. Well, it turned out it WASN’T in balcony, but in the disabled area, which wasn’t that great a view. So i went back to her & said we had crossed wires. She then told me ” The balcony is closed & only VIPs can go up there” (erm, so the security had totally sold me a bullshit line eh?!!) Well, i gave up on that goose chase & went back in. Place was busying up. Partly cos i was pissed off & partly as i didn’t think the place would get all that busy, i decided to go front row! Watched “Jackaman”, who were new to me & pretty good. Damn, can she sing !

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Next up, it was the band which were the main reason for me coming here : The Virginmarys :-). I absolutely LOVE the latest album, ” Divides”. There’s not many bands i can say i like every track on the album, but this is certainly one of the special few. Songs such as ” I Wanna take you home” really resonate with me. It was a well thought out set list to hit hard & fast.

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The set just seemed to fly by. Ally, as ever, showed his appreciation for the crowd turning up to see them. He also briefly told how they were delayed because of Alice Coopers snake 🙂 They were easily my band of the day.

To my utter shame,after all these years, i’ve still not got a VMs t-shirt ! (only got a beanie hat ). I didn’t see any merchandise for them around the arena ( The O2 probably wanted too big a cut to sell there 😉 ) so i sent Gareth a msg to see if i could buy one. Unfortunately, they only had ” Tent ” size in the one i wanted 🙁 So still haven’t got one…

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Michael Monroe was running around like mad. He was making Dunc work hard as regards his microphone stand. I reckon MM does it deliberately 😉 Reminded me of the show at Camden Rocks in 2015. I was stood on the left & we had a moment where i could see the exasperation in the eyes poor old Dunc 😉

Well, whatever, MM played a typical upbeat set. A few times he came down to the barrier to meet his people. Thinking about it, i’ve never seen a bad show by him. He has a solid band behind him & they always seem to have fun. Great stuff.

Next it’s Therapy? Again, you know what you’re gonna get with them. Never seen a bad gig by them. Fun with a capital F ! 🙂

We then move to the main arena, where things are already quite busy. I must say, i really don’t think the organizers really thought things through as regards the Indigo O2 room. I mean, what would have happened if a lot of this crowd had wanted to see the acts in the smaller room ? It’s obvious not everyone would have fitted in & there was potential  for even more unsatisfied punters…
So, first band up in the arena was ” Blackberry Smoke”. They were ok i suppose. Next it’s Apocalyptica. They were a great novelty act when they started about 20 years ago, because it was an original idea. I guess it was always going to be a limited potential though, when just playing the cellos. So along the way, they got guest singers for some songs. The standout one for me was when Sandra Nasic (Guano Apes) did “Path Vol 2” back in 2001 (If my memory is correct, she also had the honor of being the first person to add vocals to an Apocalyptica song). I’ve not really followed their career since then, but did notice they had some great guest vocalists/collaborations along the way. Can’t say as i like the band nowadays & if i’m honest, i’m amazed they’ve managed to make such a good career out of it all. However, i respect the fact they’ve worked for everything & are now even able to play a gig at Royal Festival Hall !

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Somewhere during the night, i bumped into Adrian Hextall. I first met him at the Camden Rocks show a couple of years back. Again, such a nice chap that he asked how i was doing with regards to my tumors etc. Was really appreciated. Next it’s The Darkness. They’ve certainly had some HIGHS 😉 & lows over their career. I reckon one of my fave times seeing them was at the MTV birthday gig at Brixton ,back in 2003.(Along with “The Music” & headliners “Janes Addiction”). They were just starting to become well known at the beginning of their meteoric success. As with many bands, internal problems & drugs caused them to implode & they were away for some years. I wasn’t sure what to expect of them tonight.I could take it or leave it tbh. But, as it was, i mostly REALLY enjoyed their set. It was fun & a laugh. What i DIDN’T like though was when Justin started trying to guess audience members names! Just seemed stupid how he was rambling on. Maybe there was a reason for it ? 😉


Finally it’s time for Alice Cooper. By now i’m starting to feel tired as it’s been such a long day. I was enjoying the set a lot, but, after maybe 40mins or so, i just felt like if i stayed i’d pass out (or something worse). I know when to not push myself.

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So i said goodbye to everyone & arranged to meet Ady back at Stanmore tube. Despite the initial tickets clusterfuck, the day did end up ok. Apologies for my initial rant, but, i just cannot take it when there is such incompetence !

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Camden Rocks, Virginmarys, Pearl Hearts, Hyena Kill, Dirty Thrills, Creeper, London 4-6-16

VMs Camden rocks

 

This was my 3rd Camden Rocks festival & tbh, once the set times etc were announced, i thought it sucked due to clashes etc. We decided to travel down on the Friday & crash at Robs. Unfortunately, at Grantham train station, Andy lost his footing on the steps & badly twisted his ankle. This is now the 2nd time he’s done Camden Rocks with a messed up foot! Saturday morning, we set off early & i realised i’d lost my booking reference number for ticket collection! Soon got it sorted though. We then went to the usual Ice Wharf for breakfast. First band we went to see was The Peart Harts @ Belushis Cavern. It was quite busy & a whole bunch of the VMs family were  there as well! Bonus 🙂 I was stood at the side w/Tina & it was quite a good view until some ignorant lanky git decided to stand in front 🙁 The Pearl Harts went down very well. Initially, the sound wasn’t great,but, as Rob pointed out, their manager near us told the sound guy what needed doing 😉 I must also say, in that small place the sound was just great & so much better than when i saw them open for Garbage in Amsterdam last week. We then made our way towards The Black Heart where we were gonna split up. Funny coincidence, again , i bumped into Eva as she was crossing the road ! The other guys went off whilst myself & Eva went into the venue. Got drinks & joined the others upstairs. I didn’t know anything about Dirty Thrills, but thought i’d give them a go. Obviously, being a London band, they had good support. I really dunno what to make of them! Need to hear them again. DSC07212Next up it was Hyena Kill. I watched a few songs before i got a msg from Rob saying i should check out what they were watching at the Barfly. Even though i DIDN’T make it there in time, it was probably the most decisive moment of the day : I got in upstairs before it got busy with queues. I saw ” Qemists” & was very impressed with them. Was the most lively set so far of the day.

I then decided i wasn’t gonna move & stayed for “Creeper”. What can i say ? The kids loved them 😉

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Both Qemists & Creeper had very busy crowds & even circle pits. Pretty sure it will stay like this for rest of the night…

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So, to the main act ; The Virginmarys. I was wondering if they’d pull out anything different in this short time slot they had & was very impressed with how they started the show, doing “I Wanna Take You Home “. Totally unexpected & it made for a great opener. Looking over, seeing people really singing along was great.  No letting up, they went into ” Halo ” & already i felt the atmosphere in there was electric. I was very pleased to be in my little spot front left as i sensed everything was really gonna kick off tonight & i didn’t want to have to drop back (for obvious health reasons). I filmed “Falling Down ” & from then onwards, the short set just sped by. I gave up trying to take photos or any more video as things were not easy down there.

Later on, seeing the whole front row to my right basically falling over onto the stage, numerous times, was just crazy. Good old Ally did tell everyone to look after each other, for what it was worth 😉 This was easily the most active crowd i’ve seen at a VMs show, hell it was a total mosh session in there.

DSC07225The last song ” Just A Ride ” took things past overdrive. It really was a bloody mess in that crowd. I’m sure there will be many bruises, sore arms n legs & general “battle scares”. I hope everyone came out of it reasonably well ! Afterwards, once again Gareth gave me the set list (cheers mate) & we all soon went outside to cool down etc.

Scans0665 I had a nice chat with Ally & Danny (got photos which will follow when Andy sends them to me!) & arranged to maybe meet at the Stone Free festival. There wasn’t any other bands i really wanted to see now & as Andy was in considerable pain, we decided to leave. I few quick hugs & goodbyes (sorry to a bunch i know i missed) to the VM family & we were on our way. Final thought : Over all it was a good day,but, easily the weakest Camden Rocks i’ve been too. Too many clashes & not the best headliners. I reckon i’ll probably only go next year if Virginmarys are headliners. Well come on, they deserve it i reckon ! As ever, thanks to all the VMs family. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with every one of you beautiful people. Roll on the next gig (s)

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The Virginmarys @ Fopp (Acoustic) & @The Black Heart, with Fizzy Blood Camden 9-5-16

So this was a pretty much last minute gig for me. Huge thanks to Ally & Danny for looking after me for this sold out gig. All along, i just knew it would be a big day for me as so many of the “VMs family” were gonna be there. My train was delayed so i went straight to FOPP area. Nothing had been set up when i got there, but, i saw this poster & thought “I want that!”.

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Decided to go down the road to Montague Pyke for some grub & who should i bump into, but my mate Jim! So we both went in.
I’d previously had a msg earlier in the day (well, i had a few actually) where Eva said ” So i finally get to meet you then !”
It was so funny how we met : Myself & Jim went back to Fopp & i saw Eva trying to get her bearings on the Shaftesbury Ave/Charing Cross Rd junction. It was kinda funny how she was walking towards me & i deliberately made sure i was in her way…. once she realised it was me, we just hugged each other. It felt like we’d known each other forever (even though we’d not previously met properly). So we all went to Fopp ready for the gig. We were told to queue up outside & that’s where we met Jody. Then it started raining. After a while, someone came outside & said we could queue up inside. Yay ! Once inside, we gradually saw some of the “VMs family”, including Eric, Ony , Jill & Andy. Before acoustic Erics photo

Later, my old friend Kristina arrived. We also saw Dante Bonutto. When we were finally allowed in the basement, i ended up on the front row. I just thought “It’s acoustic so i doubt there will be much craziness “. It was a great little show. But my god, was it hot in there ! As ever, i recorded a could of songs

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The band were doing a signing session but i hadn’t brought my CD with me, so, just had a brief chat & was about to leave. Then i remembered that poster upstairs ! So went & asked if i could have it & got the ok. So, back down into the basement we went 🙂 Also got a flyer from Dante Bonutto. We were pretty much at the back of queue, but, it still worked out fine. Was so nice to get the nice messages off the guys :

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We then went to Camden, had a quick look in the Black Heart venue & decided to go to The Worlds End pub. As we walked in, we saw Rob arriving!
So the 4 of us had a drink in there. Somehow, i’d lost where Eva & the others had gone to, so sent a msg to find out. By the time we got back into the Black Heart, most of the VMs peeps soon arrived. Had some quick chats & Eric came over & told me of a photo he had for me! You’re such a dude Eric ! 🙂 After a while we decided to go upstairs to watch the openers, “Fizzy Blood”. Now, i hadn’t planned on going down the front, but once in there, i just thought to myself “If i go there on the left, i’m out the way”. Not only that, but Rob stood behind me & was all set to protect me if things got crazy (There were a couple of chaps who’d obviously had a few ales, so eyes were on them 😉 )
Fizzy Blood were quite entertaining. A lot of energy up there, no denying that. Bit unsure about the whole “tops off” thing though lol.  I think i remember one of our crowd saying they were trying to be different or original, to stand out….
Well, eventually, it was time for the Virginmarys set. It was the usual hard core VMs fans on the front row. Could tell it would be a good one.
I had a brief chat with Gareth as he was gonna be down the front looking after Ally. Nice chap. He even saved a set list for me later 😉
Virginmarys started their set with “Push The Pedal” & then pretty much went straight into “Halo”. That front row was up & down rockin out. After “Halo” Ally said “Hows it going?”. “Great to be here, thank you very much..”.

A brief drink & we get another new one, “I Wanna Take You Home”. I scan the crowd & its great to see smiling faces. Then it’s time for an old classic “Dead Mans Shoes”. It really goes off now. I’m bloody loving the show.

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Whilst i’m not gonna mention every song of the night, i will say that the set was nicely balanced & the new songs sound fantastic in the live setting. Also, i’ve never seen The Virginmarys do such a fantastic show as tonight. Add to that that we had a great amount of VMs hard cores in there, it just made for a fantastic night.

I’ll finish with mention of a totally unexpected moment, which really choked me up : Come encore time, Ally dedicated “Moths To A Flame” to me. Saying something like i’d been to loads of VMs gigs & that i was fighting a struggle now. The words “…My Brother be strong my brother hold on…” meant so much in this situation. I don’t mind admitting, i had tears in my eyes, especially when looking at the VMs crowd. Thank you Ally. Oh yeah, finally after the last song, Ally gave his guitar pick. Again, a nice touch. I felt i had to go downstairs to both cool down & so i wouldn’t blub in front of everyone 😉 Eventually, it was time to go back to Robs,but, not before saying goodbye to everyone. Lots of hugs etc with the VMs guys. What a fantastic emotional day it had been. Thank you everyone who was part of it, you really have no idea what it all meant to me.

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Once back at Robs, i’d imagine i was in a similar position as a lot of people tonight : High as a kite & not able to sleep. Somehow i missed saying goodbye to Eva & around midnight i got a message from her suggesting we meet up tomorrow before i go back home. Perfect ! Again, i don’t have a clue how much sleep i got cos i was just buzzing all night. But as usual nowadays, i was awake around 05.30 am. I decided i’d get up & leave when Rob was going to work (8am ish) . Then later that day i met Eva at Kings X before travelling home…perfect ending to a nice trip away

With Eva Kings x 10-5-16

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Virginmarys , Tax The Heat , Crowbot, @ Manchester Ritz 27-9-14

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This was one of those shows where i only made one small video clip ; i was just so into this show. It was fantastic. Funny thing was, as i don’t like the drive to Manchester, it was a last minute thing i decided to go. It was so worth it. Of course, i was the first person there. Whilst waiting i saw & had a nice chat with Danny D., said hello to Ally when he was off to meet some mates. I stood chatting to Jake of Crobot, for a good 10mins, without knowing who he was. I let Tina jump the queue & join me as she’d had a problem with bringing the wrong ticket to the show ! I met a whole bunch of VMs fans tonight, so, that was also very cool. It was just a killer gig & a shame they did not film it as it was so special. So, the effort with travel etc was more than worth it for me. Roll on the next VMs tour…

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