On day 2 of our UK tour we were meant to play as part of the Persecution club night in Stockton-on-Tees. We already knew that we might have to complement the equipment at the venue and bring our own cables but since we had been assured that the venue had a decent PA and 16 channel mixing desk we weren’t too worried. When we arrived, on a day of glorious sunshine I might add, we were told that they counted the channels again and it was unfortunately only a 12 channel desk. Oh well, we thought, less than ideal, but still doable – after all, we even once managed to play on a 6-channel desk at Hoko 10 in Newcastle, although that was an experience we’d rather not repeat! When Alan, our sound engineer, took a look at the desk, however, it turned out that they counted every single hole where someone could potentially plug something into the desk and that it really was only a 4 channel desk, which meant we did have a problem on our hands…
In the face of the situation Ferg, the owner of the venue and a really lovely chap, proceeded to make several phone calls, then grabbed Alan and off they went on a hunt for bits and pieces to assemble a PA that would allow us to play that night. They returned less than an hour later with exactly that! Although it was still less than ideal and the PA wiring required soldering, complemented with pieces from Alan’s equipment we finally had a working PA! (I say we, but it really was Alan who saved the day!)
After the soundcheck we went backstage, which was pretty much the whole upstairs floor. One of the rooms was so amazing that we all wanted to move in straight away: about 10 meters long, maybe 4 meters wide and about 4 meters high with half the walls covered with 3 meter high windows – probably 7 or 8 of them! – and a beautiful opulent bar tucked in one of the corners. This is where we took Dave “Chippy” Chipchase from Bishop FM who came to interview us and review the show. He was a really great guy and we really enjoyed the questions he asked us…
A little while later we got called downstairs where the guys from Midian had prepared a delicious dinner, I think it was pork roast with chips and salad, absolutely perfect for how we felt after a very long day (well, Belle being a vegetarian felt a little less excited about the roast but very grateful indeed for the chips and salad and since it was a late gig starting around 11pm it really hit the spot.
The gig itself went down really well. We had a good crowd of not just alternative people that usually come to the Persecution night but also a few locals that saw the posters and got curious… I think we played a fairly long set, about 50 minutes, but those were over far too quickly! After the show we got to meet many old and newly won fans and sign a few autographs – amongst the “items” proferred to sign were the first pair of breasts, of which I signed the right one and Lutz the left. Dave and Belle only got their names on the upper arms! The Persecution crowd was very friendly, welcoming, fun and very unpretentious. They seem to really appreciate it when bands include Stockton on their tour schedule. A big thank you goes out to Ferg, Paul and Lisa, the entire staff of Midian and everyone who came to see us!
Next up was TJ’s in Newport, Wales, so a fair drive, which meant we had to leave Stockton the same night. We stopped at a truck stop near Sheffield (I think…) where we had a well-deserved full English breakfast and arrived in Newport around 3.30pm on the Saturday to glorious sunshine. We found a parking spot directly outside TJ’s, setting up was very relaxed, but Alan had a tough time getting the sound set up right as there were reverberations bouncing all around the venue! But eventually even that was done and we had a takeout from a local kebab shop for dinner.
While we were eating inside the bus, the venue opened its doors and the outside of our tourbus was suddenly crowded with people drinking, smoking, chatting and watching the occasional fire artist perform on the pavement. It was definitely a little odd, but many things were just a little odd that night, everything was just a little bit different to how we expected it. For example, the face painter asking me to make an announcement that people could get their faces painted next to the stage (which I of course dutifully made!) or the two girls that danced a tailor-made Macarena style dance to Bleed For Me during the show or the chap who walked in an hour after we came off stage and bought a CD and t-shirt from us without ever having heard of us!
And finally – the oddest thing of all – in the general unloading and soundchecking business I had accidentally left my laptop in its backpack next to a pillar on the dancefloor throughout the entire event, but it was still happily sitting there at the end of the night, with no beer spillage, waiting to be picked up by me. All’s well that ends well and so I went to sleep with a big smile on my face on the drive towards London. A big shoutout goes to Sean and Gaz from Fab’n'Kinky who invited us to play, promoted the show so enthusiastically and looked after us on the day!
We stopped in a truckstop near Swindon for the night, but with it being a Sunday it wasn’t open in the morning for us to get breakfast or use their facilities. Therefore the nearby Sainsbury supermarket had to do and we probably caused some funny glances with several rough and unusual looking types all dressed in black turning up at 9am on a Sunday morning! We also had a little panic moment when we accidentally left Mathilda’s petrol cap at a service station between Newport and London, but luck was with us once again and the wonderful Alex who was coming to our gig roughly along the same route managed to find the service station and bring it to the London gig! Again, a massive thank you is in order – we love you Alex! And while I’m doing the thank-yous, one must definitely go to Jason H, who on very short notice looked after our merch stall, and Mike Exley, who is doing our PR and did an outstanding job with this tour!
Our London gig at the Water Rats was unfortunately quite stressful, mostly because the promoter who we had arranged the show with was not actually there and not everything that had been agreed had been communicated correctly to the venue. Luckily Rob and Craig who were working that night were very supportive and so in the end we managed to get most of the details sorted to everyone’s satisfaction. The promoter had put on a ridiculous number of bands – six in total – most of which had very little in common with each other and whose fans were unlikely to appreciate the other bands.
The band I enjoyed the most were Silent Descent, a 7-piece that are fusing metal and trance elements, arriving at a sound that is very much their own. I’d definitely recommend you check them out if you get the chance. Before we went on we had a very chilled interview in a rather hot tourbus with Elena Francis from metal-discovery.com, which was very enjoyable.
Once back at the venue it was fabulous to bump into so many fans we’ve known for years and to see so many familiar faces in the audience. We also got to meet a few new fans, some of whom had travelled a fairly long way to see us! It felt to me like we played the best gig of the tour, as everything seemed to perfectly fall into place once we stood on stage, the on-stage sound was great and we had such great enthusiastic response! We absolutely loved it and it was the perfect ending to the first part of our tour!
More on our Manchester show, the trip to Leipzig, our performance at the Wave-Gotik-Treffen and other shenanigans soon.
If you’re reading this on our Facebook page you can’t unfortunately see all the pictures. Better take a look at www.lahannya.com/diary instead, which is also where all blog entries get published first!
All photos on this page are taken by Lahannya apart from 1 – taken by Lutz with Chippy’s camera and 6 – taken by Bayerberg.