Diary

Stendhal Festival 2016

Even though I’m a native from the North of Ireland I’ve never been to Limavady in the half century I’ve stalked this globe. The Stendhal Festival was a good chance to acquaint myself with the town, it’s people and their customs. Earlier in the month I’d talked to one of the organisers by telephone as part of an interview and enjoyed our chat and discussions about art, music and gardening.

On the day of the gig it was raining constantly and my fears of a stilted audience and compromised performance began to flutter at the back of my mind.On arriving at the gig I was struck by how many people were just getting on with things and more importantly smiling and laughing.

Ten minutes into our set the skies evacuate all that heaven allows and soon we find ourselves at one with the audience and both drenched to the bone, guitars slippery with rain water and amps steaming in the back of the stage. On looking out at the lively crowd there is no register of this discomfort. Those smiles again, people are beaming and I start to get infected too and realise that this is going to be a very special night indeed. Our sound engineer, Richard, hoofs it onstage to see the state of the water retention and I ask him, mid playing, ” what are my chances of being electrocuted?”, ” minimal” he replies. Although not the answer I wanted to hear it’s enough to spur me on through the set and get carried away with the energy of the crowd.

Some people head for shelter under adjacent tents but still stay with eyes focuses on the stage while the others get fully involved leaving the writhing, gleaming mass in front of the stage resembling a cross between a fun wrestling tournament and Dante’s hell. The passion doesn’t let up and their big “fuck you Donald Trump” before Living In The Shadow of the Terrible Thing is the loudest of the festival season so far. This means so much to me coming from the crowd as Stendhal as the song itself deals with myself and peers attempts at stoic resolve during the dark years of our youth growing up in East Antrim.

This festival experience was one of my most memorable in my twenty six years of doing this and is like to thank firstly the fans who beamed a positive light through all the weather and to the festival organisers for making it such a vibey event all round.Also, my comrades Michael, Neil, Richard, Steve and Mark for being there all the time.

The next morning I bumped into legendary songwriter Damon ( Badly Drawn Boy) and he was an absolute gent. That was my weekend made complete.
Take care folks,
Andy C

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Red light fever!

 

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Gemil glows

 

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“Neil, Neil, drum like a ___________!”

 

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Cross the beams!

 

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McKeegan meets the locals

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Drying day

 

(All photos kind courtesy Paul Beattie @PaulTweetie)

Scream(ager) For Me Wacken!

A wise friend once said “When a man is tired of riffs, he is tired of life”. Agreeing with that wholeheartedly I was excited, intrigued and chuffed to be heading to Wacken Open Air 2016, arguably Europe’s biggest and best heavy metal festival. Its one of the very, very few festivals Therapy? have never played and it’s always nice to be experiencing new things even after 26 years of rocking.

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Heading to Hamburg!

We hooked up in London the night before staying over near the airport as we’d an early flight into Hamburg and we didn’t want to suffer any unwanted delays or hold-ups. It was a beautiful day to fly and the mood was great as we were all looking forward to getting out to Wacken.

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He is the strong arm of the law!

Our hotel in Hamburg was straight across from the airport terminal so after an effortless check-in and dumping our non-essential festival belongings we soon were in the big black Wacken fun bus heading up to the site. Felix our capable driver got us there in good time and we got settled in the dressing room. It was a bit muddy due to heavy rain the day before but our room was warm and dry. Fair play to the Wacken people as the rider was excellent and we had goodie bags full of all sorts of cool and practical branded items to explore (Wacken face wipes anyone?)

Can you spot mr Andy Cairns?

Can you spot mr Andy Cairns?

Dinner is good, I opt for the chicken satay and with plenty of time before our show to digest the food, I even treat myself to a frozen yoghurt…rock and roll! Henry Rollins is just finishing up his spoken word on our stage and behind the scenes (in our huge tent there are two identical stages beside each other with a huge loading/set-up dock behind) is a hive of activity. Very helpful stage crew are whizzing round and getting various amps and cabinets onto risers as crew members get guitars and drums tuned and set-up. Andy goes off to do a quick interview with Arte who are filming/streaming the show tonight and I have a very surreal moment when I meet Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult in the backstage hospitality area. I’m a massive fan so after plucking up the courage to say hello, I had a very enjoyable chat with him and he kindly lets me get a pic with him.

*insert generic 'more cowbell' quip here

*insert generic ‘more cowbell’ quip here

We have a signing scheduled over by the main stage so we wander over there checking out some of the scenes of carnage in the crowd. Everyone is in good form and it’s nice to see a lot of drinking being done but hardly any casualties dropped in the mud 😉

LEMMY!

LEMMY!

Signing goes well, there are people from all over Germany and even a lady from China of all places, amazing to think that our music is known over there as well. Catch a bit of WHitesnake on the main stage and then Tsjuder over on our stage. Both sound great and beginning to get nicely vibed up for the gig. Mike Monroe band are here as well so hang out with them for a bit pre-show…super nice guys and it’s always great to see Rich Jones, top guy, we’ve got a long and fun history with him. There’s a bit of rain just before we play so after Marduk finish (again, I’m a big fan so it was cool to see them decimate the tent) we do our last minute warm-ups and head over through the downpour to hangout on the back of the stage. Our stage is curtained off whilst the gear gets set-up so it’s a really surreal feeling to be hiding behind the curtain, bass in hand, ready to go.

I must admit id been a bit nervous when I saw we were the only band playing at the same time as Iron Maiden on the main stage…not even a slight clash, our 45min set started an hour into theirs and we finished 20 minutes before they did. Couple the fact the festival had sold-out before we were announced there was always the risk the audience would stayed rooted for the full Maiden set. I was selling ourselves short ‘cos as the curtain opened on our stage, I saw the whole tent was packed…not just packed with curious observers, it was rammed with people ready to sing, clap and mosh along. Too many personal highlights in the short set, it really flew by and we tried to keep everything snappy with segues and quick intros to the songs so we could get maximum riff age crammed in. The sound onstage was great as well and that always makes a big difference at festivals especially when there’s no sound check. There was even an impromptu ‘happy birthday’ singalong for Mr Cooper when we’d finished, heart-warming!Anyway you can watch the stream HERE and make up your own minds!

Scream for me Wacken!

Scream for me Wacken!

Afterwards catch a quick bit of Mike Monroe, high energy thrills as ever, and then head over to the VIP area to have a quick drink with Jan our German promoter and old friend Sean B once he’s packed the Maiden gear away. Bar is good fun, there’s huge selection of Becks beer on ice, too much choice in fact (did I really type that?), most of the ones I pick up are either waaay too weak (1%) or faaaar too strong (8%??).

"Pick a Becks, any Becks"

“Pick a Becks, any Becks”

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Michael meets Mikkey!

Meet up with Mikkey Dee again and hear how he’s been doing and also get introduced to Sam Dunn from Banger Films who’s Metal Evolution series is a must see! Last time I saw him he was hosting a Q&A with Rob Halford when we were in Toronto for NXNE many years ago. Good times.

Eventually the shuttle bus call goes out and we retrace our steps back through the mud and rain. Things don’t seem to be winding down either as we hop in the big black bus and begin the drive back down to Hamburg airport.

Hand on heart, that’s got to be one of the best festival experiences I’ve had as a punter or in the band. Everyone was super nice, helpful and easy to get along with…no egos, no ‘rock star bullshit’…lovely crowd and inspiring atmosphere.

Eat my face!

Eat my face!

As always big, big thanks to Rich, Steve and Mark for all their hard work…Andy and Neil for all their fun and inspiring playing, Jan and the Wacken organisation for looking after us so well and of course ultimate respect to the audience who came out to enjoy our show. Very very much appreciated!

Michael

Campus Festival,Hungary

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The weekend began with a nice, easy going flight arriving late in Debrecen with time for a bite to eat and a beer or two.We have a leisurely start to the following day.I wake up with the ringing in my ears of the previous night’s conversation…. the observation that there’s a distinct lack of bidets in hotel rooms now compared to when we all began touring. This lead to a rather disturbing conversation (you know the type… once you’ve heard it you can’t un-hear it type conversation) about everyone’s anal washing habits. The ‘wash’, ‘wipe’ or ‘waft’ debate has been tormenting me ever since. Just when I thought we’d covered all topics possible…..

Anyway, we head over to festival for a lunch time sound check. The people looking after us at the festival are really friendly, professional and incredibly helpful. The onstage sound is amazing and we’re ready to rock.
We have time for some lunch and a relaxing afternoon. It’s such a lovely day I walk over to the festival site getting my bearings and being strangely drawn to this along the way…

SUPER-COOP!

Coop-Szuper!

Nice to be welcomed in such a manner!

I have a bizarre amount of difficulty getting into the festival however (even though, earlier in the day I’m given a ridiculous amount of ‘backstage pass’ wrist bands which I’m told I must wear! Rules is rules, as they say) Eventually, I get in and we’re ready to go.The three of us are really looking forward to the gig. We have just over an hour for our set which allows us to play a couple of extra tunes. We add ‘Living in the Shadow’ which we haven’t played in a while, ‘Stop It You’re Killing Me’, we keep ‘This Ship is Sinking’ in the set after the Crete show and add ‘Lonely Crying only’ too. The show was great fun, the crowd were brilliant and the onstage sound was excellent which always helps!

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Spot the typo!

After the gig we had time to cool down and get cleaned up before relaxing and checking out ‘Tankcsapda’ who put on a great show for everybody. The audience obviously loved every minute!
The festival had an amazing atmosphere. It was nice having a wander through.

To finish our evening we hit the bar situated in the 100 yr old water tower and were invited to a VIP tour of the water tower roof. I’m not usually bothered by heights – but, yikes! On reflection, the bottle of tequila consumed en route (by the whole party, not just me I’ll swiftly add) wasn’t the smartest of ideas. What a breath taking end to a great evening.

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Well done, Hungary. You smashed it!

Rock storm!

Rock storm!

A big thank you must go out to everyone at the festival who looked after us, especially Attila and Dave Bali.

See you soon.
Neil

Chania Rock Festival, Crete

I was very excited when the offer for Chania Rocks Festival came in as i’ve always enjoyed our Greek shows ever since the first one in 1994. I like the people, the culture and the general atmosphere of the place. We leave for Crete on a delayed flight and during the trip experience bad turbulence which I’m not a fan of. On arriving very late to Chania we find out that our hotel room hasn’t been booked so we have a late hunt for a replacement and finally get to bed towards 4am.

View from the stage at soundcheck

View from the stage at soundcheck

Next day the weather is glorious and we head to the festival site a wonderful medieval fort at the top of a hill with a sound stage and lighting system fitted.The sun is beating down while we soundcheck and the view from the stage of the coast, blue water and mountains is gorgeous.We get taken to lunch at the harbour and on the way drop in to see the lovely people at Monsterville a Comic book/Rock wear store that has lots of good stuff and kind staff who sort us out with cold drinks which helps in the heat.

Trip to Monsterville

Trip to Monsterville

The meal itself is fantastic and is made all the more enjoyable by the sea view. We have fun and people-watch while eating.

McKeegan contemplates a dip

McKeegan contemplates a dip

The gig itself is a lot of fun. All the bands seem to be enjoying themselves and the crowd seem up for it. I manage to catch all of Rotting Christ‘s set and it’s a wonderful mix of extreme power and memorable riffs and vocal hooks. ‘ Nemesis‘ is a particular favourite.

When we take the stage it’s apparent that a few people have travelled from outside of Greece to come to the show. Big respect to the Finnish, the Turkish, the Dutch, the English and of course those from mainland Greece that have made their way over to this famous island to watch us play. It’s a memorable experience to be onstage in the evening heat, watching out over the crowd and the bay with a summer breeze not only blowing into our faces but putting a strange pressure on the guitar strings meaning that inbetween songs there is a mysterious ethereal hum coming from the amps.

Front row!

Front row!

Afterwards the boys head into town to party the night away at the Rock bar and I head back to the hotel to be woken in the middle of the night by some drunks having an altercation with the police outside. Next day we have our van hit by a car and thankfully no one is hurt in either vehicle but we have a nervous hour waiting on the police hoping we can still make it to the airport in time for our flight.

Thanks to all the people who put on Chania Rocks, all the fans and friends that made the effort and a big thanks to Richard and Mark from Therapy?’s crew who had an awful lot of work foisted on them this weekend. Looking forward to the next time we do club shows in Greece.

Take care,
Andy C

When Wrong goes Right (Wrong Festival, Bulgaria)

Another early start but thankfully all goes smooth and soon am pottering about Gatwick waiting for the rest of the chaps to hook up and head out to Bulgaria for another rock and roll adventure. Having had a brilliant show the previous Saturday at the Stone Free Festival, I was enthused and invigorated to heading back to Sofia for the first time since 2011.

Today is a travel day so we relax, catch up, fly and eventually get into the hotel. Stefan our local driver/helper/guru recommends somewhere to go get food and a drink so some of the lads head off with him whilst I and a few other opt for an early night.

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The next morning we have a sound check scheduled so it’s up for breakfast and then a short 30 minute drive out to the festival. This has got to be one of our earliest sound checks ever…we’re done by 11am so by UK time that would be 9am! Weird. Already its crazy hot so in the absence of any shelter we hang about for a bit then Stefan drives us down into a nearby village for an excellent traditional Bulgarian lunch.

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The food is superb and enlivened by a couple of thunderous showers resulting in us moving table not once but twice as we slowly work our way through the delicious fare. Good call as we won’t be eating until after the show and Richard our tour manager has a sneaking suspicion our stagetime will be put back due to the gig running late.

After a coffee or two to waken us up we do a load of interviews, couple for some music programs, couple for national TV, all of which are good fun and they have some good questions. I think some of the questions stumped us, which is something considering the number of interviews we’ve done over the years. Rich even gets asked to get involved!

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Back up to the festival and we hang out until our show. Sadly there’s only one small communal dressing room which in itself isn’t a problem, but there is now one of the other bands all fast asleep on the couches in there. As a result we just sit on a bench outside, in the blazing sun, waiting for our show…old school!

Andy has had an invite to go play with a fine Bulgarian band called BROND so a few songs into their set we walk over to the 2nd stage to watch them rip it up. They do a very cool version of “Living In the Shadow Of The Terrible Thing” and despite the best efforts of a dodgy mic lead, all goes well.

Pottering about the crowd already I can feel it’s a very nice atmosphere at the festival…people are dead friendly and having a good time, getting into the spirit of things and it’s getting me very excited for the show.

We signed this for Stefan when he met us on our first visit back in 1998!

We signed this for Stefan when he met us on our first visit back in 1998!

As Rich predicted we go on about an hour late but no bother to us, a show is a show regardless of stagetime and there are people here to be entertained! We’ve added “Stop It You’re Killing Me” into the set in light of the bad political mess we left in the UK and popped Unbeliever and Misery back in.

From the off the crowd are into it…punks, metallers, hippies, kids and older folk are all rocking out and going for it. Quite a sight to behold. Thankfully the onstage sound is perfect like sound check so it’s very easy for us to dig in and enjoy the playing. Bar a moment when I bang my bass headstock off another bands keyboard stand which was leaning a bit too close to me, technically its ace. Vibe-wise it’s a perfect crowd and the sun begins to set as we play through the tunes resulting in us playing the final few songs in darkness lit only by strobes and red light.

There’s time for one more song when we finish so we quickly tune up and get into “Trigger Inside” before exiting to ANOTHER camera interview, a meet and greet and then we grab a quick bit of dinner. All a bit hyper we watch Vintage Caravan’s set which is killer; check them out if you get a chance, lots of energy and lots of riffs! As midnight draws near the early starts and the hot & humid weather begins to kick in and we all wisely head back to the hotel to get rested up.

Sooooooo, thanks to all you folk who came out to the show, everyone who looked after us (esp. our man on the ground Stefan!), everyone who chatted with us in the interviews or came up to chat at the festival. It’s a cracking setting with a cracking line-up and we were honoured to be invited. Cheers Wrong Festival.Hopefully get back sooner rather than later guys,

Thank you all again!

Michael

Stone Free Festival

We all had a bleary eyed start to the day.Mine began with a bright and early 6am pick up aiming to get down to the O2, London for a sound check at 11am. Being my first visit to the O2 I was excited about playing there and was impressed by the place. I’m sure Stone Free will go from strength to strength.

We decided to tweak the set a little since our last show at Sweden Rocks and added ‘Lonely Cryin’ Only’. Everything went to plan in sound check – onstage sounds were sorted and equipment checked. We were very happy and really looking forward to the gig. Following sound check we had a little time to relax and grab some food before interviews began and the early show time of 4.30pm.

For the band and audience, indoor festival shows in the middle of the afternoon, can sometimes be a little unpredictable but this one felt great. We really enjoyed ourselves. The sound was spot on and the crowd were brilliant (as always!)

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After the show we had time to meet up with friends, have a few beers and watch The Darkness who played a blinder and were great fun. Michael had an early flight leaving myself and Andy to finish off the rider whilst sporting someone’s wig we found (I’m still a little unsure about that!. A great end to a great gig.

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Instead of staying in a hotel this was a rare occasion, we all went home after the show meaning I would wake up at home on Father’s Day. Now, after dropping many, many hints, my plan was to allow my children (the little cherubs who make this bizarre life worth living) bring me breakfast in bed followed by some peace and quiet whilst putting my feet up and being served a nice cuppa periodically throughout the rest of the day…yeah, right!!

Until the next time my friends.

Neil

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Hey Sweden, You Rock!

To get our very early flight to Copenhagen we have to set our alarms at 4am. So after very little sleep we trek to Gatwick airport in a daze and fly to Denmark.We cross the bridge and post TV Detective drama ‘The Bridge’ it all seems very familiar except on the box the journey from Copenhagen to Malmo only seems to take a couple of minutes and doesn’t involve any other roads.

We arrive at the hotel in Sweden three hours later, check into our hotel rooms and drive a further forty five minutes to the Sweden Rocks festival site.On the way up to the gates the queues of fans are smiling, friendly and merry with no one flipping the finger at bands entering ( this happens quite often at festivals strangely enough and not just to us either) and a few well wishers screaming their regards at us in English.

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The backstage area is very chilled and all the staff are really helpful and accommodating. We do an interview and then go out for a look at the festival itself in all its glory.The sun is shining and everybody is happy it seems.Lots of stages and really good bands all crammed onto the bill.In no time at all we’re onstage and it’s fantastic to see the crowd stretch back the whole way to the mixing tower, we certainly weren’t expecting as large a turn out but it was amazing to see. Lots of people cheering, singing words and looking cheerful.

The set starts great but four songs in the middle I’m distracted with sound problems which thankfully get sorted out in time for the finale. New songs ‘Still Hurts’, ‘Deathstimate’ and ‘Tides’ go down really well and the looks on people’s faces when we start the riff of ‘Nowhere’ was priceless. A bit of a triumph of a gig which I wasn’t expecting but very, very grateful for. Thank you to each and every one of you who made the effort to come over to our stage and check us out, it made us really appreciate your support and hopefully we’ll get to see you again in Swedish club shows in the not too distant future.By the time we come off stage, shower and change Slayer have finished, which is a bummer but at least we can have some food before we head out to party.

YUMMMMMM

YUMMMMMM

Can I just say for the record that the food at Sweden Rocks is the nicest I’ve ever had at any festival in all the twenty six years the band has been going. The staff in the catering tent were so helpful and sweet and the whole meal was had in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.Afterwards we get a chance to hangout and watch some bands, Mayhem and Queen being the two highlights (I bet you never thought you’d hear those two bands mentioned in the same sentence).

Evil Priest & Necrobutcher...basses of evil!

Evil Priest & Necrobutcher…bassists of evil!

We head back to the hotel to our rooms and have a good nights sleep as we don’t have to leave until late the next day.Well, Sweden Rocks….thank you so very much. Thanks to the fans who came out to see us, we love you, thanks to all the staff who made our festival run so smoothly, you’re an example to other festivals and a big hello again to all the friends old and new that we bumped into, Biffen, Darren Edwards, Nicke Borg and anyone that asked for autographs or photos or any of the kind people who made a point of coming up to us and saying hello or wishing us the best.

Andy, Nicke Borg & Michael

Andy, Nicke Borg & Michael

Sweden, we salute you and hope that it’s not too long until we meet again. All the very best from our dark, twisted hearts,
Andy Cairns,Therapy?

“Infernal Love & More!” Tour 2016 Diary

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One of my very first memories is being in the belly of a ship with my Dad. He’d been in the Merchant Navy and on a trip to Belfast docks he’d taken me into a boat while he caught up with some of his old pals.The awe inspiring size of the machinery, the womb like throbbing, the clanging and creaking all caused sensory overload on a pre-school boy.

More, later, memories are attached to the City of Bristol. Infernal Love, Semi Detached, High Anxiety and Disquiet, all T? albums with a connection to a part of the west. Recording or rehearsing in Bristol, Bath or Box and having many nights out inbetween.

Stepping into a boat in Bristol for our first gig on the UK leg of the Infernal Love tour brings both sets of memories back. The Thekla, a boat/gig that we first played in in 1992 and have returned to many times since. This time we’re performing an album that for many years I personally hated because of the negative momentum it generated around the band at the time of its release in 1995. The press hated it but even worse a lot of our fan base (built up over six years hard work) walked after it was put out to the world. The backlash from fans was horrendous and the band as we knew it changed and never really recovered until the arrival of Neil Cooper in 2002.It knocked all confidence out of me and it would be three years until we released another record, 1998’s tentative Semi Detached.

Arriving into Bristol, not far from Real World studios in nearby Box where we recorded Infernal Love, I’m in a mixed mood. The location reminds me of the stress the band was under in ’95, and the gruelling grind of having to quickly whip up a follow up to our previous successful album to appease the record company. Back then I was an exhausted man whose love of music was beginning to fade under the reality of the business that surrounded it.Arriving at the Thekla my spirits lift. The last shows we’ve played here have been amazing and the womb-like atmosphere adds to the vibrating intimacy.To add more optimism The Membranes are on the bill. A huge fave of T? for many years we know their rumbling rock in opposition with entertain our fans and get us worked up and ready to impress.

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The band catch up with Russell, who engineered Infernal Love at Real World Studios waaay back in 1995

 

Well Bristol, what more can I say? You turned out in numbers and sang every word back. Epilepsy was epic, Stories anthemic, Moment of Clarity momentous and even Bowels of Love ( the cause of much outrage among T? fans when the album was released) went ahead miles better than we ever thought. By the end of Thirty Seconds I think I began to believe that maybe there was something in this awkward old bugger of an album that got through to some people and perhaps some hope had one out of it after all. The kindness of the Bristol crowd had opened a door for the rest of the tour. Having a start like that helped the band to really look forward to the next eleven gigs.

Thank you so very much to the people of Bristol ( and Bath, Box and surrounding areas) for all you help and belief. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.
(ANDY CAIRNS)

CARDIFF-GLOBE

Spend the morning listening to Breadfan by Budgie to get me in the mood for travelling the short trip from Bristol to Cardiff. We’ve always had a good time in Cardiff and look forward to going there. The Globe is one of our favourite venues, the stage is right up close to the audience and the small balcony at the back adds to the atmosphere.

During soundcheck a hero of mine turns up to rehearse a song with The Membranes. It’s Keith Levine of Public Image and original guitarist in the Clash. John Robb of the Membranes introduces me but I’m nervous, this guy played on the Metal Box album! He wants to borrow my amp which is an honour for me so I’m not going to say no. I watch the soundcheck and after finding the time and feel he wants starts to play these mysterious inverted chords and harmonics that are so instantly recognisable as his style ( listen to Poptones off Metal Box to get an idea of what I’m taking about). An unexpected treat to begin the rest of the day.The Membranes have a triumphant set later and get the crowd suitably in the mood with their twisted and quaking sound scrapes.

Keith Levine soundchecking with The Membranes

Keith Levine soundchecking with The Membranes

From the moment we take the stage the Cardiff crowd makes it know that they are up for it. Yelling, ranting, stamping and singing it’s a joy to be part of.Even during the Infernal Love set its a wave of energy that is totally infectious and makes the band play louder and harder. The second set sees them up their game so we have to do the same. By half way through the evening I’m so drenched in sweat that my shoes are squelching and my guitar strings are beginning to deaden ( and later rust!). After we leave the stage the noise of the crowd still goes on and we’re in the little room at the side of the stage talking about how lucky we are to have fans like this.

Afterwards we meet up with some friends and head to Womanby Street where we sample some local beer and a Welsh Whiskey or two.Thank you Cardiff, what a gig and what a City.Your hospitality is incredible, thank you for all your support over the years.

(ANDY CAIRNS)

SOUTHAMPTON-ENGINE ROOMS

Over the years we’ve had some stunning gigs in Southampton. The Joiners Arms on the Babyteeth tour, The Guild Hall on the Troublegum and original Infernal Love tour and the University on the Suicide Pact….You First tour.In 2014 we played the Engine Rooms on the Troublegum 20th anniversary tour and it was good fun so we were expecting another good night.

Things didn’t start off to well. We had agreed to do the Infernal Love show in the Engine Rooms in their modified capacity venue. We knew we wouldn’t get as big a crowd for IL as for the TG show so we arranged with the venue that they would move bits and pieces so that the hall would be set up for a 400 capacity show and provide an intimate atmosphere for band and audience to enjoy the show in.On arriving at the venue we were told that they wouldn’t be facilitating the change as there was a club night on afterwards and they would have to change it all back. Even though it was in the contract…

To make things worse the venue was constantly reminding our crew all day that there was a club night on afterwards and they had to be out of the building as quickly as possible so they could get ready for their Soul and Funk night. As you can imagine the whole atmosphere backstage was somewhat strained, not the ideal vibes we wanted before a show.Show time came and we had to play the Infernal Love album in a hall too large for the event. It crushed the atmosphere and although we feel the audience there was amazing and we certainly put our all into it the gig would have been so much better in a closer, smaller more ambient space. No sooner had we come off stage than we had people in our dressing room asking us when we were getting out.

Believe me, we couldn’t get out of there quickly enough. I’m sorry for the promoters who had also been let down by the venue and the security who were helpful. We’ll not be back in the Engine Rooms. We don’t like its attitude. Don’t book bands if you’ll spend the whole gig reminding them and their crew that they’re only playing second fiddle to the disco later. More importantly, shame on you for letting down fans of the bands who deserve to see their band in the best possible surroundings.Thankfully the good people of Southampton were on great form during the gig even though you didn’t get the special show we intended. See you again, but not in that venue.

(ANDY CAIRNS)

SHEFFIELD-THE PLUG

I love Sheffield but have had trouble in recent years as my favourite gigs were always in the Leadmill and we don’t seem to play there anymore. The last gig downstairs in the O2 I didn’t enjoy at all.

Ah…The Plug. What a venue, where have you been the past few tours! Lovely compact stage, vibey atmosphere and very helpful staff to start with and then a bunch of very loud Yorkshire folk who have come along on a cold night and made steam come off the walls. From the people baying and yelling down the front to the grinning collective at the sides and back of the room it was a gig to fill my heart with gladness. What an event, thank you Sheffield. The Membranes went down a storm too and were chuffed that you bought so much of their merch.

When I was sixteen I went to see The Human League at the Ulster Hall in Belfast on the very Sunday that their single, Don’t You Want Me, went to number in the UK charts. I remember the singer, Phil Oakey, overcome with emotion on stage and bursting into tears of joy. On nights like this the feeling is reciprocated. Sheffield you have been fantastic over the years and at the plug that joy was in the house.Thanks also to the lovely people at the radio station who brought the Norwegian Toffee cheese to the gig afterwards. Very much appreciated.

Sheffield, thank you, hope to see you all again very soon.

(ANDY CAIRNS)

GLASGOW-ORAN MOR

Arriving in a Glasgow bathed in sunshine is a glorious omen. We’ve a big love for the city and having played the beautiful Oran Mor venue before we’re all very excited. A gorgeous church with a fantastic basement venue and wonderful bar upstairs. This is the same bar where Alisdair Gray, author of Lanark can be seen drinking from the well stocked whisky collection. Last time we played here it was one of the gigs of the tour and tonight, unbelievably, it’s even better.

Unholy merch man

Unholy merch man

Infernal Love gets such a heartfelt reception and as far as I can see from the stage so many of you are singing all the words back at us which only makes us so glad we endeavoured to take this album on the road after all the dark baggage its collected over the years. Bowels of Love goes down like an old friend and 30 Seconds is a distorted blur of singing and noise. For the second half of the show the crowd shift up a gear and that inspires us too. We throw in an old Vaselines song ( Son of a Gun) famously covered by Nirvana and it further stokes the mayhem.

After the show we mingle in the cosy bar and a big thanks must go to the well wishers who came over to talk to us, thank you for all your support. It was lovely to see that as well as the fantastic Scots support there were also people from overseas at the gig too and an English and Irish contingent.

On a sour note, my long time school friend, Chris, left the venue with his 17 year old son for a break and couldn’t get back in. It’s a pity we didn’t get a chance to hang out but your fellow countrymen and women did Glasgow proud.

Another uplifting gig in one of the most unique cities in the world. Glasgow we salute you!

(ANDY CAIRNS)

NEWCASTLE-NORTHUMBRIA UNI

We wake up in Glasgow, grab some breakfast, and begin the scenic trek down to Newcastle.
It’s a nice journey and I manage to watch the Derby v Wolves football match on my phone. Technology… amazing! (We bloody lost 2-1 but let’s not dwell on that)

We arrive in Newcastle at the Northumbria University with plenty of time to head into town for a wander. I really enjoy this place. Not only is our record label based here but we’ve spent so much time in Newcastle over the last few years – recording Crooked Timber, A Brief Crack of Light and Disquiet.

The Venue!

The Venue!

The venue is great. We’ve not played here before and everyone is really cool and we’re treated extremely well. Sound check goes without a hitch and we have time to run through our cover for the evening. The gig is a screamer (Sat night in Newcastle would it be anything else?) we all have great fun and, as our nod to the north east, we drop in The Police’s ‘Message in a Bottle’.

We finish off the night with the lovely people from our label Amazing Records taking us to Trillions bar for post show beers. Perfect.

McKeegan,Magee & McCormack-bassists united!

McKeegan,Magee & McCormack-bassists united!

(NEIL COOPER)

WOLVERHAMPTON-SLADE ROOMS

After a couple of days at home we all reconvene in Wolverhampton.The venue’s great with the dressing room being dominated by many pictures of Slade from back in the day. Some more flattering than others! During sound check we have time to have a quick run through Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ which we plan on playing in Manchester. It’s a great tune to play and feels good immediately.

Before show time we have time for a quick wander using Stevie’s ‘real ale guide’ app to lead the way! It guides us to a nice friendly boozer – yet again, technology… amazing ha ha ha. I suppose we could’ve just asked someone!
The show was great fun. A wet Wednesday evening in Wolverhampton did not disappoint.Following the show, I realise the venue is surrounded by kebab houses. It would’ve been rude not to…

Newcastle and Wolverhampton – two great nights. Thank you.

(NEIL COOPER)

LEEDS-WARDROBE

Good to be back in Leeds, we’ve had a lot of killer shows here over the years and a load of good friends live here. As its National Book day I’m off into town to track down a copy of “LAST DAYS OF JACK SPARKS” which is the debut fiction of our friend Jason Arnopp. Sadly they don’t have it in stock so it’s going to have to be an Amazon purchase when I get home (apologies booksellers of the UK).

McKeegan making friends again

McKeegan making friends again

Back at the gig (which also boasts a nice restaurant) the gear is all set-up and sound check is looming. Diamond Dave pops in to say hello, he won’t be able to make the show due to a prior engagement but it’s always ace to see him and get a quick catch-up. Sound check goes great and we have a quick look at “Temple Of Love” which we’re hoping to throw into Potato Junkie should the mood be right come showtime.

Dinner upstairs is spectacular (gumbo!) and after a quick walk to get some fresh air we’re back at the show and getting ready to rock. A ‘care pack’ courtesy the good folks at Yorkshire Tea ensure we’re well catered for backstage btw! Many thanks!

YORKSHIRE TEA!

YORKSHIRE TEA!

The first half of the set is pretty much written in stone and the crowd reaction during this bit is normally a good way to gauge the madness of the second half. From the off the crowd are going mad, there’s no barrier and it’s a low stage so I’m amazed that no-one ends up with a broken leg. Lovely to see so many familiar faces down the front singing and rocking along

As the show draws to a close I stand upfront and lean into the crowd, people are grabbing my guitar and good-naturedly trying to pull me in. It’s a good feeling, thanks for all the love Leeds, you’re always ace.

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HAWKbloodyEYES

 

Afterwards get packed up and have a quick chat with Paul HawkEyes who was down for the show, good to see him looking happy and well. After we drive hotel bound through a snow blizzard and get tucked up ready for some Manchester action tomorrow.

(MICHAEL McKEEGAN)

MANCHESTER-ACADEMY 2

Once we negotiate the snow laden roads en route to Manchester and get checked into the hotel it’s down to the gig and start getting the gear loaded in. It’s another freezing cold day but as we can’t make any noise until 5pm, most of us brave the elements and head into town for hot food and some shopping. We’d floated the idea of The Membranes joining us onstage for a cover version and tonight it looks like it’s come to fruition. It’s a nice big roomy stage, good sound system and it seems rude not to pay tribute to one of the City and our fave bands. After we do our ‘regular’ sound check the lads join us for a couple of run throughs of Transmission by Joy Division. It’s sounding really good so we slot it into the set list and get together a quick plot of how to best present it live.

View from the drum riser Manchester soundcheck

View from the drum riser Manchester soundcheck

As it’s another early-ish show there’s no time to fit in hot food so we hang about in the (freezing) dressing room trying to keep warm and listening to a few tunes on the boom box. The Membranes are sounding particularly feisty tonight and it’s a great way to get us in the mood and focus on the gig. Soon enough its show time and from the off its excellent…mad crowd, well up for it and there’s a definite feeling of celebration in the air. Top work Manchester!

The cover of Transmission goes off great and the audience responds in kind. Phew! Afterwards a few drinks with friends in Big Hands before we slope off into the night ready to regroup and get back amongst it come next weekend.

(MICHAEL McKEEGAN)

STOKE-SUGARMILL

Plane and a train over to Stoke on a beautiful sunny day, complete contrast to the past few shows. We’ve played the Sugarmill a couple of times before…last time was in 1999/2000 and before that way back in 1992! Always had a great reaction and a lot of very friendly, helpful people around so we’re all excited to be back. Once we’re sound checked it’s another quick walk around town to see if there’s anything exciting going on…not a lot by the looks of it but thankfully come the time The Membranes start the gig is packed.

It’s a great sounding and looking room so I get a nice spot up on the balcony to watch their set. Its ace sounding again and they are all really going for it, definitely gets me well psyched up for our own show. Start warming up for the gig (literally, its fucking freezing in the dressing room, one of the Membranes guests remarked that it was warmer outside than in our dressing room). My fingers are stiff as boards but a good 25 minutes of stretches and scales soon gets the blood flowing to my nether regions.

No fear of the show being cold though, it’s a hot, sweaty banger! Excellent, vibed up and into it crowd. There are weird ‘boxes’ onstage at the front which are built over the PA subs so it seems rude not to use them as ‘ego ramps’. Good fun and the set flies by…by this stage of the tour everything is dialled in sound wise and playing wise so we can just concentrate on putting across the most energetic and entertaining show we can.

In tribute to two of Stokes finest we drop in a bit of a Discharge song and a snippet of “Ace Of Spades”…both going down great. Soon enough we’re back up into the icy dressing room and as there’s a club on later, we don’t hang about but instead opt to shower, sign a few bits and bobs as requested and zip over to the hotel which is out near the football ground.

(MICHAEL McKEEGAN)

NOTTINGHAM-RESCUE ROOMS

Its match day at Stoke City so the hotel is packed and vibey but at least we get a good breakfast before we head over to Nottingham. A short drive later and we’re checked in, down at the show and then down in town doing a bit of last minute shopping. As it’s the last show for a bit we’ve opted to do a ‘Secret Easter Bunny’ today so everyone gets an Easter egg for an unknown benefactor. Good times.

Spent a lot of time in Nottingham over the years so it’s good to see a few familiar faces at sound check…our old tour manager plus family, assorted spouses & kids and even Jim from The Beyond (Neil’s old band and the 1st band ever kind/crazy enough to offer us a support slot outside of NI/Ireland). Sound check is a bit of a battle as we’re basically playing very loudly in an empty concrete box of a room so we’re struggling to hear any vocals over the backline/PA. Get it tweaked as best we can and as the old cliché goes…”it’ll sound better with a crowd in”.

It’s another very early show so we hang in the dressing room and sort out a few bits and bobs for the return trip home tomorrow.The Membranes play another ace show and I will have to say I’ll miss them now that the tour is ending, great chaps, very easy to hang out with and brilliant players.

Hanging out with 1/2 The Membranes after Nottingham show

Hanging out with 1/2 The Membranes after Nottingham show

Soon enough we’re on and from the off the crowd are well into it and enjoying the album run through….

That is until the end of Loose when Andy draws our attention to a guy on the front barrier who’s been hit on the back of the head by a crowd surfer who rolled over the top. He seems to be in some distress so we stop the gig and get security and a medic to get a good look at him before we continue.There are a few fraught moments until we get word the chap is ok, he’s lucid, his arms and legs are moving and seems comfortable waiting for the ambulance.

To get him out the barrier needs to be moved back a couple of feet so the crowd very patiently and carefully move back to let the paramedics get him stretchered out. As we are on a tight curfew we’re pleased to hear the venue is putting it back so we can play the full set as planned. Fair play to everyone involved for their professionalism and patience, as we always say the audience safety is priority at any rock show.

Back on for a version of Diane, then 30 Seconds and we go straight into the 2nd set, figuring we’d spent enough time offstage tonight 😉 If anything the momentum is increased and the crowd get wilder and wilder as we hurtle towards the set finale. Its ace, I love every minute…truly cathartic. We fire in our cover of “Ace Of Spades” again, why not? And then round everything up with Screamager, Knives and Nowhere, fucking ace Nottingham, no better show to end the tour on.

NB>We get word the next day that the chap (Martin) hurt during the set got checked out in hospital, had a whiplash and was discharged so all good there folks.

As we’ve mentioned before, it was a bit of an experiment/risk to go all out and tour this particular album but it was amazing…every show was pretty much packed, sold-out or very close to being sold-out. Its means a lot to us that you all came out in force to help us celebrate and revisit the album and rest assured, there were a few demons washed away every night I can tell you! Next up the Tides ep, April 15th, Whitby Goth Weekend April 22nd and then the start of the summer festivals.

(MICHAEL McKEEGAN)

A38,Budapest,Hungary 21/01/2016

Woke up feeling invigorated by the great gig in Vienna last night and began the three hour journey across to Budapest.
We stop off at a motorway service station for coffees and some amazing pastries which were supplied on our rider last night by our great friend Christian. You beauty! What a treat! It was just what we all needed (although we decided against sitting at the picnic table)
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We arrive at ‘The A38’ after hearing great things about the place. The A38 is an old Ukrainian stone-carrier ship converted into a venue on the Danube with its organisers having an admirable ethos aimed at putting on diverse cultural events. We were very excited to be invited to play.

Backstage was interesting…
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Flesh Roxon, who are doing all these shows in January with us, go down really well and it was nice to catch some of their gig.We play the same set as last night in Vienna. This allows us to relax, enjoy the show and soak up the atmosphere – rather than worrying about what song/sample/guitar tuning is next etc and what a brilliant night it was!!

The show was fantastic. The three of us had such a great time.
Thank you so much, Budapest. You did not disappoint.
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We hope to see you again very, very soon.

Neil

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Szene, Vienna 20/01/2016

Still buzzing after last nights show in Paris when we get up and hop into the cold early morning air. It’s a long old drive today so we are well stocked up with drinks, food and entertainment….first up we get our space rock on and give “Space Ritual” a listen which I hadn’t heard in years. It’s the new remaster and it’s a great listen, good driving music. Ian (ex-36 Strategies) has kindly gifted us some dvds so after the obligatory trying to work out how the van entertainment system works we sit down to watch The Green Man then Wer both of which go down good.

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Through France, into Germany and then we finally hit Salzburg around 10pm getting checked in and a nice early night.

Drive onto Vienna next morning goes nice and smooth, quick load in, get set-up and then run through some of the stuff that needs tweaking for tonight’s show. Been coming to Wien since 1991 (I think the Wuk club was our first show here?) and it’s always great fun and nice to see tonight has sold-out….nice one Vienna! Our friend Christian turns up with a bag of very decadent Austrian pastries which is a nice touch for those of us with a sweet tooth.
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After a quick veggie tortellini and salad for dinner hang out at the gig and start getting ready for the show. The original Dr Rock, Hannes is playing tonight with his band Rokkitahti so its good to see him and they sound nice and chunky rocking hard during their show (bonus points for the Mission Of Burma cover).

Flesh Roxon play a blinder tonight, sounding really good in the room and the crowd seem well up for it. Our set goes pretty fantastic, the sound onstage is killer and from the start the crowd are going mental. There’s quite a few Disquiet song in the set tonight and it’s great to see them go down so well, people are singing along and really reacting well to them alongside the older ‘classics’. We play “Helpless Still Lost” tonight as well and it’s really beginning to sit well, the big riff and epic chorus seem to strike a chord with people. Great singalong during “Insecurity” and the couple of little Bowie musical tributes/nods seem to go down great as well.

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After show we chill for a bit and catch up with Christian etc. and then we have a quick drive through the snow flurries to the hotel. Another early start tomorrow so to bed in anticipation of the trip down to Budapest.

Big thanks to the crew at the Szene for making it such an easy straighforward day and, as always, much love to the fanfuckingtastic crowd at the show. It was a brilliant night,

Michael