Somehow I managed to sleep for 12 hours. Amazing. Load in wasnt til 3pm, so I went out for a run. Running is nice in a park. or a desolate road. Or on a treadmill. But since there were none of those at my disposal, I made my way through Sheffield City, dodging holiday shoppers, sidewalks and curbs, uneven cobblestones and traffic that always seemed to be coming from the wrong side. I managed to get in 30 minutes, including 5 minutes of running up and down a set of 20 steps in front of the church that housed the classical music concert. Got back to the hotel, had some lunch and it was time to head to the venue. YAY. Its about time we get to rock. Got the the venue, met up with Toby the Wildhearts Merch Maven, wandered around the floor of the venue, taking it all in, admiring the big stage we were set to rock, and saw Ginger walking around talking on the phone. Here we were, at the club, so close to rockin I could almost smell it. Toby asked me if I wanted to go upstairs and have a look around. I grabbed my bag and followed Toby up the stairs, figuring if the venue was this grand, then I couldnt WAIT to see what the dressing rooms had in store. Got to the top of the stairs, flung the doors open triumphantly, and I almost shit. I was in the smaller room I had seen last night. And the Wildhearts were onstage soundchecking. At first
I tried to tell my self they were just rehearsing up here. No such luck. I knew right away that this was the “broom closet” Ginger had been referring to, and that the security guard last night didnt know what he was talking about. I guess it was my karma for making fun of the bands who were playing in the smaller room.
I watched the Wildhearts soundcheck and it was one of the loudest things Id ever heard. They had 2 full Marshall stacks onstage, and a drummer that hits like a fucking freight train. Couple that in a room with `10 foot ceilings, made out of cement, and the volume became unbearable as soon as they started playing. And that was before the PA was even turned on.
By the time we got up for soundcheck, we had a bout 15 minutes til doors, and everyone did their best to make it not sound like shit. As soon as we were done, we ran upstairs and changed, as we had 15 minutes til showtime. Thankfully the Wildhearts have a rabid fanbase, and there were 200 people outside waiting to get in, and as soon as doors opened the flooded right into the room.
When it was time to go on, Gav, the Wildhearts tour manager, came and got us and led us down to the stage. He took us around to side door so we could enter the stage from the back and not have to parade our white clad selves through the crowd. But when we go to the stage door, it was locked. Straight out of Spinal Tap. We all made a u turn and walked right through the club, and a bunch of Wildhearts fans wondering who the fuck we were and what the fuck was going on. We hit the stage and opened with Night Fever, which was followed by polite applause. During Jive Talkin they started warming up to us and realizing that yeah, we were taking ourselves, or at least our music, seriously, and at the end of the song the applause was much stronger. By the end of our 25 minute set, we had them. And it felt great. Americans 2- Brits 1.
Missed A, the middle band. They were nice guys backstage, and we had 5 more shows, so I was sure I’d check them out. I was just too entranced at drinking PG Tips Tea and Eating the Fun Size British candy bars that were on our rider. Then the Wildhearts came on and played a great set. Those guys Rock Sweet Balls And Can Do No Wrong. For real. By the time they hit, the room was packed beyond belief, to the point that you couldnt even get inside, just wall to wall bodies. Thankfully I got to watch most of the show from the monitor board.
All in all it was a great night and a good warmup for the tour. As Ginger told me after wards “The first show of any tour is for you, and then the rest of the shows you do for the audience.” More good news is that the rest of the shows are selling well. Well enough to keep them in the original huge halls. Sweet. The recession in England seems to have the country gripped in fear much more so than back in the states. In a conversation with last night’s promoter, I was hearing horror stories of tours that are out now. The Slayer / Mastodon / Trivium tour was booked in the 14,000 cap Sheffield Arena, and ended up getting moved down to the main room at the Academy and only doing 1,500 tickets. Judas Priest is doing a hometown Xmas show at the Arena in Birmingham and they only have 700 tickets sold. It seems the bands with young fanbase are doing alright, as kids dont have much fiscal responsibility, but that if your fan base is 25+, then those shows are suffering tremendously. We’re just gonna soldier forward and play the best shows we can to whoever is there.