Do you know how far it is from Glasgow to Nottingham? Neither do I.....but what I can tell you is that it's a bloody long way - so there! So, after waking up in Glasgow, sorting ourselves out and managing to find our way back to where we had left the car, it was time to get out of Scotland and back to the South, this time heading to Nottingham for the About To Break Tour at the Rescue Rooms.
After driving for a few hours, then a couple more, we eventually arrived in Nottingham, sorted the hotel out and headed straight out to the Rescue Rooms to try and catch the bands loading in, setting up and sound checking. On arrival, it was clear that there had been some changes, and everyone seemed a little fraught on edge after finding out that the curfew for the gig wasn't 11:00pm as we had become used to, but instead had shifted to 10:00pm - something which left the bands with shorter sets, and a lot of questions on peoples minds. Kudos to Jon Huddy (Self Made Records) for dealing with it, sorting the bands out, and getting things moving as soon as he could so as not to disappoint the building crowd.
Opening the nights proceedings were Critical
, a local Nottingham band that, whilst young, seem to be building somewhat of a reputation for themselves on the live scene. After watching their set, it's easy to see why, the band taking to the stage and quite simply owning it, showing that they may have been the opening act for the night, but they were by no means a band to underestimate. Throwing out tracks such as Hot As Hell, Demon and No Regrets, the band showed their skills and passion for music with aplomb, each track oozing out of the amps and captivating the audience who were watching. Despite issues with the guitars at one point, the band persevered and stood out as one to keep an eye on, even throwing in a cover of Broken Hearts just to demonstrate their understanding of where their music came from. In all - a solid opener to the night!
Grey Goes Down stepped up to the stage next, as the solid basis of the tour so far I've been lucky enough to hear the band develop their sound over the gigs, each time growing more and more comfortable in front of the crowds and showcasing their tracks to people to show off their skills. Whilst I was fully aware that it would be the case, Grey Goes Down once again showed that they know what the crowd wants and know how to provide it! Tracks like Serenity were met with an eager crowd, each track drawing in more and more people to see what was going on and converting the ranks to their sound. The highlight for me was once again Terminal, a track which I've grown to love over the course of the tour and one which, I think, shows off the band at their best on the live scene. As the set came to a close, I don't think there was a single person around the room who hadn't stopped to marvel at the sound, showing once again that Nottingham needs to be on the map for the live scene!
Following an act like Grey Goes Down is always going to be a tough one, but Fresh Eyes For The Dead Guy stepped up to the stage, confident they had the ability to keep the flow moving. Opening with Jackals before leading straight into Any Excuse To Wear A Headtorch, the band captivated the crowd with their energetic live performance, dynamic song writing and extraordinary stage presence. With track names like Totally Mexico Monsters and Me You And The Lex Paradox, this is a band who don't do things in the most simple manner, instead opting to create tracks which make you question what you know, show what can be done by 4 guys on a stage and push the boundaries of their music. Leaving the stage at the end of their set, I found myself sitting back and questioning what I had heard for a moment, still getting my head around the funky and powerful rock tinged with elements of prog and the ferociousness of punk - it's a mix which I've not come across before, but one which I'd like to see a lot more of in the future I think!
If anyone had asked me which bands I was looking forward to before the tour, then JD and the FDC's would have been high on that list, a band that we featured quite early on in the life of the site and one which has got a reputation on the live scene as unmissable. From the opening moments of Recognise it was clear why, these guys can play! Hitting the right notes from the off, the band had the crowd eating out of their hands from the word go and didn't release until the closing moments of Burn This City Down. Energetic, powerful and yet fun, tracks like Ujpest Dozsa, Mirrors And Wires and Never Gonna Stop all flew out, the crowd singing along and displaying their affection for the band. The sea of JD and the FDC's t-shirts across the crowd should have been a give away that people wanted to see them, but nothing could have prepared me for the show they put on. Finishing by involving the crowd (including myself) in a damned good sing along, JD and the FDC's were a band that came, saw, conquered and left everyone safe in the knowledge that they are there to show us how it's done - awesome.
Teenage Casket Company are another band that we featured a while back, and another act that I was looking forward to seeing playing live, just to see how their songs sounded on the live scene. Jumpy, punky, fun and another band that people were there to sing along to, the band opened with Dead In America and grabbed everyones attention from the word go. One Thing You Don't Need, First Night Of Your Life and Best Friend Is My Radio all sounded like instant classics, the band clearly enjoying themselves on stage as the crowd lapped up their offerings. It's comforting to see a band hammering out tracks which have got the potential to become classics, and Teenage Casket Company fit this bill perfectly, demonstrating that if you're looking for solid rock music full of catchy choruses and hooks, then look no further!
After 5 great bands, the headlining act was going to have to pull something pretty spectacular - and that's exactly what Wraith managed to do. Emerging onto the stage accompanied by dancing girls, a video film crew and enough attitude to satisfy even the most hardcore punk venue, these guys closed the night and left everyone dumbfounded in amazement. Tracks like Hungry, Human Zoo, Get What I Want and Inside Me were hammered out at break neck speed, the band working against time to make sure they were finished in time but managing to keep the crowd happy and singing along throughout. With the closing moments of Crazy the band not only owned the stage, but had the crowd begging for more, leaving the venue pumping, sweaty and reeling from the shock of what real music can do - an awesome finish to an incredible line up.
So that was Nottingham - one of the best gigs of the tour featuring bands that simply, you need to make sure you check out! Every single person in attendance will back me up I'm sure when I say that this was one hell of a night, and one I'll certainly remember for a long while yet!
Thanks to Nottingham, the Rescue Rooms, the bands, and some familiar faces for coming down - definitely a place we'll be coming back to!
Let me start by saying i'm bloody knackered! After driving the length of the country, checking out some awesome music and meeting a lot of cool people, my energy levels are at an all time low. Add in some sleepless nights at campsites and noisy hotels and starting off today, my main thought was resting!
So, after getting up for some breakfast (normally I wouldn't bother but the carrot sticks and pitta breads for dinner last night left me hungry!) and dealing with a dodgy burger from McDonalds here in Glasgow, I was looking forward to a restful laze around in the room watching TV - this wasn't to be! I appreciate that house keeping need to do their job, but after returning from breakie we settled down, only to have the door banged on 3 times in 5 minutes asking if they could get in, so we figured we'd go out for some peace.
Leaving the hotel we wandered down the river Clyde to see what the city looked like, just walking and taking in the views. Glasgow reminds me of Paris in some ways (stay with me here!) in that you've got old buildings mixed in with new wherever you look. Tall glass buildings sit next to older red brick places creating a constant sense of contrast and division, very cool to see.
There's also a real sense of poverty in some areas, graffiti adourning the walls of places, litter scattered everywhere and a real industrial down trodden look in places.
That said, walking along the river its impossible not to feel that they're trying to update everything, the regeneration of places is clear when you see the armadillo like building and the science centre.
Wandering back we were once again reminded that when it rains in Scotland, it rains! The rain started as we headed back and continued all the way, resulting in 3 drowned rats appearing back at the hotel ready to chill for a bit.
This evening was one I was looking forward to, catching up with Sians Uncle and Aunt, Phil and Sandy, and their son and daughter Tom and Tina. Jumping on the train we headed out to Bothwill to meet up with them at their place.
It was an awesome evening catching up, being fed an amazing roast beef and generally just spending some time in familiar company. The only downside was having to head back as I'm sure we could have chatted for hours more (and no doubt put the world to rights over a bottle or two!).
That concludes Glasgow for the trip and tomorrow we head South to Nottingham for the next leg of About To Break. Tonight is being spent in the Jurys Inn (highly recommend it if you're in Glasgow) before packing up tomorrow for the 5 hour drive down.
Leaving Glasgow i've got mixed feelings I think. I like Scotland and will be back, there's just something about this city which I'm unsure of. Maybe i'm just tired but we'll see, whatever, it's been quality to visit.
The gig tomorrow promises to be one of the most amazing nights on the tour with a video being filmed, dancers, good company and 5 AMAZING bands - if you're in Nottingham or nearby, get down to the Rescue Rooms.
Much love people, I need to sleep!
I don't know what's going on, but for some reason I've never come across a lot of music out of Scotland. Sure there's the well known bands like Texas, Travis and The Proclaimers, but unsigned wise we've hardly come across a lot. For that reason, I was looking forward to the Cathouse gig to see what was going on, how the crowd responded and what the venue was like - but nothing could have prepared me for the night ahead!
There's that old saying that crowds never take note of the opening band or remember them afterwards, but Campbell's Wild have changed this idea forever! Opening with Salcombe, the band were just getting into their stride when everything went very quiet! After much faffing around and checking things, it turned out that some enthusiastic drumming had knocked a cymbal over, and said cymbal had severed the mains cable as it hit the ground - incredible!
Despite this rock n roll start to things, the band continued their set (after the hasty repairs were completed) and belted out tracks like Highrise, Spinning Circles and Forever Unfinished to a crowd that lapped up every moment. Rocky and upbeat yet calming and atmospheric at times, the guys got things going in a manner which left a high bar to follow on!
Stepping up to follow on, tour stalwarts Grey Goes Down took to the stage next, stepping up to the mark and showing Glasgow how its done beneath the border! Tracks line Serenity, So Easy and Burn seemed to flow out of the monitors, the crowd getting more and more enthusiastic with each track and the band feeding off of their energy.
The high point for me was the closing moments of Terminal, a track which i've grown to love on this tour and one which shows off the skills of each of the members of the group. Almost closing with a challenge to the next band, as if to say 'follow that', Grey Goes Down are new to Glasgow, but are going to be remembered.
Taking to the stage next, Grey Caliber walked on and unleashed merry hell on the venue, pushing things up to the next level and showing that metal is alive and well up in these parts. Heavier than the other bands on the bill, the guys tore the place a new one, hammering out tracks like Bide My Time, Nail In The Coffin and My Haunting at a rate of knots, and demonstrating just what heavy is.
It's a brave move to throw some covers in to the mix, but the band offered renditions of My Last Serenade by Killswitch Engage, and Halo by Soil, showing that they know how to please a crowd as well. There was something damned exciting about Grey Caliber, something that has made me think we need to get them south of the border - definitely a band to check out if you like the heavier side of things.
Following on from an exciting and heavy act is always going to be difficult, unless if course you're in Temple Dawn and simply take it in your stride! Grungey, melodic and powerful, the guys set list was full of classics in waiting, from Free Fall to Living In Your Dreams, Broken to Too Late, each track coming as a gem which the audience loved throughout.
Closing with Kissing The Devil, the band left fans happy and newbies converted, raising the bar once again and showing that these guys have got the stage presence and musical ability to back up their solid repuration on the live scene. Another band that need to get South to be seen, this is one that you're going to be seeing more of, including on About To Break 2013 (thats right, its in planning already!).
Closing the nighf fell to Broken Alphas, a band that are clearly well known locally and love what they do. Upbeat and energetic throughout, the band seemed to ooze confidence as their tracks simply flowed out over the waiting audience. From The Last Drop through to Stars and then Sunshine And Hurricanes, the band handled each track with aplomb, showing why they were headlining and leaving no single person stood still.
Closing on a high, the band can walk away knowing they played to an audience that loved them, converted new fans to their sound and closed About To Break Glasgow in style.
So that was Glasgow - the About To Break tour came, played, took no prisoners and next up rolls on to Nottingham. Huge thanks to all in Glasgow who came down, the venue was pumping from start to finish. Thanks to the bands, to the Cathouse for having us, and to Glasgow for having such an awesome scene.
Nottingham, we're coming for you next...
After an earlyish start, we packed up the tent and headed out of the Lake District, fuelling up the car and following the motorway north towards Scotland and our eventual destination of Glasgow.
Now, I know that people say it rains a lot in Scotland but nothing could have prepared us for the weather that greeted us. The heavens opened whilst we were on the road resulting in a motorway covered in water and an inability to see anything around us. What amazes me in weather like that is how people continue to drive like lunatics! One such driver clearly pushed too hard as they shot past us, then a mile down the road there they were on the side, their front drivers side wheel missing, debris all over the road and 4 or 5 other cars stopped around them, we stopped at the next services just to realign our heads before getting to Glasgow.
Approaching the city we were once again greeted by shocking weather, thunder and lightening over head and so much standing water that once again, it was impossible to see the road markings! Despite this and the odd one way system that seems to make up the roads here, we parked up and headed to our hotel on the banks of the river, showered and grabbed a snooze before the About To Break tour hit the Cathouse in the city!
Waking up in a Travel Lodge is never an amazing experience, but when its to the sound of some woman in the room telling some bloke to f**k off and that she's f*****g leaving, there is a certain comical edge to it! Regardless of the uneducated commoners we were surrounded by (hahahaha) we grabbed some breakfast before packing up to hit the road out of Sheffield. As nice as it was, we live in the country normally so the big buildings and constant noise were a bit much!
Heading out of the city, we got into the Peak District firstly, finally getting some fresh air and clearing the fuzzy heads. I do have a slight complaint though as it wasn't as 'peak-y' as I imagined, instead resembling Dartmoor in most places. Regardless, it was nice to be in the open air once again, even if not for long.
Soon enough we had crossed the peaks (seriously now, where are they?!) and we were headed towards Manchester.
Managing to stay on the ring road, we looped Manchester, stopping at one set of traffic lights to behold some of the strangest garden statues i've ever seen - who wants a Michael Jackson carved out of wood?
Moving on, we soon hit the M6 heading North so figured we'd stop in the Lake District (there's peaks there for christs sake!) for the night before heading up to Glasgow, so headed towards Kendal.
Kendal is famous for mint cake, and without being rude, there's not a lot more there to take note of! We had a wander around the castle and popped into the Tourist Information place, but otherwise its somewhere on the edge of the lakes so is merely a gateway town. Needless to say, after our wander, we left again!
Now, I had this great idea that Windermere would be a good place to stay, but I was wrong! Windermere appears to be the Salcombe of the Lake District, filled with people dressed in Salmon coloured clothing looking in shops they can't afford and walking in the road. We tried a couple of campsites but were basically told they were full so we should bugger off, so we kept driving!
Many years ago I spent some time in Ullswater, so seeing a sign for it we headed off in that direction.
Note to self - when a road has a warning sign on it, read it! It was only after we had driven along some mountain pass and come down the other side with the brake warning light flashing at me did Sian reveal it was an altitude warning sign and that there was the risk of getting light headed - but hey ho!
Conveniently, on the way down the hill we found a pub with a sign saying B&B so pulled in to sort a room. As is always the case they were full in the inn, but luckily there was a campsite below so we headed down, sorted a pitch, and began unloading the tent.
Note to self 2 - when in a thunder storm, putting a tent up under a tree is not considered the safest task in the world.
Regardless of thunder storms we got the tent up, only got mildly damp and didn't get struck by lightening, which is rather good! After all this hard work we were all tired, hungry and in need of a beer, so as the thunder and rain had eased, we headed to the pub!
Not a bad view for dinner, we sat back, demolished our various dinners (Will had Spag Bol, Sian had chicken stuffed with cumberland sausage and wrapped in bacon with veg and chips, and I had steak, new potatoes and veg...then finished Wills as he was full!) accompanied by several beverages before heading back to the tent full, content and drowsy!
Sian and I did venture out for another drink once Will was asleep, returning all the more drowsy so settled back to watch a dvd on the laptop before I fell asleep in my clothes.....classy!
Waking the next day it was a quick pack and go, departing the Lakes and heading over the border for Glasgow, heavy rain, nice hotels and loud, loud music!
So after a lot of travelling around and heading North, we arrived at Sheffield for the third date on the About To Break tour, this time stopping at the legendary Leadmill. I'd heard a lot about the venue before hand due to a good friend playing there back in the day, so this was a venue I was looking forward to seeing, hearing and having a wander around. The obvious sign outside showed the way, so I once again prepared myself for the bands about to step up.
Railroader got the pleasure of stepping up first, opening the night and playing the Leadmill for the first time since getting together. I was really looking forward to seeing what they sounded like live as i've been following them from their beginning, and I wasn't disappointed.
Opening with Everytime before ploughing through tracks like Stick It To The Man and Queen Of Tease, the band took to the stage like pros and hammered out an accomplished set. Their popularity was clear from the off as the expectant crowd watched and absorbed every single moment, the band feeding off of this and showing that there's a lot of potential there just waiting to be picked up on.
Closing with What Doesn't Kill Us there was no doubt in anyones mind, Railroader had been, saw and conquered - one to look out for!
Deny The Lie followed up next, continuing the upbeat tone of the night and showing Sheffield they were there to show off their skills. Hammering through their set with aplomb, the band had the crowd eating out of their hands once again, even getting some people singing along to their version of The Kill by 30 Seconds To Mars.
Technically a step down in the rankings after their upgrade in Southampton, the guys didn't blink in the slightest, once again showing that they're a band who epitomise the idea of this tour, a band that are about to break out and do something special.
Grey Goes Down were next to take the stage, launching straight into Serenity to get things going before continuing straight on with Headrush and Overlapping Fonts. Watching from the crowd there were two really striking things about the set from these guys:
1). Just how good they sound live, achieving a clear and crisp sound throughout (despite the lack of vocals at first!).
2). How much they seem to enjoy themselves on stage, the true hallmark of a band doing it for the right reasons!
Closing with Terminal (I think Mr Batty had requested it!) the guys left the stage with their heads held high, a satisfied audience (and if the venue's got any sense) and an invitation to return. Sheffield has been well and truly converted to the ways of Grey Goes Down, and i'm sure there were a good few people humming Argue With A Bullet the next day!
Following on from Grey Goes Down were Steel Trees, a band that I am going to be talking about for a long time to come and one that people need to check out. As the 3 piece walked on stage, nothing could have foretold the noise these guys were about to make, nor the impact they would have.
As Follow The Crowd got things going, there was an almost Black Sabbath darkness to things, the tone set deep and heavy yet sludgy and dark. Revolution continued this, only this time with more punch and dexterity showing that they can do full on heavy, but they can also play. Track after track flowed off of the stage, each one leaving the crowd more and more speechless in sheer amazement at what they were witnessing, the band captivating the room with their stage presence as well as their music.
As they closed their set with Deathbed Headsmash I found myself genuinely astounded, a 3 piece capable of producing a sound of a 4 or 5 piece and showing off some serious skills along the way. I consider myself a fan of Steel Trees now and seriously can't wait to hear their album, simply stunning!
Closing the night fell to Volume Zero, a local favourite with a strong following around them. Things didn't get going as smoothly as hoped due to a guitar issue, but soon enough the band hit their stride and played through tracks like Voyeur and 2012 to an audience that lapped them up.
There were some sound issues through the set which I know the band weren't pleased with, but despite this they played their set, closing with Let The Right One In and showed why it is they've been together as long as they have - they've got a recipe and it works!
That as they say is that - About To Break hit Sheffield, destroyed a venue and left towards Glasgow. Every band on the bill should be pleased with their sets, safe in the knowledge that they'll have pleased fans, made new ones and shown us what they're made of!
Glasgow next after a day off....we're crossing the border!
After an awesome couple of days in Southampton, the time had come to leave to continue touring around the country. Before leaving though, we managed to find time to catch up with Sian's good friend Cheri for a spot of lunch and a chinwag. We both always say that its when we see some people we realise how much they're missed, so it was awesome to have a quick catch up before leaving.
Whilst in town we grabbed a road atlas and a few supplies before heading off to find Stratfor Upon Avon for our night of camping!
Now, this part of the tour was the least fun, and the most scared I've been in a hell of a long time. Basically, the brake light switch on the car went, and went fully meaning we had no brake lights, so people behind us didn't know we were slowing or stopping. This was ok on A roads, but hitting the M40 I suddenly realised just how serious an issue this was so opted to stick behind a truck doing 56mph. However.....throw in a heavy rain storm and it was terrifying, but we made it.
Arriving in Stratford after driving for what seemed forever, we were greeted with blue sky, green grass and a nice little campsite called Dodwell Park. The owners were a bit kooky, but it was nice, quiet and well looked after, so we set up camp. Dining on gourmet cup noodles, the evening was spent relaxing, chatting and generally enjoying some family time which was awesome.
Eventually the rain returned, but Will set himself up with a book and Sian and I sat and watched the weather roll past, alas the sun just wasn't destined to stay! Bedding down for the night we were dry, comfy(ish) and warm, which is all that counts!
Waking up (technically it's Day 6 but you've got to finish a story when you start it) we packed up after waiting for 45 minutes for the kettle to boil and headed into town to a VW garage we had passed to get the car sorted.
I've got to say that Listings VW in Stratford couldn't have been better. They got the car straight in, offered us seats and drinks, found the fault within minutes, repaired it within an hour, only charged £34 for the work and sent us on our way with more drinks for the road - honestly the best service i've ever had at a car dealership!
After a couple of hours on the road we finally reached Sheffield for our night, finding the hotel with relative ease and (eventually) checking in.
Not the best view from our window, but Sheffield is quite nice. There's clearly been a lot of redevelopment in the area and it looks nice as you arrive! Sian and Will went for a wander around - over to her:
As Dave said not a great view-a brick wall(!) so we decided to explore the centre a little and get our bearings. We picked up some more supplies for the evening and the possibility of more camping and headed into town. Will remarked at how nice the centre was with a good mix of shops and old and new buildings and if we had more time we would have definitely dropped into the cinema or rode the trams! We went back to the hotel, grabbed some grub whilst watching the olympics and headed up to the room for the night. We had a nice time and over to Dave to tell you how it went down at The Leadmill...
Leadmill review to come tomorrow, but rest assured it was a quality night!
After the excitement of the Southampton gig last night, today was dedicated to chilling out and taking a day out to take it all in, something which was needed!
After a bit of a lie-in this morning, my sister and her boyfriend met us at our hotel, ready to head off to Eastleigh for the day. After a short drive out of Southampton, we arrived at the Vue Cinema complex in Eastleigh to head to the ten pin bowling alley and arcade. Seeing as Will is with us, we figured it would be nice for him to get to do stuff he enjoys as well, rather than it just being about the music!
After some gaming (and a confrontation between Sian and one of the locals....oh how we laughed!) we had a swift game of ten pin bowling. Now, the last time I bowled was on my stag do several years ago, so to say I was out of practice would be putting it lightly - I was crap! This was compounded also by Chris, my sisters other half, being awesome, so I didn't do too well...but I didn't lose!
All of this hard work built up an appetite so we shot next door for all you can eat chinese for £5.95 a head.....awesome!
Rachel and Chris
After stuffing ourselves I was feeling lucky (largely thanks to some 80's liquid sunshine - aka Sunkist) so we had another go at the bowling. I did better, but once again the supreme skills of Chris stole the title!
This evening was spent chilling at my sisters place, enjoying some tagliatelle with meatballs along with a couple of quiet beers, a cracking end to an awesome few days. Now,well, we're back at the hotel, Will's asleep and we're chilling out planning what we're going to do tomorrow.
Sian in the hotel lift hugging my laptop
Tomorrow we're meeting a friend for coffee in the morning before heading out on the road again. We're booked into a campsite just outside Stratford Upon Avon for the evening so we'll head there then spend the evening wandering about the place, then head to Sheffield on Friday morning.
Thankyou to my sister Rachel, her boyfriend Chris, and everyone we've met since arriving in Southampton, it's been a blast and somewhere I want to come back to for sure.
Onwards....the road is waiting.