Originally published in Beat Motel issue 7
POWER Tour Diary, Spring 2007
“We’re on Tour!!!”
Wednesday 28th March, Club Quilt, Ipswich
We kicked off our tour in our hometown of Ipswich, the Battle of the Bands final, Club Quilt.
Usually I find these gigs are filled with so much tension and expectation, that they generally aren’t much fun to play. Everyone sits around in their band/group/entourage and doesn’t interact with the “rival” bands. It just creates a weird atmosphere that doesn’t need to be there, but as we made it to the final we used it as a starting point for booking the rest of the tour.
We didn’t win. Instead we played ok, danced to The Wah and had a great night, and in truth, that was more important to us. (Yes, I know that sounds cynical and bitter, so you’ll just have to trust me on that one!)
“What do you mean AA Route Finder is wrong?”
Thursday 29th March, Sawyer’s Bar, Kettering
Over cups of tea and a Full House breakfast at Jack’s Café we discussed the last nights gig and the coming days with excitement. We had a days break on the Friday as we simply couldn’t find a gig for it, so the mood was relaxed as we had plenty of time to pack.
We loaded the van and headed off to Kettering. One headache for bands on the road is traffic, and as soon as we entered the A14 heading north we hit some. Luckily for us, it didn’t take long to filter through, and with the prospect of being late for our second gig, we continued.
Sawyer’s Bar was relatively easy to find, even confusing AA Route Finder which believed we had another 4 turns to make before we got to our destination. Bloody thing! We entered the bar to find a great little music venue with gig posters covering most of the walls and a huge PA system and stage at one end of the bar. The landlady didn’t have us down to play at first which left a few awkward moments before she realised that she sent us the email in the first place!
We were first on that night supporting Illusion and Spiral Dive who had just come back from a few Czechoslovakian shows. Both bands turned out to be top blokes with Spiral Dive virtually letting us use all of their kit!!!
We ripped through almost the same set as the previous night with a few additions, but this time it was different. We played amazingly. Tight, punchy and full of energy that turned heads and had the crowd and other bands loving it! It was after the set where our luck turned. Spiral Dive’s singer had caught laryngitis in Czechoslovakia and wasn’t feeling great at all. He hadn’t planned to play that night but since it was his bass player’s birthday show he felt he couldn’t let his guys down.
However, the prospect of playing in Rushden the next night was getting less and less appealing to him and as soon as we finished our slot they offered us their slot! All they had to do was ring the venue and confirm it and they’d let us know in the morning. From out of nowhere, we were on the brink of another night!
The drive home was tiring and quiet (due to the fact that Spiral Dive is the loudest band I’ve ever heard!). When I got home I remember thinking “I’ll have enough time to get everything done in the morning…”
“Where’s the nearest A and E?”
Friday 30th March, the Attic, Rushden
It was 10 o’clock when I got the call. The gig was on, and I had four hours to pack, get shit loads of things I had forgotten during the week and plan and print out the routes. Everything went to plan until my printer decided to run out of ink, but that’s a long and boring love/hate relationship story, I’ll leave well alone.
We hit the A14 again knowing we’d be playing 11 miles from where we were last night and the irony stayed with us for most of the journey. No traffic this time, which was a godsend! We got to The Attic in good time and found it immediately. Once there, we got chatting to the bass player for one of the bands we were playing with that night, Leaden.
The venue was actually above a pub, and it had been tailor made for the purpose of gigs only, with a large stage, monitors and a PA system. The sound guy wasn’t in the mood to chat, so we played “name that tune” with the other bands sound checking, with Ac/Dc, Rush, Thin Lizzy and Girls Aloud. The sound guy wasn’t in a helpful mood and that soon became apparent when we played.
We added a few more songs to the previous nights set and straight away got the young crowd head banging and going crazy. The only problem was I could only hear my amp and Ste, the drummer. No matter how many times we asked for more vocals, bass and guitar in the monitors, the sound guy responded with a thumbs up and fuck all else. This didn’t just extend to us though; both the other bands had a nightmare that night with the only guy in the room who didn’t enjoy himself!
The set was well received, although I think the sound was nowhere near as good as the previous night. We still managed to sell loads of CD’s to the kid’s who had come to see Spiral Dive, and had left impressed by a small Ipswich band.
It was as we were about to leave when it wrong.
As we loaded the van and car we were blocked in by another van. Not thinking too much about it, we continued to load ready to head back to the Travel Lodge where Whinney’s brother Andy was staying, having travelled to see us play. As it approached the time to leave, the van was still sitting there, so Leaden decided they would try and squeeze past it. It was on the second turn of the wheel that the owner of the van and his friend walked out of the pub, quite clearly drunk and ready to drive home.
It was Andy who politely suggested that maybe they should move the van, and then take a taxi home as they shouldn’t drive in their condition. They took exception to this and tried to start on him. As the situation was relaxing and Andy was trying to calm the passenger down, the driver blind-sided him and hit on the corner of his eye, catching him off guard and knocking him to the floor. With his pint held high and taunting us more they drove off.
Blood seemed to be everywhere on his new white POWER! T-shirt and we quickly got him into the pub and rang the police. With ice on his cut eye, we sat him down and spoke to locals who could aid us in the driver’s identity. It was Andy’s decision to have it checked out at A and E and within seconds we were back in the van, heading towards Kettering. He was cold and shaking fairly badly, even though inside the van was hot which didn’t ease us at all. We didn’t know if he was concuss, or in shock. What we did know is we had to get him there quickly.
Kettering A and E wasn’t a long drive and we were soon sitting in the Waiting Room. As his condition seemed to worsen the nurses acted on it and took him in to examine him, and even though there had been 2 major traffic accidents that night, they dealt with him quickly and efficiently to which we will be forever thankful. Andy walked out of A and E an hour and a half later with a cut black eye, a bent cigarette and a hankering for the Jack Daniels bottle back in the hotel room!
The drive back to the hotel was one of confusion and fatigue. With the journey to the hospital being completely unplanned, it was always going to take us a while getting back to the hotel and an hour later we arrived. Exhausted, the lads helped Andy to the hotel room while I settled down to sleep in the van. Having driven Andy to the hospital, all I wanted to do was be alone. A decision that I would later regard as “the most stupid fucking thing I’ve done all week.”
As I closed my eyes I couldn’t help thinking what would happen next to us on the tour.
“Hello Coalville, we are POWER!”
Saturday 31st March, Vic’s Biker Pub, Coalville
After a cooked breakfast (you’ll see a recurring theme here) and a much needed shower, we headed off to Coalville. We played Vic’s Biker Pub last year and it turned out to be one of the best nights of our lives, so expectations for this gig was high. Maybe it was the previous night’s proceedings that affected the mood, but the drive was quiet and anxious. What if the gig didn’t meet up to last years show?
An hour later we were there, with plenty of time to relax. As the hours ticked away, the mood seemed a lot calmer. Ipswich band El Minotaur, good friends and support band for the next two days arrived, bringing with them an injection of laughter that seemed a million miles from the last nights gig.
More people from Ipswich had started to turn up, some expected, some very unexpected, but good to see them all the same. A little while later Beholder, the headlining band, turned up and begun to set up. With the colossal amount of gear they had, the huge stage we had enjoyed throwing shapes on last year, suddenly became a lot smaller. It was also apparent as soon as they sound-checked that gear sharing was out of the question as well, so we made do and all of our stuff went in front of theirs! As El Minotaur was using our cabs and drum kit we only really needed to get the gear off as soon as we’d finish our set.
El Minotaur went on first, ripping into new song Alpha Chino: Fire Breathing Robo Albino and were playing the best I’d ever seen them. Tight, aggressive and with an energy I hadn’t seen from them before. The crowd seemed responsive, but there didn’t seem to be many people in. Nevertheless El Minotaur carried on and tore through their set as more and more people came in, and by the time they started their last song, the place was heaving. As they finished the pub went crazy, finally giving El Minotaur the praise they truly deserved.
We took to the stage and with the cowbell ringing, burst into Journey into Oblivion. Any fatigue, anxiety, or bad memories of A and E disappeared, only to be replaced by a sense of freedom. For those 30 minutes or more, we played as a band, tighter, more complete, with every note played with passion. Even the unplanned, unrehearsed cover of Emerald by Thin Lizzy went well and as band/crowd favourite Aerosmith Girl closed the set, Vic’s exploded with applause and whistles. Even the Beholder guys couldn’t believe how a small band from Ipswich had just received such a reaction from a crowd of mad bikers!
Beholder themselves were brilliant, playing an amazing mix of Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Black Label Society and even Alice in Chains numbers controlling the stage like tour veterans. The night turned into morning as Vic’s carried on with its Rock Disco well into the early hours. All three bands drank, chatted and joked around for hours until finally it was time for Beholder to pack up and head off. We left our gear inside the pub, exactly the same as the previous gig there, and headed off to tents/cars/vans to sleep.
The mood was electric! Ipswich’s small metal scene had shown its worth in the Midlands and we knew it, and as we drifted off to sleep, we couldn’t help thinking that something special had happened that night in Coalville.
“This song is for the one paying customer here!”
Sunday 1st April, the Rockers Live, Taunton
As 15 people from Ipswich descended upon Morrison’s café for breakfast the mood hadn’t altered. Everyone was beaming, so much so that everyone had forgotten it was April Fools Day! We loaded the gear after breakfast, and said goodbye to friends who had made the trip to Leicestershire. They were heading home, while the POWER!/El Minotaur convoy was heading south. Way, way down south.
After losing all three other vehicles making the journey on the first right turn, I made a full loop of the coming roundabout hoping they’d be behind me the next time I’d swing round. 20 trips around the roundabout later and finally the convoy were on the move again, heading towards Somerset.
Taunton was a quiet town, fairly similar to our hometown of Ipswich. The only difference being it was very quiet. We’d managed to get this gig right at the last minute, and even though we’d made a poster for it, we weren’t expecting a mass crowd. We found Rockers Live! on the high street and unloaded the gear, sound-checked, and then waited, and waited. Barney, a good friend from high-school, turned up as we were driving to Gloucester that night to sleep on his floor, so we joked around and told him the events of the tour so far, passing the time until we were due to start.
As El Minotaur took to the stage, there was a single paying customer standing beside us (who loved both bands by the way!!!). Even though there was a crowd of one, both bands played incredibly showing off old and new songs, and had a brilliant night. We loaded the gear and in the car park behind took pictures and fooled around until we knew it was time to go. El Minotaur was going back to a hotel in Taunton and then home, whilst we were off to Gloucester and then a final trip up north.
It was a shame to see El Minotaur go, and the sombre and quiet drive to Gloucester reflected this. We’d miss them having had an amazing two days in Coalville and Taunton together, but we knew they had to get back to work, even though they clearly didn’t want to!
We chatted in Barney’s living room for a little while, about what had happened on the tour, the way we were playing and general stuff. We felt good, we were playing better than we’d ever imagined, a more complete show now compared to last years tour. We reflected on our friends in Coalville and El Minotaur and we realised that after we left Barney’s we were on our own again. We started the tour as four, and we’d end it as four.
“All I want is a fucking curry! How hard is that?”
Monday 2nd April, Harry’s Bar, Chorley
After a much needed wash we headed to the local Asda for some breakfast. Realising the time, breakfast was long gone, so dinner made do! We left Gloucester for the long drive up north for our final gig in Chorley. We were tired, the ringing in our ears had gotten worse, and to be honest, we probably smelt as well. We didn’t care though; we were having the time of our lives!
It was at the service station that I uttered the immortal words: “Do you know what I really fancy? A curry.” That was it; the idea had been set in stone. The last supper we called it, and as soon as we hit Chorley, we’d find a curry house.
After a quick detour around a lorry who had managed to lose its load under a bridge, we were there. The venue was easy to find again, which made it six out of six for the navigator (I still don’t know how Whinney managed it, but he did!). We parked up and the hunt was on. Curry or bust.
Chorley was a nice little town, with a high street full of travel agents and record shops, but again, not very many people. Would we be playing our last gig to an audience of one? Alarm bells would have been ringing if the thought of Chicken Madras and naan bread wasn’t already occupying our brains! We carried on and an hour later came to a single, very frustrating conclusion:
Most restaurants and eateries were shut on Mondays. Denied!!!
Four disgruntled musicians, Dominos Pizza and a KFC later; and we were unloading the gear in what can be described as a beautifully huge venue. Harry’s Bar was situated in the heart of Chorley and had a multi-tiered stage, a massive PA, and could easily hold 300. Immediately the promoter put us at ease, telling us we’d be paid travel expenses, could have four free drinks per band member and that Harry’s Bar was the only venue in Chorley, and being Easter week we’d have a decent crowd. The disappointment of the curry had all but disappeared now.
We were second on a bill of four bands so we kicked back and toasted the tour and all its success as the others sound-checked. We’d played well, we’d sold most of the CD’s and most importantly, we’d grown as friends and as a band. As Harry’s Bar filled up with 16-20 year olds we took to the stage. With the bill consisting of a pop-punk band, an indie band and a heavy metal band, we’d stick out like a sore thumb, but that didn’t deter us.
We played to a crowd of kids who didn’t really know what to expect. Four regular guys in jeans and t-shirts, no indication that 80’s rock/metal would follow, and heads soon turned. They loved every minute of it with new songs Cadillac’s and Groupies and Aerosmith Girl shining through, hands clapping and head banging. We also over ran a little, to which the soundman smiled “considering the crowd loved you guys, I’ll let you off.” After selling the rest of the CD’s (Buzz and Ste could sell Ice to Eskimo’s!) we sat down in a quiet corner for the rest of the night. Exhausted, but elated, we’d pulled off an unbelievable six days and fatigue had crept up on us. After loading the gear, with nowhere to sleep over than the vehicles and having seen the traffic southbound on the M6 that day, it was obvious what we’d have to do next.
It was time to go home.
Dawn over Suffolk
Tuesday 3rd April, Ipswich
Driving short journeys when tired sucks. Driving long distance journeys when tired is hell, and after a slight detour to Bolton (Yup, we fucked up there!) we were heading southbound on the M6. We stopped off at the first available services and sat down for a much needed coffee and a chat. It was pretty apparent that we’d need a few more stops before home and that sleeping in the car park would only land us in a whole heap of trouble/traffic come morning. We’d have to just push on and stop when we really needed to.
This wasn’t go to be made easy by the late night/early morning roadwork’s, and no sooner were we back on the M6 we were diverted off it again. Diversion after diversion had us up and down the country more times in those hours than the week itself! Dawn crept in as we entered Suffolk, and a little while later the Ipswich turnoff signs were in front of us.
It was 7.00, almost exactly six hours since we left Chorley. It had felt like an eternity of driving, but we knew it was better for us in the long run. With the prospect of work and returning to normal life the next day, we couldn’t really afford to sit in traffic all day, so the drive had been worth it. Home and a warm bed, it seemed like a year ago since I had slept in it last but it felt great to be back. The journey had taken its toll and with as soon as my head hit the pillow, I slept.
We’d returned as four friends, closer, stronger, our heads held high whether we played in front of a 200 hundred strong crowd or to one person. We were back, knowing that in six days we had turned heads and made impressions on people wherever we’d played in the country. Playing tighter and with a new drive that had shot through us all, Buzz’s vocals smoking, Ste’s drumming pulsating through every song and Whinney playing the best guitar we’ve ever seen. We returned as a band, planning to hit the road again soon.
Last Updated on March 5, 2023
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