Simon Hall brings us his up close and personal insights to the world of Beholder with the final instalment for the 'Edge of Insanity Tour' Diary...
Day 10: Swindon
The whole ethos behind this tour was to take the Beholder sound not only to the major cities, but also to the more provincial hamlets and Swindon was an area targeted. So as we trundled through the country roads in the ever failing tour bus, we were certainly looking forward to what lay in store.
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The venue itself (Riffs Bar) was – how shall I put it? – compact and bijou. In fact it was suggested that fungus played bass on Chris's lap, but the offer was declined due to hygiene reasons!!
In a nutshell, for a Wednesday night in a new territory it was a small audience with a big thirst for metal with headbanging and fist punching being the order of the day.
A big shout to Andy and Simon for their hospitality and allowing us to park 'the monstrosity' (the new name for the tour bus) in their car park for the evening.
Day 11: Plymouth
Oh yes - been looking forward to sharing the stage with Breed 77 for sometime and we awoke with a rather hungover spring in our step.
But twenty miles down the road from Swindon – it all went horribly wrong again as the bus decided to kick us in the balls once again. A reoccurrence of the accelerator cable issues rendered us stranded for fucking hours and again we had to call a mechanic and unfortunately miss the show.
To say that we were gutted is an understatement and moral was terrible.
Finally we managed to get back on the road and headed straight for the next show.
Day 12: Bournemouth
With the band all putting on a brave face after the previous days balls up we decided to get to the 'land of the blue rinse' a little early and inject ourselves with the only true drug available to a touring outfit – a decent hot meal!!
The faces on the staff and diners at the local Toby Carvery was priceless as six dishevelled metalheads descended on the hot plates like a pack of hyenas tearing away at an old carcass! Burping, grunting, snorting and farting, while generally behaving like a bunch of nutters on a day trip, this was just what the doctor ordered – and we even had room for pudding.
Tried to sleep off the excesses of my meal but had to attempt to sound coherent with a bunch of radio interviews with the likes of Total Rock, Phoenix Radio and others which have been lost in the blurriness of 'sleep talking'.
The show itself was great with a really responsive crowd and a couple of killer supports. Flayed Disciple are certainly one to watch out for and their version of Slayers 'Angel of Death' was as good as the original. The other support hailed from Switzerland and were delightfully entitled Gonereas!!
When we questioned them about the name we were expecting it to mean something entirely different in Swiss – not the case!!
Day 13: Brighton
Another indoor all day fest has emerged and this time it's Mammothfest. Sharing the stage with Entombed, Orange Goblin, Malefice and Breed 77 this promised to be a good 'un – and for Beholder it didn't disappoint!
We tore Brighton a new one!
The thing is if you give Beholder a thirty minute slot then we throw everything into the mix and hit the stage like men possessed, especially seeing as the tour has thus far offered up ninety minute shows – so before we could blink it was "thank you and good night", but the reception was electric – especially with our homage to the late, great Ronnie James Dio, which has been going down a storm.
Although the tour was starting to take its toll on me (bodily hygiene and sleep deprivation were starting to turn me into some form of shambling husk) it was cool to catch up with the likes of Ben Ward and the guys from Breed, but then my own self pity was brought crashing back to reality when I heard the news that all of Breed's gear had been stolen out of the back of their van!! Theft is a real bastard, but none more so than when a band is mid way through a run!
Day 14: Falmouth
On landing in Falmouth we were greeted with the greatest gift of all – HONEY BEER and REAL CORNISH PASTYS. Oh My God! What a fucking breakfast that was and needless to say after six pints, two pasties and gleeful conversation I retired for the afternoon and slept like a baby.
When I arose from my slumbers I couldn't believe my eyes – metalheads everywhere!!!!
A big shout must go out to Steve and Steph who have cemented a great scene down in Cornwall, which till now, has almost been starved of touring metal bands and the full on reception was testament to their hard work and the passion they have for metal.
The show itself was a throw back to the days of old with four coloured lights, sweaty bodies and a PA which eventually gave up the ghost with the monitors, but sounded great out front – so that's all that matters really.
For hospitality and general willingness to please – Cornwall takes the biscuit (or pasty!)
Day 15: London
We drive through the night in order to drop the sleeper bus off early. Frankly this piece of shit has cost us two shows, runs like a bag of shite, drinks fuel like its going out of fashion and we have to prop the door shut with a two litre pop bottle!!
"Engage the Aqua Lock!"
So we move all the gear into a splitter bus kindly supplied and driven by our knight in shining armour – me old mucka Steve Bateman. Trust me when I say that getting into a vehicle that didn't sound like a traction engine was a fucking godsend.
OK, so for any band on the circuit, playing London is always a gig where everyone ups the anti – and by Christ did we pull a show out tonight. The Underworld is one of those venues that frontmen love – cos they're in ya face from the off and it's great.
Although we're all a little jaded, it was great to see some friendly faces like Mikey from our management team Sonic Mutilation, along with Adam Filary who does so much for breaking metal in the greater London area with his own organisation Unified Sounds. Two people who have full support for the British Metal Scene – and for that we (and many others) thank you.
Day 16: Bridgend
After a well earned day off the creaking bones and aching limbs crawled to Bridgend – only to be greeted by three flights of stairs!!!!! FUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKK!!!!!!
Its at this point in the proceedings that I felt like phoning Blackstar Amplification and asking if they did a balsa wood version of the cabs!!
OK, so we managed to clamber all the gear upstairs and spent an evening with some quality bands – none more so than Extreme OD (who announce it's their last show with their guitarist). Gotta say I hope they find a replacement soon 'cos front girly Katie Cairns has loads to offer and looks grrrreat in a customised Beholder T Shirt.
This is our first venture into Wales and although numbers were not high, we're certainly not disheartened as the atmosphere was killer and we look forward to returning.
Day 17: Wrexham
Central Station is run by my cuddly friend Ian from Factory Music and is a recognised venue in North Wales – and I can see why. Hospitality is second to none with more food than we can eat (or indeed cram in the bags for later on!).
The big landmark for us tonight is that we have sold out of 'The Awakening' t-shirts and the decision to sell them at the cost of printing them has turned out to be a good call. None of ya money grabbing mercenary metal here my friends!
The show was great fun as I lambasted into the likes of Kerrang Magazine (hereby known as Kerrwank!) and Scuzz TV (aka Scum TV) for their misjudged representation of what people really like and their total cold shoulder to the real British Metal Scene – let's hope they see reasoning one day – although I somehow doubt it!!
Should we ever get a mention I look forward to a review!! NOT!!!
Day 18: Kettering
Played the Sawyers a bunch of times and the punters there have supported us since the early days of being a covers band and held true to our conversion into a 'proper band' – not that we acted like one tonight.
For some reason we decided to dine on some rather fiery kebabs before the show and the stench of hideous farts filled the stage area – and like a bunch of giggling children – we revelled in our own stench! Taking the crowd with us the set descended into hilarity as I barfed my way through the set and Scotty turned a rather strange shade of green!! Too Funny.
One thing that still gets me is the occasional situation where support acts come in, barely say a word – yet are quite willing to use your gear – and then flounce off not even saying thank you or watch your set. You know who you are and more to the point – we know who you are!!
Day 19: Derby
Well folks we made it through almost unscathed. Epic Win!!
We had to finish off the tour in Derby as it's been good to us over the past few visits and after all it is the home of Bloodstock, the festival we all love for so many reasons.
It was great to have a bunch of the wives and girlfriends come along to this one as they are as strong in the Beholder set up as anyone – without question. Special shout to Martyn's girlfriend who for her slender frame is one of the most violent animals in the pit – had me in fucking stitches.
We rounded off the show by celebrating our one man road crew - Steve Humfries. This man is the antipathy of Heavy Metal!! Initially he came out for just a couple of shows, but enjoyed the experience so much that he phoned his gaffer and told him to stick his job up his are - "cos I'm goin on the road!" Hell Yes!!
He has been invaluable as both Drum Tech, Camera Man, Roadie, Merch Guy and general Band Fluffer - so how do we celebrate his enormous sacrifice? By humiliating the fuck out of him of course - custard pies, silly string and a whirlwind of applause from the crowd and the poor guy looked like he'd been bukaked by the cookie monster!!
From here on in the stage was like an ice rink and as with every show on the tour - its all on film!! Coming soon to a YouTube screen near you.
Great show and a great way to wrap up the first full UK Tour.
We could reel out a whole bunch of people to thank, but I'd be here all day – we do however want to thank all the independent radio stations, websites, promoters and venues for keeping faith in the British Metal Scene – because if we had to rely on the so called 'major players' then the scene would be dead in the water.
Also a major thanks to our support team in Sonic Mutilation, Blackstar Amplification, Dean Guitars, Marlboro Lights, Haribo's and Costa Coffee.
Most of all (and this is the bit that will obviously sound cheesy as hell) – but thank you so much to the supporters who came out nationwide to witness the re-birth of True British Metal.