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alan reed

As I'm sure you're realised, illness had become a recurrent theme on the tour. Mark had been very poorly in Southampton, and I'd suggested that perhaps we could cope without him if he wasn't feeling up to it. Trouper that he is, though, he'd insisted on seeing it through, and on the morning of the Manchester gig he seemed to have recovered some of his inner zing. It helped that the journey from one hotel to another was the shortest of the tour. We finished breakfast, and by lunch were safely in our new base near the M6.

It Bites, however, were in a different world of pain. When we got to the venue we discovered that John Beck (keys, vox) had almost entirely lost his voice, and John Mitchell (Ld gtr/ld vox) was in danger of losing his. But these guys are made of stern stuff and were determined to do the gig come what may.

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We were at the Academy complex in Manchester - part of Man Universities Student's Union. Three venues in one, and all hosting bands that night. The car park looked liked a tour-bus convention. I have to say I've always liked touring by bus. You finish the gig, load out, party a bit, and then wake up the next day at the next venue. Felt a bit underwhelming dragging my guitars and merch from the car in the freezing cold :-)

Good gig though. Plenty of room, plenty of time and a good audience. They were kind enough to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Callum (who'd turned 25 again). His embarrassment was palpable. Made my night :-) The rest of the band went back to the hotel asap after our slot to celebrate, but I stayed behind as usual to encourage merch sales. As a support band you don't get paid much - if anything - and every album sale meant diesel in the tank or a breakfast paid for. When I got back to the hotel the bar had closed, but we adjourned upstairs for party food and a couple more beers. Happy days.

Or possibly not. It Bites management were concerned for the health of the band - and for their ability to make their biggest gig in London on the Sunday. Glasgow was on the verge of being pulled. I found myself stressing about it as I went to sleep.

Next morning I didn't feel so bright. I'd been feeling feverish overnight, and it was clear I was coming down with something. Callum dosed me up with lemsip and we headed north to the home of deep-fried everything. It Bites had decided the gig would go ahead.

Possibly the most miserable drive of the tour, with relentless heavy rain. Checked into Glasgow hotel and immediately passed out. All too soon being roused for the get -in. I could tell I wasn't well, but all I could do was use drugs to keep the lurgy at bay. It would have to be the last date, the home-town date, the one the guy from PROG was coming to review!!!!

Get-in and soundcheck relatively straightforward. But I have to say the gig itself wasn't my finest performance. Some recurrent schoolboy errors on my part, and my tightening throat, meant it wasn't as good overall as I'd hoped - but the punters didn't seem to mind. The merch take told it's own story :-) But plans for a night of post-tour celebratory curry and beer had to be puled as I started to get the shivers and shakes. Barely made it to bed that night. No idea how I managed to drive back to Surrey the next day. Five days later I'm still ill!!

It is - in the immortal words of Bon Scott - 'A long way to the top if you want to rock'n'roll'!!!




Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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