Saturday, 24 December 2016

Iron Maiden in concert 1984

From my self-published book "Drum Solos, Bottles & Bands - Memories of a Concert-goer 1981-1999". I thought I'd post this extract as Iron Maiden were formed on Christmas Day 1975 by bassist Steve Harris. 

Iron Maiden
The Playhouse, Edinburgh
13 September 1984

Having released their fifth studio album titled Powerslave, Iron Maiden were now taking their show round the world. Literally. The tour had started on the 9th of August 1984 in Poland and would finally come to a close in California the following July. They played in over 20 countries and the album Live After Death would be recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London and Long Beach Arena in Los Angeles. The album came with a booklet listing all the tour dates and gave details of the daily crew work schedule.

Anyone who saw them on that tour will remember the impressive Ancient Egyptian-themed stage set based on the Powerslave album artwork of Derek Riggs. The roadies would start at 8am and by 4pm all the lights, PA, band equipment and special flooring would be in place along with the stage set. After the sound check, the support band's equipment would be set up. The doors would open at 6:30pm and the show would start one hour later. After Maiden finished their set at 10:30pm it would take another three and a half hours to break everything down, load it into the trucks and set off for the next show.

It is only right and proper that I should mention all the hard working men and women who bring these concerts to us. The roadies, technicians, riggers, truck and bus drivers, catering staff and those at all the venues serving us drinks, selling us merchandise and yes, even the much loathed security staff, the bouncers. It took none other than Motorhead to sing the praises of roadies in their song 'We Are The Road Crew' from their album Ace of Spades. It's well worth a listen if you're unfamiliar with it.

The bigger the band, the more likely it is you will have heard of the support act and touring the UK with Maiden was Waysted featuring former UFO bass player Pete Way. It's not often fans will rush down to the stage and start chanting the support band's name before they come on but that's what happened with Waysted.

When the house lights went down heralding the arrival of Iron Maiden we heard the voice of Winston Churchill and his famous "fight them on the beaches” speech before Maiden launched into 'Aces High' from Powerslave. The set featured a mixture of songs from the new album along with favourites like 'The Trooper', 'Run To The Hills' and their theme song 'Iron Maiden'. Despite being at the back of the circle my ears took a real battering as this was undoubtedly one of the loudest gigs I ever went to at the Playhouse, eclipsed only by Motorhead later that year. But unlike Motorhead, Iron Maiden's sound was crystal clear.

These days venues will often supply free ear plugs but back in the 80s, having a buzzing sound in your ears for a day or two after a concert was part of the experience. I am probably not the only 40-something who suffers from tinnitus due to all the excessively loud gigs I went to in my youth and this is one of the reasons why I have become more of a folk music fan in recent years. Earache is no fun.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Best Gigs of 2016

I didn't get to a huge number of gigs this year but enjoyed seeing the following at various venues mainly in the local area. The Lancaster Music Festival had another successful year with its mix of local, national and international acts and it was good to see local bands The Low Countries play to admittedly a rather small number of people at Lancaster Castle and Stephen Hudson & The Fiat Pandas play to a good-sized crowd at The Hall. 

Further afield The Village Pump Folk Festival in Wiltshire included a rousing set from The Proclaimers on the Saturday night, some good banter from Mark Radcliffe and his pirate pals in Galleon Blast and the discovery of the festival was Keith Christmas who has been around for many years but his music was new to me. Other highlights were Martin Simpson & Don Flemons, The Willows, Fara and Barluath.

If I'm pushed to choose a favourite gig I'll probably go for King Creosote. It was the first time I'd seen him with a band since the days of the Fence Collective when I lived in Fife back in the 1990s and early 2000s. 

Top 10 Gigs of 2016 (in date order)

Tim Dalling, The Gregson, Lancaster
Steve Knightley, Glasson Dock Village Hall
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, The Hothouse, Morecambe
Gilmore & Roberts, Garstang Unplugged
Paddy Garrigan & The Stroller Priests, The Gregson, Lancaster
9Bach & Twelfth Day, The Hothouse, Morecambe
King Creosote, Cloudspotting Festival
Rory McLeod, Lancaster Music Festival
Jamie Smith's Mabon, Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere
Belshazzar's Feast, The Hothouse, Morecambe

And check out my Recommended Albums of 2016

The Folk & Acoustic Music Show
Every Thursday at 8pm
On 103.5FM and online at

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Recommended Albums of 2016

This year has seen community radio return to the Lancaster & Morecambe area in the form of Beyond Radio. I started broadcasting my weekly Folk & Acoustic Music Show back in August and it's been great to be back on air doing live shows despite the odd technical hitch and occasional operator error! Thanks to Duncan, Chris and the rest of the team for getting the station up and running and great news regarding the successful Lottery bid which will provide much needed funds to further develop the station.

As far the music is concerned, my thanks once again go to the promoters and artists who have sent me CDs or free downloads of their music. I haven't had so many albums from North America this year which explains the mainly UK feel to the following list of releases since the start of the year. But I have enjoyed listening to albums by The High Bar Gang, Howard & Skye, Locust Honey String Band and Roger Roger from the other side of the pond. 

This list is purely in order of date of release.

Recommended Albums of 2016

Jamie Smith's Mabon - The Space Between
Nuala Kennedy - Behave the Bravest
Chamberlain & Haywood - First Impression
James J Turner - Spirit Soul & A Handful of Mud
Claire Hastings - Between River and Railway
Paddy Garrigan  & The Stroller Priests - I Jumped Ship
Megson - Good Times Will Come Again
Alice Jones  - Poor Strange Girl
Jenny Sturgeon - From the Skein
The Low Countries - An Extended Play
Barbara Dymock  - Leaf an' Thorn
Kaela Rowan - The Fruited Thorn
Kim Edgar  - Stories Untold
Broom Bezzums - No Smaller Than The World
Wire & Wool - Wire & Wool
Liza Mulholland - Fine 'n' Rosy
Kate Rusby - Life in a Paper Boat
Sarah-Jane Summers  & Juhani Silvola - Widdershins
Eddie & Luc - Tirade
Emily Smith - Songs for Christmas

I have put together a mix of tracks from many of the above albums and uploaded it to

The Folk & Acoustic Music Show
Every Thursday at 8pm
On 103.5FM and online at