After a 10-week break it was finally time to return to the road and kick-off our twelfth year of gigging in The Senton Bombs. We’d only managed one rehearsal in the interim but that was enough to scrub the rust and polish the set before embarking on mission one of 2016.
The Brickyard, Carlisle (12.02.16)
A scenic drive through the mountains lead us North on our journey to Carlisle for the Rockmantic Festival. Kitted out with loads of new merch, building momentum to the new album release, we were all in high spirits as the sun went down on the rolling landscapes whilst the country rocking of Chris Stapleton’s 'Traveller' tracked the sound. We’d heard a lot about the Brickyard and upon arrival it didn’t disappoint. Over the road from a giant castle, the large old building unfolded within, revealing a big stage inside a massive room. There was a good vibe in the air as super-sound organiser Raz White showed us to the green room… and what a room it was. Fridge full of beer and food, chicken in the slow cooker and the real icing on the cake – a SNES with Mario Kart set-up plus a PS with Tekken 1. I ended up finishing second behing A.I. Princess Peach in the Mushroom Cup, a real low-point in my year so far, the drifting just wasn’t working in those old Mario Karts… I digress…
Tasked with opening the weekender I scanned the room five minutes before stage-time. A fair amount of people in it looked like a decent start for the gigging year, judging by the size of the room and the line-up it seemed the place was going to end up packed. I felt momentarily deflated with our slot, only to be reassured when I stared out from the stage into a rapidly filling venue, well up into triple figures so early in the night.
Blasting into our set we raged through the E-minors of Tornado and Mainstream, only for heavy-handed yours truly to snap my E-string. Some players never break bass-strings, I stopped counting at 40. I used to blame the old Joe Strummer stomp when I got carried away but the reality is it’s just bad technique and a heavy pick. After observing my style, my open plea to the bassists in the room fell on deaf ears. I’d had to leave my spare as the trailer was still in the garage. Thinking on my feet I tried tuning my remaining strings up, quickly realising this was a mistake I tossed my bass aside and sang guitar-less through Black Chariot. My saviour Brian from Bulletproof Rose caught my attention at stage-side, he’d accosted one of the lads from Thirteen Stars who reluctantly handed over his Gibson Thunderbird, bless his soul. I promised to look after it and went about rocking the rest of the set with relief.
We finished by dedicating ‘Born With A Tail’ to the recently recovered Eddie Spaghetti and closed to a rapturous applause. A grand return, although brief with only half-an-hour and bass-ic interruptions. We kicked back on the merch stall, flogging our T-shirts and chatting with many good folk, including dear friends of ours the Wiltons. Up and running and no looking back.
Scruffy Murphys, Birmingham (19.02.16)
A week on, I admittedly had low expectations en route to Birmingham mid-Friday afternoon. I imagined the venue to be a Brannigans style, shamrock coated Irish bar – no bad thing being of Irish descent myself, just not necessarily the venue for a ‘metal society’ gig. How wrong I was.
The venue had ‘Home of British Metal’ printed on the side, alluding to the Sabbath, and was decked out with reapers, skulls and all things undead. Although not strictly a metal band, we can mix it up that way and always seem to go over well with those type crowds. The hard rockers of Calrisle had enjoyed their taste of Senton, how would we fair here... very well actually. Again, we took the opening slot and knocked out a good quality set to a tight packed venue. Had a laugh with the audience and worked up a sweat by the finale. We got loads of good feedback and a few record sales as we hung out with the other bands – Eradikator, Torous and the Black Hounds – cool people in cool bands, a pleasant evening all round. Odd way to describe the brutality of some of the riffage on display, but pleasant it was.
The only downside was losing Damo for forty minutes as we waited to set off home. He’d apparently gone to Tesco for a sandwich and then went missing, only to be discovered sat with a pint in hand on the merch stall (N.B. the first time he has sat on the merch stall and all the merch had been packed away, idiot). He strolled out and put a fag in his mouth all nonchalant which I impatiently flicked to the curb. We quizzed him over ignoring twenty missed calls as we'd worried/hoped he’d been beaten up down some alley. That trains never late.
Snooty Fox, Wakefield (28.02.16)
We arrived early on the Sunday for our third outing at the annual Bad Ass Bash. On arrival Mr Short informed us we would no longer be going on at 5:45 for 30 minutes but rather 8:15 for an hour, no problem the response. Some time to kill we caught up with some familiar faces – the legendary Roxx’s, the Golbergs, Colin and crew, having a good laugh and sinking some beverages of the ethanol variety. Sat re-stringing in Scotty’s car with JG and Damo, whilst Scott and Kal minced on merch, I removed Scott's Tango air freshener. A seemingly innocent act. Unfortunately Scott is very precious of air fresheners and has had a few of his famous 'Mason Meltdowns' in the past when we’ve hidden or tampered with previous ones. On this occasion JG taped a piece of paper saying ‘Tango’ as a replacement. We howled at the potential repercussions. Children.
A little bit tipsy by set-time we launched into a furious hour of no-holds-barred Bombs. Trailblazer came into the set and went down strong. The crowd were great and although not as busy as previous bashes, they more than made up for it in energy and enthusiasm. JG whipped the stolen tango freshener out during the finale and hung it on my bass-head, which promptly earned me a drum stick to the back of the head. We made a lot of new friends and fans before packing up and hitting the road home.
The way back was glorious. Full on sing-along mode as we made our way through the Waynes World soundtrack starting with Bohemian Rhapsody, how cliché you say. Followed up by 50s classics on the Wanderers soundtrack as we found our falsettos. Damo was getting into ‘facial marker art’ territory but hung in there, Kal and Gibbons watching like hyenas. The day of great banter was topped with more childishness. At the services after teddy grabbing a Peppa Pig for Ev, I got a bit excited and flying kicked Damos bag of Doritos as he walked past. This lead to Scotty grabbing and crumbling them… until I noticed Scotty's fresh Costa coffee in his other hand, before I could think about it I’d automatically kicked it six-feet into the air. The laughter stopped, and then erupted. Scott insisted I buy him another as he needed the caffeine to get home but that's not how the infamous Food-kick game works. He got in the car distraught as Damo and Kal ripped on him. I explained how I’d done him a favour and offered him numerous beef hula hoops but there was no consoling the lad. Back to the falsettos it was.
At home, two in the morn, I crawled into bed. Upon closing my eyes I replayed the Costa coffee flying through the air in slow-motion and laughed my ass off, accidentally waking my pregnant wife. She told me I was weird and sad… and she’s probably right, but it took a while shake the giggles off.
In conclusion, three gigs down, all three stars and above, all good fun with the usual seriousness/silliness balanced throughout. Can’t beat this stuff. Mass Vendetta is up for pre-order at the store and is easily our finest work should ye be interested. Next up was the punks in Ashton for our long-time amigo Fungalpunk but Gibbons has managed to crack his pinky. So, it's fingers crossed (oops) for a full recovery in time for the Roxx’s 10-year Anniversary bash in Accrington. Let the good times roll.