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Author Topic: The Big Red Tour – UK & Rosfest 2011  (Read 38877 times)
Simon
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« on: June 05, 2011, 09:40:58 PM »

It’s taken more or less two weeks since the return from the show in America for both my head and studio to finally return to a certain level normality. So much so, I’m now able to sit down and write out all my thoughts on the final weeks concerning the promotion of The Big Red Spark album and the Big Red Tour.

This will be a bit of an epic post so go get yourself a cup of tea or coffee, stick some music on and get comfy.  Wink

The record had taken two and a half years to make and as I’ve said in the past, I had lost all objectivity at that point and really didn’t know if it was any good or not. Yet since the opening show promoting the album back in September of last year at The Luminaire in Central London, the notion began to penetrate my thick skull that I might have been mistaken and that we had made a collection noises that other people actually liked to listen to.



Fast forward though the release, the reviews, the interviews, rehearsals and the gigs of last year to April of 2011. We had devised a short tour of the UK that would give us the chance to play most of the BRS suite live and afford a few giggles in the process, then travel to Gettysburg in America to play one final show before starting work on a new album.

Notice that I didn’t say the UK gigs were warm up shows for Rosfest. This is because I am an awful liar, OF COURSE THEY WERE WARM UP SHOWS FOR ROSFEST!! What none of us expected however was just how unique each show would turn out to be and how they would go to make up what has become the final chapter in the promotion of The Big Red Spark.

Riffs Bar – Friday 29th April 2011

We’ve never played Riffs before but heard endless tales about it from other bands and friends so it was with some trepidation that we pulled up outside the Pub on that Friday afternoon. With us in the van was Andy Rotherham (Andy R on The Fishtank), a brilliant guy to know and hang out with. He also happens to be a stage tech extraordinaire; Andy really is the one guy grown up and organised enough to make Tinyfish behave itself on such a journey. We salute you sir.  Cool

The set up was painless as we had all done it many times before. One thing I have noticed more and more however is just how fast Jim is in getting all his gear up and running. While I am still pulling leads out of cases and wondering just how in the hell each of my magical boxes connects up to make the noises I want, Jim’s rig is complete and Mr S is happily warming up his fingers for the evening’s entertainment; a true professional in everything he turns his hand to it would seem. What a git.

We shared the stage that evening with Also Eden, back on the live scene after a long layoff due to a road accident which nearly cost lead singer and all round good egg, Rich Harding his life. It was a genuine pleasure to see them all back on stage again and I for one believe they will become a big band on the scene over the next few years if they managed to keep their obsession for flower arranging and bull fighting under control.

The show itself was fantastic fun but punishingly loud. Leon is easily the hardest hitting bastard drummer I’ve ever encountered in music and while it’s a delight to watch, when you put him in a venue which is only just a little bigger than my pants, the sheer volume he attains when in full flow can be er...a challenging environment in which to work.



Highlights from that show were I’m Not Crashing which flooded out into the room like a wave over the crowd and Nine Months On Fire, an old favourite which still manages to send the hairs up on the back of my neck whenever we play it. We then drove back to Nellie’s (our merch maid and adopted band mum) house for a quick drink and a well deserved kip.

The Peel – Saturday 30th

We travelled back home from Nellie’s on the Saturday morning. It was a beautifully sunny journey and Paul dropped me off at my house in Streatham (saaaf lundun mate!!) which gave me a few hours to have a shower, some food, answer a few emails and use the internet to look at ladies in their undergarments.

They journey from my house to the Peel is always enjoyable but it has to be said, one of the least rock and roll modes of transport a musician (supposedly on tour) can use; the number 57 bus from Clapham Common to Kingston. Sod rock and roll, it allows me to listen to my iPod and gaze dreamily out the window for 40 minutes so I don’t care.

The soundcheck was a doddle. This was our second and last date with the Also Eden boys and every effort was to make sure that Rich could get on and off stage okay (for those who don’t know, one of Rich’s legs is still wired up and in plaster from the crash so movement, especially up and down stairs, requires a lot of effort on his part).

We hung around waiting for the doors to open but for some reason, I was having a lot of trouble getting my ‘game head’ on. I spoke to Leon about it and he confessed to having a similar problem. As a result, I think the opening portion of the set was a little less sharp that I would have liked it to have been but that soon faded away simply because the Tinyfish crowd always has the knack of putting me immediately at my ease. Everybody is smiling and enjoying themselves which is a great sight to behold when you are singing and it is an amazing emotional panacea. Ten minutes in and I was back to firing on all cylinders again; thank you boys and girls.



The songs that really stood out for me that night were Wide Awake At Midnight and All Hands Lost. The latter was an especially poignant moment as (little did I know it at the time), it would be the last time we would play the track live in the UK.
 
The Robin 2, Sunday 1st May

Back in the van and up the M1 to Bilston in the Midlands to play as special guests of Guy Manning and his band at the Robin 2. The last time we had played there was Summers End in 2007. We had performed a few shows before (our first ever live gig as Tinyfish had been in July of that year) but SE2007 was the event that really helped put us on the prog map in the UK. As a result, walking back into the venue that day raised a lot of happy memories for me.



Speaking personally, this was the best UK show of the three. The sound was amazing, the stage was large enough so that none of us would injure each other if we blinked accidentally and everybody in the band seemed to have worked out all the little glitches in their respective equipment which meant we were free to simply play our hearts out. I bobbed about with Paul, exchanged grins with Jim and Leon and dad danced madly with Robert like there was no tomorrow (quite apt when you consider that TBRS is about the end of the universe).



We also couldn’t have asked for friendlier hosts too in Guy and Manning as a band. Everybody knew everybody so there was a lot of smiles and arseing about which is typical behaviour when bands get on well.  Guy and his band put in a storming set and I for one couldn’t really have asked for a better evening; I got to play a great gig with my mates and then got to see an excellent band like Manning FOR FREE!

I chuffin’ love being a musician.

RoSFest - 19-23rd May

The trip out to Gettysburg began in a very surreal fashion. After arriving with Leon at some ungodly hour in the morning at Paul’s place, we all piled into a minibus taxi driven by a very kind and funny Thai gent who (once he realised that we were musicians), seemed to assume that we were his door into the pop world and proceeded to play us a large number of Thai-themed Country and Western songs which he and his friends had recorded, then asking us if we wanted to become his backing band. He was so sweet and friendly that we didn’t have the heart to be honest with him about both our rock stature and our availability, so we did the honourable thing and ran away en mass when he went to get his cards.

At Heathrow we met Iain who would be joining us onstage to perform Refugee at RoSfest and after checking in all the cases and climbing onto the plane, we all settled down for the eight hour flight to Philadelphia.

After being diverted and sitting on the tarmac in Atlantic City due to bad weather, then hopping back to Philly during a clear spell, we met long time Tinyfish fan and our unofficial US crew for the show, Mike Flavin (Landslug to all you here in the Fishtank) at the rental car place just outside the airport. A good thing we did too as due to an admin cock up, Jim was unable to hire the car using his bank card. Mike very kindly stepped in and did the deed for us (with our promise to pay him back as soon as we had performed some Thai Country and Western shows back in the UK).



Maybe it’s because we were fresh off the plane from good ‘ole Blighty but the road trip from Philly to Gettysburg (which took two hours) appeared to have a distinctly pornographic tinge to it. For starters Mike took us to a eating establishment called Hooters for dinner which seemed to be staffed entirely by very pretty young ladies who wore little or no attire whatsoever.  



I found it to be a little disconcerting to be ordering a cheeseburger, curly fries and a Dr Pepper whilst an ample cleavage loomed in at me as if to say; ‘you’ll go blind if you stare any longer’. The food was very good though.



As night fell and the time difference started to tell, we flipped on the radio to keep ourselves awake and the first thing we found was Playboy Radio. I shall refrain from being too graphic about the topic of the conversation but suffice to say two ladies were discussing nocturnal activities and how best to keep their men content of an evening. We all exchanged looks and flipped channels to another talk show where the female presenter was asking in husky tones what the female caller was wearing and where her hands were. This was not Radio 4 and Gardeners Question time by a long chalk.

We arrived at the Eisenhower Hotel in Gettysburg around midnight US time (5.00am UK time) and were greeted by none other than JamesA and Bo in the lobby looking fresh and delighted to see us. I wish I could have returned the greeting with more enthusiasm but I was very tired and just wanted to sleep so, so badly. They were however very kind and helped take our bags to our room in the labyrinthine complex of corridors and endless door numbers.

In my sleep befuddled state, all I could think as we stalked along the carpet was ‘I can’t believe it. This is like a scene out of The Shining. Any second now, a pair of 8 year old twins will appear and I will be murdered by a guy with an axe. Hmmm, on the bright side at least I’ll get to lie down.’



The rooms were huge in comparison to the usual board of fare in England. Leon, Paul and I hunkered down in one room while the snore-some duo Jim and Rob were assigned the room next door. All seemed well and we fell asleep moments after our heads hit the pillows. That should have been the end of it but some previous occupant had forgotten to turn off the radio alarm in the room so at 4.50am all of us were woken out of our slumber. I remember Paul’s hand moving with incredible speed and accuracy as it snaked out and with one fluid motion, pounded it into silence. I was simultaneous exhausted and impressed.

Eventually we got back off to sleep and the next thing I knew, we were climbing into the minibus to take us to the Majestic Theater in the middle of a very sunny Gettysburg. It was only 10 minutes drive away but during the journey, we caught our first glimpse of the historic battlefield that for many would come to symbolise the turning point of the American civil war.  The place was huge, so huge in fact that it would take up our entire collective Sunday wandering around the various points of interest in a car.



At the venue we were greeted by a very happy George Roldan and his team. Let me mention this now; to say both the venue staff and crew were outstanding would be understating their dedication and professionalism by an order of magnitude.  Not since we recorded the One Night On Fire live DVD in Poland had we met such a brilliant team. There was nothing these guys hadn’t anticipated when it came to our technical requirements. The show was being filmed by a very pleasant and open director called Adele who discussed where and how we would like the cameras set up so as to cause the least amount of inconvenience to us while performing.

It really was a dream come true.

We limbered up and got ourselves ready in the dressing room that we shared with the first band on called Epiicycle. They were young, very nervous but really excited to be playing the show and they put in an absolutely brilliant set which belied their youth and (relative) inexperience.  It was so cool to see actual young people playing fantastic prog and loving it. It was only 9 years since I was 20 but it seems so long ago now.

Heh.

Now how is this for a cool introduction? JamesA has been one of the most loyal and active supporters of our music over the past few years and our appearance at Rosfest was in no small part due to him so it was only fair and proper that it was he that took up the task of introducing us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2DpXeKi9ZU

The show itself was simply the best gig we’ve ever played. I’m not going to kid you that we were technically perfect but the sheer joy and energy that seemed to flood out of us that night is as close to religious experience as I’m ever likely to get without chemical assistance or the combined efforts of the American Womens Beach Volleyball Team. Paul pounded his way through the numbers, Jim’s melodies and lead lines soared above and around the songs, Rob held the audience captive with the spoken word sections and Leon seemed to sprout and extra pair of arms and proceed to channel the spirit of the Tasmaian Devil into his fiendish rhythms (the fiend).



One by one, each of us had looked into the front row of seats and got the surprise of our lives when we realised that sitting there, grinning back at us were PrimeRog (Rog or heh! to his mates) and his wife Cairn holding a picture of Mouse...holding a picture of Rog! I grinned back madly as my brain turned to jelly for a moment before returning to the task at hand.



All of this was stunning but the two real highlights for me were Refugee and The June Jar.

We started Refugee and Iain stalked on stage clad in full post apocalyptic garb, sporting a gasmask covering his face. He stood at the front of the stage before the mike, took off the mask and stared at the crowd. I wondered if there was anything wrong for a second until I realised that he was totally living the part of the character, shattered by the events of the story and trying one last time to set things in his mind straight about a world gone mad. He was electrifying to watch. So much so that in a couple of places I stopped playing momentarily because I’d become a part of the audience along with everybody else.  




The June Jar was simply bonkers. We were joined on stage by a very happy Andy Ditchfield from DeeExpus who proceeded to re-write the book concerning stage athletics (or so it felt). He bounced about this way and that, grinning at Jim, gurning with Paul and hopping up and down along with Leon. Bo captured the perfect picture during that song which seemed to sum up the entire show as a whole. Even Leon going off on rhythm safari halfway through the song didn’t seem to matter. It was easily the best moment of my live career and I’ll never, ever forget it.



Playing All Hands Lost for the last time was a strange moment. I’m happy to report that we gave it a send off befitting its (up to now) hallowed place in the set and when we stopped, the crowd rose as one and made a noise that I’ll never forget. Who would have thought so many people could have farted all at the same time?  Grin

With the show over, we staggered off stage, grabbed something to drink and were ushered out into the foyer to meet and greet those we had just assaulted. The next hour was spent happily signing autographs, chatting and generally thanking all those that had made the show so special in the first place. Thank you RoSfest, you absolutely rocked.



Cheers

Simon

PS. I also plan to do a follow up post detailing the after show party and all the fantastic bands that played on the Saturday and Sunday (Mars Hollow and District 97 really stood out for me) plus an in depth report into exactly what a lovely bunch of people Moon Safari are and how when it gets dark, they turn into party animals!!  Grin
« Last Edit: June 08, 2011, 02:27:05 PM by Simon » Logged

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A James
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2011, 09:50:54 PM »

WOW !!!

First.

WOW !!!
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Trace
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2011, 09:54:19 PM »

I'll assume from that that Simon thought it went OK.
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2011, 09:56:10 PM »

Thinking about it, Simon was still buzzing yesterday.
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2011, 10:01:34 PM »

That's only part 1 of RoSfest...so much happened after the actual performance which I would still say was promotion of the band and the album, and everything they did was done perfectly.
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2011, 10:22:23 PM »

that is all just so cool.

you all rock.
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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2011, 08:05:23 AM »

Fantastic Smiley Love that big venue with Tinyfish in big letters outside it Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2011, 08:57:58 AM »

I so wish I could have been at RoSfest, but there we go Smiley I did catch you playing at two of the gigs, and they were both fab.

Onwards and, indeed, upwards, eh?
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2011, 09:31:48 AM »

As mentioned on Saturday, I have a provisional pass to follow you chaps should you decide on another mini-tour again next year. Hope that can work out - either that or a weekend at Electric Garden.
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2011, 09:45:56 AM »

Stalker!
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2011, 11:07:38 AM »

A really good read that Simon.

I'd like to say that I am not resentful in not being able to go to the best gig.  No, not at all.
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2011, 11:26:26 AM »

Stalker!
Nah...Roadie!
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2011, 06:46:00 PM »

Reading that, I couldn't be happier thinking about how that gig must have been for you chaps, and that however good I think it was couldn't compare to actually how good it was in reality. I'm certain that, at some point, the experience you had over there will be repeated or even bettered here, there and hopefully at many a future gig.

I really am so happy for you. It warms my little round, mushy heart, it does.  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2011, 07:11:52 PM »

The piecture of Simon and Ditch is brilliant - captures personalities so well.
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2011, 10:51:03 PM »


I was privileged to be in the audience at ROSFest. Tinyfish was one of the bands I had most wanted to see, having been a fan since the first time I heard them. And with The Big red Spark, I felt the band had recorded the best 'progressive rock' CD of 2010. The performance was extraordinary, and set the bar incredibly high for the remaining artists to reach. It was the perfect kickoff to an amazing weekend. 

Other forums have been lamenting the lack of festivals in the US this year, especially with the cancellation of NEARFest. Hopefully, festivals like ROSFest will continue to survive, and eventually thrive, because it gives an outlet for this incredible music to be played and heard here in the US. It is time for this incredible music to get the forum and airplay it deserves.

To Simon, Jim, Paul, Robert, and the whirling dervish Leon...I hope The Big Red Spark is just the beginning of a musical path that just explodes with the praise and success that is deserved <oh, and hopefully some financial gain as well.....hehehe>

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