I.C.O.N’s latest Tour Diary

As we bumbled around six gigs in Europe I made a vague attempt at keeping a diary using my phone (hence the strange formatting). It was an excellent tour and we had a proper blast….so here are the various stages in one almost coherent ramble…

Bastards In Europe Tour; March 2016

Viva Europa!Back over the ditch – or under it this time. We took the Channel Tunnel for a half hour trip under the ditch that has historically pissed off Julius Caesar, Napoleon and Uncle Adolf. Nice and easy – didn’t even have to present passports (!); the British immigration guys waved us through, the French one asked if we were British and then just let us go without even stopping the van. Ha! The ‘European Ring Of Steel’ may have rusted a bit ๐Ÿ™‚

From Calais it was only a short run to Ghent…or Gent, not sure which. Anyway, we were ridiculously early so it seemed only polite to sit in the town square and have a couple of beers. Beautiful town and the people were really friendly.

Loaded on at six into the superbly named ‘Kinky Star’, sound checked and ready to rumble in no time. It was a baptism of fire for a new RUDE 18″ Crash/Ride supplied by the ever-cool Martin Potts at Paiste as a replacement for a cymbal that had been cruelly murdered on the last tour.

(The cymbal was shuttled down on an overnight ‘before 9am’ delivery for the morning we left London and arrived at 9:03!!!! Horror! That’s three minutes of waiting in British traffic that was squandered!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cheers Martin – the replacement is ear-bendingly superb.

So anyway – the venue is very cool as are the staff. We had food and beer, and all that, in the upstairs ‘backstage’ and felt just generally looked after.

Support band Ynfamia from The Netherlands are nice blokes and they kicked it all off at about 9. By the time we got going an hour later the place was full and they were a loud and enthusiastic crowd – mosh pits and all. Great gig and we even blasted through a couple of tracks we hadn’t played in quite a while ๐Ÿ™‚

After the show we stayed in an awesome old building that a local dude had arranged – hot shower, comfortable beds…perfect ๐Ÿ™‚

Up just before the crack of noon we bumbled down the road and found a Slovakian restaurant where we had a fantastic meal (for โ‚ฌ3.50! I love this country!). Turns out the owner is a headbanger and so we ate lunch in a Slovakian place in Belgium listening to I.C.O.N streamed on his laptop. Happy days ๐Ÿ™‚

Now off to The Netherlands; gig tonight in Nijmegen. Now….during the war……..


Tour Diary: Bastards in Europe (part two)

A Bridge Just Right

Nijmegen – what a great gig. We rode on up the road from Gent after Bedlam in Belgium into The Netherlands for some high voltage rock and roll. Found the venue in no time – but had a couple of hours to kill. Fortunately, because the locals are very nice people, the venue’s neighbour – a bicycle repair shop – invited us in for a coffee while we waited. What cool people!

Strange man thieving coffee
Strange man thieving coffee

Before long, the venue was open and we were loading in. A really cool place with an excellent vibe. Plus the barman was a diving instructor who had been a ‘neighbour’ in Bonaire when I was in Grenada ๐Ÿ™‚

Set up and sound checked and then met the support band System Overthrow who were excellent.

A huge downstairs dressing room – fridge full of beer – so much food we were challenged to finish it (but we rose to the challenge and triumphed) – and a really enthusiastic crowd all combined for a second excellent gig.

Really enjoyed it.

Was great to see my old mates Pete and Jarno again: they travelled 90 miles for the show. Top blokes and a great live sound team.

So, another cracker and then load out, say goodbye and off into the darkness like four out of shape Batmen. Superb.

Now off to stay with a superb pairing people before the show in Amsterdam tomorrow….

ย Tour Diary: Bastards in Europe (part three)

(Not suitable for Mary Whitehouse)

Staying with the incredibly hospitable Anke and Danny for a couple of nights with the Amsterdam show in between. Crazed amounts of food and drink and then a wander down Amsterdam to a brewery in an old mill. Fantastic!!

On the way we went into a coffee shop and I thought, “fantastic…I could do with a brew”. Of course the bloke behind the counter looked at me like I had three heads when I asked for a nice cappuccino. But then…maybe to him I did have three heads. Don’t know…but I sensed that I may have been missing something and it seemed only sensible to then go for a beer elsewhere.

At the mill brewery the brew of choice was ‘Columbus’ I think – absolutely bloody great!
And we had the joy of discovering that signposts for West Amsterdam are abbreviated to ‘A’dam West’.

Holy Roadsigns Batman!!!

I remember the last time I was in Amsterdam was on the Vicious Rumors tour. Myself, Paul Clayton and Beam went for a wander which ended up in the red light area (purely by accident of course). I’ll never forget something we saw in a shop window…

Now…you see some pretty unusual things for sale there, but nothing will ever compare with what I can only describe as a Black and Decker two-handed power tool with a huge rubber cock attached to the end of it. It looked petrol engined too!

Not the most romantic sexual encounter…imagine it inserted into ‘Top Gun’:

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis are getting all soft-focus and sweaty while some sappy 80s pop plays in the background. There are gasps of anticipation as billowing curtains fill the room – and then Tom pulls out his ‘Black and Decker Knobber 2000’ and pulls the starter chord. “Brace yourself Kelly! This may make you wince.”

No thanks.

Anyway, I digress…

It was an excellent day, made all the better by ending with an excellent gig at The Cave. A great little place and cool staff and crowd. Our old mates Ynfamia were opening again which was cool. Loved the whole gig.Great to see keyboard maestro, my old mate Joop who came down to say hello too. A late show – hitting the stage about midnight. Awesome!

So today we are back to Belgium. Thanks Anke and Danny – your hospitality has been incredible.

On the road again…

Tour Diary: Bastards still in Europe (part four)

So we departed The Netherlands and barrelled on back into Belgium. Reece has been doing all the driving so far so I’ve been sitting in the back like a spoilt bastard for each voyage thus far. Our destination was the Titans Club in Lens, a picturesque little town not far from Mons.ย It’s always fascinating (on a personal level) travelling around this whole area and into France. Not only because of decades of studying World War Two, but also knowing my Grandad’s service history and story as part of the Australian army in World War One. So many places are familiar; some because I’ve spent time crawling around bunkers and trench lines and some because they just feature so prominently in the battle histories. When you are in the region of towns like Mons, Ypres, Vimy, Le Paradis, Arras and so on…well, it’s always amazing and humbling in equal measures. We’ve passed an interesting group of buildings and bunkers which I’m pretty sure are the remains of a Luftwaffe airfield too.

Anyway…back to the metal…
The Titans Club is a great little venue and we were loaded in and ready to rumble in no time. Our partners in crime for the evening were the French band Gang, and a fine bunch of chappies they are indeed.

As is the way in Europe, the hospitality was off the hook: food, drink and a three star hotel complete with breakfast the next day, all organised by promoter Walter and his crew. It was magnificent and hugely appreciated as always.

The gig was a cracker and we all had a particularly good one in Lens. Got a great response from the people out front so we were a bunch of happy campers.

In fact the whole day was smooth as a smooth thing with no derailments anywhere. Being a Sunday it was an early curfew and we were done and loaded out by 9.30pm!!! A polite few beers and that was it.

C’etait magnifique!

Up at the crack of mid morning, loaded up on breakfast and then hitting the road to France in the footsteps of the Ghost Division. We passed through the border control as easily as Erwin once did and then on to Arras where we will linger a while until the gig in Lille. Can’t wait. Every show so far has been great and I always love playing in France so it should be a blast.

No sleep till Lille!!

(Actually that’s bollocks – there’ll be tons of sleep and food and beer, but you know what I mean)

Tour Diary: Four Go Mad In Arras

Apologies for the radio silence but we’ve had a few days off in Arras; lovely place and very interesting.

Yesterday, however, in a bizarre chain of events (over which we will draw a discreet veil of silence) involving many drinks of beer, a deserted road, some Gendarmes, a small sliced sausage and glasses of Calvados, I have managed to sprain my knee which has swollen up and stopped working. Let’s see what tomorrow brings ๐Ÿ™‚ Onwards to Lille!! \m/

Episode Five: Le Midland Strikes Back

It is a dark time for the Rebellion. Although Larry’s knee has been destroyed, The tour itinerary has driven the I.C.O.N forces from their hidden base and pursued them across the galaxy.

Evading the dreaded Arras Gendarmes, a group of Metal Bastards led by Mark Sagar has established a new secret base on the remote French world of Lille.

The evil lord Darth Vader, obsessed with finding young Sagar, has not dispatched any sound men into the far reaches of spaceโ€ฆ

Yes, we departed our lair in Arras and headed for Lille for the second to last show of this tour. It’s not a great distance, but good job I wasn’t walking because my knee had swelled up a bit and was generally just jammed pretty solid. I gaffa-taped a bandage on it to give it some support, which actually improved things a bit. Anyway…we were off again into action ๐Ÿ™‚
The venue, Le Midland, was easy to find and we were actually able to load in early and leave our gear there for a while while we hunted for a kebab and frites. Nice little venue really.

Lunch revived us a bit and after a bit of hanging around got back in the venue to set up. Tricky putting a kit together when your knee is not cooperating but we literally had hours so it was no problem.

Then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Fortunately at 6pm or so, our awesome metal bastard friend Laurent from Paris turned up with his equally excellent mate Fabrice. It’s always a pleasure to see Laurent – a top guy who genuinely loves his music. Two hours they drove to make the gig: magnifique!

Sound check time came and went and we were getting a tad jittery until the support band Icarus Rising turned up. Nice guys (and girls) and it was then that we discovered there was no sound man and it was a DIY job. Not a problem at all…as long as you know ๐Ÿ˜‰ Nobody had told us or our esteemed management/agent, nor the promoter even. But, like I say, not a problem if you know beforehand.

So we hustled in and set up some mics to soundcheck. Scott handled sound for both them and us and it sounded very bloody good out front. Well done sir.

Meanwhile, people were starting to arrive. Laurent was amazing at standing outside and getting people through the door too. He was talking to one guy who wanted to see the show, when a girl the guy knew walked past.
“Bonjour. How are you?”
“Very well thank you”
“Are you coming to the show?”
“To see the English band?”
“But I have plans”
“That’s okay – you can cancel them, they’ll understand”
“But I don’t like Heavy Metal”
“You’ll like this one”
Ha ha! He deserves a commission ๐Ÿ™‚ All done with a smile on his face and much laughing I hasten to add. Thoroughly nice bloke – and I think she came to the gig too ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway – showtime rolled around and we kicked off. I was quite relieved to find that once my knee was bent into place it worked just fine on the bass drum so despite the occasional “ooh la la!..that fucking hurt!” moment it went pretty well. The crowd were awesome and, in the end, we did very well. Loved it ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually it was time to bid everyone adieu and we were off to our accommodation that had been arranged. This went a little less to plan and, although the chappy involved was a very nice bloke…let’s just say we got a couple of hours sleep on a tile floor before heading to awesome Ostend and finding an excellent B&B to shower and sleep in until tonight.

The Metal Bastards roll onwards

Episode VI: Return of the I.C.O.N

I.C.O.N have returned to their home planet of England in an attempt to rescue the population from the clutches of a vile lack of heavy metal.

Little do they know that ADL Management has openly begun construction on a new tour even more powerful than the first dreaded tour of the UK this year.

When completed, this ultimate tour will spell certain joy for the small band of Metal Bastards struggling to restore proper heavy metal to the galaxy…

Yes we ended the ‘Bastards in Europe’ tour with an absolute cracker at the Jeugdhuis OHK in Ostend. After relaxing for a few hours in our palatial B&B we bumbled along to the show which was already starting to fill up with a whole lot of metalheads. I love the European metal scene because nobody gives a shit what the latest trend or fashion in metal is – they like what they like and there were patched denims and leather jackets as far as the eye could see. Bloody brilliant. The promoter Wim was an awesome bloke as was his entire crew who helped us load in and later load out (a bonus as my buggered knee meant I was moving with a speed equivalent to Candelmass’ slowest track).

Anyway, food, beer and all that jazz were available in abundance and we hung around with the three other bands who were very cool blokes indeed. It was a great night even before we hit the stage.

Two guys from Skullfest came down to check out the show – we’re playing their festival in June; really looking forward to that because these guys were great ๐Ÿ™‚

Despite running a bit late we hit the stage at full force and really had an absolute blast. The crowd were nuts and the tour had genuinely ended on a high note. The setlist stayed more or less the same for the tour:
Feeding The Negative
Messiah Complex
Devil’s Blacklist
Cold Divide
Grindin’ Wheel
Welcome To My War
Shotgun Karma
Drowning In Their Screams
New Born Lie
Seven Second Warning

So that was it. After the gig we lurked for a while and then crashed back at the B&B and got some Zs in before heading back to the Channel Tunnel and under the ditch to Angleterre.

A fantastic little tour and now we contemplate another six-date tour in April; this time opening for Udo Dirkschneider and Anvil. Udo has been top of my list for decadesย ย after I first heard Accept and I CANNOT WAIT for these gigs. Of course, being the UK, there are curfews all over the place which means that for us these are early shows. So if you want to come down and get loony with us Metal Bastards get there when the doors open and come on in. It’s gonna be bloody great \m/