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Demon forum / THE SECOND STAGE (PRT 5) - THE LINK TO NEW GROUND (PRT 2): RIDING HIGH IN WONDERLAND
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Steve Watts 2001
134 posts
Reg: 5/12-11
Posted: 2012-10-11 21:58   » Email
Hello - Steve Watts here...

Same pub same beer same fags...yeah ok...becoming a bit of a habit this, another "One Of Those Days in England", the traumas I have to go through to write these blogs and I'm STILL, after all these years, doing my best to dislike "Wonderland".

Hold on, it's bloody freezing out here. I'm going indoors- there that's better,

Anyway...

(INTERMISSION OVER)

Another bar and a different time: 1985/6 (as exact as I can be) and another Demon gig, Shelley's, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. The song "Wonderland" is definitely on the menu as an encore again, as is "The Only Sane Man" from "The Plague".

I loved Shelley's. A great venue with a great atmosphere; loads of big bands trod the boards there and this was certainly one of the venues where I first cut my teeth with Demon. It was also here that Robert John Godfrey from "The Enid" very politely told me to "fuck off" after I very drunkenly inquired about the DAT (Digital Audio Tapes) his band were using during their "live" performance, an obviously very touchy subject for Robert as it was equally for The Musicians Union at that time.

Anyway, I digress...

The Demon gigs at Shelley's were always very well received, although my youthful enthusiasm often caused problems; these often extending, even to the sound and lighting engineers, who must have viewed my then, unstoppably creative juices, as either:

a) Interference, at best, or
b) Totally fucking annoying, at worse.

One of these (who for decorum's sake will from here on be known as "C") took exception to the fact that I'd bought along two friends who had both helped out with my previous (and relatively recent) synthesizer, audio/visual extravaganza at Stoke Polytechnique: Mark Grady and Steve Parry Thomas.

Mark and Steve turned up to this particular Demon gig, armed with extra lights and special effects, plus some crazy ideas to turn said Demon gig into such an extravaganza and swiftly set themselves about during the performance, to running around onstage, and throughout the audience, trying to turn our (relatively modest) live performance into a cosmic SPECTACULAR!!!?

This worked rather well in some numbers, but totally screwed up others (including "C"'s job who at the time, had become our established, Shelley's lighting engineer).

During "New Ground" for example, we used a large piece of sheet metal to reflect a psychedelic, spiraling kaleidoscope of light onto the ceiling above the audience, all very D.I.Y, but very effective. The audience seemed to really enjoy this bit, but after the show "C" was not amused at all by our efforts, and complained to "M" (Mike), who complained to "D" (Dave) who then complained to me ("S").

What "D" or "M" weren't aware of at the time was of the altercation I'd had with "C" as I'd first arrived at the gig.

"C" was the first and only female lighting technician I'd ever met, and she had quite a bit of a reputation as a man-eater (I still like to think my ego isn't getting in the way here) and I was firmly positioned in her sights. Being quite a bit older than me (as far as I was concerned) this definitely wasn't on the cards.

I loved her a lot (just not in the biblical sense) and to be honest, the prudish part of me found her "hobbies" whilst on the road somewhat distasteful, and to be honest again, she frankly scared the shit out of me.

Anyway, things came to a head (no pun intended) at this gig when the minute I walked through Shelley's front door I was pounced upon, the look she gave me said all that needed to be said (women get that "look" don't they?) and I knew instantly, that her gig van parked outside the venue, had just about enough room for another notch above the mattress.

This relentless pursuit had been going on for some time so I finally decided to be a man and stand up to this sexually powerful and formidable woman.

"Look "C"... I said in best pre-bar/semi-stoned diplomacy (hoping that a friendly retort would get me off the hook). I really like you, but to be honest I'm into younger women"

It didn't help that her much younger female lighting assistant (who I did actually quite fancy) was standing next to her, sporting an equally leery grin...

"Oh that's not a problem" "C" replied, and promptly produced a grainy Polaroid of the two of them in skimpy school uniforms.

"Look "C"... (I said in best manly fashion, whilst desperately searching for an unmanly exit) I really like you as a friend but I'm really not interested"

After which point, I received a rather disappointed bottom lip, then, a frosty glacial stare...and with our friendship well and truly over, I made a hasty retreat. Pleasantly enough, I met her some years later at a gig where we made up and where she also told me that I was the only man that had ever turned her down. It also helped that she had just devoured another innocent...having re-appeared from her van, walking in a decidedly odd fashion.

Anyway where was I, oh yes Wonderland.

Admittedly I've done my best over the years to dislike this track. During a lengthy discussion with both Mal and Dave during the rehearsals for "British Standard Approved", I was absolutely adamant that it shouldn't appear on the album, spoiling (as I thought) the overall atmosphere...it simply "wasn't cricket" (as it were).

Dave accused me of not liking anything that was obviously commercial, to which I eventually backed down and agreed (although in reality this wasn't actually the case, I simply thought at the time that it was a throwaway track and didn't have the "gravitas" that the rest of the album possessed).

I retrospect, I guess I've come to quite (if not fully) like it, and accept it as part of my history within the band and part of BSA. In doing so, I now quite like it as a quirky diversion from the main event and I perhaps understand more fully, that the song had/has an emotional resonance between Mal and Dave, as it must still have with Sue, Mals then wife (hi Sue) who sang it's backing vocals live for us on many occasions.

The song got some pretty good reviews when it was released as a single pre - BSA, back in 1984 and the quirky nature of it (including the political samples swiped from the news on Dave's tape deck and programmed DX7 Synthesized guitar effects) certainly helped.

For me personally though (on the album), it seems terribly miss-placed, a kind of ironic piss-take that would have perhaps been best placed on "Heart Of Our Time" as a posthumous release.


"DISCHARGE" ... Live at Shelley's, a diversion...

(One of the strangest gigs I ever witnessed at Shelley's was Stoke punk-band "Discharge" performing their new and controversial album "Grave New World" (1986). Also signed, to Mike Stones Clay Records, Discharge also seemed determined to put on a big show with full-on laser spectacular. I took along Mark Grady ("C" was also providing lights) and we later after more than a few drinks, decided to make ourselves useful to Mike by attempting to find lead singer Calvin, who had earlier disappeared for a pre- gig drinking binge.

*NB: Hmmm, thinking about it, this might have been the gig where that "C" episode took place. Anyway...

Half-pissed on rockers brew of choice, Newcastle Brown Ale (quaffed straight from the bottle of course!) we left the venue, and went on a rekkie of local bars and eventually finding him propping up a bar in Hanley, managed to get him back to the gig in time for the first number.

The lights went down, and a full on "Punk Floyd" laser show ensued as Holst's "Mars", from The Planets Suite, blasted through the PA. The band suddenly kicked in to the accompanying onslaught of a huge wall of phlegm that flew from the mouths of the pogoing punks (far more impressive than the lasers I have to admit), I had no idea that the human body could produce that amount of phlegm, never mind project it several feet in the air. I also had no idea that it was possible to play live onstage whilst being covered in it.

After the gig, I spent the remainder of the night drinking beer with the band (this is where I first met soon to be ex-Discharge and new Demon Bassist and Guitarist, Nick Bushel and Steve Brookes) and tried my best to be cool, by biting beer bottle lids off with my teeth (which I'm still paying for), whilst the band hosed themselves down of snot.

Mark then "drove" us home after we'd each consumed about twelve bottles of Newkie Brown, and narrowly avoided killing us by swerving out of a tight corner just in time to prevent our car from ploughing into Stoke Cathedral. This being nothing though, when compared to Mike Stone's driving, with me in the passenger seat, reversing up the motorway bombed out on amphetamines after previously traveling at 123mph with Mike laughing like an escaped asylum lunatic (you can hear an example of him at the very end of DDR's "Tea-Cosy Mong")...and remember...no seat belts!

Anyway, good gigs (and me and "C" eventually became friends again.)

So, "The Only Sane Man".

Back at Shelley's, around that time, this song usually provided a second encore. In stark contrast to "Wonderland", this song contains a rich brew of everything that made me proud to be a member of Demon; an absolutely beautiful song, and a credit to Mal and Dave's superb writing partnership, and also, a real joy to play live. Andy Richards provides very subtle and inspirational keyboard/synthesizer programming, whilst Dave's lyrics and vocal delivery are both compassionate and raw.

I remember well the very emotionally charged gig we played at The Victoria Hall, Hanley, as a tribute to Mal's passing. We played "The Only Sane Man" Sue sang the backing vocals to "Wonderland" and I started to feel very much at home with the band, adding my own bit of melodrama to these early gigs by taking photographs of the audience at the end of each show...the appreciation emotional and all enveloping...

...a far cry from being left out in the cold on a fire escape outside a posh pub in Cheshire for not "fitting in".

Appreciation for ones efforts is such an invaluable thing.


TO BE CONTINUED...


Steve Watts 11: 10: 12

I've uploaded live versions of "Wonderland" and "The Only Sane Man" to YouTube at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdoLAy2svb8

Enjoy! - Steve Watts

Next Transmission 11: 11: 12
[Edited 2012-10-11 23:10]

Steve Watts 2001
134 posts
Reg: 5/12-11
Posted: 2012-10-11 23:06   » Email
Hi Mike...hows it going? Any development yet? Speak soon.

Steve

Giles
Cheshire
746 posts
Reg: 5/5-06
Posted: 2012-10-12 09:11
Interesting blog as ever Steve. I lived near Victoria Hall, Hanley in the early 80s - when did Demon play? I missed that somehow - grr!

"When the debate is lost slander becomes the tool of the looser"

Nice, similar signature to mine in sentiment. However, could yours be re-arrnaged to: "When the debate is lost, the looser of a tool resorts to slander"?? Wink Laughing
NP: Unbroken - Demon
Scotty
Earth
20 posts
Reg: 1/5-06
Posted: 2012-10-13 10:14   » Email
According to my Diary and (written on paper kids!) Demon at the Vic...Sunday 10th November 1985 - The Phil Tunstall Memorial Gig along with White Door, Clive Gregson and Discharge (who never turned)

Being 17 at the time, Sundays morning didn't really happen... But myself and a friend toddled up to Hanley and bumped into Dave, who treated us like long lost friends and invited us into the soundcheck...(Don't worry we already had tickets even I wouldn't blag into a charity event!)

We helped the band in with some gear and then sat in 'Lonnie's seat' to listen to all the band's soundcheck... kids in the proverbial sweatshop 😃

As I recall White Door were good (there only ever gig...) as soon reverted back to Stoke's finest prog band Grace!

Mike you should have put guitars on 'Windows'

Don't remember much about Clive Gregson as I was too busy taking photo's of Demon backstage and Dave doing John Cleese impressions!

It was good to see Demon on a proper stage and they were great and their set a fitting tribute to Phil. The set BSA heavy not surprisingly as it was the most recent album with highlights being Cold in the Air, Touching the Ice and The Only Sane Man...Thanks Dave! I've got some 'boots' of the night... Up the loft later to have a look and wallow in Nostalgia!
NP: Ultrasound - Stay Young

The Only Sane Man
Northants, UK
54 posts
Reg: 2/6-11
Posted: 2012-10-13 16:24
Great story Steve!

Interesting to note Robert John Godfrey's appearance in the proceedings, as he lives in my home town, and is widely regarded as either a "local prog rock legend" or a "poncey old twat" depending on who you ask ;-)

Oh, and if you still have 'C's number I'd be happy to oblige her....;-)
NP: Marillion - Brave (on double grooved vinyl - yay!)

Giles
Cheshire
746 posts
Reg: 5/5-06
Posted: 2012-10-15 14:06
According to my Diary and (written on paper kids!) Demon at the Vic...Sunday 10th November 1985


Well that explains it then; I had, by then, moved onto Bristol University and was watching the likes of Magnum at 'The Granary' around that date.

Giles
Cheshire
746 posts
Reg: 5/5-06
Posted: 2012-10-15 14:06
Grrr! Double post due to internet explorer crashing! Mad
[Edited 2012-10-15 14:07]

Steve Watts 2001
134 posts
Reg: 5/12-11
Posted: 2012-10-20 00:50   » Email
Yeah - Victoria Hall... I was as nervous as hell. but really proud to be playing on the same stage as some of the great bands I'd seen playing there...

Whitesnake; Hawkwind; Blue Oyster Cult; Marillion, to name a few...used to get in for free (one of the perks of being in Demon)

The Phil Tunstall memorial gig was also a tribute gig for Mal. I don't think it was one of our best performances, but certainly one of the most emotional...

love to hear any bootlegs that might be available Scotty!

ps. sorry Peter, don't have "C's" number...but if I had...

PPs. I've some good stories re: Robert John Godfrey...one of our drummers for DDR used to play for THE ENID...

PPPs. Hey Giles...are you calling me a tool?!

Wink
[Edited 2012-10-20 00:57]
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