The Metal Files

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Archive for March 2022

Leather Rebels NWOBHM Festival Review, Glasgow, Scotland, February 19, 2022

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Hello. Haven’t done one of these in a long time, eh?

About 2 months ago I had ordered a ticket to the Leather Rebels Festival in Glasgow, Scotland on a whim. Other shows, work trips and life in general seemed to be piling things up and then a window of opportunity opened when something I had planned fell through. On Monday February 14 I asked my boss if he cared that I took off Thurs/Fri/Mon/Tues. “Go for it. Monday’s a holiday anyhow.” Done and done.

I went to my regular booking site and got a sweet deal on the flight and a nice hotel, especially for booking at the last minute.

My flight out of Austin was scheduled for Thursday at 1PM, arriving in Scotland on Friday at 10AM their time. No surprise, but that didn’t work out as planned. The path coming and going was Austin/Atlanta/Amsterdam/Glasgow. Right as we arrived in Amsterdam, my connecting flight on KLM told us that all flights in the UK were canceled for the day. They auto-rebooked me to get there on Sunday (wtf?) and I got on the text messaging service with Delta. Let me tell you, that service is pretty damned good and you end up with a live agent who can work with you instead of waiting on the phone. We ended up canceling my flight to Glasgow and I was having trouble finding any airline that was heading there. I posted my woes on the fest event page and a friend said that Easy Jet had a flight still available a few hours later so I nabbed a seat. KLM refunded their leg of the trip so it was basically a wash. I was a bit stressed out thinking I would miss the festival and was about to just adjust my trip and go right back home. Thanks Nadine!

Upon arrival in Glasgow, I got through customs in the just a few short minutes and was out in the cold waiting for Uber to arrive. The damp fresh air felt pretty good to be honest. I got to my hotel, a chain called Yotel, and checked in. Now, I know people from around the world and can usually understand most folks when they are speaking English, but the Scottish may be the toughest. The poor girl at the counter was trying to tell me some basics and she may have well been speaking Chinese. I apologized for asking to repeat herself so many times and she just laughed. I got my key and went to my room. While very small, the room was super comfortable and the bed was the most comfortable bed I think I have ever been on. This comes back into play later.

I freshened up a little and went foraging for dinner. It was about 7PM and I ended up going to the Solid Rock Pub which was right around the corner. I’ve been on a low carb diet in the past month and after researching restaurants in the area, eating healthy was going to be a chore. Everything everywhere is fried! Fried pizza?! Pass. I did end up getting a burger (no bun) and a side salad at Solid Rock. It was good enough. I was also prepared to cheat a bit since I was on vacation, so beers were in order as well. Nadine and Yaron met me there for a couple of drinks and I was feeling a bit tired. I also needed to make a work call so I went back to my room thinking that the evening was over. The call lasted literally 5 minutes and I was just getting my second wind as it was only late afternoon Texas time. A friend from Ireland was in town for the fest and let me know he was around the corner at the Cat House. They were mostly playing 90s hard rock and such and it wasn’t too great but we did run into Blaze Bayley. I’d met him a few times in Austin when he would come through for pre-tour rehearsal shows. We spoke for a few minutes, snapped a photo and that was that. I had enough of that place and decided to find another pub. There is a pub on every corner in this city, I swear. I fell into Denholm’s Bar where some karaoke was going down. I had a good buzz and ended up doing Gordon Lightfoot’s Sundown. It was a hit! Haha. I did stop at a fish and chips place nearby and chowed down in my room. Delicious! Finally off to bed for the long day on Saturday.

I woke up around 9AM which was painful due to the time difference and finally pulled myself out of bed and showered then went upstairs to the breakfast buffet. Scrambled eggs, English bacon and sausage. What, no hot sauce? Back to the room for a bit then went out exploring the area after getting a sugar free Red Bull from the quickie mart. Found a couple of record stores which had nothing of interest and contacted my friend Raul who was in from Chicago. We went to the nearby Waterloo and had a couple of beers. His friend Fernando was also in from Chicago and he joined us. Shortly after Nadine and Yaron came in as well. I’m about to turn 52 and we were the youngest people in the pub! After a couple of drinks, I decided to go to the venue which was around the corner and get my wristbands. Ivory Blacks is a decent sized venue and I just hung out for a bit checking out the merch and such.

Spartan Warrior was on first and I was pretty stoked to see them and grabbed a spot on the rail. Their 1984 self-titled album is a favorite of mine and I spent many a night doing homework listening to that record and staring at the album cover. It wasn’t until 2 decades later that I heard the debut Steel N’ Chains and it is also fantastic. I will go on record to say that I hadn’t listened to their recent stuff but it sounded great live. The only song from the S/T record that they played was Assassin and it really took me back in time and ran some chills up my spine. That was a strange and tough era of my life and this album helped me quite a bit. I had known Neil Wilkinson online for a few years and it was great to finally meet him in person. I was just recently connected with his brother David and it was nice meeting him as well. The whole band sounded great and David handed me a setlist after their set.

After their set as I’m walking to the back of the venue, I see my dear friend and one of my most favorite people, Brian Ross from Satan/Blitzkrieg. I was hoping to see him in the States this year but it looks like that’s not going to pan out. I gave him a big hug and said, “You’re not coming to me, so I had to come to you!” He introduced me to his son Alan who shares guitar duties in Blitzkrieg. Great guy and I can tell that Brian is very proud of him. I asked Brian if he was going to do either of his Avenger tracks with them but he said it never came up in conversation. That would have been cool! We talked about the new Satan record a little bit as well. It’s fantastic and if you’re a fan, you’ll love it.

Right about this time Jarvis from Night Demon showed up. Always great to see good friends away from home. He’s spending a lot of time in N. Ireland these days and I got to meet and spend time with his girl. She’s pretty awesome.

I have Avenger’s debut LP, but it’s not something that I’ve listened to very much. Their set was solid and Ian Swift’s vocals sounded great. He was also in Satan briefly.

Tytan was up next and delivered a very solid set. I’ve owned Rough Justice a couple of times but it never really connected with me. They played 6 tracks from it as well as some newer material.

Holocaust was up next and as legendary as they are, they’re another band that never did much for me. The Nightcomers is a solid album, but barely gets any play in my house. They played most of that album and the crowd really loved them.

I moved back up front to catch Brian and Blitzkrieg. They spread the setlist around playing 3 songs off of A Time of Changes and some of their other albums. The band sounded great and both guitarists were on fire, but I really need to give it up to the drummer, Matthew Graham. He was absolutely whipping up a frenzy behind the kit and all smiles the whole night. Brian’s voice sounded great as well, which is not shocking. They also played Pull The Trigger, and early Satan cut that Ian Swift co-wrote. Brian said from the stage that he offered to have him come up and sing it but that Swifty couldn’t remember the words. Haha. It was great to see Blitzkrieg and they said they’re trying to fit a USA tour in somewhere when Satan’s not playing here. That would be cool.

Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper closed out the night playing songs from all 5 Reaper albums, relying heavily on the first 3. Steve’s voice sounded great and the band was solid, although the drummer seemed to have a few issues here and there. Not sure what was up. It didn’t matter. Steve worked the crowd well with the singalong parts and it was as fun as ever seeing him. Steve’s a true warrior and I thought he was done for when he lost his leg a few years back. So glad that he’s still at and still able to rock us to hell!

The show finished up around 1030PM and the after party was slated to run until 3AM. Brian stated that they had to drive back to Newcastle that night so there was only one thing to do…ORDER SOME FIREMEISTERS! It’s a drink that Brian introduced me to that his son Alan apparently concocted. I think I actually dubbed the name on one of the US Satan tours, but can’t remember. The Firemeister is a full shot each of Jager and Fireball mixed…MIXED. Yes, it’s a bit disgusting but if that’s what Brian’s drinking, so am I! Sadly we only had time to knock 2 of them back. We said our goodbyes and snapped a photo in front of the venue in the cold ass rain. I was hoping for more hang time but I’ll take what I can get. It was just a pleasure to see him again and to finally meet his son.

After they left, I stayed until about 145AM drinking some beers and shots with Jarvis, Nadine, Yaron, Laura and whoever else landed in our little group. It was a total blast. I also met a bunch of locals who were great, especially Georgia who was super sweet. I was getting tired and also hungry as I hadn’t really eaten since lunch, so back to the fish and chips place. This time I just got the fish, no chips. So goddamned good.

Once back into my room, I was starting to fade pretty fast and crashed out.

On Sunday morning I got up and hit breakfast again and tried their haggis for the first time. While it wasn’t terrible, it’s not something that I’ll be seeking out if I ever go back. I went back to my room and chilled for a little bit, very tired still but finally got up, showered and walked around the city a little bit. I had an appointment nearby to get my covid test so I could travel back to the States on Monday. Once I found that place and got my test done, I meandered around for a while and found the Grosvenor casino. Even though it was Sunday at noon, I expected the place be filled with people but it wasn’t. It was empty. I asked the guy at the front desk about poker and he said they were having a tournament at 2PM and he got me signed up as a member of the casino. I walked around for a bit longer just checking out side streets and such away from the city centre and market areas. Cold and rainy. That was really the theme of the day. I wasn’t quite prepared for it and the jacket that I bought looks good, but it’s not really warm at all. D’oh. I went back to the casino at 2PM and went downstairs into the poker room to register for the tourney. I was the only person down there. “Probably just have a cash game with some folks in a little while. Hang around and I’ll come find you.” So I went and played some video roulette and won a little bit of money. The poker manager found me and said they had enough people to start the tourney, so I bought in for the 50 British Pounds.

It was quite interesting as it was a self-deal tournament to start off with, not to mention that some of the folks didn’t really understand tournament rules, but I fought through it. All in all there were only 10 players and a few bought in twice, and one novice kid who was absolutely terrible, bought in 3 times. I knocked him out twice. He did cripple my stack once with a horrible call, but that’s poker. I ended taking second place for 160 Pounds and David took first for about 300. He was a really good player overall.

The tourney ended around 545PM and I ended up meeting up with Raul and Fernando at Solid Rock again. We had some beers and dinner and met a couple of Englishmen who were also at the show. Nice chatty guys. I stayed until about 9PM or so and was feeling pretty tired. My flight the next morning was at 605AM so I need to get some sleep and get up early so I set my alarms for 3AM, 315AM and 330AM. Much to my own dismay, I woke up at 430AM with my alarm just going off for an hour and a half apparently. FUCK! Luckily I had everything packed and I just threw on my clothes and got an Uber to the airport. I was stressing pretty hard as I had to check in, go through security and make it to my gate. I had gotten there as they were half boarded. PHEW! After arriving back in Amsterdam, our gate changed seemingly at the last minute and then we were delayed getting off the ground by a half hour. This shortened the time just enough that I’d not be able to claim my bag and get through customs and security to make my connecting flight home. DAMMIT! So I ended up with a 3.5hr layover in Atlanta. I found a bar and had a light meal and a couple of beers and headed off to my gate…which had again changed at the last minute so I had to hustle to another side of the terminal to get to my flight. I made it back to my house right around 10PM and had been awake for about 24hrs and of course it took me a couple of hours to fall asleep.

All in all it was a great trip even though I never really got to see much of Glasgow. Seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones always feels great and especially seeing some legendary bands. Many have asked if I brought The Book and the answer is no. I thought about it but wasn’t sure how conducive it would have been to bring it along. I totally should have as I could have added a slew of sigs to it and taken it back to my hotel without missing any of the bands live. Oh well.

It was windy, cold and rainy pretty much the whole time but we did see the sun for about an hour on Saturday morning. People were literally standing on the streets trying to take as much of it in as they could and it did feel good until the wind started ripping again.

Anywhere I went and after hearing me speak, people always ask where I am in from and as soon as I would say Texas, I’d generally get asked the same question…”How many guns do you own?” I was asked that question no less than 20 times. At that poker game, we had a good discussion about it and I told them I only owned 2. “Two assault rifles?” one guy asked. I replied that all rifles are essentially assault rifles, but no, just a .410 shotgun I’d had since I was 10 and a 9mm that I hadn’t taken out of the drawer in years. I told them I’m not an ‘ammosexual’ but I know many who are and glorify their ownership of guns. I think it’s quite stupid, really. It’s also a bit embarrassing that that’s the first thing they think of the USA.

Written by The Metal Files

March 1, 2022 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized