I thought I would do a tour write-up while the whole experience was still fresh in my mind. First things first, it was a great week and we loved getting out there and playing to people up and down the country in England as well as taking trips to Scotland and Wales, we appreciate everyone who turned up to support these gigs, and to meet so many of you out there. It was a great experience. I have all the footage and will be uploading all of it over the coming weeks.
First things first, many have asked how this tour came about. Originally Kim Melville was meant to have done the tour, and for one reason or another couldn’t and a friend of mine, Claire Moat, had put me in touch with the people running this tour about maybe Kaine being the support. There was no buy-on, and I must make that clear, nobody asked us for any money for this tour. We did however provide our backline, as these bands were coming over from the US. I also volunteered some of our time and resources to the tour’s promotional and social media aspects. Once all the details were confirmed that was that and we were booked. We were fully behind supporting this tour in any way we could.
Our first night was in Wolverhampton, and we were all up very early from 4-5 am respectively to collect the van from the hiring company, ensure everything was as it should be, and load the vehicle with our backline and our merchandise before heading up to Wolverhampton which is a 3–4-hour trip from where we set off from in Essex. We got to the venue early and met the guys from Riot Act for the first time outside of the venue, whereas Lillian Axe had stayed at the venue having arrived the night before. The guys from Riot Act were instantly very friendly and once we were allowed inside, we were able to start setting up the backline for the show.
The venue was the Robin 2, which is in Bilston although in the Wolverhampton area, aside from some compatibility issues with some of the US gear with our UK backline, the usual teething problems you can get, everything went as smoothly as it could, and of course, we met Lillian Axe for the first time who were equally friendly and supportive. The Robin is a great venue with great sound both on and off stage and I was very excited to both play the set and see Lillian Axe and Riot Act play for the first time.
We got up there and it was great, the audience was very receptive, and we enjoyed ourselves despite the lack of sleep. Aside from the early start and load-in, we had of course rehearsed the day before and were thus tired! Watching both Riot Act (who were playing a set of classic Riot songs) and Lillian Axe for the first time was amazing, both bands were on top form despite such a long trip, and it was genuinely extremely exciting for me to play on the same bill, not only with musicians and performers of that level, but bands so tight and entertaining on stage.
We then went to Newcastle the next day we had only about 4 hours of sleep, which would be the standard for this tour and played Trillian’s for the first time. We had of course played the o2 in Newcastle back in 2014 during the Mordred tour but hadn’t been back since. Trillian’s has a great reputation as a venue, and we were not disappointed, it’s a classic Rock Bar with a different vibe to the Robin the night before, but this created a more intimate show, and again the sound on stage and off was great, and we had a lot of fun to again a very receptive audience! Again, seeing both Riot Act and Lillian Axe in that venue with the Rock Bar vibe was great and with it being up close and personal, hearing the songs in that environment was a unique experience and I think the audience appreciated that.
Bradford was the day after, again a new venue for me and the band at the Nightrain. The Nightrain is a great venue with a big stage and great sound on and off, although we had some issues with power down the left-hand side we had to work on throughout the gig, which sometimes happens, the sound on stage was great although some people complained after the gig all the acts were too loud. The backstage area was clean and spacious, and we were all treated very well there.
After Bradford, we went to Bannermans in Edinburgh, a venue we had played several times over the years. Unfortunately, it was fringe week, so it was chaos as hipsters had laid siege to the city streets, making getting to the venue very difficult and the Binmen were on strike, leaving trails of rubbish everywhere. This was a real shame to see, Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it was upsetting to see it in that state, and the level of disrespect many of the fringe tourists had shown the city, especially with the aggressive and hostile people on the streets trying to get you to see their acts. I was surprised to see just how aggressive the marketing for these events was.
Anyhow, playing Bannermans, again similar to Trillian’s, in that it’s a different experience, and many of our Scottish-based support turned out on the night which made it feel like we were at home, rather than a long way from home, which we were. We have always loved Scotland, it has treated Kaine incredibly well over the years and this night was no exception. I promise we will be back sooner than 6 years next time! Again, seeing Riot Act and Lillian Axe up close in a venue like that was great and it’s a gig I won’t forget for a long time.
Now after Scotland, we had our next trip, to another Celtic nation, however, this was an 8-hour trip away in Swansea, Wales. We had played Swansea once before when only 1 punter watched us, and he nicked a t-shirt about 1 song into our set and took off! This was the most brutal trip of the tour and I think we ended up spending closer to 9 hours on the road with all the bank holiday traffic, and accidents on the road. My knees were hurting like hell in the back of the van! We did make the Hanger 18 Venue in good time, the venue itself is big and again with great sound on and off stage, now while this was the least attended event of the tour everyone who did attend supported all the bands and was really into the music.
Something I feel I must say, is when I shared an image of Lillian Axe playing that night, it attracted a lot of negative comments and attention which for me was sad. The tour was a success and for that to be the one thing that attracted the most people to engage with us on was disappointing and disheartening because it was like some were wanting us to fail. There were far more people there than pictured, just sat down further at the back of the venue which is large. The audience who did attend loved it and were happy to have us there which is what matters above all else. There are reasons that the gig was less attended than the others, it was the last date/venue added and had the least amount of time to promote.
It wasn’t a case of the scene is dead, or that the world is ending, it was just how it worked out, the venue is great and the staff incredibly welcoming and accommodating and I would recommend people both support that great venue and play there. I am always sad to see the level of attention negative stuff gets over the positive.
Our final gig was at the Underworld Camden, our first time playing there and what a great set-up they have, the venue is great but the team there was very efficient and welcoming. This was our best-attended gig of the tour, but it was great to see so many of our regulars turn out and support us there. Unfortunately, my guitar had some issues during the set, so I had to switch to vocals as and when until we got that fixed, as we were on a tight timescale, but these things happen, it just so happened to be the biggest night of the tour! Toby’s guitar also broke during the gig, but we still had a lot of fun playing and meeting everyone there.
Overwhelmingly the tour was a great experience and success. What I will say about both Riot Act and Lillian Axe is they treated us all incredibly well on this tour and are great people and musicians, legends in our eyes, and we learned a lot from playing with them. They are bands who are not only playing the classics but are writing and recording new music and are incredible live, these aren’t two acts phoning it in just to relive past glories, these are bands that are very much alive and ready to do more great things. Please come and see them live next time they are in the UK! For me, getting to see them play their sets so masterfully each night was a dream and one of the best experiences of my life, and in music, and I wouldn’t trade this past week for the world.
Finally, I would like to thank both Riot Act and Lillian Axe for having us support them on this amazing tour, I wish them all the best going forward and I hope to see both bands again someday, hopefully here in the UK! A special shoutout to Al Moran, the man on the road with Lillian Axe who worked hard every night to help make these shows happen and for all his entertaining stories over the week! I would like to thank Claire Moat for helping put us together, Giles Lavery from Global Rock Records, Ciaran Campbell of SD Entertainment, and Pete Solynskyj of Total Concept management for all their work on the tour, who were all extremely helpful and we are very grateful for their efforts to make this happen. Finally, I would also like to thank our long-suffering roadie and everyman Alex Odinson for all his hard work on the tour and our guitar tech Charles “In charge” Franklin for all his efforts in making this tour a success for us. Both offered their time for free to help us out and this means the world.
We’d love the opportunity to tour like this again, it was a dream come true for us and everyone has been so supportive. When we came together 4 years ago as this incarnation of the band, we dreamed of being able to go out there and do something like this and to make it a reality was amazing. Being the first band on every night and being unknown is always a difficult job as you usually have the fewest people watching you and the audience doesn’t know your material. Support bands often had an unfair reputation of not being very good! We had to fight that every night and win people over. Some punters didn’t arrive until after our set, some reviewers chose to ignore us on the night, all of which is just part of being an opening act.
Of course, people would like to know about the money side of things, and I can confirm we were not paid for these shows and relied entirely on merch money on the tour. This is something we agreed on going into this to make it happen. I am not going to get into too many details but we, of course, lost money on this tour, we had to buy hotels for 6 people for 5 nights, hire the van, pay young drivers deposits, fill up diesel at record high prices, and travel some distance, between all that and food, as well as promotion, including sending out letters and what not we lost money but we expected this would be the case going into it. What I can say is, that we did roughly £1000 on merchandise during the tour, and while that doesn’t cover all the losses, is a huge help.
Ultimately this wasn’t about the money, it was what could be our only opportunity to live our dream and do a tour supporting two legendary bands, and there are no regrets in doing it.
Thanks to everyone who came and supported us, who bought the merch, to the new supporters and friends of old, this was an amazing experience for Kaine.