Our first gig was on May 26th 2018. It was one of our regular shows there as I had booked a reasonably busy schedule that year to help promote A Crisis of Faith. We arrived at the venue early and were chatting outside prior to load in when Dan Mailer and Josh Birch arrived together (from Osmium Guillotine) pulling up in the carpark, I had a half empty bottle of Coca-Cola which I was able to throw through the passenger window, past Josh’s head and straight into Dan’s face as he pulled up. Dan, looking for revenge, jumped out of his car and came charging up the B2 steps towards me, having forgot to put his handbrake on, turning to see Josh and his car going for unplanned trip into the Brickmakers beer garden!
The other amusing moment from that gig was the late great Wayne MacConnachie had arrived with Peter Keliris for the gig, he looked at me, looked at the guys and said “where’s ya band” obviously having not heard the news, I said to him that this was the band, he looked at me, looked at them “your fucking joking aren’t you?” I said the others had left the band and he was gobsmacked “they left you? They all left you? They all fucking left you?!”. Wayne simply couldn’t believe the last line up had left! That was sadly the last time I saw Wayne alive and were informed of his passing on the way to the Reforge The Steel Live recording gig in November 2019. We played a tribute to Wayne alongside Osmium Guillotine and Walk in Coma in January 2020 in Braintree.
Gent aka local legend Andy Martin opened the night, and Osmium Guillotine obviously also played. Dan Mailer jumped on on stage with us for the encore and all in all it was a successful first gig with very few mistakes. I think we genuinely shocked a few people. The band was formed in a fortnight and was already playing live, and to a good level, the transition seamless from the previous line-up.
Our next gig was a charity event in Long Melford, famous for being the place the legendary Hellfire Club was founded and much of the local folklore surrounds nefarious activities by the local nobles at Melford Hall. It is also famous for Beatrix Potter having stayed there. The gig itself was for our friend Bonnie Kelly’s birthday- Bonnie has her own band New Pages which can be checked out here. Toby and Isaac had to perform double duty as Cannon were also on the bill. Chris MacKinnon was also doing sound that night, obviously unable to stay away from us! After that we played the Unicorn in Camden for the first time. We would play a few gigs there in 2018 which were all really good, but weirdly after that we were never invited back! Kaine actually hadn’t played the gig since 2013 when we supported Canadian Metal legends Striker there! Again the gig went well and the band started to gel on stage.
After that we played with Alter the Sky at the Blue Moon, Cambridge. This is another venue we used to play a lot back in the day when it was the Man on the Moon, we even had a residency there for a bit in 2013. Again the show went incredibly well and people struggled to believe that this was a brand new band. We also started playing songs from Reforge The Steel around this time in the set as well. We were literally rehearsing, learning the Crisis material and adding new material into the set as well which really helped progress the Reforge The Steel album quickly.
It was in this period that I wrote the 8 tracks for Reforge The Steel at home. I decided that to prove the band wasn’t dead and this band was as good as ever, I had to get a new album out as quickly as possible. I wrote Reforge The Steel, Black and Rebirth first, Wake was a song and I and Saxon Davids started working on some years previous that we even played live in instrumental form toward the back end of 2017, and songs like Master of Mankind and In Cold Light were written later with Loudwire being the last one I think I wrote for that album. It was important to show the world that we were still going and that is why Reforge The Steel came out so soon after A Crisis of Faith. We just learned the new songs between the Crisis material, and then played them live to iron out the cracks. It was a very busy period for the band. I had also started a new job around that time, which was less all over the place then the warehouse work but infinitely more stressful!
We had another gig at the B2 in July. Anthony Murch joined us for a few songs that night and a solo trade-off on stage, which I part inspired the ending of Master of Mankind! As Ant arrived the venue I was able to sneak around his car with a traffic cone, and block his door off so he couldn’t get out of his car! Is it any wonder people leave my band….Having looked back at the dates we had a very busy 2018! We were back at the Unicorn that month and also played our first and only gig at The Rock Den in Hatfield, another venue we’d previously been a resident band at.
At the end of July we played Swanfest at the Swan, Ipswich in what was one of the hottest gigs I have ever played. Long term band friend Adam Prowse (who had played bass in Cardinal) joined us for the encore on vocals. The Swan is famous for having Ed Sheeran play there before he was famous. Ed recently having sponsored Ipswich Town Football Club, my football team and is famous for other things, but for me that’s the most important! Much like me he’s a regular at Town games, but at least he has a successful musical career to drown out the misery! It’s good to see him plough some money into the club under the new owners, but having said that if the club dropped any lower then I could have probably afforded to buy it, let alone sponsor it!
So I thought I would give a little detail on our early gigs as a band. It’s weird to think this was all three years ago now. I will cover the back end of 2018 and the start of the recording of Reforge The Steel next week.