Monthly Archives: February 2016

Announcing A New Arrival – Impossible Depths

A Leap Day act of faith but Book Baby 2 aka Impossible Depths has made its debut on Amazon worldwide. EEK!

I still can’t quite believe it’s real. Can’t get me head round the fact that its done and out there for the world to see.

Like it’s predecessor, Impossible Depths was written long hand over many months. (I began writing it towards the end of 2013) It began “life” as four A4 notepads that have grown increasingly tatty over the months.

  IMAG3866 (1)

 

Painstakingly it was typed up – all 142 299 words of it -and re-drafted and tweaked and grammar checked and tweaked…..yes the OCD began to kick in big time!

Throughout this phase of its development I couldn’t have kept going without the love and support and encouragement of my “Infamous Five”. Seriously, I can’t thank those guys enough for putting up with me and for giving me so many hours of their own precious time.

 Then came the next challenge. I had my Book Baby 2 almost formed but it was naked! The cover went through several incarnations before I finally settled on the stock photography image that became the cover. The next hurdle to be overcome was Photoshop (it hates me) but under the patient guidance of my “fairy godmother”, I designed the cover and eventually pulled it together in both Kindle format and Create Space paperback format. Now that was a fiddly job!

 By this stage, I was in the final throes of preparation for Book Baby 2’s arrival into the world and it was passed to “the cavalry” to read through. My two beta readers who prefer the story as a whole instead of per “chunk”. Huge thanks to you both for your feedback and support.

Cue more tweaking!

 Then came the day to upload the files onto Create Space and to order the first “real” proof copy. (Having an actual physical copy is so much easier to proof than using the online previewer. Invaluable advice given to me by my “fairy godmother”)

Cue more tweaking and a pile of post it corrections! And an alteration to the resolution of the front cover. A fuzzy cover just wouldn’t do!

IMAG3861

  And now, many, many months down the line, my Book Baby 2 has flown the nest and is making its way in the world of rock romance fiction.

Like any proud mother, I am now sitting back and watching my baby continue on its journey. (Well, to be honest, I’m fretting about how it will do in the big bad world just like any new mother would do.) Some of you may love it; some of you may loathe it. It’s a fiction genre that’s not for everyone but to me these characters are a huge part of my life and very close to my heart.

So I guess it’s time to crack open the champagne and wet the baby’s head.

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If you want to check it out, here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01C0GS30K?keywords=impossible%20depths&qid=1456764709&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

The Return of an Old Friend -The Imp – part thirteen

It’s been a while since I re-visited the tale of Amber, Jem, Urquhart and the witches but, for those who have been impatiently waiting, here’s part thirteen of The Imp – enjoy!

Clouds were covering the full moon as Amber looked out through the tiny slit of a window. From her tree top cell, she could just make out the convoy of wagons preparing to depart for the portal. In the distance she could see the faint faerie glow of the portal itself. The fairy/elf had watched the wagon train depart for the portal the previous night as she finalised her plans, scarcely daring to believe that she would make her escape through it. In her heart, she knew if she escaped now then she would never be able to return to the fairy kingdom again; knew if she needed help from her family she would need to turn to the elves. The thought chilled her heart but she had no other choice.

A soft knock at the door jolted her back to reality and, as she turned round, Blain entered alone. Her elf senses picked up a small movement to his left but, before she could say anything, the air shimmered and a tall, slender, shadow creature materialised in the room beside them.

“Good evening, princess,” said Blain softly. “I’ve brought you a visitor.”

“Blain!” she gasped. “Where did you find him? He’s perfect!”

Mutely, the shadow creature watched the two friends.

“He’s been staying with the healers for the past month, learning their secrets,” explained her friend. “Chamelle, this is Her Royal Highness, Princess Amber.”

“Charmed,” replied Chamelle, his voice wispy and hoarse. He stared intently at the fairy/elf, his dark eyes boring into her very soul then slowly the air around him began to shimmer. Gradually, before their eyes, he transformed into her mirror image.

“Are you ready to depart?” asked Blain anxiously. “We’ve only a few minutes to spare before they finish loading the wagons.”

“Yes,” replied Amber, lifting her sleeping son and settling him in the travel sling she had improvised from her spare shirt.

Earlier on, she had laid out the items that Blain had smuggled to her a few days before. The rowan twig had been stripped of its bark and fashioned into a magic wand. Curls of bark, soot and some of Amber and the baby’s hair strands lay in the bottom of a small wooden bowl on the table. With a quick glance at her friend, Amber lifted the needle and pricked her son’s thumb with it. Two large drops of blood spilled into the dish. The fairy/elf repeated the action on her own thumb, allowing the droplets of blood to mingle with the soot. Almost silently, she whispered an ancient elvish incantation then dipped the rowan wand into the bowl. A flash of green and red light lit up the room and, when the light returned to normal, the contents of the bowl had liquefied.

Swiftly, Amber dipped the thimble into the bowl then dripped the dark liquid into her son’s mouth. She swallowed two thimble-fuls herself then lifted her cloak.

“Amber?” began Blain, curious to learn what effect the spell would have.

In the blink of an eye, the fairy/elf and the baby vanished.

“Amber?” echoed Blain anxiously.

“We’re here,” she replied from within the invisibility spell. “Time to go. This won’t hold for long.”

 

            When they reached the base of the huge tree that had been her prison, Amber followed Blain through the village to the last wagon in the convoy. It was being loaded with sacks of fancy spun colourful cloth that was coveted by the women at the King’s court. The supervisor had carefully stacked the bags, ensuring that there was a small “cave” created for her to hide in.

“Stay safe, princess,” whispered Blain as he felt her move from his side.

From her hiding place. Amber heard her friend drop a heavy purse into the driver’s hand then felt the wagon lurch forward.

As the wagon passed through the portal into the human realm, the faerie magic broke her elven spell and Amber became aware that she was fully visible to all around. She held her breath, praying that the baby would remain asleep for the remainder of the journey.  The faerie slumber spell cast earlier was holding fast ….for now.

Steadily, the wagons trundled towards the village and the castle.

 

In his tower study, Urquhart stood at his window watching the train of wagons roll in from the portal. The fairy queen had signed off on five wagons per night for eight days. It was the most trade she had sanctioned in the past decade.

The boy wizard watched as the five covered wagons rolled down the narrow village street towards the castle.

His sharp eyes were drawn to the last wagon in the line. There was something about it that attracted his attention; something that was making his wizarding instincts twitch.

Dismissing the thought that flashed through his mind as an improbability, Urquhart returned to his desk and the ancient elven history that he had been studying. He had read it through three times from end to end and was still none the wiser about the fourth gemstone. His gut instinct told him he was searching for reference to a diamond but the history made no mention of one. There was no mention of any other stones, not even a pebble.

Thoughts of the wagon train interrupted him again and the boy wizard wandered back across to the window. A large bowl of crystals sat on a pedestal in the bay of the window. Carelessly, he ran his fingers through them, allowing the smooth stones to trickle through his grasp, as he watched the last of the wagons disappear from view as the entered the castle gates.

 

In the castle nursery, Jem too was standing at the window. The prince had his baby daughter nestled on his shoulder as he watched the fairies begin to unload their trade goods. The baby was restless and, every time he tried to return her to her crib, she squealed shrilly as he moved away from the window.

“What is the attraction with the window tonight, little miss?” whispered Jem as he turned her round in his arms so she could see out.

A movement at the rear of the last of the five wagons caught his eye.

The canvas flap moved aside and a tall, slender figure, clutching something tightly to their chest, stepped down, glanced round then disappeared into the shadows.

The baby squealed and wriggled in her father’s arms.

“Amber,” breathed Jem.

 

 

 

 

Imminent Arrivals…..as the jitters set in!

 

 

 

Life over the past week has been a tad on the busy side – work, birthdays, school exams, stressed teenagers…you get the picture.

 Looming large on the horizon is also the anticipated arrival of Book Baby 2 aka Impossible Depths.

I’ve used the pregnancy analogy throughout the “gestation” of Book Baby 1 and 2 so why change the train of thought now? (I’m holding onto any and all trains of thought I can right now!)

Book Baby 2’s arrival is imminent. (Still not revealing the actual due date)

Safe to say, it’s fully formed and, if this was a real pregnancy, I’d say the head is engaged and I’m experiencing runs of Braxton Hicks. There’s an underlying air of excited expectation growing…..and panic! Am I ready for this?  EEKK!

In reality, I’m in the final throes of editing and proof reading and rapidly reaching the stage of second-guessing myself.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day this week!

Deep breaths…stay calm….

My final “scan”…sorry, paperback proof…arrived last week. It’s currently sporting a plethora of post it markers as I make the final tweaks to the punctuation and amend the odd sentence here and there.  Yes, I’m becoming OCD about it!

The cover also threw up a bit of a resolution issue so it was back out with Photoshop, another cry for help to my “fairy godmother” who has been SO incredibly patient with me. I think I’ve found and resolved the issue. Can’t have a fuzzy Book Baby 2!

I revealed the actual cover on my Facebook author page last weekend (https://www.facebook.com/Coral-McCallum-639174446188152/timeline?ref=page_internal)

 Oh..you haven’t seen my new baby yet?

OK, just for you…here it is! 

 

 Actual cover pic

 

 Like it? 

Keep your eyes peeled on here or on Facebook for news of new arrivals 😉

 PS. If you missed Book Baby 1 aka Stronger Within you can check it out on Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00VXDSC1M?keywords=stronger%20within&qid=1455820294&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

The Final UK Carnival of Madness show- memorable to say the least!

 

 

My Carnival of Madness adventure part two began with trains, buses, trains and eventually a taxi to our hotel for the night, handily situated right beside the arena.

Girl Child and I were off on a mother/daughter trip to Manchester!

The first train to Glasgow was uneventful. It was the slow train so it stopped at every lamppost but we got there. Girl Child decided she REALLY needed something from Burger King for second breakfast so by 9.30am she was happily scoffing a Chicken Royale burger …BLEURGH!

Stage two of the journey was a two-hour bus ride to Carlisle. I don’t normally travel well on buses and turn fifty shades of green within a short period of time however I survived this trip intact. We found ourselves in a very cold Carlisle station. Us and the rest of the population of Carlisle! Some steam train (I think it was the Flying Scotsman – I’m no train spotter) was due to pass through and stop at the station. In all the confusion we missed our train.

I’m too polite to repeat what my Girl Child had to say about that!

If in doubt, find some caffeine! We parked ourselves at a small platform-side café that was equally cold for lunch.

Our second attempt at catching the Trans-pennine Express was more successful and we were soon on our way, albeit an hour behind schedule.

I had booked first class seats so the journey was quite calm and pleasant and included free coffee! Never a bad thing.

We arrived at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station around 3.30pm. It was a zoo!! Eventually we found the correct exit and a taxi rank.  The late afternoon traffic was bedlam and it was just after 4pm before we finally arrived at our hotel.

Our fifth floor room was nothing fancy. It was clean. You know what to expect from a Travel Lodge room. Girl Child promptly claimed the double bed as hers….guess the single would have to do me.

We snacked on the juice, popcorn and biscuits that I had in my bag while we got ready to head out to the show.

The arena was only a short walk from the hotel but finding the way was like walking through a labyrinth. First time I’ve entered a gig via a railway station!

We made our usual pilgrimage to the merchandise stall (yes, Four, I was a naughty girl and bought more shirts and, no, I’m not telling you how many), had a quick comfort stop then made our way into the standing arena.

Another first here- the standing arena is accessed from the top level of the hall and down through all the seats. Following the queue, we zig-zagged our way down to the arena floor. The event staff were collecting in the tickets. I queried if we could keep them as souvenirs (I have every ticket from every show I’ve been to) The guy assured me we would get a ticket back on the way out at the end…oh….ok….

It was decision time- right or left hand side of the stage? We went right.

Manchester Arena is huge in comparison to others I’ve been in. (I believe it can hold around 21000) and the standing arena was sold out. By some small miracle we found ourselves a spot three or four rows off the barrier among reasonably short people and with a good view of the stage. Happy days!

Highly Suspect came on stage at 6.15, launching straight into a raucous set. There was a different energy about them compared with the Glasgow show and the Manchester crowd appeared to be enjoying them more than the Scottish rock fans had. I guess I enjoyed their performance a lot more too as I was finally getting to hear the entire short set…..that was until their front man “gobbed” on stage again Twice! Bleurgh! Would I still like to see them play a smaller show? Hmmm…the jury is currently out on that thought.

Next up were Halestorm who were in storming form! Lzzy was most definitely commanding this crowd. Mid-set Black Stone Cherry appeared on stage to do a meet and greet (was that Zach Myers in the midst of it?) then John Fred Young and the drummer from Highly Suspect stayed on stage to “assist” Arejay with his drum solo. Good hearted end of UK tour antics that the fans were loving. The set hadn’t altered much from Monday night’s show. Mayhem, Freak Like Me and I Miss The Misery rounded things off in raucous RnFnR style.

One of the best Halestorm performances that I’ve seen.

I had warned Girl Child about the tape that would play in between Halestorm and Shinedown’s sets. Yes, Manchester too was treated to the fifteen minute meditation tape. What the hell was all that about, boys?

The energy in the room evaporated rapidly.

Girl Child loves Shinedown so they were to be the highlight of her evening as it was her first experience of seeing them play live. They didn’t disappoint. Yes, Brent Smith wasted time talking too much and by going for a saunter through the arena but, in general, he seemed back on his game. I was enjoying seeing more of Zach Myers this time round. Love him to bits!

My heart swelled as I watched Girl Child sing and cheer, horns up, with a wide grin on her pretty wee face. I love to see her happy and enjoying herself.

Shinedown’s set was identical to Monday night’s with one addition. Brent Smith declared that as they were in Manchester they had better play something to keep the locals happy. They did just that by playing Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger before moving on to play Simple Man. Have I said how much I love that song?

Set closer Sound Of Madness nearly lifted the roof off the arena.

Manchester loves Shinedown!

Our long day of travel and rock music was starting to take it’s toll. Both Girl Child and I were wilting a little. Our backs were in agony and she was complaining her feet were sore from standing. My shoulders were aching. Cue the entry of the “rock’n’roll polo mints” and a Dextro tablet each. Gig survival kit!

We were both very thirsty by this point though.  We’d been there for about four hours by this time.

Manchester, you could learn a lot about passing back water to thirsty fans from your colleagues at the SSE Hydro!!!!

Not a drop of water was to be had. (Once, the security staff passed a large sports bottle along the very front row but nothing was offered beyond that) Very poor show, Manchester.

The curtain had again been raised to hide the stage changeover but from our vantage point we could see the stage crew working hard. Although why they were burning an incense stick in the machine heads on one of the guitars is beyond me….

Shortly before show time, the tape being played to keep the crowd amused played Slipknot’s Psychosocial. The crowd around us went wild and were in fine voice! We were revved up and ready to rock once more!

A few moments later than scheduled the lights went out, Black Stone Cherry began Me And Mary Jane. The curtain fell and the front of the stage exploded with jets from a row of air cannons blasting skywards. Rain Wizard and Blind Man followed. Explosive start to the show!

Like Halestorm and Shinedown before them, the boys from Kentucky were on fire tonight!

 

(I had started to write this on the train journey home on Sunday – my train of thought was de-railed by more unexpected travel issues – but more of that shortly)

 

Now where was i?

 

Holding On To Letting Go almost raised the roof! Awesome!

I loved the snatch of Roadhouse Blues in Yeah Man…..and then the evening took a downward spiral.

I noticed that Girl Child had gone kind of quiet. I asked her if she was ok and got a mumbled response. I put my arm around her waist and she didn’t immediately protest. She was on the point of collapse.

With my arm securely round her, I half dragged her to the side and signalled to one of the security staff, indicating that we needed water quick. She was given a few squirts from the communal sports bottle.

It didn’t help.

A few feet to our left Arejay Hale and Josh Hottinger from Halestorm stood watching the show – Girl Child never even saw them.

The security girl let us through the barrier and a supervisor directed us up the entire length of the arena to a corridor where there were toilets and a “bar hatch”. Manchester Arena isn’t the most modern or luxurious. I sat Girl Child down on the floor, propping her up against the wall and ran to fetch her a Coke in an attempt to get some sweet liquid into her.

It had a little effect but she was still not really with me.

An annoying little drunk came over to chat. Instantly the security supervisor was at my side chasing him. With the drunk duly despatched, the supervisor suggested we head to the first aid station.

In the background, I could hear Black Stone Cherry playing The Rambler – I could’ve cared less! My baby girl was my focus.

The first aid room was on the opposite side of the arena. I half carried her across the back of the hall as Black Stone Cherry belted out Peace Is Free (or was that Pizzas Free) accompanied by Lzzy Hale and other members of Halestorm.

The first aid room was basic beyond belief. The first aiders, although very pleasant, had basic knowledge and little in the way of help to offer me. I explained what had happened etc etc then asked if Girl Child could lie down for a few minutes with her legs raised. After about ten minutes (it felt like forever) she began to feel a little better and began to talk to us again.

I then began to fret about how I was going to get her back to the hotel. Was I going to have to drag her up all those stairs through the seating area again?

The first aider put my fears at ease and said, as we were staying at the Travel Lodge, he would bend the rules and let us leave by the “back door.”

To the strains of White Trash Millionaire, I helped Girl Child along the corridor and out into the secure yard where the tour buses were parked.

When we exited the gate I discovered the hotel was only about 100 yards away.

Once safely back in the hotel I ordered some food and drinks from the bar and eventually we took them up to the room with us. A combination of Irn Bru, Coke and fresh air had revived Girl Child and she managed to eat her meal.

My nerves were shot!

While she slept all night, I lay awake worrying about her.

Next morning, she was more or less back to normal. I was shattered!

When we went down for breakfast, the dining room was a sea of exhausted, hungover rock fans all wearing new band merch. I’d had one beer and about three hours sleep at best and I felt as rough as they looked!

Bags packed, we checked out and headed out into the sunshine in search of some retail therapy at the Arndale Centre.

After a medicinal stop at Starbucks for caffeine and a whirlwind shopping trip, it was time to head back for the train to Carlisle.

I’d spoken to the Big Green Gummi Bear earlier on and he’d very kindly offered to meet us in Carlisle and save us the two hour bus trip and forty minute train ride.

The train left on time. We had the entire first class carriage to ourselves. Bliss!

A bout an hour and three quarters later the train stopped at Penrith. The service was terminating there. Some poor individual had jumped under the train that had been in front of ours. Icy shivers ran down my spine.

A quick call to the Big Green Gummi Bear caught him before he turned off for Carlisle and he agreed to drive the extra few miles to fetch us at Penrith.

I don’t know when I was last so glad to see him!

As he drove us home, Girl Child chattered away. In the passenger seat, I finally relaxed.

We’d survived. From listening to Girl Child, I gathered that despite everything, she’d enjoyed her trip. Despite all the dramas, we’d both enjoyed a memorable weekend.

Perhaps not the mother/daughter weekend I’d envisaged in my head but most definitely one to remember.

Wonder where we can go next?

Man CofMManchester

The Opening Night of Gig Season 2016 – the Carnival of Madness pt 1

 

 

Well it had to happen at some point soon – gig season  has begun and I headed out to play once more!

No train to Glasgow this time though. I got to enjoy the luxury of being chauffeured and chaperoned by a friend, who for the purposes of this tale, we’ll call Four.

Our destination for the evening?

 We were heading for the Carnival of Madness at the SSE Hydro.

The plan was that we would drive to Glasgow’s Science Centre, meet up with Boy Child and Facebook Son then walk over to the venue.

Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts as Storm Henry battered Scotland, we made it to the Science Centre on time, found the two boys, who had made a mad dash across Glasgow from uni, and headed across the footbridge towards the Hydro.

The wind whistling up the River Clyde would’ve cut you in two and it was a chilly few minutes as we queued to get in. Colder for the two boys who were out in t-shirts! Weans!

It was a relief to finally get inside and out of the icy wind.

Cue a whirlwind search for “dinner” for Four (I’m not convinced a bag of Kettle chips qualifies as dinner) and a quick trip to the merchandise stall for me.( Yes I know I didn’t need another shirt) Boy Child and Facebook Son prepared to abandon us once more as they went off  in search of two of their friends (Bread Boy and his long suffering girlfriend). With a rendezvous point agreed for later, we left them to it and headed into the bowl.

Opening band Highly Suspect were already on stage. I had really been looking forward to hearing them as I love their debut album. (I’ve already reviewed this show on my music blog https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com  but perhaps can be a little more candid here among friends) We’d missed two out of Highly Suspect’s six songs but, from what I heard, I was bitterly disappointed. They looked and sounded way out of their depth. I enjoyed their performance of Lydia but it fell flat with the small crowd. A Glasgow audience is a tough gig in itself. During their final song, the lead singer “gobbed” on stage. My stomach heaved! That’s a pet hate of mine and is quite simply a disgusting thing to do, especially on stage. Totally anti-social!

During the interval, I spotted Boy Child over to my right and the “mummy” in me relaxed a bit. (He’s not got a good track record of coming out of shows intact) Four and I were safely positioned to the left hand side as you looked up at the stage and were about three rows off the barrier. Perfect.

As ever though, my record for being beside the extra wide or extra tall rock fans remained intact. Before Halestorm took to the stage Mr Short and Wide moved out, heading for the bar, and never to return, much to the annoyance of the two girls who were waiting for the drink he had promised to bring back. I wasn’t complaining.

Halestorm are one of my favourite live bands and this was the fifth time that I’d been fortunate enough to see them live. They delivered a fantastic forty-five minute set, cramming in nine songs plus Arejay’s shortened acrobatic drum solo. The sound wasn’t perfect and it blighted a couple of songs but, as ever, Lzzy owned the stage and had the swelling crowd hanging on her every note.

Next up were Shinedown, another band close to my heart. I’ve seen them twice before and have been listening to them for the better part of ten years. If there’s one band that re-ignited my love of rock music, it was these guys. Through them I discovered Alter Bridge and Myles Kennedy and the rest, as they say, is history…..

Shinedown’s stage crew set up the stage as though they were to headline the show. Also cue the most bizarre PA tape being played between sets that I’ve ever heard- fifteen minutes of a meditation tape. It killed the energy in the room that’s for sure!

To my immediate right, I now had possibly the tallest guy in the entire venue. I kid you not, the top of my head barely reached his shoulders and my nose was level with his elbow.  No, I’m not a total midget. I’m 5’ 3” but this guy had to be at least 6’ 6” or taller!

Finally, the lights dimmed and Shinedown were in the room. Like Halestorm, they too had forty five minutes or thereabouts to entertain and woo the fans. There is no doubting that Brent Smith is a charismatic front man and an incredible vocalist but something was just a bit “off”.  There’s been criticism online that he’s resorting to auto tune to support his live performances and open accusations of miming. I’ll refrain from commenting and reserve judgement but something didn’t feel quite right. Perhaps it was the “new look” with the baseball cap and shades. That cap never left his head and his face was constantly shielded by it. Oh, I can’t put my finger on it but it’s bugging me!

They played a fantastic set. I love watching bass player, Eric Bass. That guy’s insane! Zach Myers is cute and adorable and talented but he spent most of his time on the far side of the stage from where we were standing. Barry Kerch on drums was presiding from on high, dreads flowing freely.

Mid-set Brent instructed the crowd to part in the middle, creating a path for him and Zach Myers to walk through. The crowd split to our right but all I actually saw was the tops of their heads as they made their way front to back, shaking hands. A nice gesture if you’re the headliners; a waste of precious time if you only have less than an hour to shine.

For me the crowd shuffle resulted in Mr 6’ 6” moving in front of me. My view of the stage diminished for the remainder of the set. Typical!

All in all, I love Shinedown, really enjoyed their performance and would be front of the queue to see them headline a show. As a support act, they frustrate the hell out of me! They played Simple Man, one of my all-time favourite songs and somewhat redeemed themselves …..until next time.

By now it was about 8:50pm. Headliners Black Stone Cherry were due out at 9:25pm. Plenty of time for a comfort break…or so I thought! Four darted off, promising to return shortly and he assured me before he left that he knew where we were standing. The minutes ticked by…

Like most of the other folk around me I checked my phone for messages and updates.

Randomly Girl Child was messaging me wanting me to make her a cup of tea….strange child!

Time ticked on… No sign of Four returning. Hmmmm…..

Suddenly, in front of me, Mr 6’ 6” began to wobble then collapsed, out cold, in a heap on the floor. He’d fainted! Security staff and the surrounding fans swiftly lifted him over the barrier and he was carried off for medical attention. I hope the guy was ok but his sudden departure meant I could actually see the stage again. Then it dawned on me…if Four had been using him as a landmark he was now somewhat stuffed.

Eventually I messaged him to see if he’d got lost. I was relieved when he replied, explaining though that he was stuck some ten feet behind me. He couldn’t find a way through and, in fairness, the standing arena was tightly packed near the front. At least I knew he was ok so I could relax a bit. (Yes, I’m a serial worrier and the “mummy” in me feels responsible for the entire group when we are out, regardless of their age.)

Right on time, the lights dimmed, the curtain fell and Black Stone Cherry were live on stage. They delivered an incredible set! This was the fourth time I’d seen them and I think it was best I’ve seen them play so far. Ben Wells is an incredibly energetic guitarist, barely staying still for a second. This energy is rubbing off on bassist Jon Lawhorn, who was also covering a lot of ground on stage.

About twenty minutes in, a white spotlight was trained on the crowd about ten feet directly behind me. Something had happened in the crowd. I’m not sure if it was another fainter or if it was a scuffle. Chris Robertson commented from the stage that he hoped the guy was ok.

Cue another few moments of irrational panic as I fretted whether it was Boy Child, Facebook Son or Four who had been involved. (I know, several thousand folk to choose from etc etc…it’s the mummy in me!) A wave of calm washed over me as I reasoned there was nothing I could about it as I was well and truly stuck where I was.

Every time I’ve seen these boys from Kentucky, Chris Robertson has sung straight from the heart. This show was no exception.

After John Fred’s amazingly mind blowing drum solo (he is probably my favourite drummer), Chris stepped out on stage alone to perform a solo acoustic version of Things My Father Said. He openly confessed to being scared. The audience took him to their hearts and sang proudly along with him. A beautiful, raw, honest and powerful performance. Love love loved it!

A second acoustic song, The Rambler, followed with Ben Wells joining Chris on stage. Stunning song that has stirred my excitement about their forthcoming album, Kentucky.

The fabulous Lzzy Hale joined them for Peace Is free a few minutes later. It was great to see the band all looking as though they were enjoying themselves as much as the fans.

 Blame It On The Boom Boom rounded off the main body of the set and Black Stone Cherry left the stage.

Within seconds, the capacity crowd was begging for “one more f*%king song”

The boys from Kentucky didn’t disappoint. They played two!

A Black Stone Cherry show always ends with Lonely Train. The fans lapped it up! This was followed by a colossal version of Ace of Spades, a touching tribute to the late great Lemmy.

And that was it. Ninety minutes gone in the blink of an eye. Picks were flicked out into the crowd. John Fred hurled a handful of sticks to the fans. The lights came up and the fans began to troop out of the arena.

I was extremely relieved to locate the AWOL Four within a minute or two. One down, two to go.

As arranged we met Boy Child and Facebook Son at the door (and I finally got that comfort break!) then as a group we headed back to the car.

The storm hadn’t abated so “blown back to the car” may be more appropriate but at least it wasn’t raining…yet. After the heat of the venue the cool air was most welcome for the first minute or two.

By the time we were driving out of the car park the heavens had opened.

Judging by the buzz and hilarity during the blustery journey home, I guess the night had been a success all round. There’s a whole other story that could be told here about that journey back but I’ll save it to spare any blushes….but I really didn’t fancy a late night detour via Kilmarnock!

Me – I was tired and happy. Happy to see the others happy but also happy that it had been a fantastic night. Gig season 2016 has certainly opened in style.

And inwardly, I was smiling that I get to do it all again in a few days, in another city, with Girl Child…..but that’s a tale for next week.

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