Tag Archives: #blogging

RnFnR Me Time…. yes, I escaped unchaperoned!

A wet lunch hour and a couple of breezy showery ones were obviously sent to help me get this blog post written.

The past ten days or so have been a whirlwind of rock’n’roll shows, work and home all wrapped up in a million precious memories to last a lifetime. Apologies for the lack of a proper blog post on here last week but I was up to my eyes in photo editing and gig reviews and, if I’m honest, was still reflecting on how to structure this blog.

After months of anticipation, the 5th of October finally arrived- the start of my RnFnR weekend. This is a blog of two halves.

 

Part One – Thursday   

With my overnight bag slung over my shoulder, I headed into the local station to start my rail journey to Edinburgh. Safely tucked away in my bag was my concert ticket for the Alter Bridge show at the Usher Hall.

You can imagine my horror at being greeted by a sign saying “All trains cancelled”! Cue panic! This was 11.13am. Quickly I asked at the ticket office “How am I meant to get to Glasgow to catch the train to Edinburgh?” Reply “There’s a bus at 11.15”

Apologies to any locals who witnessed my Usain Bolt impersonation as I flew out of the station and across the car park to the bus stop. I caught the bus by the skin of my teeth!

I don’t travel smoothly on buses and, ninety minutes later when it finally reached Glasgow, I was quietly turning 50 shades of green. At the earliest opportunity, I got off and walked the rest of the way to Queen St station.

Fortunately, trains between Glasgow and Edinburgh run frequently and I was soon settled on the express train with my kindle, a sandwich and a most welcome coffee. I loved the ticket collector’s sense of humour too. He punched a love heart out of my ticket. Wonder if he’s secretly hoping for a job on the Polar Express?

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I was booked into a hotel near the venue and finally arrived there around 2pm- still plenty of time to get to the Usher Hall for 3pm. Someone was definitely having a laugh at my fears and anxieties about travelling alone as I checked into the hotel’s Room 101!

Finding the Usher Hall in the bright warm afternoon sunshine proved to be easier than I expected. The Usher Hall truly is a stunning building.

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I had upgraded my humble standing ticket for the show to the whole VIP Meet and Greet package, hence the early arrival at the venue.

There’s a close-knit Facebook community of Alter Bridge fans and I was relieved to see a few familiar faces already basking in the sun on the steps.

By 2.35 it was more like a family reunion than a queue for a rock show. I hadn’t seen some of these people since last December. Others hadn’t seen each other for twenty four or forty eight hours. Others had never actually met face to face. The warmth being shown to all was incredible to see. Everyone, myself included, was made to feel so welcome.

I was especially delighted to meet my friend Miss M from Brazil. We caught up with each other’s news while we queued in the sun.

The VIP Meet and Greet package gets you entry for the band’s soundcheck, a signing session  where you meet the band and get tickets/cds etc autographed and have the opportunity to pass over any gifts you may have brought for the band then you queue up for a second time to get a souvenir photo taken before being shown back out into the sun to queue again for early entry to the show itself.

I could wax lyrical for hours over this band but I’ll spare you that. (PHEW I hear you cry!)

Suffice to say, hearing the band soundcheck and watching them work to prepare for the show was fantastic. For me it was a great research opportunity for future book babies. 😉

I’ve met these guys before but was still a tad tongue tied and nervous about meeting them. There was no need to be. They are all so sweet and skilled at putting fans at their ease. I passed over some small gifts, got my cd insert and ticket signed and wished them all the best for the show. (Sorry, not sharing details of actual conversations) The photo opportunity is a high speed whirlwind but the end result wasn’t too scary. It’s a little fuzzy but I’m happy with it.

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Time to queue again for the actual show. If you’ve never experienced this kind of event, be prepared to be on your feet for hours and hours and hours!

We queued outside for a couple of hours in the late afternoon sun, happily chatting together and making new friends. It was truly an international AB family gathering. I was the only Scottish fan in this group. There were fans from the USA, France, Belgium, Austria, Japan, Brazil, England and Russia and many more. People of all ages and from all walks of life made up the queue.

Soon it was show time and we were allowed to re-enter the venue to take up our positions on the rail to enjoy the show.

Some four hours later, after finally making a trip to the loo, we all found ourselves back outside the Usher Hall, smiles on our faces and music ringing in our ears. It had been an incredible show and Alter Bridge were in fine form. (If you want to read my gig review , here’s the link https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/alter-bridge-at-the-usher-hall-edinburgh-05-oct-17/ )

While most of the audience headed off into the night and others headed to the nearest pub, a handful of us decided to wait on the band coming out to their bus.

I had never done this before…..honest!

Fortunately for us they didn’t keep us waiting for too long. The area outside was a hive of activity as the support act, As Lions, packed the last of their gear into their van and departed. The Alter Bridge truck was loaded up and departed then some of their crew hung about with us, happily chatting, while we waiting on the bus to return to pick the guys up.

It was all very relaxed and friendly. It almost seemed normal! When the band finally came out to board the bus, they happily posed for photos and signed autographs.

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At the Meet and Greet earlier, Myles hadn’t signed my ticket. I think I distracted him by asking him a question so I was delighted to steal a couple of minutes of his time to get it signed.

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I think it was the band’s drummer, Scott Phillips, who asked, “How many of you are we seeing in Dublin on Saturday?”

All of us was the reply.

 

Part Two – Saturday  

 

With my overnight bag re-packed and flung in the back of the car, I headed off for Glasgow airport to catch an early morning flight to Dublin.

Safely tucked away in my bag this time was my Alter Bridge ticket for the Olympia Theatre, Dublin.

After weeks of worry over whether my flight would actually take off I arrived to discover all was on time. Happy days!

It’s a hop, skip and a jump flight to Dublin. I’m sure I stood for longer in the queue to board the plane than the plane spent in the air!

I’d arranged to meet a fellow Alter Bridge fan at Dublin airport to share a taxi into the city. Only minor snag was that we had never met face to face before! After a quick exchange of messages, I determined I was looking for a lady in blue jeans and black boots with a red suitcase. I loved her message to me “Am I looking for a pair of Converse on you by any chance?”  But of course! – my purple gig shoes no less! The zebra print overnight bag may also have been an identifying feature.

The taxi dropped Miss N at her hotel then dropped me at mine just after 10am – too early to check into my room. Having left my bag at reception, I set off to explore a bit and prayed that I wouldn’t get lost!

I’d only ever passed through Dublin twice  nineteen years ago when we visited Ireland to see the Tour de France and I’d never been in the city centre before. Camera in hand I explored Christchurch Cathedral. Well, it was straight across the street from my hotel, then wandered off in search of the Olympia Theatre. It was closer to the hotel than I’d thought and just as quaint from the outside as I’d expected.

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With plenty of time to spare, I kept walking and eventually found myself at Trinity College. My rough plan had been to visit it on Sunday morning before heading back to the airport but as I was already there I wandered through the entrance and into the quadrangle.

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I had hoped to visit the Book of Kells exhibit in the college library and was a little disappointed to discover not only a huge queue waiting to get in but also two signs, one saying “temporarily closed” and the other confirming the restricted opening hours for Sunday. I wondered if it was closed for a VIP tour? (A VIP AB tour perhaps judging by some of the photos on Instagram later that day) Who knows?  I just knew I wasn’t going to get to see it this time round.

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I spoke nicely to the security guard and asked if it was possible to access the gift shop. If I couldn’t see the exhibition then at least I could purchase the guide book and read up about the history.

Souvenir shopping complete, I wandered back towards the hotel, pausing to pick up a sandwich, some iced tea and a bar of chocolate for lunch plus a large bottle of water for later, and then detoured round Dublin Castle.

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After finally checking into the hotel (no Room 101 this time – 410 instead) I relaxed in my room with its cathedral view while I ate my lunch and read my guide book. (Did you know the Book of Kells may date back before 890 AD?) then having freshened up, headed back out to the venue.

Again, I was doing the VIP soundcheck and Meet and Greet so I was on the look out for some familiar faces. It didn’t take me long to find the ladies that I had last seen on Thursday night in Edinburgh.

Instead of queueing up outside the front of the theatre, we were advised to wait by a back door in a small courtyard that was accessed down an alleyway to the side of theatre.

Soundcheck was a more relaxed affair than in Edinburgh. All members of the band were in a  playful mood. Myles even treated us to a little Led Zeppelin as he played a snatch of Stairway To Heaven and Brian Marshall needed little encouragement to demonstrate his dancing prowess – well, from the waist up!

The Meet and Greet and photo slot were over way too quick but for once I didn’t feel quite so tongue tied in front of them.

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All too soon we were re-assembled back out in the courtyard to wait for the show. No sun this time. It was decidedly chilly out there after a couple of hours. The time passed swiftly though as we all chatted and got to know each other a little better. Miss M wasn’t part of the Meet and Greet group this time but she did pop round briefly before returning to the front of the building and the main body of the queue of fans.  Again, I was the sole Scot amongst the group at the head of the queue. There were some new faces from other countries including a few ladies from England and a guy from America that I hadn’t met in Edinburgh. You really do meet some very sweet and interesting people at these events, although there were a couple of die hard fans who were slightly less friendly than others. Well, it takes all sorts. 

Eventually, the witching hour was upon us -show time! Entry into the venue was less well organised than in Edinburgh. A bottle neck in the doorway, not helped by the security guy half blocking the door, led to a fair amount of unnecessary pushing and shoving. However, we all got inside in one piece and I happily took up my rail spot off to the left (Myles’ side) of the stage.

The show itself was fantastic! Probably the best Alter Bridge show that I’ve been to so far. (You can read all about it here – https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/2017/10/14/alter-bridge-at-the-olympia-theatre-dublin-07-oct-2017/ )

Watching Myles perform Watch Over You for his folks was a magical moment, one that will live with me for a long time to come. You couldn’t miss the look of pride on his face and the glint in his eye.

Four hours on the rail disappeared in the blink of an eye.

As the fans trooped off into Temple Bar, I joined the group of die hard fans waiting down the side of the theatre for the bus to arrive to take the band to their next destination.

Further down the narrow cobbled lane where we were waiting was a nightclub called Sin. Our entertainment while we waited on the band was some of the best people watching I’ve ever done! I’ve never seen so many scantily- clad , drunk teenage girls in impossibly high heels teetering about on cobbles before in my life. It was hilarious! Shout out of the night goes to one friend (who will remain nameless here) who commented loudly as one young lady in a particularly tight skimpy dress staggered past, “Do they not sell that in her size?” Priceless!

While we waited Myles’ parents left and his step dad thanked us all enthusiastically for supporting the boys. He was just oozing pride and looked as though he had thoroughly enjoyed the show.

The band didn’t keep us waiting for too long and after an hour or so, once the bus had reversed down this tiny alley, they began to exit the theatre. Again, the atmosphere was relaxed and unhurried as we each got a moment with the various band members to steal a hug and pose for a photo or two. Precious memories.

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Again we were asked, I think it was by Myles this time, if we’d all be in Belfast the next night. Sadly Miss M and I shook our heads. He wished us safe travels home.

I arrived back at my hotel around 1.30am absolutely knackered (I’d been up since 4.45am) and ,if I’m being totally honest, more than a little dehydrated. The sandwich and iced tea for lunch had been the last sustenance for eleven hours, apart from the obligatory rock’n’roll polo mints (You can do anything on a polo mint according to my mum). The large bottle of water that I’d bought earlier awaited me and was most welcome!

Sleep, however, eluded me thanks to the cathedral bells that rang every thirty minutes all night! Trust me, at 3.30am I was thinking some truly unholy thoughts about those f**king bells! It gave whole new meaning to having ringing ears the morning after a gig!

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After a much needed breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon washed down with a strong cup of coffee, I set off for a walk along the Liffey Boardwalk. I didn’t stray too far as I was dead on my feet but I wandered across Grattan Bridge then crossed back over via the Ha’penny Bridge then meandered through a largely deserted Temple Bar area, past the sleeping theatre and back to my hotel in time to check out.

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As I walked I reflected back on the past few days. I’d had the time of my life! I’d met some fantastic people. I’d been on the rail for two incredible shows. Oh and a hug or two from some of the nicest rock stars you could ever hope to meet.

 Till next time, AB family.

 

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Batteries recharging….

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Normal blog expectations will resume shortly……

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

Fifteen Weeks To Go…..gulp!

My lunchtime meanderings this week have brought home to me just how quickly this year is flying by!

It doesn’t see like any time at all since I was looking up at the trees that border the salt mine’s car park thinking, “Oh look! New wee shoots and leaves!” Today I walked past those same trees looking up and thinking, “Wow! I love these autumn colours!” (These particular trees put on a stunning display of autumn reds and golds every year.)

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This swift change of seasons (did we actually have summer?) has got me thinking….

Back at the start of the year, my first blog post of 2017 detailed some goals I’d set myself. (Here, see for yourself  https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/a-new-year-means-new-goals-and-a-fresh-chall )

Now, nine months later, how far have I got with these?

Upon reflection, and after a brief surge of panic about the fact that we are almost half way through September, I’m ok with where I’m at…I think.

Goal number one was to complete, edit and publish Book Baby 3. This was always the primary goal for 2017 and it has been safely ticked off the list. Book Baby 3, otherwise known as Bonded Souls, was let loose on the world on 15th April and, to date, no one has said my baby is ugly.  Bonded Souls is on Amazon sitting alongside it’s siblings, Stronger Within and Impossible Depths, and like them on Amazon.co.uk, is boasting five glittering stars. (It’s still waiting for it’s first rating on Amazon.com  … hint…hint)

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I still find it totally surreal to see the three books. Complete dreams come true moment.

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Goal number two was to write the first draft of a new novel…GULP! A tall order.  Well, I still have fifteen weeks of 2017 left and, to be honest, I’m going to need every minute of them. Book Baby 4 – no, it’s not a Silver Lake tale – is somewhere between a half and two-thirds written but progress is slow. For a few weeks there, my new imaginary friends really didn’t want to play nice! Over the past couple of weeks, they have all been better behaved – thanks goodness- and I finally feel as though I might be getting somewhere. This first draft may be adding a whole new dimension to “rough” draft but with a bit of luck (and peace and quiet) I might just get it down on paper on time.

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I am now silently praying that time slows down so that my chances of finishing it before midnight on 31st Dec increase!

Wish me luck!

 

p.s.   for all you Silver Lakers, Jake and Lori keep interrupting my train of thought with Silver Lake ideas….book four in that series will happen!

Trapped In A Soundproof Glass Jar….

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Whether to write this blog or not has been preying on my mind for a day or so. Even now as I start to put pen to paper (yes, I write blog posts longhand first too!), I’m a tad on the anxious side.

As the risk of sounding melodramatic, I got a taste of one of the more negative aspects of social media usage over the past week and it’s rattled me a little.

For six days, I felt as though I’d been trapped in a soundproof glass jar. I could still see everything on my newsfeed and see my messages piling up. Friends could see me but I couldn’t reach out, couldn’t have my say. All I could do was watch and wait till the lid of the jar was opened.

I’ll tell this tale guardedly for reasons that will become apparent.

Apart from the day job and the indie author/blogger role, I also co-admin a social media fan page for a world famous rock star. My co-admin and I pride ourselves in the great working relationships we have with the various professional photographers whose work we share on a daily basis. The vast majority are great folk and appreciate the extra exposure their work gets through fan pages as long as their photos are left unaltered, the watermarks intact and that their ownership/copyright is acknowledged.

But, there’s always one…..

Let’s call them Mr X for the purposes of this tale.

Sometime around the middle of last week, Mr X had second thoughts about whether some photos should be in the public domain or not. (These photos are concert photographs and nothing graphic before your imagination runs away with you.) Instead of messaging the various fan pages, who have shared their work over the years and asking them if they would delete the posts, they reported the pages for copyright infringement to the social media host, who in turn identified the specific admin who had posted the original picture.

Cue a three day ban for yours truly. (I’m unsure who else among the admin community has been caught up in this at this point in time.)

The email I received to advise to of this said I should contact the person, Mr X, via email ( they included an email address for Mr X) to try to resolve the matter.

I duly emailed the address provided with a polite enquiry as to what had I done wrong. I got zero response.

Mr X is in contact with one of my fellow admins from a different fan page so I contacted  them via an alternative route and cautioned them to be careful around Mr X. They offered to try to mediate on my behalf.

Despite their best efforts, Mr X refused to see reason and they failed to get anywhere with them. I appreciated their efforts and thanked them for trying to assist.

Now, it may be co-incidence but then again……

The very next day I received a further seven emails advising me of fresh reports of copyright infringement that had been reported by Mr X. Again, as before, all the photos had been shared lawfully at the time of posting.

Cue a second three day ban and an extended stay in my soundproof glass jar. (It was already a pretty silent, lonely place.)

This second act smelled of spite and reeked of harassment.

Eventually, having trawled through various forums, I found a link to report  Mr X to the host site for victimisation.

And, it’s at this point, that it was brought home to me just how vulnerable social media can make people feel.

I completed the online form to report the matter, following the instructions and providing copies of the emails I’d received in lieu of the actual links to the photos  as these had already been removed by the host.

Almost instantly, I got  an auto-receipt advising me that they would review the information and get back to me.

I provided further background evidence to support the claim and was advised that I needed to send them links to the specific posts I was referencing.

Again, I replied advising that, as they had already deleted these ,I couldn’t provide the links but had provided copies of the relevant emails that quoted the posts’ details and ID numbers.

The response I received this time was an email saying that they couldn’t find the specific content that I was reporting and that I was to provide links to the posts in question.

Again, I replied advising that as they had already deleted the posts, I was unable to supply the links.

Their response? “We can’t support this type of request through this form.”

By this time, I’m growing frustrated and confused so I enquired about how I was meant to report bullying/harassment if not through the bullying/harassment process? I asked for my concerns to be escalated as a customer complaint to a manager.

Their response to this? An email advising me that it looked as though there was a temporary block on my account that was preventing me from using certain features.

Eh, you don’t say!

I took several deep breaths…ok , I swore a little….ok a lot… and emailed back asking if my concern had been read in full and escalated as I’d requested.

Reply – “we review reports carefully to make sure we take the correct action.”

Again, I asked for clarification as to whether my concern had been escalated or not.

Reply – “we review reports carefully to make sure we take the correct action.”

I emailed and asked for the email address to contact to lodge a formal complaint.

Response – they shut the case. End of…

Words fail me on how this is an acceptable way to address a report for bullying/harassment.

OK, in this instance it may seem as if I were complaining about something trivial and, I acknowledge in the grand scheme of things, it is. However, think for a moment if this had been a report about targeted, abusive comments about you or your friends or family or your child – would you not expect a more efficient service than this?

It’s blatantly obvious from the various repetitive auto-responses received over a two day period that this host has little regard for customer concerns and, sadly, would appear to think people are immediately guilty until proven innocent…oh, wait, you can’t prove you are innocent because the auto-responses tell you that you’ve used the wrong form!

There is no way round this. The bully wins!

Suddenly social media feels quite an anti-social place…..

To all the friends and family who thought I’d been ignoring them for the past week – I  humbly apologise.

To all my friends who celebrated birthdays and anniversaries- congratulations! I was thinking about you.

To all my friends who were celebrating successes and milestone events – congratulations! I was thinking about you too.

To those friends who were delivering more sombre news – I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you.

To my fellow fan page admins – Beware! Be very careful out there!

To the friends who reached out via other communications means – thank you. Your kind words made my glass jar penance less lonely.

To Mr X …. Well here’s hoping karma takes care of you in due course.

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

An Hour At The Beach A Day Keeps The Blues Away…

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It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog, follows me on social media or who has read my book babies that I love the beach. I’m not fussy about it being an endless stretch of powdery sand…..although…I am partial to that, I must confess.

 My local stretch of beach, tiny and shingly as it is, is perfect. It’s my “go to” place to recharge my batteries.

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“Hello, my name is Coral and I’m a beach addict.” Ha ha

Recently, I escaped for an hour or so. I’d been stressing and over-thinking a few things and needed to just chill for a bit. As I sat in a quiet sheltered spot, watching the world go by, an analogy struck me.

A previous high tide had dumped a line of seaweed along the shore, all the “junk” that no longer served it. All the crap of the week gone by.

The tide was low as I walked along and the sand was all rippled by the waves. All the thought patterns laid bare for all to see.

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It was so low that rocks normally covered in water were exposed. The raw nerves perhaps that are best kept hidden from the public eye.

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Scattered along the shoreline were some small shells. Precious memories to be kept safe and treasured for another day.

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Something else that struck me as part of this analogy was that several people were running rough shod over this freshly exposed area. Just like in real life, people trample all over your memories and emotions, oblivious to how it makes you feel.

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In due course, long after I’d packed up and meandered home, the tide would come back in, it’s waves soothing the bruised and frayed beach underneath. The rocks would be covered by the river and the ripples smoothed out and washed into a fresh pattern on the next tide.

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Sometimes everyday life gets to us all. Whether its work stresses, family stresses or reminders of the past, there are times when we each feel exposed. Times when we feel that we have bared our souls to the world only to have it trampled on. But, like the low tide at the beach, these moments often don’t last long and are soothed away by a change of tide.

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A Little Sneaky Peek Into The After Life

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I read recently that if you’re struggling with a storyline as a writer then you should try interviewing your characters. An intriguing thought……

My current cast of characters are putting up a bit of a fight and progress on my first draft of Book Baby 4 has been a bit stop/start. I’ve found myself wandering off at a tangent and writing some short fiction pieces instead of focussing on my first draft. I’ve also made numerous notes of ideas for the next Silver Lake tale (currently pencilled in for 2019) Perhaps part of the issue is that Jake and Lori and the others won’t wait their turn!

Anyway, time to try to regain control over my current delinquent characters…… 

As agreed via email, I’d arrived at Glasgow’s O2 Academy at three o’clock to interview up and coming band, After Life. The five piece band who are based in London are currently on tour supporting Aussie rockers, Bodimead.

Instead of being shown into one of the art deco venue’s dressing rooms, Rocky, After Life’s father-figure manager, escorted me up to the venue’s balcony and suggested I take a seat while I waited for the two members of the band to arrive. Firmly and a little bluntly, Rocky said I’d have thirty minutes with them and not a minute more.

Down below on the stage, Bodimead’s crew were finishing setting up for the show and I wondered if I was going to be lucky enough to catch some of their sound check and a glimpse of their front man, Flynn.

A couple of minutes later, I was joined by Taylor Rowe and Luke Court, the lead guitarist and bass player from After Life. Both of them flopped down into seats in the row in front of where I was sitting and greeted me with a warm hello.

Before I could ask my first question, Taylor began waxing lyrical about the art deco beauty of the venue. I quickly established that this was their first trip to Glasgow and asked how they’d found the city so far.

“We arrived quite late last night so all we really saw in the dark was the hotel, the restaurant and a couple of bars,” confessed Taylor. “I went for a walk this morning. There’s some stunning architecture around here.”

“And a lot of hills,” muttered Luke. “Our hotel is at the top of a vertical street!”

This is After Life’s first tour with their new female vocalist, Ellen Lloyd, so I asked the guys how the band had changed since she’d joined them.

“We listened to hundreds of auditions a few months back. Well some of us did,” began Taylor with a wink to Luke. “Ellen’s was the one that really stood out as being different.  She has an incredible voice. Really impressed us at the first rehearsal. She’s brought a whole new dimension to our show. A theatrical element that we hadn’t explored before.”

“And a shit load of talent,” added Luke. “I’ll be honest, I didn’t hit it off with her at first but her voice really blew me away. She’s got so much talent. Wait till you hear her tonight. She can convey so much emotion with only a few notes.”

I commented that I’d hoped she would’ve been able to join us but Taylor apologised for her absence, explaining that she was resting her voice ahead of the show. Conscious of time, I asked both musicians about what  I could expect from their set later on.

“A visit to the After Life,” joked Luke with an infectious laugh. “No, seriously, we hope you enjoy the show. We’re playing mainly our own material with a couple of covers thrown into the mix. Usually we have time for eight, maybe nine, numbers before our Aussie hosts call time. It’s an eclectic mix.”

Taylor added that several of the songs had been written or co-written by Ellen and were due to be recorded next month for their debut album.

“We’re booked into a studio in London for five weeks. Just hope it’s enough time to get it all recorded. We’ve still a few songs to write too,” admitted Luke. “Exciting times in the After Life.”

Casually ,I probed if this was Luke’s first studio experience, enquiring if he’d not recorded anything before with his uncle. Luke is the nephew of reclusive guitarist, Garrett Court, of Royal Court fame.

“Despite the family history, I’ve never recorded in a proper studio before,” revealed the band’s bass player. “My uncle lives in New York these days. The last few times I’ve visited, he’s had me working in his music store. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of guitars. Total guitar geek heaven. Garrett likes to play this game with his customers where he tries to match them to an instrument rather than let them choose what they want.”

“Be fair,” interrupted Taylor. “From what you’ve said, he’s pretty sharp at it.”

“Yeah, he is,” agreed Luke.

I asked if Garrett had seen his nephew play with After Life.

“A few times. Not recently. Not since Ellen joined us. We were hoping he’d make it over for the London show but he had other commitments.”

“So, what commitments are in After Life’s immediate future?” I asked curiously.

“Well, we’ve seven shows left with Bodimead, including tonight’s. Then we’re playing a full set at Wales Open Air on 5th May. Rocky’s given us a week or so off then it’s into the studio on 13th May. Beyond that, we’re not sure. We hope to get the record out around the end of October or November time so we’ll get some shows booked for around then,” explained Taylor. “It’s all starting to pick up pace. Rocky’s already hinting at going over to Europe or even the States at the start of next year.”

“I’d love to tour America,” declared Luke with a grin. “Play some of those venues that you only read about in magazines. Would love to play some of the clubs on Sunset Strip or a show in Vegas.”

I joked that he’s the band’s true “rock star” in the making.

“Maybe,” he confessed suddenly seeming almost shy. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s the dream coming true.

To finish, I asked Taylor what his dreams for the future look like. He thought for a moment or two before answering my question. “I hope the record does well and that we can start to make some money from this game. I’d love to be able to buy my own house. My own bolt hole. I’d love to see the band grow and sell millions of records and play sell out headlining shows but, on the other hand, I’m not sure how I’ll feel if we end up playing arenas if I don’t have my own space to call home.”

“You’re just a beach bum at heart,” teased Luke.

“Yeah and I’m not denying it,” laughed Taylor. “I grew up on the beach surfing, playing guitar, beach bonfires and stuff. I miss that after a while in the city.”

Out of the corner of my eye I could see After Life’s manager approaching. I asked the guys if Rocky was as strict as he appeared to be. They exchanged glances and laughed.

“He tries to be,” said Taylor. “I live with him and his wife Lizzie when we’re in London. Ellen too. He keeps us all in line, especially Luke, our party animal here, but it’s really our drummer, Jack, who’s the strict one. He takes no nonsense. Rocky can usually be talked round, especially if its Ellen doing the asking. On the other hand, if Jack says no then it’s a no and not even Ellen can sweet talk him. Well not yet anyway. She’s working on it.”

 A few hours later, I was standing downstairs in the venue, beside the bar, watching After Life out on stage. This is a band worth watching. There’s a raw energy to their performance. A passion for the music and a rare synergy among them. Their mysterious front woman, Ellen, plays a witch/priestess persona on stage, using her flowing black cloak to dramatic effect during the songs. Her voice is one of the best and most versatile female rock voices I’ve heard over recent years but I can’t help but feel there’s an air of fragility to her too. There’s more to this songbird than meets the eye, I feel.

With a puff of smoke and some clever lighting, she vanishes from the stage. Vanishes to the After Life.

image sourced via Google – credits to the owner

 

 

That Little Special Corner Of The World….

Anyone who has read my book babies or who knows me, the real me, knows where my heart and soul lie…. the beach.

Maybe it’s something to do with watery theme to my name or my star sign (I’m a Cancerian) but, every now and again, (ok – on a regular basis)  my soul needs its batteries recharged …. it needs sand between the toes and ocean/river water around them.

Within a mile or so of my house, there’s a tiny little stretch of beach that feeds my soul when I need it most. Whether its a cold stormy winter’s day or, like tonight, a warm calm summer’s evening, that little stretch of sand and shingle does the job.

Its one of my special little corners of the crazy mixed up world. Where’s yours?

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