Road Blog: Thursday October 11, 2018 - Wakefield, UK
October 11, 2018
We left out hotel outside of Nothampton around 11am and headed north through Leicester, past the Castle Donington festival site, east of Manchester, and into Wakefield. We were hoping for something out of our usual service plaza breakfast but didn’t have the energy or gumption to research it, so we ended up back at the Costa coffee and pastry shop chain we’ve been frequenting since day one. It’s not bad, actually, just a bit of Groundhog Day going on. The baristas and servers are short and in control of the operation. Don’t go touching that tray before it’s ready, boy, or they’ll pull it right back with a quick, scolding glance.
It was a little early for check in so we headed into the city for a walk, stopping in at Wah Wah Records and doing a lap around the town center. It’s a smaller city, more on the scale of Northampton, and is traditionally known as the halfway point (by horse) between London and Edinburgh, so travelers would stop here for the night, have some drinks, hire a lady for a romp, and then move on to complete their journey north the next day. Things have slowed down a bit since then and it’s not quite the party town it used to be, as we would soon learn first-hand.
We checked into the hotel and I spent about a half hour and a million brain cells trying to connect to the shitty wifi before giving up and heading over to the Costa where I was able to connect right away and work for an hour or 2. I did some `work` work and some band work, then went back to the room just in time to catch the end of Lost in Space and a good episode of The A-Team where the gang had a daring rescue to pull off that required a special modification to the van and a big distraction explosion. Just as Hannibal lit his cigar and BA made an angry comment that cracked everyone up, we met at the van and drove back into the city for load in.
The Black Mass Bar & Club sits down a narrow, lonely, foggy, brick road in the city of Wakefield that looks like it hasn’t changed a whole lot in the last couple hundred years. There’s a pub downstairs and a band room on street level. It’s a medium-sized room with a compact boxed in stage on one side and couches, chairs, and road cases outlining a cement floor and a hole in the wall with a soundboard behind it opposite the stage. There’s Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Megadeth and Motorhead posters and banners everywhere and Metallica – Master of Puppets blaring through the PA. Malcolm (Malc) – the owner and sound engineer – introduced himself with a big smile and a good handshake. We loaded in, set up, and sound-checked. It was LOUD up there, and while it was nice to be out of a smaller pub setting for a night, I was a little concerned about the volume.
We aren’t a metal band by any stretch, and occasionally we find ourselves in these situations. The people are really nice and welcoming, the sound and facilities are great, it’s just an environment that is generally not really suited to the people who gravitate to our style of music. We set up merch, stowed the road cases and headed out on foot to get some dinner.
I’ve got a friend/workmate, Paul, who lives near Wakefield, and he recommended a Cuban joint called Qubana to us, so we found our way there and ordered up food and beers. Gabriel got the Cubano burger, Patrick got tacos and a salad, and I got ‘The Flying Pig’ which is an impressive combo plate of tacos, pork belly, chicken wings and salad. I managed to eat about half it, and it was one of the best meals we’ve had over here. Paul and his friends came in and hung at the bar so we said hello and eventually finished our food and headed back to the bar. By now it was pouring rain, and the walk back was no fun, but it wasn’t too far.
Support band Gaelforce went on a little after 9pm to a thin crowd and played a set of traditional Irish-classic rock sounding tunes. They were good musicians and well-rehearsed, and the set was solid – but I like the more traditional sounding stuff the best. Super nice guys too. We went on around 10pm and were fortunate that Paul and his gang were there as it would have been a lonely night without them. We played about 45 minutes, managed to keep the volume in check, and ended around 11. We tore down the gear and loaded the van and joined the staff and our friends in the basement for some beers. The show was supposed to be webcast, and Malc told me afterwards that he wasn’t sure if it had gone out or not, but it seems like maybe it didn’t, so apologies to those who tuned in to see us back home but were unable to. Seems these things don’t work more often than they do. Sorry guys. We had a nightcap, then one more, then one last one, and finally made our exit back to the hotel for lights out sometime after 1am.
This morning we got out early and headed up to see Paul at work in Normanton, on the other side of Wakefield. He ordered up some breakfast sandwiches, we had a nice chat and a tour of the shop floor, said hello to a couple of the casualties from the night before, and headed out, back south towards Leicester sometime before noon. Big thanks to Paul and the group he brought for making what would have been a lonely night into something more than tolerable.
We’re in our hotel now for some downtime, between Leicester (one of the bigger cities in the area) and Coalville (where we’re playing tonight at The Victoria Bikers Pub). Thanks to Malc and everyone in Wakefield for the hospitality last night and this morning. The check-engine light has gone back off in the van, to our relief. It’s cold and raining out, as it seems it almost should be. Two shows left!