DIAMOND HEAD MAKIN’ MUSIC IN DETROIT ROCK CITY
Dave Bonney. First Published 2016.
In Abbz’ absence I’ve been sharing a room with Brian which means I generally make the breakfast call now as Brian doesn’t miss one. Another plus of this is the conversations before lights out or the next morning.
This mornings chat was about the Megadeth tour of Europe that Diamond Head did in 2005 at the request of Dave Mustaine who is, as is well documented, a huge Diamond Head fan and acknowledges Brian as one of his main influences. Brian spoke of how well the Megadeth crew treated them, with Dave insisting anything the band wanted they got.
He even commissioned a limited edition tour shirt with the Megadeth mascot, Vic Rattlehead, on the front wearing a Diamond Head shirt with both bands name on it, with all profits going towards Diamond Head’s touring costs. Needless to say it sold out pretty sharpish but not before I myself bagged one.
We also chatted about the little known fact that Brian and Dave had planned to do some recording together, but how this would have panned out is anyone’s guess as the plans came to an abrupt halt due to Dave injuring his left arm. Brian said that many of the demos he wrote for the unreleased project ended up on the last three Diamond Head albums and the unreleased album ‘Host’, so it ended up being very worthwhile.
After a quick stop to change the Canadian dollars into US dollars we crossed the border with just a short stop to produce our passports, and without getting out of the van we just answered a few basic questions and after telling the border control guy we were a rock band he said@ “What, like some sort of Ozzy Osbourne tribute band or something,” and after a reply of “sort of”, he waved us through.
We arrived at The Token Lounge which is another cool venue with literally hundreds of framed photographs and it really was an A-Z of rocks finest. It was a great soundcheck with the guys really happy with the sound, however when the gig got under way, the sound engineer nearly blew Karl’s left ear drum apart when he inadvertently turned up Ras’ vocals in his monitors instead of upping the delay in Ras’ monitors, something he apologised for after the gig but which left Karl in pain for the next few days.
Another boisterous crowd included one guy holding up a placard asking “how much for Ricky Gervais’ autograph”, a reference to the fact he thought Dean was a ringer for him. Quite annoyingly too was a guy who spent the whole gig holding a 360 degree camera on his head… unbelievable! Just enjoy the gig why don’t you.
The next day we made our way to Chicago and a huge sports bar called Tailgators which ended up being full to the rafters, half of the front was barriered off for the dreaded ‘reserved’ tables. The other half more than made up for the ‘bum warmers’ though, going absolutely bonkers with one guy right up front actually crying with emotion. He later told us he’d waited thirty-six years to see the band.
This was another gig that we filmed and during my front of house roaming I accidentally knocked a guys beer all over his lap and in my attempt to rescue the beer I also knocked his girlfriends drink over her lap. I apologised and offered to replace the beers and after the gig smoothed it over with a set list, drumstick and one of Deans picks. To say the guy thought it was a fair swap was an understatement.
The next day was a short journey to Wisconsin, so with plenty of time to spare we stopped at a guitar centre for Brian to check out the Les Paul’s as he’s looking to add to the stable with another ‘standard’, ideally pre 2000. However, he left empty handed declaring the 2016 model he tried as being horrible.
The Metal Grill is another cool venue, again with great hospitality, with two guys assigned to looking after all the bands needs. During one of Debbie’s loo breaks, the guitarist from one of the support bands came over to the merch stall to buy a signed copy of the new album and promptly pressed two of his bands albums into my hands and told me he was beside himself at the prospect of supporting Diamond Head and his idol Brian Tatler.
The same guy stood right in front of Brian watching his every move for the whole of the set in total awe, a set that included ‘Our Time Is Now’ for the first time on the tour. Afterwards I told Brian that in my opinion that was probably the best gig so far to which he replied: “Yeah, I was on fire tonight.” It’s fair to say he enjoyed himself.
With the Kansas City gig cancelled, tonight’s gig in St Louis will be the last of the consecutive gigs, fourteen in total.
The promoter pulled the gig for alleged slow pre-sales. If every promoter did that we would end up with no gigs these days. Yes it’s great to get a couple of hundred pre-sales in the bank knowing all the walk ups are a nice Brucie bonus, but if you want to promote gigs and have bands travel hundreds of miles to get to the show that you put on, then grow a pair of balls and ride it out, because in this climate the walk ups can quite easily out number the pre-sales.
We arrived at Fubar, which I’m reliably informed is an acronym for ‘fucked up beyond all recognition’ and loaded in.
During soundcheck, a guy who had come with one of the support bands dressed in his denim cut off emblazoned with NWOBHM patches made his way to the front of the stage and started headbanging to ‘Lightning…’ Quite surreal really and definitely a first for me. It turns out he’s another one who has been waiting thirty plus years to see the band and he was certainly going to make the most of it.
The same guy also asked Brian to sign a tonne of memorabilia while he was still on stage twiddling with his monitors. It was quite funny at the time but really, there is a certain etiquette needed at times.
I got talking to an ex-pat who couldn’t believe Diamond Head had come to his town as no other bands usually bother due to the apathy of the local rock scene and this was probably reflected in the not so huge turn out, so fair play to the band for trying to reach a good proportion of this huge country.
The venue itself didn’t help stir things, playing Tina bloody Turner track after track in between all the bands, and it’s fair to say this wasn’t my favourite gig of the tour. Fubar will forever be remembered as the Poobar from now on.
“Without Diamond Head, none of this would have existed…”
Lars Ulrich – Metallica