The second day off on the tour was mostly spent driving and we stayed over in Fort Stockton. The next morning we made our way to San Antonio where the band would be playing the Rockbox that evening. We arrived in good time and with an easy load in, the gear was set up and soundcheck was completed in no time.
There are no egos in this band, no faffing around, each member spends the minimum time required to get his line check and monitors sorted. Ras sets his own rig up and gets his mix right for his ‘in ears’, then they run through half of ‘Lightning To The Nations’ and the chorus in ‘To Heaven From Hell’ and that’s it, job done.
The venue is really cool with great stage lights and lasers, so with this in mind and the fact the venue didn’t ask for a filming fee (more about that in a future feature) Ras decided this would be a good one to film.
The route to the green room took you through another bigger hall with a huge stage still under construction; the owners are clearly spending a lot of money on this place. We had a lovely Italian meal over the road then headed back to the venue so Debbie could get organised with the merch and the guys could warm up backstage.
I went to the bar and asked for a drink only to be told told that it’s bring your own beer night! We later found out the venue had their liquor licence revoked! This was probably a sign of what was to come.
So off I went to the van to lighten the load of surplus rider cans and on re-entry to the backstage door the security guy asked me what I was doing, so I explained and he answered that as I was with Diamond Head, he would turn a blind eye! He obviously hadn’t read the memo!
Mick and Julie arrived just in time to see the first of three cool support bands, all of whom gave great shout outs to Diamond Head. After the last band had finished their set, Ras and I strategically set up the four GoPros and I was entrusted with the roaming camera. David Bailey I am not!
Diamond Head came on and proceeded to smash it for ninety minutes and the crowd, which included one boisterous Bristolian ex-pat went mental for them, with the local Metalheads completely losing their sanity during ‘Am I Evil?’ and destroying the metal barrier of the photo pit. I got some great footage of these shenanigans and hope you all get to see some of it if anything is released in the future.
The next day was the third day off and the first job was to drive to the bank to cash the cheque the band had been paid with last night. As we all waited in the van, Karl returned with a face that said something was wrong. Yes, the cheque had bounced with insufficient funds being available.
A quick call to the promoter and yes you guessed it, there was no answer. This obviously affected the mood in the camp and a band discussion agreed that a phone call was to be made to tomorrow night’s venue in Houston informing them that the band would not be setting the gear up until half the guaranteed fee had been handed over.
We headed off towards Houston and during the journey in the van, Ras was busily working away on his laptop listening to and mixing some of last night’s performance. After a while, he stuck a pair of Bose earphones on my head and played me his mix of ‘Lightning To The Nations’ which was stunning. This is a band on top of their game, however Ras informed me it still needs tweaking.
That evening we had a Thai meal then went to a bar local to the hotel. The owner was delighted to find out he had Diamond Head in the house and proceeded to play various songs from the back catalogue, with Brian joking that he should be expecting a boost in his next royalty cheque.
On arrival at the venue the next night in Houston, the promoter was sympathetic to the band’s request and promptly paid the fee, and with word coming through from the San Antonio promoter that the previous night’s fee would definitely be honoured, the mood was looking up.
This however, was only temporary, as after load in and set up (huge thanks to the local crew guy Zebra, who couldn’t do enough for us) and a soundcheck that included Dean getting an electric shock, Karl got devastating news through from the UK that his mum, the lovely Val had passed away.
Now I have no idea how the big guy performed this gig, but perform it he did, showing the same gusto and professionalism as always. It was all a bit of a blur to me and the gig almost passed me by really. At the end of every gig after the guys have taken a bow, Karl always takes the mic and thanks the fans for coming out to see the band and showing their support by spending money at the merch, this time however it was a little different.
With a stiff upper lip Karl proceeded to pay tribute to his mum before eventually thanking the fans. It was very moving and his composure was commendable to say the least.
I had first met Val back in 2002 on the ‘Making Music’ tour when I took my eldest son Ryan, who was ten at the time, to see his first Diamond Head gig at Bradford Rio’s. Val, who many of you may know through buying a shirt or a CD at a Diamond Head gig, loved him and personally took it upon herself to look after him, and every time I saw her at a Diamond Head gig afterwards with her husband Pete, she would always ask how Ryan was doing. She will be sadly missed by all.
RIP Val x
The next morning we left the hotel in Houston at mid day and headed over to Walmart for Ras to try and find some Borocca or equivalent, meanwhile I took advantage of the superstore to buy an industrial size packet of cheesy cheetos and an iced coffee! We arrived in Dallas at 16:00 and the venue, Trees, was downtown on a really cool strip with bars and restaurants and there was an ice cream shop that must have sold the best ice cream in Texas because from the moment we arrived until the shop closed at 22:30 there was a queue stretching way out of the doors.
After a band meal in Brick N’ Bones we arrived back at the venue to find out one of the support bands had pulled out, meaning Diamond Head would go on stage earlier than planned.
Of the two support bands, Bezel were the ones that caught my eye. They were obviously influenced by Queensryche which isn’t a bad thing at all and I enjoyed their set.
On the drive back to the hotel, the subject of past Diamond Head US tours came up and I asked Karl how it came about that Chas West did the 2013 tour that Nick had to pull out of. It was an interesting story probably best left for another day, though it’s safe to say Chas wanted that tour on his CV!
With the next day being a day off, Brian, Ras, Abbz, Dean and myself all piled into one room and made a dent in the bottle of vodka off the Vegas rider. Brian also brought chocolate cake with him.
In the morning after breakfast we decided to go and have a look at the Alamo as it was walking distance from the hotel and we didn’t have to set out on our next journey to Arkansas en route to Nashville until 12:30.
Before leaving the hotel we all made sure we went to the toilet so as not to get caught short whilst we were at the Alamo. The last thing we needed was one of us getting thrown in the slammer.
What was Ozzy thinking?
“Without Diamond Head, none of this would have existed…”
Lars Ulrich – Metallica