Date: 30th Jan 2019
Lineup: Michale Graves, Noise Pollution, Sour Tusk, Air Drawn Dagger
Venue: The Mulberry Bar and Venue, Sheffield
Famous Monsters, I'm convinced, is one of the best albums ever released. It's catchy. The lyrics are memorable. Every bloody song's a gem. Cue me getting a pop-up telling me that Michale Graves, who was Misfits' frontman on that glorious album, is touring Europe. I'm on it. I'm fucking there. I have a look at the ticket website, and it lists a bunch of dates. I can get to Sheffield and back in a night after work, so that's that sorted. We're off.
I've not been to Sheffield before. I've passed through it many times when travelling, but never stopped there. Not like I'd be doing too much sight-seeing, but the prospect of visiting a new city even just for a night is always exciting to me. I like going to new places and seeing just what the hell is going on.
The venue holds 200-ish people. It's an alternative venue, and it seems to be very punk-focused. I'm not huge on punk. It's not bad, I just don't find myself listening to it too often. But that's no matter. I waltzed right in to Noise Pollution doing a soundtrack before realising that you're supposed to wait upstairs in the bar area before you get called down when doors are open. As usual, I'm looking a bit of a tit not knowing where I'm meant to be going or waiting.
Doors open for the downstairs venue, and I take me and my drinks down and settle by the stage near the front. There's no barrier. In fact, the stage is basically a platform that's raised about half a foot. Very intimate, actually. It's cosy here.
Air Drawn Dagger are first. They were pretty good! I'm a bitch when it comes to outfits so of course when people are wearing what looks like clothes from Primark's autumn clearance, I'm a tad underwhelmed. But the music was good and they had a fierce energy about them and that's all that matters, really.
Next up is Sour Tusk. The flyers the bar had stuck around the place said that a band called Siblings of Samhain were meant to be playing, but it looks like they dropped out or something.
Sour Tusk were a more doom/stoner metal sort of band. They were fucking great. It was just the two of them, one on guitar and one on drums. They shared out the vocals. Let me tell you that it was impressive as shit to see someone going primal ape on the drums and still sing well. Really fun.
Noise Pollution are next. They're a heavy metal band from Italy, Google tells me. I can't find them on the Metal Archives which is really surprising, that site has never failed me yet. These guys were incredible. I initially typed out 'off the chain', but I can't let myself publish a sentence like that. The audience were getting into it too so the band connected with the crowd more, which I love. There's nothing that bothers me more than when a band is going for it and the audience are just stood, motionless, looking at them. Move!!! DO SOMETHING! I was too busy feeling my oats to get a photo.
Now, finally, we get to the main act - Mr Graves himself. What a lad. He had the best fucking pants I have ever seen in my whole life.
There were quite a few Famous Monsters tracks on the setlist, as well as a few from American Psycho, and some of Graves' solo stuff which I didn't even know he had, never mind me having listened to it. Three songs in and I'm losing it to The Forbidden Zone and having the time of my life. The whole setlist was great. When I wasn't belting out the words I was simultaneously being crushed and crushing whomever was around me.
There was a proposal on stage just before Saturday Night, which was pretty sweet I guess (she said yes). Public proposals rub me the wrong way. If it's planned, and both parties are into it, then sure. But what someone proposes and the recipient wants to say no, but is pressured to say yes because of the amount of people watching? Fuck that.
After Helena, Michale gives a wee speech about how encores are for people with inflated egos and how he doesn't believe in that shit. He also gave a heartfelt talk about how much making music means to him and how much he loves performing and connecting with people. It was very refreshing, actually, to see someone of whom I would deem a legend flatly refusing to buy into the lifestyle that people would expect him to.
There's about 5 more songs. Someone on the other side of the venue (or about 6 people away, as the stage was not very long) was arsing round and spilt drink over Loki's guitar-amp thing. I don't know what it is, I'm not a scientist. It's not a speaker, more of a metal box the size of a small briefcase which has lights on it and you plug the guitar cables into it. One of them. Whatever. Loki was pissed about it.
A couple of songs later and the amps piled up by Loki nearly get knocked over as a gaggle of men are going apeshit without a care for their surroundings.
The last song is the absolute banger Dig Up Her Bones. This great, chunky lad is working his way to the front, picking up (with permission) whomever is at the front and making them crowdsurf. He gets to me. He's fucking huge, or maybe I'm just tiny. I finally give in and he picks me up as if I was merely an empty beer can lying on the floor and plonks my scrawny arse on top of a writhing crowd of sweaty men losing their absolute shit.
When I finally get down, I wrestle back to the front for the rest of the song. Eventually it ends, and Michale lets everyone know he's gonna be at the merch booth to say hi, take photos, sign whatever it is that people want signing. I start getting antsy - my train's in 20 minutes, it's the last one of the night, and it takes me 10 minutes to get to the station. Outside of my personal panic-filled airspace, another drink is spilled, this time the whole cup, all over Loki's amp-thing. Loki's foaming at this point but containing it.
I grab a setlist and start feeling for my phone to check the time. It's not in my pocket. I'm in a state of panic now — these phones aren't cheap! It must've fallen out of my pocket when I was being carried to the back of the damn venue. I scour the floor to no avail, and eventually dash to the bar at the back and ask in desperation if a phone's been handed in. It had been, and without a single scratch or dent in it! Which means it must've hit someone on its way between me and the ground. Sincere apologies to whomever the casualty was.
Michale's standing by the booth and I see a lapse between people waiting to see him, so I dive in. Sod it, it's my only chance, I'm thinking. I have my ticket and a setlist, and the only writing utensil I have on me is a chunky eyeliner pen. Michale kindly signed my stuff. I was fucking delirious at this point, I'd been in a state of pure joy to pure panic to absolute relief to nervousness and excitement in the space of about 3 minutes. I'm also drunk. All I could manage was saying 'thank you! thank you!' to him and telling him how great his set was before apologising as I had to catch a train, leaving nearly as soon as I could spit the words out. He must've thought I was fucking dumb, or hammered. Or a mix of both. Which I was. I'm not sure where I was going with this.
Before I left, the guy who nearly threw me over his shoulder grabbed me after the show and we chatted for a brief moment. He was sound. He introduced me to the drummer/singer from Sour Tusk who gave me a hearty handshake before going to help clear up the equipment on stage. It was at this point that I fucking dashed out of that damn venue.
I'm waiting at the station and I notice that American Psycho is on the list twice, when the final song was Dig Up Her Bones. I'm also noticing on the Departure board that the train was running 8 minutes late, so I could've stayed a while longer. That's kind of a kicker, as I really wanted to meet the support bands and get a Noise Pollution shirt, but it doesn't matter so much. I had one of the best nights of my life. I'm all good.