Back to the Future with Scott Adams

The eighties may be coming to an end, but Scott's career as Buckinghamshire's leading heavy metal frontman is just beginning - it's 1989!

So 1989 arrived, and with it the confidence, after a lot of rehearsing, to throw our hat in the ring of live performance.  There was a support slot going at the Morning Star in High Wycombe, and we were ready.


The Morning Star was a nasty, nasty pub – at one time it was a haven for the town’s extreme right wing British National Party, but its back room was home to Ponton’s Music Club which was a good starting place – and you gotst to start somewhere, no?


I’d taken the precaution of taking the day off work, and went to the pub at eleven for a couple of lubricating lagers – just to keep the throat in top notch  working order, you understand- before meeting up with Phil Standen, one of Sapphire’s two lead guitarists. After purchasing a few cans of Kronenbourg 1664 (now being advertised by Motorhead, rather appropriately) to help the time pass we repaired to his mum and dad’s house, where some vital pre-gig work had to be done.


Phil had had a pair of jeans marinating in a bucket of bleach overnight, and our task this afternoon was to go at them with sandpaper in order for them to look suitably distressed for the night’s show. This is important (and thirsty) work, but we got there in the end. The jeans were passed fit, and with time pressing – and all the beer gone - we decided to head out to the venue. As I said last time, I’d sung the odd song on an ad hoc basis with a few covers bands, but this was the real thing, and as we climbed into Phil’s Ford I was feeling just a little nervy.


The band we were supporting that night were Slough’s finest, Rendezvous. They were professionals. They had wireless mikes, wireless guitars, probably even wireless drums. And they were soundchecking. Oh, how they soundchecked. And then they soundchecked again. In fact they soundchecked so much we barely had time to even plug our instruments in before it was time to go.


But go on we did. And it was marvelous. At least we thought it was. For twenty five minutes we were kings of the world, as we ripped through such soon-to-be-classics as Chasing Rainbows, Into the Night, The Circus and The Highwayman. The audience thought we were pretty good to, as did Rendezvous. They’d studiously observed the headline/support band relationship guidelines laid down since time immemorial by barely acknowledging us before the show, but the sheer metal power of our performance won them over, and they informed us we’d be welcome to support them anytime.

I wasn’t so sure. Rendezvous turned out to be rather good, but they were very much in the hard rock vein of things – like a Def Leppard/Heavy Pettin hybrid (they had one tremendous song, Shaking, that should have been a number one somewhere) – whilst we ploughed a far heavier furrow. I became a regular at their shows, but as a punter only. We felt we had bigger fish to fry.


Our next show was at the bottom of a three band bill a couple of weeks later, as part of the ‘Rock at the Court’ series in my hometown of Marlow in Buckinghamshire. A show at the Morning Star had seemed like big business at the time, but this was something bigger again. The meat in the sandwich were Reading band Ironheart which in itself would have been a big deal for us as small town no-hopers, but the headline band was altogether more important – it was Romeo’s Daughter.


WHO? I hear you cry. Well, at the time RD had an album out that had been produced by Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange, and a single, Heaven in the Back Seat, that had been on the soundtrack of one of the Freddie Kruger movies. This was the big time brothers and sisters, oh yes.


You could tell it was the big time, because no one was speaking to us. No one at all. Rendezvous had had a go at ignoring us, but that was just in the back room of a pub. They couldn’t avoid us really. This was a ‘proper venue’, a cavernous space with real rock stars wandering about in it, and once again we weren’t getting a soundcheck. We weren’t even getting a namecheck. We stood around looking nervously at our cowboy boots (actually I was the only one wearing cowboy boots, but you get the picture) waiting for someone to take notice of us. They didn’t.

 

You could tell it was the big time because we had been given a dressing room. Actually, we were allowed to share Ironheart’s dressing room, I didn’t know it then, but this backstage haven was to come in handy after our set. Eventually someone had approached us, ascertained the fact that we were ‘the local band’ and shown us to our quarters. We didn’t get a rider, but there were powerpoints, so, unlike the Morning Star where we’d gotten into our stage gear in the toilets of the bar itself, here I was able to deploy my hairdryer to maximum effect. Like I said – the big time.

 

Showtime came round. We’d have to put up with no soundcheck but who cared really? The MC, a louche old man by the name of Joe Bangay, informed the audience who we were and off we went. The house lights were still up, and half the crowd were outside enjoying the late summer sunshine but no matter. The band powered into the opening of Chasing Rainbows, and as I barked a salutary ‘’allo Marlow!” I scanned the audience for encouraging faces. There they were – my mum, my dad, various workmates and four – count ‘em- four girls that I was ‘seeing’ at the time, none of whom were aware of the others’ existence. Rather cavalierly, I'd agreed to meet them all after the show if they could manage to get down, never for a moment thinking all four would turn up at once. How was I going to get out of this?

 

Of course the show must go on and we delivered a blistering set described by legendary heavy metal DJ Brian Pithers as being 'solid pub metal' before quitting the stage to modest applause. I repaired to the safety of our dressing room, there to plot my escape...


Did I make it? You'll find out next time when we also unveil Back to the Future's virtual dream festival...


Till then, Adios amigos...