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Stormin’ The Castle, Witton Castle (Sep 2005)

Friday 2nd September

Eighth Line-Up: Lenny (Vocals), Dave Lunn (Guitar), Woody (Drums), Chris (Bass)

The “Leper Messiah” was back on full form

I’ve been a big champion of this band for many years. They’re a Durham based act that do tend to play not too far from their home town, and as such they’re maybe not as prominent in the public eye as perhaps are some others of equal quality. Yet for those who’ve seen them play before then they know just how good a band they truly are. Riffs have been behind Tubesnake for many years, and even Davy Potter (DavysRockpage) keeps on saying how stunned he is that more people don’t sing the praises of this group. It often does come across that they are one of this region’s best kept secrets, yet nobody can figure out why after being around for over a decade that they still don’t seem to have gotten their deserved recognition. So I was over the moon when I found out that Tubesnake had been chosen to appear at this year’s Stormin’ rally, because at long last they’d have a chance to be in the limelight, and especially at such a prestigious event as this. And so it turned out that the group were the first band on stage this year, and the first one to test out Tony Smith’s new 40k PA rig. Even though their brief soundcheck was more of a glorified line-check (because of delays due to Lampy’s kettle, honest it’s a long story) they still kicked off in blinding form and the mix was excellent from the start. For once Len the singer looked a little lost on such a big stage, and he usually tends to dominate the floor at any pub that the band get to play. But within the first couple of numbers he found his feet and quickly the “Leper Messiah” was back on full form. Len is a superb frontman and although it might have took a little while for him to warm up, once he felt more comfortable in this strange & fabulous environment then he was full of contorted moves and poses. The big stage psychologically began to shrink for him, and then he started to use it to his best advantage, stalking the edges of the stage in his typical predatory fashion.

Woody … sounded like a thunder god!

The sound out front towards the crowd was excellent, and especially the deep bass drum sound that kicked you in the chest, and the gorgeous tone of Dave’s guitar that cut through the cool night air like a samurai blade. Woody the drummer is normally used to playing without any amplification on his drum kit, and for this night he sounded like a thunder god. This is the kind of band that demand a strong back beat, and often in normal pub surroundings he is drowned out of the mix. This time he was kicking through like a muthaf*cker and was driving the group along in fantastic style. Chris on bass is the Charles Bronson of rock, and you don’t get that many facial expressions out of this guy. His serious demeanour over the first few numbers looked like he was trying to work out extremely difficult maths equations, but he soon loosened up, and towards the end of the show he was grinning like a cheshire cat. Dave on guitar was in his element. He’d been looking forward to playing this gig but had no real idea just how huge an event this whole rally truly was. I’d warned him in advance that with being the first band of the day then he’d likely start off with only about 200 people in the crowd, yet it would get much larger as soon as folk heard the live music starting. And so it was that after about half way through their set that it was getting quite dark in the tent, and then the organisers put on the little lights at the very back of the marquee. Only then did the band realise just how many people had crept into the tent, and the look on Dave’s face was priceless. Most bands of this calibre have played bike rallies in the past, but mainly smaller ones that may have a maximum capacity of 500 or so. But it’s quite a shock to the system when you’re in the middle of playing a song and you suddenly realise that the audience has swelled to around 2,500 – 3,000. That’s much more than a sold out Newcastle City Hall gig. Scary stuff!

Now they will be recognised as one of our region’s finest live groups

As I guessed, Tubesnake fed off the vibe and excitement of the rapidly growing crowd, and gave a really top class performance. Dave in particular grew in confidence with each passing number, and with more people in the tent then the reason to show off was even greater. The song selection omitted the lengthier more atmospheric numbers that are in their standard 100-minute set, and with this being just a brief 1-hour performance then the band kept the whole thing harder hitting. The shorter punchier tunes worked perfectly with this kind of audience, and the band managed to maintain the energy levels right through their time slot. The Bowie covers went down a storm with Ziggy Stardust, Starman, and Moonage Daydream doing the business perfectly. The rocked up versions of the Beatles Helter Skelter & Eleanor Rigby made a huge impact with this crowd, as well as the tasty rendition of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall. There was something there for everybody with this selection, and of course it wouldn’t be a Tubesnake gig without some Rolling Stones & Doors in there somewhere too. Paint It Black & Jumping Jack Flash got the crowd jumping as well, plus People Are Strange & Light My Fire kept that 60s vibe running strong. Yet it was probably the final 2 songs that really showed the band at their very best, with the show closer Gimme Shelter kicking some serious ass, and the encore of L.A. Woman building the energy right up to crescendo. The group finally left the stage after just 60 minutes, but they had used their allotted time very wisely and gave a good all-round display of just what a Tubesnake gig is like, even in a shortened version. The band did themselves proud and no doubt made a lot of new friends amongst the assembled revellers. For first-timers at Stormin’ they proved their worth, and hopefully now they WILL be recognised as one of our region’s finest live groups.

… Colin Smoult, posted on Riffsonline website, Sep 2005

With the sound checks and last minute hitches, the event was running a little late, but the punters seemed not to care, and it meant that the massive marquee was filling up nicely for the first band up. Nigel and Colin from RIFFS were out front taking in the ever increasing atmosphere, and by the time band announcer Mr.Smoult took to the stage to open this years proceedings, a good size crowd had gathered as he introduced TUBESNAKE.

Being one of my favourite local bands, I was looking forward to seeing Tubesnake on this bigger stage. Always hard being the first band on at a huge event like this, and sometimes the sound isn’t quite right as the band get going. But with the sound mix soon sorted, they were well on their way through a well chosen set of classic Doors, Stones and Bowie numbers, amongst others. The four musicians – guitarist Dave, bassist Chris and drummer Dave Wood, all sounded great and looked as if they were really enjoying themselves, playing to the ever increasing and approving audience, as no doubt was Len on vocals, who prowled the stage with his ever dark, melancholy presence. The band finished with ‘L.A. Woman’ and left the stage to a great cheer from the large crowd. A superb start to ‘Stormin’ 2005′!

The ending of the first day, for me, went out on a bit of a whimper, lacking a good rocking band instead of this novelty act (i.e. Hayseed Dixie). If the bands had been on in reverse order, with TUBESNAKE belting out some thumping songs like ‘Paint It Black’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ the night would have ended on a higher note.

… Davy Potter, posted on DavysRockPage website, Sep 2005

Awesome first night at this year’s Stormin’ rally. Massive sized crowd, monster PA rig, superb atmosphere. Tubesnake were a brilliant opening act and pulled in tons of people into the main tent during their brief one-hour slot. By the time they played their last few tracks there must have been about 2,500 people watching them. A great set from them which included a lot of their shorter punchier tunes. Wish they could have been on longer.

… Witton Castle Warriors, posted on Riffsonline website, Sep 2005