Fairweather & The Elements live at Falkirk Trinity Church

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Credits

The Audience

The Artists

Rikki Tonner Afterglow MUSIC

The Photograhers (there were many)

And Kevin Byrne for the photographs used in this blog entry

 

Thankfully the last time I was at church was for a happy occasion, i’m now at that funny age between christenings, marriages and deaths. I’ve never wandered along at 11am on a Sunday morning in a freshly pressed suit to attend service. My beliefs are another matter altogether.

I do believe the Falkirk Music scene has taken yet another turn in the right direction. This gig, four artists performing live in the Falkirk Trinity Church, a lovely ethereal building in the sadly unhealthy heart of Falkirk’s high street. (all things mend given time)

In my couple of decades frequenting and playing in various Falkirk venues the Trinity Church was refreshingly different from the usual stages within our town. I wandered up through the churchyard hearing the early Friday night revellers in the distance, clearly celebrating that another working week was at an end. An autumnal wind had chilled the air as I adjusted the collar of my coat and headed to the front door, there I met headliner Ross Fairweather who looked quite relaxed. He offered me a warm handshake as he headed out the door into the night.

I met with my good friend Kevin Byrne, one of Falkirk’s leading photographers he was asked to take shots of the pending event. We headed to the ‘bar’, a room set aside within the church for the supply of drinks by kind people who made us welcome and assertively reminded us not to take our alcoholic beverages into the main body of the church.

After a short blether (and plans for our next album) we headed into the main room to be greeted by the subtle but grand sanctuary, we took our seat. The air had a slightly musty tinge and hymn books were nestled neatly under every seat.  The arena was an oval shaped room with high ceilings and the wooden pulpit was surrounded by the backline and instruments. The long white pipes of the organ dominated the back of the wall.Two large screens were on standby these would be used to project various visuals during the performances. It was a nice setting for the night that was about to unfold.

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Robbie Lesiuk took to the stage and a small but appreciative crowd of early attenders listened attentively to his set. Using a loop pedal and some electronic beats to accompany his skilful guitar playing he played a very accomplished set, I found it very enjoyable. The silence during his set was impressive. I can’t remember enjoying this at a Falkirk gig before (artists love it when the audience listen and don’t talk all the way through sets. Slightly pretentious? I guess but we spend hours, blood, sweat and tears writing songs).

 

On conclusion of his set I nipped off for some wine and before I had time to speak about the grape type with Kevin we were back though to see Ghost Writer. I’ve seen these guys at Behind the Wall during the loft sessions so I was looking forward to this.

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Iain King has grown in stature, he has been busy not only with this band but with Fairweather and the Elements he is a very accomplished guitar player. Scott McGregor donned in white was clearly enjoying the occasion. At the moment Ghost Writer are one of the best bands from the Falkirk scene. Their songs are well crafted and rise above many of their peers. The song I’m Not Trying To Get To Heaven ended their set in style and was apt for the surroundings.

 

Third act Fly Jackson were very good. mixing guitars, brass keys, drums, bass and vocals to produce grand tunes that the drew perhaps the biggest audience of the night.

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The stage screens went black and a clever video of Fairweather and Elements walking towards the church, through the doors and then rather cleverly, the band appeared to take their places on the stage. The visuals would continue throughout the set with a mixture of wonderful art animation and sites of old Falkirk. A slight tinge of sadness overcame me looking at how grand our town once seemed, with bustling marketplaces and shops.

Ross and co played a fine set, if there was anyone who deserved a night like this then it’s Ross. He has grafted on the local circuit and his work appears to have paid off as this was a well attended show.

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Deborah Lang has powerful vocals and this was the right venue; the large room would allow her range to be appreciated. I was glad to see the band at the Trinity Church, her vocals seem to thrive beyond the confines of the studio and this is the beauty of live music.

After the final song the hour was late and the punters quickly drifted off to various locations in the town. It was a great night of music in a brilliant setting. The people of the church opened their doors to the Falkirk scene. The church is about community,  I saw many familiar faces from the Falkirk music scene. I hope we are cementing our own community to take us forward. We need to nourish our own scene, it has to grow if we are ever to have a chance to get one of our more talented artists to cut through the ever thickening digital mass of bands that swamp the industry. Hopefully with a little bit of divine intervention another Falkirk band will eventually rise above the flock.

Pabs

 

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Whapper Snappers

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One of the first pictures of a young Weird, probably taken by my mum. Pabs

When we started the band in 1995 legacy was not at the front of our minds indeed we were keen to break into the mainstream and become a successful band. Well that dream still floats somewhere between fantasy and madness. 21 years have passed and we enjoy playing in the band more than ever. We have albums and clippings from the papers, scribbled setlists to show our kids, we have a history.

A massive part of our history is the photographs, especially the group pictures or the shoots of us live. I cannot thank enough the photographers who have taken our portraits over the years. So this article is a dedication to the guys and gals who have shaped our image from photoshoots to live captures. Legends.

The Whapper Snappers

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Kevin Byrne is a very patient photographer who will often dismiss the band when they say they are happy with a picture and continue to take pictures. Here he is with us at the Cavern in Liverpool around March 2006

Kevin Byrne. Long time friend of the band Kevin has offered us advice since day one. He tears what is left of his hair out when we fail to build on any momentum we ever create. He has taken photographs for years; he took things more seriously 4 years ago when he studied the discipline of photography in Glasgow. He moved to Ettn Luer (a beautiful small suburb in Holland) for employment in photography and snapped some stunning pieces of work. Now he is back home and regularly displays his portraits to eager audiences the latest was the successful Red display.

Kevin has snapped us on several occasions. Some of his work at the ABC2 was iconic and who can forget the ‘lithgae’ snap that would be used several times in our local paper and in our promo work.

 

Eindp Photography AKA Rory. Rory has snapped bands for some time now, he tirelessly frequents many venues to professionally snap bands that normally would not be exposed to this sort of photography. He is an avid supporter of the Falkirk Music Scene (and beyond, basically he stands up for the wee guys), attends many local gigs and there is a high chance you will hear the click of his shutter as the artists play.

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a familiar sight for artists playing live across Scotland, Rory behind the lens. Pic Sweet P Photography

Rory first snapped us in Stirling playing at the Oxjam festival, he since has shot us at North Star and he has kindly shared his work for our blog. I caught up with him once, up at Behind the Wall and you could not fault his enthusiasm. Rory is a musician in his own right occasionally strumming the guitar at the various acoustic gatherings now frequenting the Falkirk scene.

 

Juls Sampson. Juls is a magnificent supporter of the band and has been from day one back in ’95, both her and her husband Phil and daughter Paige are great friends of ours. Juls has taken many pictures of Weird. The Sampson clan have been to many of our gigs over the years and Juls has taken many snaps that we look fondly back on. She took the pics that we used for our rare live album recorded at the Argyle in 2010.

 

Neil Henderson. Neil was a frequent attendee of the Falkirk scene for many years. He was part of the Happening Club. While we played Neil could be seen darting through various parts of the venue to take ever elaborate shots. Neil’s work can be found on the sleeve of both Coldhome Street and more significantly the portraits in Weird Decibels 1 inside sleeve.

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Neil went on to snap several bands throughout the metal hardcore scene. Most notable was his work for Attica Rage (with whom we played a gig in Glasgow Uni).

Notable others

Gary Ivady took some dynamic pics at North Star among other pictures of us live

 

Kenichi images took some great  stills from our gig at ABC 2 which were a highlight of our time in Glasgow promoting Weird Decibels 1

Iain Constable who shot the pictures used for the original Firkin Outburst photoshoot; these pictures were taken on the old railway track that would become the Camelon bypass. Iain also shot some of our earliest videos from the Martell

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That old bridge is now the blue bridge on the Camelon bypass

 

Falkirks live venues past and present. part 1. the Martell

The Martell (now the Warehouse)

You never forget your first time, the anticipation, the hope that everything works, getting the mood right and of course making sure the drummer comes out of the toilet before we start. Yes i’m talking about our first gig back in the summer of 1995. We had a setlist of around 6 songs (it’s all we had) and we had a stage. It was a Thursday night, it was the Martell.

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Our Wonder video has Stu playing outside the iconic venue.

Just off Grahams road near the canal sat the Martell. It was hidden from the road by a furniture store. Once you walked past the lastest sofa sale signs you would arrive at the big sign lit up with the Martell font. You can hear the music as you approached the small unassuming front door and when you entered the music hit you. To the left was the till that took the ticket money. Then you would enter the front room, tables often bustling with punters and directly in front the long bar would stretch back to the pool tables.

A small CRT monitor would flicker as the tills rang though the drink sales. Gold Bier £1. This was the mid 90’s and many of the local kids were heading to this venue to see 4 bands on a Thursday for a fiver. Our friends Cage, rock gods  Monitor Lizard, the wonderful Foam and various other local acts played through Jimmy’s PA system. It was loud and some of us had school in the morning…

The stage was on the far right of the room, it was separated from the audience by a small brick wall for which many stunts and guitar poses would be struck. Up in the booth was the DJ, big Sid and his clap monitor for measuring the Battle of the Bands victors. (yes that was how it was decided…)

Watching bands at the Martell was brilliant; it was a small but loyal community that attended every week. From watching the bands to shooting pool you would find you started to know people’s names and hang out talking about the bands of that era, Oasis, Nirvana, Blur and various other acts. Some nights were packed, others not so and occasionally the place would be dead apart from the hardcore frequenters.

Our First Gig.

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Smokey. loud, young and proud to playing the local music scene

At around 19 years of age I had a mop of long brown hair and a stooped gait. Stu was in full Metallica mode, Greg also donned with long hair often tied up so he could show of his rose tinted shades and Derek the cheeky youngster who infuriatingly got changed a minute before we took the stage. I swear he enjoyed seeing my exasperation as he ran past me towards the drum kit smiling.

The first time we played the Martell was amazing. The lights blinded you, we were probably ropey but we played some of the best songs we had written. The Rain and Vancouver to name two, followers from the start will know these songs well.

The high school crowd that has followed Derek loved it and we were finally part of the Falkirk music scene. What followed was amazing. The battle of the bands.

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Advert for the battle of the bands. £1000 in those days would get you a decent stint in a studio. Our gig with Nervana and local lengends Cage advertised. Miss Wet T shirt perhaps showed the other side of the Martell…

Our first attempt at the battle of the bands would see our largest crowds swell the Martell to bursting. To date it is the biggest audience we have played original songs to. It was the quarter finals. Thanks to the clap monitor being pounded by the crowd we sailed through to the semis and the dreams of winning started to become a reality. The semi final was another packed gig but it was not to be, we lost and did not make the final.

We played a number of gigs at the Martell during the late 90’s it was like our Cavern, it’s where we cut our live teeth. Gigs ranged from supporting our friends Cage and Turtlehead to opening for cover bands like Nearvana. Eventually another battle of the bands took place and sadly we were not as successful.

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Stu on the bigger stage that was opened up at the rear of the venue. It would prove hard for us to fill.

The venue opened up a bigger hall at the back where the snooker tables used to be. It felt different and for us it was too much to fill with our small but loyal fanbase. Highlights started to thin out and the Martell’s appeal was starting the wear thin. Eventually we knew all the bar staff, had lock ins with George the bar manager and played live recorded shows with Central FM (hard to believe a local station used to record live local bands). The alcohol flowed, the gigs came and went. One night when I crashed beer all over the counter I knew it was getting out of hand.

We left the Martell for a while, the Thursday nights were no longer a regular occurrence.

In the 2000’s (do we have a decent name for this decade yet?) we were approached to play and we obliged but the magic was gone or perhaps Falkirk had moved from our brand of rock. The Martell, the birth of our gigging experience and the hub of the Falkirk Music scene for so many years had unwound. As we finished our last set at the Martell there was no ceremony, just an air of disappointment. We thought perhaps the next time we play will be better but there would be no next time for us the Martell.

Life went by as it does, new venues opened and I would head down Grahams road sometimes going home in a taxi after a night out up in the heart of Falkirk. For years the neon sign of the Martell would glow statically in the night. You would hear about the Martells reputation for club music and the place became alien to me. Eventually it changed hands, now it’s named the Warehouse and encouragingly the venue puts on bands albeit tribute acts and mid size touring bands. There has been little mention of local artists playing there.

The Martell was one of the best venues we ever had in Falkirk. It worked for years, bringing together like minded people who wanted to listen to or play in bands around Falkirk. Together we created memories that will never leave us. Indeed some of the people who lit up the Martell stage are sadly no longer with us which makes the memories of this iconic local venue all the more important.