The Road to Hell

As an alternative to just showing you the gigs we are about to do, we thought it might be interesting to show you where we have been and a brief description of what it was like.

This is also our way of thanking the venues for their support and allowing us to entertain their customers.

Road to Hell (2002 Dates) | Road to Hell (Jan - Apr 2003) | Road to Hell (May - Aug 2003) | Road to Hell (Sept - Dec 2003)

17 April 2004 - Wirksworth Town FC Awards Party, The Red Lion, Wirksworth

We could refer to a strong sense of déjà vu with this one but let's resist the temptation because although the location was the same as last week, the actual room was different. We had decided to use the big rig even if this meant lugging all of the gear up the fire escape and through the kitchen.

Having been warned that the club officials might want to use a microphone during their awards presentation we had got there early to set everything up. It also gave us a bit of time to experiment with taking lines direct from Paul and Huw's amps into the main PA.

Once the presentations and speeches were complete, the stage was handed over to us and our task was to try to entertain as many people as we could because the age range of the audience was quite wide. The choice of material reflected this but there seemed to be enough people listening to say that we had everyone interested.

It was during this part of the night that we realised we needed to rethink the strategy for the lining out of the amps because for the most part what we all were hearing on stage was actually coming from Robin's monitor speaker. Not an ideal situation by far.

The set was finished off with Johnny B Good and as well as including the "find a guitarist" slot, we had one of the players playing bass like a mega star - shame that there was no volume coming out of the instrument though. It would have been good to see if the musicianship was as good as the posing!

During the break our list of songs had seemingly been marked up with choices that people would like to hear so those that we hadn't already covered were duly performed.

Comment must be made though for Huw's backing vocals on "Blockbuster." Where did that falsetto come from? It's no wonder that Paul did a double take when he heard it coming back at him from the by now better sounding monitor mix.

With tunes from Jeff Beck, the Bay City Rollers and the like the dancers started to feel brave and moved into the middle of the floor to strut their stuff much to the amusement of many of the wallflowers!

All that remains for us to say is to thank the management for booking us and especially to the landlord who, above and beyond the call of duty, helped us out with the gear despite there being so much of it and in the pouring rain too (and fed us as well [Huw and Paul]). We hope to see you all again soon.

9 April 2004 - The Red Lion, Wirksworth

How many days & weeks had it been since we had last performed? Were we a bit rusty? Who was going to be there? All these questions and more were being asked as we rolled up to this new venue.

We needn’t have worried, despite the odd shape of the room necessitating a different set up and also despite forgetting certain fairly important bits of kit we were ready and the audience were certainly there for the night and ready to have fun.

What’s always bizarre though is that there must be something about us which makes people feel confident in asking us to play strange songs almost right from the off. There are not many other bands that we have witnessed where this happens.

The strangeness started when having played a couple of numbers, a girl walked up to Paul whilst he was still playing and she held up a beer mat with the word “Amarillo” on it. The added factor to this request quickly became evident when, despite apparently not knowing Paul, the request was for a song by an artist that at one point Paul had played guitar for. With a request like that Paul wasn’t about to refuse the challenge so after briefly telling Huw what key the song was in and what chords were going to be played, we set off once again into the depths of Paul’s song memory.

Closing the first set, the choice of song was always going to be obvious so the audience got first of all shown Paul’s guitar tricks and then treated to a wander through the pub and out into the courtyard. Funnily enough, despite having the room outside, no fly past happened. Perhaps that will be saved for another time.

The second set was once again a right old mixture of material including a busked segue of Police songs, only one of which, we could lay claim to having played before at a gig. It all seemed to go down well judging by the baying for more as we finished.

We did play a couple more but as the time had almost run out by then, and since we had to get home, we called it a night.

Thanks must go to the landlady, who sadly wasn’t very well and thus wasn’t there, for booking us for this one and the private party next week, to the landlord for looking after us so well and perhaps we ought to make a request to the male patrons of the pub on behalf of the girl behind the bar. Ask her out more often, she was most disappointed that she had only been asked out twice that night! Come on lads, see if you can’t beat her record number of date requests in one night.

8 March 2004 - The Half Crown, Long Eaton

There isn't another venue quite like this one because we always play here on a Monday night and there is always a good audience. Other places we know of would struggle to rustle up more than a couple of people until later on in the week! We're not complaining and we are sure that the management weren't either.

With all of the excitement over the new gear having subsided, it was almost back to a normal gig with one or two exceptions. The first and last changes were probably the most obvious in that because we had been discussing the use of an "intro tape" for some of the bike rallies, Paul had decided to bring along his CD player and a CD of Hanna Barbera's cartoon theme tunes. What people made of the various snatches of these tunes, heaven only knows but it was obvious that Huw was not comfortable with them being played before we started (too right! The Banana Splits at 6500 watts is a tad excessive...)

The other different feature of the night was linked into Paul's decision to bring his CD player and was spotlighted right at the start of the second set. As usual Paul wasn't sure what to kick off the set with but on hearing the strains of "Smoke on the water," Deep Purple's classic anthem, coming out of the PA from his CD player, he decided to play this despite Huw's protestations that we shouldn't.

There were no new songs played because although we had booked rehearsal time at a local studio on the Sunday morning before the gig, we couldn't get into the studio because the operators were asleep after a particularly rock'n'roll evening on the Saturday. We tried ringing the bell and phoning them all to no avail as they were all ripping off the zeds.

Once again, thank you to all at The Half Crown for inviting us back, to Doreen and especially Ali for coming to see us (we know they just want to get ideas for their own gear!). We look forward to seeing you all again.

27 February 2004 - The Boundary, South Normanton

Although the The Meridian Suite within the pub is a great venue for us, we never look forward to two parts of the evening, those parts being the load in and the load out. This is due to the distance from the car park to the stage. Even with our trolleys in use it takes so long to get all the gear in and out, especially since now the rest of the new PA system had arrived.

The event was organised yet again by our good friend George and was designed to raise money for local youth sport. Apparently tickets had been selling like hot cakes and certainly whilst we were still assembling everything plenty of people turned up ready to be entertained.

The first set was fairly standard apart from Paul asking how many people in the audience had seen us before so that he could gauge if it was worth doing the walkabout routine. There didn't seem to be that many who knew what to expect so Paul and Huw set off in amongst them ending up fooling about on the dance floor with the dancers already there.

After the comedian's set and the almost customary bizarre take on a typical pub/club game (stand up bingo anyone) we got back up ostensibly to do another brief set before another break and then play to a finish. It didn't happen like that though because the sheer number of people dancing told George all he needed to know and that it would be better to keep things flowing whilst everyone was enjoying themselves.

During the break, a number of people had come up to us and suggested what sort of material they would like to hear so the challenge that Paul set himself and obviously the rest of the band, was to try to include something to please everyone. A particular challenge was including a Bruce Springsteen number because we didn't think we knew any and also felt that perhaps without sax and keyboards it would lose too much. Nevertheless, during a medley of tunes, Paul slotted in a basic version of "Dancing in the dark" so we could say we had done it. On the basis of the comments made by the guy requesting some Bruce material, can we call ourselves a rock band now?

With there being a late bar anyway, we were luckily allowed to keep going longer than perhaps had been expected but even so, there were people who wanted us to carry on. To those of you who wanted more, you will have to come and see us again to see if we can add in any more of your choices of material.

Thanks as always must go to George for arranging the evening, and providing some real fun with the stand up bingo. A big thank you also must be given to the management and staff at The Boundary for letting us play there and not hassling us as we broke the gear down and carted it out to the waiting cars.

A special mention must also be made for the generous offer of free pies for us at the end of the evening. The resulting foil wrapped food was greatly appreciated but sadly, because they were not individual pies, the apportioning process was fraught. In the end Huw took the lot. Anyone reading this and coming to see us again should make themselves known by pointing at Huw and singing in a loud voice "You ate all the pies!" That way we know that you are reading this and are also up for a good time. (Well, that's assuming that Huw keeps this section in the review when he puts it on the web site and doesn't drastically amend it or add superfluous comments within it!)...

No, I'll put the comments at the end. There was no way this particular Beer Monster *could* have ate all those pies. What was left got given to the cats... who found it a bit rich... and threw up over the curtains and the wooden floor. So what you have to shout is not "You ate all the pies", but "You cleaned all the sick". And we won't mention Paul taking George's bottle of red wine either...

21 February 2004 - The Old Volunteer, Carlton

Twenty two days after our last gig, we returned to the ongoing Search for the Holy Ale Tour with a gig at one of our favourite homes. It wasn't supposed to be a normal gig as we were actually booked for a fortieth birthday party so when you added in the party guests and some of the usual Volo crowd, there was quite a sizeable audience.

Yet again, new toys were in evidence because Paul had been out that very day and splashed more cash at Academy of Sound. This time the money had gone on improving our PA set up.

Yes folks, your favourite quiet band now had access to a big rig capable of sustaining about 4,000watts of music power and allowing even more microphones to be added to the set up. The main problem with this, and the reason that it took us nigh on two and a half hours to get the equipment up and running, is that the gear was so new Paul hadn't had chance to play with it properly nor read the manual. It was a good thing that we had allowed the time to mess about like this beforehand and thus weren't late starting. Hopefully by the time the next gig comes around, the manual will be well and truly read and Paul will understand just what is needed to run it all how he wants it. Oh and the outstanding two bass speakers will have turned up so that it all matches nicely!

The obvious aim of the night was to get people in a party mood and in particular to please the birthday boy so we kept asking what he wanted us to play. Shame about asking for Nazareth though because we don't know any!

Anyway, the usual suspect material got trotted out including a confused rendition of Guns'n'Roses classic "Sweet Child of Mine." The reason it was confused was that we are still not totally familiar with it, especially Paul, and with him going off in unexpected directions it was always going to be a challenge for Huw and Robin to follow him. This task was not aided by Robin not being able to hear what he was playing over the sound coming from Huw's bass amp. Roll on the onset of a monitor system for Robin!

Finishing off the set with "Johnny B Goode" including the guest guitarist slot, Paul managed to find a genuine guitarist who did indeed play the guitar despite it being around Paul's neck, not an easy feat to do at the best of times but made more difficult by the crowd around them.

Mention must also be made of the impromptu version of Alannah Myles' track "Black Velvet" by an unknown female member of the audience. We didn't really know the tune so apologies to those of you who felt we murdered it - we would probably agree with you on that!

The second set seemed to become one long party tune as more and more cheesy tunes appeared to enthusiastic cheering, clapping, dancing and, best of all, singing. Gary Glitter, The Sweet, Jeff Beck and The Bay City Rollers were all featured at some point before it quickly came to the end of the night.

The night ended with Prince's "Purple Rain" and had plenty of people grabbing their loved ones for a bit of a slow dance as we wound the proceedings to a close. Sorry to those of you who wanted more but we only had the all clear from the management to go as far as we did.

As ever, and as pointed out by Paul, we really do appreciate the turn out and the massive support given to us by everyone there. With any event like this, it takes an audience in the right frame of mind to make it into a party atmosphere and you most certainly excelled at this.

A Beer Monsters thank you also must go out to the tireless bar staff keeping everyone in ale, to Kev & Lol from the Volunteer for allowing us to do what we do and providing the venue for you all to enjoy yourself, to our good friend Daryl who played some mean harmonica especially when dumped in at the deep end on a track he had never played before and finally to everyone who came to see us even if they weren't part of the party group.

We will be back here again throughout the year so keep your eyes on the web site and on the posters in the pub for details. As a small clue, think April 30th and you wont miss the next one!

30 January 2004 - The Cow, Beeston

The first gig of the New Year where all of us were present. You couldn't say we were up to full strength because Paul was still suffering from the after effects of two broken ribs, but at least all three of us were there.

As usual at The Cow, there was a sizeable audience with plenty of familiar faces to cheer us on and to shout for songs that they wanted to hear. We hope that we played at least some of your favourites and that as a result, you will all come back again when we play here next time. Check the web site for details of our visits for the rest of the year. Sorry that we could not go on longer but the management are still having noise issues with the neighbours so we had to stop when we did.

As usual with a Beer Monsters gig, we had no preconceived ideas of what to play but we knew we could rely on the vocal element of the crowd to make suggestions. Sure enough we were soon being inundated with calls for songs that we either played or explained how impractical it was for us to play. Lynyrd Skynrd's Freebird seemed popular despite the fact that on the original there are at least three guitarists so unless you had all consumed too much alcohol, you should have seen we only had one, good though he is!

Yet again, Paul suddenly had an idea for a song that we had never played before and yes, after explaining the chord progression to Huw, we busked it to great applause.

During the usual "Johnny B Goode" guest guitarist slot, we created a new European Union by having multinational solos. Congratulations to Eleni from Greece (sorry I don't know the correct spelling) Esther from Spain and all of the others who had a go. After the gig it was even suggested by the Spanish contingent, that there should be some flamenco in the set. Esther and Mercedes even promised to dance to it on the stage. Anyone else think that there should be a small wager on that one since Paul seems to think he can do it?

Our secret weapon for the night arrived on stage for the last couple of numbers when Daryl stepped up and added harmonica to the proceedings. "Summer Time" sounded fantastic from on stage with the extra dynamics added by Daryl's soulful harmony and lead breaks.

All that remains for us to say is thank you all for coming. Thanks also go to the management for booking us again right the way through the year. Hopefully the bookings won't get erased again and you won't try to book us twice for the same night! A special thank you must go to Daryl for coming along and topping the night off with some skilful playing.

10 January 2004 - Private Party, The Boundary, South Normanton

How could we refuse to accept an invitation to celebrate one of our most enthusiastic supporter's fiftieth birthday? George has been instrumental in helping us obtain gigs at plenty of places and supports us by coming to the Running Horse jam session from time to time.

Despite Paul having recently changed jobs again, he was once again pushed for time and so we were up against it to get all of the kit in place ready to start playing but with George's support and the help of two sack trucks to carry the mountains of gear, we were ready to run in time.

Once again we were joined on stage by Jim Underhill, one of George's many good friends and with him augmenting our normal sound we had to be slightly cautious of sound levels due to important guests being present who were not used to a live music situation.

Since it was George's party, and because he loves being on stage with us, things started off with George signing Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the wall," Dire Straits' "Sultan's of Swing" and finally The Kinks' "You really got me." As he has been on stage with us before, George should have known that the way we play some songs "develop" over time so it was amusing to see his reaction when, during "You really got me," we inserted a couple of stops to liven things up a bit.

Once George had satisfied his craving for stardom and left the stage, Paul took over and proceeded to put together a medley of songs from the sixties and seventies, the era most familiar to the birthday boy. We were surprised to learn after we had finished the night that according to George this one medley lasted almost 45 minutes without a break - a feat that he found incredible but which Huw and Robin were unsurprised at. Perhaps Jim was surprised at it too since he was having to keep up with whatever Paul was calling out for too.

After this, things moved on to a wider selection of material which only came to a close when we realised that time was almost up. At this point George was recalled to the stage for a rendition of "Wonderful Tonight" that featured Paul mouthing the words to him to sing.

The whole band would like to thank George for not only inviting us to play on this special occasion but also for his unwavering support with his contacts in the licenced trade. We would also like to thank Jim for ably assisting us on guitar and to Rob for supplying a guitar amplifier for Jim to use after he discovered that his wasn't working.

3 January 2004 - Wig Party! The Running Horse, Nottingham

When Barry suggested in November that we do a wig party at his venue, we had no idea what he was on about. It turns out that the great plan was to get everyone to dress up daft and wear a wig. So why not, we thought. If there was an award for daftness, one of us would be in with a chance :)

Unfortunately, Robin had come down with a bad case of "the Squonk" following the Purton gig, so at the very last minute, we called in our old friend Brett Hallam from Stryder to perform the percussification duties. We all went out and purchased wigs and prayed that we wouldn't be the only idiots. (For reference, Paul had a nice 70s Bee Gees number, Huw had an 80s metal spiky mullet and Brett had a tasteful Tina Turner cut in silver and black - all wigs from Helter Skelter in Nottingham - photos here!)

This was guaranteed to be a mad night, and we weren't going to disappoint.

To say the set was varied would be an understatement. Thin Lizzy, Guns'n'Roses, ZZ Top, David Bowie, The Police, Black Lace (where did we pull that one from?), Chuck Berry all got an airing along with more songs than we care to remember. The audience were virtually all "wigged up" and were definitely in a partying mood!

By the second set the wigs were starting to take effect and people were seriously letting their (fake) hair down... including us. We had promised to give a gallon of ale to the person wearing the most outrageous wig - this was won by a bloke wearing a large orange wig, complete with tartan hat!

This set also saw the first ever use of Huw's on stage beer fridge and the sight of Paul headbanging during one of the more rock based numbers. The applause at the end was deafening!

Our thanks go to Brett for standing in at the last minute, Barry and everyone at the Runner for putting on such a mad event and to all of you who turned up and wigged out.

31 December 2003 - Purton WMC, Purton, nr Swindon

Bear in mind that in order to write a review there are a number of prerequisites that will provide a reasonable chance of success. The first is to have actually been there, the second to have listened and the third would be to remember what went on. In theory I should qualify but having come down with a bad case of the flu en route home after the gig and not feeling up to writing anything until 6 days later, perhaps my recollections will be somewhat hazy? I'll leave space for opportune sarcastic commentary from our bass playing web master though. (Sarcasm? Me? I'm sorry, you must have me mixed up with some other cynical bar steward... - Huw)

Imagine, one year to the day since our last visit and it looked to us as if more people had turned up - well it did when we got in to the place!

For some reason, presumably best known only to the locals, the venue wasn't open when the first vehicle arrived with gear so phone calls were made between the band members and we descended on the Pear Tree at Purton Hotel where two thirds of the band and their partners were booked in to stay. I bet the proprietor wondered what he had let himself in for when we all turned up and headed straight for the bar whilst all around us, people in suits and evening dresses sipped elegant cocktails ahead of their anticipated New Year's Eve gourmet meal. (Yes, I remember the strange phone call - Sir, your erm, um, "colleagues" have arrived, you can meet them in the bar... - Huw)

We eventually headed off to the venue and, with the aid of our antipodean roadie, set the gear up ready to play. From memory, hopefully we didn't scare too many people away since the sheer quantity of gear carted into the room was far greater than what went in last time (including our newly acquired lights).

Right from the off, Paul was happily exchanging good natured banter with various members of the audience including discussing what songs to play, what to do with sheep and combine harvesters. It was a good job that he was staying locally and due to having a designated driver, could drink more freely than usual since at times the conversations took a bit of following!

The mood was definitely party, so people were soon dancing about in front of us including what at first appeared to be an attempt to break-dance but turned out to be just a small tumble.

During the course of the evening, Paul & Huw did their usual "wander off into the audience" trick but this time although Robin kept drumming he had a party of the local womenfolk dancing in front of him and they told him that he was best placed because he had all the women around him. He didn't argue with their logic!

As the midnight hour came and went, Chris our Australian roadie and no mean artist himself, added lead and backing vocals to some of the songs and this was much appreciated by the audience. Perhaps on reflection though, this feature role may have resulted in him later being targeted for stripping of his Beer Monsters T-shirt - despite his protests! Unfortunately, we still hadn't taken delivery of the new batch of shirts.

When all is said and done though, the evening had been a great success for which we wish to thank the club, its staff and the party people there. We, and especially Robin, wish to thank Chris for coming along and helping to carry the gear in and out as well as modelling the T-shirt. Paul, Karen and Huw would like to thank Ped for being the designated driver.