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Iconic rock band Skunk Anansie have been on tour to celebrate the band’s latest “25LIVE@25” album and mark 25 years in the industry. Written by Ace himself, learn about their recent performance at the “Polish Woodstock”, in his sixth blog instalment…
It’s been a whirlwind of a tour so far from my previous blogs and the there’s been no let up. We’ve been gathering momentum as the shows have been passing and venues are selling out and the festivals have been monumental!
The Heatwave in Europe has seen some countries hitting highs of 44 degrees, with an average of 30-35 across the others. Obviously, this is great for us to get away from the great British weather, but can prove a bit taxing physically to play in these kind of temperatures. I told of earlier of Mark collapsing at a club gig, and recently Skin also had to be given oxygen by the medics after the main set before the encore. We do need to make sure we look after ourselves on such a long tour with long set lengths, so our wardrobe assistant is on hand with water and cold wet towels as well as the crew installing stage fans to keep us up there and rockin’!
Which brings me to the biggest show in our career so far…
Poland has become a good stronghold for us in the past years and recently we released our new single which went straight to number one in the Rock Radio charts a couple of weeks ago.
We had also been booked to headline the Saturday night at Poland Rocks festival.
The stars aligned and we prepared ourselves to set off to the “Polish Woodstock” as they call it there which was celebrating its 25th year. Racing past the traffic jams with a crazy police escort on the wrong side of the road at 50 miles an hour was an exhilarating way to arrive to a festival that was the size of an entire town. I heard that it was the largest festival in Europe, and was slightly nervous, so remained backstage getting ready and warming up without going out to look at the surroundings.
When the time came, we walked up the side of the stage in the darkness to our intro music and I was handed my trusty axe from my tech.
As I walked onto the stage I was met with a rapturous applause from… 700,000 people!!!!
I have never seen so many people in one place in my life, and the view of the crowd stretched beyond the eye could see! My legs instantly turned to jelly as I stood briefly for a few second before hitting the first chord. This crowd made headlining Glastonbury look like a club gig- lol…
After the first couple of minutes, fear turned to excitement, the strength came back to my legs and the crowd went crazy as the gig exploded into a mass of reciprocal energy and powerful tunes!
I think that I’ll never be nervous of a big crowd again after that experience!
The festival itself raises massive amounts of money for charity and is not for profit. We met the organiser beforehand for photos and to sign posters and special edition prints that were made to raise more cash.
I forgot to mention that this was also Skins birthday… Earlier in the day we had been celebrating with a nice band lunch and getting some post gig celebrations ready between us (Champagne and cake, party poppers etc). The promoter heard of this and went the extra mile and arranged confetti canons onstage and got the whole crowd to sing happy birthday to her in Polish…Needless to say this was just amazing to experience and was the icing on the cake (pun intended) to close the biggest gig in our career so far.
No hanging around after the gig to celebrate for too long after as we had to hit the road to get to the airport in Germany for our flights home to start a short break for all of us for 10 days to recharge and connect with our families and home lives.
Prior to this festival we decided to record our next single on the road, on days off and before sound checks so we can get a release while we are still on tour. Firstly, we cut the drums and bass to vocal and guitar scratch tracks in a studio in Prague in a few hours before our soundcheck and then took these stems on with our portable pro-tools set up to a hotel room in Budapest. There we set up mics for an acoustic guitar and an IKmultimedia Axe computer set up for electric guitars, and myself and Skin spent the day recording and self-producing the track with our soundman Ben Hammond engineering to the point where vocals were needed.
Before soundcheck the next day Erika, our touring session musician for BVs and keys, popped into the dressing room to lay down some midi piano parts completing the backing track for Skin to sing over.
A couple of days later the crew set up a makeshift mic’ed up vocal booth in a portacabin at one of our outside shows and Skin came off stage after a show and recorded the vocals as she was warmed up and ready.
From there the stems were sent back to the UK to our mix engineer Jeremy Wheatly to sprinkle has magic dust and then off to Metropolis for mastering by the legendary John Davis.
Watch this space for the next release when we have it all finished.
Now, we are back in the throws of the second half of the tour. Lot’s of UK gigs to do with a few European festivals thrown in for good measure.
I’ll check back in soon after a few more adventures and experiences, but until then, keep on rockin’ and making good music…