Saturday 8th November 2008
The NEC, Birmingham
Finally it’s arrived – the long awaited Music Live 2008 show. One of the premier “expos” for musicians from around the UK, with live music, and all of the major companies exhibiting there, complete with clinics and seminars.
We eagerly make our way into the NEC and find our way to the press office to get our passes as we are gained entry an hour before the general public, which is great opportunity for us to get what we want before the crowds. As we are arrive we await Alison’s arrival so we can collect our passes. We have to wait 15 minutes, and I have to try and calm Hunter (www.thejitty.com) down just like you do when your dog sees the postman. We were given our passes and we head off in search of guitars, bands and “items of interest!”
Just as we walked through the door into the cavernous halls, I decide that a good place to start is to get my camera out its bag, but by this point all I hear is “Oooo Fair Deal Music are here”. We have now been here approximately 15 minutes and its probably the biggest impulse buy I’ve ever seen as Hunter hands over cash in return for a white Ibanez RG350DX. It’s now time to start working.
We wanted to get an interview or two with some of the acts, and as there are different acts on the main stage over the three days we were pretty much spoilt for choice. I spotted that the Chairmen were playing on the main stage and decided they would be great to interview as they are a Leicester band (from Hinckley) and I had already seen them live before and knew how impressive they would be. I had spoken to a friend of mine before who knew a lot more about the band than me to get a bit more information and as he had also mentioned to me that they won the Surface unsigned act this year, I walk past the Surface stall. I had all the information I needed.
As we were walking around the event there were different acts playing at different stalls, and as we walk towards the Gibson tour bus we spot the Gibson stage that is quite impressive as it stood out from a lot of the other stalls and was covered in Gibson guitars. Playing on the stage were two guys who are called The Mexicolas, and from what we heard were quite impressive with some soaring solos accompanied by some solid rhythm guiar work, and have since then been playing their single on Wiggle FM!
As we head over towards the live stage through the large crowds we checked to see the weekend’s events and who we could expect to see on the live stage that day.
We had about an hour and half before the Chairmen were due on stage so we take the opportunity to have a look at the really cool pointy guitars. Hunter is disgusted by this term of reference and points out they are in fact mainly BC Rich guitars, imported by a well known firm, Rosetti.
It was then time to go and have a look at the drums, and as we were heading over to a really nice gold glittery drum set we spot two other members of The Jitty and who also make up two of the three members of J3 Media, Josh and Josh.
At 11:00 ‘The Chairmen’ are due on the ‘Live’ stage, so we make our way to see how one of Leicesteshire’s promising bands are sounding. With the help of the PR firm ‘Red Pepper’ we manage to get an interview arranged with the band after their set in the “Green Room”.
The guys played a brilliant set and really got the crowed going, playing a couple of new songs that I hadn’t heard before. I’m quite excited to see where the future takes the lads as a band because their music has got that little “something” that’s different, making for an enjoyable set.
As they leave the stage all hot, sweaty and with adrenaline still pumping, the interview with us is finalised, and we agree to meet them in the Green Room in 10 minutes time once they had cleaned themselves up, and have a minute to gather themselves together.
Afer the interview with a brilliant set of lads, Hunter then decided we should go and see if Dave Mustaine was around doing any signings, sadly though, this proved to be someting of a mission impossible. A member of staff in the main hall informed us that he wasn’t around that day.
It was them time to head over to the Gibson tour bus, which we have been itching to do since the start of the day but weren’t allowed to go on before it had been cleaned. As we head over we pass a band that are playing some live songs and we can’t help but stop and watch as not only is their music sounding good, but the lead singer and guitarist was certainly setting the floor alight with his body movements, guitar in hand and coming back up to sing his lyrics. The band are called the Lucky Strikes and were good enough to talk to us as they were quite adamant that they can travel and wanted our details for the Jitty so they could get in touch with us.
We approach the Gibson tour bus, smiles on our faces as we see a small queue to get on. As we are waiting for our turn to enter the bus we take the opportunity to speak to Gibson’s Head of PR who tells us that the buses are usually housed in Paris. I guess that explains the small scrape that I spotted on the front of the bus.
There are no words that could explain what I was feeling as we entered the bus. It might be down to the fact that I’m use to air-cooled engines and four gears, but this bus was certainly something special. There was leather interior throughout, widescreen TV, Gibson guitars mounted to the walls and at the centre of the bus were photographs of rock icons and amplifiers stacked up.
We’re half way through our visit and so far we’ve had a brilliant day that’s been filled with guitars, guitars, subway, guitars, guitars, bands, interviews, guitars, buses and guitars. For any musician, whether they’re just starting out or are old hands, the sheer wealth of expertise in attendance, offering live sets on small stages to some hands on workshops, is an absolute god send!
It’s now time to see what the drums have to offer. As we look around at the drum kits I was very surprised as I’d seen what different styles could be done to a guitar, but for me I didn’t think there was too much that could be done to a drum kit. Little did I know! There were some fantastic kits about with many different paint finishes and styles of symbols. Maybe I had found the instrument for me!
It was now time to head home. It has been a long but very eventful day for us, so there was nothing left to do but to collect Hunter’s Ibanez. As we head back over to the Fair Deal Music stall Hunter gets talking to the manager who gives us a little insight to the store and where they are based. We learn that many companies come back to this Expo annually, with it’s recognisable brand name and impressive turnout filling a sizeable chunk of the NEC, to miss it quite frankly is unthinkable.
We would like to thank the wonderful Alison and Jordan of Red Pepper PR for their invaluable help, The Chairmen for being a great band to interview, Fair Deal music for selling Jim his nice new Ibanez, and Stacy for leading us around to the Live stage.