Christopher Lloyd tags along with Heck as they play Wolverhampton, Stoke, Birmingham, Derby and Leicester on their most recent UK tour in support of new single ‘The Breakers’.
As you’re no doubt well aware, Heck used to be called Baby Godzilla, but now they are not. This is the first headline tour ‘Heck’ have undertaken, in support of ‘The Breakers’ – It is a two week blitz of carnage across the UK leaving a trail of broken equipment, ripped clothes and battered eardrums in their wake. I joined along on as much of the tour that a middle-aged father of three could manage. Although still ostensibly a new band, their live shows are already legendary.
WOLVERHAMPTON: SLADE ROOMS.
The Heck tour kicked off with a sort of ‘secret’ gig as part of Ginger Wildhearts Halloween Hootenanny. Following the last ever gig by Exit_International, it was a strangely morose gig. The crowd had just witnessed a highly emotional set that must have been awkward to follow. The music was as immense as always, but that skin-shredding energy seemed to have been dialled down a notch.
STOKE ON TRENT – UNDERGROUND.
Stoke Underground is everything you would expect from a toilet venue. It stinks of toilet. It is cold, and you physically stick to the floor. Heck arrive and rip into their set with the usual bombast that was missing in Wolverhampton. Bassist Paul Shelley spent a lot of the time down on the floor, pacing through the fairly static throng, whilst Guitarist/Vocalist Jonny spent that time up in the air. Hanging off speakers, hanging off lighting rigs. Guitarist/Vocalist Matt found himself hanging from the bar. It’s no strange sight to see Matt Reynolds clambering on a bar. The security guard at Stoke Underground was not happy about this though, and stormed in fists first, grabbing Matt from behind and pulling him straight off said bar by the neck, pulling him spine first towards a concrete floor. Thankfully no injury occurred, but it was a stupidly dangerous and pointless display of meatheadedness. As Matt pointed out shortly after “We are human, treat us as such”. The show carried on, a few hipsters stood motionless, but a hardcore of fans kept the spirit going.
BIRMINGHAM: Rainbow Warehouse Cellar.
A strange venue where you have to enter by going through the toilets. A literal toilet venue. A small crowd had hit the cellar to watch as Heck kick off with a new track “White Devil” and business as usual resumed. Gone was the surly hipsters & dumb-fists of Stoke. It took no time for the band to be on top form, Matt and Jonny tearing through the venue, colliding into a couple of Slam Dancers and winning over quite a few folk who were clearly awestruck by the end of the short 45 minute set.
DERBY – THE VENUE.
Just over halfway through the tour and Heck hit Derby. The first time I saw Heck they were named Baby Godzilla, and they played at The Vic to nine people. It blew my mind. It had everything that got me excited about gigs when I was in my mid to late teens, but without being in any way retrospective and cliché. The band claim it was the most important gig they ever played. This time round, there are far more than nine people in attendance. It’s somewhat a homecoming gig, as the band’s hometown of Nottingham is just a short hop up the road.
The venue is ostensibly a Working Men’s Club. There’s a couple of older gent’s at the bar here to see the latest band, they probably see everyone who plays here as they prop the bar up on a nightly basis. They probably haven’t seen anything like tonight.
The atmosphere is joyous. The mic is thrown over a ceiling beam and swings around like a lowered mic in a boxing ring. Bodies are flying here there and everywhere. The drummer from excellent support band ‘Deaf Bridges’ is forced from the bar into the throng. By the end of the set, one guitarist has played drums, one drummer has played guitar, one crowd have indulged in an anthemic word-for word sing-along ‘Powerboat disaster’, I’ve been stage-dived upon, and a very humbled Heck collapse with exhaustion. It is the best gig I witnessed on the handful of dates.
LEICESTER – THE SOUNDHOUSE
It was always going to be hard to top the atmosphere of the Derby gig, but Leicester pulled out all the stops. This was a rough gig. People were knocked all over the shop, one man went flying through a toilet doorway and down a concrete step. Pure chaos. Whereas once upon a time at a Heck gig you were aware that at any point you could find yourself accosted by a member of the band screaming into your face, or inadvertently smacking a guitar head into your arm, as the bands popularity grows a new gig threat has evolved… The overeager mosher. It was pure carnage, and for a venue that served their drinks in good old glass, I’m gob-smacked no-one was badly hurt. Heck threw everything into the gig and were visibly having the time of their lives. The crowd were totally up for it. The reaction to new single ‘The Breakers’ was as euphoric as Powerboat Disaster was in Derby. The place was dripped with sweat and excitement.
Everything about Heck is getting bigger. The tours, sound, songs, audience and atmosphere. The unplanned break the band endured to sort out the legal issues over the name Baby Godzilla has in no way dampened the spirit. These live shows have proven that Heck are stronger than ever.
You can watch Christopher’s clips from the tour below:
Words / Pics by Christopher Lloyd.
More writing by Christopher can be found at his author’s archive.