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"Da Chief's"
C99 report....
part 2

Sunday 28th

I actually made the effort to eat some breakfast before heading off on a Red Bull hunt (successfull!!) and setting up the dealers table again.....being newbies at this we’d forgotten to bring a sheet to lay over everything so we could just leave it set up.

The first big thing on the agenda for the day was the autograph session at 11 so I stole most of the pictures from the sales table and some c.d.'s and eventually got set up.
This time we were upstairs in a little ‘L’ shaped room with Michael J Jackson and Richard on one side and Marcus and Valentine around the corner behind a sort of divider thing. The queue seemed to move very slowly at times and Max kept sneaking round the screen and moaning at Richard to get a move on.

It wasn’t long after we’d started that Marcus gave a little squeak and I swear he started to shake.... he’d just realised that he’d left his phone in his coat back in the green room so I gave one of the Horsegirls a yell and asked her if she could go and sort it. A couple of minutes later one of the committee assistants appeared with it in hand and he took it with a huge grin of relief on his face and started to check for any messages. Of course this was the point where everyone and his dog suddenly appeared round the corner and stood waiting for him to sign their stuff ......wouldn’t you just know it!

Marcus was due to have a Q+A session at 12:30 and he had hoped to do a short acoustic set with the other members of Chamber (i.e. Ralph, Katarina and Elisabeth) but as the autographs were scheduled to go on until 1:00 things were a bit confused. We left a Horsegirl in charge with instructions to give everyone a card to let them get an autograph later and dashed off downstairs only to find that the events in the main hall were running late and they hadn’t made any arrangements for the other instruments so Max decided to skip it and we headed back upstairs and back to the autograph queue.
Silvia came past not long after and we sent her on a Red Bull buying trip as the shop I’d found that morning closed at 1. She managed to buy their remaining stock for us and returned, getting past the stewards with the words "I’m on a mission from Da Chief!"
Sometime I wonder what the hell Max thinks about us lot I really do!

Things were quieting down now and getting a little more relaxed so Silvia stayed behind for a while - Tracy and Olwyn also came over for a chat and we were happily passing the time of day waiting for the next ‘customer’ to arrive when I suddenly heard Silvia hissing at me and poking me in the arm followed by hysterical laughter...turns out I’d fallen asleep! Oooops?!
There I am sitting in the same room as Marcus Testory, Valentine Pelka and Richard Ridings and what do I do....I fall asleep...what can I say....sorry but I was tired - even the Red Bull wasn’t working!

I think we finally finished about 1:30 and there was no-one else waiting when we shut up. I *eventually* found Darran who had Marcus’ kilt for him (long sorry...don’t ask!) and I took the remaining stock back to the dealers room where TOJtG was on duty as Alison had had to take the guys to the club to set up and do sound checks and things. I took over from him for a few minutes so that he could have a cigarette and then headed downstairs to get in position for the Four Horsemen panel which I was taping for the rest of them who couldn’t be there.

I managed to squeeze onto the balcony where Ari kindly let me kneel in front of her to get a fairly decent shot of the wasn’t perfect but it was the best I could do. I don’t think I did *to* badly as it was the first time I’d ever used a video camera.

Now this is the only thing the entire weekend that I have full memories of and that’s only because I’ve got the video in the machine next to me a the moment! The whole thing was hysterical. Peter started things off by shouting loudly "The Boys are Back in Town!" and then they sat down and bantered among themselves for a while until Richard suddenly remembered something and dashed off back stage....he emerged with a package which he handed to Peter who took it gingerly and *very* carefully opened it. The double take he did when he saw what it was priceless...A 5000 year diary! Peter was quite apologetic that he hadn’t bought Richard anything but he *did* have a present for Marcus. He went off and came back with it and handed it to Max who grinned and started ripping the paper off until Peter made some comment about it being something he could use. At this point he got worried, stood up and ducked down behind the chairs to finish off opening it. He emerged seconds later blowing up a plastic guitar and stood and posed with it for a while before sitting down still grinning...there was much whispering going on behind hands until Peter got up, grabbed his hand and dragged him off the stage.
Seconds later they emerged with Peter muttering about how you could have trained a chimpanzee quicker. Marcus ceremoniously knelt down on the floor in front of his "Master" Valentine, and presented him with his gift. A large birthday card along the lines of "I couldn’t ask for a better brother...well I could but I think Mum’s a bit old now!" Valentine then left and came back with Richard's present which turned out to be the monkey that Methos had promised him in Bordeaux. Marcus reached over and tried to grab it making biting motions and asked for someone to bring him a bottle of red wine and there was much joking about how he was on antibiotics at the moment but to watch out for him. Richard sat with the monkey on his knee for the rest of the session and kept asking it questions and picking it up to listen to it every now and again....They are all as mad as we are!

They sat and chatted between themselves for a while until Peter said that he thought Marcus should sing us all a song. He got up and went off to get his guitar and they started joking about how they loved him but he couldn’t keep still, Valentine blamed it on the leather pants and said he’d given him some cream but he wouldn’t use it, of course Marcus had no clue what they were talking about when he came back and must have been wondering why we were all in hysterics.

He sat himself down, Richard got into position with two microphones one for the guitar and one for Marcus and he started singing Pleasure and Pain. It’s a really beautiful song and contains the lines "You mean everything to me,everything I deserve", well at this point Marcus turned his head, found himself two inches away from Richard and proceeded to serenade him for a while.... it had to be seen! Caspian singing love songs to *that’s* a scary thought!

There were lots of questions and someone asked if they would introduce themselves in character. Peter announced "I was Death", Richard came out with "Hi I’m Silas, I’m a Virgo, I think I’m a nice bloke, I’m good with cuddly animals I’ve got this HUGE chopper", Marcus lounged in his chair and drawled "I don’t see why I should be the one in the mad house. I don’t think I need to introduce myself do I?......I’m NOT Silas....I’m Caspian! (another dig at the book?) he then mumbled something ‘mad house’ and then continued "Maybe because I like to eat people....or their ‘darlings’ {pointed look at Richard’s monkey}...with red wine...."
At this point Valentine stood up and, saying something about actions speaking louder than words, he unfastened his watch and laid it on the floor. He then stamped violently on it and announced "I am the end of time!" which was greeted by huge cheers.

There was also the point where someone asked about their bad habits and Valentine told everyone about Marcus’
Valentine will be walking around of an evening and the phone will ring, it’s about 7 o clock and all he can hear is this cacophony of background noise from what he is convinced is the loudest bar in Germany followed by a laugh and "Hi! This is Marcus callin" and he answers with "You don’t need to tell me your name Marcus I recognise the sound of the bar!"
I’m having fits at this time trying not to laugh out loud as the microphone for the camera is only six inches away from me because this is SOOO true.

I could write a full transcript of the session but I’m sure that’ll be done somewhere else and by someone who doesn’t whitter as much as I do but I must just add the other highlight for me was when little Chloe went up to the front and offered Peter and Valentine a sweet and then walked away before Marcus could get one. The look on his face! Everyone burst out with a mutua"AAAWWW" so she turned round to find a six foot leather clad figure crawling on the floor towards her begging for a sweetie! And he thinks *we’re* crazy?!

The panel ended with the four of them auctioning off a sword which eventually went for £1450.00.
I am still wondering what that woman thought when she realised she’d been bidding in *pounds*and not dollars!

After everything was over and they’d left the stage and I dashed down to try and catch Marcus before he went off to the club to see how the kilt was and to try and get Peter to sign my photos for me and to give him his gift - it kind of needed an explanation so I didn’t want to just hand it to the stewards so I just waited. David came out of the committee room and asked how I was - I told him I was waiting to catch Peter so he steered me into through the doors and towards Peter. I got him to sign my calendar and then held out the parcel with the words "this is just a little thank you from MTAS for NOT coming to Chronicles last year" he laughed and pulled the Leather Tankard out of the bag and grinned. He thanked me for it and asked me how the weekend had been. I held out my hand to show him how much I was shaking and said "I’ve still got the concert tonight to do yet" he took my hand between his two and said he was sure it would be fine.
Marcus appeared about now and we had a quick word before he went off to the sound check and then I left noticing as I did a line of teddy bears complete with leather and swords sitting on one of the cute!

Richard was sitting signing at the Registration desk and I had a one of Marcus’s calendars for him so I joined the queue when Gary of Clanranald appeared and stopped for a chat. I should have mentioned earlier that Gordon, Gary and Robert of Clanranald had made the trip down from Edinburgh for the Sunday and were wandering round in their kilts and usual they looked great and there were quite a few people who had been on the cruise who recognised them. Alis and I have been in contact with them quite a bit since November and were about the only people there they knew so we had yet more good looking guys to talk!!

ANYWAY.....Gary was still standing chatting when I got to the table and gave Richard his calendar. He wanted to pay me for it but I said it was ok so he said I should take one of his photo’s I wasn’t really bothered and Gary was standing counting his cash to see if he could buy one so I told him to pick one and Richard signed it for him.

I think I went upstairs and crashed out for a while - I honestly can’t remember but soon it was time to get ready for the concert. We had decided months ago that Sunday night was going to be leather night but by this time I was way to tired to even *think* about getting back into *that* outfit so I decided to wear my new M.E.L.T. t -shirt, slapped on a bit of make up, brushed my hair and that was me ready. I sorted out the stuff I needed to take with me to the club, tickets, c.d.'s, cash box, beer, video camera and regular camera. I was supposed to be walking Alison, Alis et al down to the club so that the could then ferry the audience down in batches but we had way too much to carry so we got a taxi down and then I pointed them in the right direction and headed back to set up my stuff.

The guys were still busy getting set up so I wandered in and listened to them for a while and got myself a beer and then went to wait for the crowds to appear.

As fate would have it started to rain heavily as everyone was half way between the hotel and the club so we had lots and lots of dripping people coming up the stairs but no-one seemed too put out and by eight we had just short of 120 people waiting to welcome Marcus and the others on stage.

I didn’t see the first couple of tracks as I was still waiting for the last few people to arrive but wonderful Alison appeared and offered to take over from me. I could have kissed her, (in fact maybe I did) and I ran down to where Sus and Alis had kept me a stool. I climbed up and set the video camera away and *finally* relaxed. I only had half an hour of tape left and when it ran out I went backstage to leave the camera and have a quick hug with Fred and Arne and Chrissy. I think I was probably crying at this point.

After so many months of problems and difficulies and worry it was finally happening and it was kind of hard to believe. I nicked another ciggy off Fred and went back and moved my chair to get a decent view of the stage for the rest of the set.

The concert was AWESOME!!!! There is no other word for it. I can’t remember the order they played the tracks in but they did Fratricide, which Marcus announced had come top of the MTAS poll and also Harrowed Man which he said was especially for Alis who had used every single one of her votes on it!

People were dancing or sitting on the floor or standing as the mood took them but everyone was totally blown away by the music - wonderful though these boys sound on CD it’s NOTHING compared with them live. If you ever get the chance you *have* to see them in concert. AMAZING!!

They finished the main set at about ten and disappeared back stage - we started cheering and whistling and stamping until they came back and we were treated to "Man From the Hills" and then.....oh there is a god and she likes me...SWEET TRANSVESTITE!!!!!

Words fail me......well printable ones anyway.....that man was *born* to play Frankenfurter!!
It has to be *the* most amazing version of that track there has ever been.......
even just thinking about it now is giving me goosebumps ....ohhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

After that they went off stage again only to reappear a couple of minutes later to do my personal favourite Goldeneye (before I’d heard S.T. anyway!) ......
Tina Turner eat you heart out - these boys play it like it should be played -
raw sex is the only way to describe it.

After Goldeneye was over they took their final bows and went off back stage -
I followed had a quick hug, grabbed a beer and my bag and went back to the door to sell c.d.'s. We made quite a few sales before everyone had left and I could relax properly. I went to drop my bag off and found Marcus talking to Gordon, Gary and Robert who had volunteered to carry any kit we needed shifting but the club guy was getting anxious about getting the place cleared and as they hadn’t come in with us he asked them to leave...a quick round of ‘see you later’ hugs and I went to scrounge more beer and ciggies back stage.

Marcus and Gary from Clanranald after the gig

I don’t *normally* smoke but.....well that weekend was kind of hectic and sometimes you just need something to calm you nerves. I also found Richard Riding back stage with the guys, he had arrived just as they finished having fallen asleep but he stayed with us for the rest of the night and helped to carry the kit down to the van after we’d all had ten minutes to get ourselves together again.

I got the cushy end of clearing up and managed to skive in the van loading it while everyone else ran up and down the stairs ferrying all of the stuff down. We managed to fit it all in and then we had to wait for Alison and John to come back to drive it to the hotel. The others set off to walk it and I said I would stay with the van as I was about the only one who knew the way. There followed a heated discussion about why I couldn’t stay there alone - the gist of it being they weren’t worried about *my* safety but theirs when Max found out they had left me by myself! In the end I found myself dressed in Chrissy’s coat and Arne and Fred positioned themselves either side of me as my ‘bodyguards’. The rest of them started to walk back to the hotel and not long after Alison and John returned and we set off too, having to stop at the traffic lights to let Arne and Fred cross!

Back at the hotel we unloaded the gear and waited while they got it up to their rooms. It was at this point that I *knew* I was having a good night.....there were two lifts in the hotel and they were both being really slow. The guys were standing with a mountain of gear waiting in vain for either of them to arrive to I wandered over, thought about it for a second and then stood in front of one of them and clicked my fingers.... right on cue the doors opened and the foyer behind me collapsed into hysterics. I was *definately* on form that night!!

Eventually everything was back where it belonged and we tried to find somewhere to have a drink at midnight on a Sunday in Birmingham. After much deliberation we discovered out that Richard knew an Indian restaurant that stayed open all night and had a licence so we all trooped off.
It turned out to be right above ‘Caspian’s Kebab’s’! Marcus couldn’t believe it when I showed him the sign but unfortunately no-one had any film left at this point and we failed to get a picture of Caspian and Silas posing in front of the it :(

We got upstairs and the little man bustled up and asked the usual ‘table for?’ Max had a quick count up and said calmly ‘16’. A bit of bustle later and there was one nice long table set out along the middle of the room for us and we got ourselves sat down and tried to decide what to drink and then what to eat (got to get your priorities right!)

We had a wonderful time laughing and joking and there were many many wonderful lines flying around but I think the best was when Alis said something about how they were all very proud of me and they were content to sit back and "bask in my glory" to which Alison replied
"Shouldn’t that be glory in her basque?"

I’m sure that the rest of the people in there thought we were all drunk or high or something......well we were, but only on adrenaline. At one point Chrissy leant back in his chair and said "OK everyone listen up" and the whole place went quiet and looked at him and he hurriedly followed up with "not you, you're ok, carry on"

Oh so many memories, such a wonderful time, getting my arm vandalised (don’t ask!) being bullied into eating my dinner with threats of "We’ll tell Marcus" and then the man himself coming down to talk to us. As he passed he kissed each of us on the forehead and then got to the end of the table, looked across at John, hesitated, grinned "Nah" and passed on to Alison. I must admit John looked very relieved at that point!

I think we eventually left the restaurant at about 2am and headed back to our various hotels and our beds. I can’t speak for the others but I know that I was very very tired but very very happy.

Monday and beyond....

Monday for me started at about 6am when I woke up and started planning the return trip, getting the drums back to the store, everyone to their respective airports in time for thier flights etc etc etc.

We had arranged to meet up for lunch at midday at Hooters as my treat for the guys - Well I thought they might like it! - also we had to check out of the hotel by 10 so we dashed round trying to cram all of our stuff into our bags and make sure we hadn’t left anything. We managed to get everything downstairs and into the queue to check out by just after ten and I popped back up to the room to have one last look around and bumped into Gordon from Clanranald in the lift. We had a nice chat on the way up and the said we’d see each other later. I picked up a few stray bits and the headed back downstairs only to find Gordon waiting beside the lift again! We really are going to have to stop meeting like that!

Downstairs in the check out queue, and afterwards sitting in the ‘lounge’ area, every single person who had been at the concert who saw me came over to say how wonderful it had been, what a fantastic time they’d had and how awesome they guys were. All in all I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

We left our luggage with the concierge and after saying goodbye to Alison and Anne who had to go for their train wandered off to Hooters to find Marcus sitting on his own at the bar across the way. We joined him and waited for a - Hooters to open and b - the rest of the guys to arrive. They both happened with in seconds of each other and 12 of us trooped in and waited until they got all the table sorted out for us. We had quite a nice lunch, the guys admired the ‘scenery’ and Richard appeared half way through, squeezed himself in next to Marcus and joined us for a while.

All too soon it was time to pay the bill and get ourselves moving which we did. Us back to the Grand to pick up our stuff and the rest back to their hotel to get their gear down into the lobby.
We eventually got everything sorted out, dropped John off at the bus station, waved Silvia, Arne, Chrissy and Fred off towards Heathrow with *my* directions and a spare map, and then Alis and I left with Ralph to drop of the drum kit and meet the others at the airport.

Apart from Alis trying to change gear with Ralph’s right knee we didn’t have *to* many problems and got out to airport in plenty time for them to get checked in and stuff. Alis and I decided to head straight off as we had a long trip ahead of us and my last view of them was of Marcus’ back as he pushed the trolley laded down with guitars and flight cases towards the check in desks.

The convention was now really over and we set off for home :((

Did I enjoy myself - You bet!

Would I do it again - In a heartbeat, stress, hassles, sleepless nights and all.

The high point of my weekend - The first ever UK performance by M.E.L.T. - nothing will ever top that.

All in all one of the busiest, most hectic, HAPPIEST weekends of my how about we have two concerts, one on Frid........

Cast of Characters!

Main cast:-

Andi - "Da Chief" aka "she who must be obeyed"
Alis - Aide to "Da Chief" - van driver of the Apocalypse
Alison - aide to the "aide to Da chief" - van driver of the Apocalypse
Silvia - aka Little Miss Giggles - leading bouncing person!
TOJtG -aka John - Chief Splatter, general dogsbody and all round great guy.
Marcus - aka Max - M.E.L.T lead singer, Chamber lead singer
(like you didn't know this one!)
Frederic - aka Fred - M.E.L.T lead guitarist
Christian - aka Chrissy - M.E.L.T. bassist
Arne - M.E.L.T. drummer
Ralph - Chamber guitarist
Katarina - Chamber cellist
Elisabeth - Chamber violinist
Rainer - M.E.L.T./Chamber technician

Supporting cast:-

The Horsegirls:-

Methos - aka Spohie
Kronos - aka Tasha
Caspian - aka Tracey
Silas - aka Olwyn

Ben - signficant other of 'Caspian'
Rob - significant other of 'Kronos'

Sus - Mothers Torch USA co-ordinator
Tori and Jemma - Mothers Torch UK joint co-ordinators
Gervaise/Anne/Misha/Ari/Darran - assorted friends/clan Denial/MTAS members
Chloe - honorary tot of Clan Denial Europe

David - Chronicles committee member (aka god!)

Red Bull - Austrian energy drink, indespensible item for cons/concerts etc

The Patented Homeland Double Take - expression of wonder/awe/bewilderment seen on male faces when first encountering *that* outfit! Check it out!

MTAS Chronicles Index