It used to be a big thing, back in the day; in-store performances and appearances. Famously it was Tower Records in London which would get all the biggest names, where thousands upon thousands would turn up for a glimpse of Madonna or New Kids on the Block. Regrettably they were virtually always at 2pm on Wednesday afternoon so the only way you could have dreamed of such a glimpse was by bunking off school (and many did). Then along came the digital format and these stars were beamed 24 hours into your own bedroom, with personal vlogs, blogs, exclusive performances and, like vinyl itself for a while, this type of appearance started to disappear. However, life never stands still, vinyl has seen a resurgence and with it, this more intimate format.
So, in many ways it is rather apt that a band like Massive Wagons, that has one foot in the classic 70s rock sound and carries on that great British rock tradition of Status Quo et al, have chosen to promote their latest (and fourth) long player by a week’s long appearances in record shops up and down the country. What is perhaps just as interesting is the variety of these shops left to provide a platform for MW. We have everywhere from the small independent in Huddersfield, to the larger independent in Rough Trade in Nottingham to the commercial HMV in Lancaster. So, fast forward back to Massive Wagons crazy week to Thursday 9th August and we find ourselves in Vinyl Tap in Huddersfield on the night before Full Nelson receives its official release.
Vinyl Tap itself is testament to the changing trends of music consumers. Originally founded in 1986, from 1999 to 2010, it existed purely as an online retailer before going back to brick and mortar. What I like about the format of the shop is that upstairs is like your regular record shop with the latest releases and then downstairs a large and airy room with thousands of records there for your browsing delight. Even better than that, there is none of this “I am better than you” feel from the employees, there is no overbearing large desk taking up too much of the shop. Just a lot of records where you can browse to your hearts content form 50p bargains to rare collectors items.
It is in this large downstairs room that Massive Wagons are to take to the stage. A small pop-up bar is in place and the stage is set up. This is the first of these gigs is something new to the lads (right down to the drummer having a new cajon) but, in some ways, a little alien. This is a band used to haring around the stage, after all, so to present the new record sitting down is new to them and, in singer Baz’s case, almost impossible to sit still. Although, based on this performance, this is probably a lifelong challenge. From the moment the band arrive on stage and Baz into the venue, he is the life and soul of the place. If there was any disconcertion about playing to an audience scattered around a large room stood behind racks of vinyl, it was not evident. From the moment they took to the stage there were jokes, in-band banter and crowd involvement. It is this rapport with the world around them that makes Massive Wagons so special, they appreciate their fans and every gig is unique regardless of the surroundings.
The set list itself was perfect to showcase the new album, although with the inclusion “Ratio”, “Back to the Stack” and “Tokyo” on the album and set list it had a familiar feel to it. The set started with “Under No Illusion” and “China Plates”, the two lead singles from the album and even acoustically; as suspected; these tracks rock live, especially “China Plates” with its sing along chorus and crowd participation ending. But what was really spine-tingling was how powerful Baz’s voice is, even with the band stripped back, it totally carried the energy and rock into the tracks.
It was, as you expect, a small set but it really flew by, the band adapted better and better to the acoustic format as the set went on. The banter was great and for a record shop each song received a rapturous applause despite at least two of the songs being brand new to most people there. Once the set was over, the band were straight into a meet and greet scenario, taking time to talk to everyone who queued up. It still feels like Massive Wagons’ time and the mid-week results which places Full Nelson at Number 12 seem to confirm this. For those lucky enough to attend these in store performances, it will be something they will be talking about for some time to come.
- Under No Illusion
- China Plates
- Balled of Verdun Hayes
- Hate Me
- Last on the List
- Back to the Stack
Special thanks to Flaming Pint Photography for use of the images.