Massive Wagons – Baz at The Barras

As the second-longest year known to man draws to a close, thoughts often turn to some sort of a review of the previous twelve months. But since 2021 was just pipped to the post by 2020 as the winner of “The Shittest Year in Recent Memory” award, and live music looks like it’s going to take another kick to the jigglies in 2022, it is hard to talk about any review of the year without a genuine sense of trepidation about what the future holds, both for musicians and grassroots venues. However, it’s almost Christmas, you can catch feel-good Christmas movies 24 hours a day if your heart desires (yes, Bad Santa is a feel-good movie), so it is quite difficult to stay downbeat for too long; that will no doubt come in January. For one band in particular, what could have been a year to forget, turned into a triumph that although many knew it was only a matter of time, very few could have predicted after the disastrous start to the year for all involved in the live music industry. The band in question? Massive Wagons, of course.

Massive WagonsAfter six months or so of inactivity – save for live streams – live music started to flicker back to life in the Summer, and for us at DGM Towers, our first gig back was up a mountain in Wales for Steelhouse Festival. As the old adage goes…you wait months for one gig then two come along in quick succession, and for our intrepid Welsh dragon Rob Wilkins, he quickly followed up Steelhouse Festival with a barnstorming one-day event at The Yard in Cornwall with Orange Goblin headlining. Taking the plaudits from Rob on the day – in a review that mentioned the Spice Girls – were Massive Wagons, and Baz, Adam, Bowz, Alex, and Stevie, were back doing what they do best: grabbing an audience by the scruff of the neck and giving them a right good seeing to. Damn, it felt good to be back. Wagons are a live band. Put them on any stage, in front of any crowd, and they will win a partisan crowd over through sheer willpower, stagecraft, and the ability to almost instantly make an audience get on board thanks to some banging choons.

From here it was the delayed triumphant homecoming gig in Morecambe, and then September 2021 brought the (again) delayed ‘House Of Noise’ tour and Wagons were finally able to tour their most recent acclaimed album, of the same name. The tour took a break from indoor venues to enable Wagons to headline the closing night at the incredible value-for-money Rockin’ The Bowl Festival in Sheffield, and this one was going to be something special. This was the culmination of years of slogging their guts out up and down the motorway networks of the UK and having to get up for work the next morning. This was the reward for every mile in a cramped van, and every moment away from family and loved ones. This was the biggest Massive Wagons production to date, this was Massive Wagons with pyro! Watching Wagons onstage with such a big production proved to any doubters that the band could manage with ease that next step up, and they really did look comfortable, and at home, on that stage. This was also a special moment for our Wagons aficionado Dave Jamieson, you see, over the years Dave and his good lady Tracey have caught Massive Wagons a staggering 70+ times…and had the pandemic not curtailed all live activity then that number would have been greatly increased several times over, including some shows in Germany. After Sheffield, the tour continued and then concluded in a real Wagons stronghold: Glasgow. And this brings us to the title of this piece; ‘Baz at The Barras’.

Massive WagonsHome to the – until recently – annual St Patricks Day shindig by Stiff Little Fingers, and the venue Oasis chose to film a live gig in 2001, urban legend has it that the famous Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom sprung dance floor is indeed packed with tennis balls to give it that bounceability factor, and if anyone is going to get a crowd bouncing then it would be Massive Wagons, and if ever a performer was born to play the “The Barras” then it is Baz Mills. When Metallica couldn’t book a suitable sized arena in Scotland for their 1996 ‘Poor Touring Me’ jaunt through Europe’s arenas, they simply downsized for one night at The Barras and gave the 1,900 capacity attendance a night to remember, although anyone in attendance will swear that it felt like 5,000 squeezed in that night. David Bowie played the venue back in 1997, and another urban legend mentions that he took a fallen ceramic star from the ceiling away with him as a souvenir. So, Baz and the boys in Wagons treading the same boards as Jake Burns, Metallica, the Gallaghers, and Bowie…something dreams are made of. For Wagons, and our Dave (and the missus), that dream came true when luck came calling and The Darkness asked Massive Wagons to replace British Lion as opening act on their lengthy Christmas UK tour; a tour that was scheduled to stop at The Barrowland Ballroom. A venue which according to the Wagons social media page, was on the bucket list. The Darkness. Massive Wagons. Baz Mills. Christmas. The Barras. After the last 18 months of uncertainty and heartache that everyone has had to endure; it doesn’t really get much better than that. And what a triumphant night it proved to be! If it’s good enough for r’kid Liam, and Ziggy Stardust, then it’s good enough for Wagons. For our Dave, it was the 72nd different venue that he has caught Wagons in, and the one that meant the most. So this one is for Dave, as it also is for Massive Wagons, a band who managed to navigate the covid-infested waters of touring and, with the exception of the last two dates on The Darkness tour, came out unscathed. Massive Wagons – we who are about to sink into a mince pie and jaffa cake-induced stupor salute you! Did we also mention that it was one of our founding fathers at DGM, Rob Nankivell, that helped create the artwork for Wagons’ 2016 album ‘Welcome To The World’? No? Consider that rectified.

Wishing Massive Wagons, and Terri and everyone at RPM a cracking Christmas, and hopefully Dave will be able to find a 73rd different venue to catch Wagons in during 2022!

Live images:

The Yard, Cornwall – Rob Wilkins

Rockin’ The Bowl, Sheffield/The Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow – Dave Jamieson

 

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