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Castle Party Festival 2019

Bolkov, Poland, July 13, 2019

An ‘Unexpected Guest’ at the 2019 Castle Party Festival in Bolkov Castle, Poland July 13

A month after the rather successful gig at Wave Gottic Treffen in Leipzig, my band UK Decay arose at ridiculous o-clock on the morning of July 13 to set off for Poland. We found ourselves at Luton Airport which to all intent and purpose resembled a building site and headed for check in for the early Wizzair flight to Wroclaw Airport.
We landed at 11am and we drove an hour to the Krokus Hotel in Kamienna Góra where we were staying for the event. Our wonderful host’s there cooked us a wonderful local Polish meal after which we took to our rooms for a short afternoon siesta. I had been up since 3.30am and we had to rest as much as possible for our performance. I guess i got about an hour and a bit nap, better than nothing! At 6pm the minibus arrived to drive us the ten miles to Bolkov and the festival. Apparently the small town of Bolkov does not have enough accommodation for the huge Castle Party Festival.

On arriving at Bolkov Castle Party

Finally we arrived at the small medieval market town and noted the old stone houses, most of which seemed worse for wear and in need of a lick of paint here and there but the overall aura was charming. We turned up a narrow cobbled street and then we found ourselves navigating slowly uphill through a throng of wild black and sometimes colorful dress. Eventually we arrived at an area set with a multitude of stalls selling food, beer and fashion accoutrements of all different shapes and sizes. We were stopped by an official who escorted us to the Festival office round the corner. At this point we had our first view of the castle walls and tower looming impressively above us.

The climb ahead to the Castle

Festival wrist bands now in place three nice chaps took our heavy cases and guitars and led the way up the Castle and from there to our changing rooms which it turned out was high up in a tower behind the taller main tower.
The Castle reminded me of the classic Norman Motte and Bailey Castle which was then rebuilt in stone in places like Wales by King Edward to hold the welsh to check. Built on a high outcrop of stone there was a classic ribbon wall surrounding the Bailey in which area hosted the large stage and crowd. This then led to the inner castle fortifications surrounding the inner halls and towers. So as we walked past the side of the stage we looked across at the impressive audience gathered. Unfortunately Ed our bassist had twisted his back the week previously and the climb up to the castle was taking it’s toll. Now we had a flight of a rough stone block staircase to navigate with the ‘steps’ some 10 to 12 inches (25 cms) apart to take us into the now roofless great hall. Quite a climb even if you are fit and healthy, Ed struggled along but he was in pain. We crossed the hall where several folk were drifting about, perhaps in other bands or working. We passed a row of cannons to get to the other side and now had yet another flight of stone steps to clamber up, to an open hallway that featured a small trebuchet .
Next to this was our changing rooms where a host of people were milling about and to the side was a spread of food and soft drinks people were dipping into.

We found a space and started prepping our stuff for the show. Looking around there were museum exhibits and information boards in Polish. From what I could gather the Castle seemed to have been built by the polish version of the Knights Templar (Tuetonic Knights?) I promised myself I would look into the history later. Meanwhile it was getting closer to our performance time. I looked out of the windows, three of them with magnificent views of the local landscape. There were mountains not so far away and in context it seems Bolkov and the castle are in the foothills of these mountains. Over to the right the sky was looking foreboding. Up until then it was cloudy with warm sunny spells , now a downpour was on it’s way. The band that was onstage before us was still playing when the clouds burst forth with a heavy downpour. Most of the crowd ran for cover and I felt really sorry for the band. The rain continued to pour, the light went dour and dimmed. A word from the promoter said we had to await the storm passing over. Eventually a few minutes before we were due to start our performance the promoter gave us the all clear and we made our way carefully across sodden cobbles, puddles and muddy patches towards the stage.

The author waits on his balcony

We went through a stone lined tunnel entrance and then entered the soggy auditorium which was still largely vacated and quickly started setting up our equipment. The stage manager was keen to get us playing as the storm had caused a considerable 15 minute delay to the proceedings so after a very quick line check and with the audience returning , we opened our set with UK Decay’s classic “Shake Em Up” from the album, ‘New Hope For The Dead’

Time goes on away-day once in performance mode, from my perspective, it was a huge stage to fill and my supplied amp (Marshall JTS) seemed somewhat distant and I struggled a bit to get the guitar to ‘sing’ the feedback especially as I managed at the recent Leipzig gig. Having said that I soon adapted as the songs of our set passed through. Aside from a couple of minor cock ups most of the songs were performed really well, If I say so!
Abbo was with the aid of his Iphone was communicating in Polish with the crowd which they seemed to love! God knows what he was saying but hey, good on him! Before long the last few songs were on the radar the crowd had returned and seemed huge! There were people on the parapets watching us and the sun was setting in the distance. And then we were on the last song. The promoter was looking at his watch, I had no idea of what time it was but he leans over to me and said “last song”, I shouted that to Abbo. We had two songs left on the list, we played through the first which was “Unexpected Guest”. The promoter said that was it. The message didn’t get through to Ray who started to tap the would be final song but Abbo stopped him and we left the stage to thunderous applause.

Our audience taken by Justin from the stage

So we then packed up our gear, chatted to people and caught up with a few beers. Time to chill before the return to our hotel. At midnight the minibus took us back so we could maybe get a couple hours shut eye and a shower before leaving for the airport once more at 3am. We then drove across back road Poland during the night about 70 miles at sometimes eye watering speeds in two vehicles. At one point the van in front swerved and we braked sharply to avoid a wild Boar. Finally we got to the airport and all the rigamarole and eventually flew back to Luton, where we had to wait over an hour for our baggage reclaim. Tut Tut Luton Airport ! I can only assume it will all be so much better when they finish the building works.

So I got back home at 10am, that is 31 hour after I left, what a day!

Wave Gottic Treffen 2019

I have just returned from Wave Gottic Treffen 2019. My band UK Decay were celebrating their 40th anniversary

Crowd-at-WGT-2019

UK-Decay-at-Taubchenthal-WGT

UK-Decay played at the Taubchenthal concert venue in hot style as they return to Leipzig in Germany’s wonderful Wave Gotic Treffen Festival 28

This was UK Decay’s first gig with the full line up in five years and the old magic was still there in the bands spirited performance. Of course it wasn’t without minor hickups, but the sound was absolutely awesome! Those German sound people really know their stuff!

This was our third outing to the Wave Gottic Treffen Festival in a decade and in my opinion and as far as I am concerned our best yet performance. There is always room for improvement but considering we don’t have the luxury of rehearsing more than once or twice before a gig, we played really well. the audience was great too, providing a magical and magnificent atmosphere, which really lifts the soul!

If you have Facebook you may be able to see a video on this link
https://www.facebook.com/cyberpagan/videos/10156443755402685/

2019 Update

Update:

Well it has been a while since I posted here, I have been busy working on a new bunch of ear candies for you delightful people.

First,
I am back on the road playing guitar with UK Decay for a few concerts this year to mark the 40 year anniversary of the band. It has been five years now since UK Decay last played at the Blackpool rebellion Festival back in August 2014. The band is thus far booked to return once more to Wave Gottic Treffen in Leipzig Germany on Saturday June 8th 2019. A month later the band are set to play the Castle Festival in Wraclaw Poland on July 12th. There will of course be UK gigs to be announce for later in the year.

Me at Wave Gottic Treffen in 2009

Nostramus,

Whilst back in shape on the guitar once more I am currently crashing out a bunch of new ideas on my updated DAW. I have upgraded this lately so I have a heap of new software and stuff to aid my quest for the ultimate auditory orgasm. I will be complementing my usual foray into Intelligent Drum and Bass and Ambient Dub with new left of field compositions using cutting edge software plugins and hardware effects. As always I will look to the past to seek out a future that should have been and could never have been within this current timeline. Yes at my time in life I have ideas coming from all directions and I have seldom felt so good about my compositions. There is some time to go yet before anything will be ready for public consumption but currently I am reaching perhaps a couple albums worth with a different feel or style on each. My working title for one of the collections is “Ear Flowers” but that may change once published. It may be another year before I get this shit out but I am sure the wait will be worth it.

5.1 Mixing,

I have made the decision to mix all of the new material in a 5.1 also called Surround format in a way to kind of future proof it. I will also be recording my master files to the 192k bitrate, which currently is one of the highest resolutions possible. All this is to guarantee the best possible quality. In case you are wondering, there will also be the standard CD stereo quality. 

40 years of punk in the east documentary

Matt Hudson and Steve Spon discuss life in punk Luton back in the day.

Matt Hudson and Steve Spon discuss life in punk Luton back in the day.

I was featured  recently in an Anglia TV special marking 40 years since the punk movement. This two part mini documentary series is about punk in the Eastern Counties and was hosted by Anglia TV’s Matt Hudson who was a big punk fan and UK Decay fan.

Matt was the same presenter who featured UK Decay and Bauhaus in “The Origins of Goth” feature back in 2014.

Also featured are Steve Ignorant from Crass, Charlie Harper from UK Subs and author and university lecturer Matt Worley whose new book No Future is an in-depth look at the effect punk had on politics and culture.

There are also some still shots of early 1980’s Luton Punks featured on the show taken from UK Decay’s  Communities web archive.

 

It comes in two parts…

 

Marking 40 years since the punk movement

Marking 40 years since the punk movement

Part One

Punk memories: Looking back at legendary venues in our region

Punk memories: Looking back at legendary venues in our region

Part Two

ITV Punk Special in 2018!

Interviewed for ITV Punk Special out in 2018!

Yesterday I returned to the Hat Factory Arts and Media Center in Luton to take part in an interview with Anglia TV’s Matt Hudson.  He is a massive UK Decay fan and sent me a host of live tapes ten years ago when we were getting the UK Decay Communities website going.

Matt is putting together a show that highlights the birth of the punk movement in the Anglia region and what it was like growing up throughout the Punk era.  It is something that he is quite knowledgeable about as he grew up in this scene himself. So we had a couple hour chat with edited highlights to be seen on the forthcoming production due out in the new year. Besides your truly Matt has interviewed Steve Ignorant , Chris Needs who played guitar for The Users in Cambridge, Matt Whorley whose book No Future has just been published by Cambridge University Press and Jonty Young who runs the Punk in the East website. There will also be a special emphasis on tales from the gig at the end of the pier, The West Runton Pavilion. So a lot to look forward to!

Please check back here or visit UK Decay ‘s family of websites for updates on this

Silhouettes And Statues 5 CD Gothic Compilation

Silhouettes And Statues

Silhouettes And Statues 5 CD Gothic Compilation

Silhouettes And Statues 5 CD Gothic Compilation

I have a couple of tracks coming out on this forthcoming release due out in June 2017 on Cherry Red. This will be one of the most compelling Goth compilations ever to see the light of day.

On disc one, I co wrote and performed a  song I brought to the mix after I was ‘poached ‘ by UK Decay  from Pneumania in 1979 –  ‘Black Cat’.  This became one of the most enduring UK Decay live tracks during both the early and later periods.  A few tracks later I appear with-  IN Excelsis on a track called  Carnival Of The Gullible’. I formed In Excelsis with Mark Bond and Errol Blythe formerly from Post Punk legends, Ritual and Colin Rocks who later joined Mark. E. Smith with The Fall..  Errol and Mark were left stranded after drummer Raymundo and Bassist Jamie were ‘poached’ by  Ian Astbury form Southern Death Cult so after UK Decay split at the end of 1982. This was a weird period for me, I flirted with Gaynor and Rick from World Circus, Jammed with Rob from The Wall , then finally teaming up with Mark Errol and Colin to form IN Excelsis in 1983.    Richard Anderson got in touch with me in 2016 explaining his interest in creating the ‘ultimate’ Gothic Rock compilation, so I digitally re-mastered ‘Black Cat’ especially  for this compilation.

Below is a bit of ‘official’ blurb about the compilation

Cherry Red have announced the tracklisting for “Silhouettes and Statues” – A Gothic Revolution: 1978 – 1986 5CD collection, which is due 30th June.  Silhouettes and Statues is described as “an era-defining journey through the gothic revolution that thrived in the underbelly of the UK’s music scene during the late 1970s and 1980s. From Joy Division’s haunted soul-searching to the wild, hairspray guzzling antics of Alien Sex Fiend and everything in-between, the myriad components of that time and place are brought together here for the first time in this kind of detail.”

The set comes in a deluxe hardback book format featuring 80+ tracks, with over 18,000 words of sleevenotes (including artist contributions) and unseen images.

See the tracklisting here

 

Spon-Abbo-40 years punk in Luton

40 Years Of Punk in Luton..

Abbo  and I recently visited The Hat Factory Arts and Media Centre in our hometown to discuss Punk Rock in the UK’s 40th year. Our performance was entitled “Luton, Centre of the Punk Rock Universe with Abbo and Spon

The chair and MC for the night was Fahim Qureshi from Luton Culture whom was more than well qualified to host the proceedings as Fahim or ‘Fame’ was an active spiky haired punk about town back in the late seventies. Back then he was promoting some of the earliest punk gigs in Luton including the Barnfield College Gigs and was a co-hand at promoting the infamous Crass, Poison Girls and UK Decay gig at Marsh Farm in late 1979.

I prepared a powerpoint slide show of images of gig posters, press cuttings,  punks, punk bands of most of the early events that happened in Luton from 1976 onwards. This acted as a stimulus for discussion with ourselves and the audience.  Forty years is a long time and memories can sometime play tricks, it can be good to share with others that were around at the time. Sometimes forgotten stuff can resurface in discussion with others and alternative insights can enlighten a memory. Hence I think everybody that participated provided real interest and content to the discussion.

Abbo had attended his Mothers funeral late after getting caught up in the ‘Black Friday’ traffic that afternoon so it couldn’t have been more difficult for him. I don’t know how he managed, most people would have been in pieces , I certainly would! You have to have maximum respect for the man’s professionalism.

We talked about the early punk gigs in Luton including the first at the Royal Hotel in Mill Street on October 6th 1976 with The Damned playing their tenth ever gig.  There was a few in that company who had been there all those years ago! Including myself! We talked about the gigs and the bands , the great creativity , the great antipathy that punks suffered in what was difficult times. There was often trouble at gigs back in the day, but this was the price to be paid for deliberately stepping into what was then a tribal culture which to some seemed hell bent on nihilism and disorder, To us it was an exciting new territory of music , sound and anti-fashion  voyeurism to be explored and populated. In an age before the interweb we networked , created anarchistic fanzines, painted our jackets, wore cool punk badges (or buttons as they are called today) , dyed our hair with crazyclour (no wonder many of us ain’t got any hair left today!). Some of us promoted gigs, some of us did poetry, we created artworks and some of us did music , then of course it was the band! Our band.

Of course as Abbo and I were later both in UK Decay, there was a history before Decay in Luton. Of course Luton’s first punk was The Jets who were basically inspired by the Damned gig. They played at the infamous Roxy club in Covent Garden back in 1977 and appeared on the “Live At The Roxy” compilation. Things moved on through some of my other early bands as I eventually moved on from playing keyboards in Toad The Wet Sprocket – which more than a few in the audience remembered embarrassingly! Well perhaps I should be prouder of my history, Toad were a good band! but after seeing The Damned and later that month The Sex Pistols at the Queensway Hall in Dunstable, I started to wonder if the Blues that Toad tws played was right for me! I loved the new energy of Punk. It took me a year or two to realize that I would have to trade in my Vox Continental keyboard for a Guitar. This is what I eventually did in late 1978 when I teamed up with Captain Bluett and a bit later Gaynor (Snow White)

So we squatted an old house in Wellington Street  and turned the coalbunker basement into a rehearsal room. We soon got to know The Resistors another young band of whippersnappers he he!  particularly Martin and Steve Harle. some of the other chaps in the Resistors were in the audience and were delighted to see their younger selves up on the screen!

So there it was, we had created a potential meeting point that would help launch Luton’s Punk scene. Which by 1979 it did.  Snow White had now changed name to Pneumania and The Resistors, now with Abbo on vocals to UK Decay., We collaborated on a ‘Split Single’ , gigs and just about everything else! Later that year I joined UK Decay on guitar and it went on from there! The Split Single was Luton’s first D.I.Y release , we pipped the Jets, now The Tee Vee’s and The Friction’s ‘split single by a few weeks! So the Luton punk discussion for a time looked at this what we called ‘the second wave’ and actually some called it the ‘third wave’ after the initial explosion of 76. I guess the UK Decay part of Luton’s punk history has it’s place and I guess it would be natural for Abbo and I to talk about it!

It wasn’t all discussion either, we broke up the evening with half a dozen or so songs which was the closest thing  we could do to being ‘unplugged’. Justin Saban joined us onstage to help ‘glue’ our performance together. He brought along a bespoke stompbox which provided a rhythm and we played through a number of songs which included our first ever live performance of ‘Drink’ from our recent ‘New Hope From The Dead’ album. For that I created an mp3 of the violin part and played my guitar with my cell with the mp3 playing – all going through my stomp boxes and space echo! It was a first! Being as it was an ‘unplugged’ performance we had every excuse to sit down and play which to some might appear ‘unforgivable’  But it seemed to be about right for the timbre of the evening.

Eventually the evening rolled out to questions then more personal meetups at the bar later. The feedback I got was really good, we had provoked a keen interest and it was really good catching up with some of the peops from all those years ago. I guess next meettup and discussion wil be for the fiftieth in a decades time.

Luton: Centre of the Punk Rock Universe

With Abbo and Spon….

Spon (left) Abbo (right) at DV8 2012

Spon (left) Abbo (right) at DV8 2012

Abbo and I will be at Luton’s Hat Factory Art’s and Media Centre on Friday 25th November to talk about Punk in the Luton area back in the late seventies. This is part of the “40 years of Punk” celebrations going down over November at that venue and widely across the country. I am hoping to put together a few slides of various characters, bands, venues, fanzines from Luton and the surrounding are during the late seventies early eighties period. Hopefully this inspire discussion among ourselves and the audience.

Then Justin Saban will join us and we shall perform a couple our punk platters ‘unplugged’ style. So after I have written this I had better dust off the cobwebs of my guitar and get practicing!

When are UK Decay returning for more gigs and recordings? – As part of the talk we shall be hosting a questions and answers session hopefully this question and many others will be answered!

Tickets are just £5.00 bookable in advance from here

Further info

 

Save

The Origins Of Goth

Mathew Hudson’s ITV Anglia News piece featuring Bauhaus and UK Decay about the origins of the Gothic Rock genre in Luton and Northampton. Interviews with Bauhaus manager Graham Bentley, UK Decay’s Steve “Abbo” Abbott and myself…Steve Spon.
Also includes footage of a very early Bauhaus gig at the Romany Pub, Northampton. The TV piece was first shown 31 October 2014.
The location of the mixing room, rehearsal and interview footage was Sound Arc Studios in Shefford near Bedford, recorded summer 2014.

THIS IS NOW

“Film and Video after Punk”

THIS IS NOW POSTER

THIS IS NOW POSTER Saturday 21st November 2015. Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre 2pm – 11pm. Free Entry and Bar

I will be attending a question and answer session at the festival…

“Dumping It On Parliament Revisited”

Dumping It On Parliament 2015 Live Presentation

Dumping It On Parliament 2015 Live Presentation

I am helping host a fiesta of protest, a host of bands covering tracks from the original 1986 “Dumping It On Parliament” and also presenting their own contemporary original protest songs to ‘Dump On Parliament ‘ today…