Shellsuit: The Cult Liverpool Band That Convinced Me To Become A Promoter

"If you book them, they will come"
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"If you book them, they will come"

As long as I've loved football, I've loved music. In fact, as the football world's been beset by one unpalatable crisis after another and whilst Wrexham are forced to languish in non-league by an uncaring game that doesn't value fan-owned clubs that actually turn a profit, music maybe edges it these days.

It's a tough world the music makers inhabit. There's not many left on Premier League wages. Nobody's willing to pay for their material anymore, it's a labour of love but very little money. And yet, people keeping making music and some of it's really good. Like the song I stumbled across via some social media link one evening, Iraqis In Shellsuits. It was sung by a band called Shellsuit. I did the Google thing, then the Twitter thing, then the ITunes thing and the Deezer thing and soon I knew much more. I liked it all. Postmen from Liverpool it seemed, though the biog was still hazy but the music they made was ace. Proper lyrics, intricately layered songs, a bit folky, a bit CS&N and that Michael Head influence that runs through so many Merseyside bands these days.

Because of Twitter, I was able to tell them how much I liked their music. They seemed appreciative. We swapped messages. I waited expectantly for them to announce a gig I could go to. I'd bought, yes paid money for, both the albums, Walton Prison Blues and Wednesday Morning, Bootle Strand. I'd played them a lot, I wanted to sing along to them in the company of other like-minded individuals. The announcement never came. Another convert to the cause, my mate Paul, was similarly frustrated.

In this Age of Austerity, if you want a library, a pub, a post office or an A&E ward you have to do it yourself, and, in that spirit, over a post 5-a-side pint, Paul and I decided if no-one else was going to bring them over, we'd put on the gig ourselves. After all, we'd been to enough, how difficult could it be?

We found a venue, printed tickets, my daughter broke off GCSE revision to knock up a poster on her laptop, we publicised the event extensively via social media, and soon there was giddy talk of the next gig, after this one, we joked about bringing Stones to Roundhay Park... How difficult could it be? Then, late on a Friday afternoon, an email dropped into my inbox. Of all the 27000 emails I've ever received, this was the first one that started 'Hey man...'. The motivation for the peace and love greeting soon became apparent. Our venue had double booked. A band called Delamere had already announced the dates and venues of their national tour and Oporto, May 15th was on it.

We were offered apologies and an alternative date but it was midweek and the boys in our bands have jobs. So, we declined and spent 48 nervy hours trying to come up with an alternative.

Luckily, we have been guided throughout by a proper promoter, a top chap called George who's put on some great shows through his Geho Events company. He played a blinder at this point, sorting out the excellent Headrow House, a really good new Leeds venue, instead.

We've kept our acts informed through the twists and turns. Shellsuit have been brilliant as well, refusing to laugh us out of town when we first suggested we wanted to bring them over and then bending over backwards to help us make it happen. They've never played live east of the Pennines before, never mind Leeds, so they hope and deserve to find a new audience, our task is to bring that audience to them, it's a heavy responsibility.

It's only £5 a ticket but we've now got 3 acts on the bill, Shellsuit headline with support from a young Liverpool band with loads of potential called The Jjohns, think La's and early Beatles, and an 18 year old singer/songwriter from Leeds called Harry Felton-Glenn. We hear a lot of prime time nonsense about 'brilliant voices', believe me, this lad really has. I look at the line up and I feel excited. And then I feel nervous. Will it just be us, the three acts and me and Paul looking at each other on May 15th at Headrow House in Leeds? We're only in it to break even, as daft as we are, we aren't daft enough to think we're going to make money. On that basis, we need 100 people in to ensure our first promotion isn't potentially our last. The good news is my wife wants to come, I've already warned her she'll have to buy a ticket.

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(Tickets available online/instore at www.crashrecords.co.uk or www.jumborecords.co.uk or online at www.headrowhouse.com)