I am ashamed to say, until last night I had not been to The Forum in Tunbridge Wells, since Here There Be Monsters played August Bank Holiday 2 years ago (video of show on Youtube). Worse still, is that in all this time I’ve never taken Cami there. Over the past 3 years we’ve driven past countless times, off to visit my parents, soon to be relocated to the west country meaning there will be fewer reasons to drive past come next year. Except there wont be.
I’ve never hesitated in expressing my disliking of Tonbridge where I grew up and the adjoining Tunbridge Wells, however there is one aspect of it that I will never shun and that is The Forum, most importantly the people that make The Forum. It has never just been a building on the common, although most who walk past it would think so, it is more than that. Founders Jason and Mark created something far bigger than perhaps they would have ever realised but for many teenagers in the area it is a rite of passage. At 13 I was going to shows there with an accompanying adult (in the form of my neighbour), and watching bands that now you will have never heard of. Symposium blew my mind, Manson, Elastica, Sleeper, Bluetones I entered the venue experience at an interesting time of british music and every weekend something was happening Friday and Saturday night and I wanted to consume it all.
I digress. We arrived in town parked up, and walked down to the Pantiles, being Cami’s first jaunt it only seemed right to give her the brief guided tour. I was also on the hunt for the faces of The Forum, with the old crew now responsible for much of the public establishments in the Pantiles area. My final stop; as is always the case, was the Sussex Arms where I found Jason and Pat hanging lights across the courtyard.
We stayed around as Jason asked me to do the honours of turning on the remainder of the lights once Pat had finished trying to stay on top of the ladder. Now, this in itself is what makes The Forum something unique. You see Pat is an airline pilot. This is something he was doing because he was in town, and wanted to chip in helping out making Tunbridge Wells somewhere people want to be. Later on that night he would do the lighting for Devil Sold His Soul at the club, and then help clean up. And that’s what this place, this community is about. Something that I understood, but never appreciated when I was part of it. Foolish.
All the bands were great, including a slightly nervous Dead, Southampton’s answer to the question what do we do without My Chemical Romance? They are well worth a watch, very energetic performance and although it was a bit too Black Parade and not enough Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge for me there is some true brilliance there.
A trip to the gents garnered another surprise as I looked up to find a photograph I shot on a poster I think I may have printed for a show by Everyone To The Anderson.
This was my first chance to witness Devil Sold His Soul V3 with new vocalist Paul Green. He is, and they still are, one of the best live bands in and from the UK. Kicking off with opener from A Fragile Hope – In The Absence of Light straight away it was clear that Paul has slotted into the team perfectly. He’s able to give the harsh and the smooth in equal measure without falter, something I found Ed Gibb often struggled with. The rest of the set was made of new material form the recent EP’s, it was clear that although this is a band who have now been hitting the road for a decade, this is a line in the sand and a new beginning. The songs are still the same but there is something new in the delivery and it was amazing to witness.