Teesside-based gig promoters Big Figure Promotions have been running gigs since September 2012 when they bought Gemma Ray to Stockton, and since then it has helped a vast number of bands and solo artists from across the UK.
The promoters’ many successfully sold-out shows include Barb Wire Dolls, The BellRays&The Godfathers, Eton Crop/Inca Babies, The Nightingales/Blue Orchids, Twin Guns, 999 and X-Ray Cat Trio – multitudes of musical masterpieces making their manifestations through Big Figure Promotions.
Marske-based Stephen Harland is the proclaimed but irrefutable music ‘obsessive’ – and not just enthusiast alone – and the mastermind behind the promotional platform that has given aid and access for local and out-of-town bands to showcase their talents; it was he who named the promotional platform after the drummer in Dr Feelgood, a band that paved the way for UK punk rock back in 1976.
Stephen mentioned that he didn’t actually plan to get into promotion but he: “got into it by accident more than design.” A few months after Stephen created a group on social media for fellow local gig attendees of the Middlesbrough Rock Garden during 1976-1981, two regulars – Gill Hawes and Fiona Robb – suggested that a reunion should be in order. He added: “The only gig I had ever done at that point was putting a then unknown comedian, Sean Lock, on at Darlington FC back in 1996.”
Talk turned to the first gig that he either had a part in or wholly set up alone: “Upon asking on basis of interest, two lads came forward: Dave Griffiths and Gary McGhie. Gary had been the vocalist in a band called Frenzy Battalion, but neither myself or Dave had any musical background apart from attending live gigs. We planned on putting together a Rock Garden Reunion, including bands from way back when, and to host it in Stockton’s Georgian Theatre. It was planned to be held in September 2010 but sold out a month prior!”
Big Figure Promotions may have had numerous successes, but every Goliath has a David. Stephen noted: “In 2014, we had a sold-out gig with the Sleaford Mods but we were told by the venue that they didn’t break even with the bar and, hence, had to take £400 pounds from our advance ticket sales to recover for it. People must have thought we would take to the hills, but since then we have promoted a further 65 gigs.”It’s another example of taking the hardships to grow stronger from.
Stephen also discussed the hilarity of some moments during Big Figure Promotion’s history. One of them, although debatable to be more sorrowful than comedic, was during the promotion of New York band, Twin Guns, last October. The previous night the band were up in Glasgow, but their hire vehicle had been breached and their earnings had been stolen. In addition to this, they had a puncture on the outskirts of Newcastle, causing further delays.
Stephen said: “It was a Sunday evening and it was an 11pm curfew…they didn’t show up until around 10:20pm. Fortunately, we had everything set up for them; they literally went from their vehicle to the stage plugged in and played a blinder, with Stephen (the Westgarth manager) generously allowing an extra 15 minutes.”
As of this year, ten confirmed gigs have been arranged by Big Figure Promotions including Billionaire, The Godfathers, The BellRays, Interrobang?, TV Smith, Barrence Whitfield & The Savages, The Nightingales/The Bitter Springs, Riverside Rebellion with The Drones, The Primevals and Terry & Gerry.
Big Figure Promotions are independent promoters that are funded by ticket sales (break-even is their key) and they aim to help both local artists, and out-of-town bands, as much as they possibly can.
To find out more about Big Figure Promotions and their upcoming gigs please head to bigfigurepromotions.co.uk.