Will legendary Harrogate metal band Acid Reign play home town?

Fans of one of Harrogate's most famous ever bands are hoping they will return to play their first hometown concert for quarter of a century.

Tuesday, 3rd January 2017, 1:59 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:40 am
Acid Reign in their 1989 prime with Howard 'H' Smith held sideways by his band mates.

One of the UK's legendary pioneers of thrash metal, Acid Reign met as teenagers at Harrogate High School in the 1980s and went on to achieve worldwide fame.Lead singer Howard 'H' Smith said: "We were a pure Harrogate band but the whole time we were in the top ten heavy metal charts we were Harrogate's dirty little secret."I was the class clown at Granby. The headmaster said to me "what are you going to do when you leave school?""I said "I've got the one qualification I need" "What's that?" "My mouth!""Popular for their amazing energy and sense of humour, the band originally split up in 1991.But a rejuvenated Acid Reign reformed last year and Howard and co performed at Bloodstock Festival in front of 5,000 people.It's a long way from Acid Reign's first months when this Black Sabbath-influenced outfit was formed by Howard and his school friends Gary "Gaz" Jennings (guitar), Ian Gangwer (bass) and Mark Ramsey Wharton (drums).Howard said: "Our first-ever gig was at the old Lounge Hall in Harrogate supporting Nousommes, one of Paul Kettley's early bands."We went went through so many name changes for a while people used to us "what are you called this week?" Tarot was one of our first names."My first-ever job was working in McDonalds in Harrogate. Hugo Speer, who went onto be an actor obviously, was working there, too."It was the era of cool, independent records shops in Harrogate and they would sell your demos for you."I worked in Virgin Records shop and gave them my band's demo."We were also helped by a Harrogate shop owner whose grandson was Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs. "He got given a copy of our debut album at the time as a thank you."Fame and success and world tours soon followed for Acid Reign who were in the early vanguard of the UK thrash metal scene."We got a record deal quickly with the one metal label in the world anyone would want to sign for."By the age of 19 we were touring the world. We had it made. We were the Status Quo of heavy metal."Formed round Howard, guitarist Gary "Gaz" Jennings, drummer Mark Ramsey Wharton and bassist Ian Gangwer, the band went onto make big waves with their 1988 Moshkinstein mini-album and debut 'long player' The Fear before both Jennings and Gangwer left the band.But, like many rock n roll stories, the good times started to sour and the line-up started to change regularly, never a positive sign.Second guitarist Kevin Papworth joined in 1987, bassist Ian "Mac" MacDonald got on board in 1988 and the rest was fairly predictable.Howard's humour had been a dominant factor in Acid Reign's success and it remained intact to the very end.Their parting shot, a 'best of' compilation album which appeared in 1991 was entitled The Worst Of Acid Reign.Once the band split, Howard moved south and built up a second successful career, this time as a comedian.Ironically, he's appeared at Bloodstock Festival before the Acid reign reunion - doing his stand-up routine as his comic alias - Keith Platt, 'Professional Yorkshireman.'"Bloodstock was great We absolutely went out there and slayed them."It was a reboot not a reformation.It would have been good to have had the original line-up. There had been talk of us all doing it but, one-by-one, they all dropped out."Howard is looking forward to the new year ahead.He will be taking the latest line-up of Acid Reign across the country in March and April.The April Fool's Tour will be the band's first headline tour for 26 years taking in the likes of Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol and London.So far there are no plans to add Harrogate to the list, though Howard still comes up from London to visit his mum who lives on Forest Moor Road.The last time he did so, he did mention the idea of a hometown show."Harrogate's a great place to come to. It would be great to play there sometime if we could."Mind you, it's got horrendous traffic these days. It's worse than London."