If you don't live it, you don't have it !

BIG FIGURE PROMOTIONS originally started promoting live music in September 2012 when Gemma Ray played at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton on Tees.  Named after the drummer from Dr Feelgood a band that Stephen Harland was hugely influenced by.  However before that Stephen had dabbled in promoting a Comedy Club event at Feethams - home of Darlington FC in the mid - nineties.  The late Sean Lock was the headliner.   Fast forward to September 2010 and a group of individuals had got together to promoter a reunion event for people who used to attend Middlesbrough Rock Garden.   Stephen, as well as the late Dave Griffiths and Gary McGee put the money up to get it off the ground with a six band line - up.  Having tried to make contact with the owners of the old Arena nightclub with no response - all telephone calls and e-mails were ignored Stephen suggested the trio try the Georgian Theatre in Stockton on Tees which was a 180 capacity theatre that had previously been a confectionery warehouse in another life.    A meeting was set up with Paul Burns of Tees Music Alliance and it was agreed that six band line - up would feature.  The event was a great success and the trio decided to continue promoting live music; Dave wanted to host his favourite band Penetration and Stephen wanted to host Punishment of Luxury.  At that time there was no intention to go any further.

Punishment of Luxury was actually the next gig after the successful reunion which took place on a snowbound evening in December 2010 and produced another full house.     Subsequent shows over a three year period featured bands like 999, The Cravats, Vic Godard & Subway Sect, Inca Babies, John Otway, Penetration, The Rezillos, Ruts DC, Spear of Destiny, Sylvain Sylvain, Theatre of  Hate & The Wolfmen.   In  May 2013 Gary McGee decided to call it a day and was given a cheque for his help.   That left Dave & Stephen who decided at the end of 2013  Rock Garden Revisited had gone as far as it could have and to go their separate ways.  Theatre of Hate and 999 saw the year finish on a high.  There was one final show together in April 2014 when The House of Love reformed and that was the end.  

Gemma Ray became the first show for Stephen, she had been collaborating with Sparks  and released some music with the Mael Brothers.  Stephen also promoted The Primevals at The Sun inn in Stockton and both Gallon Drunk and Chelsea at the Georgian Theatre on his own before a pal from speedway racing Barry Simpson co -promoted six shows including Colin Vearncombe from Black, Punishment of Luxury and The Rezillos.  Sadly Barry died from MND a few years later.

In 2014 a friend Martin Mathers offered to help out.   After two shows featuring Goldblade and a sold out Sleaford Mods show a decision was made to move permanently to MIddlesbrough's Westgarth Social Club as it housed two rooms for live music.   Whilst working with Martin, a local Teesside businessman donated £10,000 so the pair could carry on promoting together.  There were some highs and lows but they carried on bands included 999, Barrence Whitfield & The Savages, The BellRays, The Bermondsey Joyriders, Chelsea, Dead Objectives, The Delta Bombers, The Devils, Fight Rosa Fight!, The Godfathers,  Steve Ignorant's Slice of Life, Newtown Neurotics, The Nightingales, The Primevals, TV Smith, Roughneck Riot, The Vibrators & Wonk Unit.  

After three years of working together Martin quit at the end of 2017 and Stephen's wife Wendy Archer Harland became his co - promoter and has been there ever since.   Some 143 gigs in total have taken place with various co -promoters and alone in a 13 years five month period.  

In February 2023 the biggest bombshell of all occurred when Stephen Callaghan who ran the Westgarth rang Stephen Harland up the night after he had hosted Richard Strange of Doctors of Madness fame to be informed that the venue was closing down with immediate effect and there would be no more gigs.  The Westgarth had been home to various promoters over the years not just ourselves and it took awhile to sink in.  We had shows planned with Wasted Youth and His Lordship less than six weeks away to reschedule but we were going away to USA in less than seven days time.   We rang up a few venues and had a look round and quickly made decisions to host Wasted Youth at Sticky's in Stockton normally a late bar and burger joint and His Lordship at NE Volume Music bar after the co - owner Lee Allcock offered to host it.

Attendances at our gigs since the Westgarth closed down have been really encouraging. We had superb turn outs for The Chameleons, His Lordship, Riverside Rebellion, The Men They Couldn't Hang and Wasted Youth shows. We may no longer have a regular venue to call our own but we have even co -promoted a Punishment of Luxury gig in Sunderland at The Peacock and in Darlington for Riverside Rebellion. We managed one more show at the Georgian Theatre hosting The Godfathers on a Wednesday evening. Some of the smaller gigs have seen some enthusiastic crowds too particularly TV Smith and The Cramps Tribute Evening.

We would like to thank all the venue owners who stepped in to help us out. We managed to promote 11 shows in total bringing the total to 142 since I started promoting in September 2010. We already have 11 gigs booked for next year. Most of all thanks to the people who continue to support our events me and Wendy really do appreciate it. Also to Paul Ford who continues to design most of our gig posters and all the photographers whom turn up at our shows and kindly allow us to use them on social media including Owen Tudor, Mally Such and Steve White.

We ended up using six different venues leading us to more of a nomadic existence without a regular venue to call our own which included shows in Darlington and Sunderland.

We already have lots of shows planned for this year starting with The Primevals in January and finishing with Punishment of Luxury at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton on Tees in December.  Riverside Rebellion 8 returns to Darlington's Forum Studios in November on Saturday 16th with Xslf headlining and a full supporting cast.  We have at least another 10 events booked some of which we cannot confirm yet.

Thanks for supporting all our events.   Long live the music !