Have club - will travel

AFTER DARK
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Vapour '98 may not be affiliated to a super club or boast a horde of big names, but it promises some of the freshest sounds around

The club tour is one of the greatest inventions known to man. It's right up there with the wheel, the electric light bulb and Jaffa Cakes.

Good promoters will rotate the DJ line-up, change the interior aesthetic and dream up exciting theme nights to keep the punters coming. But a successful club is much like a gushing oil well - you just never know when it's going to run dry.

Clubs have to be aspirational venues, places that kids will visit at all costs and parents have nightmares about. The problem is that the venue rarely changes. A club tour changes that.

A good club tour reinvigorates the entire concept of clubbing. From a promoter's point of view it offers the chance to take your product on the road.

London's Ministry of Sound has essentially been producing the same product every weekend for years. While Londoners have by no means grown tired of MoS, their interest is paltry compared to the unruly scramble for tickets when it tours the country.

Vapour '98 offers a fresh slant on the club-tour concept by taking the UK independent music scene on the road. Tonight's launch, at London's Chelsea Bridge Studios, is the first of seven stops around the UK and Ireland. For many clubbers, the label names might not be too familiar, but their signed acts are responsible for some of the freshest sounds around.

The tour was conceived by Riki Tik Productions (yes, it's the same Soho bar that attracts a sprinkling of the young and hip every weekend) and intends to promote a travelling multi-media gallery of independent label art alongside the musicians that have defined them.

Tonight's launch includes, from the Heavenly stable, Monkey Mafia and Hybirds live, with John Carter and Richard Fearless on the decks. The Wall of Sound provide the Propellerheads (right), Akasha, and Les Rhythm live, with Dirty Beatniks, Touche and Derek de Large on the decks. With the addition of artists from Warp and Soma Records (including Slam, Envoy and Aphex Twin), the pounds 20 tax seems more than reasonable.

In the past, promoters have charged a little less without producing the goods, but Vapour '98 has pulled out all the stops. The size of the line-up is simply too big to relay in full, but it looks an excellent bet for a memorable night.

The tour includes XL recordings, Nuphonic, Wall of Sound, Heavenly Concrete and Skint. The labels represent some of the most innovative talent in the country. Some of them, most notably Skint at The End, have already forged a formidable reputation in clubland, so tickets will be at a premium.

Stops in Glasgow, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Brighton and Dublin make up the tour. With the addition of London (and the omission of Leeds which, apart from Hard Times, has practically become a clubbing ghost town), the above cities represent the magnificent seven of UK clubbing. The venues will be large and demand will be high before it all finishes on 4 July.

Chelsea Bridge Studios, 9pm-6am, tonight, pounds 20; The Arches, Glasgow, 6 March; Sankeys Soap, Manchester, 9 April; The Music Factory, Sheffield, 18 April; The Sanctuary, Birmingham, 9 May; Brighton date and venue to be announced, June; The Red Box, Dublin, 4 July.

Tickets available from HMV, Tower records and other major record stores. For additional tour information 0171-323 0893.

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