The boys soak up the acclaim from 20,000 screaming fans

“We were told to avoid eye contact with the security guards, but by the end of the weekend we had them speaking Gaelic.”

Stornoway rockers The Broken Ravens have just played to over 20,000 screaming fans in Bulgaria, and drummer Kevin Clark reckons it’s his most enjoyable gig of all time.

“When I was in Our Lunar Activities we played to around 40,000 when we supported Snow Patrol in Kilarney, but I would honestly say that this gig was more fun,” he said.

“Everyone in the band agrees it’s the best gig we have ever played.”

Set in a wine valley over two hours from Sofia, the Midalidare Festival is one of Bulgaria’s premier rock events.

So how did a Stornoway band end up on the bill?

Kevin explained: “I’m constantly looking out for bands similar to us and where they are playing, so I send out loads of emails to see if we can get gigs.

“The Midalidare organisers got back to me and said they really liked the band, and asked for some live footage.

“I sent them a video of a set we did in Belladrum two years ago, and they got back and offered us a slot on the bill, saying that if we paid our way out there, they would look after us once we got there.”

That promise, says Kevin, that was kept to the letter.

“They could not have been nicer or more welcoming,” he said.
“We were getting chauffer-driven everywhere and we got put up in a fantastic hotel.
“The only issue was language. They spoke very little English and we speak even less Bulgarian.
“Mind you, Derek did learn the word ‘blaggars’ which is his version of thankyou.”

When it came to showtime, the Broken Ravens realised they were ‘completely different’ to other bands on the bill.

“I would say we are ferociously energetic, but we don’t play the same style of power metal that these bands played,” said Kevin.
“But I think that worked well for us. We have loads of things going on in each and every song we play. There are different rhythms and melodies right the way through.”

Storming through their set, the Ravens basked in the spotlight, none more so than growling frontman Toby Michaels.

“Toby took to it like a duck to water,” said Kevin.
“It was actually quite a thing to watch him. He walked out onto that stage and commanded it from the word go.
“Yes, he is a presence anyway, but this was a different level. He was revelling performing in front of 20,000 people and he really got the crowd going.”

Such was their popularity, the Ravens were asked to go back on stage and perform another song.

“We’re usually expected to cut our set, not add to it,” said Kevin.

Having enjoyed the experience so much, the band are now fully open to the possibility of playing in Bulgaria again sometime soon.

“We would go back in a heartbeat,” said Kevin.
“I think our islands upbringing has a lot to do with how well we got on.
“We were saying thankyou to everyone that helped us, from drivers right up to the person that booked us.
“We took a box of CDs out with us and just gave them away, and that went down a real storm.
“They just aren’t used to that over there.”

And, said Kevin, the boys even managed to introduce a wee bit of Gaelic to their Eastern European hosts.

“We were told to keep away from the security guards as they had quite a reputation, but by the end of the festival we had them saying ‘slainte mhath’,” he said.
“They even allowed us backstage for the other nights of the festival, when we weren’t really supposed to be there.”

Talks are now ongoing to organise a mini-tour of Sofia ‘in the near future’, and upcoming shows for The Broken Ravens include Belladrum and Stramash.

And keep your ears peeled for what might be a very big opportunity for the boys later in the year.

“We can’t say too much just now as we don’t want to jinx anything, but things are looking very positive for the future,” added Kevin.

The Broken Ravens are: Calum ‘Thrash’ Macaulay (guitar), Kevin Clark (drums), Derek Healey (guitar), Lotto Ferguson (bass/vocals), and and Toby Michaels (vocals).

Check them out here.