Homecoming gig for Vardis at Unity Hall

It’s been the best part of four decades since rock band Vardis played in the city.

Considered pioneers of the British heavy metal music scene, they toured the world and performed alongside Ozzy Osbourne in their heyday.

Vardis.

Vardis.

Now the three-piece group, made up of frontman Steve Zodiac, bass guitarist Terry Horbury and drummer Gary Pearson, are back.

Vardis will headline a homecoming gig at Unity Hall tomorrow night.

Mr Pearson, 53, of Alverthorpe Road, said: “It is a special place as it is one of the venues we first played all those years ago.

“A notice board inside Unity Hall’s entrance has a ticket from our last gig so we can’t wait to go back.”

Vardis released their debut album, titled 100 M.P.H, in October 1980, which featured live recorded music.

After charting in the UK’s top 50, the band began to tour the world.

Mr Pearson said his highlights were playing Reading Festival and Port Vale Football Club’s ground alongside Ozzy Osbourne, both in 1981.

He said: “Playing in front of crowds of 30,000 people is very special.

“I still get goose bumps thinking about it. Being on stage is one of the best feelings in the world.”

In their heyday the band rubbed shoulders with the music industry’s biggest acts, including The Who and Kate Bush. Mr Pearson said: “Our management team was based at Shepperton Studios in London so we would often be hanging out with these stars.

“Everyone was passionate about their music and enjoyed having a laugh. It was like one big family.

“We played with Metallica and Lars Ulrich was quoted as saying we were in his favourite groups. He even had a Vardis patch on his jacket.”

Success on stage led to the band taking part in a celebrity football match against a Leeds United all stars team.

Mr Pearson said: “Playing against John Charles and Billy Bremner was crazy but we really enjoyed those days.”

However,changes to the music industry and a rift with management saw the rockers call it a day in 1986.

Mr Zodiac left Vardis for a career in sound engineering, Mr Pearson got a job in sales and Mr Horbury played with other bands. Although the split was amicable, the band members lost touch over the years. After a 27 year break, Mr Pearson set up a Vardis Reunion Facebook page and received hundreds of messages from fans asking for the band to reform.

He tracked down his former band mates and they decided to meet up in London for a practice session.

Mr Pearson said: “It had been nearly 30 years but once we started playing it felt like we haven’t been away.

“At the end of one of the songs there is a dead stop and once Steve played the last cord we could just feel it was still there.”

The newly-re-formed group held a couple of rehearsals before making their return at Brofest in Newcastle in March. They also played at Keep It True XVII in Germany, Rock & Blues Festival in Derbyshire and Hard Rock Hell in Pwllheli, Wales.

Mr Pearson said: “We had fans from America, Japan and Brazil coming out to see us.

“It is something you don’t think about really but when you see them they are still fans of your music after all this time it really humbles you.”

The band will perform at Unity Hall on Saturday, December 13 from 4pm.

The gig will be extra special for Mr Pearson as his two daughters and two grand-children will watch him perform. And the band will also be recording the gig for their forthcoming album.

Mr Pearson said: “We have two albums coming out next year, one which we have just finished recording abroad.

“The other will be made up of just live music, which is what the fans really know us for.”