The 10th August 2019 is a day that will long remain ingrained in my memory as that was the day that the first ever Nozfest took place. What is Nozfest many of you may ask, well it is a superb one day festival with a 9 band bill that was organised superbly by the incredibly dedicated and hardworking Jodie Bowie. What Jodie did, at the age of 23, in getting such a quality bill together and putting on such a superbly run one day festival is quite remarkable, if you ask me.
Getting the bill together was one thing and pulling in some amazing bands like Bigfoot, Those Damn Crows, Massive Wagons and the legendary Marco Mendoza for your first festival was in many ways, a feat in itself. To then have the day run so flawlessly showed that she had from an outsiders viewpoint, and with her team of willing volunteers around her, got everything covered that needed to be covered. If you then add into that, the fact that the day was a sell out, not an easy accomplishment with so many other festivals going on at this time of year, she had created a day that had an amazing buzz about it and surely could not be anything other than a success.
The venue, the 1865 club in Southampton was just a superb location for Nozfest. Easy to get to, easy to park at, a very well priced bar and with top drawer acoustics and lighting. From the minute I got out of my car after the 4 hour drive from the Kent/Sussex border it just felt like it was going to be a day to remember and I was not wrong.
Jodie was on hand to greet the press and photographers as they arrived at the venue, which was a really nice and personal touch, considering how many different places she needed to be in at that time. It was nice to be able to talk to her briefly about the event and she told me that she was nervous but so happy and proud of what she had achieved so far and rightly so. I hope she found the time to enjoy the day herself and that it didn’t just fly past in a blur whilst she made sure that it all ran smoothly.
So the line up ahead of us “Nozzers” was definitely going to entertain from it’s 2pm start all the way through to it’s 11pm finish. With every band getting a 45 minute slot, apart from the headliners Massive Wagons who got an hour, it gave every act the chance to really showcase themselves to the sold out venue. Military style precision in band changeovers was definitely the order of the day as there was only a 15 minute window for this and I believe to the most part, this was achieved. I think a lot of appreciation needs to be shown to the stage crew, bands own road crews and the bands themselves for making this happen and therefore making sure that the punters got all the entertainment they had paid for.
I must also give a mention and big personal round of applause to the bands who helped make the day so special. Not only did they all play superb sets but each and every one of them mingled with the crowd, chatted to punters, signed stuff, had photo’s taken and gave every fan who wanted to meet their idols the time of day.
That definitely added to the vibe of the day so thank you to each and every one of those band members on behalf of the Nozfest crowd.
On with the show as the saying goes! 27 Days had the distinct privilege of being the first ever band to play at Nozfest. They kickstarted the proceedings with an 8 song set of brilliant hard rock that got the crowd up and going from the get go. It was just perfect and really set the tone for the day. Life on the Edge, Too Hot For Your Love and Live Fast Die Young led us into an outstanding version of I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness before they finished their set with Speed, Tell The Devil, Dead Man Walking (which is available on Spotify) and Burnout. The band looked like they had as much fun on stage as the crowd did watching them and the cheers at the end of the set showed that.
Up next were The Wicked Jackals. The band play real high energy rock ‘n’roll that was dynamic, exhilarating and just captivating to watch and listen to from start to finish. Their set was full of riffs and guitar solos and saw lead guitarist Marty Venus walking out into the bar area to play to the fans during their set closer Raising A Glass, which they dedicated to organiser Jodie. Frontman Ollie Tindall who worked the crowd superbly through out their set really got the crowd involved when he replicated the late great Freddie Mercury with that vocal interlude and bassist Lex Gifford pulled out a water pistol to shoot the crowd some much needed liquid refreshment. Hang ‘em High, Gone To The Dogs (about a lady from Watford), Ain’t Gonna Change, Moving On and Scream made up the bands original material. They did have two aces up their sleeves to get the crowd really rocking in the shape of a high voltage and electrifying version of Tina Turner’s Nutbush City Limits and a rip roaring version of W.A.S.P.s Blind in Texas. I had never had the pleasure of seeing or hearing The Wicked Jackals before Nozfest but I will most definitely be going to see them again as they play a brand of rock n roll that I absolutely adore.
Dave Roux, Pete Briley, Alex Barter and Ryan Smith are fast becoming local legends in and around Southampton. Together they are the Outlaw Orchestra and they bring something completely different to the party today. Led by frontman Roux, by his own admission the sexiest frontman in Southampton, they whip the crowd up to boiling point with an absorbing set of fast paced, humorous Southern Country rock with some brilliant Bluegrass thrown in to give them a fascinatingly brilliant and unique sound.
After missing them at Ramblin Man and with them only being a 3 piece at the Rock and Blues Custom Show, this was my first time seeing them as a complete band and Double Bassist Alex Barter, the missing member from 2 weeks before, really completes their sound. From the minute they walk on stage they are clearly enjoying themselves and the crowd are too. Their music is infectious and catchy and this clearly rubs off on the crowd as they run through a 12 song set that sees feet tapping, hands clapping and people dancing whilst enjoying their beers.
From opening tracks See You In Hell and Line The Track and running through Country High, Ship Faced, Burn The House and Too Much Willie Nelson it is impossible not to be enjoying yourself. The 2nd half of the set, Send Some Whiskey Home, Back To Georgia, Laughing All The Way, Voodoo Queen, Whiskey Drinking
Liar and the superb Milk My Cow take it up another level. You cannot fail to be entertained by The Outlaw Orchestra and if you get the chance to go and see them do not hesitate. They epitomise what live entertainment should be about with the fun they have on stage and we all need a bit of fun in our lives don’t we.
With their big sound, full of monstrous riffs, powerful vocals and classic rock vibe Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters take to the stage and show straight away that they are here to rock. Opening track Bad Habit gave anybody who had not seen the band before a very quick insight to what a big voice Beth has and how they have pulled in many influences to create a sensational sound. The catchy Give it All You’ve Got follows and leads into the heavy Hell in High Heels. They really do put on a good show and Beth interacts well with the photographers to give them some great shots. Down n Dirty and I Ain’t Got Nothing (If I Ain’t Got Rock and Roll) keep the pace of the set up before dropping the tempo for You and I.
On and On, a mid tempo rocker, which really reminds me of Halestorm comes after Beth takes the time to thank Jodie for inviting them to play at todays event and then it is back to the ballsy, hard, melodic rock the band are fast building their reputation on to bring their set to a close. First up is Jack and Coke, built around a pulsating dream beat it is heavy, catchy with a monumental riff running through it that gets hands in the air and heads banging. If You’re Ready To Rock is a pulsating finish to what has been a great set that has obviously gone down well with the crowd and a hot, sweaty Nozfest give the band a rapturous send off.
Stop! Stop! were a new band on me before Nozfest and when they took to the stage dressed as three old men, a little bit like old man Steptoe, I have to say that I thought, what is this all about. My early worries completely disappeared, when, after early technical issues, they kick started their set with The Last Call and just took my breath away. Fast paced, entertaining, in your face rock n roll is what Stop! Stop! Are about and they bring it in abundance. It’s not long before the fancy dress is discarded and they get down to the serious business of rocking and rolling the Southampton crowd.
The band are a full on bundle of energy and they have the music to back up their on stage joviality. Renegade is superb with it’s ‘dirty’ rock riffs and Jacob A.M and Vega high kicked and danced their way through Poser. I was completely drawn in by the stage presence and showmanship of this fantastic three piece and by the looks and reaction of the crowd so were they. There is no let up to the pace of the music and energy of the band as they play Living A Lie and then invite everybody to Join The Party. How could you not, the crowd certainly did as they join in with the band. This is proper fist pumping rock and it is being lapped up. Lola, In ‘n’ Out and Stop! Stop! make sure that the tempo and the temperature in the venue do not drop and see that the band finish their set how they have played the rest of it, full of energy and entertaining and involving the crowd all the way through. Just absolutely superb! A real surprise package for me and a bloody brilliant one at that.
Now we were getting to the business end of the night and almost just slipped in on the bill unnoticed in the early evening slot is possibly the coolest man in rock, Mr Marco Mendoza. The man who has played with Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Ted
Nugent and was a founding member of the Black Star Riders was here tonight on the first night of a small UK tour. We only got a short set from the legendary and divinely talented bassist and his band, Micky Crystal from the Tygers of Pan Tang on guitar and Kyle Hughes from Bumblefoot on drums. For a man of his stature and standing within the industry it was great to see him taking in the full Nozfezt experience before, after and during his set as he mingled with the fans and clearly loves a good selfie!
Opening his set with the title track of his latest solo offering Vive Le Rock, it quickly showed how tight and talented the band were and what a good songwriter Mr Mendoza is. The crowd got into it straight away and Marco was clearly pleased at the reception he was getting as he smiled and waved at the audience. Hey Baby, a track he played on with Ted Nugent followed, and it gave Marco a chance to show that he can really sing as well. An extended guitar solo from the extremely talented Micky Crystal, the man can play, saw the bassist off the stage and walking along the barrier kissing the hands of the ladies leaning over it. He knows how to win an audience over! I wasn’t sure on the title of the next song but it did include a little interlude of the John Lennon penned Give Peace A Chance which saw Marco walking through the crowd and playing his bass. Brilliant stuff! Rocketman, another track from his solo album came next and that was the last song I knew. We did get two more, in as I said what was an unfortunately short set but beggars can’t be choosers and to get 35 minutes of this man’s talent today was just what the doctor ordered. The coolest rock star on the planet came, saw and conquered Nozfest and kissed ladies, blew kisses and had god knows how many photos taken to make sure that everyone remembered him for a long time to come.
Bigfoot are currently doing their rounds up, down and across the UK as they sadly prepare to say farewell as a band. This, their last show in Southampton, by virtue of that became a bitter sweet affair. They only had 9 shows left after this one so if you want to catch one of the finest live UK bands out there at the moment, be quick, because by the time October comes, they will be gone.
The band looked up for this from the off and the energy they put into their 8 song set was clearly apparent as the colour of singer Sean Seabrooks sweat soaked shirt changed with every bang of the head and fist pump in the air. The venue was hot and sweaty before Bigfoot took to the stage and they raised the temperature even more. Crowd and band interaction is a big part of a Bigfoot show and tonights audience were not going to miss out, they lapped it up and helped create an unforgettable atmosphere on the bands last ever foray to the South coast.
Guitarists Sam Millar and Mick McCullagh get their chance to show what extremely talented musicians they are during this high octane set which is set up close to combustion point by the powerful and thunderous rhythm section of Matt Avery on bass and Tom Aspinall on drums. Tell Me A Lie, Run, Prisoner of War and Freakshow are just outstanding slabs of hard rock. Heavy, rocking, melodic and full of superb riffs and top notch vocals that create an electrifying start to the set. Forever Alone drops the pace temporarily before an insanely good finishing trio of songs. Fear, which is one of my favourite Bigfoot songs precedes Blame It On The Dog and
Uninvited and how anybody could not fail to join in with the now dripping Seabrook god only knows. In fact, I don’t think anybody did by the noise in the venue.
As I said, a bitter sweet occasion! When you see a band performing like that, you wonder why they are calling it a day. They obviously have their reasons but it is such a shame that in about 6 weeks time we will not get the chance to enjoy moments like that again. If you do nothing else in September, get yourself a ticket to one of those dates and give Bigfoot the send off they truly deserve.
Those Damn Crows had the ‘special guest’ slot tonight and without being corny, they are indeed very special. Fresh from a storming set at Steelhouse, these Welsh wizards rocked up at Nozfest and sent the noise levels through the roof. I have had the pleasure of seeing the band half a dozen times in the last 13 months and each time I see them I swear they just get better and better and better.
As frontmen go I can’t think of many better than Shane, his stage presence is out of this world and he gets the audience eating out of the palm of his hand so effortlessly. Ronnie and Lloyd are such a powerful and energetic rhythm section, they drive each song and set forward with such authority and energy you can feel it run down through your bones. Then there is David and Shiner, the dynamic duo on guitars who blend together so effortlessly to create the melodies that finish the songs off so perfectly.
Walking around the venue, it was impossible not to walk past someone wearing a Those Damn Crows tee shirt and from the lack of available floor space even those not wearing the shirts were not going to miss out on seeing this sensational outfit from Bridgend who are in my opinion rapidly moving towards much bigger venues than they are currently playing. Bands with this sort of buzz around them come along every now and then so just be grateful that you were on this planet at the same time as Those Damn Crows.
The set itself was everything you could ask for and then some more. The atmosphere was that electric I think they could have taken some of it for the National Grid. The band were on fire and the venue was rocking. Don’t Give A Damn and Long Time Dead start it off with such power and force. The crowd are singing every word alongside Shane who just doesn’t stop moving. Fortunately we are not in a drought this year as I lost count of the number of glasses of water he sent flying as he dragged his mike lead around behind him and kept his roadie busy getting him new ones. A well placed stand in the photographers pit gives him every opportunity to jump out on to the railings so sing up close and personal to the bands adoring fans and he takes that regularly. Behind These Walls and the superb new track Who Did It don’t give any let up in the pace of the set or the atmosphere. The new tracks played tonight sit so well alongside the material off their debut album it really makes you wish for the 2nd album to come out sooner rather than later.
lFor the whole of their set the power and intensity from the band does not let up. Someone Someday and Fear of the Broken lead us into a sensational Blink Of An Eye with mass crowd singalong that made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. It was then left to Breakaway and Rock and Roll Ain’t Dead to bring an end to
this outstanding 45 minutes. For me, this was the band of the day and I think it was for many others. It made me look back on my 30 odd years of gig going and try and remember a new British band who you think have all the tools and equipment to sell out arena’s on a regular basis as that is where Those Damn Crows are heading in my opinion. Phenomonal!
So to the headliners, Massive Wagons. I wondered how they were going to follow that! Did the crowd have anything left to give after that performance, after all they had been here for 8 hours with not much let up in the entertainment. Could the band themselves top that performance. For those that were there, you will know your thoughts, for me, they put up a bloody good battle but not quite. Maybe that was just my tiredness kicking in, I had been up since 6am, had a four hour drive and been photographing and note making all day.
In all fairness to the Massive Wagons, their set and show was superb. I have seen them twice before this year and I just cannot get over how Baz manages to sing as he jumps, twirls, high kicks and headbangs his way through the set. His energy and charisma are just extraordinary and the rest of the band keep up with him the best they can.
The set is a rousing one, it is built to entertain and to get everybody jumping, singing and clapping, which it does. Fee Fi Fo Fum leads into Tokyo and then Billy Balloon head, Baz covering inch of the stage, his mike stand twirling constantly, he just does not stop moving. He is like a massive ball of energy and just seems inexhaustible. Nails, Under No Illusion and China Plates follow and the atmosphere is still electric. This is a band who are on the up and they know how to play the crowd and play to the crowd. All the members add their own bit of magic to create a Massive Wagons show and the crowd are receptive and appreciative of it.
Chine Plates, Sunshine Smile, Hero, Hate Me and Last on the List take us to the big finale that is going to close out Nozfest 2019 and what a finale it is. The slower paced Northern Boy gives everybody a respite from the ferocious pace of the set before Ratio and Red Dress call for the crowd to dig deep and pull every last ounce of energy out of their sapping and weary bodies to bring this magnificent headline slot to a climax. They did that superbly as well to show their admiration and gratitude for the awesome set that had just been played to them. As the band left the stage the crowd were demanding an encore but with the event running slightly over schedule were they going to get their wish. After the chants got louder and some prompting towards the powers that be in the venue the band took to the stage and finished the first ever Nozfest with a rip roaring Back To The Stack, their tribute to the late Rik Parfitt, who I am sure if he had seen today’s proceedings would have loved every minute of it.
So that was that then, the 10th August 2019, the first ever Nozfest. Jodie Bowie should be so immensely proud of what she achieved today. The line up was exceptional, the smooth running of the day exemplary and I did not see anybody doing anything other than having a good time, I know I certainly did. The bands seemed to revel in the experience and from my point of view, there was not a bad act to be seen all day. It was a pleasure to photograph and review the event as well.
Review & Photography Darren Smith for metalplanetmusic