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Gig Review : Stonedeaf Festival 2019

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Welcome to the second Stonedeaf Festival: this event has already grown a big reputation with both bands and fans alike, having nominations as one of the best family friendly festivals with big big names in the music business voting it Festival of the Year. Not bad considering it’s only been going for ONE year.

It is billed as a “one day one stage one monster rock show”, and it certainly is. Nine bands to entertain and a few legends on the list.

Kicking off the festival were the winners of the 2019 opening poll competition Samarkind. This Dublin based four-piece have a variable mix of musicians with an Irish lead vocalist, David Paul Byrne, Mark Dempsey on bass guitar, Darragh O’Hehir on drums and Polish guitarist Michal Kulbaka. It was a boiling hot day and the place was rammed considering this was the first band on. You could see the surprise on Dave’s face as they came on stage and he saw how many were there to see them play. They play a great mix of blues country and old school rock.2019-08-24_Stonedeaf_MPMLG_01-Samarkind-3.jpg

The first song “Black Rain” had Michal’s slide guitar skills on show right from the off. At times they have a vintage Deep Purple sound and Dave’s powerful vocals reminded me of Ian Gillan.

Sun Stroke Heart“, “Skinny Rivers“, “Thru That Door“, all songs from their 2017 debut album followed. In fact, they played all but one song from this album in their set. The sweat was pouring off Dave with all the stage lights and the boiling sunshine. There was a tiny breeze, but it was going to be a sticky day for all the musicians today, the audience were dancing and rocking away enjoying everything they did. Dave’s voice took everyone back to vintage rock with the sound of Coverdale, Ronnie Dio and all the powerful voices of the day can be heard. And as soon as I thought that he went and sang a bit of “Heaven and Hell” in the middle of their song “Fire and Blood“. The rhythm section of Michael and Darrah were just as excellent and the final song, “Blue Mountain” was a real headbanging number. I had wanted to see this band for a while now and let me tell you the wait was worth it. A great set and a brilliant start to the day.

The second band were Massive, the Australian hell raisers who have been on a huge tour of the UK and will soon be touring Europe again. They’re a balls out no nonsense band who are a cross between AC/DC and Motorhead. Lead singer Brad introduces them and says “We play rock n roll” (a nod to Lemmy) and, boy, do they! The crowd was still fairly big but they took a while to warm up which was surprising as these guys – Ben Lead guitar, Brenton bass, and Andrew drums, never let up. Brad was running around the stage like a greyhound. He has a great way to get crowds going and as soon as he started to clap his hands the audience woke up and from then on, the band had them head banging and jumping around.

Showcasing songs from their two albums “Full Throttle” and their latest “Rebuild Destroy”, the energy they all had in the searing heat was incredibly fast and furious. Brad, the joker, as always announced to the crowd that they had been touring for way too long now and that they were exhausted, so you’re only getting four songs to great laughter. Half way through he noticed they were not as enthusiastic as they should have been and he screamed at them and kept on till all they were all screaming back. They played their new single “Roses” which will be on their new album, these guys are prolific song writers and just love to tour, especially in the UK, which is great for the fans and they promise they will be back next year bigger and better.2019-08-24_Stonedeaf_MPMLG_02-Massive-1.jpg

The crowd all went crazy when they played “If You Want Blood (You Got It)” and seeing them all joining in chanting was brilliant: Brad’s face said it all, a highlight of this set was definitely when the band played “Dance Floor” and many of the Stonedeaf crew came out on stage to dance along with the Stonedeaf mascot. The band joined in and just enjoyed it and had an absolute blast.

The sun was hotter than ever and it was getting uncomfortable in the crowd, so many including myself had a bit of a break to have a drink and check out the showground. The festival organisers had done a fantastic job. There were taps situated around for people to fill their bottles with water (much needed today), and there was even some free sunscreen for people to stop getting burnt. I thought this was a good time to do a little networking and check out where the interviews were being held as I had one scheduled for later.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see a great deal of the next band The Amorettes with their new line up, they have now joined forces with Tequila Mockingbyrd as both bands had members leave. So the new band is now Gill Amorette’s Jacinta, Josie from Tequila with singer Aaron Buchanan’s sister Laurie as the final member. I got back to catch the final two songs, “Bull by the Horns” and “Everything I Learned” and noticed that the crowd was a lot smaller: whether this was because they had gone for a walk like myself, I can’t say but what I heard was good. I’m sorry, girls, but I’ll catch you on the road somewhere I’m sure.2019-08-24_Stonedeaf_MPMLG_03-Amorettes-3.jpg

Diamond Head were up next. The first of the legends and probably the band responsible for thrash and the first of the real big NWOBHM bands of the 70s, Bryan Tatler and the boys are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their iconic album “Lightning to the Nations” and have also just recently released a new album “Coffin Train”. They were plagued by sound problems right from the start with Rasmus, the lead singer, going through three microphones by the second song. Brian, the consummate professional, carried on and while Raz has a powerful enough vocal, you can expect his voice to carry into the crowd, just not across a whole field! The frustration was showing, and it was a shame because I had an interview coming up so was going to miss most of their set. As I walked away from the stage, the vocal improved the further you were away, but I heard later that it took a while to sort before they could really get going. I hope the packed-out crowd got to enjoy this brilliant band.2019-08-24_Stonedeaf_MPMLG_04-DiamondHead-1.jpg

With the interview over, we got back in time to see the legend Geoff Tate. To say I was excited about seeing him again was an understatement. I saw him back in the day when he was frontman for Queensryche, and today he was doing a greatest hits and an Operation Mindcrime set. He started by saying that seeing all of the people out there this was very special for him and thanked them. He had a lot to get through so he started with the classic “Empire” and the minute you heard his amazing vocals, the hairs on the back on the back of my neck went up. I have always thought that along with Dio, Geoff has one the best voices in rock and tonight he didn’t change my opinion. He still has that amazing range, can hold the notes and the power is still there at his age. Operation Mindcrime had not only the people singing the chorus with Geoff but the whole song, which brought a beaming smile to his face. He got through ten songs; don’t ask me how as he only had a fifty-minute set. Call me biased but to me he should have been the headliner. It was an absolute masterclass: all the songs were there “Breaking the Silence“, “The Mission” and with a great introduction to one of my favourite songs of all time, “Silent Lucidity“. Geoff went on to say “this song is very special, people have been married to this song, been buried to this song and some have even been conceived to this song, maybe even some of you younger ones out there were”. This brought a thunderous round of applause and roars of laughter.2019-08-24_Stonedeaf_MPMLG_05-GeoffTate-5.jpg

The band he has with him are just outstanding, performing with the distinctive sound that Queensryche are famous for: the harmonics, the clever hooks, the complex melodies. They do it perfectly, the handclapping was seen all over as the distinctive intro of “Jet City Woman” was heard across the field and the chorus singing by the audience was the loudest today, ending with another one of my favourites “Eyes of a Stranger“. This set was the highlight of the whole festival for me, and it was going to be hard to follow.

The band that had that unenviable job was Wayward Sons, the brainchild of musician and songwriter Toby Jepson, apart from being the singer in Fastway and producer for Saxon, he is probably known more for his work with Little Angels. After the success of the Son’s debut album “Ghosts of Yet to Come” in 2017, his first in about twenty years, he is again eager to get out there and perform. Fresh from seeing them a few weeks ago at Rambin Man Fair where they had a great time in the sunshine, I was talking to people in the crowd and was surprised how many were seeing him for the first time. In just a few years the band has amassed a huge fanbase and were looking forward to seeing them today, Toby came on stage to a huge roar. Wayward Sons’ set consisted of mainly songs from “Ghosts of Yet to Come” which the fans lapped up dancing and singing along. They do a cover of The Stranglers “No More Heroes” and although it does get the crowd going it doesn’t really work for me, loving the original, but it’s a nice homage.

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Wayward Sons (Sam Wood, Guitar, Dave Kemp, Keyboards, Nic Wastell, Bass, Phil Martini, Drums, and Toby, lead vocal/guitar), really know how to keep a crowd entertained and they were also treated to a few new songs from the forthcoming album “The Truth Aint What it Used to Be”, to be released on 11th October. Don’t expect to hear ballads and slow love songs with these guys, they play riff laden rock with powerful choruses and heavy blues rock, so be ready to sing along!

The Motorhead shirts were seen aplenty up the front for the next band, Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons. Born out of the ashes of Motorhead it started off as a little project and has escalated into a cult following. Having met and seen Phil and the guys a few times now, I knew the crowd were in for something special. Phil on guitar along with his sons Todd, guitar, and Tyla, bass, and Dane, drums, along with powerful lead singer Neill Starr are still keeping the Motorhead sound alive. Phil, who was with them for thirty plus years, is not only a legend amongst fans but was a major creative force in the band, showcasing songs from their 2018 album “The Age of Absurdity”, starting with “Big Mouth” then “Step into the Fire“. It wasn’t long before the first Motorhead song was heard.

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Screams from the crowd and horns raised, they all joined in on “Rock Out“. I have to admit I lay down on the field watching the guys as the heat had go to me (I’m an old bugger now), but I always enjoy seeing them and hearing them play, not only new great hard rock songs but the old Motorhead numbers too, covers of R.A.M.O.N.E.S. and the Hawkwind Lemmy classic “Silver Machine” kept the first few rows in the front headbanging. And when they played “Ace Of Spades” that’s when they all went mental. As always, a brilliant set from the guys, Phil’s not only a great artist he is a real down to earth dude, till the next time.

Penultimate band of the night Inglorious, once again having seen them at Ramblin Man it was nice to see so many familiar faces in the crowd. Nathan James, their lead singer, has sung for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Uli Jon Roth, the Scorpions guitarist. There was huge praise for their self-titled debut album in 2016 and they have been compared to many of the legendary bands of the 70’s: Led Zep, Purple with Queen’s Brian May also being a big fan of the band. They followed their success with a 2017 album and got to number 1 in the official rock charts. To keep the fans even more happy they released a brand new album in late January called “Ride to Nowhere”, so in a short period of time they have three albums of material to showcase, they also have a huge following.

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This is where I get a real slagging off from fans. I have seen them three times now and I still can’t get into them, don’t get me wrong all the musicians are very talented but I can’t hear anything fresh from them. Nathan champions the young guitarist Danny De la Cruz, and yes, he’s a very talented guitarist but do we have to have so many solos. Every fan I speak to says Nathan has an incredible vocal and range. I’m sorry, but I heard a lot better today from other bands and he can sound very flat at times. I’m sorry Nathan, you can’t expect someone to love everything and I was brought up on old school rock, but your fans and especially the girls love what you do, and that’s all that matters.

The headliner was another legend, the bassist and backing singer in Deep Purple during the Coverdale years, Glenn Hughes. First off it wasn’t a huge crowd so not everyone had hung around to see him, you could tell the way the sound crew and roadies were running around on stage there was a problem apparently with the sound and Glenn’s bass. Not a great start and by the time it was sorted they were running about 30 minutes late and what started off as an average crowd was even less by now. Glenn, with his psychedelic lighting and backdrop of his face, came on to the stage dressed in cool red velvet, blew the audience kisses and started the set with the Purple classic “Stormbringer” where he showed off his powerful falsetto straight away, running to both sides of the stage to wave to the crowd and shouting “You look fantastic”.

Might just Take your Life” and “Sail Away” and then this was where the problems started with his bass again; to fill in time there was an excellent drum solo with some exquisite crossover patterns, sticks whizzing around like a Catherine wheel and you can’t help but be impressed by Glenn’s vocal power. He has been on a two and a half year tour, but he does talk a lot on stage and he kept thanking the audience, which after a while got very tedious. He played a couple of songs from the album Come Taste the Band, but the sound problems continued. He said, I’m not like some people when this happens, they walk off stage: I can play this bass with my nose. He can be very weird at times and makes some very strange statements: “Thank you for letting me crawl into your souls and your eyes” (mm no thank you); he then goes into a big speech about how to live your lives and after more sound problems it was time to go.2019-08-24_Stonedeaf_MPMLG_09_GlennHughes-3.jpg

The organisers at Stonedeaf had done it again. This is the way to run a festival. Beer, food and drink affordable to everyone, friendly and helpful staff, and a huge array of talent to entertain everyone. Well done to all involved, and here’s to next year.

Review by Dave Martin Photos by Lady Gigger for Metal Planet Music.

Full Gallery Below – Copyright -Carol Henson -aka Lady Gigger :Do not copy are use without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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