Softly falling rain and tap-dancing seagulls heralded the third and final day of Giants of Rock.The atmosphere the previous night had obviously left some revellers a little worse for wear and it was a slow start for many.
The Centre stage was the first to open its doors, a tired air hovering around the room as bums found seats and others leaned against the barrier in front of the stage. Right before the first band came on the numbers did swell considerably which was great for SCARLET REBELS as last years Introducing Stage winners began their set.
I like the band and was really hoping they would make the most of the large stage to deliver a set that I know they are capable of and I am so pleased to say that they did give it their all despite travelling through the night and arriving on site in the small hours.
The South Wales quartet smashed their hard, melodic rock out and certainly woke everyone up! Very powerful to the last chord, I am genuinely pleased that the raw power and energy they emit came across superbly well.
How do you follow that? With the TOM KILLNER BAND that’s how! Tom is a young singer songwriter who can not only play the blues rather well but sing them rather well too. A gravel tone to his voice which sounds like its been soaked in JD and 40 a day but then sparks up and the young power is there.
Tom has an easy, confident manner between songs which I am sure will have won over some new fans. The band match him in confident playing abilities but this is definitely the time for Tom to shine and he does, through the haze of the smoke machine and the gloom of red lights, the voice surfaces and blows you away. I could listen to it all day.
ANCHOR LANE are another band I have seen on numerous occasions and although young, they seem to have been around a while. The Glasgow rockers did not seem to realise it was a mid Sunday afternoon and proceeded to throw an energetic, riff laden bucket of awesome rock into the room as if they were headlining.
Hair swirls, high kicks and plenty of attitude had cheers and horns up around the room. One thing Giants of Rock really do well is showcase so many different genres of Rock but this is good old classic rock played well and sung well. Conor, Lawrence, Matthew and Scott showed their dynamism off to full effect. Centre stage Saturday night headliners of the future? absolutely definitely!
TROYEN opened things nicely on the Introducing Stage. The NWOBHM band who originally formed way back in 1981 have been in and out of the industry splitting, reforming and now saying the are ‘back to finish what we started’ Their level of professionalism was stunning. Sounding tight as and loud as, I was sorry I could only catch a couple of tracks.
I hope to go and have a good listen in the not too distant future but I did enjoy what I heard. Melodic but edgy rock with sprinklings of groove and meaty riffs.
The doors to Reds had opened heralding the arrival of the first act of the day to grace its big stage. MELVIN HANCOX BAND I had not heard of, no idea what to expect and isn’t that one of the joys of these festivals? being pleasantly surprised by not only a good band but one who hooks you in in the first 30 seconds of their first song. Psychedelic, blues- funk-rock from 3 guys who did not seem to be dwarfed on the large stage but actually worked it.
Funny and interesting stories from Melvin himself explaining the song titles and their meaning. This was the surprise of the weekend for me. What an absolute belter of a performance and I know from talking to people afterwards that many new fans had been found. Thank you Giants of Rock, that was rather splendid.
FELIX RABIN on the other hand I had heard and seen before so it was absolutely no surprise to me that this hugely talented guy and his band won the Introducing stage. His guitar playing is off the chart, this is blues played well and sung with passion and emotion which is only matched by the riffs themselves. A sold band too, all working together, always watching Felix as he seemed to lose himself in the songs.
I knew this would be stunning and in such a small and intimate setting which is the Introducing stage but this became something more. Catch Felix on his forthcoming tour. A delight for the ears and one to have your emotions dangling towards the edge of tears, hope, love, despair, the whole caboodle!
HANG 11 are a young rock/funk/blues trio from South Wales who had to follow Felix on the Introducing stage which would be no mean feet but the band had enough abut them to be able to deliver and keep the room full many staying to see their full set. I liked their sound and the hooky riffs and catchy songs. I liked the vocal tones too and hope to see the band again soon.
VAMBO reopened the Reds stage. A very visual band, singer Jack Stiles thrived on the large stage. He is almost hypnotic in the way he commands your attention but his vocals are absolutely flawless too.
Pete Lance on guitar is equally watchable as he goes with the flow in the riffs, soaring and intricate. James and Steve are not to be out done and the rhythm section certainly holds the music up well. Totally infectious hard rock. Stiles has an aura about him, Steve Tyler/ Robert Plant, you can clearly hear influences I his voice.
The songs are well constructed but it’s the performance that makes it. Their self titled album has been a favourite of mine since its release their music is so full of energy and some serious catchy melodies. Touring in May with CATS IN SPACE be sure to catch them.
SQUARE ONE describe themselves as whiskey fuelled country rock and I’d describe them after seeing them on the introducing stage as the find of the weekend for me.
Wow just wow, vocal prowess, energy, showmanship, flamboyance and a bloody marvellous sound! Their energetic stomping tunes completely blew me away. Such a big sound that I could hear them way before I walked into the room.
ROCK GODDESS let rip on the centre stage, the three piece are a classic rock band fronted by Jody Turner who is another of those people who can just capture your attention and hold it, Julie Turner adding not just the drums but impressive backing vocals too.
Jenny Lane provides the bassline and together they make a mighty noise. The ladies have a strong following and there were horns aplenty along the barrier in support of the band. Hard rocking girls who look and sound like they know how to party and how to get a party started.
MALONE SIBURN BAND were another band I had not seen before and I had definitely been missing out. A blues rock band who have the hooks to capture you and nail you to the spot. Marcus Malone and Innes Siburn had the whole room rocking out.
Only together for a couple of years, the professionalism and talent of this band is unreal. In Marcus’s voice you can hear downright blues which then explode into classic rock, a melody running through that was hard to fathom. Innes Siburn is an astoundingly talented guitarist. I along with a couple of the other photographers got our shots and then just stayed and listened and watched for as long as we could. These guys were outstanding. I have to see them again, amazing.
Staying in Reds after the outstanding Malone Siburn band to see PRAYING MANTIS, a band I have followed for the best part of my life having discovered them when I was in my early teens and with the voice of John Jaycee they reignited the spark in their music gaining a whole new legion of fans along the way.
I have seen them about three times over the last few months and they never fail to deliver the goods and tonight there was no exception to that rule. This is how to close out this stage after a mountain of marvellous music, with the cream of rock. ‘Captured City’, ‘Praying Mantis’, ‘Believable’, ‘Simple Man’, ‘Children Of The Earth’ all amongst the set list and just perfect.
Tino and Chris still look like they enjoy every minute of performing and they certainly have been performing for so many years together forming the band I 1973!. Andy Burgess on guitar really lifts those riffs sky high and Hans on Drums slaps the skins around with so much power you can feel it reverberate through your toes, but it’s johns voice that floors me every time.
The power the man possesses is incredible, a faultless vocal. This is the second review in a couple of months were I have said that Praying Mantis are the band of the weekend and that John Jaycee gave the vocal performance of the weekend and with the quality of bands this weekend at Minehead it shows just how good they were.
And yes, I know I’m a fan but fans sometimes make the biggest critics too but there was nothing to criticise. It wasn’t just me who thought the guys stole the crown, many, many people I spoke to also thought the same. Can they play every year please? – fabulous.
Dragging myself away to the centre stage, the last band of the weekend in this main arena where BIG COUNTRY and no doubt they are a fans favourite and again incredibly consistent.
I thought they sounded great Mark Brzezicki on drums, Scott Whitley on bass of course Bruce Watson on guitar along with his talented chip of the old block Jamie and Simon Hough on vocals.
Simon has a great voice and the band always create a party atmosphere with iconic songs which has everyone along the barrier bouncing along and those further back in the room on their feet swirling and dancing round and really enjoying the party mood.
It was a short set though but nevertheless a great way to close out the main stage and to end a fabulous weekend of music for me.
Without doubt Giants of Rock is a fabulous way to spend a weekend post New Year when the weather isn’t great, but the venue ensures that the weather doesn’t matter. The guys who book the bands get it right time after time and the people who come along to Giants are real music fans, appreciative and welcoming to all. The introducing stage always has some great bands and having the winners of each day play the main stage the following year is really good for new music. Well done Butlins, another stunner.