Review & Photography by Lindsay Smith for MPM
It wouldn’t be a festival without a little rain and the weather had definitely closed in with grey cloud almost touching the top of the main tent on the second day of Rock & Blues Custom Bike show.
The smell of bacon and the draw of hot tea had obviously roused folks early and even before the bands had begun, the site was buzzing with anticipation, hangovers lifting as the rain began to pour down.
Braving the elements, a crowd had gathered for WE THREE KINGS as they opened the outdoor stage.
The band describe themselves as no-nonsense, balls-out, fuzzed-up rock & roll and you really can’t argue with that! Opening with ‘Radio’ a flood of fuzz and despite the torrential downpour, the band played a rousing set including their latest single ‘Walk’ .
Smiling faces in the rain showed their appreciation of a great start to the day. They are a hardy lot here at Rock & Blues!
THRASONIC, a hard and heavy rocking blues filled band from Nottingham continued to keep those braving the rain entertained with some big riffs and soaring solos.
Meanwhile THE HIP PRIESTS got things moving on the main stage with their distinctive brand of high speed, anthemic garage punk rock n roll.
The band have been around since 2007 and were a welcome addition to the festival with their energy and raucous choruses, getting the sizable crowd singing along..
NAKED SUNDAY from the midlands brought the dirty blues rock to the outdoor stage as the rain continued to pour, I felt so sorry for the guys, puddles on the stage to avoid but it never phased them, as soon as the heavy basslines started, the band came alive.
Those bass lines are really chunky from Laura Stanyer and gave a lovely vibe to their sound. Very impressive and a band I will catch again very soon but preferably without the rain accompanying them.
It’s party time in the main tent as the fabulous BOOTYARD BANDITS take to the stage complete with inflatable cactus and cowboy boots, visions in denim and Stetsons.
Bring out a banjo and everyone’s mood improves! Describing themselves as “the result of an illegitimate love affair between Black Stone Cherry and Steel Panther” the tunes are fun, stomping, entertaining and catchy.
What a reaction from the now jumping main arena crowd who loved every minute. This is County Metal! – who would have thought there could be such a thing but Hell Yeah, Yee haw!, there certainly is and its genius! Check out their album ’Songs For The Saddle Sore’ and catch the band live as soon as you can.
Back to the outdoor stage and Birmingham’s BLUE NATION. The melodic, blues rock trio vibe heavily back to the Free and Skynyrd sound, chilling things down and allowing the seriously talented guys to lift the mist on a very grey day.
I felt an inner calm begin to wash over me after the frenetic feeling of the earlier main stage band. I can imagine driving along, window down, sunglasses on, Blue Nation turned loud, total road trip music.
Unfortunately the rain had kept falling and the bands arriving started to get bogged down by the mud. TRUCKER DIABLO were due on stage and the back stage crew were pulling out all the stops getting kit from the van not able to get close, hand-balling the gear over the fence and over the mud. TRUCKER DIABLO literally plugged in and played, not even a minute late, what a huge achievement from all these guys, sheer professionalism from everyone.
What can I say about Trucker Diablo that everyone doesn’t already know? One of the best bands around and always a pleasure to see.
Playing songs from their extensive back catalogue and from their latest album ‘Tail End of a Hurricane’ each track sounded huge from Tom Harte, Simon Haddock, Jim McGurk, and Terry Crawford. Epic – nothing else would describe this band.
Back to the melodic, hard rock on the outdoor stage with VAMBO. I’ve seen this band countless times over the last few years and they never fail to perform or impress. Musically tight, vocally sublime, a sizable crowd had gathered as the rain had eased.
It must be so disheartening for all the bands in the rain but the stage and sound guys do a fabulous job ensuring the sound is just as good as playing a large indoor venue.
A superb set of swaggering songs, soaring riffs and a vocal that is simply superb, they are a band to catch as they hit the road over the next few months with Cats In Space.
Always at Rock and Blues we are treated to a couple of brief performance from dancers Reenies Rockettes. Sometimes super sexy, bold and powerful or just fun, the ladies know how to vamp it and dazzle their way through their performance.
As the rain begins to fall again, the last performance on the outdoor stage is MIKE ROSS. Fuzzed up heavy blues adds to the variety we have seen on this stage today. A familiar face in the blues scene, Mike is THE expert in soul doused blues rock with a big pile of gritty riffs and lovely country feel vocals. Lovely job
Two more bands to go now on the main stage and both will be fantastic without a doubt.
First up is WAYWARD SONS, Toby Jepson, Sam Wood, Nick Wastell and Phil Martini played here a few years ago with their second only ever gig as a band and blew everyone away with their sound and tonight we are treated again to them but now with 3 albums under their belt and the sad departure of Dave (keyboards) from the original line up, I was wondering how their sound would have changed.
Holy Fu$K – who turned the volume up! How can so much sound be coming from 4 of them and filling every last molecule of air with perfect melodic hard rock.
Ripping open the set with ‘Any Other Way’ launching straight into ‘Don’t Wanna Go’ and ‘Even Up The Score’, Mr Jepson and Co clearly have decided to make up for lost time due to the pandemic and enjoy themselves and also ensure everyone at Rock & Blues enjoy it too.
Pausing for breath with a quick chat, you could see the delight on each band members face, clearly they knew they had cracked it sound-wise, song choice wise and were firmly back where they should be.
The set list was a well-chosen mix of all three albums and included fan favourites and their latest release ‘Faith in Fools’. They had the barrier rocking and the stage jumping.
‘Small Talk’, ‘Jokes on You’ and finishing with the very apt ‘Until The End’ left memorable impressions on everyone. Live music is definitely back and oh how I’ve missed it.
A perfect way to build the anticipation for firm favourites here with Rock and Blue, THE WILDHEARTS
The smoke made the stage almost invisible, the dull blue lights creating a mood and increasing the excitement of the already pumped crowd. Explosions of guitars, power-packed drums, seriously pulsing basslines and opening with ‘Sick of Drugs’ you just have to love the Wildhearts. Gutsy, punk, earth shaking, ear destroying rock and roll.
You get the idea? ‘TV Tan’, ‘My Baby is a Headfuck’, ‘Suckerpunch’, ‘Caffeine Bomb’, ‘Vanilla Radio’ all ripped the rain away. Another band clearly at home here at Rock & Blues, energetically pumping out the tunes, generating almost a frenzy of sheer enjoyment in the crowd throughout their set and they genuinely looked happy, sounded pretty incredible and delivered yet again another staggering show.
No one was letting them out of the tent without an encore and we got 3 songs. ‘Greetings from Shitsville’, ’29 x the Pain’ and ending with ‘I Wanna Go Where the People Go’. Just amazing, catch the band on tour this September, nag the organisers here at Rock & Blues, you can never have too much of The Wildhearts
Away to my bed, like an overtired child still wanting to party but knowing tomorrow would be another wonderful day of live music. The last 17 months of weirdness obliterated in 2 days of fabulous music. Bring on tomorrow!
Rock & Blues Custom Show – Photography by Lindsay Smith for MPM – Full Gallery Below.