Review & Photography by Lindsay Smith for MPM
There is something very relaxing about a long drive with music playing and todays playlist is based on many the bands I’m due to see over the next few days here north of the border in Troon.
As the wind blows and the sky turns a murky shade of grey, The Concert Hall begins to fill for the early afternoon start and getting things fired up is EDGE OF FOREVER.
The Italian band fronted by Alessandro DelVecchio, Frontiers super producer and all-round amazingly talented individual. perform songs from their newest album Seminole and their impressive back catalogue, the songs are all packed with inspirational lyrics and powerful riffs.
Alessandro, Aldo, Nik and Marco are a very tight and professional outfit who deserved the large crowd drawn to the main hall.
ABSOLVA brought their heavier brand of rock next to the main stage. A popular and well supported band, they kept the heat in the room turned up blasting out hooks and riffs that make your feet happy.
A band that are on the road playing with Blaze Bayley, they are superbly talented guys, to pull off the ‘Maiden’ riffs, they have to be good, and they are.
I had not listened to DAYTIME TV until I drove up for the festival and they may not be well known as Daytime TV, but many may be more familiar with their previous guise of Hunter and the Bear, a change of line up and a change of name but they do fit into the mid-afternoon slot well.
The alternative rock band are based in Edinburgh and London and have a sound that reminds me of Arctic Monkeys.
So, from melodic rock, hard rock, alternative rock we now have another genre with one of the best female blues singers around, SARI SCHORR. The New Yorker can certainly belt out the blues with staggering power and huge amount of charisma.
The familiar face of talented guitarist, Ash Wilson and her band deftly accompany this rich and soulful, hypnotic voice. The sparkling Ms Schorr really knows how to deliver a performance and it was over way too soon for me.
A bit of classic rock next with KINGDOM OF MADNESS bringing the songs of Magnum to life through former band members Mark Stanway and Micky Barker and co, with vocalists Mo Birch and Mark Pascall.
The setlist is a dream spanning the classic Magnum era and probably the most well-known of songs from this era, with Mark’s voice being perfectly suited to ‘Just Like an Arrow’, ‘Only in America’, ‘A Story Tellers Night’ and of course ‘Kingdom of Madness’ seemingly all effortless for Mark ably and impressively supported by the wonderful Mo.
The music doesn’t age, the crowd are firmly rooted singing along and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
BLAZE BAYLEY always the showman, serious and focussed gives his all with “The Clansman’ getting the biggest cheer of the night, the talented band clearly enjoying themselves, foot on the monitor, guitar necks up, smiling and singing along with Blaze.
The beer is flowing and so are the licks and riffs. Keeping the momentum of the day running along at breakneck pace.
The band who has put Llanelli on the map for all the right reasons is next up. SCARLET REBELS are seemingly on a roll having been on tour around the UK over the last few weeks and the huge success of their album ‘See Through Blue’.
The Welsh rockers are well known for their ballsy riffs and melodic vocals all shown to their true potential in a live setting and they have the packed room eating out of the palm of their hands. A band with so much talent, it’s a joy to see them play to such an appreciative audience, many having travelled from Wales to see their boys rip Troon a new one!
Tonight’s headliners, ECLIPSE from Stockholm were formed in 1999 and have an extensive back catalogue od melodic hard rock to choose their setlist from. It’s been about 5years since I last saw them play and they have lost none of the passion and energy that they are known for. Erik’s voice is sublime, and the band are tight. What a fabulous and enjoyable way to close out the first day.
The room was bouncing, voices are croaky, legs are slightly unsteady but it’s the heady mix of musical rock genres that have everyone going back to their hotels and homes exhausted (okay, so may be some beer too). Let’s do it all again tomorrow.
So tomorrow has arrived, the Godfather of Rock, Mr Tom Russell is again master of ceremonies on the main stage and a lunchtime start sees Scotland’s heritage powerfully demonstrated by CLANN AN DRUMMA. Pipes and drums getting the blood coursing and ear drums reverberating. Brilliant, just brilliant.
SONS OF LIBERTY are well known here at WinterStorm having previously played on the smaller stage that when down so well, they were immediately invited back to play the main stage.
Their brand of country rock is a bit hit with today’s audience too. Foot tapping, hand clapping rock and roll!! Yeehaw!!!!
A change of genre yet again with HARDWICKE CIRCUS, a young five-piece band who have forged their way into the scene through not just hard work but a great indie-rock sound.
Having played Glastonbury (and being asked back to play again) it was good to see the warm reception they got from the seasoned rockers in the crowd, more used to ‘classic’ rock. An excellent bunch of musicians and lovely guys, who will go a long way, I’m sure.
I was delighted to see ASHEN REACH on the line up for WinterStorm. These guys from Merseyside know how to rock, with death growls, melody, splintering soul smashing guitars and a thumping low end to treat your ears too.
I bloody love these guys! Such a strong sound, such a great band to watch too. They even managed to get those of us of the dodgy knee and hip brigade jumping at the instruction from Kyle to do so. (So many regrets next day, Ouch!) A metal band that has already played some great festivals and now they can add WinterStorm to the list.
REBECCA DOWNES has to follow on from the metal and is completely the other end of the scale of “Rock’ with her blues based, guitar rich, soulful music.
A gentleness to the vocals and an intricacy to the guitar playing which gives Ms Downes her own identity in the blues field. Keys, rumbling baselines but it’s the vocal that hits the spot. A really enjoyable set.
The distinctive MARCO MENDOZA whose career spans the breadth of topflight bands from Whitesnake, The Dead Daisies, Black Star Riders / Thin Lizzy to name but a few but Marco also has a very successful solo career. It’s a short but perfectly formed set of songs tonight.
Classic Rock firmly re=established in Troon. “Take It to The Limit’, ‘Viva La Rock’ to name their two openers gives an indication of the taste of tonight’s set. A charismatic and personable gent who obviously loves performing and equally Troon loved Marco!
I admit, I was beside myself when I saw SUNSTORM were announced. I have loved the project from Frontiers since its inception with JLT on vocals and with many of his songs on the first albums, and now Ronnie Romero has taken over the lead vocalist mantle, it has brought a new era to the band.
I was expecting to hear songs from the last album “Brother in Arms’ which was released in August 2022 primarily, but I was wrong, and it was a real ‘pinch me’ moment to hear ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ sung so powerfully and beautifully. ‘Stronger’, “The Road to Hell’, ‘Swan Song’, just so good.
The legacy of the JLT / Sunstorm era is safe with Romero, he can sing the songs well and the newer songs are a perfect way to take this band forwards, propelling them hopefully on to the live circuit.
A brilliant first gig in the UK for them and hopefully it will not be the last. A fabulous band of wonderful, experienced musicians just missing Alessandro DelVecchio on this occasion. What a treat. Thank you WinterStorm.
From the newer to one of the original classic rock bands, VARDIS. This is full tilt, British Rock and Steve Zodiac still has a fine pair of lungs to power up that voice. Always good to see a band who have been instrumental in the reputation and legacy of rock music.
The term ‘exploded onto the stage’ has to apply to THE TREATMENT. A band whose energy is contagious, since 2008 these guys have delivered catchy songs with big riffs and ear worm melodies.
Seasoned professionals, they have toured in support of the ‘who’s who’ of rock from Kiss, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper to Thin Lizzy, the list goes on.
They know how to play to a crowd, and it is great to see the rapport instantly built by Tom Rampton. Opening with ‘Let’s Get Dirty’ and pulling out all the stops with the ‘big’ songs including ‘Eyes on You’, ‘Vampress’ and ‘Shake the Mountain’, it was a very impressive performance from the band and a perfect way to pave the way for CRAZY LIXX
The Swedish hair metal / hard rock band have been hugely successful releasing six studio albums and a live album, so they had the unenviable task of cramming some of their finest songs into 60 minutes.
It was a full on sleazy Swedish slam-dunk of 80’s inspired rock including, ‘Anthem for America’, ‘Hell Raising Women” and of course ‘21 Until I Die’, it isn’t just a song, it’s an anthem especially for this generation of music lovers.
A finale to the weekend is the After the Storm Sunday sessions, a relaxing and much more intimate afternoon of music. Ronnie Romero gave an outstanding acoustic run through of some Sunstorm songs accompanied by Sunstorm’s Luca Princiotta and also a cracking version of Dio’s Holy Diver.
His voice is phenomenal, and the seated audience whooped and cheered in gratitude for such a brilliant set. Such a friendly and open guy, a genuine appreciation for all those he has worked with and is very humble about his achievements.
The final session was from Jon Corabi who doesn’t just sing and play his guitar but tells stories from his life, life on the road, his time with Motley Crue and the Dead Daisies. He is hysterically funny too. What a great way to end the day.
2022 may have been a difficult year in the lead up to WinterStorm with band cancellations, ticket sales due to recession as faced by many venues and festivals this year, but they pulled off an immense weekend of such a variety of rock I take my hat off too them.
I only manged to pop up to the upstairs session stage compered by the energetic Pete K Mally, a handful of times to watch some bands and these were equally well supported by the fabulous WinterStorm crowd.
To Ian, Mark, Claire, Morag, Madz, the sound guys, the lighting guys, and the whole team, thank you for such a great weekend, thank you to my fellow photographers who are a pleasure to work alongside.
The volunteers, the security guys, the catering staff, thank you, thank you, thank you and I hope to see you all next year 23rd-26th November 2023 for ‘The Legends and Legacies of WinterStorm’.