Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM
This year Stonedead has its 5th year Anniversary. The show that captures the essence of the original Monsters of Rock held back in the early 80’s down the road at the Castle Donnington Raceway.
Although Stonedead is a fraction of its size, it has grown in popularity and stature over the past four years. A credit to Chris Sumby, Louise Bayley, Neil Meynell and the band of merry volunteers that take time out of their own busy lives to put on one of the best run shows during the festival season. It’s a festival run by Rock music lovers for Rock music lovers, not one for financial gain as the money raised goes towards the next years festival.
The Friday night has turned from a small Rock disco into a closed doors gig for those who have paid for the camping option, a nice touch for those getting there on the Friday, and an easy lead into the Saturday party atmosphere. Sadly, I couldn’t make the Friday night due to prior commitments but I hear it was a great night marred by a bit of rain, it is the UK summer season after all. The night was hosted by Planet Rocks Paul Anthony and the bands playing were led off by THE KARMA EFFECT, followed by the stunning voice of KIRA MAC and headlined by good friend of STONEDEAD, MYKE GRAY’S SKIN.
Despite the drop of moisture, I’m reliably informed that the night went down a storm, literally. The stage had to be vacated while the big man upstairs put on a lightning show that made it unsafe to do otherwise.
On to Saturday and I’m sat in a queue to get my pass sorted. The system is well organised although some of my peer group decide to ignore the queue and just drive in and do what they like, the staff I’m talking to seem a little disgruntled at the arrogance of the few, but are professional enough not to bounce heads. A quick chat and I go where I’m told to, get booked in and sent on my way to the Press building, complete with WI-FI, clean toilets and tea making facilities, Awesome I need a brew which is made for me by the lovely Cat Finch.
A quick survey of the site and it’s time for the photographers briefing, this is held in the pit by the wonderful Mark Ellis, he’s been the festival tog from show one. With the rules made clear we are ready for the first band to come out and tread the boards. To be honest they’re my guilty pleasure, and since getting kicked in the head by the singer, they’re now good friends.
COLLATERAL hit the stage on time, the band slightly before singer Angelo, he comes running on beaming like a Cheshire cat moments later, and they go straight into ‘Mr Big Shot’ from the 2020 self-titled debut album. Angelo Tristan is racing round as he delivers this steady opener.
This is followed by ‘Midnight Queen’ with its Country vibe, and Angelo on acoustic and then ‘Sin in the City’ takes us to the Sophomore, 2022 album.
The sound is very throw-back 80’s cock rock, and that’s a good thing, an era of great bands with fun being the objective. The band is now a four piece as Todd Winger decided to leave the earlier this year. Louis Malagodi has now picked up the lead pic and is proving that he’s more than capable of providing the sonics previously played by Todd.
We get a treat with a couple of numbers, ‘Glass Sky’ with its crowd singing hook, and ‘No Place for Love’ from the album due out next year. Angelo tells us he can’t wait to play them so he’s going to treat Stonedead to an early voicing.
These go down well with the early crowd whose heads are no doubt still throbbing, from late night partying. That doesn’t stop Angelo getting them involved with a great show of hands waving back and forth, his beaming smile showing that he’s loving playing to a partisan crowd who are enjoying his band. He later tells me that it’s the biggest crowd the band have played too. By the end of his set there must be at least 4500 in the arena.
The set finishes with the punchy ‘Merry Go Round’ again from the debut album. A great tune that does sound reminiscent of bands from the aforementioned era. Thundering drums from Ben Atkinson and melodic guitars from Malagodi and bassman, the now topless Jack Bently-Smith power this one along. The guys have the crowd nodding along to this the final song on their too short a set, I guess that’s going to be the case with the bands on early doors.
Malagodi rips into the solo as hair is flying around on the stage bringing this one to a demise. To the surprise of the band, the arena erupt in a huge round of cheers and clapping. COLLATERAL have killed the opening slot and have certainly gotten the party started.
While the stage is cleared the crowd are busy getting themselves a beer or two. The festival is good in that it allows you to bring four drinks into the arena with you. The prices are also reasonable for both food and drink, unlike at some of the bigger festivals who want your kidneys and your first born. Wandering around and mixing with the fans are several bands, WARD XVI are painted up, and in the house, THESE WICKED RIVERS and Josie are chatting away. DAN BRYNE is being mobbed everywhere he goes. It’s a fun, friendly Atmosphere.
SOUTH OF SALEM are up next as they bound onto the stage. We have a dancing girl at either side of the stage wearing a freakish smiley mask. The band get things started with ‘Let Us Prey’ from the 2020 The Sinner Takes All album.
The frenetic opener has woken the crowd up as Joey Draper belts out the lyric, again the sound is familiar, is there a bit of early Crüe in there. Mohawked guitar slinger, Kodi Kasper is leaping about as he swaps sides with guitarist Denis Sheriff and sunglass wearing, Bass player Dee Aldwell. Fire balls burst throughout as this opener slays those who might still be bleary eyed.
‘The Hate in Me’ keeps the energy pumping, as the beat pulses out, the dancing girls are now maskless and dancing at the stage back as Kodi and new guitarist, Denis Sheriff trade licks centre stage. Clark on drums is hammering away, and as ‘Made to Be Mine’ finishes there are more fire balls. As ‘Static’ grinds along, the crowd, having woken up, are nodding their heads to the beat, The bass of Dee Aldwell thumps out as he stands on a riser, glaring from behind his dark glasses.
More sizzling guitar flies from the fingers of Kodi Kasper as the crowd start to clap along. The energetic set continues with the screaming guitar and fast paces of ‘No Plague Like Home’ complete with smoke cannons, and ‘Death of The Party’, the second song of the set not to come from their debut album ‘the Sinner Takes It All’. ‘Pretty Little Nightmare’ and the rousing ‘Cold Day in Hell’ finishing off a stunning set from this South Coast, based band.
Another walk around see’s families enjoying themselves, there’s kids kicking a ball around behind the soundboard whilst mum and dad enjoy a beer and some music. Over there are a couple of Unicorns whilst over here are a couple of Stormtroopers, no doubt still looking for the droids they let go previously. They’re acting up for photos with the eager Star Wars Fans of all ages.
Next on stage we have the band I’ve been most looking forward to. A new band for a good majority here no doubt. They are ‘DERAPS’ hailing from Canada. They’ve been making quite a name for themselves as Jacob Derap, has been setting YouTube on fire with his Van Halen guitar video’s. He then added Australian Drummer, Josh Gallagher to the line up and went on the road. With the release of the first album entitled ‘DERAPS’ the band took on a Bass player, today Thaddy Lavoie has that honour.
Kicking off with ‘Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll’ the immediate Van Halen connection hits you full on. The guitar and drums are very Alex and Eddie. In fact, so good are the band that the debut album is sold in the official Van Halen shop. A feat achieved by no one else. Watching Jacob in his glittered pants and animal print top, he is channelling, at times its Eddie but at other times there’s a definite Paul Kossoff look due to his diminutive stature.
The opening track is full on Dave LeRoth. ‘My Side of Town’ continues the high energy. The guitar sound is on point, the drums crack just like Alex’s, as they continue to amaze the crowd, looking around mouths are open in disbelief at this, unheard of, talent. ‘Make Ya Groove’ is slightly down in tempo but a crazy solo lets you know there is more to come.
A brief bass solo from Thaddy Lavoie takes us into ‘Live Fast Die Slow’ which kicks off with some nice double stops and a solid rhythm section. The walking beat soon gives way to Jacob and his screaming guitar. This young band are setting the bar that’s for sure.
The set is interrupted by the annual fly past of the BBMF (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) based up the road at RAF Coningsby. This year we are circled by ‘The City of Lincoln’ one of only two flying Avro Lancaster Bombers, the other being the ‘Mynarski’ Memorial Lancaster based in Canada, at the Heritage Warplane Museum, Mount Hope Ontario. (Mynarski received a post humous Victoria Cross for freeing his tail gunner after his aircraft was shot down over Germany in June 1944).
This is one of the highlights of the annual show and looked forward to by many, myself included. The City of Lincoln never saw active service, being built in 1945 it was destined to be part of the far East Strategic Bomber force but with the collapse of Japan that never happened. It had photo reconnaissance duties in Africa, was a test bed for ‘test wings’, then was destined for the then proposed RAF Museum.
It features in the movies, Operation Crossbow and The Guns of Navarone. In 1965 it was taken to RAF Waddington to be restored back to wartime standard before being transferred to the BBMF in 1973. Its last major annual took 10months to complete. Back on with the show.
Gotta have a drum solo thrown in a set and DERAPS don’t disappoint with a hammering of the kit supported by the hey’s from the crowd. fast feet and plenty of crash cymbals make way for ‘Wild to the Woman’ with cowbell! You can never have too much cowbell! Distorted guitar sizzles ad Jacob sings along proving he has a voice to match his playing.
Speaking of which he know takes the stage with an acrobatic feat of guitar playing worthy of the great man himself. I guess when your back catalogue consists of playing VH tracks there is always going to be the comparison whilst you build a career. ‘Fuck Off’ follows with its high-speed drumming and faster guitar riffing before we go into ‘Highway Star’ the inevitable Van Halen cover with ‘Hot for Teacher’ and its stunning drum beat and finally finishing the set with ‘Ballroom Blitz’ by the Sweet.
Oh! and let’s not forget the Rocket Queens dance troupe. This awesome quintet of girls danced their hearts out with the boys for the last four songs of the set. At one point forming a line for Jacob to play off of. A great moment provided by this podium dancing troupe resulting in a phenomenal, stand out set.
Welsh rockers ‘FLORENCE BLACK’ take command of the stage next. This hard-hitting power trio play a brand of heavy rock last seen by the likes of early Motörhead. Tristan Thomas’s frenetic playing and chaunting voice, steers the band along, whilst Perry Davies tries to destroy his kit with his percussive battering’s and curly haired Jordan Evans locks in to the foot pedal with the earthquake rumblings from his Thunderbird bass. Kicking off with fan favourite ‘Zulu’, those not aware are about to be rattled in their boots.
Now the band have everyone’s attention the onslaught continues with ‘On the Ropes’, a wall destruction emanates from the trio, the melodic breakdown gives a much-needed respite but the waves of concussion continues relentlessly with ‘Bird on A Chain’. The drumming continues fast and furious as Tristan and Jordan swap sides, back and forth, Jordan points to ‘that’ fan in the crowd as he beams into the sunlight, his tight curls adding some protection from the early afternoon sunshine.
The set continues with ‘Start Again’, a slow build has hair swinging as both Perry and Tristan get the song moving. A seismic whooping on the drums and scorching filthy guitars lock in tight as ‘Smoke’ cracks out across the arena. This is a dark battering set that is delighting the fans of some of the heavier bands on offer. ‘Black Cat’ takes us down a level, almost a ballad compered to what’s gone ahead.
It still has the crowd’s attention as a filthy lick cuts through the fuzz and distortion to finish the song and leads us into ‘The Deep End’ another distorted barrage of abuse. Tristan is screwing his face into the microphone as he sings, his voice hovering on the edge of frayed breakup, he’s got great control as he rocks out on his Les Paul.
We now get a treat by way of the new single that’s being pushed on the socials at the moment. ‘Don’t Hold Me Down’ is greeted with cheers from the crowd as its introduced. It’s a rambling romp of a song that sets off in a slightly different path to those played previously. Jordans bass is rumbling along helping to lay down a thick melody, locked in to Perry’s thumping drums. As the song builds it breaks down into a riotous cacophony of abuse before picking up the melodic riff and galloping to a grand finish, slightly understated, maybe, but still very Florence Black
Usually the set closer, Budgies ‘Bread Fan’ howls out at breakneck speed. This has become somewhat of an anthem for this hard hitting three piece. It’s given the usual Florence Black treatment, so subtle it is not. It’s a great song and goes down well, especially with those of us old enough to have seen Budgie play live, it’s a song that never gets old no matter how often you hear it.
The set is brought to a close, this time, with the stunning ‘Sun and Moon’ a cracker of a tune written in Tristan’s bedroom or so he told me when I caught up with him a few years back. It’s a stunning song and has the crowd singing along. It’s nice to hear Tristan’s voice without all the growls and attitude, It, still romps along but it’s a refined romp that has seen it added to the Planet Rock playlist. A great set from these lads from South Wales.
Seasoned Blues stalwarts KING KING are next Up. This Blues band formed by Alan Nimmo has under gone several changes since releasing the first spinner back in 2011. Today’s line up sees brother Stevie, alongside on guitar, Jonny Dyke on keys, Andrew Scott on drums and long-time friend of the brothers, Zander Greenshields on bass. Alan, as always hits the stage wearing his trademark kilt and black, dare I say, modern Ghillie shirt, I think it’s really just a regular black shirt.
The set fires off with ‘Dance Together’ the single released ahead of their 2020 album Maverick. A deep rumbling bass from Zander and ivories tickled by Jonny moves the song along, dancing around Alan’s bluesy voice. There are BVs provided by his brother Stevie, Jonny and Zander. ‘Long Time Running’ picks up the baton, this one being from Exile and Grace. Alan’s got his feet moving as he delivers. There are a few in the crowd who are regular fans to this great blues band, they are making themselves known with their arm waving and singing.
Staying with the same 2017 album we have ‘Heed the Warning’. Andy Scott builds the intro with a swelling drum beat, the guitars and keys stab in as Alan smiles at the crowd, he’s not stopped moving as the set progresses. Zander is looking dark and mysterious in his dark glasses. ‘Lose Control’ from 2011 gives a start point in the bands’ discography being from the Take My Hand release.
Distorted guitar riff out as Alan marches on the spot, brother Stevie is smiling as he strokes his guitar. The familiar riff to ‘Waking Up’ Fills the air. The keys are filling the gaps between the walking bassline and the steady drum beat. This is a firm fan favourite and the crowd are loving it. The big solo is a scorching blues ripper. Alan plays it with consummate ease. He encourages the crowd to clap along as the song thunders to a climactic finish.
The big smiles continue as probably my favourite track is up next. ‘You Stopped the Rain’. This was written by Alan as a tribute to his brother Stevie who was going through a tough time. The song has been dedicated to several people other than Stevie over the years including their mother. The bouncy guitar belies the darkness behind the song.
Again, this is a staple of the KING KING set. It has another great solo played with the subtly that belies the big man, the catchy riff repeats as it fades out smothered with fat note from Jonny’s Hammond organ. The last two in the set are also recognisable from their first few notes. ‘Rush Hour’ from ‘Reaching for the Light’ with its slow bluesy voiced intro, the picked guitar and harmonised vocals are smoothly entwined with that smokie Hammond sound.
Once again Alan marches as he fingers play yet another familiar solo. and ‘I Will Not Fall’ from Maverick. A great song to finish with. The 70’s chop on the keys herald this triumphant marching song. Alans voice is fine as he smiles between lines. He’s still got the feet going as he does so. The set has been a fine mixture of old and new, a great introduction to the band for anyone not familiar with them.
A quick run to grab a bite to eat has me back in time for the first of a trio of bands with a Northern Ireland connection. THE ANSWER are from Co Down, they were formed back in 2000 by the guitarist Paul Mahon, he dragged in school friend Mickey Waters on bass, Ash’s stand in drummer, James Heatley joined after his Uni finals. Cormac Neeson was drafted in on vocals. After spending a while writing and gigging around Belfast they eventually got noticed and the rest as they say is history. With the release of their first long player ‘RISE’ in 2006 to the latest ‘SUNDOWNERS’ released earlier this year; the band have been busy with seven studio albums to date.
The set is a great cross section starting from the back catalogue, with ‘Keep Believin’ from the debut album getting the ball rolling. The stage is full of smoke as Mahon has his guitar warbling away, as hat wearing Cormac graces the stage. The beat of the drums join in as the guitar squeals, Cormac, eyes closed and pointing to the distant growls “Take My Hand” and we’re off. His smokie voice is terrific as he picks the stand up and dances around the stage it’s a powerful start which continues with ‘Blood Brother’ from the latest long player.
The band are solid and tight as again they pick up the ‘anti’ and run with it. The dirty guitar is compressed to the hilt, any more on it and it might stall. Heatley’s cowbell is cutting through which is always good. This band is no stranger to many here, some of whom are singing along to the hook, as the song finishes with a roll on the drums.
Staying with the latest album the 60’s inspired ‘Oh Cherry’ has Cormac dancing around the stage between delivering a flawless vocal. ‘Nowhere Freeway’ from 2011 gets a ripping as it roars along. The album version featured Lynne Jackaman sharing the vocals. ‘Sundowners’ the title track to the new LP features Cormac on Harmonica helping to build the song.
Walking around with the mic stand he’s grooving to the slide being laid down by Mahon, and the tribal drum beat by Heatley. ‘Spectacular’ from 2013 brings the party back, it’s an upbeat pulsing romp. The set is finished with the stunning ‘Come Follow Me’ , ‘Want You to Love Me’ and the equally spectacular ‘Preachin’ from the debut album.
At one point Cormac is in the crowd dancing and singing, encouraging the crowd to crouch down as he dances around. It’s a set of great electric blues from this Norn Iron band, Mahon scorches through solo after solo, in between laying down a dark nasty riff. This is a band that thrives on the live energy of a crowd. Having seen them earlier this year in Belfast I can only say ‘What A Set’! stunning!
THERAPY? Follow this scintillating set with their anarchic take on life and song writing. Formed in 1989 in a seaside town to the north east of Belfast called Larne, a ferry port. The band being put together by Andy Cairns and former drummer Fyfe Ewing. With 16 albums to their name, the current line-up has been steady since drummer Neil Cooper joined original members guitars and vocals, Cairns and bass player Michael McKeegan in 2002, second guitar, Martin McCarrick left in 2004.
Kicking things of with ‘Nausea’ from the first true long player ‘Nurse’. The two mini albums released prior to this being ‘Babyteeth’ in 1991 and ‘Pleasure Death’ in 1992. The smoke has cleared as Cairns hits the stage, this off beat number smashes out across a bewildered looking crowd. I think this one will be a voyage of discovery for many as it’s not a band that immediately comes to mind with Stonedead. The confused looks continue as ‘Stories’ from Infernal Love plays out. Cairns is on fire, loving being on stage and playing his music.
The alternative sound has an almost Ska rhythm boosting it along. The hard hitting ‘Woe’ gradually sees some of the crowd ‘getting’ what Therapy? Are about. ‘Kakistocracy’ is from 2018 so has a different feel and seems to go down a lot better with the crowd who seem to have returned from getting beer or making room for more.
The first of two covers gets the crowd bouncing. Joy Divisions ‘Isolation’ has the crowd on their toes as this familiar tune slams home, the second cover is Hüsker Dü’s ‘Diane’ a great choice for the set as it shows the bands range, they’re not just a sub three-minute Indie band.
Moving on we get the simple industrial vibe of ‘Teethgrinder’ from ‘92’s Nurse, followed by ‘Joy’ from Hard Cold fire, the 2023 release. ‘Potato Junkie’ from Pleasure Death, the second of the mini lp’s released in 1992 picks the pace up with a destructive snare sound and thundering bass line.
At just over 3 minutes in length its over before its begun. The darker ‘Knives’ continues with the shouted vocals of “Knives” from the 1994 album Troublegum, voted best album of 1994 by Kerrang! ‘Die Laughing’ and ‘Nowhere’ bring us to the final song of the set, ‘Sceamager’ from 1994. A short punchy number that helps to seal the band some extra fans judging by the cheers the band receive as they leave the stage.
With two more bands to go it’s time for a brew, my feet are pain free as I’ve chosen to wear some lime green Croc boots, I might have the pee extracted but I’m amongst the few to not be complaining of sore feet. Ha! On my way back to the press room I bump into Sam Wood who is trying to meet someone before running back for his set with BLACK STAR RIDERS.
This is a classic BSR set being played by a new line up. We still have Ricky Warwick on guitar and vox, and Robbie Crane on bass, the newly enrolled Sam Wood on lead guitar and new boy, Zak St John on drums. Sadly, Scott Gorham has taken a back seat and in doing so ends the direct lineage to Phil Lynott’s Thin Lizzy.
The band came to fruition when they decided to record and release new material but chose not to use the Thin Lizzy name. in 2012 they declared that BSR’s is the full-time band name and the next step in the Thin Lizzy story. This didn’t sit well with a lot of fans as over a period of time the Thin Lizzy numbers were dropped from the live set.
The band got its name from a gang of outlaws in the 1993 film Tombstone. The original line up was dominated by Americans with Warwick being the exception from Northern Ireland. That being the final link to the three bands from my homeland. With five albums to pick from there’s no lack of material.
‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ the title track from the debut album gets the show on the move. Waistcoat wearing Warwick has his LP slung low as he growls into the microphone, Crane is wandering around as he rumbles out a solid bassline.
Sam Wood rips into the solo with the confidence of Gorham himself, His stature and long blonde hair not to dissimilar to the aforementioned American. ‘Wrong Side of Paradise’ the title track of the new album is up next.
The slight change of direction is evident as this one slams into your face. ‘When the Night Comes In’ from 2017 is classic BSR, soaring guitars and slammin’ vocals. The crowd are bouncing along to this one, hair is flying as Sam rips into the solo, pointing at a crowd member who he’s recognised.
The gunslinging guitars continue as we get ‘Tonight the Moonlight Let Me Down’ from Another State of Grace this one being released in 2019. A slower paced song sounding like something Lizzy and Lynott would have played.
The call for a cheer to Scott Gorham goes out, twice on the command of Warwick, he’s obviously not going to be making a guest appearance today. So, four songs in and four albums.
The jaunty lilt to ‘Another State of Grace’ follows. A song full of dirty riffs and a great chance for Sam to show his lead prowess. ‘ Testify or Say Goodbye’ have the crowd bouncing along as does my favourite, ‘Soldierstown’, again full of a rousing Irish lilt, another tune that could easily have been by Lizzy. The dual guitars of ‘Killer Instinct’ remind us from where the band has come from. The smoke-filled stage is alive with lights as this one rocks out. Dusk is settling in and so far, the rain has stayed away, apart from a brief sprinkling early doors it’s been a great day.
Ok so they have to play a Lizzy track and the chosen one is ‘Jailbreak’. This, obviously is a song that goes down well with the 5000 strong crowd. as does the bands rendition of that Osmond’s song, ‘Crazy Horses’. Having heard it on the new album I was hoping that the live horse whinnying part would have a bit more meat to it, Sam didn’t disappoint with a killer slide, nailing the sound.
‘Finest Hour’ sees Warwick bring back on stage Therapy?’s Andy Cairns, the pair have been mates since Warwick’s Almighty band days. They are clearly having fun as they play ‘Finest Hour’.
A jump back to the first album sees them wrap the set up with ‘Bound for Glory’ classic BSR or Lizzy, I think they will always have the comparison made as quite often its obvious. Maybe as they move forward and record without Gorham, we will get a different organic sound come through as the individual members get to express themselves fully. A thoroughly enjoyable set and one that the Stonedead faithful have been waiting for, for a while now.
Throughout the KRUSHER has been introducing the bands. This sage old duffer has been around almost as long as Keith Richards and has the stories to back it all up.
His visits to the stage between sets are full of satire and good humour, offering advice to an 18yr old celebrating her birthday to informing the crowd that their children will be well looked after if found abandoned. His humour is very non-PC but funny and non-offensive at the same time. He has to be the best show compere on the circuit bar non and thankfully a regular face at Stonedead. Cheers Krusher you bloody legend.
Another run for a wet and were back awaiting the headliners, the formidable BLUE OYSTER CULT. They’re a band I was into during my youth at boarding school in the late 70’s and early 80’s. over the years I’ve managed to catch them live, I think 5 or 6 times, I’m not sure exactly.
The band have been around since 1967 under one guise or another. The self-titled debut album was released in 1972, the album being a mix of both hard and psychedelic rock. The band name is described as being a group of aliens formed to guide Earths history.
To date they have 14 studio albums, the latest being ‘The Symbol Remains’ released in 2020. ‘Buck Dharma’ is the only original founding member of the band still playing today. Eric Bloom didn’t join the band until 1969, the year of the first moon landing. The rest having joined later Miranda ’95-2004 the re-joined in 2017, Castellano 2004 to present, he played bass from 2004 -2007 and Jules Radino joined on drums again in 2004.
There has been a few questions asked about whether BÖC are the right choice to end the night. After a rousing set by BSR, the tempo maybe taken down a bit, but there’s no denying the heritage the band that has been around for more than 50years.
‘Transmaniacon MC’ from the self-titled album gets things under way. Bloom is on the vocals while Dharma provides the guitar. Bass player, Miranda is wandering around trussed up like its winter, clad in a coat, thick scarf and hat. ‘Before the Kiss, a Redcap’ has Bloom pick up the guitar, his SG with the BÖC logo on it. This is again from the debut album.
The guys in the crowd around me are cheering loudly, obviously there is a partisan fan base in tonight despite people’s misgivings. Jumping forward we get ‘That Was Me’ from The Symbol Remains, the latest release. This great sounding track and is an indication of where the band are today. We like that one.
Interestingly that was the only track played from this century. The rest being from between 1972 and 1998. ‘Golden Age of Leather’ has those who know raising their drinks as this one plays out. The 70’s were halcyon days for the band as 10 of the set are from that decade alone. The popular ‘Burning for You’ is one of those exceptions, it being from 1981’s album, Spectres.
The band are forming the trade mark line up as the Buck sings this one. The guitarists are sharing the keyboard duties as the night goes on. Bloom and Castellano have already had a seat. Speaking of which, the drum throne is occupied by Jules Radino, who on first glance looks very like Eric Martin, the front man of American rock band, Mr Big.
‘Harvest Moon’ is the third and final song from outside the 70’s. this one being from 1998’s Heaven Forbid album. And then we are safely ensconced back in the 70’s with ‘Vigil’, ‘Hot Rails to Hell and ‘Then Came the Last Days of May’.
These all bring back memories form my somewhat shady school days; I’ll just leave it at I enjoyed my right of passage although being drunk and expelled probably doesn’t quite rate as my finest hour. Agents of Fortune was my first BÖC album purchase partly due to the tracks ‘Extra Terrestrial Intelligence’ and the instantly recognizable ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ this one obviously gets the biggest cheer of the night as it bounces around the arena. I’ve taken a moment and have decided to sit and enjoy the music that I was so fond of back at school.
Reaper gets my best singing voice as I give it some welly like those around me and jump to my feet. This is undoubtably their biggest song, the reason why? Cowbell! All five minutes of it. Buck Dharma has taken lead vocals on this belter of a song as he also plays lead on his cheese guitar, holding notes to near feedback he gets the clapping going. Bloom has a share of the vocal as this classic races to its climatic conclusion with scorching guitars. The crowd show their appreciation to seeing the extended version of that classic track played live for them.
By way of an encore, we get ‘Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll’ from the debut 1972 album. Bloom takes the vocals on this one, the final song of the set. He shows us some deft finger work on his guitar before putting it down as Dharma takes off with some fancy licks of his own. Bloom has picked up some sticks and is thrashing away at the cymbals whilst Miranda, Castellano and Dharma are lined up like Quo.
Bloom picks his SG up and joins them for the final riffs of the night. With A Bye Bye and Good night, the show is over, As I head back to the press area the fireworks go off, I’m under the Tyre Bridge entrance way at this time and fail to get a usable picture. Disappointed, I head back to my motor.
The press area is empty, cars have long since departed, Not the first time I’ve had to turn the lights off and close the door.
Stonedead is finished for another year. Yet again, Chris, Louise and Neil have put on another belter of a day. There has been a good spread of bands, the obvious stand out for me being DERAPS, a band I’ve watched on YouTube for a while and have finally gotten to enjoy a stunning live set. Collateral will always be a guilty pleasure so its never hard work enjoying them. BÖC were phenomenal, they played the classics that everyone longed for and played them well, they evoked memories I’d long since pigeon holed so that was a fun place to revisit.
Until next year I bid all the STONEDEAD staff a big thank you, you guys nailed it again!