Reviews and Pictures by: Shane Bradley
The first ever Rockingham Festival took place during the weekend of 23 – 25 October 2015. And unfairly it was always going to be compared to Firefest of previous years. The Rockingham Festival was to be a three day melodic rock orgy which on paper, and it was just that! The venue for this meltdown of the melodic senses was Nottingham’s Legendary Rock City. The big question is: “How did it fair?” The Rockingham Festival was held the same weekend and the same venue as the Firefest held last year. Therefore, the shows were bound to bring about a comparison between the two festivals. The only thing which matter was whether Rockingham could stand on its own feet by the end of Sunday night. I was privileged to be able to attend and to make this important determination.
Day 1, Friday, 23 October 2015
Santa Cruz kicked things off on Friday. A daunting task for anyone. However, these guys soon got things off to a flyer as they brought the sort rock ‘n roll noise that was filled with energy and intent.
Following Santa Cruz was Serpentine. After a few changes they seem more settled and held their own on the main stage. Although at this time the venue was not packed out by the audience. Those who were there thoroughly enjoyed Serpentines set. Their task of following a great opener was not easy. However, they pulled out the stops to keep the atmosphere pumped and setting up the scene for more to come.
With their set, Romeos Daughter changed the pace a little. Their set was little slower and melodic than the previous two acts. It was thoroughly enjoyable.
For me, this act was one of the surprises of the weekend. Robert Tepper played an excellent set which was filled with energy and great melodic rock. With plenty of humour included allowed for greater crowd interaction. Even the keyboardist’s keys collapsing to the floor couldn’t stop Mr Tepper once in full swing. That is where he wanted to stay, on stage and at full blast. Dare I say, he almost needed to be dragged from the stage to end his rocking set.
Eclipse was what Eclipse is known to be. That is, one of the best rock acts around at the moment. They delivered by giving us a set filled with high octane 100mph rock.
The First Headliner came in the shape of Cinderella’s Tom Keifer. By now I was really looking forward to this. The previous acts had set the scene beautifully and I wasn’t to be disappointed. It was a masterful performance of hard rock and fun. Tom stopping midway through to inform the audience that his wife Savannah was rushed to hospital not long before he came to Nottingham. She suffered a ruptured appendix. However, all was ok but she could not make. He called her up and got all in attendance sing to her: “Don’t Know What You Have Got Till Its Gone.” This was done whilst Tom reminded the audience to get it right, “…as this call is f****ng expensive.” What a great way to end Friday night! We all left with a real sense of enthusiasm and expectation of what tomorrow would bring.
Day 2, Saturday, 24 October 2015
Care of Night:
I have not heard anything about these guys, so I didn’t know what to expect. Wow! Just Wow! What a surprise! They were great! Their set was really well delivered so much so I had to rush down to the merch stand and purchase their C.D.! Saturday started in an awesome way.
Vega was soon down to business. They delivered a set filled with energy and was well polished. A great rocking set which warmed up the crowd nicely.
Last Autumns Dream:
Last Autumns Dream were excellent, even if they did include a cover of Roy Woods track: “See My Baby Jive”. The set was filled with their huge guitar riffs licks and sing-a-long choruses.
Next up was The Electric Boys celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of their debut album ‘Funk O Metal Carpet Ride’. They are bluesy, funky, crunchy and somewhat psychedelic made them totally enjoyable. Especially listening to “The Dancing Girls I Did Not See”.
The legendary Jim Peterik was up next. He has more songs in his book than all previous acts put together. If there was an award for most flamboyantly dressed, then it would have to go Jims’ way. Dressed in pink boots and shirt, and matching pvc trousers, a waist coat and all topped off with purple hair. With that said, Jim produced one of the performances of the weekend. It was heart warming at times with his emotional tributes to the late great Jimi Jamison. For the first tribute, Alesandro Del Vecchio joined Jim on vocals. Together they sang ‘The Search Is Over’. The next track was more emotional, with Alesandro taking centre stage for lead vocals on ‘Man Agaist The World’. Truth be told, there was not a single dry eye in the house as Alesandro flawlessly delivered a punch perfect performance. Wow, what a voice! The set ends with probably one of the most recognisable opening riffs ever played, from the track of ‘Eye Of The Tiger’.
Dan Reed Network:
Having seen Dan on a few occasions, although not with the Network, I thought I knew what to expect. Boy was I wrong. It was an outstanding highly energetic performance. The band was tight and funk-a-delic, while Dan was climbing onto the security rails to conduct the mass choir. All the while the band on stage was keeping it tight with some mesmerising licks from Brion James. It was high octane sort of stuff. The sort of stuff the ‘Network’ boys thoroughly enjoyed and it showed.
By looking around it was clear to see one of the most anticipated bands of the day. The headliners: Gotthard. Being a big fan myself the highlight of my weekend was meeting Hena and Freddy. As the lights dimmed to the opening riffs then ‘Bang’ we were off! And you know what you are going to get with Gotthard these days, i.e. a highly polished and gleaming set of pure melodic magic. They certainly delivered with consummate precision a thoroughly enjoyable set to end Saturday’s proceedings.
Day 3, Sunday, 25 October 2015
The gorgeous Issa kicked things off on Sunday. Although heavily pregnant, her voice was still as good as ever. Issa treated us to a short but awesome melodic show which was a great way to start the day.
No Hot Ashes:
They have been on a hiatus for 25 years and you wouldn’t know they were away for an extended period of time. Even though they had been apart for some time they still delivered a set of melodic hooks and big choruses. The lads certainly enjoyed their moment on centre stage.
They were one of the more anticipated bands of the weekend. They were expected to deliver and they did with a little bit of interest. Magnus Henriksson was a stand-in bassist for the night as Hal Patino had been rushed earlier that morning. Henriksson, as we were informed, only had 3 hours to rehearse the set. Alongside Eclipse band mate Erik Martensson, Henriksson fitted in just fine. Ammunition’s set was sleazy glam rock at its finest. It was filled with just enough youthful zest to kick you in the ass.
Royal Hunt did what they always do and that is put on a show. Although I in the past have found them just a little too much progressive for liking, I found myself banging my head and stomping my feet midway through the set. It was a powerful and clean performance which was lead by the vocal prowess of DC Cooper and the monstrous keyboard skills of Andre Andersen.
Things were toned down considerably for Stan Bushs’ set. Although this was not a bad thing as Stan treated us to hit after hit. Vocally helped on by The Three Lions’ Nigel Bailey, Stan certainly didn’t need too much help in this department. His voice is as good now as it was 3 decades ago.
Somewhere between Queen, Prince and the Rocky Horror Picture show, would be the best way to describe Valentine. Robby is obviously a highly talented man being the front man to a Queen Tribute act in his native Holland. The jumping from keyboard to centre stage and back between the band during songs was a little tiresome. They were able to pull off a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.
How this was going to work was probably on everyone’s mind. It was a sort of a reunion of the original line up with the exception of the band’s missing link being Gregg Giuffria. This being said, I am a big Craig Goldy fan ever since seeing him with Dio all those years ago. I was really looking forward to this. After starting off well and getting the crowd behind them, it seemed to go down hill a little after a 10 min technical break. Both Craig and David’s guitars were taken out, however, when we returned back live, we were treated to a 5 min guitar solo. This was followed by a 5 min drum solo which, in my opinion, there was no time or need for.
Waiting years to see Dokken, I was pumped and ready. Unfortunately Don didn’t share my sentiments. He strolled onstage to the ‘Kiss Of Death’, that is where things start to go downhill. Microphone and monitor problems, the Jon Levin’s guitar acted up. Mick Brown tried with all his considerable might to hold things together as he laughs and jokes telling us he is having a wail of a time. It is not long before Don is turning his attention to the ever dwindling crowd to tell us ‘I Cant Hear You’. After a few more digs at the unfortunate sound guys, Don turns his attention to lambast the crowd once more for their lack of interaction. By this time there were large numbers heading for the exits. A truly disappointing way to end what was a great weekend.
With the exception of the technical issues during the final act, the weekend was a massive success. Everyone from the security to the bar staff were courteous and polite. The change-over time between bands was kept to a bare minimal with little or no issues. The sound from the majority of the bands was great with no hiccups. My only gripe would be the lighting which blinding the audience. Strobes are never a good idea. With all that in mind I can’t wait for next year. Rockingham is not Firefest and is not meant to be. What it is is the beginning of another great melodic rock festival. The only way to keep our music alive is by supporting it by purchasing the c.d.’s, vinyls, t-shirts and other merchandise and most of all by attending the gigs. Another awesome gig on the calendar is surely the best thing for all around.