Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
Following on from Part I – our review can be found here:
And so to Sunday, where The Dukes of Bordello got the day off to a moonshine fuelled start. Regardless of what they say, you can’t tell me that was water in the slightly battered bottle that vocalist Andy Barrot kept at the side of his mic stand.
Whatever rocket fuel he was drinking that morning (it was still morning!), he, Chip Waite on double bass and drummer Craz Taylor got the day off to what felt like the perfect hangover driven start that it deserved. For an early kick off there were a lot of people sporting sunglasses when they weren’t really needed and a lot of cups of coffee being drunk whilst the band were playing. Slackers… honestly, have a pint, let the hangover take care of itself and enjoy the music!
Having cleared out the cobwebs and the picked up the first cold one of the day, next up were Black Whiskey who I’d had the pleasure of seeing a while ago at Leo’s in Gravesend before the untimely death from cancer of founder and guitarist Kev Ingles. Vocalist Simon Gordon took a moment to talk about Kev and also pointed out that the set was a commitment made and one that would be kept in honour of Kev, as is only right. Of course this also means that the gig might be the band’s last which is a shame although not altogether unexpected when you’ve lost someone who was so integral to the foundation of the 4-piece.
Standing in on lead guitar and playing one of Kev’s old Les Pauls was Son’s Of Liberty’s Fred Hale. Speaking to Fred before Black Whiskey’s set he explained how his bandmate in Sons of Liberty, Moose, had acquired most of Kev’s old guitars from his widow and wanted to ensure that she was happy that he was doing everything right by the late musician. I can’t think of a better way to give Kev a send-off and if this was Black Whiskey’s final show then they did him proud!
The aforementioned Sons of Liberty then took to the stage and what we have is the UK’s best answer to a true southern hard rock band. It seems to have been quite a theme on the Sunday with the opening acts all sharing something that linked them all in some way. If Black Whiskey was a drink then it’s pretty clear Sons of Liberty would have polished off the case before going on stage.
Their set comprises southern styled hard rock tunes that hit home just at the right spot. Dripping in style both musically and visually, you’d never think the lads were from Bristol, swearing blind they were from the deepest South in the U.S. Nothing wrong with that as it’s clear the band will gather fans from both sides of the Atlantic with performances like the one they put on in Sheffield.
Now if we take another approach to the American way of life and instead of heading South, look to the Wild West. Imagine then if you mixed a band from Worcester with Clint Eastwood and ummm… Steel Panther. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the Bootyard Bandits.
They’re fun, take the piss out of themselves, the crowd, and the material they sing about. Heck they even have a song called M.I.L.F. which apparently was written about one of my fellow photographers (she knows who she is…) It’s entirely possible the song ‘Shirt Potatoes’ was also written about her but I’m just speculating!
Either way, their set was pure fun, Country Rock Alestorm if you will. Pirates are nowhere to be found but cow skulls, cowboy boots and more are everywhere. Huge fun and another highlight of the weekend.
Keeping with the hard rock vibe (albeit without the Clint Eastwood footprint), Collateral put on a show and a half. A perfect festival band with the moves and attitude of an outfit on the cusp of moving it all up to the next level. Whilst lead singer Angelo Tristan may well seek to become the next Jon Bon Jovi of the rock world, he is ably supported by Kent’s answer to Phil Collen and Steve Clark in Todd Winger and Louis Sebastian Malagodi. Ben Atkinson does his very best Tico Torres impressions behind the scenes and Rob Fenning and David Bryan also have a lot in common so there a definite feel of where the band’s sound should be heading.
The difference though comes from Jack Bentley-Smith. Playing like Nikki Sixx rather than Rick Savage, his depth and presence on stage gives Collateral a slighter darker tone at the bottom end and that gives them a much fuller sound than some of their contemporaries.
A full, hugely enjoyable set, and one that should have taken us straight into SKAM who, sadly, couldn’t play as a result of positive Covid tests within the band. Instead we got a band that felt like a natural connection to Collateral and that was The Wicked Jackyls. A great substitute for SKAM, stepping in at the 11th hour and playing an absolute blinder. With a guitarist who’s modelled himself on Slash and a lead singer who plays (but sings better IMHO) like Dave Mustaine, TWJ have a recipe for success.
With the weekend drawing to a close, just Hollowstar who never fail to shine, and reminded us with ease just why they’d been placed on the bill just behind the headliners, and Massive Wagons left to play, we took a final wander round the arena, to get a final cold one before heading home, grabbing some cheesy fries (delish!) and taking the opportunity for a well-earned breather before we headed into the home straight.
Hollowstar did what all main supports should and warmed us up for the main attraction. Tight, precise, all of the cliches that apply to a good performance can be used at this point as they didn’t put a foot wrong. Working the crowd, getting everyone going, when it comes to the end of a festival weekend, I’d want Hollowstar on before any headline act.
Reenergised and ready for the last hurrah, the lights dimmed and after a pre-warning by fire and safety wardens about the pyro and effects in use during Massive Wagons set, I got ready for the sort of visuals usually reserved for a Manowar show.
“For Those About To Rock… We Salute You….” started coming out of the speakers… Blimey what was going to happen when the cannons went off, we all wondered as one… well, the short answer is “not as much as was hyped”.
There was a pop, there was a bang, it really should have been during the AC/DC track and not afterwards but when the Wagons hit the stage, the fireworks did commence and they really brought the show with them.
Massive Wagons are the ultimate party band. A stark contrast to the metal anthems from 24 hours previously, Massive Wagons setlist was as varied in style as it was lyrically. There seems to be nothing they can’t sing about and in Adam Thistlethwaite and Baz Mills you have what every great band needs; a cocky lead singer and a lead guitarist that can hold his own on stage against his front man. You only have to look at the greats to see how well it works, DLR and Eddie VH, Sambora and Bon Jovi, Tyler and Perry, the need for the 2-pronged combo out front is a given. Massive Wagons manage that and have the tunes to support it.
They brought ‘Rockin’ The Bowl – Forged in Fire, Set in Steel’ to give it its full name, to a close and ended what was truly a great weekend. Festivals are always about enjoying the bands you know and discovering the ones you don’t. Of the latter, Bootyard Bandits and Shanghai Treason were clear winners for me. Never heard of either before, desperate to see them both again. Just how it should be!
An excellent weekend and credit to the organisers for pulling it all together under difficult circumstances at the tail end (hopefully) of the pandemic.
Roll on 2022 when we see Orange Goblin and Jack J Hutchinson to name but two confirmed artists.