Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
Overnight, someone turned off the heavenly sprinkler system, cries of “Where’s Noah when you need him” ceased and the weather gods saw fit to give us a day that was the polar opposite to the Saturday. The clouds parted, the sun came out and the arena immediately started to dry out. By the time the festival-goers had come out of their tents, everything was looking rather peachy for the final day of the inaugural event.
Our review of the Saturday festivities can be found by clicking HERE:
As with the Saturday, we were on site early to catch the opening act because you never know when a hidden gem will appear on stage and quelle surprise… did we make the right call.
Death Ingloria is a one-woman progressive rock band from London, creating music, sci fi comics and animations about the end of humanity. Led by Galina Rin, Death Ingloria animates the comic creations into the bands music videos. Rin also ensures that those comic book pages are projected onto the screen when playing live so we got something rather special for the opening slot of the day.
Playing DI’s second album in full, ‘Death Ingloria II: Death By Admin’, Rin was joined onstage by a bassist who acted (in fantastic makeup I might add) as the perfect foil to Rin’s vocal and guitar work. Between them, a drum kit but no drummer with the comment that the musician who should be drumming was unavailable due to some sort of accident. Fact or Fiction? No idea but the drum kit was hidden by a wide circular screen with the animation from the comic book that accompanies the new album.
Now, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of progressive music but Rin’s set held me spellbound so much so that I came back for seconds after shooting Brave Rival. As the set closed and Rin terrified one poor chap on the barrier (see the photos) she got very well deserved applause from the crowd and I ended up with copies of the album and comics so that I can dig deeper into this fascinating artist. Well worth investigating!
There were several acts over the weekend that expanded their blues sound with a solid dose of soul to give the music more than a dash of warmth, something I often find lacking in pure blues outfits. Brave Rival are one such as and whilst I didn’t know them before, I immediately recognised 2 members from previous acts that they’ve played with. As such it was a pleasure to see both Donna Peters and Billy ‘Danger’ Dedman up on stage on drums and bass respectively. The pair were first introduced to me when they played with Albany Down and even then it was obvious that the pair worked really well as a rhythm section. In Brave Rival that continues as the pair drove the beat with Ed Clarke bringing his guitar skills to the fore whilst dual vocalists Chloe Josephine and Lindsey Bonnick played off each other perfectly to present a truly unique sounding act.
Hugely enjoyable sound with both Chloe and Lindsey clearly having far far too much fun enjoying their time on stage. With the sun out and smiles and laughter coming between (and during) tracks, Brave Rival helped the day feel like summer again.
Sons of Liberty
To keep that summer (well, hot, dry and whiskey soaked) vibe going, The Sons hail from the south as the name suggests, as does their Texan biker look and overall sound. The south is in reality… cough… Bristol but it’s South West of where I live in Kent so they can have that!
If ever a band had aspirations to be sponsored by Jack Daniels then Sons of Liberty are miles ahead in the race for pole position. The music they delivered on stage oozed the sort of class that has recently seen them on tour with Molly Hatchet (and rightly so). They’ve undergone some changes of late but the current line-up of Russ Grimmett (Vocals), Fred Hale and Andy Muse (Guitars), Mark Thomas (Bass) and Steve Byrne (Drums) to me feels like the band is at their absolute best right now. I’ve seen them several times before and had a take it or leave it feel to their shows but since joining as lead singer Russ (son of the late, great Steve Grimmett) has clearly brought with him a few tips and tricks from the family vault and his sound and presence on stage helped the band nail an electrifying performance.
When discussing with them after their set how much practice goes into the synchronised moves on stage, lining up the guitars and bass to perform as one a la Scorpions, the simple answer is that “it’s not”. Most of what you see from the band on stage comes from the heart and the moment and if that’s truly the case then I’m kicking myself for not paying more attention beforehand.
They have new material coming out and played a fair few numbers during their set and they all went down a storm. We can’t say exactly when the new album will be released but keep an eye on your calendar for a day of the week with a Y in it! Just saying !! If you want to know more, keep an eye on their facials…. (ask Russ!).
The Outlaw Orchestra
The Phoenix stage, once again hosted by the Total Rock team continued their finest banter with the crowd and introduced us to yet another act that knew how to have a good time as well as perform their songs. Quite often the complaint from my learned colleagues in the photo pit would be “well they didn’t move around” or “do they ever come away from the mic?” With The Outlaw Orchestra, that was never a problem as the band, that vies to be more Southern than Sons of Liberty but comes from Southampton, never stayed still for a moment.
Dave Roux (lead vocals and guitar) gets bonus points for wearing an authentic L.A. Guns t-shirt, a band I followed devoutly back in the day. Ryan Smith (vocals, drums and percussion) drove the energy from the back of the stage with an immense and deep drum sound and Pete Briley (banjo and bass) who is also out and about doing his own solo thing these days made sitting playing the lap steel seem like one of the most exciting things you would see all day. Imagine watching the house band and Jeff Healey in Roadhouse (The Patrick Swayze classic) and you’ll know just what I mean.
A great set including some very inventive covers not least The Beatles ‘Come Together’. They couldn’t fail to entertain.
Heading back past the food stands and grabbing a quick Spitfire and a rather tasty Cheeseburger and Chips, I parked myself in front of the Jeff Beck Memorial Stage once more for Florence Black. This band generate the sort of energy that only Motörhead could match in their heyday. Now I appreciate that’s some statement to make. How dare I tarnish the memory of the late, great Lemmy and Philthy et all with mention of these young upstarts? Well I stand by my views on this one.
For starters, Florence Black, Established in 2018 and fine purveyors of clothing are…. no wait… Google Search you’ve let me down here. Florence Black hail from Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales… so another band vying to be more Southern than the rest you may think. Well no. Florence Black play blisteringly good hard rock with more grit than the quarry in Swansea where Dr Who was filmed. Their ‘Weight of the World’ album came about after years and years of hard graft and I for one remember being blown away by them at an early performance at Camden Rocks in June 2016.
Fast forward 7 years and the fruits of their labours have clearly paid off. A blinding set, a welcoming crowd and (I hope) future headliners.
For something a little bit different, I headed to the Phoenix Stage once more (with another beer in hand) to watch NitroVille. I was expecting something akin to a more AORish sound but was blown away by a gutsy, hard edged rock performance with lead singer Tola Lamont surpassing all expectations and leaving me wide eyed and open mouthed as she drew the crowd in with some seriously impressive pipes. Truly I could have watched and listened to her for hours, making it yet again difficult to move away from the stage as acts on the other ones began to play.
Worth it though and then some and that’s why you perhaps see fewer artists covered on the Sunday than the Saturday. The rain makes it easy to flit between stages to catch bands as the walk warms you up once again and reenergises you. On a hot sunny Sunday afternoon, there’s nothing better in life than being able to stop, sit down, chill out and truly soak up the festival atmosphere and the sounds coming from the stage.
NitroVille have expanded from their original 4-piece line up and now sport 3 guitarists and a backing singer in their fold. Founder Kurt Michael, Grizzy Rose Lee and Matt Forbes, all bring something to the mix and Paolo Succo’s glorious bass work alongside the drums of Hugo Terva really helped the groove. Backing singer Rachael O’Donoghue initially seemed to be an unusual addition as, I think, early on the set I was to focussed watching Lamont. But as time progressed, the silky vocals of O’Donoghue really added multiple layers to the band’s sound.
Another one with a rosy future ahead of them I feel. And bonus points to the band as well for sporting some of the best mirrored shades of the day – and who doesn’t love a mirrored shades photo!
I have so got to see these guys I told anyone that would listen…. They’re from Australia, they play great rock music, you’ll love em. And so, off I trotted to the Maiden Stage to see a band that look nothing like the ones I’m expecting to see on stage. Wicked Stone are British you say, not Australian….. Hmmmm…. Ohhhhhh! Wicked Stone… not Wicked Smile… right then!
As the confusion passed, I settled down to watch what was a bloody good set from a band, that clearly I need to be honest here, are completely new to me. I’ve not seen Wicked Stone live before although to be fair I’ve also never seen Wicked Smile but hey, I’m going with the flow and an open mind to new music.
Joe Hawx’ vocals were powerful enough to rip through the fabric of the big top with ease and very nearly did on several occasions. He also has a great rapport with the other band members and their skills and ability play off each other’s energy worked so well that the crowd were constantly cheering throughout the set.
I love shows like this, a set filled with great energy, songs that hit hard and hit home and most importantly a new band with material already out that I can latch onto for more listening pleasure. Top marks.
Sorry Wicked Smile, there’s something else quite wicked in my life now!
‘Can’t Die, Won’t Die’ is the title of Black Spiders fourth album, and proof that sometimes the right band that breaks up deserves a second chance and thankfully Black Spiders is that band. Their self titled album in 2021 was one that we thought we’d never get to hear following their “F*** Off Black Spiders” eight day farewell tour in the UK. Their last performance was at Sheffield Corporation on 16 June 2017 and that, we assumed was that. Thankfully someone with the right mindset decided that, like the spiders you flush down the loo, the bastards never die and lo and behold the band return.
I caught their show at Bloodstock back in 2021, one of the first major events they played after reforming. Since then I’ve caught them a few times and they never ever disappoint, Maid of Stone being no exception.
It helped of course to get them here given they were also touring with Airbourne and would be supporting the Aussies in London a few days later. Maid of Stone though gave them a huge crowd, a great opportunity to win over new fans along the way and most importantly sell that ‘Can’t Die, Won’t Die’ attitude which will also, more than likely, flog a fair few copies of the new album.
As I moved back to the main stage, something special started to happen in the main area area. A noticeable buzz, the feel of anticipation, young and old, some curious, some bemused and some absolutely buzzing with excitement as they awaited the Newport giants heavy metal, reggae, punk, hip hop and electronica to come on stage.
With a mix like that, it’s understandable why people get confused, bemused and downright curious. Skindred cannot and should not be pigeonholed. The music and show they bring to the table has just seen them announce a headlining show at London’s Wembley Arena and yet somehow, the wizards of festival organisation [W.O.F.O.] have managed to secure them as the main support act to Airbourne. All hail those behind the scenes, you know who you are!
Skindred are a band that many will say “it’s not my thing” or “I don’t get them” but until you’ve seen them live it’s difficult to stand by those statements. Having seen the band perform several times now, I can honestly say their set at Maid of Stone was without a doubt one of the best they’ve ever put on. We at MyGlobalMind have seen them in clubs (The Underworld), sheds (Alexandra Palace) and arenas (The O2) and yet, this show topped them all.
High on energy and clearly promoting upcoming new album ‘Smile’, the band and the crowd had a blast. Singalongs, samples, clear instructions as to when and when it wasn’t appropriate to spin your t-shirt over your head, all of it added to the interaction with the audience, something that Benji Webbe, the ultimate ringmaster, handled with ease and more than a dash of humour. It’s no wonder that the band are stepping up the ladder as quickly as they are.
As their set drew to a close, they drew a considerable line in the sand leaving Airbourne in no doubt whatsoever that they would need to deliver and then some to the Maidstone crowd.
Whilst the Phoenix stage played hosted to their final act of the day, Robert Jon & The Wreck, who also drew a sizable crowd, the Jeff Beck Memorial Stage got a refit, and then some. Banks of Marshall Amps were wheeled in, so much so that Airbourne’s banner almost got lost at the back behind the sort of backline that only Marty McFly would have the right to plug in to.
Having hosted the main stage throughout the weekend, Paul Anthony came forward one more time to offer up thanks to everyone involved in the event from the crew, the bands, the organisers, all of those people behind the scenes that help things tick along that the public never really see or appreciate. As he also thanked the band and confirmed that the festival would be back for 2024, the cheer from the crowd was more than heart-warming.
And so to Airbourne. The trick when you’ve got an hour to drive home the message and the deserving slot as festival closer is to do it in style, play the hits and save the deeper cuts for the usual fan base who will be following them on their headline tour around the U.K.
Now, given a small matter of a knackered foot obtained playing (I believe) in the Midlands only a day or two earlier, it was unclear just how energetic the band’s talismanic front man Joel O’Keeffe might be. Bearing in mind that this is the guy who typically smacks open a can of beer on his head at most shows, climbs the stage rigging to play solos etc.. health and safety are not words present in Joel’s dictionary. As such, true to form, he burst onto the stage to Ready to Rock as if his leg issues were ‘but a scratch’. In fact it might be proven that the Black Knight from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ was in fact a distant relative of Joel’s. It would make perfect sense!
‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’ followed and the band did not stop moving for one moment. For all of my tog buddies trying to get that shot , well, you got what you asked for! Now keep up with that!
Slab after slab of hook laden music followed and Airbourne just kept the Mote Park party going. They truly are the perfect festival band and it’s great to see them occupying that revered top spot. It’s a well deserved one and with him crowd surfing, the delivery of drinks by Joel to the audience from his on-stage bar and an encore that included both ‘Live It Up’ and ‘Runnin’ Wild’ I don’t think there was anything else they could have added to the show to give more.
I saw Airbourne a week earlier at Masters of Rock festival in CZ. A bigger stage, 20,000 people in front of them, and yet their set in Maidstone felt just as big if not more thanks to the energy the crowd also gave back. Mosh Pits a plenty, with even the security guards joining in.. sorry (cough) managing the situation perfectly. It was a wild and fun filled end to a brilliant weekend.
Maid of Stone returns to Mote Park on 19-21 July 2024. Keep an eye on their socials and main website for details. In the meantime, I’d like to call out the excellent team behind the scenes who made everyone in the press team feel the most welcome that we’ve ever been at a UK festival in recent years. Absolutely wonderful hospitality and gratefully appreciated. I truly hope that 2024 comes off the way you want it to and it looks like you’re listening to the feedback from the 2023 attendees and addressing some of the teething issues they faced with the inaugural event. We really can’t ask for more than that. All memories of the debacle that was caused by the former festival organisers are fading rapidly and positive vibes from this year are travelling around the country as people look forward to reuniting in 12 months time. See you there!
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