CHARLEY FARLEY / MORAG FARLEY (MORAG FARLEY PHOTOGRAPHY)
Arriving at the venue with 45 mins to doors opening a large queue had already formed in the rain. There was a distinct air of anticipation of a great gig with the queue comprising of a wide range of ages. Typically, the O2 was late opening the doors and a few ticket system problems caused a bit of scramble to the main hall.
The opening act, The Wild! take to the stage to the theme from ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’ to a fair size crowd despite their start time being only shortly after we found a good spot. This Hard Rocking four-piece from British Columbia, Canada took no prisoners and their high energy, well practiced stage show was a great way to start the evening. Playing tracks from their albums ‘Wild at Heart’ (2017) and ‘GxDxWxB’ (2015) they showed what they can do. There must be something in the Canadian water with the quality of bands coming out of there. Their short but explosive set had set the tone for the night. We managed to have a quick chat to the guys after the show - they had enjoyed it as much as we had, and were very much looking forward to the rest of the tour.
Best in the West
Six Hundred Sixty Six
Ready to Roll
Party Til You’re Dead
The Wild! are:
Dylan Villain (Vocals/Lead Guitar)
The Kid (Guitars / Backing Vocals)
Reese Lightning (Drums)
Check them out at:
After a brief kit changeover, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons took to the stage in front of an ever growing crowd. Todd, Dane, Tyler and Neil appeared first and then to rapturous applause the legendary Phil Campbell himself. After a quick introduction they ripped into ‘Big Mouth’ from their 2016 self titled EP, then ‘Rock Out’. Neil Starr (vocals) instantly engages with the crowd who respond in kind by joining in. Debuting some new tracks from their forthcoming album ‘The Age of Absurdity’, they show that they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with. ‘Freak Show’ is a heavy track with a booming bass line, raging drums, catchy riff and howling solos. ‘Dark Days’ is a slower paced track with a swing type groove. Phil Campbell (Guitar) was seriously cool and laid back watching the boys with a look of an extremely proud father. Neil asked the crowd to make some noise for Phil and the crowd obliged wildly. Phil dedicates Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’ to his mate Lemmy, who is dearly missed and the crowd scream in respect. Adding a couple of Motörhead tracks in for good measure, the crowd’s reaction to ‘Ace of Spades’ would have been enough to have woken Lemmy himself. The band backed off to allow the crowd take over vocal duties. Before ending their set, Phil took the time to thank The Wild! for opening the night and Airbourne for the invitation to join them on the tour. This was a fantastic set - I’ve seen main acts struggle to engage with the crowd as well as these guys.
Born to Raise Hell
No Turning Back
Ace of Spades
Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons Are:
Phil Campbell (Guitar)
Neil Starr (Vocals)
Todd Campbell (Guitar)
Tyla Campbell (Bass)
Dane Campbell (Drums)
Check them out at:
While the kit change took place it was obvious that the two support acts had done their jobs with the crowd singing back the incidental tracks on the P.A., including a word perfect rendition of ‘Run to the Hills’. With a back line that looked like a Marshall stock room, Airbourne’s drum tech tested out the kick drum and every fibre of your being shook, we knew that, as is normal for these guys, it’s going to be loud.
Entering the stage to the theme tune from ‘Terminator 2’ they received a thunderous applause and the beer started flying immediately. Letting loose with ‘Ready to Rock’ the capacity crowd went bonkers, chanting back at the band, bouncing and even a small mosh pit started - this was just the first song. Playing a few tracks from their latest Album ‘ Breakin’ Outta Hell’ the band sounded awesome, from the gut churning bass and drums to the screaming guitar solos, Joel’s vocals were superb along with his 2000 backing singers. Taking time to chat to the almost feral crowd, Joel told us “We’ve played some new s**t, now let’s play some old s**t”. Somehow, the crowd managed to take it up a notch. The energy from this band is off the scale and what they can do with a crowd could power a small country.
‘Girls In Black’ was next, and during the song the first couple of crowd surfers exit over the barrier. Joel jokingly says that he’s coming out to join the crowd just before he starts the solo and does exactly that, walking through the crowd, up the stairs, along the balcony and back to the stage whilst ripping out the solo. ‘Bottom of the Well’ had the crowd clapping along; children were hoisted onto their parent’s shoulders joining in. During the breakdown Joel asked the crowd to light the room with lighters and mobiles and he said it was a magnificent sight.
‘Breakin’ Outta Hell’ raised the temperature again, with a small mosh pit starting in front of the bar, the constant rain of beer hadn’t stopped. Joel and the band decided that it was time to join the crowd in a toast, and mixing a few Jack & Cokes on stage the four band members toasted the amazing crowd, tossing their glasses out into the crowd as a tribute to the missiles that had been hitting the stage all night. The final couple of tracks of the main set were celebrated with an almost constant flow of crowd surfers. After a short break with the crowd baying for more, the air raid sirens blared and the searchlights searched for the simulated aircraft as the crowds unending energy stepped up another level, this beer filled crowd made this night as much as the band and they were still in fine voice. Joel challenged the crowd to see how many people he could see on others shoulders, he commented on a young lad who looked about 12 and said he couldn’t throw him a beer due to his age so instead launched it up onto the balcony.
Announcing that ‘Runnin’ Wild’ was to be their final track the crowd took the roof off of the Academy, clapping furiously, almost the entire floor cheering, bouncing, the inevitable mosh pit started again almost everyone else head banging along. Joel made his way to the rear bar to join the fans for the last solo of the night. Struggling to return to the stage, Joel thanks the Bristol crowd for an amazing night, saying that he ‘loves Bristol because they love Rock ‘N’ Roll’. Announcing that they will return the crowd once again showed their appreciation and the noise was deafening. Joel’s parting words were ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll will never die’. Drenched from the heat and the constant beer showers everyone went home absolutely knackered but buzzing.
Ready to Rock
I’m Going to Hell for This
Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast
Down on You
Girls In Black
Bottom of the Well
Breakin’ Outta Hell
Chewin’ the Fat
It’s All for Rock ‘n’ Roll
Stand Up for Rock ‘n’ Roll
Live it Up
Raise the Flag
Joel O’Keeffe (Lead Vocals/Lead Guitar)
Ryan O’Keeffe (Drums)
Justin Street (Bass/Backing Vocals)
Harri Harrison (Guitar/Backing Vocals)
Check them out at:
These three bands together are not for the faint hearted, it’s a night of high energy, raucous rock and roll. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough. If any of these bands are playing near you you’d be mad to miss them.
**PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA**