STONEDEAF FESTIVAL 2018 - Newark Showground 25.08.18
PHOTO CREDITS: LINDZRS MEDIA-PHOTOGRAPHY
With a distinct buzz in the air, the gates of the inaugural Stonedeaf Festival opened on Saturday 25th August.
The publicity surrounding the festival has been all over Social Media since the concept was announced; a one-day festival put together by former Monsters Of Rock veterans who wanted to take things back to when a festival was not over two days and not full of the bright lights of fairground rides.
It was a big gamble, how many people would travel for one day, would the big-name bands be interested, could they get suitable vendors to attend and the biggie - would they be able to actually pull it off?
Well we know the answer to one of those questions, the bands announced for today are crowd drawers, some newer, some legends so a tick in the box for the bands being interested. With a wide variety of food vendors around the arena another question had been answered, we would all be suitably fed and watered. One welcome sight was favourite of festival photographers – Motley Brew being in attendance to keep us sustained throughout the day!
All good up to now, wristbands in place, back stage all organised, bands on-site and importantly, a couple of thousand willing participants filling up the showground.
After winning the Battle Of The Bands to kick off the main stage, North East hard rockers, FALLEN MAFIA launch into a half hour set with ‘Dirty’. Heavy riffs, chugging bass-lines and a serious amount of powerful vocals packed with attitude and energy are just the start the day needs.
The crowds are still gathering and there are so many band shirts, some classic ones too from tours in the ‘80s, a crowd taken with nostalgia but also supportive of the newer bands on the line-up today.
Next on to the stage is CHROME MOLLY, Steve Hawkins commands the stage as Nic Wastell, John Foottit, Andy Barrott and George Ellis provide the music. The crowd love it! Chrome Molly have been around since 1981 and the songs are familiar to many, they have an extensive back catalogue and loads to go at. As the sun comes out, the music flows around the arena. Songs such as ‘CMA’ and ‘Pillars of Creation’, sound good to my ears. A great set of tracks from their many albums finishing with ‘Corporation Fear’. I hadn’t seen the band play for a long time and I had forgotten just how good they are live.
HAND OF DIMES take to the stage amid cheers and applause, a warm welcome for stand in guitarist Bruce Dickinson (Little Angels) who calmly plays his way through ‘Looking At You’, ‘Moonlight Mile’ and ‘Bad Reputation’. No nerves evident and a slight smile showing that he is enjoying this. Nev MacDonald has, without doubt, one of the best voices in melodic rock which he demonstrates beautifully especially with ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. Rapturous cheers and applause ensues as his voice soars over the arena. Simply stunning.
Neil Garland brings out the harmonica for a couple of songs, engaging with MacDonald and Dickinson, the band look like they are enjoying their set and looking at the crowd, especially for ‘House Of Love’ they certainly were. Smiling, singing along, hands in the air. Hats off to the sound guys too, the balance and volume is perfect.
“How do you follow that?” Baz Mills asks me worriedly minutes before taking to the stage. “You’ll be fine!” was my reply. I’d already spotted the MASSIVE WAGONS banner and an array of Wagons t-shirted fans pushed against the barrier. Needless to say, a band on a roll like Massive Wagons really did smash it out of the park (well showground).
Mills is a showman who can sing and all the leaping around and hair spinning never detracts once from his vocal. Musically the band are awesome, Adam Thistlethwaite packing in the riffs whilst Stevie and Adam fill out the melody and bassline and Alex smacks in the rhythm.
Opening with ‘Back To the Stack’ the crowd are bouncing. With their album ‘Full Nelson’ riding high in the charts, today we have a display of why they are the toast not just of Lancashire but are one of the bands at the forefront of the new wave of classic rock. With fantastically catchy songs including ‘Billy Balloonhead’, ‘Nails’ and ‘China Plates’, plus a dynamic frontman and a band who are tight, this was a top-notch performance even involving the crowd as Mills threw himself into the masses to get up close and personal and I’m sure has gained them a fair few new fans.
A bit of nostalgia harking back to MOR when GRAHAM BONNET entertained the crowds with Rainbow at the inaugural Monsters of Rock, today he is back to remind us of some of those classic songs plus tunes from his times with Alcatrazz and MSG. Now touring with his own band and a new album, Graham’s appearance was a hotly anticipated one.
Bonnet’s voice is so familiar, opening his set with ‘Too Drunk’ it is obvious that he is still able to entertain. Two huge crowd pleasers follow with All Night Long’ and ‘Night Games’, the smiling faces in the crowd as hands and horns are held aloft, eyes closed as memories are relived. New guitarist Kurt James has found his feet quickly on this tour and instead of trying to copy riffs made iconic by Blackmore and Schenker, he goes for it in his own style. A wise move in my opinion.
Mark Banquechea is fascinating to watch, thumping the skins with a dynamic and expression filled manner. A vocal performance from Mr Bonnet which improved as the set progressed, the guy is in his early 70’s and can still keep the memories alive. Closing with ‘Lost in Hollywood’ this lifelong Rainbow fan who also witnessed his MOR Rainbow performance was left pretty happy and slightly emotional.
One band which I had been surprised to see on the list was Anvil. I shouldn’t have been surprised, let’s face it they were the epitome of 80’s rock. The Canadian trio hit the stage with a smile meaning that we were in for some good old Rock. Celebrating 41 years in rock is a huge achievement for any band and these guys have certainly had a roller coaster in their early days. They have more albums under their studded belts than you would imagine with their latest ‘Pounding The Pavement’ being their 17th ‘Anvil’ album.
Hard and heavy with grimacing, pouting and smiles, the crowd are lapping it up, nimble noodling, rampaging riffs, some with assistance of the buzzy kind!? Lipps knows how to entertain with stories including a very amusing one about a drunken night with Lemmy, I have to say that their set seemed to buoy up the crowd big time. A stroke of genius from the organisers.
One I was looking forward to big time was the genteel delightfulness that is BLAZE BAILEY. Wolfsbane should have been huge but never quite got there splitting in the early 90’s when Blaze joined Iron Maiden. Shrinking violet Bailey calmly takes to the stage for about 30 seconds… the gentlemanly plain short sleeve shirt is removed to reveal a ‘Filthy Sex’ vest and our beloved Blaze fills the stage with his presence. He is never still, prowling from side to side as Jeff jumps around like a Jack in the box and Jase riffs up the tunes.
Smacking the tempo out for songs including ‘Black Lagoon’ and ‘Loco’ is Steve Danger, caged in by cymbals and skins. A fantastic set including new songs that kept the atmosphere at a charged level. Catch them on their tour, you will not be disappointed.
If you are going to have a band on the bill with a reputation for getting a party going and the singing flooding over a field, there can only be one choice, THE QUIREBOYS!
It was now dark as the band took to the stage in a flood of light and smoke. Spike throwing the mic stand around and delivering the songs with that fabulous, whiskey soaked, 40 a day, blues rich voice. The songs sound fabulous as ‘Dirty Town’, ‘There She goes Again’ have audience participation from the get go. ‘Mona Lisa Smiled’, ‘This is Rock N Roll’, ‘Hey You’, they kept on coming, song after song of cracking tunes. Joined on stage by Blaze for ‘7 O’ Clock’, I couldn’t believe the set was over although they had been on stage for over an hour such was the atmosphere. It was a fabulous move by the organisers again.
SKID ROW are the headliners and I for one was a happy bunny having seen them twice already over the last few months, I knew that this was another smart move by the organisers. The smoke almost obscured the stage, the lights dimmed as ‘Slave To The Grind’ smacked its way across the showground. A shower for the photographers as we have come to expect, the iconic song sounds as good today as it did so many years ago.
ZP Theart is brilliant, he has the voice, the personality and the stage presence. When he joined the band, there was criticism many saying that Skid Row was Seb Bach, Theart silenced the critics from his first power packed, pitch perfect performance... He can sing the songs, he can command the stage, he was a fan of the band way before joining them and this shows, he seems to love the songs as much as we do. Snake, Rachel, Scotti and Rob look happy and settled, Snake rattling the stage rafters with the riffs as the set evolves with ‘Sweet Little Sister’ and ‘Piece of Me’. Sounding better than ever, the band are tight. The volunteers and organisers are in the pit, dancing, singing and loving this. Duelling guitars, goose-bump moments as ZP’s voice rings out for ‘18 & Life’.
I’m at the point of losing my voice as songs I have loved seemingly forever hit my emotions as well as my eardrums. ‘Quicksand Jesus’, ‘I Remember You’, ‘We Are The Damned’ and finishing with the ultimate Skid Row classic ‘Youth Gone Wild’ it would have been difficult to have had a better band to headline this first ever Stonedeaf Festival.
I have to pay tribute to the festival goers as well as the organisers and volunteers. Friendly folk with a mutual love of music, coming together for a fabulous day of bands new and old that brought memories and enjoyment unspoiled by any trouble.
Huge respect to the volunteers who worked tirelessly all day, smiling and chatting. From the minute I entered the showground at 10am that morning and I was escorted to park up, walked down to the arena and generally made to feel so welcome, the day only got better.
But my heartfelt thanks go to the organisers who have put their heart and soul into making this a success. Congratulations guys, you deserved this, a wonderful day, thank you! Here’s to next year!
Get your tickets early, this is one festival not to miss!