HRH CROWS Day 1 - O2 Academy, Sheffield 08.09.18
PHOTO CREDITS: MARTY MOFFATT
This is the first year of the new Hard Rock Hell Crows festival - Country Rock, Outlaw, Western & Southern. This is another new chapter within the ever unfolding portfolio of HRH which covers four amazing genres of country influenced Rock, held in Sheffield and already in the calendar for 2019. Down The Front Media were there to join in the cowboy party!
Sheffield band CELLAR DOOR MOON CROW opened stage 1 on Saturday. Brothers Phil & Tom Goodwin delivered a fierce set of hard rock with southern influences, a smidgeon of rap rock and a hint of stoner. They have a massive sound, heavy on the drums, and a fresh and eclectic approach, their too-short set including 'Whistler', 'Forgiveness' and 'Tightrope'. Face melting cymbals and big deep vocals - an unforgiving start to day 1 and a band on my playlist, these two guys make a whole wall of sound and it's wondrous to behold.
For more information check out their social media accounts:
FARGO RAILROAD CO are another local band, an Americana inspired 4-piece band with fantastic drawling vocals and harmonies, which make me think of hot dusty days chewing grass in the deep south of the USA. Their sound is authentic country-influenced rock with huge vocals. I met up with a couple of the band in the bar later that afternoon and asked where the singer's voice comes from - apparently he has 3 inch Cuban heels… joking! My stand-out moment was 'The Well', which starts with just a powerful vocal and is simply magnificent. Their third release and first studio album 'This One's for You' is available now.
Check them out online -
BUFFALO SUMMER had been recommended to me by a friend so I was keen to check them out live. The whole room was engaged with the performance, clapping, singing and dancing along to a lush wailing guitar, a beast of a rhythm section, and a soulful singer. The mic is swung around in the air, the singer takes the opportunity to cover every inch of the stage, and it's impossible to stand or sit still as the melody hits you. The guitarist is shit hot, the bass player larger than life, the drummer pummels the hell out of his kit, and the singer is a bundle of energy amidst a mass of beautiful hair with a tambourine and swaying hips. Yet it seems so effortless. They perform songs from both albums and my absolute favourite of the set is the stunning 'Down To The River' with its irrepressible riffs and incredibly bluesy vocals. Love these guys.
Check them out online -
The FEDERAL CHARM I see before me today are a world away from the ones I saw 2 years ago - suited and booted, slick and glossy, with new singer and new drummer. The singer loses himself totally in the songs, which I just love to see. They open with 'Swing Sinner' from their forthcoming album, 'Passenger', a song about the son of an abusive drunk. Sounds like a stark opener but actually a great way to let the audience know what to expect from Federal Charm - dark, dynamic and provocative country-influenced heavy rock. The sound could've been better as I couldn’t always hear Guyer's words but there was no denying the chap has good throaty lungs as he stalked the stage! A good length set including new single 'Choke' and old favourite 'Master Plan'. The album is out 14th September - see review https://www.downthefrontmedia.com/down-the-front-media/music-reviews/federal-charm-passenger/
The usual links are below, check them out -
WILLE AND THE BANDITS are my find of the day, a bass-heavy blues-tinged warm and deep sound, with a superb guitarist performing slide guitar solos - a technique often used in blues which involves placing an object against the strings while playing to create different effects. They covered a few genres and manage to culminate all their influences and styles into a fresh new sound, chunky blues, folksy and rap alongside some of the heaviest rock riffs of the day. 'Bad News' - "one more smoke before I die…" - opened the set, and they powered through track after track, taking the audience with them every step of the way, and at times you could almost hear a pin drop as we were all enrapt with the emotion and passion of the performance, told through the screaming, wailing and chugging of the guitar, some truly thunderous drums as well as the accomplished vocals. Highlights for me include the beautiful ballad 'Scared of the Sun' - a haunting track with passion and tortured vocals, rising and falling between verse and chorus - and instrumental 'Angel' which is an 11-minute long feast of stunning musicianship and results in massive cheers from the audience. I am so impressed by this band I'm off now to buy their back catalogue. Where have they been all my life?! I'm so excited by this band, I can't sit still.
Have a look at them online -
REBECCA DOWNES, described as "a ‘must see’ live act that often leaves newcomers simply blown away", headlines stage 2 on day 1. Female Blues Vocalist of the Year 2018, Downes has a stunningly powerful and bluesy voice which captivates an audience and I could listen to her all night. Her smile lights up the stage and she has a cheeky twinkle in her eyes, she is tiny in stature but with an immense vocal which I don’t think the sound system of the small stage brought out fully - I would've liked to see her on stage 1! The set included originals 'Never Gonna Learn', 'Night Train', and a cover of 'Another Piece of My Heart' by Janis Joplin which is one of my all-time favourite songs and Downes did great justice to it. Rebecca Downes is definitely a must see!
Never Gonna Learn
Fever In Night
Another Piece of my Heart (cover)
Long Long Time
If I Go To Sleep
Take Me Higher
With a Little Help from my Friends (cover)
For more information -
JO HARMAN has the voice of an angel. The British Blues Awards 'Female Vocalist Of The Year 2014 opened with the familiar 'Silhouettes Of You', a truly beautiful stripped down song which illustrates the strength and timbre of Harman's voice. She has a solid band around her and is confident in their ability as well as her spectacular voice as we meandered through her set full of powerful melodies and a couple of classic covers. The sound floating around the room was rich and velvety, making hairs stand on end, though a lot more blues than some of the rockers were expecting so the audience thinned a little. A stunning performer, but I think wrong slot on a Saturday evening as she didn’t get the attention or respect she deserved. As I heard one man say, "there ain't no B in CROWS".
Silhouettes of You
No One Left to Blame
(This Is My) Amnesty
Papa Was a Rolling Stone (cover)
Through The Night
The Final Page
Bless My Soul
When We Were Young (cover)
Say That You Want Me
Online links -
Dan Baird is an American singer-songwriter, musician and producer, often cited as a pioneer in country rock music, and best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of The Georgia Satellites. DAN BAIRD AND HOMEMADE SIN have a great live reputation but thus far I haven't seen them come near Sheffield so I'm excited. The setlist below isn't necessarily complete or in the exact correct order as they don't work to a setlist, but the set included different eras throughout Baird's career from Georgia Satellites to the 'Rollercoaster' album.
The room was rammed and this is what everybody has been waiting for, pure gold southern-infused rock n roll, the air electric with anticipation. The whole band seemed to feed off this energy as they delivered unadulterated swagger and unapologetic melodies and riffs. Fans were delighted by the trademark neck-hoola with the guitar, and the rollicking outlaw vibe throughout the venue, screaming guitars, anthemic solos, and amazing shredding, all of which combines to lift the roof off a few feet into the night air.
The highlight of the set for me was 'Crooked Smile' - a sludgy start with a stunning solo which is simply superb. Warner Hodges is on fire, playing the life out of his instrument and practically melting his finger tips off as he shreds. The whole set is ball-breaking, heavy duty, and genuinely some of the best rock n roll you are likely to find. I think more than a few of us needed a lie down afterwards.
Damned Good Problem To Have
Myth Of Love
Six Years Gone
Keep Your Hands To Yourself
Julie And Lucky
I Love You Period
Something Like Love
Damned Thing To Be Done
Warner E. Hodges
Unplugged (Royalty and VIP) 12.55pm
The Outlaw Orchestra
Stage 1 from 2pm
Cellar Door Moon Crow
Fargo Railroad Co
Wille and the Bandits
Dan Baird and Homemade Sin
Stage 2 from 2pm
The Outlaw Orchestra
Dawson Smith and the Dissenters
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