Review: Stonedead Festival 2021, August 27th – 28th
Newark Showground, August 27th – 28th 2021
Review & photos: Dan Mann
Let me start by saying if ever there was an example of Blitz or Dunkirk spirit, then Chris Sumby and the rest of the Stonedead crew have it in spades!
After the ‘little’ matter of Covid putting pay to last year’s festival, this year’s event was hardly plain sailing. From last minute band changes due to band members testing positive for Covid, to almost having no stage and the one finally delivered only being 2/3 of the ordered size, plus a few other things, the Stonedead crew still managed to pull off a roaring success.
Now Stonedead is normally a one day event, like the original Monsters Of Rock, but as something extra for this year, as a thank you to those of use who carried our tickets over, we had some Friday night entertainment from four bands.
Kicking off proceedings were The Hot Damn!, an all female quartet made up of former members of The Ammorettes and Tequila Mockingbird. Well certainly a fantastic way to start, with the band delivering a well polished set complete with an array of backing dancers during ‘Dance Around‘, their debut single.
Next up the party was delivered by Spanish rockers StOp,sToP!. With big hair, the painted face of bassist and vocalist Jacob A.M and some great tunes, the band soon had the crowd bouncing and ended proceedings with taking matters actually into the crowd. They certainly made some new fans that night, one of the reasons they’ve made the UK their base.
Third band on the bill was Cats In Space, a band I’ve seen a few times, but the first time with new vocalist Damien Edwards. Now you could call them a ‘marmite’ band, but there was no evidence of this amongst the crowd, with the Cats delivering as always a polished set, and Damien’s powerhouse vocals adding another dimension. Again a band who made some new friends that night.
Finally, the Friday Headliners, a band who’d graced the Stonedead stage in 2019, returned to a raptuous welcome. Wayward Sons are one of the flagship acts when it comes to the new breed of British bands, and their performance certainly highlighted why. Toby Jepson & Co delivered a strong performance, showing their sheer pleasure, like the other bands, of being back performing in front of a live audience. Now considering this wasn’t the main day, there was a decent sized crowd, who themselves were clearly delighted to be watching live music after such a long time.
And so to Saturday, if Friday had anything to go by, this was going to be an entertaining day as well.
The Saturday openers were picked via fan vote and had been up against some strong competition. Dead Man’s Whiskey showed why they’d won this opportunity. This is a band very much on the way up, their new Breakout EP (review) has already shown that recording wise, but their performance was much more mature than when I’ve seen them previously.
I must mention one of many entertaining parts of Stonedead were the giraffes. Err.. the what?
Let me elaborate, someone had mentioned in the Stonedead Facebook Group about the value for money the festival is and it wouldn’t leave you change for an inflatable giraffe! And as if by magic an influx of inflatable giraffes of all shapes and sizes. It helped bring a much needed smile to everyone’s lips.
And now back to the music. Due to a member of The Treatment testing positive for Covid, there was a last minute change to the line-up. In stepped Manchester rockers Absolva to save the day.
Absolva delivered a great set of their heavier side of rock, and even though they may have been not so well known to a lot of the crowd, this didn’t dampen proceedings one bit with the crowd getting behind the band and determined to get their fill of live music from every act performing. They certainly didn’t show any hint of a band added at the last minute and playing to a capacity audience.
Due to the the line-up change, fan favorite Myke Gray came on a little later than originally billed.
With some fantastic music to his name, be it Jagged Edge, Skin or Red, White and Blues, I was really looking forward to his set. Revival Black‘s Dan Byrne did a great job of singing the songs that most of us are very familiar with. Hats off to him if you pardon the pun!
During Myke’s set we had the flypast of a Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire which brought many a tear to eye and lump to throat.
Next up we had British heavy metal legend Blaze Bayley, with his backing band as usual being the Absolva lads. I’ll admit Blaze isn’t really my cup of tea, but I cannot deny the love the crowd have for him and his music, be it from his time in Iron Maiden, or from his extensive body of work.
Following Blaze was the Kris Barras Band, someone I was really looking forward to seeing again. It was a heavier set than I’ve seen Kris and co perform before, with ivory tinkler Josiah J Manning joining Kris on guitar, which beefed up the sound. Whether this was to appeal to the Stondead crowd or a new direction I’ll find out when I catch them again on tour with Black Stone Cherry. The Kris Barras Band certainly delivered my favorite set of Stonedead 2021.
Massive Wagons were next, who replaced H.E.A.T, who I’ll be honest and say I’d rather have seen. Still, Massive Wagons are another of the flagship bands and without doubt a fan favorite. Frontman Baz Mill is what you want in a frontman, certainly not someone you’d call a shrinking violet! Baz and the rest of the band gave the crowd what they wanted and went down a storm.
Sottish rockers GUN were next on stage and they themselves had to make a change due to Covid with youngster Nick Georgiou replacing Paul on drums. As you’d expect GUN delivered a crowd pleasing performance, with no surprises when it came to their cover of ‘Word Up‘,the crowd singing along at the tops of their voices.
When it comes to marmite bands I’m afraid for me Terrorvision are not a band I like. I just don’t get them at all! By the reaction of the crowd I was very much in a minority, so great for Stonedead. I took the oppotunity to grab a much needed coffee and a wonder round the various stalls where it was a nice suprise to bump into RavenEye‘s Oli Brown who was selling custom jewelry.
And so it was Headliner time. Again another change to the original line-up with Black Star Riders having to withdraw due to Covid. Here Chris and the Stonedead team pulled a blinder of a replacement with British rock royalty Uriah Heep stepping in to take the helm. With a catalogue of music most bands would kill for, the Heep delivered a masterclass, still sounding superb. A very worthy last minute replacement who entertained a raptuous crowd.
And then sadly it was all over. How do I sum it all up? Well for me it wasn’t just the sheer joy of experiencing live music again at last, it was the chance to meet up with friends and chums alike, something I, as well as many others, has missed no end.
Many thanks to everyone at Stonedead, to the bands and to the crowd for bringing that live music experience back into my life. Damn I’ve missed it.
With regards Stonedead 2022, all 1000 Earlybird tickets were sold within hours and that’s before any acts have been announced! This loyalty is why Stonedead is one of the great British festivals on the calendar.