Elles Bailey – Whelans (Upstairs), Dublin – 07-03-2019

Review: Stephen Brophy

Photography: Stephen Brophy

Over the last couple of years Elles Bailey has become a force to be reckoned with on the Blues/Roots circuit and following on from some very hard work promoting and Touring her debut album ‘Wildfire‘, she is making a trip to my home town, Dublin,  in order to promote the follow up, the superb ‘Road I Call Home‘ and play her first headlining Irish date.

Opening the show this evening is Northern Irish Blues singer/songwriter Dom Martin, who plays a really good and gritty set. Prior to Dom hitting the stage though we get another insight into Elles Bailey, it is not very often in this day and age you will see a Headline act introduce their support for the night to the crowd, a very classy thing to do and generates a really cool atmosphere to kick things off. The songs are really good and the guitar playing even better, just creating a very nice sound, although the crowd at this stage of the evening was small they were certainly enjoying Dom’s set and that was very understandable. With songs from last years ‘Easy Way Out‘ EP, and probably the highlight being ‘The Rain Game‘, he certainly picked up some new followers tonight. Tracks like ‘Mercy‘ sounded great in an all too short set, always a great sign when a set flies by and you want to hear more.

Then it was onto the main event of the evening, for me I’d first seen Elles supporting Jo Harman in the Jazz Club in London, and I was hooked, not just from the music and delivery, but there’s an extremely engaging persona on stage, and the between song banter makes you feel a lot more involved in the show than perhaps with other artists. The band are extremely good, and the sound is great for a small room. The majority of the new songs were written in Nashville, some with renowned songwriters likes Bobby Wood and Dan Auerbach, and the fruits of this process are once again evident when you hear these songs live, just take the new single ‘Little Piece Of Heaven‘, it’s a cracker of a song, and is uplifting live. Plenty of highlights in tonights set ‘Deeper‘, ‘What’s The Matter With You‘ and ‘Medicine Man‘ from the new album and the title track of the debut ‘Wildfire‘ wonderful stuff. The musicians in this band all play a significant part in the show, and gel so well, but special mention has to go to Will Edmunds on guitar, who although spending the entire set in almost total darkness played beautifully, had there been one more light directed in the right direction it would have made a big difference, but he still made his presence felt.

When reviewing Elles new album I had picked out the closing track ‘Light In The Distance‘ as being one of the highlights of the release, but at the time did not know the back story from it, and as Elles told the crowd it elevated the song even more, this particular track, one that was written closer to home has a very personal feel to it but when you hear Elles singing it you automatically associate with the sentiments, it’s a piece of beauty especially with the keyboards and vocal powering through.

As Elles star continues to shine brighter this . This was for me always going to be ones of those “wow, I was there nights” I don’t think we are likely to see this artist again in venues like this for long, and as good as it is to be so close up and personal, you know that her music deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Can’t wait to to see Elles again and the pieces of magic from the album are even more magical live, go see these shows if you can.

Setlist –

Wild Wild West

Miss Me When I’m Gone

Deeper

What’s The Matter With You

Little Piece Of Heaven

Wildfire

When I Go Away

Perfect Storm

Light In The Distance

Hell Or Highwater

Medicine Man

Woman Like Me

Help Somebody

Road I Call Home

Howlin Wolf

Encore

Girl Who Owned The Blues

Review: Mike Tramp Stray From The Flock

Target Group (Mar 1st 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Former White Lion and Freak Of Nature frontman Mike Tramp has continued to forge a recording and touring career in recent years, often with a one man acoustic show and more recently back with a full band, but whatever he has turned his hand to you can always be guaranteed honest heartfelt music.

Stray From The Flock‘ is the latest release that follows a similar creative vein to recent album releases, so if you are looking for a return to the 80’s/90’s then I’m afraid you are looking in the wrong place, this is a different era, a different artist who continues to prove he is a very strong songwriter, storyteller and live performer, that is more than enough for me. Besides Mike has been making Solo albums for 22 years now, far longer than the life of the other bands he played with.

Having witnessed a number of Mike’s shows over the last 6-7 years he has managed transform that feeling and power from the stage to the studio, and transformed the purely acoustic songs to a full band mix that works. What we get here are 10 stories, that feel like they are coming from personal experiences, and certainly nothing wrong with that, The duet on closing track ‘Die With A Smile On Your Face‘ drips raw emotion.

If there is one criticism I would have of this new release it is that perhaps there could have been a couple of changes in pace dotted around here and there certainly adding a rocker in the first few songs would help grab the attention of more casual listeners, that’s not to say everything cruises along morphing one track into the next, but perhaps there could have been another rocking track that breaks everything up a little.  But the quality of the songs stand for themselves and that’s what counts here. Musically everything fits, and with keyboards add a little bit more atmosphere here and there, certainly a well put together album, and again one that you pick up on different nuances on each listen.

Highlights include the excellent ‘Best Days Of My Life‘ which almost transports you to a fine summers day surrounded by friends and good times, sure we’ve heard this kind of story before, but it always depends on how it’s portrayed and this one works.  For this particular album a number of guitarists that Mike has worked with over the years have been brought in to guest, and there’s some terrific playing on this album, it doesn’t have to be blazing solos, sometimes it just has to fit the song, take ‘You Ain’t Free Anymore‘ for example, and it adds massively to the overall feel of that particular one. ‘One Last Mission‘ is a much more full on rock song, with almost a rasp in Mike’s vocal delivery, and it’s a powerful song.

Once again Mike Tramp has managed to create a piece of art, a rich tapestry of music and lyrics that intertwine and once again produce a very mature album. The direction that Mike’s music has taken in recent years has provided him with a fresh impetus it would seem and long may the creative juices flow. ‘Stray From The Flock‘ is another very good album and if you’ve been a fan of ‘Cobblestone Road‘ onwards dig in, if not or you haven’t heard any of these new recordings then set some time aside and drink it up. Mike will be on Tour in the UK in April so catch some of these songs live then.

Review: Altitudes & Attitude Get It Out

Megaforce Records (Jan 18th 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Altitudes & Attitude is a side project for Thrash Metal Bass legends Dave Elfson (Megadeth) and Frank Bello (Anthrax) that began life back in at the start of this decade. As opposed to the type of music they play in their main bands this is a much more Hard Rock/Alt Rock orientated project and their first full album release ‘Get It Out‘ also contains the tracks from their 2014 self titled EP.

Alongside Bello (Bass/Vocals) and Elfson (Guitar) we’ve got Jeff Friedl (Drums) from A Perfect Circle and the album is produced by Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther, Stone Sour). This is an interesting piece of work and certainly gives the main protagonists an opportunity to showcase talents they don’t get the chance to with their main bands. Frank Bello’s vocals for example are really strong right through.  There will certainly be some comparisons to the likes of Foo Fighters on songs like the title track ‘Get It Out‘ which is a really powerful all out rocker and ‘Part Of Me‘ with that fuzzy tone to the underlying riff.

For me ‘Slip‘ is just a piece of of class, it is perhaps more in the vein of Alkaline Trio, this one holds the attention, has a different feel from the rest of the album and just feels right, the vibe is quite upbeat which in many ways contradicts the feeling the song generally give out. ‘Talk To Me‘ follows suit and keeps the mid section of the album flowing, sadly for me the instrumental ‘Leviathan‘ doesn’t really go anywhere, and feels a but out of synch here, perhaps it’s just a placing thing.

Littered throughout the album are guest guitar spots from the likes of Ace Frehley (KISS), Gus G (Ozzy, Firewind), Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper) and Satchel (Steel Panther), which adds a bit more depth to everything. Just take the screaming solo by GusG in ‘Here Again‘ as an example, just enhances that track so much. There are also moments of more aggressive riffing dotted around this release, ‘Here Again‘ the album closer certainly has a much heavier vibe in the chunky riffs and Thrashy interludes, while retaining a similar vocal delivery to the rest of the album..

This may not be a release that was on everyone’s radar, but it shouldn’t be just bypassed, certainly enough good stuff here to make it worth checking out and it’s always nice to hear something different from some well know musicians in their own field. Hopefully they we be able to schedule some more European dates following their recent run with Slash..

Review: Elles Bailey – Road I Call Home

Release Date: (March 7th 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Elles Bailey has been a growing force in recent times and with the release of her second album ‘Road I Call Home‘ that’s definitely going to continue. Following on from the critically acclaimed and very successful debut album ‘Wildfire‘ which was released towards the end of 2017, Elles is set to capitalise on the momentum that a really good debut and some very hard work touring has built up.

The music on this release continues in the same vein as what we have heard previously, but there’s an assured confidence flowing through this release that just pushes the songs to new levels, although this may be a very personal group of songs there are themes that resonate with us all and it’s the execution that makes everything shine so well. Style wise we’ve got an amalgamation of Blues, Americana and Country dripping all over this one

This is most definitely an album you need to let seep into your pores, soak in it, breathe it in, tracks like ‘Deeper‘ just beg to be put on repeat and allow you to pick up on different nuances with each listen. As with it’s predecessor this was recorded in Nashville, and has been sympathetically produced by Brad Nowell and Steve Blackmon, which suits the style and delivery of the songs.

Of the eleven tracks on offer here you find it hard to look past any one track, there are so many reasons to keep listening and to come back for more. What raises this album above the rest is probably the fact that it so smoothly rolls from one style to another and yet neither loses focus nor the beautiful ebb and flow from song to song. ‘Help Somebody‘ stuck in my head from the first listen, a bluesy beast lifted by a Brass section that’s in no way overpowering, there are pieces of magic everywhere you turn, and the playing is exemplary whether from the special guests in Nashville or the UK musicians.

There’s an almost visible pain in ‘What’s The Matter With You‘, while ‘Little Piece Of Heaven‘ is another that wraps around your heart and pulls on the strings hard and is probably the most poppy track on offer while remaining very soulful at the same time, the writing credits are great to see but really mean very little without the excellent delivery of the stories. Then we come to the closing track ‘Light In The Distance‘ and just wow, a stunning performance in it’s simplicity, a vocal with piano accompaniment, but the vocal is so beautiful, like a winding river it meanders through a story, it’s a testament as to how far this young artist has come in a relatively short space of time.

This is a wonderful album, it’s full of depth, warmth and just really well put together songs that demand your attention. Keep your eyes and ears open for Elles Bailey, it’s a name that I’m sure you will hear a lot more of in the future. The Uk/Irl Tour starts at the beginning of March, don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear these songs live, it will be a great experience. The World better be ready for Elles because she is definitely coming for it.

 

Review: Blood Red Saints Pulse

AOR Heaven (Febuary 22nd 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

It has been just over 12 months since Blood Red Saints released their last album ‘Love, Hate, Conspiracies‘ and the guys are back with the release of their third album ‘Pulse‘, and it’s a damn good album.

What we have grown to expect from this band is a more edgy style of AOR, well written songs, but strong riffs and the levels turned up a bit, certainly since the addition of second guitarist Neil Hibbs, and they have certainly found their groove. As always the main focal point of the band it Pete Godfrey’s wonderful voice alongside Lee Revill’s lead guitar.

Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks the whistling, and slightly haunting Into to the opening track ‘Believer‘ still grabs my attention, it’s unusual but somehow fits perfectly as a starting point for the song, and it is a really good song to kick the album off with, they have managed again on this album to blend some different styles and manage to sound different to most of the bands out there, it’s not synchronised  rock.

Of the eleven tracks on offer here you will be grabbed by the most of them in a slightly different way, for some reason after the intro when the chorus kicks in I just can’t shake the thoughts of Shinedown when listening to ‘Cross To Bear‘ but that’s not to say that it is in anyway sounding cloned, this is an  excellent track, that stands on it’s own merits. Pete’s vocals are exemplary throughout, but there is something about this one that keeps pulling me back over and over, with the faint orchestral accompaniment, or the strength of that chorus, this is certain for me to become a live favourite. There’s a real crunch and power to ‘Message To God‘ and it’s another one that sticks out on each listen, strong riff, pumping drums.

This time around the ballads ‘Crash Into Me‘ and the wonderful ‘Bring Me To Life‘ are once again beautifully executed, and I’m sure both will come across brilliantly in an acoustic or full band setting. ‘Bring Me To Life‘ in particular completes the album brilliantly, going from moving harmonic vocals to some screaming guitars in 5 seconds flat.

This is another excellent release from Blood Red Saints, again it sounds different to what’s out there already and still has that edge, it’s not perfect, what is in this day and age, one or two tracks didn’t quite do it for me, for example some days I really like the title track and others it’s not grabbing me, but it’s a damn fine album overall. Really look forward to hearing these new songs live and how powerful they will come across. Once again Blood Red Saints have shown that they are one of the better and more interesting Melodic Rock bands in the UK and this group of songs will hopefully just add to their legion of fans.

Review: Flotsam And Jetsam – The End Of Chaos

AFM Records (January 18th 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

In many ways Flotsam and Jetsam are not only one of the heavyweights of the Thrash Metal, a band during 90’s for me far ahead of their time but also one that has so often been underrated in the genre. Something that has perhaps become quite a common thread in reviews I write, but something that could again hold back an album like this is the current need for immediacy in music, and perhaps to a certain extent the older generation that see’s their free time reduced and therefore the ability to sit and properly listen to music is no longer there, this again is an album you need to live with a bit.

What we have grown to expect from this band is a more mature often melodic style of Thrash, well written songs and it’s always most importantly tight as hell and Metal. The band have always had one of the more original sounding vocalists in Erik A.K, and that is still true today. To have existed as a band for 38 years is no easy feat in itself, and there has been a fair share of ups and downs, but to continue to make albums of this quality is a great sign of the hard work they continue to put in. Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks it just continues to grow on me, the songs stay fresh and I haven’t wanted to put it down, it’s on constant rotation as I travel around the City and that is never a bad sign.

Of the eleven tracks on offer here you will be grabbed by the power of ‘Control‘ which is just class, everything in proportion, pounding drums, screaming guitars and a layering that just drives it all home, there’s a nice anger in Erik’s vocal delivery on this one too that fits perfectly to the tune. Alongside this we’ve got other highlights including ‘Demolition Man‘ which a really nice bass line, spitting guitars, it’s another no holds barred track and ‘Unwelcome Surprise‘ which just smashes you right in the face and keeps going, pacey, crunchy goodness. Going to be really interesting what they pick from this album to their live set as there are many options.

This is another excellent release from a band that never really went away but appear to have become totally reinvigorated in recent years, there’s power, control and just some really excellent tracks that have translated brilliantly in the live environment. F&J will be hitting the UK in March with Overkill and again in July for the Amplified Festival. Do yourself a favour and get this one, if you are a fan of Thrash, heavy music or just good music, this is one that is sure to satisfy a lot more than just old school fans. Top stuff from a band all too often referred to as the one Jason Newsted left to go to Metallica, they have continued to be relevant in a scene where so many of their peers lost the creative spark many years ago. 2019 sees a band with a great lineup that seems to be working so well together, creatively and live, plenty more to come from this band.

Next up for their Top Ten Albums Of 2018 is reviewer / photographer Stephen Brophy.

Here, in no particular order, are his choices.

The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric

Maverick – Cold Star Dancer

Midnite City – There Goes The Neighborhood

Sari Schorr – Never Say Never

Ben Poole – Anytime You Need Me

Primordial – Exile Amongst The Ruins

Alien Weaponary – Tü

Creye – Creye

Airrace – Untold Stories

Myles Kennedy – Year Of The Tiger

Review: White Widdow – Victory

AOR Heaven (October 19th 2018)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

White Widdow return with a new album ‘Victory‘ out on the AOR Heaven label and the follow up to 2016’s ‘Silhouette‘, the Aussie melodic rockers are becoming more prolific as the years pass and that’s no bad thing. Brothers Xavier and Jules are once again heading affairs alongside the excellent Enzo who’s guitar work all over this album is up to the usual exemplary standard. With the now super solid backdrop of Ben (bass) and Gavin (drums) we get a unit that works so smoothly together, it’s great to see and hear.

The musical style here is very much AOR/Melodic Rock, and they are damn good at crafting quality classic rock songs, always full of melodies and hooks, and as you’d expect really strong soaring guitar solos and at times really punchy keyboards, just take a listen to ‘America‘ pops right up and attempts to raise your arms in the air.

Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks some of my first impressions now seem quite wide of the mark, and that’s something that worries me in the modern age, how many albums get passed on if a song doesn’t immediately bowl you over, living with music in your head and heart for a while is always a good idea, and this is another one worth allowing to sink in.

Of the ten here the highlights are undoubtedly the single ‘Second Hand Heart‘ which is just a cracking song, the title track ‘Victory‘ that opens affairs is another and  magic of ‘Danced In The Moonlight‘ which for me has a bit of a Rick Springfield into, as everywhere else Xavier’s keyboards are such an integral part of the music, and it’s the same with all of the instruments here, everything gets warmly wrapped around each other, and all for the greater good of the sound, this song is just beautiful five minutes and forty seconds of pure class.

Perhaps initially I thought more fast paced tracks in the mix here somewhere would add a little something, but no, the mix is great and this is another really good album from White Widdow, the band are as solid as ever, Jules is sounding great and the songs once again are very well written and put together, there is a maturity covering this one and it should go down well in all corners.  Another one to get stuck into in what seems to be a strong end to a strong year for Melodic Rock.

Review: Midnite City –There Goes The Neighbourhood

AOR Heaven (October 19th 2018)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

There is a reality here that I still can’t quite get my head around, Midnite City have only been on the Melodic scene for a little over a year, the debut Album launch took place in Nottingham last October and it was one of the best Melodic Rock releases of 2017, and here we stand 12 months later and they have rapidly built up a very loyal following, this reviewer included, but that’s all down to the quality of the songs released to date. This band are certainly not going to rest on their laurels and album number two is an absolute cracker.

The musical style here is very much melodic hard rock, there’s a massive 80’s feel to it but it also has a modern feel, and just like its predecessor the backing vocals throughout are outstanding, it’s not just that they are there it’s where they are brought in and how good they are that makes the difference. Musically the guys are top notch, fluid beautiful guitar from Miles all the way through, Shawn’s keyboards that enhance the overall sound, such a rock solid backline of Pete (Drums) and Josh (Bass), the band has elevated the great work they produced on the first album and taken it to the next level.

Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks it has been difficult to swap to other music on my players, and it still demands more listening. Of the eleven tracks you just get the feeling that they were put together to bring out a different emotion, it’s not all party music, but still pretty upbeat throughout.

Any album you listen to and more tracks push their way to the front of your mind when listening, is one worth holding onto as it’s going to keep getting better and this is one, right now I can’t stop listening to. ‘Heaven’s Falling‘, just wow, what a wonderful song, and in many ways it epitomises this band, Midnite City are not a nostalgic look back on 80’s Hair Metal bands, they are a living beating modern band with a hard rock engine and so much freshness about what they are doing. The closer ‘Until The End‘ is another with a bit of everything in it, ‘Tonight You’re All I Need‘ has also been hitting the spot, love the keyboards, subtle but prominent, love it.

This album grabbed me straight away and hasn’t let go, part of that was because of the first single ‘Give Me Love‘ which really is my favourite song of the year so far, so catchy and full of life, definitely made to be sung at the top of your lungs at a gig, just a cracking song. But it’s not just a couple of stand out tracks here, this is an album you can sit and enjoy listening to in it’s entirety, if you are a melodic rock fan this one should really be right up your street, great balance, production, songs just a wonderful package. The guys have done it again, without a doubt a contender for Melodic Rock Album of the year, for those lucky enough to be attending the Album Launch at the Rockingham Aftershow Party on the 19th, have an amazing time, it’s a brilliant album.

Review: HRH Sleaze II – Day 101-09-2018

O2 Academy, Sheffield

Review : Stephen Brophy

Photography : Stephen Brophy 

The Idol Dead (Acoustic)

HRH Festivals generally have some special Acoustic Sets on for VIP/Royalty Ticket holders, and Sleaze II is no exception. These sets are short and fun, and The Idol Dead work this perfectly, it’s a touch of genius to get the crowd to whisper responses rather than sing them at the top of their lungs, crowd love them and it’s very hard not to, really made me look forward to the full electric set to come.

Psychobabylon  (Acoustic)

Don’t know why but this acoustic set just didn’t do much for me at all, but even with that I was already sure that the full set was going to be a much different animal. Sometimes bands with slightly more aggressive vocal delivery and acoustic sets just don’t mix and for these ears it wasn’t happening this time around.

The Idol Dead

The room was already close to full when the guys returned to the stage and they were up to speed from the first note, this band is just full of energy, more than your fair share of smiles and an attitude that is infectious. They’ve got the crowd eating out of their hand from the first track, the upbeat punky delivery is great, but the songs stick with you from first listen, and that’s a great thing for any band.

Then you have the band themselves, damn they work hard, whether it’s Polly hanging out of the ceiling, or the guys getting each side of the room to sing off against the other, they are engaging, fun, a bloody cracking band, the songs are not only catchy but strong, opening Stage2 at a Festival seems like a bit of a waste of their talents, lets home next time out they are over on the larger one, would love to see this band with the space and larger crowd to work with, the enjoyment would only be amplified, having said that it was awesome to see these guys in a smaller setting just killing it. Follow that. 

Psychobabylon

One of the bands on the bill this weekend that I hadn’t managed to see before, but had seen listed on Festival lineups before, in fact they played last years Sleaze Festival on the same stage.

Definitely a big difference for me between their acoustic and plugged in sets, they let loose a bit more, there’s quite a few mixed styles here, they are heavy with screaming solos, but a punk element in there, add in a slight Gothy feel to the delivery too, there’s certainly enough heads moving in the middle of the crowd, and the Leeds outfit are going down well in this early afternoon slot. Certainly different to most of what’s on offer this weekend. 

Speed Stroke

Italian Rockers Speed Stroke came out and attacked Stage 2, no messing around, just there to power their way through the set, and it was terrific. Perhaps taking a number of those in attendance a little by surprise, this opening with ‘Sick Of You‘ this band is not only musically excellent, they have a tonne of power, there’s a nice speed to it all that gets your head moving straight away, and in Jack (Giacomo) they have a great frontman and singer, the backing vocals throughout are also very impressive, but the songs just seem to fly by in this 9 song set, that’s how good it is, if people hadn’t seen them before I am sure they walked away from the stage impressed and ready check out the guys online when they get home.

Honestly I don’t think the stage was big enough for these guys, they looks like they were a little confined and would not have been out of place at all on the main stage. There’s a brashness to their music, whether you call it hard rock, sleaze, metal or glam is irrelevant these guys are terrific, if you get the chance to see them do, they don’t disappoint, Michael and Bassa’s furios twin guitar attack is great and all backed up by the power of Gabriele and Andrea on Bass and Drums respectively, you can tell these guys have learned their craft well and that little bit of added punch. 

Midnite City

This is a band that have rapidly built up a strong following and reputation, isn’t not surprising when you consider the main protagonists here are Roby Wylde (Tigertailz) and Pete Newdeck (Newman, Tainted Nation, Eden’s Curse) and also that they released one of the strongest Melodic Rock albums of the year last year, they show no signs of slowing down this juggernaut. The set is made up mainly from songs off that excellent debut album and sprinkled with some new tracks from the soon to be released, and excellent, ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood‘ album.

What’s most engaging about this band live is that the songs pick you up and carry you along with them and you can see the joy in the faces of the band as they play. Tracks like ‘We Belong‘ and ‘Summer Of Our Lives‘ have become impossible for me not to sing along to in a very short period of time, a melodic soundtrack for sure, and then the new single hits you ‘Give Me Love‘, the track has been spinning around the head for weeks but now I’ve heard it live that’s it, addicted, love that song already.

For the first band on the main stage today the crowd is very big, and very responsive, but how could they not be, another terrific set and a hell of a way to kick off the main stage. These guys are going places, and it’s brilliant to be along this trip for the ride, Midnite City will no doubt be higher up the bill in the future. 

The Senton Bombs

When you have a Drummer that literally takes the roof off on his own then you already have a massive step up for a starting point. Missed the start of the set with shooting the band on the main stage but managed to get in and catch some of the energy these guys emit.

Really enjoyed what I heard from the and they also really got the crowd going which is great to see on the smaller stage, another band that don’t conform to the standard formula. 

Last Great Dreamers

Next up on Stage 1 were Last Great Dreamers who have now become a regular fixture on the HRH Festival scene, and they always put in a really good set. For me the band has gotten stronger over the last few years and they are really tight now and that showed in the sizeable crowd in front of the stage.

From the mix of Rock ‘N’ Roll with a kind of Indie feel to some of the songs, it has certainly gives them an original sound that still sounds fresh today. The set is made up of tracks from the beginning through to the releases since their reincarnation, the guys always put on a great show. 

Coyote Mad Seeds

This 3 piece were absolutely new to me and to be honest they were one of the bands that just didn’t seem to fit this Festival. Not that there was anything wrong with how or what they played, it just didn’t seem to work, certainly to these old ears.

Personally I like the kind of stuff they played, I just don’t think it went down so well at this particular Festival. Definitely added to my radar though and will hopefully catch them again. 

Wildheart

WOW, is that enough to say for this 5 piece Hard Rock band ? Belgium’s Wildheart absolutely nailed it from the start to the end of the set and included possibly the best Whitesnake cover I have heard to date, and it all looked so effortless. Frontman Farty really is a class act and the band are so bloody tight, it’s proper Hard Rock, high pitched vocal delivery and I love it. Had really been looking forward to seeing this band and they were just class, and from the reaction of the crowd, which built as the set progressed they would be a welcome return to these shores anytime.

From the excellent ‘Lovehunter‘ through ‘Get Up (Fight Back)‘ and ‘Never Let Go‘ this band mixes their own energetic music with the influences that I loved, Crue, Dokken, Whitesnake, they sounded big, have a party vibe and that puts a smile on your face when watching them, add to that the excellent twin guitar attack of Wouter and Thomas, as I looked around the venue there were lots of smiling faces, and that’s never a bad sign.  Not always a fan of bands doing covers during Festival Sets, but if you are going to do it you better do it well, and damn do the do it well, ‘Still Of The Night‘ is far too recognisable to make a mess of, but they do a brilliant job, it’s the vocal that grabs me so much, there’s a confidence in the delivery that puts you at ease. Great set, cracking band. 

Jetboy

 

To mark this band off my Bucketlist was one thing, but for them to play an absolutely killer set and be up there loving every minute of it, well that’s god be enough for everyone. Add to that the fact that the tracks off their soon to be released new album are so damn strong, having heard the new single ‘Born To Fly‘ quite a bit in recent weeks it was going to be interesting to hear how it came across live, and bloody hell it was so damn good, that was enough in itself to have me excited to hear the rest of the album.

Of course for a lot of people, me included tonight, what they want to hear is material from early albums ‘Feel The Shake‘ and ‘Damned Nation‘ with the balance tonight coming from the latter, and they deliver in spades. The set has a really good balance, and although I think the majority of the packed venue are really interested to see the band by the end of the set they could easily have played for longer, it’s kinda crazy to think this is the bands first visit to the UK, but they are welcome visitors.

Evil‘ has always been one of my favourite tracks, and it’s just brilliant, a sultry track that is perhaps a little less brash than a lot of their other output, but it fits in tonight so well, there’s so much attitude on that stage, particularly from frontman Mickey Finn and guitarist Ferne Rod and the calm is brought by Billy Rowe, it’s brilliant to watch, Mickey simply owns the stage, there’s a snarl there that makes it all the better, but something I will take away from this set more than anything is the humble demeanor he brings when addressing the audience on how happy and thankful they are to be here. The band are so tight, they have obviously been working really hard and this for me is one of those sets you are just so happy to have seen, they need to come back again as this was just a taster, more I needed, definitely one of the bands of the weekend.

LA Guns

Last time I caught the LA Guns live was at HRH AOR last year, and something on the day just didn’t grab me, and I was definitely in the minority, but tonight well that certainly wasn’t the case, they blew me away. What a cracking setlist for a start, really strong and then there’s the band, Tracii was on fire, and loving every minute of it, which is a joy to watch. But the real proof of the pudding is always in the crowd reaction to a set, and that’s why, at least for part of any of these sets I tend to move to the side of the venue to check out how the crowd are reacting to what’s happening on stage, and for LA Guns from the front to the back of the venue there is singing, fist pumping and just a general feeling of joy.

There was no doubt that tonight the crowd would have stayed for as long as the band played. Phil and Tracii are making a lot of fans really happy and long may they continue to do so. There are a tonne of highlights tonight, Tracii’s guitar tone being one, he just sounds majestic, but the band are such a solid unit these days and it’s great to see Adam Hamilton back in the band playing guitar. When you have a large back catalog to choose from picking the set for a Festival Headline slot is not all that easy, especially when you want to showcase some of the newer material, but that’s fine for this band as last years ‘The Missing Piece‘ was excellent and really well received, so the inclusion of 3 tracks is no surprise the highlight being the brooding ‘The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain‘.

It’s quite obvious from looking around that a lot of people are here for the headliners, and this is most definitely a worth Headline slot, they could play anything tonight everything has just slotted into place nicely. Take your pick from a list of classics, they are just sounding great tonight, but standing out are ‘I Wanna Be Your Man‘, ‘One More Reason‘ and a crunching version of ‘Malaria‘. Closing out the set with the wonderful ballads ‘Crystal Eyes‘ which is so haunting and ‘The Ballad Of Jayne‘ plus classic rocker ‘Rip And Tear‘ has the crowd screaming for more, a packed house and a great performance, what more can you ask for.

Track list:

The Devil Made Me Do It

Electric Gypsy

No Mercy

Over The Edge

Kiss My Love Goodbye

Sex Action

The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain

Speed

I Wanna Be Your Man

One More Reason

Helleaisers Ball

Malaria

Encore –

Crystal Eyes

Never Enough

The Ballad Of Jayne

Rip And Tear

What a brilliant way to finish the opening night of a Sleaze Rock Festival, the Guns on top form first note to last, every band not only putting in 100% while on stage but loving it and plenty of interaction with the audience both while on stage and when around the venue. Roll on Day 2, but we already know this is going to be a great weekend.