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Call Of The Wild

Artists: Multiple

Venue: Lincoln, Lincolnshire Show Ground

Date: 24-26th May 2024


"Despite the weather, numbers seemed to be up on previous years, showing this festival is starting to mature and come into its own. It has still kept its wonderful friendly atmosphere, which is one of the reasons I love to come year after year."


 

Spike and Nigel Mogg of The Quireboys © Dawn Osborne
Spike and Nigel Mogg of The Quireboys © Dawn Osborne

Friday


It’s a fine, cool, bright morning and a lovely warm welcome for everyone arriving as this most friendly of festivals. After saying hello to everyone I started off by taking in We Three Kings, a misleading name, as there’s only two of them, a vocalist/guitarist and a drummer. In place of a bassist they had a full size skeleton wearing a crown. It’s straightforward Hard Rock, basic old school with a bit of a nineties influence, nuthin’ fancy, but they made a pretty loud noise for two guys.


The Heat Inc. (pronounced ‘Incorporated’) are led by a singer with thick ginger hair, slicked back Chewbacca style wearing a Mexican style poncho. His influences appear to include Ian Astbury. He has a slightly brooding attitude, punching the air frequently, with a similar deeper voice, albeit with added vibrato. There’s a Southern Rock theme with songs such as ‘Dead Pony Club’ and lyrics like “going back to Tulsa”, and also a bit of an eighties guitar based Pop Rock thing going on.


I have seen LaVire before at Call Of The Wild and their singer Chloé has undergone a bit of an image change with half of her hair now bleached and sporting schoolgirl style plaits coupled with an oversized Hawaiian shirt with a large Chinese tiger motif. They bill themselves as Alt-Grunge, but there’s a bit of Nu-Metal and Death Growl influence in what they do also. She has soaring powerful vocals, when she does sing, but as with her last performance I saw, it’s not always quite in tune. But, she has a relaxed manner and owned the stage, seemingly confident like an old hand, being quite engaging with the crowd.


I caught a little Big Iron on the smaller trailblazer stage in the tent where they are entertaining a fair number of people with a cover of Van Halen’s ‘Hot For Teacher’. Before I went they played an original with a Funky Led Zeppelin feel that they announced is the first song they’re gonna release. They are diverse looking band with a guy with a black Mohican on bass, a guitarist with curly hair in a Rick Allen style with a Def Leppard T-shirt, and a singer looking like a Sk8r Boi with nineties influences too. They got a massive cheer at the end.


I went back to the main stages where someone in an inflatable T-Rex costume and a group of Vikings in full costume with axes have arrived, starting a festival vibe. They had come to see Until 9 who have a guitarist with bushy ginger hair and a beard half Crystal Tipps/half Captain Caveman with a “Peace Love and Heavy Metal” slogan and rainbow motif on his vest. He made them interesting to watch as he has all the moves, constantly jumping high from the monitors and striking interesting poses to photograph. Musically, at times they reminded me a bit of System Of A Down.


Over on the Trailblazer stage I meant to catch a bit of Loz Campbell thinking I would see Alice Atkinson (The Black Bullets) on bass who is always entertaining, but no, Campbell now has an all male line up and my first impression was that it’s a lot less fun. To be completely fair I don’t get to stay long before I have to get over to the main stage for Dobermann.


Dobermann kicked off with Hard Rockin’ ‘Shaken To The Core’ and followed up with the Poppier ‘Stiff Upper Lip’, super accessible and designed to seduce people who have never heard them before. With roots in the catchiness of Punk they are now more Sunset Strip Style Metal, as befits their old school long curls, with superb sophisticated Van Halen-like guitar solos from Valerio Ricciardi. Vocalist Paul Del Bello engaged the crowd after ‘I Need A Holiday’, talking about the British weather before getting them to sing along with the “Who-ahs” in ‘Summer Devil’. He told the crowd he is proud to be on the Kilmister stage, because it was hearing Motörhead that made him decide to do music for life. The band launched into some Punky Rock ‘n’ Roll and the party atmosphere instantly increased: the Vikings started running up and down together banging their axes on their shields in time to the music.


The band turned to a bit of Boogie with fast twiddly solos, before the drum solo for which the crowd clapped, putting the lie to the perceived wisdom that crowds don’t like drum solos. They did not forget the theatrics, following a brilliant guitar solo in the headbanger ‘Pure Breed’ Ricciardi and Del Bello played a game pretending to confer to choose which audience member to target and miming getting the kick back from shooting several audience members one after one like snipers. They invited people to meet them at the merch stand before the funky bass start to ‘Rock Steady’ with synchronised guitar moves and kicks and an audience singalong. By now people were dancing, including a couple of men dressed in gold lamé from head to toe. Del Bello expressed his respect for the UK before launching into another headbanger, ‘War Thunder’. to which the Vikings went crazy. Del Bello did a quick bit of fire eating as a flourish and it’s all over, bar the Van Halen cover ‘Hot For Teacher’. Quality musicianship, plus a sense of showmanship meant Dobermann was the first band to get the party really started.


But this seems to be catching, as over in the Trailblazer tent a smaller crowd was also on fire, whipped up into a frenzy due to the antics of Harsh from Paris, very much also Sunset Strip Hard Rock complete with Glammy dyed streaked hair and black Spanish hats over big blonde hair and leopard print a la early Taime Downe. I arrived as they were doing a cover of ‘Johnny Be Good’ and it’s great Rock ‘n’ Roll fun. They were on the barrier hand-slapping the adoring crowd. There’s a queue of people at the merch desk flushed with that glow of having watched a great show enthusiastically singing the band’s praises. I’d say they are good bets for the main stage next time. I wished I had seen it all and will try to make a full set in the future.


She Burns Red have had a dramatic change of line up after the departure of their singer a week before the festival, due to a row over a Facebook post (as I am told by one of the crowd). No more Mohican and kilt on their frontman, the existing bass player has taken over vocals and a new bassist was found to fill in. It changed the sound of the band, which is less Punky and raw and more polished commercial Rock as a result. I think their version of ‘Crosshairs’ was improved by the change. It might be a little less interesting visually, but perhaps to make up for this they got Beth Blade in for the finale to help sing Don Henley’s ‘Boys Of Summer’. The man in gold lamè was now running around shaking a large inflatable rooster at people and shouting stuff, I can only imagine what he is saying about its size and am rather relieved I can’t hear.


The Scarlet Rebels are wall to wall commercial hits, so they’re a great choice for a festival band, with the antics of Chris Jones with his striking crimson footwear providing the showmanship to boot (see what I did there). After ‘I’m Alive’, ‘Take Me Home’ and ‘Take My Breath Away’ there’s a little girl pulling the ears on her white fluffy bunny hat alternately on each side in time to the music, underlining that this is wholesome family fun. Great songs like ‘Save Me’ and ‘Take Me High’, blistering guitar solos and good crowd engagement including a master class in clapping when “double parked” (slang in Welsh for having a drink in each hand) were the order of the day. If it’s a way of assessing how the band were doing, the Vikings were running up and down banging their axes on shields and doing synchronised circular axe swinging over their heads.


And the old favourites the Quireboys are back with original members Spike and Nigel Mogg. Starting off with first single off the forthcoming new album ‘Jeeze Louise’, they are indeed keeping Rock ‘n’ Roll alive. With Luke Morley (Thunder) on guitar and Simon Hanson (Squeeze) on drums they are tight, while still being loose, the perfect combination. On stage Luke Morley took a bit of a back seat, he is guesting while Thunder is on hiatus. If only the same could be said for Simon Hanson, ha ha (I imagined Spike saying that – do read on). The indispensable Honky Tonk keys came from Willie Dowling. The eighteen song set was mostly from the first album, a few from the second, but also featured five great new songs showing that they will be a recording band and won’t just be resting on their laurels. During the line “You’ll always be my friend” Spike had his arm around Nigel’s shoulders and never was a truer word spoken. ‘Raining Whiskey’ written by Frankie Miller and the new single was up next. Despite not being written by the Quireboys, it fits right into their repertoire seamlessly with the same Honky Tonk piano beloved of the band’s classics. Back to one such song, Spike was already getting the crowd to sing along to ‘Whippin’ Boy’ while Mogg encouraged them with his arm up and bass above his head.


Spike is a natural wag and his opening gambit was “It’s so nice to be back in Lincolnshire, have we even been in Lincolnshire before? ..We are in Lincolnshire .. and it’s a Saturday night” Nigel just shook his head and they launched into ‘Tramps And Thieves’. It’s good time Rock ‘n’ Roll and for that you don’t need to know what day it is. Hanson is more than happy to banter with Spike and when goaded with ‘How many times have you been on TOTP?” He answers ‘More than you Spike”. Hanson’s answer to Spike’s “He was in the audience with Jimmy Saville” was “I’m too young to know who that is”. When Spike continued “We’re no longer allowed to throw drum sticks out into the audience” Hanson deadpanned “It’s called recycling”. The mix in the band felt comfortable where banter can be shared and enjoyed.


Whilst he’s having a chat Spike announced the new album ‘Wardour Street’, saying “It’s politically incorrect, don’t go mental on us.” It’s the intro to new song ‘I Think I Got It Wrong Again’ which is smoochy, seventies, kinda Glam Rock ‘n’ Roll. Lucky for us they are not messing with the formula. It’s not Disco Jazz and that’s the way we like it. They’ve always been a heritage band and, thank God, they always will be. The gig’s already cooking and Spike’s doing the reverse spoon with Nigel back to back and tossing his mike in the air, like he just doesn’t care. Nigel was concentrating on the rhythm nodding forward and backward Angus style. Morley contributed a lovely Bluesy solo and it’s noticeably passionate, no doubt as it is his, having done the new album with the boys.


When Hanson dared to venture another comment Spike quipped “Who the f*ck gave you a mike? The drummer never gets a mike”. The retort was “I brought my own”. Mogg added “Alright Vyvyan” and Hanson does indeed bear a passing resemblance to Ade Edmonson in ‘The Young Ones’. In ‘Ode To You (Baby Just Walk)’ we got another blistering Blues solo from Morley, Spike was getting it on, shaking his ass at the audience and when he tried to put his arm around Mogg, Mogg was hyper-actively pulling to the side like a little kid. Everyone is in the zone. Spike gave a tribute to dearly departed friend Guy Bailey and others such as Pete Way before ‘King Of New York’. This slower song was another chance to showcase Morley’s beautifully rich guitar tone.


In new Stones-y song ‘Happy’ Dowling’s Honky Tonk piano came to the fore again. It’s Mogg’s turn to waggle his ass and when Spike mischievously pinched it Mogg playfully, but firmly bumped him away. Spike began band introductions and finished with “I haven’t got a f*ckin clue whose on the drums, but give him a yee-hah” before ‘Roses And Rings’. ‘There She Goes Again’ was introduced as “the first single .. what’s our first single?”. Nigel adds with mock absent mindedness “…What did we come in here for?” Spike announced dramatically “I’m knackered”, before showing he is not out of puff by enthusiastically playing the mouth organ. He has been launching his mike stand around high in the air for pretty much the whole set as if it’s as light as a feather and is definitely not slowing down.


For ‘7 O’clock’ the whole crowd was singing this familiar much loved song. Spike sang the full lyric “dirty device”, something he stopped doing before the reunion of original members. It is indeed back to the old days. Hanson’s now filming proceedings. I was delighted that they played ‘Mayfair’, my favourite, and so is the crowd. The band finished with ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’. A delightful end to the day which felt like an evening with old friends and a party all in one. It’s great to see Spike and Mogg back together, fantastic entertainment and a great headliner. What a day!


Saturday


Ransom’s reputation clearly precedes them, as although they were the first band on at 11.30am on the main stage, they had a packed and eager crowd waiting. Matt Fielder on vocals is just one of those gregarious people that loves being on stage and his jokes came thick and fast “We used to be a pub band till last week, we changed our mind”. It’s no mean feat that they had lots of people waiting, as there was a strong smell of manure in the air which apparently sometimes happens if the wind blows the wrong way. When I arrived it was so bad that my taxi driver said “OMG – where are you going?” Fielder made light of it “Ignore the smell of horse shit .. or anything else you might be smelling” and with fair do’s to him, I soon did. Ransom are tongue in cheek, meat and potatoes style Rock with song topics including jealousy and the instant classic(!) ‘Even Nuns Watch Porn’. Despite the latter they announced that they are “a band of the people for the people” and sang happy birthday to a little girl, which fitted in with the family atmosphere of this particular festival. The last song was ‘Back To The Boozer’ with lyrics about ready salted crisps and chatting up the barmaid, and was a tad Motörhead. It might not be Shakespeare, but it’s entertaining and a perfect start to another fun day. At the end Fielder asks “Who has seen us before?” And then followed up with a grin “who will see us again?” But I could honestly say I would, very happily.


Next up are The Wicked Jackals, a band I really enjoy for their AC/DC style vocals and catchy songs. I have only seen them on smaller stages before, and it’s good to see singer Ollie Tindall have room to kick and do a few more moves on stage. It’s lunchtime and the crowd didn’t seem to know them, so when they start there were only a few people in the audience, but Tindall’s voice is strong (deeper than you would think looking at him) and it called more people from across the site as the show goes along like the Pied Piper. It’s the new line up with “Rex” on guitar and “Matt” on drums, and it sounded good. Things may have gone a bit awry in the middle of the cover of Tina Turner’s ‘Nutbush City Limits’, leading Tindall to announce “I don’t know if you noticed but that was a bit of a jam track”, but since Tindall and Lex Gifford on bass both tour with Chris Holmes and the Mean Men, they are experienced enough to just laugh it off and keep calm and carry on. There’s humour in their vocals and an honest attitude in their songs including “a bad excuse is better than none” and they are your typical blokes. They played a few new songs, ‘The Hell In My Mind Every Day’ and another one ‘Do You Want It?’ which, as a fish for one night stands is pretty blatant, but hey it’s pretty much the attitude of a lot of single guys, even if it’s not particularly PC and could have been written by AC/DC in the seventies. One of the crowd shouts something that sounds like “F*ck Off”, but it turns out it’s not aimed at the band. Honest as always, Tindall says “For a minute I thought, “that was the most blatant heckle I’ve ever had”, my heart skipped a beat, I can’t be that bad” but he needn’t have worried they’re really good. I think, indeed, that they should have been higher up the bill. Maybe they just need to work more on getting the word out about the band. They finished with ‘Scream’ which I think is their best song. They can be proud of a good set, despite the Tina Turner cock up.


Star Circus seemed to be missing one guitarist with their keyboard player filling in the slot. The net result is their stuff was more Poppy than usual, not a bad thing for a commercial Rock band. Dave Winkler on vocals and Sophie Young on bass are a real life couple and always work well together. I don’t think it’s a permanent decision to go without a lead guitarist though, and so this gig probably should be seen as a one off while they work on getting their permanent guitarist in place. Watch this space.


The vocalist of Haxan, Sam Bolderson, had apparently broken a finger and yet she is still playing guitar and they still sounded good, a strong example of female Metal. She was obviously in pain though. It’s the first time I have seen them and, at first I thought she was a bit emo, until I realised why she was grimacing and holding herself. It’s not surprising that, nursing her finger, she was not that active on stage. Bassist Harriet Wadeson, like a good Valkyrie, did everything she could to hold the fort, engaging the crowd and doing all the stage moves centre stage till the end, making sure that, despite everything, they are also an entertaining watch. I look forward to seeing them again when Bolderson is recovered.


I catch a little bit of Nasty Ratz on the Trailblazer stage. They are from Prague and the singer with two black stripes across his eye, red streaks in his hair and his long lean frame has the look of one of a Czech wooden marionette, a jester or pierrot. Unfortunately, shortly after I arrived, the bassist broke a string which leads to a bit of an interlude, but they keep the audience in place with a bit of chat about where they are from and their merch. Sound wise they are a bit eighties Sunset Strip and definitely have a bit of a Glam air with zebra trousers etc. I would see them again.


Back to the big stages and I watched Sam Millar while eating. His material is circular rhythmed and slightly Nickleback-y, about basic stuff like Levis. Any mistakes, they joked, were due to slippy strings because of the rain. I didn’t notice any mistakes, nor did they evoke any strong feelings in me.


Confess from Sweden already had a lot of fans in the audience who knew the songs and they had a healthy crowd from the off. John Elliot’s voice sounded strong and true and songs like ‘Day Before I Go’ reminded me a bit of Skid Row. Elliot called the crowd “Beautiful Motherf*ckers” which made the lady collecting rubbish in her beanie hat smile. She came up and said “Who are they? Are they American?”. I told her. The band had clearly impressed her. The band opened a beer into the microphone with its characteristic whoosh saying “English People love that sound”. Elliot jumped around the stage, climbing the PA at the side of the stage more than once and launching himself off risers etc. They finished with Tina Turner’s ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’. It must have been heavy as the crowd started moshing. Despite the rain they kept their audience, which can be no finer endorsement.


Next up is the wonderful showman Rocky Shades and Wrathchild, still with the same line up with new guitarist Bret Patrucci on guitar and Oz Paul, Johnny Suicide and Gaz Wilde completing the team. Shades had a new microphone which is built onto a toy pistol, so while it looks cool, it looked like he might be about to blow his head off when he sang, a fact of which he is not unaware. They brought their super catchy, unashamedly ladsy, Glam ‘n’ Roll. It’s the fortieth anniversary of ‘Stakk Attakk’ and they started off with that very track. They introduced a few new tracks into the set, one called coincidentally (yeah right) ‘Call Of The Wild’, ‘Sad Enuf 2 Care’ which I suspect is about the wrangling between the original members, and the already released single ‘Still Here In The Freakshow’. For ‘Trash Queen’ they got all the crowd singing. Dragging the floor fan around on stage, even though it is raining, Shades is building up to the gag “I am giving all my guitarists a blow job at the same time”. During ‘Sweet Surrender’ he began thrusting his hips with a bigger thrust to punctuate the final note of each line, particularly at his wife Julie. It’s raining and he shouted to the crowd “How can you not be having a good time when you’re wet?” It’s old school Wrathchild “Carry On” fun and I loved it. The last song is, of course, ‘(Na Na) Nukklear Rokkett’ and the steampunk Bazooka came out with a burst of coloured confetti. It seemed to me that their set went by in five minutes and it was the best band of the day.


Bad Touch with their whiskey voiced Southern Rock gave us a solid performance, a little bit Black Crowes at times, with soulful Blues playing. Whilst I am not that familiar with their material I enjoyed their set. They did a great cover of Alanis Morisette’s ‘Hand In My Pocket’. They are peace loving men and have a chilled hippy vibe.


South Of Salem brought their roster of Classic Rock with a dark theme, accompanied by cheerleaders with a twist. They had, and kept, one of the biggest crowds of the festival and had loads of pyro, despite the lashing rain. I enjoyed their songs, many of which are well known now like ‘Pretty Little Nightmare’ and ‘Cold Day In Hell’, and they do have new material like ‘Villain’ which was pretty instantly accessible and fitted in well to the set.


Lost Society from Finland were an unknown quantity to me. It’s their first UK festival. They brought the visual impact with extensive pyro and a charismatic frontman Samy Elbanna covered in tattoos, and so while it’s not exactly my cup of tea, they kept my attention till the end. He informed the crowd that he’s only nearly set himself alight five times tonight “which is pretty good” as things go. It’s quite aggressive with death growls and people started a circle mosh. They did a decent cover of the Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ which, of course, Marilyn Manson covered and he is certainly one of their influences. There’s a song called ‘Suffocating’ which is about when Elbanna was contemplating suicide which is a bit of an epic. They also had a section in the middle which was old school headbanging Metal, joking “we used to be a real Metal band before we sold out”. They were clearly headliner material. A pretty entertaining show, even though it was not really my thing.


Sunday


First thing we enjoyed bright and fine weather, but thunder was forecast. In fact, we may all have been extremely lucky overall, as we didn’t see any thunder across the whole day, but there was quite a bit of rain later on, alternating with the sun cracking the flags. I don’t think I have worn a coat with a cagoule on top and then had to strip off down to one layer as I am too hot, quite so often, ever. It does mean, however, that no band was absolutely deluged like South Of Salem the day before, so in some ways the weather was better than the day before.


Walking The Angels brought their commercial single Rock with a chirpy frontman whose spunky attitude got the audience going (with bad jokes such as calling their blonde guitarist a man who runs away from bears, “Goldilocks”). There were some men in the audience dressed in spandex and wigs as cheerleaders who threw their pom poms on stage at the end. The bands parting shot was “I thought you were going to throw your knickers”.


Kit Trigg on the main stage is a sk8r boi offering a bit of Rap Rock. He seemed like a really nice genuine guy, but after a bit it started to rain and I went back to the stage in the tent.


Empty Accents are a baby band on the Trailblazer stage who look so young. The main singer has that that seventies “fanny parting” shoulder length hair that made me think he might even still be at school. The guitarist is obviously a metaller with a battle vest and a white blood splatter effect Flying V. He is stick thin with waist length strawberry blonde hair and can really shred. He reminded me of a young Zakk Wylde: he has the look of a boy that might go far. The audience recognised his talent and the band got huge cheers. He even sang a bit and, although he sounds a little flat, there’s something a bit Ozzy about his voice. They did a cover of ‘Slither’ and he replicated Slash’s solo really well. He ran into the audience and got on the barrier, showing a willingness to engage with the audience which also augurs well. I look forward to seeing where he ends up, I think there is a future there, although he is probably not yet in the right band, no disrespect intended to the others: it looks like it’s the first band for all of them.


The rain has been deluging, but Slyder Smith lucked out as it cleared up pretty well as soon as he got on stage, indeed as he pointed out “it’s tropical now, see the stream rising off the stage, who needs dry ice”. He has gone grey since I last saw him and now he has the look of an elder statesmen like Kenny Rogers, emphasized by a large white Stetson. Whilst they still did their Dogs D’amour and Last Great Dreamers stuff including ‘Oblivion Kids’ to finish, there was some newer, more Skiffle-y material. He also jested that they have slowed down the Last Great Dreamers song ‘Crash Landing In Teenage Heaven’ “that’s life … now we’re nearly thirty” and it is now very Dog’s D’amour. They did their cover of ‘Never Ending Story’ which was unashamedly introduced as eighties Pop, and a cover of Hanoi Rocks’ ‘Malibu Beach’ which got pretty much everybody in the crowd singing and bopping.


I popped into the tent and caught the last couple of songs of Not Now Norman fronted by Taylor Grace, a very striking girl with a crimson, Aztec style, huge feather headdress. She has her dad in the band ‘Zander’. She apparently started singing as she could not get a job due to PTSD. She has a powerful voice with a tremolo, a little like a bird actually: she can sing low as well as high with a great range. She was so good I offered her a spontaneous interview, something I have never done before, and she’s a lovely girl too.


Hush Money are from the USA and were providing solid Southern Rock, but maybe because of the rain and, with them not immediately grabbing me for anything distinctive, I went back into the tent and saw some Bang Bang Firecracker, a Biker Heavy Metal band who are doing a cover of Motörhead’s ‘Killed By Death’. They also did a couple of originals while I was there, ‘Diamonds And Dirt’ and “Father Genocide’. Perhaps because of the weather they got a bigger audience than some of the main stage bands.


The Takeaway Thieves are Hard Rock with a touch of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a front man with a Native American two feather headdress and a guitarist with a Dregen fetish who was pretty entertaining with his slightly crazy stage moves, not unlike the Native American chicken dance. It’s right up my street and I stay for the whole set.

Sons Of Liberty seem to have changed their singer since the last time I saw them, now featuring a short haired, younger guy. They still have a Southern Rock western theme and some decent soulful guitar solos and shreds. I paid as much attention as I could while getting something to eat.


I managed to take in a couple of songs from the headliners of the Trailblazer stage, Crowley. It’s screamingly loud Heavy Metal with a slightly satanic theme. They seemed to be ruling the stage.


Daxx And Roxanne did some faster Rockier numbers and some quite slow trippy songs with mouth organ. Their guitarist kept things interesting by jumping over the other members of his band, including from the top of the PA.


These Wicked Rivers were sheer class and I stayed for their entire set. Luckily the weather had done its worst and was pretty clear for the rest of the day. They started with the title track of their new album ‘Force Of Nature’, which is majestic live. Their well known songs were in the set, ‘Riverboat Man’, ‘Testify’ and ‘Don’t Pray For Me’ (featuring Arran Day on double neck guitar), but they really don’t have a bad song and are very easy on the ear. Day kept kicking as high as his head, making him fascinating to photographers and keeping things lively. Before ‘The Family’ frontman John Hartwell asked “who has seen the band before?” and 95 percent of the audience put up their hand. When asked who had not, only about five people put up their hands. That is testament to how good this Southern Rock band is.


The Hot Damn went for it musically and prop wise, with giant inflatable unicorns and beach balls with their faces drawn on. Crowley have finished their set and were burning incense in the audience: I have got to say it smelt wonderful. I think smells in the audience, nice ones that is, is an unchartered area that I think should be further explored. There are also confetti cannons and streamers, everything The Hot Damn could have done to create a party atmosphere as they are shooting a video. It is joyful happy Rock and the crowd did their best to participate as much as they could after three long days of, in some case, fairly hardcore partying. Singer Gill Montgomery did her version of Janis Joplin’s ‘Mercedes Benz’ with customised lyrics advertising the bands’ merch which really showcased the quality of her voice, following it up with their special Hot Damn version of Donna Summer’s ‘Hot Stuff’. They finished with ‘I Didn’t Like You Anyway’ from their forthcoming album. They were really popular and went down well, I just think the crowd were a bit tired at this stage for the crazy type of audience participation that you might like for a video.


So we made it to the final band and Danny Vaughn of Tyketto was in fine form: he really had the best voice of the entire festival, no mean feat at sixty two. His hair may be grey, but he still looks young and fit and matched the high kicking of the younger new guitarist Harry Scott Elliot. It’s the first time I have seen them with the new line up including Chris Childs (Thunder) and, unsurprisingly, given their collective experience the performance was top notch and went without a hitch, the classy Tyketto we know and love. There haven’t been any new songs since 2016 and there are no anniversaries at the moment, so it is not a set themed on any particular album (as they have been doing in recent years) but includes the old classics and songs from the latest album like ‘Reach’ and ‘Circle The Wagons’.


Conscious of how many times in interviews recently he had been asked about new music, Vaughn promised the crowd both a new Tyketto and a new solo album next year, adding that he hasn’t started writing for the Tyketto one yet. Highlights included ‘Wings’ which came up early in the set and was a big audience sing along. Before ‘Standing Alone’ Vaughn said to the crowd that being on stage made him feel 25, although his knees always remind him later of his real age. Before ‘The Last Sunset’ he jested that Bon Jovi were responsible for all the New Jersey bands in the eighties thinking they were cowboys. Johnny Dee came forward during that song with a drumstick to bang on a tambourine “You guys can sing, but can you clap?” The crowd try, but they were bushwhacked by now, happy but exhausted. It’s a bit of a miracle, but there wasn’t a drop of rain all set and Vaughn said he not only feels lucky about the weather, but “lucky to be here with you”. It’s a class act to close a wonderful festival.


Despite the weather, numbers seemed to be up on previous years, showing this festival is starting to mature and come into its own. It has still kept its wonderful friendly atmosphere, which is one of the reasons I love to come year after year. Kids play happily while adults enjoy the show and I even saw toddlers dancing around to the music. Raz White, the owner, really cares about the festival and he shares similar musical taste to me, meaning ninety five percent of the line up is usually up my street. With Download going pretty much completely nineties/Nu Metal, festivals like this will become vital to preservation of the Classic Rock Scene and I will be along for the ride.


 

Review & Photos: Dawn Osborne

 

Gallery: All photos © Dawn Osborne (used with kind permission)



 


 

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