Artist: Call Of The World
Venue: Lincolnshire Showground
Date: 26-28 May 2023
Even though not every band was my cup of tea, this time I still came away refreshed, with renewed faith in human nature.
Having travelled on an early train from London, I arrived at the media centre at about 11.30am to hear strains of Mercia wafting across Lincolnshire showground. They sounded like good, commercial, straightforward, Hard Rock with catchy choruses. I never got to see them, as by the time I collected my media pass they had come off stage, but it sounded like a very good start.
Next up were Scottish band The Reinforcements, heavier with more modern Nu-Metal influences (although they have pink neon lights on their bass), they are working the crowd and get a pretty full barrier full going, no mean feat this early in the game. They had an audience punching above their weight with applause and reaction.
Leader Of Down are a band with vintage origins. They tell the crowd that they started this band with Wurzel of Motörhead and play a track that Wurzel wrote back in eighties, ‘Midnight In London’. Although their singer has a short Mohican, looking quite cosmopolitan and current, their sound is NWOBHM combined with fifties Rock ‘n’ Roll: in tracks like ‘Holloway Motel’ with great lead guitar breaks they don’t sound unlike Wrathchild. However, speedy track ‘Hitman’ from their latest album has the feel of an AC/DC vocal with a speedier delivery, like a male version of Girlschool’s ‘Race With The Devil’.
Mikey Ball And The Company, with a Grateful Dead looking drummer, have two sides to them: a sort of Ricky Warwick And The Fighting Hearts chirpy contemporary Rock and a groovy Southern Rock influence. When they get going, they even have a bit of a ‘Freebird’ vibe.
Ashen Reach from Merseyside have melodic interludes, but are the heaviest band on the bill so far, straying into the occasional death growl. They’re a friendly bunch from Merseyside, know how to work the crowd for participation, and they attract everyone from the four corners of the field to get the biggest crowd so far today. They’re not too far away from a scouse System Of A Down and appear to have a growing following, including Caz from Midlands Metalheads who is wearing their t-shirt and says they are her favourite band. Their guitarist with a long cascade of ginger dreads can do a mean screaming guitar solo in a Classic Rock vein.
Wars from the Midlands are very loud and shouty with death growls, but their guitarist does sing melodically at interludes. His voice was so good I thought it was a backing tape at first, but it was all him, so while it was overall, maybe a bit too heavy for me, there were bits that would also satisfy a Classic Rock fan.
Anti-Clone are ironically named, given their similarity to Slipknot. Once again, it’s all very growly, but their weird scarecrow/fetish lunatic/bastard son of Joker masks make good visual stuff, which makes them a good band to have on the bill as something different. They are keen to get the party started: “We have two more fuckin’ songs and then you can get more drunk.”
Marc Valentine was up next with his solo stuff, ever youthful trim figure and his elastic peripatetic legs, for a slice of Soho Rock ‘n’ Roll. Whilst his own stuff is a tiny bit more Indie, he throws in a Last Great Dreamers song ‘Which Side Are You On?’ into the set. Interestingly, since they haven’t played together for a while, he calls them his other band, as if they are still a going concern. Continental Lovers were in the audience and danced along enthusiastically. Cartwheeling his arms, Valentine seemed well and happy. With tracks like the first single off his debut solo album ‘Last Train Tonight’ and ‘Swiss Laundrette’ he brought welcome Pop Punk melodies. Joking that “After bingo in Skegness last night we wrote this new song called ‘Strange Weather’”; he is a charismatic frontman. I could have listened to a lot more. Alunah was dressed to kill in a leopard tracksuit and had a strong, excellent voice. The material was a slightly Goth in style vocal over a Rock base. “We are from Birmingham Sabbath country.” She looks great and sounds great. However, I found it more of an experience rather than individual memorable songs. She also comes across as a bit detached from the audience, sadly by the end, therefore, quite a few had drifted away.
Carry The Crown were like a Millennial boy band. The singer has got a great voice which sounds just like you imagine it would in the studio. They are local, mostly from Lincoln, with the singer, a Yorkshireman. They joke about being one of the lightest bands on the bill. “Our heaviest song is heavy like a pillow.” They are guitar based, but are really Pop not Rock. They were popular with the audience.
Troy Redfern with his slide guitar Southern Inspired Classic Rock looked amazing . I like him best at his most raw, old Black Blues sounding, such as the single ‘Fever’ and ‘Waiting For Your Love’. During last track ‘Sanctify’ he really punches his resonator to get almost Progressive space-age effects.
Ginger appeared with the Sinners with their easy going Rock ‘n’ Roll show. I would say they seem more relaxed and cohesive, no doubt after more performances together, and there is a more organic feel to their performance. They get a singalong with the crowd started early and deliver excellent quality harmonies in Quo’s ‘Dirty Water’. ‘Six Years Gone’ gave us more 12-bar Blues. Ginger is his familiar self with the crowd. “I don’t have a tuner. I don’t give a fuck, so I hope no one else does”. Ginger’s dog Maggie made an appearance and, rather gorgeously, came to the front when people called her name. “If I’d known it was that easy I’d have worn a dog collar, I still could if you give me a couple of minutes.” With material that’s becoming more familiar and finishing with ‘Not The Staying Kind’, the Georgia Satellites style ‘Arms Of Love’ and the single ‘Footprints In The Sand’, Ginger looked happy and relaxed, with the tension I have sometimes seen as he got onstage with the Wildhearts, completely absent. A man who has found his equilibrium? Looked like it to me.
It started to get dark as Kris Barras burst onto the stage, starting off with ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Dead Horses’ he is determined to make this headline slot work with everything he’s got. To “demonstrate his fantastic band” they did an extended version of Led Zep’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ with the occasional Deep Purple stanza. His accomplished Bluesy solos were there, full of tone and feeling, but I think, with a headline set time slot, he also had the time and scope to put the guitar down and demonstrate his ability to be a good frontman, using his greater mobility, hands-free to work the crowd. During the highlight of the show ‘Parade’ he jumped into the crowd and walking right to the back of the field, separating them into two groups for a sing off. He has brought his own set of fans tonight familiar with his material appreciative of his talents and made a worthy headliner.
Shadow Smile from Sheffield kicked off bright and early with ‘Signed In Blood’, the title track of their new album. Contemporary Metal with the occasional death growl and influence of popular charts, nevertheless the singer has a completely powerful siren of a voice which he could probably turn to any genre, including the best of Classic Rock. They worked the early crowd well, summoning a good number for the opening slot.
The Continental Lovers cut a dashing spectacle with the singer in a top hat and pink velvet jacket in the hot sun, but he looked fabulous. All the better to show off their particular brand of Soho influenced Glam Punk Rock. Speedy, energetic delivery and simple melodies make them an early crowd pleaser and they keep a good amount of people watching close to the stage. I was not sure about the acapella version of the pop song ‘Fill Me Up’ which is a bit dodgy, but luckily it blends quickly into an original. They are my tribe and a younger band who speaks my language, which I welcomed as more death growl bands filled up the line-up. During their set I was attached by a velociraptor, yeah you read that right - I am not the only dinosaur haunting the grounds today (there are lifesize dinosaur costumes and glove puppets amusing the crowd, especially the children). The band do a really good cover of the New York Dolls’ ‘Stole My Baby’ cover. It’s roasting hot, but incredibly the pink velvet jacket stayed on for the full set, with the frontman looking cool as a cucumber throughout.
Beth Blade has some great pipes and she let it rip, striking in a red spandex jump suit. She encouraged the crowd “to wake up those in bed drunk, so they know you are ready to rock.” She chooses the strong ‘Tonight I’m With You’ to open. ‘I Ain’t Got Nothin (If I Ain’t Got Rock ‘n’ Roll)’ keeps up the momentum, with an audience singalong, and some perfect Rock ‘n’ Roll solos. They ended with ‘Jack And Coke’ dedicated to Lemmy. They leave me thinking they are the perfect festival package. Designed to appeal to everyone while still being exceptional.
Another powerful female is up next with Circus 66, this time grounded more in Symphonic Metal bands like Nightwish. She sounds good and I’ve seen her before and know she can sing, but today for some reason she is occasionally off key, at least at the start. She comes on with a stuffed large green snake evoking symbolism of the Fall, religion, eternity, sin, danger and all that good stuff. She walks around the audience with a radio mike and that bit sounded great, maybe she got over her initial wobbles by then.
Then it’s time for no frills with the New Generation Superstars. Fast, time defying, never changing, it’s exactly what it says on the tin, Punky Rock ‘n’ Roll infused fare. They announce they have finished their new album which has taken two years, so there’s new material on the way, but with their old, but great classics they are their usual good time Rock selves.
It’s the first time I have seen Star Circus fronted by Dave Winkler, and they have more bite live, than on record. With their superb quality guitar solos and flawless performance I can see them destined for the main stage in future. With someone doubling on keyboards and rhythm guitar they pack a punch on the Trailblazer stage. With good traditional guitar-based Rock skills and everyone in the band a good singer, easily handling complex harmonies, they seem wise beyond their years musicianship-wise. They play something new, announced as the first track on the second album, which seems to be heavier. At times they are getting on for a Deep Purple vibe in heaviness and that’s the way I like it.
Fresh from the Monsters Of Rock Cruise and their London show, Lizzy DeVine’s voice is extra raw today. “My voice is shot, but I don’t give a fuck, we’ll turn this into a Black Metal show.” But they bring their energy and edgy vibe and this is one of my favourite bands this weekend, right up my alley. Before ‘Jeannie’s Got A Problem’ he declares “I might not be able to shout as cool as I usually do, but you guys can be the Rock ‘n’ Roll stars.” When he speaks you could see he was losing his voice, but the show was still great, full of blistering solos and hi-energy. “You guys are fucking amazing. It’s the weekend suffering. We have a song called that so let’s do it”. There were also a few technical issues. “It’