Another year, another Badass Bash at the Snooty Fox in Wakefield. An excellent venue for live music with a punchy p.a system cranking out some great live music from 18 bands hand picked once again by event organiser Martin Short. At a spritely 62yrs young he also compered the event and to use a quote from Phoenix Nights he was “The compere without compare”and money raised was going to 2 charities, Ian’s Chain and chART-uk ,both of which I will go into greater detail at the end of this review. Sound and lights were ably controlled by the perpetually working Malcolm Shipman.
Unfortunately due to traffic problems I missed the first 3 songs of Stoke based opening band Quiet The Thief but what I saw was a fine example of Martin’s musical knowledge. ‘Hurricane’ was introduced as “Another new one, being adventurous today” by guitarist/vocalist Stig Chell. It had a ‘Message In A Bottle ‘ like groove delivered with the power of the Almighty. ‘Feed The Wolf’ filled the room with huge crunching riffs and a massive chorus. A well deserved encore of ‘Numb (I Can Feel The Pain)’ hurtled along with the venom of early Killing Joke and Quiet The Thief were one of many of the bands who thanked Malcolm for the sound.
Next up were Falkirk based punk band 13 who thrashed out rather fittingly, a 13 song set! After their set, self titled guitarist/snarler Dolly McDolls told me he was worried about how they would fare but he had no need to worry as the crowd lapped them up. Their abrasive guitars cut through like a knife in their ‘oi’ like anthems, point proven by the gritty set opener ‘Stumble And Fall’ which was swiftly followed by the full on catchy Ramones like ‘Chasing The Sun’. ‘Anxiety’ was a bass guitar heavy bruiser’ followed by a short, sharp anti gun song called ‘Fire’. Other highlights were the Ruts like adrenaline rush of ‘Single Shot’ and the drum patterns from Tam throughout ‘What’. After that I stopped taking notes and relived my youth for the rest of the set!
Workington based Bulletproof Rose were given a hard act to follow but I was won over by their Rose Tattoo tinged first song (the title of which eluded me) and its main riff was thrashed out accordingly by guitarists Jacob Siddle and Brian Robinson. The heavy sleaze of ‘Nasty Habits’ saw some neat twin guitar solos. Other highlights were some frenzied guitar shredding in ‘Use It Or Lose It’ and the slow burning menace of ‘Right By Any Means’, both of which were new songs. ‘Bang Your Head’ musically described the title and their all too brief set ended with the turbo charged full on metal finish of ‘Loud, Hard And Fast.
The diversity of the bill was once again shown with the arrival of Psychobabylon fronted by the imposing figure of Rusty D who looked like a giant version of Dave Vanian of the Damned only a lot more hyperactive. They went for the throat from the off with the storming ‘Valentine’ and got the floor shaking with the heads down riffing of ‘New Dick’. A raw as you like cover of ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’ segued into ‘Malice And Pain’ hitting hard like a bottom heavy ‘Rockin In The Free World’. Their 9 song set also flew by too soon.
Even though I had seen The Idol Dead twice before, their set today was as even more unhinged than I could of possibly imagined with frontman Polly spending most of the time hanging from the lighting rig or running around the audience. At one point guitarist KC chose to take an Angus Young shoulder ride from a fan in the front row whilst playing a solo behind his head around the venue. Polly had covered every inch of the stage and the barrier during opener ‘Everybody Knows Your Name’. It was full on power pop with balls and killer 4 way harmonies. The floor soon filled up as ‘Get Your Boots On’ produced a wall of sound with infectious melodies. Other highlights were the Wildhearts like heavy but catchy riffs during ‘Bar At The Edge Of Time’, ‘6 Feet Under’ was a Crue like anthem but the best came at the end of the set as the manic ‘Buckle N Howl’ saw Polly sing from behind the bar.
An hour long band/staff break gave me time to finally book into my hotel and grab a quick bite to eat before the second part of the show but regrettably missed the first 2 numbers from Darwin based stoner rock quartet Sky Valley Mistress. They had just started an intriguingly slow burning cover of ‘Paranoid’ as I arrived back at the Snooty Fox and it progressed into a full on Kyuss like workout. Fronted by the compelling Kayley Davies whose vocal style strangely brought to mind a heavier Amy Winehouse, they continued with a leaden Hendrix like blues jam titled ‘You Got Nothin’ which preceded the freak out of their latest single ‘Hell Ain’t Got Your Hound’ and the feedback drenched set closer ‘Electric Church’. I will make sure I catch their full set at Wildfire in June.
The Room then brought us all back down to Earth with a stunning set of classic pomp/progressive rock. Any of their 7 numbers aired could of been an encore from the stabbing AOR of opener ‘Flesh And Bone’ to last number ‘The Hunter’ but my stand out tracks were the jaw dropping power ballad ‘Screaming Through The Noise’ which highlighted the subtlety of the lead vocals from Martin Wilson and ‘Full Circle’ which began in the vein of ‘Juke Box Hero’ but progressed into an early Marillion like epic. The musicianship of the 5 piece band was nothing short of telepathic.
Things got heavier again due to the 3 guitar assault from Hinckley based nu metal tinged Resin. The rib rattling bass guitar that dominated opening number ‘Clouds’ set the bar for the rest 8 song set as the pace dropped slightly for follower ‘Burn’ with an almost whispered vocal backed by angular riffing. Set highlight for me was the claustrophobic blues of ‘Printing Money’ with the melancholic but uplifting Alice In Chains like ‘Blood Of Angels’ coming a close second.
Captain Horizon were my main draw of the weekend and once again they did not disappoint. Their spellbinding set defied any genre you could tag them to but if I were to liken them to anyone who has not heard them it would be the heaviness of Chuck Mosley era Faith No More with the versatility of Public Image. They took to the stage suited and booted and proceeded to beef up their studio recordings tenfold! Surprisingly their set only featured 2 tracks from current album Imitation Sun but nonetheless it was my performance of the weekend. Opener ‘The Light’ from their debut album The Lights Of Distorted Science was a head rush of pounding grooves from bassist Alex Thomson and drummer James Merrix, punctuated by the piercing guitar lines of Josh Watson as the master of ceremonies Steve Whittington delivered his eclectic vocals. A tribute to Lemmy featured a foot to the floor cover of ‘Ace Of Spades’ with Steve capturing Lemmy’s trademark growl but my highlight of the set was a spine tingling ‘The Dark’.
Saturday headliners were House Of X, formerly known as X-UFO as the members featured in various line ups of UFO apart from ex MSG bassist Rocky Newton. Their classic rock set was split between original material and the obligatory UFO covers. Kicking off with a howl of feedback from Laurence Archer’s flying V, they launched into ‘Let It Roll’ followed by a return to 1976 for ‘Highway Lady’. ‘House Of Lies’ and ‘No More Tequila’ prove their own material fits well into the set. The latter preceded the timeless ‘Rock Bottom’ with Laurence delivering a guitar masterclass which saw me putting down my notepad and heading down to the barrier for some frenzied head banging! ‘Doctor Doctor’ just about made our smiles even wider to end their set.
Up with the larks, a hefty Wetherspoons breakfast and a mad dash for another early afternoon start for the second day of the Badass Bash but any cobwebs were blown away by Ed Stones And The BD3. Frontman Ed Stones coming over like a younger Billy Gibbons, played a mean looking Gibson Gretsch throughout which caught my eye before they came onstage. A laid back solo vocal/guitar intro eased into the gritty boogie of ‘Gullible Girl’ followed by the beefed up 60’s rock and roll vibe of ‘Kicked Out Of The Pub’. Ed’s vocals were almost rapped at times during their set or even like Muttley Macc from now defunct The Macc Lads. ‘Girl On The Run’ was foot tapping vintage R+B with the guitars chiming and it could have been the soundtrack to a Tarantino film. Highlights were many and the pick of the 14 song set were ‘Sex In Disguise’ that featured a full on twin guitar workout midway, ‘Step Into My Shoes’, a raucous stomping blues workout with howling harmonica midway, ‘Turn Up Your Jeans’ with the chorus of “Tucking your pants in your socks, just makes you look like a cock” and the dry wit of ‘Fuck You And Your Tweets’.
Cadence Noir who describe themselves as ‘neuvo acoustic goth’ threw another curve ball into the diversity of the bill. Lead by guitarist/vocalist Mr. Noir who had the longest hair all weekend, delivered his vocals like a diminutive Pete Steele with a dark sense of humour to match. Set opener ‘Grey Dog’ was like a heavier Fleetwood Mac with barked vocals which lead into the drum dominated and quirky rhythms of ‘Spark’ featuring a lead violin solo from Lady E. Their atmospheric set flew by with stand out tracks like the Dylan esque like storytelling in ‘Hold Me Down’, ‘A Truth Held Dear’ with its shimmering violin leading into a full on metal finish but highlight was the melancholy vocal growl and violin lines that weaved throughout the beautiful ballad ‘Vagabonds’, a cover of the New Model Army classic.
The proto pop of early Wildhearts featured heavily during the set of Sheffield/Leeds based Modern Day Dukes. Opener ‘Live And Let Die, A Duke In Debt’ was all heavy, catchy riffing with a neat jazzy breakdown midway. Front man Liam Hill was an imposing figure as ‘Modern Dicks’ kicked in with a gonzoid White Stripes like workout and the pace was brought down for ‘Dagon’ with a snappy Small Faces like vibe. ‘Glorious You’, my highlight was like Soundgarden at their heaviest and the Dukes set was over far too soon.
Folk rock at its very best now came from Steel Threads. Our paths have crossed many times and their bitter/sweet songs always tug at the hardest of hearts. The upbeat ‘Believe’ got us bopping away via the crystal clear p.a system with triple vocal harmonies from lead singer Neil Wardleworth backed by violinist Laura Wilcockson and second violinist/bass guitarist Tracey Beardmore shining through. ‘All This Time’ from their latest album The Rule Of Three was a quirky jig as Laura took the lead for ‘Made You This Way’, a beautiful ballad. The set progressed to a buzzing cover of ‘Ace Of Spades’ and crowd participation was demanded for the wistful ‘Always Nearly There’ which lead to set closer ‘Let The Wind Blow’, a gentile way to say goodbye with Neil adding a few bars of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and hitting Robert Plant’s howls with aplomb.
The Snooty Fox had its foundations shook as Derbyshire based Doomsday Outlaw tore into their set opener ‘Walk On Water’, a beast of a number coming over like a heavier Corrosion Of Conformity with new vocalist Phil Poole providing a rich, soulful performance. His style shone through on his intro to ‘Tale Of A Broken Man’ as the song progressed into Clutch like garage rock, ending with a fret burning guitar solo. The set got heavier with the Screaming Trees on steroids rush of ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’ and the Godzilla stomp of the main riff in ‘All That I Have’ with the rest of the band thundering along behind it but my highlight was the headbanging inducing ‘Down’.
Phil Ireland, ex Exit State bass guitarist who now performs solo acoustic gigs as well as playing with Breaking Waves stepped up to the plate next and got us singing along to a highly enjoyable set of covers including ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, Wish You Were Here’, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, ‘Got My Mojo Working’ and ‘Everlone’. His original songs ‘Everyone Else Is Taken’ and ‘Everything I Worry About Doesn’t Happen Anyway’ were beautifully poignant and the audience warmed to him throughout his set.
Blackpool based The Senton Bombs kicked things back into gear with a high octane fueled extended set. Opener ‘Tornado’ went straight for the throat as the front rows swiftly filled up and their was no let up as the driving riffs and powerhouse drumming hurtled ‘Mainstream’ along.’Black Chariot was a Monster Magnet like stoner/doom crusher right down to the spacey guitar solo. ‘Darkest Horse’ was an anthem to end all anthems as lead vocalist/bass guitarist Joey Class belted it out and then introduced the hard as nails new song ‘The Trailblazer’. More over the top drumming was to follow from Scott Mason with guitarist Johnny Gibbons literally wringing the notes from his SG. A cover of the Supersuckers ‘Born With A Tail’ ended their colossal set with relentless riffing, closing a storming performance.
The Badass Bash 2016 was closed in fine style by a headlining set from Nottingham based Fahran. I had seen them 2 days previously supporting Falling Red in Whitchurch, which proved to be a great warm up for tonight. This is another band of the weekend whose every song could be an encore and their stagecraft is second to none. All of the band apart from lead vocalist Matt Black are a constant blur of headbanging, particularly drummer J.R Windsor. Their 12 song guitar laden hard rock set list featured heavily from latest studio album Chasing Hours as ‘Some Kind Of Family’ opened up, all slashing riffs and twin guitar harmonies with Matt hitting some ear popping high notes. A wall of riffs dominated ‘Are We Free’ backed by showmanship from J.R behind his drums. The concrete heavy midsection of ‘You Could Be Mine’ and the intense power ballad ‘Serenade’ highlighted the diversity of their material. ‘Chasing Hours’ saw Matt’s vocals hit greater heights, the sort of anthem Def Leppard stopped writing many years ago. Things got heavier with the almost industrial main riff to ‘Cased In Steel’ but my highlight was set closer ‘A 1000 Nights’ which was power chord heaven with intense guitar fills amongst the riffs that saw Martin Short with a mile wide smile by the stage.
£760 was raised in total, split between the 2 previously mentioned charities Ian’s Chain and chART-uk. Ian’s Chain was set up in memory of Ian Savill to help grieving parents from the aftermath of suicide and to raise awareness that this is the biggest killer of UK males under the age of 45. The charity provides support by listening or guiding them to professional help, tries to break down the stigma of mental health and raises funds for a camper van for families to take a break. chART-uk raises funds for children who have life limiting conditions to give them a chance to express themselves via a wide range of art related activities and currently help almost a 100 hospices. It was a pleasure for me to meet Alan Savill and Jo Gosling, the representatives for both charities who graciously gave me their time from their duties to talk about what each charity entails. A huge thank you also goes out to Simon Dunkerley for the use of his photos and transport!