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Metalwave UK – Circus Tavern, Purfleet, Essex, 05/10/2013

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Metalwave UKSo was getting up at 5am to catch a 6.30am train from Crewe to Purfleet,Essex for a gig worth the effort? It certainly was and i’d do it again at the drop of a hat if there is (and hopefully there will be) another Metalwave UK in 2014! Billed as “The first Metalwave UK all day music festival showcasing classic metal/rock/nwobhm’s finest” it certainly did that and more besides and £20 on the door for 8 bands was a bargain when you have bands with the pedigree of Praying Mantis,Dennis Stratton,Cloven Hoof,Chariot,More 2012,Deep Machine,Midnight Messiah and Headrush.

Event organisers Hayley Cray Elgood,(who also compered the event) and Jeff Braithwaite had certainly put together a strong bill and any of the 8 bands could have headlined judging by the strength of their performances. So on arriving at West Ham tube station a few hours later i was kindly chauffeured to the Circus Tavern by Hayley. It seemed quite a remote venue for a gig but a sizeable crowd turned up considering it was the first Metalwave UK. I was introduced to Jeff when i got there,but for some reason i called him Pete,(sorry Pete,erm Jeff!). There was a bit of time to kill before the 1st band was on and when the bar opened so spent some time chatting to the people setting up their patches and vintage vinyl tables and to Headrush bassist Josh Williams who had travelled down with the band from Stoke,not that far from where i live.

On entering the main room the first thing that caught my eye was the size of it. A large floor in front of a spacious stage with plenty of seating at either side of the rear of the room. One side was partially used for the bands to sell merch  and a stall set aside for the Clive Burr charity Clive Aid. Clive was of course a former drummer for Iron Maiden who sadly passed away in March this year due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis and a raffle was held during the day with the bands donating merch and cds. There was also some very rare Iron Maiden memorabilia and a guitar that belonged to Glenn Tipton from Judas Priest donated by producer Chris Tsangarides who currently plays guitar for More 2012.  First band to hit the stage at just after half past one were Stoke based Headrush formed in 2002.

After travelling all that way they certainly made the most of their hour on the stage opening with the hard hitting Perfect Drug with original vocalist Andy Law hitting some impressive high notes from the off. Their set was based around their debut album Just Bring It On and the Guns And Glory ep apart from the single I Wont Lay Down And Die which was my highlight of the set featuring some awesome dynamics. Headrush play to win  with  some neat melodic hooks bringing to mind classic UFO and they drew a fair sized early crowd. They ended their set powerfully with the title track of said debut album giving the other 7 bands a hard act to follow.

Headrush setlist :-

Perfect Drug.

Dirty Linen.

The Devil Inside.

Your Sickness.Headrush 1

I Wont Lay Down And Die.

No More Lies.

Temple Of Anarchy.

A Thousand Pictures.

Just Bring It On.

 

Midnight Messiah stepped up to the plate next,a band i had not heard of before but as they walked onstage i sort of recognised the vocalist. After asking someone wearing a band shirt i realised it was Paul Taylor who used to be in Elixir who were part of the nwobhm genre when Elixir formed in 1983 and split in 2012 whereupon Midnight Messiah came to be and Paul was joined by Elixir guitarist Phil Denton. Phil’s delivery reminded me of Biff from Saxon and he commanded the stage from the off as Midnight Messiah opened with 3 numbers from their 2013 debut album Root Of All Evil. It was power metal heaven as the set wore on with 3 Elixir classics The Star Of Beshaan,Treachery and Son Of Odin added to the delight of older fans.

Midnight Messiah setlist :-

Thirty Pieces Of Silver.

Damned For All Time.

The Evil One.Midnight Messiah

The Star Of Beshaan.

Wise Man Of Roklar.

The Rock.

Treachery.

Son Of Odin.

King Of The Night.

Midnight Messiah.

The day now became a lot heavier as Deep Machine strode on,all dressed in black . Formed in 1979 with original guitarist Bob Hooker remaining,they tore through a 13 song set in their alotted hour coming over like classic Mercyful Fate and Judas Priest with all the band providing backing vocals over the mighty roar of formidable frontman Lenny Baxter making the songs sound even more monstrous. Set highlight for me was Iron Cross,a furious song like a thrashier Black Sabbath.Deep Machine took no prisoners and left the stage to huge cheers after their self titled last song,1 of 2 tracks played from their 1981 demo,the other being Demon Preacher.

Deep Machine setlist :-

Witchild.

Demon Preacher.

Viper Strike.

Warhead.deep machine

Hell Forest.

Iron Cross.

Black Priestess.

The Wizard.

The Gathering.

Whispers In The Black.

The Gladiator.

Killer.

Deep Machine.

And so to one of my most anticipated sets of the day. More 2012 were just known as More when i saw them open the 1981 Monsters Of Rock festival at Donington Park and i have not seen them since. The longest serving members of the band are bass guitarist Barry Nicholls who joined in 1982 and Mike Freeland in 1998. More split a few times but the latest reincarnation came to be in 2011 when they were called Exmore which changed to More 2012. The band currently contain the legendary producer Chris Tsangarides,a very big name in the music business. Their 9 song set featured material from their debut album Warhead from 1981 and Blood And Thunder the following year along with unreleased track Scream and a killer cover of Judas Priest’s Touch Of Evil with Mike hitting some very high notes. Just as it could not get any better, they ended with Way Of The World and Atomic Rock and it was just like being 17 again listening to their session on the Tommy Vance Friday Rock Show on Radio 1. It all seemed to go so fast unfortunately.

More 2012 setlist :-

Killer On The Prowl.

Warhead.

Rock And Roll.more 2012

Road Rocket.

We Are The Band.

Scream.

Touch Of Evil.

Way Of The World.

Atomic Rock.

And so the catch up continued with Chariot who I had not seen since they supported Manowar in 1987! The floor certainly filled up when they arrived onstage and fast talking rhythm guitarist Pete Franklin made sure it stayed that way. Their thunderous 10 song set hit hard and heavy with a Motorhead vibe. They formed in the early 80’s releasing 4 studio albums before splitting at the end of that decade. After a brief reformation in 86 Chariot decided to give it a go again in 2012 with the classic line up of Pete Franklin,Jeff Braithwaite,John Smith and Paul Lane. A comeback album released that year called In The Blood showed they still meant business and To The Extreme from it was played at Metalwave alongside older material including 4 songs from their 1984 debut The Warrior,2 of which,Run With The Pack and Warriors closed their set and 2 brand new songs called Enough and Demons And Angels from a planned 2014 release album went down a storm and a shredding guitar solo spot from Paul Lane gave him a chance to show his virtuosity. Yet another set that went far too quickly.

Chariot setlist :-

Living On The Edge.

When The Moon Shines.

Screams The Night.

To The Extreme.chariot

Horizons.

Behind The Wire.

Enough.

Demons And Angels.

Run With The Pack.

Warriors.

The Circus Tavern was now buzzing and a fair sized crowd awaited next band Cloven Hoof. Formed way back in 1979 in Wolverhampton they are a prime example of a nwobhm band still sticking to their guns,doing what they do and bass guitarist Lee Payne has stayed with the band since its beginnings. I never got to see them in the early days,not until a few years ago at the Hard Rock Hell festival in North Wales and the vocalist then was Russ North who has since been replaced by Joe Whelan who seemed to attract a lot more ladies on the floor with his physique and good looks. As well as his vocal prowess,Joe plays a mean guitar to as Cloven Hoof delivered an 11 song set of prime nwobhm. They started with Inquisitor from their 4th album Eye Of The Sun but then went back in time to draw from their  previous 3 albums  including 4 songs from their self titled album released in 1984 which featured my song of the set The Gates Of Gehenna. Cloven Hoof’s delivery was yet another example of why any of the bands on the bill could of headlined.

Cloven Hoof setlist :-

Inquisitor.

Reach For The Sky.

Astral Rider.

Nova Battlestar.cloven hoof

Highlander.

The Gates Of Gehenna.

Jekyll And Hyde.

Nightstalker.

Cloven Hoof.

Silver Surfer.

Laying Down The Law.

 

With no disrespect to the other bands,the next act to follow was the main reason i came here and that was to see ex-Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton as i never got to see Maiden until Bruce joined in 1982. The Circus Tavern floor was  packed out as the band came on with big smiles from Dennis. He had a 3 guitar line up with Dave Edwards and Michael De Jager,Martin Johnson on drums,Gary Stone on vocals and Laurie Dalziel on bass guitar. Of course the set would be made up from Maiden material but the encore was an elongated Smoke On The Water with Dennis on lead vocals. With 3 guitars you could not really go wrong but they were given a run for their money by the virtuosity of bassist Laurie Dalziel who had his bass chest height and had some great moves that would make Angus Young proud. Another strong performance was given by vocalist Gary Stone who was later announced as this being his first gig with the band. Set opener was Prowler followed by Wrathchild with Dennis trading solos with Dave Edwards. Being only a few feet from Dennis playing these timeless songs was a fan’s dream and i will admit to getting a few tears welling up at times especially to a crushing Remember Tomorrow and Phantom Of The Opera. Set closer Running Free was stretched out to include a crowd singing competition as the band left the stage to return with a heavy take on Smoke On The Water. The set flew by and I would have given anything for them to play it all over again.

Dennis Stratton setlist :-

Prowler.

Wrathchild.dennis stratton

Transylvania.

Remember Tomorrow.

Phantom Of The Opera.

Iron Maiden.

Running Free.

Smoke On The Water.

 

So finally and sadly we came to the closing act of Metalwave UK 2013 and that honour was given to yet another classic nwobhm band Praying Mantis. Formed in 1973 by brothers Tino and Chris Troy,the band released one of the early classic nwobhm 45 rpm singles,Captured City and released their debut album Time Tells No Lies in 1981. Praying Mantis have always had a great deal of melody in their output and all 5 members of the band at Metalwave UK had their chance to shine. I thought Dennis Stratton would be a hard act to follow but doubts were put aside as they opened their set in style with 2 well known numbers from said debut album,Children Of The Earth and Panic In The Streets showcasing 2 new band members John Cuijpers on vocals and Hans In T ‘ Zandt on drums. The 9 song set cruised along lapped up by a still rocking crowd as they ended their hour with my favourite number Captured City,a fitting way to end a brilliant day of rock/metal meeting up with old friends and making new ones to. I wandered through the crowd at the end of the day asking their opinions of Metalwave UK and it was all positive and we definitely would like to do it all over again in 2014! Special thanks is given to Sally Newhouse who gave permission to use her photos from the day.

 

Praying Mantis setlist :-

Children Of The Earth.

Panic In The Streets.

Praying Mantis.praying  mantis

Highway.

Borderline.

Dream On.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark.

Turn The Tables.

Captured City.

 

 

 

 

set times

 

 

 

The whole event gets a big 10/10 for all the work that went into it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dennis Jarman
Full time downtrodden album/gig reviewer and part time rock God!