NLC/Rockin’ For The Children
Festival took place at The Maze, Nottingham over May Day Bank Holiday Weekend 2015. This now annual event is organised by David Tonge (AKA Big D) and his family and friends with a lot of time and hard work going into the organising. Last year was my first time, and having enjoyed it tremendously, I immediately booked time off work and a hotel for this year’s event. It wasn’t all a smooth ride with bands breaking up along the way giving Big D the headache of finding replacements but on the weekend everything went smoothly.
The Maze is a small venue about twenty minutes walk from the centre of Nottingham. There’s a pub at the front with a great range of ales, pictures on the wall of stars like Elvis Presley, Adam Ant and Debby Harry and beer barrels as tables. Then behind the pub is the venue and at the very rear a Beer Garden where you can go for a smoke or just to cool down after dancing to one of the many bands. Fundraising events like a tombola and cake sale were held in the pub for the charities to raise some extra funds.
I’m not doing an in depth review with 20 bands in two days, it’s a lot to cover. I’ve pulled out some observations and highlights and I also got some audience participation with comments from the crowd, I shall identify my sources by first name only! Unless they are a fellow PlanetMosh writer!
Interestingly (well to me anyway) the opening band Bulletproof Rose were the band I suggested apply to open, when Big D ran a competition earlier, and although they didn’t get the most votes, that honour went to Crowsaw they were a worthy runner up and with bands having to pull out along the way, for various reasons, they were given the opportunity to open. Bulletproof Rose are a four piece from Cumbria, who I have liked and followed since the first time I saw them, so the chances of me not enjoying them were remote and I wasn’t disappointed. A great performance and Rich Lindley my colleague, from PlanetMosh, who saw them for the first time said he really enjoyed ‘Wicked amount of energy on stage, backed up by bucket-loads of talent. Seriously shit-hot hard rock from the North West.’ Phil thought they very good, really enjoyed.
Crashgate from Deal in Kent, got the chance to play when another band had to pull out. Front-man Craig Sheridan came down into the audience and was screaming in people’s faces! Whisky Makes Me Frisky was a good, memorable song. An entertaining performance with some great riffage. Rachel said ‘A bit more growly than I usually like but I quite liked them. I voted then into Highway To Hell‘ so that’s both Crashgate and Bulletproof Rose at Highway To Hell.
Bringing the tempo down a notch or two with a more of a bluesy, funky sound came the opening vote winners Crowsaw. Money a song about getting ripped off by record companies had a great funky beat. Some great blues rock with heavy riffs. Chris said ‘Really good guitar playing and an interesting hard rock edge with funk riffs.’ Ian said he first saw them at Hard Rock Hell when he was drunk and he enjoyed them just as much sober. Well they were only the third band!
Bigfoot a five piece from Wigan, who were a late addition to the line-up. It might have been awkward if I hadn’t been very impressed! However as it turned out I was greatly impressed. The five guys put in a commanding performance with front-man Anthony Ellis owning that stage from the off. He has a powerful vocal range and an extensive range of facial expressions to match, reminding me of a younger Jack Black. When they finished Big D got up on stage and asked us to ‘Give it up for Jack Black and Bigfoot’ so it seems I wasn’t the only one who thought of Jack Black. Rich Lindley thought that the singer was so expressive, and had a solid shit hot voice. Chris said ‘They were rather good fun’
Part way through the first day and the venue was getting steadily busier when Heartbreak Remedy a Cumbrian four piece took to the stage. Opening with Hair of the Dog Matty Penn, who I remember as being a great performer in his Falling Red days, was doing a lot of wind milling and holding the bass aloft. He told us he wasn’t good at relationships and had written Tell Me Why about this failing! This festival also saw the release of Heartbreak Remedy’s new album ‘Midnight Groove,’ Life had Callum Glynn playing acoustically before the rest of the band joined in to finish the song on full electric. Helen said ‘A good solid performance as always.’
Then it was down to Fade Bar for some food and by the time it had arrived and been devoured and I made it back to The Maze I found I had missed all of Chase The Ace which is a shame as I’m told I would have really enjoyed their glammy sound. Katie said ‘Chase The Ace were ace’ and I’m told the guitarist came out into the crowd and played a solo stood against the back wall. I have seen some YouTube footage from the gig Bad Seed with a bit of an Running Wild by Airbourne start and some screaming riffs, a band with bags of energy! I’m gutted that I missed them and will have to catch a gig soon as.
I thought Kodiak Jack had a bit of an American grungy sound, with a Soundgarden vibe but they’re not from across the pond, just from Portsmouth in the Deep South of England. An energetic performance, with the band filling the stage. Chris said ‘They were good, the singer can sing and I can understand what he’s singing. A bit Black Stone Cherry.’ Rachel thought they were bloody fantastic!
Mordecai another Southern band came next, not as far South as Porstmouth, but just down the M1 to London. Mordecai a hard rock band, part tuneful singing, part growl. I particularly liked the song Fight Fire With Fire, a catchy one. Their set included a medley of popular rock classics including Metallica’s Unforgiven, Ace of Spades by Motorhead and a bit of Black Sabbath and Survivor too. Chris thought they were like a cross between Black Stone Cherry and Five Finger Death Punch. John really liked them and said he particularly enjoyed the quivering riffs which made him laugh. If a band’s music makes you happy then you’re on to a winning formula.
Fire Red Empress said it was their first time in Nottingham, front-man Nik said it was so far up North he nearly got a nosebleed. Nik liked to crack a few jokes throughout their set, which ended up being a little shorter than anticipated due to time constraints but they were good humoured about it. One song, don’t know which one because I didn’t get a set list reminded me of Prison Sex by Tool in places. Although I wouldn’t say they are quite as heavy as Tool in general. They will be playing Bloodstock Festival in Derbyshire in August. Stevie thought they were good and Chris said he would give them a whirl again!
Saturday’s headliners Falling Red are a band I’ve seen over twenty times, I was a big fan when Shane Kirk was in the band and their début album ‘Shake The Faith’ is one of my favourite albums of all time, although I played mine so much it broke. Matty Penn who now fronts Heartbreak Remedy played bass for a while and he and Shane made a formidable duo on stage. With a few line-up changes since ‘Shake The Faith’ Falling Red now have Scotsman Mikey Lawless on bass, and today saw Danny Joseph on rhythm guitar. I don’t know if Danny is permanent yet, but it would be great because they were on top form again. With the pint-sized guitarist and lively bass player, it brings back the dynamic of the earlier shows I loved. Disposable with a Motley Crue (I’m thinking Looks That Kill) vibe had drummer Dave doing his stick twirling and pulling gargoyle faces!
I didn’t get hold of any set lists, but as far as I can recall Falling Red’s set consisted mainly of songs from their last album ‘Empire of the Damned’ which remind me a little of ‘Rise of The Damnation Army’ era Skid Row, and a couple of covers, including Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell which got the crowd singing along, The only concession to their earlier stuff was a rousing If You Ain’t Down With The Rock from their E.P. ‘Hasta La Victoria Siempre’ which got plenty of crowd participation, girls -v boys, I don’t think there was a clear winner as both were shouting loudly although some were singing ‘Suck My Cock’ rather than ‘Fuck Right Off’. I know bands move on, but it’s a shame a few of their crowd pleasers like Out of Control and How You Feel on Me no longer feature on set lists. A good performance from front-man Andrew Roze and co. Leslie thought they were awesome, Helen enjoyed them. I asked Stevie if he’d enjoyed it and the answer was ‘Yes you saw me enjoying it’ I did catch glimpses of him air guitaring and gesturing from time to time!
Day one over and time to head to Wildside. Not every band was to my own personal taste but there wasn’t one bad performance all day and every band I saw gave it their all in terms of putting on a great show. The highlight performance of the day has to go to Bigfoot with runner up prizes going to Bulletproof Rose for opening the show in style and Falling Red for ending the day on a high leaving us all wanting to come back to do it all again tomorrow.
After dancing at Wildside until 2am, then getting some form of sleep, I was up ready to do it all again, after some sustenance at The Lincolnshire Poacher. The first band up on Sunday were local lads Theia a band I saw for the first time in February with singer Kyle Lamley in, what must be his customary, Brian Johnson style flat cap and impressive cowboy boots. A style which belies his youth, Kyle was covering that stage well engaging with the audience. Finishing with the catchy and unforgettable Whoop Di Fucking Do. Rachel said ‘A more mature performance than last year. A good band to open on a Sunday’ when I asked Lesley her thoughts she replied ‘Whoop Di Fucking Do.’
This stage was too small for Psychobabylon‘s Rusty, not that he’s overweight but he’s very tall and has an imposing presence, filling the stage. I noticed a green sweat band on his arm, perhaps in support for fellow Yorkshire-men The Idol Dead perhaps. I love their song Trash and at one point I thought Rusty was doing an Ozzy Osbourne style blood capsule in the mouth, but it just turned out to be the way the red lighting had caught him! Paul said ‘Best I’ve seen them, really up for it. A great way to start the day.’
Before Rusted Hero came on I said to Rich ‘Make sure you get some pictures of the good looking bass player!’ With a funky rock sound and with front-man Dox having great stage presence these guys gave it their all. Dox advised that their friend Davey from Blackjack was covering the drumming stool today as regular drummer Paul Coxon couldn’t make it. A good set from Rusted Hero and at the end Dox said he’d like to thank Michael Starr for dancing all night. I think he meant TBFM Online DJ Stevi Rox but I can see the resemblence! Rachel said ‘Really good, they’re on at Highway To Hell too’ Lesley liked them and Phil thought they were good. Andy Millburn, bass player was voted fittest man of the festival so far, although I was told I had to reserve judgement until I’d seen Fahran!
New Generation Superstars another band I have seen a few times, but not with the current line up, which sees the two glamorous blondes Davey Messiah and Jonny Suicide at either side of AJ with his model good looks, although AJ also has blonde hair these days. I know I haven’t seen drummer Mord Fustang before as I would definitely remember that name. AJ’s vocals were not coming through well to begin with but that was soon sorted out. They were joined on stage by the lovely ladies from Hell on High Heelz for new song ‘King of the World’ and they played some of their oldies and have an L. A. Guns vibe. Hell on High Heelz joined them again for their final song, Phil said ‘There was a problem with the vocals to begin with, but otherwise they were good.’ Lesley thought they were awesome.
The Midnight Dogs a five piece from the Midlands ended the first half of the second day. I particularly liked Sick of it All a good song with a great bass beat and a bit of a rockabilly vibe. Hell on High Heelz joined them for one of their songs. One song reminded me a bit of Golden Earring’s Radar Love, another one was a bit bluesy then I was just thinking this one’s a bit Rolling Stones which was a good job as it turned out to be a cover of Sympathy For the Devil albeit a bit slower. Rachel though they were alright. Chris thought the covers were great but that they need to work on their own material. Polly Phluid front-man for The Idol Dead actually said during The Idol Dead’s set that he hadn’t seen The Midnight Dogs before and thought they were a great new addition to the festival.
First on after the break were Silverjet, which like yesterday turned out wasn’t the best slot in terms of attendance. I missed the beginning due to going out for sustenance again, but was there when front-man Dave Kerr asked ‘Can I get a Hell Yeah?’ to announce their song Hell Yeah a popular one with lot’s of audience participation. Katie who had seen all their set said they were always amazing, and never fail to deliver. Ever, ‘I’ll give it a Hell Yeah!’ Darren also thought they were good.
Teenage Casket Company came next with no rest for Dave Kerr because although he was stepping away from the lead mic, he’s on guitar and backing vocal in Teenage Casket Company, who were filming a video for a documentary tonight as it’s ten years since their first album ‘Dial It Up’ I noticed an audience member giving Rob Lane a swig of a drink. Lot’s of high energy power pop from these guys with an American flavour, I’m thinking of bands like Fountains of Wayne. A Happy Birthday to Trixie (I think) got the audience singing Happy Birthday before a great cover of The Beastie Boys Fight For Your Right (To Party). Lesley said they were ‘Very, very good, really enjoyed that. They made the room bounce. Julie thought they were awesome and added ‘I like that band they make everybody smile!’
With The Idol Dead‘s drummer just getting back from New Zealand earlier that day Ginna from Psychobabylon agreed to step in at short notice with very little time to learn the songs. From the off front-man Polly was bouncing around barefoot, which seems to be the usual as was the green scarf round his neck. A fan or two was definitely in the audience including someone in a dodgy, green, clown wig at front! The Idol Dead have great energy and got lots of audience participation with everyone seeming to bounce and Ginna put in a great performance at such notice! Leslie said ‘I like them. I have liked them for a long time.’
Co-headliners but first up were Fahran and even though front-man Matt Black is from my home-town, I have never managed to see them before, although I have heard good things and also that they were rather good looking! Of course I would never judge a band on looks! Matt was an energetic front-man, covering the stage well. One song reminded me of Same Old Song and Dance by Aerosmith and I also picked up a bit of Extreme, Love/Hate and Nirvana. Lots of different elements to maintain your interest. A really good set, enjoyed seeing them for the first time. Leslie said ‘They were the best band of the whole weekend, fittest guy of all weekend in the guitarist. Absolutely awesome’
The NLC/All Stars were the second co-headliner giving them the closing slot. The crowd was a bit depleted as some people wanted to get public transport, but there was still a good crowd for a Sunday evening. Big D introduced them as something he wanted to try, but he wasn’t sure whether it was going to be ‘A car crash or the best band you have ever heard!’ With musicians Richard Shaw on lead guitar, John JJ Watt on rhythm guitar, Rob Lane on bass and Micky Richards on drums it left vocals open for a bit of a variety performance. First singer up was the versatile Rob Wylde from Teenage Casket Company, Tigertailz and Poizon and what else would he cover best but Poison. First Nothing But a Good Time, then Talk Dirty To Me two great, fun crowd pleasers. Then, usually holding the bass but this time taking lead vocals, came Liam ‘Pais’ Hill from Silverjet and guest guitarist Keiran Tonge, although he seemed reluctant to appear at first he suddenly appeared on stage giving it his all for a cover of The Ramones Hey Ho! Let’s Go with Big D looking a bit tearful at the end. The proud father (and rightly so)!
Next up Polly Phluid from The Idol Dead took the mic and Rob Lane said he needed to borrow a feather boa for this one, fortunately one of The Idol Dead posse had a fetching fluorescent green one, so he looked the part for a cover of You Love Us by The Manic Street Preachers. Then the man who was up and down like a yo-yo Dave Kerr from Silverjet got up for a cover of Lay Your Hands on Me by Bon Jovi, after that, he said we would have to help out with the next song, as he didn’t know the third verse, that song was Rebel Yell by Billy Idol and everyone was having a great time singing along. Big D told us that Dave had only stepped in half an hour beforehand to cover Rebel Yell, so I think we can forgive him for not knowing the third verse! Then up came Kyle Lamley from Theia who said as he normally had a guitar were there any suggestions as to what he could do with these two bastards? Holding up his hands. Kyle sang an All Stars cover of Black Stone Cherry’s Mary Jane, which was very popular with the audience.
Big D then auctioned off the festival back drop raising £50 before welcoming Holly Bolus up on stage and I realised that Holly was the only female performer of the festival, which wasn’t an intentional omission, bands disbanding along the way meant line-up changes made it a virtually all male event. What a fantastic voice Holly has, perfect for a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Rock n Roll. Then we came to the grand finale and all the NLC/All Stars got up on stage together for an energetic cover of Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It, which is the festival anthem and had everyone singing along. NLC/All Stars gave it their all, a fantastic fun way to end the event and they have to get the award for the highlight performance of the day, although Teenage Casket Company get a mention for a great show, as they filmed their video. Big D gave a closing speech to Thank everyone in the bands and everyone for attending. Then that was that, until next year and the event is already arranged for same time, same place. May Day weekend 2016 at The Maze. Nottingham.
The festival raised a mighty £2,470.00 to be split equally between Awareness for Autism and Rock Against Child Pornography and Abuse UK with both charities also having merchandise at the event which also raised a bit more. A massive three cheers goes out to Big D and his family and friends for organising a cracking event and raising all that money for two worthy causes.