Final Rockwich 2018 day and somehow event organisers Mik Matzen and Colesia Price have managed to squeeze thirteen bands into twelve hours!
First up was Quiet The Thief at the hangover worrying midday slot and no quarter was given as they dished up a heavy dollop of gritty heavy rock with opener ‘Slow Running Train’. The Clutch like grooves of ‘Malice’ saw a steady number of bodies make their way into the venue and the band raised some mighty roars from the crowd with the heavy metal alarm clock of ‘Numb’. ‘Star Crossed Lover’, the first of two brand new songs saw them hit their stride as Police style influences cropped up in ‘Hurricane’. That’s if they could crank it up like this! Final new song ‘Hurricane’ whipped up a storm of furious riffing and there could only be one way to end and that was with the crushing ‘Feed The Wolf’.
I was expecting an over the top performance from Novacrow and they didn’t disappoint as lead vocalist Kitty Staunton addressed us with “Come closer my little butterflies” as ‘Fight The Horde’ strode in with madcap bassist Federico Spera attempting to behead guitarist Jonyx. ‘The Mantra’ was aptly delivered for our Sunday morning metal service. ‘Criminal Mastermind’ was belted out like a deranged Pink as ‘Fever Swamp’ followed just as insane. A bass heavy cover of ‘Tragedy’ was more magic than tragic and a warning of “Prepare to get smashed in the pelvis with music” preceded final number ‘Far Frog’. Not sure about my pelvis but my ears were smashed as they tore into it. It included the second kazoo solo of the weekend as Federico jumped onto a table near me and leaping off without missing a note.
Midlands based Empyre delivered a melodic set but heavy enough to shake the foundations of Lostock. ‘Drive’ was a slice of heavy blues with a spacey guitar solo backed by the first of many impressive vocals from Henrik Steenholdt. The moody first part of ‘Too Little Too Late’ was the calm before the storm rock out complete with guitar histrionics from Did Coles. ‘Too Close’ featured a majestic Kyuss like jam midway. ‘Something Remains’ was another captivating number of melodic rock and they got the blues again with ‘My Bad’ with another show stopping vocal. They closed with song of the set ‘New Republic’, chock full of Free like grooves.
As per usual The Idol Dead performed like five kids in a sweet shop with class clowns Polly Phluid and K.C Duggan being a dead cert for detention! ‘Six Feet Under’ burst out like a typhoon from the stage with punk rock riffing from K.C and Tim Idol and it ended with the last line of “You will be the death of me” sung to superfan Colin Grainger. ‘Infected’ saw a full floor busting some serious moves and ‘Everybody Knows Your Name’ raucous crowd vocals. The curiously titled ‘Christopher Hitchins Is Your Spirit Animal’, all “One Two Three Fawr” was interrupted by a pantomime like accident as K.C broke the head of his guitar on Tim’s right hand, thus cutting his finger. A guitar was borrowed from following band Psychobabylon with Polly telling K.C “Don’t fucking break anything else”. Billed as a “Happy Song”, ‘Summer That Never Was’ got us in full voice again. ‘Heart On Sleeve’ had more bounce than a thousand spacehoppers as full on set closer ‘IDOL’ was announced as “Sing in this one to get warmed up for when the proper bands are on”.
Peace and quiet didn’t last too long as Psychobabylon proved that any worries about energy levels dipping were soon nullified as the Northern charm from lead vocalist Rusty D dominated ‘Die Alone’ as the rest of the band delivered straight out of the traps with him. Other highlights were the sleaze with balls of ‘Dreadtime’. ‘Dark Valentine’ was a full on turbocharged crowd pleaser as ‘Malice And Pain’ came across as a stoner pound of ‘Rocking In The Free World’ but set highlight was a tongue in cheek metal cover of ‘Baby I Don’t Care’.
Witchtripper put the power in power trio as they hammered out seven songs from latest album I Of The Storm in their rib rattling eight song set. ‘Poonstar’ was a thunderous opener as they set their battle plan of fiery licks from Richie Barlow, thumping bass lines from Christof Daughton and driving drum patterns with a splash of showmanship from James Collins. ‘Chills To The Bone’ certainly did with a full on freak out midway as ‘White Lines’ upped the heaviness ante. ‘State Of Mind’ was thrashed out with the rawness of early Motorhead driven along by snapping snare work. The performance of ‘Roll The Dice’ got two straight sixes as it grooved between moody jams and bursts of rage. As if it could get no heavier up comes album title track ‘I Of The Storm’ and they close covered in sweat with a rollicking old song ‘Get What You Pay For’.
Anticipation was high for me as the fantastic Thirteen Stars stepped up with their full on Southern Rock tunes, not the watered down stuff that is filling arenas nowadays. Three brand new songs opened their set as front man Hoss Thompson sounded like he gargles with Jack Daniels as he growled out ‘I’m Ready’ and they got the funk out heavier than Extreme could ever dream of doing during ‘Give It Good’. Fiery lead work in ‘Sorcery’ saddled up the horses ready for the toe tapping ‘Daddy’s Girl’. Infectious choruses of ‘Tired Of Waiting’ lead to final number which could only be the guitar overload of ‘Only A Soldier. I’ll never tire of hearing this as the brooding grooves give way to heavy dynamics as Hoss peels off lick after lick in a huge outro solo. At its climax the cheers were deafening.
New Generation Superstars were new to me when I caught them in March this year. They rose the roof at the Maze in Nottingham and they did the same here today. A love it loud set blasted in with the balls to the wall bombast of ‘Bleed’. ‘Keys To The City’ unlocked a hot bed of anthemic stadium rock and ‘Addictive’ certainly was as it bounced along like early Madam X. ‘Done Before’ was a trashy Wildhearts meets the Pistols for a fight in the car park as the powerchord heaven of ‘Not Like You’ included a crowd baiting line of “What you all sitting down for? It’s not the Phoenix club” by guitarist Davey Messiah. ‘Life Of Crime’ was heads down rock and roll and ‘Guess What’ was a middle finger in the air rant. ‘King Of The World’ was punk attitude with a capital P and they closed up with ‘The Price’ that included a crowd backed ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’.
Red Spektor are making some big waves on the scene and the tides turned in their favour today with a set that you felt as well as heard. When lead guitarist John Scane is over six foot tall and his stack of amps is taller than him then you know it’s going to be loud! I leaned over the barrier, made no notes and just bathed in the grooves that he, bassist Rob Farrell and drummer Daz Bowen (whose face was barely visible hunched over his kit in a sea of hair) pummeled out. Their seven song set moulded into one seemingly endless jam, my highlight being set closer the mind boggling ‘Torpedo Head’.
Wicked Stone won the crowd from the off with some joint “Whoa oh oh’s” in set opener ‘The End’. ‘Ain’t No Rest’ (currently gracing the airwaves by Planet Rock) was a slice of sleaze but heavy enough to keep the headbangers happy. Other highlights were the foot to the floor tarmac burning dynamics in ‘Sick In Love’ as amiable lead vocalist Joe Hawx looked like he was going to explode as he competed with the twin lead work from James Forrister and Callum Sullivan. Joe pitched even higher for the heavier ‘Set Me On Fire’. Set closer was the short, sharp catchy choruses in ‘Another Round’ and they even saved some energy for rocking out full bore to Trucker Diablo’s set later on in the evening!
Not that we needed it but if you want a band to fire up an audience then Falling Red never disappoint! Front man Andrew(Rozey)Rose seemed even more full on than usual as ‘The Day I Lost My Soul’ saw him almost bug eyed as he rasped out the lyrics. ‘We Escaped A Cult’ was belted with gang like vocals from the rest of the band as a menacing ‘Hell In My Eyes’ was making it the heaviest I’ve seen them play. The pace was dropped but not the vibe as we sang our hearts out to the poignant and powerful heart on sleeve vocals to ‘My Town, My City’. ‘In This Town’, another rager could have filled a swearbox or two during the verses. A surprise crowd pleasing cover of ‘Walk All Over You’ pulled no punches as did their future single ‘Who Needs Enemies’ and they left us with ‘If You Ain’t Down With The Rock’ as we sang that line followed by “Fuck off” and middle fingers raised. Job done!
StOp sToP are definitely one of the most bonkers bands I’ve come across. Jacob A.M on vocals/bass guitar, Vega on guitar and Danny Stix on drums pulled every cliche out of the book. Coming from Barcelona and Bulgaria, any language barrier was quelled by Jacob by just saying “Motherfucker”. They were three non stop balls of energy as the sizeable crowd lost their minds to opener ‘Won’t Hold Me Back’. ‘Toilet Party’ and ‘Spanish Fly’ had more double entendres between them than Christmas reruns of Carry On films but this was all surpassed when they played their theme song ‘Stop Stop’ by leaving the stage (Danny had a snare drum around his neck), walking through the audience and climbing over chairs and tables.
So it was left for the mighty Trucker Diablo to close the show in style as they were celebrating guitarist/vocalist Tom Harte’s birthday especially fellow guitarist Simon Haddock who was swigging from a bottle of Buckfast throughout the set and when that was drained, what looked like vodka was next on the menu. Their no frills rock and roll was the perfect intro to the Bank Holiday Monday. Opener ‘Red Light On’ was thundered along by the Rickenbacker bass lines from Jim McGurk. Tempos and jams were kicked up for ‘Not So Superstar’. Other stand outs were the band vocal harmonies during ‘Drive’ and a cover of ‘Proud Mary’ and they got us singing “Rockwich” after “Rolling”. ‘Drink Beer Destroy’ was foot to the floor garage rock and the Sabbath like grooves of ‘When’s It Gonna Rain’ shook the floor. The party spirit kept going with the bar room boogie of ‘Black And Blue’. ‘Party Like They Started’, my set highlight was another shaker backed by a Bob Seger like vocal and they left us with a boisterous cover of ‘I Got The Lurgy’ by Triggerman.
One point I must make about Rockwich is it’s a family friendly event, point proven by two year old Abel Reed who when he was not being held aloft on his father Neil’s shoulders was right down the front by the barrier rocking out with his headphones wearing his patch covered denim!
Special thanks go out once again to Richard Ross from Thunderbolt Photography for the use of his photos.