Having never been to The Doghouse venue Carlton, Nottingham before I didn’t know what to expect when I rolled up for The Aces High Festival 2013: 24th and 25th August 2013. The Doghouse turned out to be a smaller concert venue about 2 miles outside Nottingham (on the lilac bus route). With a bar, cheap beer and decent festival food in the form of burgers and chips (both with or without cheese) and ample car parking.
Initially eight bands had been due to play on the Saturday and I’d already seen 5 of them. Unfortunately Hell’s Addiction and I.C.O.N had to pull out but Die No More stepped in at the last minute, another band I’d seen before, so knew 6 out of 7.
First to take to the stage were Blacklist Saints from the Midlands. Describing themselves on Facebook as bringing their “own brand of filthy punk/ hard rock riffage to the masses” I thought – like the sound of that. They opened the festival with Red Light, a great opening song. With his flat cap the singer had me thinking Brian Johnson (BJ)! Wrong Brian, they themselves likened ‘World for Company’ to Bryan Adams (BA)! Whilst BJ features heavily on my play list at home, BA doesn’t, so I’ll take their word for it! All in all a great opening act. They are through to the finals of Hard Rock Hell’s Highway to Hell in Glasgow on 5th October. Well deserved and good luck to them. Their friend James was stand in bassist at Aces High, but they are looking for a full time bass player so any budding bassists contact them direct!
Next up were Die No More, a Cumbrian four piece, who were a late but welcome addition to Aces High. I first saw these in February at Rockmantic, under their former name Dynamo. Their EP Blueprint is officially released on the 9th September but the launch party was on the 3rd August, and I saw them at The Bakers Vaults in Stockport the following week. Another great performance. Andy Minnett on bass looked to be having a great time entertaining the audience alongside Marc Farquhar front man, vocals and guitar. My favourite song of the set was the fast, punky Oblivious. The lead track of the new EP, Council of War, was a great song to finish the set. I had thought this one was called Die No More, but that’s part of the chorus line! If you like your music loud and heavy, think Metallica, check these out, you won’t be disappointed.
I was expecting a full line up from The Brink next, but only got half of the band the equally handsome Tom Quick (vocals) and Alex Bittles (guitarist). Tom doesn’t usually pick up the guitar but the guys didn’t want to let people down so did an acoustic set for us, without the aid of a set list! I was a little gutted that they didn’t perform I Want It (my favourite Brink song) but we got Never Again and some great covers including Poison’s Every Rose Has It’s Thorn and Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer, to close. I saw The Brink earlier this year and would love to see them again. If you like bands like Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and Reckless Love you should like The Brink and they are very easy on a Rock Chick’s eye too!
Blue Origin were next to take to the stage. Having seen these around five times, firstly at the Old Bell in Derby supporting Stuka Squadron, I knew what to expect. I managed to be stuffing my face with veggie burger and chips when they came on. Bad timing on my part. A great opening song in Take Your Pills. These guys play loud and heavy with abundant energy and lots of synchronised head banging! After the song Scream (about f**king – apparently) came a ‘beer break’ then Sick, not literally, but the song which is on their recent album Somnium. Blue Origin’s signature piece is to get out the Floor Tom (drum) and give it a good banging. This they did during Sick, before finishing off with Godless. Lead singer Nick Pilgrim, always gives a great performance but I particularly like Josh Sutton’s (guitar and backing vocals) voice. Very Lizzy De Vine (Veins of Jenna) and I’d love to hear him singing lead on a song suited to his voice, something a bit glam!
The Hells on High Heelz dancers then took to the poles and did a great routine for us. How they manage to grip those pole and stay in mid air with only their thighs I do not know! If I tried to do what they do with grace and ease I’d end up on a very bruised bottom! Not only beautiful but talented on the pole and with bodies to die for!
Silverjet, from Sheffield, were the fifth band of the festival. I had been looking forward to seeing Sally Gallo, the only female, artist of the day but alas, not to be as Sally was on holiday (even glamorous rock stars are allowed a holiday) so Jamie Beatson from Disarm deputised. I’ve seen Silverjet supporting The Dogs D’Amour a couple of times at Sheffield Corporation and at Hard Rock Hell 2011. Never been disappointed with their performance. Some great songs on the Aces High setlist including Red Alert, What it Takes Enemy and Hell Yeah. The latter actually makes it into the top ten most watched songs on my You Tube channel and that’s no mean feat as there are 365 at the moment. Silverjet consist of three handsome young dudes, Dave Kerr, Liam ‘Pais’ Hill, Lee Stoyles plus the gorgeous Sally Gallo. You have no excuse not to see them soon!
The penultimate band of Day one were Exit State, a band founded in 2005 in East Lancs. I first saw this band supporting Dave Evans at Moho in May 2010 and have seen them 3 times since, supporting Reckless Love and Absolva. I didn’t immediately take to Exit State, didn’t dislike them but wasn’t bothered either way (sorry guys!). However they have grown on me! Fronted by the charismatic Roy Bright, who is also an actor and author (i.e. a man of many talents), they opened with aTime Again. Their set also included Sun in my Eyes, Save it for Yourself and the single Crystalline, for which all proceeds are going to chART the charity, of which, they are official patrons. The last song was about a Vicar and a Stripper, great combo for a rock song. Rocking finish and another great performance from Roy Bright, Vocals; Peat Hicks, drums; Phil Ireland, bass and Matt Harris on guitar. Check out their latest album ‘Lets See It All’ which was released on 24th June 2013.
Saturday’s headliners came in the form of New Generation Superstars (NGS). Fronted by Arron ‘AJ’ James, with his brother Rik Jaimz on bass; Davey Messiah, guitarist and Alex Brookes on drums. NGS are brilliant performers and opened with Let’s Go, unfortunately there were a few technical issues with the microphone and we couldn’t really hear AJ. NGS weren’t fazed but carried on in true Rocking style. Luckily the mic issues were sorted within a couple of songs. 100 miles an hour was loud and fast and, by the look of it, played at 100 miles per hour! They had promised a few surprises and we got some acoustic tracks in Save me, Waste of Time and Come Over. This gave the audience the chance to chill out before they upped the tempo again with Rock Star, during which the Hell on High Heelz dancers joined them on stage. By this time it was getting late and they were told two more songs but like true Rock ‘n’ Roll rebels they managed another three! Finishing off with Guess What (Get Fucked) which included a bit, or rather a lot of middle finger saluting by the audience! Check out their new latest album Rock ‘n Roll or Die and catch a live show particularly if you like your punk a bit rock or your rock a bit punk!
Day 2 saw quite a few last minute line up changes with Suicide Tuesday, Blackwolf and one of the last minute replacements Shock! Hazard all having to pull out for various reasons. Luckily further replacements were found in the form of Davey Rocks and Headstone Horrors and with some of the other bands agreeing to do longer sets, I was still looking forward to an impressive line up! Unfortunately I missed Davey Rocks and only caught the final number by Spiral Dive, I didn’t catch the name of it but they describe themselves as ‘Dirty old school metal for dirty old school rockers’ and what I saw fitted the bill. I wish I’d got there a little earlier!
The third act of the day, were a band who stepped in with very little notice. Nottingham based Punk band, Headstone Horrors, fronted by ex Girlfixer vocalist, Nat. In fact, the first female singer of the festival. I liked Nat’s voice and I thought it lended itself well to Punk. A lively performance, the set consisted mainly of their own material, including Midnight Massacre and Broken Hearts and Body Parts which are included on a two track CD I bought for the bargain price of £1. Headstone Horrors also did a cover of The Ramones’ Pet Cemetary. They weren’t able to hang around as they were heading off to do another show in Derby, but I did find out that they have plenty of gigs lined up so I will look out for a local show.
Next up were Worcester based Ronin. Fronted by Kit Kinrade who, with his mass of blonde hair, reminded me a little of Sebastian Bach. An energetic performer Kit bounded around the stage and was soon dripping sweat. There was a lot of what I can only refer to a ‘machine gun drumming’ as in, it sounded like round of bullets being fired, and Loz Crame’s fingers certainly flew over the fret. These were not bad but not my kind of band. However they were very popular with the crowd and I heard others saying they thought they were awesome. They did a cover of Destiny’s Child’s Survivor which was actually quite good and I certainly wouldn’t avoid them. If you like an energetic sweaty performance, think Skid Row or Warrant, then check them out!
The penultimate band of day two were Fallen Mafia from the North East. Fronted by Hannah Elizabeth Neil, looking stunning in a tight black corset and over the knee boots. Nothing like keeping it in the family as lead guitarist Chris Johnson is Jayde Starr from Falling Red’s bother and I did notice that Chris is very good looking if you like the Johnny Depp, Pirates type look! I have seen Fallen Mafia before but it was over a year ago and whilst I enjoyed that gig, their Aces High performance was much tighter. Loud, fast paced and punky. Their set included Flesh, Down and How the Story Ends. All great tracks. The song Rock ‘n’ Roll led into a short but sweet drum solo. This was followed by a rocking cover of W.A.S.P.’s Wild Child. Finishing off with a couple more of their own Leather, Lipstick and Cigarettes and, I can’t even read my own scrawl but, the last song rocked. Fallen Mafia, like Blacklist Saints, have made it into Hard Rock Hell’s Highway to Hell finals in Glasgow. Again another worthy finalist.
Finally we come to Sunday’s headliners and the final act at Aces High Festival 2013. A band I have seen over 20 times in the past three years on both small and large stages, some gigs better than others but always a good live show. The current line up is Andrew ‘Rozey’ Roze, singer/lead guitar and founding member; Dave Sanders on drums; Jayde Starr on rhythm guitar and Dann Marx on bass. Falling Red started their set with Break Me, a great opener which immediately got the audience shaking their heads and ‘tits and asses’ as Rozey wanted! They played a few tracks from their debut album Shake The Faith, including How You Feel on Me, the title track Shake The Faith and ‘Out of Control’ the latter, to me, being synonymous with Falling Red, so I was a little gutted to hear that this was probably the last time the fans would get to hear this live. The set also included some of the songs which will appear on Empire of the Damned their forthcoming album; We Are Reckless and Lonely Way to Die, a song which contains some of the lyrics from Party ’til We Die, a song which I heard late 2011 and loved, but haven’t heard since, so can only assume that this is the Phoenix to arise from the ashes of that long dead party song! As a few acts had pulled out Falling Red did a longer set, which included a few covers, Kiss’s Love Gun, always popular; The Ramones, Psychotherapy and Rob Zombie’s Feel So Numb, I was a bit surprised at that choice and wasn’t sure Falling Red would carry it off, but I have to say they rocked feeling so numb, and a few heads were banging away to this one. The last song of their set and indeed Aces High Festival 2013 was a cover of the mighty AC/DC’s ‘Let There be Rock’. A good set from Falling Red who release their sophomore album, Empire of the Damned in October together with a six date co-headline tour with New Device.
Bands over, the festival continued until the early hours with DJ Angel. Overall a great little venue, some top performances and definitely worth the money! Rating 9 out of 10 and all credit to the organisers, who did their utmost to try and find replacements for the bands who had to pull out. Everything ran smoothly and more or less on time and a tidy sum was raised for Cancer Research UK too.
Review by Louella Deville.
Facebook event page. www.facebook.com/events/aceshighfestival