Another year, another Bad Ass Bash summoned up as ever by the superhuman efforts from promoter Martin Short, once again handpicking bands to play for us, all of whom played for no fee with profits totalling £588.42, made up to £600 by Martin for the chosen charity Chart Children’s Hospice Arts Charity.
The quality of the bands was there for all to see, point proven by opening band Grand Ultra. The four piece from the East Midlands were fronted by the hyperactive Joe Hill who performed like a more hyperactive Justin Hawkins with his stage presence and vocal ability. Their seven song set consisted of 2 fun covers. ‘Black Night’ saw Joe nail Ian Gillan’s shrieks and the guitar solo from Justin Larner could of knocked Ritchie Blackmore’s hat off had he been there and a beefed up ‘Hold The Line’ saw more raging guitar work. Their set kicked off with the aptly titled ‘Here We Are’ blowing away any midday cobwebs with a full on early Skid Row like snotty nosed brashness. Other highlights were the infectious pop grooves in follower ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’, the vocal histrionics and full on headbanging finish to ‘Apocalypse’ and my set highlight ‘No Friend Of Mine’ with its laid back jazzy vibe and a big “Whoa oh oh” ending.
A welcome return for Birmingham based pop punk rockers Devils, fronted by the effervescent dread locked Adam Veevers and they tore through ten feel good tunes that brought half an hour of sunshine to Wakefield. The insistent bass lines that tore through set opener ‘Hybrid Moments’ backed the breezy chords from Adam and with no pause for breath went into the melodic hardcore of ‘Ballzoot’ and the mod like grooves of ‘Feedback’. They showed their heavy side during ‘If I Can’t Change Your Mind’ and they finished with a tongue in cheek, zippy rendition of the Cheggers Plays Pop theme tune, introducing it as “A song for our friend Keith who could not make it today”.
From a male three piece punky trio, next up were Scream Of Sirens, a female trio from the North East. Fronted by the bass guitar playing Steph, her booming lines drove set opener ‘Let You Go’ hard and heavy, backed by Ruth on guitar and Emma on drums. ‘What You Wishing For’ had a hypnotic instrumental midsection and powerful band vocals. ‘Living A Lie’ was a short, sharp burst of angst. ‘Real Wild Child’ was a glorious cover as they ended a strong set with the furious grooves of ‘Get Some’.
Manchester based The Ninja Report put the pedal to the metal with set opener ‘It’s Been A While’ with a three way vocal adding muscle to an already powerful number. The Southern rock tinged intro to ‘Open Arms’ lead to heavier chords from guitarists Tim Smith and Dom Lane with some fiery twin lead work midway. Set highlight for me was the heavy power balladry of ‘Shine’ followed by the guitar overload of ‘It’s Always You’. ‘The Prodigal Son’ was a neck aching headbanger with a high register vocal from Tim and their set ended all too soon with the Lenny Kravitz tinged ‘Temptation’.
It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Black Star Bullet and eagerly awaited their set since seeing their name added to the event poster and they did not disappoint as they tore straight out of the starting blocks with the in your face dynamics of ‘Hate’ as instantly likeable frontman Trev Goddard showed his stage experience. ‘Shut Up And Listen’ was the perfect song to blast out of your car stereo with all the windows down. Surging riffs and huge vocals make it the perfect summer song! ‘Catch The Bus’ saw them capturing the knack of heavy riffs to glorious melodies.‘Demons’ was all about crashing power chords that shook the foundations. ‘Starbreaker’ can only be described as a wall of sound that eased off for the melodic choruses. ‘Breathe’ went up through the gears into overdrive for another high tempo number as they tore into ‘8.50’ with Trev asking us to “Get your disco boots on” but the riffing curtailed any Saturday Night Fever strutting and they ended with a raucous run through of ‘Highway To Hell’. One of my favourite bands of the weekend.
It was time to get groovy and kick out the jams with Coventry based nutters Superhooch. They kicked off like a deranged Hawkwind with ‘Look At The Rain’ that took no prisoners with some seismic riffing from Chris Worsley and Johnny Kingham. ‘Sweet River Blues’ was far from bluesy as it snarled like ‘Schools Out’ on steroids! ‘Sir Dickie’ confirmed that the lunatics have definitely taken over the asylum as a complete turnaround in vibe saw ‘Feeling Sound’ flow along as off the wall as Syd Barrett era Floyd with some off kilter psychedelic pieces, deadpan lead vocals and mantra like choruses. ‘Chasing The Snake’ must have got the glasses rattling on the bar with its stoner jams to end all stoner jams and they gave us one last mind fuck with the spooky Zappa like weirdness of ‘The Confessions Of Mr Silver’.
The lunacy continued with Novacrow, describing themselves as “Orgasmic hard-rockers from North West/West Midlands” they were not far wrong as they were a constant ball of energy, point proven by the unhinged delivery from frontwoman Kitty Staunton and the psychotic moves and gurning from possessed bassist Federico Spera who spent most of the set in the crowd. A great Spinal Tap moment came with Kitty explaining why the drum parts were pre-programmed on a laptop as their drummer had “Done a handstand in a swimming pool and fucked his arm up!”. ‘Fight The Horde’ opened their set with a manic souped up grunge delivery as the ethereal whisper to a scream sections in ‘The Mantra’ lived up to its title. A dramatic vocal and performance by Kitty dominated ‘Fever Swamp’ over a fuzzed up Sabs like main riff from Jonyx. ‘Criminal Mastermind’ was a pummeling industrial stomp and their versatility carried through to the slow burning grooves of ‘Labrat’. The riffs in ‘Tyranny’ were that destructive they could have had wrecking balls on them as the frenetic set closer ‘Fat Frog’ was introduced as “One last chance to shake your pelvises with us” with added kazoo playing!
Now it was for some feel good rock and roll served up with extra helpings by the trio of party mongers The Dukes Of Bordello. Master of ceremonies Andy Barrott cranked out the riffs and roared the lead vocals backed by the rubber limbed drum animal that is Jake Parker and thumping Doghouse upright bass lines from Chip White. They set their stall out early with the fiery foot tapper ‘All In The Name’ and follower ‘Hellvis’ which was like Rocket From The Crypt times ten! ‘Down In The Gutter’ was rock and roll how it should be, lowdown and dirty. A cover of ‘She’s My Witch’ was a zippy hoedown and the bass guitar lines during ‘King Of The Road’ bounced off the walls. ‘Strychnine’ was a good old tub thumper and ‘Wilko’ was written for Wilko Johnson with the band roaring along like a souped up Ford. They ended their set full throttle with the knockout punches from the frantic ‘Born To Die’ and the nitro glycerine boogie blitz of ‘Scream If You Want To Go Faster’.
There is an old saying that goes along the lines of “You can’t keep a good band down” which certainly applied to Kaine today as a half dead looking Rage Sadler strode up to the mike to courageously take lead vocals. As if playing the gig was tough enough, the band had travelled from East Anglia to play for us. If you have not seen them before, prepare to be blown away, if you have then expect the usual full blown heavy metal experience! They have a brand new album called A Crisis Of Faith just out and they chose to play seven tracks from it. A brave move but an exceptional one. The bar was set high from the off by ‘Heaven’s Abandonment’, all jabbing riffs and a headbangers delight midsection of twin solos by Rage and Saxon Davids. ‘A Night Meets Death’ had more hooks in it than a fishing tackle shop. More fretboard wizardry surfaced in ‘Afterlife’ as a Godzilla stomp crushing mid section shook the room but my set highlight (as it was the last time I saw them) was the mind blowing epic ‘Fall Of Jericho’. Written by bassist Stephen Ellis, his ability was put to the test by some dazzling runs.
Special guests on the bill were Derby based Doomsday Outlaw currently making big waves since Phil Poole joined them on lead vocals. From their seven song set, they also treated us to new material, three songs from due to be released studio album Hard Times. ‘Spirit That Made Me’ had a laid back, bluesy vocal over grinding riffing from Steve Broughton and Gavin Mills. ‘Over And Over’ was a catchy rocker driven by a rolling main riff and ‘Hard Times’ was the cream of the crop with a slide guitar intro that lead into a ‘Life’s Been Good’ by Joe Walsh like groove. Set opener ‘Fallback’ was chock full of beefy rhythms backed by a soaring lead vocal from Phil who even threw a few Jagger like stage moves. ‘All That I Have’ had a booming main riff and feral howl vocal that got a few bodies moving in the front row. ‘Bring You Pain’ actually bought us some heavy rhythm and blues and they closed a strong set with the lengthy ‘Tale Of A Broken Man’, all 1970’s tinged hard rock with a blistering lead guitar solo that followed an intense acapella intro.
Headliners Twisted Illusion had their set interrupted by sound problems but once they were resolved frontman Matt Jones delivered an even more intense performance than usual, which takes some doing as his helium fueled lead vocals are as mad as his virtuoso guitar playing. Their music is not for the faint hearted as opening number ‘Imitate Me Part One’ clocks in at just under the ten minute mark, a lumbering beast of a track as the riffs from Matt and Steve Revier intertwine over hypnotic bass lines and drum patterns from Mark Wagstaff and Matt McDade. The slightly shorter ‘Hatred Is A Virtue’ opens with a lung shredding shriek and careers along on an array of face melting tempos. ‘A Moment Of Lucidity’ lived up to its title as it rose and fell on a sumptuous vocal, ending on a lead solo from Steve. “Any Dio fans here?” asked Matt which preceded their most powerful delivery of ‘Heaven And Hell’ I’ve seen them play. ‘Online And Inline’ started strongly with an intense guitar intro and their Rush influences came to the fore here mainly due to the Geddy like vocal delivery with Matt and Mark hitting some impressive notes midway. They finished with my favourite track ‘Nobody’s Child’. If the opening guitar lines don’t grab your heart strings, then the vocal will do and leave you breathless. A sublime way to end the first day.