Ears still ringing from day one, we made our way to the Black Mass Bar for the final day of my best Bad Ass Bash so far and any chance of a quiet band to ease us slowly into the day was thwarted by a feisty five piece from Huddersfield called Liberty Slaves. Seemingly AC/DC influenced, notably by the lung busting delivery from Ryan Meehan as they plugged in and blasted out set opener ‘Lies’ and pausing briefly for Ryan to say “We are Liberty Slaves and we play good old rock and roll”, point proven by the crashing riffs of ‘Hell On Wheels’. ‘Devil In Me’ was a slice of heavy blues with an infectious chorus as the riffs of Paul Brooke and Mark Ogley returned with full force in ‘Everyman For Themselves’. The bar room boogie of ‘Black Venom’ was dedicated to “All the poisonous women out there” and there was no let up as ‘Higher And Higher’ was another solid riffer backed by some furious footwork from drummer Adam Hartley. Another instantly memorable chorus popped up during ‘Heaven’s Above’ and their hangover curing set closed by another AC/DC tinged crowd pleaser ‘Never Enough’.
As if things could not get any heavier, the diversity of the line up changed to sound level worrying volume as Hedra arrived from East Anglia. All kitted out in matching black attire with the band logo on, they proceeded to kick their toys out of the pram with a relentless assault of high octane metal by blasting out their five track debut EP Mind Dimension with the title track ‘Mind Dimension’, all earth moving downtuned riffing from Kamil Korsak and Chris Gedge with vocalist Jim Marten bellowing out a visceral vocal. Looking around the venue, there were a few shocked faces seeing this unfurl on an early Sunday afternoon as the band tore into the snare drum driven ‘Unspoken’. Hammer blow drums and heavy, skull shattering riffing upped the ante during ‘War Child’ and they somehow picked up the already shot from a gun pace for the foot to the floor slammer ‘The System’ as the gates of Hell opened up for one last blast for final number ‘Lost I Am Hate’.
Local boys The Prophecy turned out to be one of the heaviest but certainly the hairiest band of the weekend who had a penchant for playing songs of War And Peace length, were utterly captivating during their four song set and drew us in with the gentler side of Opeth like set opener ‘Salvation’ that was punctuated by some mighty roars from lead vocalist Matt Lawson, an epic number that didn’t overstay it’s welcome. The guitar lines in ‘Reflections’ cut through the air like a hot knife through butter as the band hammered along technically like Dream Theater with vocals to match. ‘Origins II’ was all sparse drums patterns, guitar and bass pieces that flowed out of the p.a system, giving space for a showstopping vocal delivery then went off into heavier tangent for final number ‘Redemption’, a crushing finale.
Over the last few years, the UK has been setting a benchmark with up and coming rock bands and none more so are Newcastle Upon Tyne based Tomorrow Is Lost, fronted by the commanding stage presence of Cass King, reminding me visually and vocally like a young Debbie Harry. A ‘Beautiful People’ like drumbeat was pounded out by Max McKenzie, providing a powerful foil for the angst riffing as Cass soared like an eagle in opener ‘She Knows’. The alt rock riffs in ‘Elastic Heart’ hit hard, as did the high pitched vocals. ‘Man Within His Mind’ was full of catchy guitar and bass lines, like a heavier No Doubt. The hairs on my neck rose due to the stunning vocal intro to ‘King Of Swords’, a full on riff heavy workout that segued into the slow burning emotion releasing ‘Insane’ with undulating grooves. ‘No One Knows’ showed their knack of writing heavy rock riffs but still have enough hooks for commercial appeal and they saved their heaviest song till last as ‘We Are The Lost’ hit hard featuring some fast fingered twin lead guitar work from Joe Mac and Ryan o’ Hara.
Glasgow based The Swamp Born Assassins took me back to watching the Old Grey Whistle Test in the 1970’s when music had no boundaries. Their set was a celebration to say the least as the sextet just about managed to squeeze onstage. Charlie Moffat, one of the coolest performers of the weekend handled lead vocalists, harmonica and banter with ease and it was a family affair with daughter Kirsty on backing vocals and son Jamie on guitar. As they drove into set opener ‘Out In The Rain’ I debated whether we had the Scottish version of Monster Magnet onstage such was their power. It was a glorious stoner pound with added harmonica from Charlie. ‘Crawl’ was a greasy number, coming over all warts and all like On Parole era Motorhead. ‘Walk Tall’ had an infectious groove to bring an early party vibe to the fore. ‘Wildfire’ was a Southern rock hoedown and there was no stopping them as they tore into the ‘Rocking In The Free World’ like ‘Wildfire’. ‘Dead Man Walking’ stormed with menace that had a huge chorus that you could not ignore and set closer ‘Gator Hole’ captured the raw boogie of Rose Tattoo perfectly as it thundered along to a crashing close. Job done, can’t wait till I see them again!
Playing their third Bad Ass Bash in three years, the no frills live wire punk rock trio Thirteen took us back to an era when you just plugged in and bashed out three minute anthems with a brashness that you could not fail to embrace. Heavily tattooed effervescent frontman and chord basher Dolly Robinson snarled and growled throughout a high energy set backed by a solid engine room from Craig on bass with added gymnastics and the mighty pounding from Greg on drums. Anthems whizzed by in the blink of an eye and highlights for me were the in your face abrasiveness of opener ‘Wannabe’s And Has Beens’. ‘Pearls And Piss’ had hints of ‘Tommy Gun’ in the guitar lines. ‘Golden Years’ was a real shout-a-long ditty, as was the Oi influenced ‘Tattooed Sleeve’. The tempo was upped as ‘Spirit Of Resistance’ thrashed out in a blink and you’ll have missed it scenario. They ended with their theme song ‘Thirteen’ as Dolly sneered the line “We are Thirteen punk rock and roll” but my highlight was the wonderfully titled ‘Ten Thousand Record Sleeves’, a poignant number that I immediately connected with. Hopefully there will be a fourth appearance in 2019!
Eyebrows and ears were raised as the full on rock and roll bluster of The Midnight Dogs gave me a mile wide smile! Blasted out in the vein of Dr. Feelgood in their prime, they took no prisoners with their allotted stage time. The Leicester based band kicked out the jams with no frills, point proven by the aptly titled ‘Down And Dirty’ that flew along in the blink of an eye with frontman Rob Cass howling out the lyrics. On a completely different tangent, ‘Scars’ headed off into Talking Heads territory with its quirky rhythms. The proto punk of ‘Whisky Bender’ subsided slightly midway for a bass heavy jam with Steve Ward hammering out some finger snapping grooves. The pace was brought down for the blues drenched ‘Bedlam Baby’ as Rob uncannily sounded like Bowie. ‘Let Them Bleed’ was another balls out jam from their self titled debut album and they closed on a high with the heads down boogie of ‘Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (Can Save My Soul)’.
The second King Lot gig in as many months for me saw a welcome return for the West Lothian trio. With a brand spanking new album A World Without Evil to promote they bashed out five in a row from it after set opener ‘Let’s Get Together’ got us in the mood with some hefty powerchords and an instantly memorable chorus! So the first newie was the catchy ‘Hearts On Fire’ that saw lead vocalist Jason Sweeney bust his lungs out and Jay Moir on guitar and CK Gillon on drums are no slouches when it comes to backing vocals. ‘Damaged Girls’ featured a massive chorus and more gripping shared vocals. The title track ‘A World Without Evil’ heavied things up with some fiery lead guitar work. ‘All I Want’ had tinges of Rory Gallagher’s ‘Wayward Child’ in the riffs and ‘Save Me’ is as good a rock ballad as you’ll ever hear as was the slightly zippier ‘One Of These Days’, feel good melodic rock preceded by an instrumental titled ‘Equilibrium’ highlighting the guitar skills of Jay. ‘As They Burn’ was their heaviest number with steamroller grooves and some hefty tub thumping from CK. A strong end to another great set.
Blackpool bruisers The Senton Bombs are always the perfect festival band, once again hauling their anthems to the Bad Ass Bash for another welcome return. Frontman Joey Class can be summed up just by his surname as his gnarly vocal added an extra edge to set opener ‘Nine Of Hearts’ as the flailing arms of drummer Scott Mason brought to mind Animal from The Muppet Show! ‘Medusa’ was a short, sharp rush of melodic punk rock but my set highlight came early with ‘Darkest Horse‘, its slow burning intro burst into a Springsteen like epic that ticked every box in a near perfect delivery. The first of two covers saw a guitar dominated cover of ‘Running Down A Dream’ riffed out by Damien Kage and Johnny Gibbons and a brand new number ‘Who We Are’ is a good sign for the next album as it zoomed along in the vein of ‘Breed’ by Nirvana. ‘Nothing Quite Like This’ was pure and simple rock and roll hammered out with no warning signs as they went out on a high with the one two left and right hook punches of the pounding ‘Train Wreck’ and the second cover, a Motorhead don’t give a fuck like delivery of ‘Born With A Tail’ by the Supersuckers.
Final act and the most over the top performers of the weekend were class clowns A Joker’s Rage who made everybody feel like it was their birthday with a seemingly effortless display of showmanship with every member focused on having the maximum fun during their nine song set. ‘Masquerade’ was a bombastic/boombastic heavier than the Crue (but without the egos and backing tapes) on steroids featuring the first of many displays of guitar heroics from Adam ‘Twiggy’ Gauton. His solos and fills were beyond belief. His scything main riff in brand new song ‘The One’ was backed by throbbing bass lines from Geordie Ginface as frontman and constant ball of wisecracking energy Zakky Boy Taylor bellowed over the musical mayhem. ‘Temptress’ was a bona fide crowd pleaser as we hollered the chorus back to the band. ‘Jag’ was all 1970’s glam rock cranked up to the max as ‘Epiphany’ saw more string strangling solos from Adam. ‘California Love’ was just as over the top as they added their stamp to the Tupac and Dr Dre song. Zakkys rapped vocals were backed by some heavy, funky grooves with another mind blowing guitar solo. ‘We The Fools’, another new number was all catchy hard rock with a surprisingly doom heavy midsection. ‘In It For The Kicks’ was Living Colour like funk metal and they left us with a tribute to the sadly departed Chris Cornell with a breathtaking cover of ‘Cochise’ and I’m sure that Tom Morello woud have been blown away by it! So that was that, another thoroughly enjoyable Bad Ass Bash. See you all there in 2019!