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SOS Festival Review 12-14 July 2019

SOS Festival delivered its biggest and best festival to date. Celebrating its 12th year, it took place at the Longfield Suite, Prestwich.

Organised by Lynne Hampson and her great team. Lynne has succeeded in creating an amazing family-friendly rock/metal festival. This year SOS Festival delivered one of the best they’ve put together.

From the minute the doors opened on Friday at 6 pm for the SOS Festival. It was great to see the venue begin to quickly fill up. With five fantastic full-band sets to look forward to. As well as acoustics acts in-between the set changes and a DJ, I was already excited.

Inside, I perused the various market stalls, selling everything rock-related from clothing, jewellery, lamps and other wears. And not forgetting the splendid SOS Merchandise stand.

What a great selection at the bar too, from food to their very own SOS ale. Now that’s great work when you have a brewery to provide you with your brand of beer. Did I mention they had a crèche and play area outside the main arena for children? Now that’s great planning to have all these amenities under one roof,  indoors with no chance of bad weather to spoil things?

There are two stages at SOS Festival. The Dean Hocking stage providing the platform for full band electric sets. And the Wizz acoustic stage which is set up at the opposite end of the hall. Both stages are named in loving memory of people that meant a lot to the organisers of the festival.

Whilst the main stage gets set up for the next gig. Festival-goers have the chance to see some of their favourite acts performing acoustically. This means no stage clashes and as the acoustic bands perform more than once you get time to squeeze in a food break here and there.

 

DAY 1 at SOS Festival

Evening one of bands begins with dirty blues-rockers Snakewater getting the festival underway on the Dean Hocking stage. They didn’t muddy the waters with their dark side of the blues. With enticing riffs, this dedicated four-piece who recently re-formed got the crowd into the festival spirit.

Rip-roaring and ready to take up the pace are Howling Tides who bring their dynamic classic rock and roll vibe. Cheap Painkiller and sing-a-long song He told Me certainly got the rockers out and chanting ‘your days are numbered’.  Well, let’s hope not because I’d like to think they are great things on the horizon for this band.

Bringing the heavy mosh is Witch Tripper. Singer Richie Barlow reminds me of an oily looking Steve Harris, who fires out tales and intros to their songs. One called  White lines stands out, maybe it’s about road markings? This heavy rock number delivers punchy bass lines and gnarly vocals in the vein of James Hetfield.  Witch Tripper is old skool rock-metal with a lick of 70’s groove thrown into the mix. Playing a tight set, their energy is boundless.  Just like their upcoming tour schedule be sure to go check them out.

Witch Tripper

Sticking together are Scottish rockers The King Lot. With blues riffs and power vocals to boot, they take on a formidable classic rock sound with blistering harmonies. The crowd bursts along with ‘oi, oi’s ‘ in unison with the band as The King Lot do their thing and they do it so well.  And to quote their lyric ‘that’s all you want’ of a band!

The King Lot

Headliners The Quireboys have been long-standing on the rock scene. Introducing themselves to the crowd and stating ‘we hope you like good old fashioned rock and roll?’ Because that’s what we play.  Frontman, Spike banters with the crowd and jests about the guitarist, erm he meant bassist. Saying ‘he can only play four strings, but he’s good with a ‘G’ string!’

We get treated to tracks off their new album Amazing Disgrace, which saw the album go to number one in the rock charts. The bluesy and soulful Seven Deadly Sins and slide guitar country blues number Sinner Serenade.

Spike struts his stuff wielding his mike stand above his head and out over the crowd. Whilst happily shouting ‘this is rock n roll’ – if there was a prize for tossing mikes Spike would win hands down.

The Quireboys are true rock and roll to the core. Fired up and playing old favourites like  1990’s smashers  Hey You and There She Goes Again. The audience is having a ball, its just one big party down the front!

After a brief encore, the band return to the stage as Spike tells us ‘they forgot to play a couple of songs’.  The heartfelt I don’t Love You Anymore they go out with a bang on the infamous Sex Party.

The Quireboys

This evening on the Wizz acoustic stage saw hard rockers Fallen Mafia give us a new dimension and deliver a great acoustic set. And Sons of Liberty did themselves justice and brought around a change of pace between the sets.

Fallen Mafia

 

DAY 2 

It’s midday day and we are ready for the opening of day two of SOS Fest XII.  After yesterdays brilliant first day, I’m looking forward to today’s event.

Hell’s Gazelles prepare to give you something special.  Singer Colt Bryant is like a rutting goat, taking charge of the stage. Leaping into the crowd Bryant grabs a chair, and places it amongst his audience. Using it as a platform to get everyone rocking and participating. It might be 1 pm as they finish with the funky She-Devil but what ‘wow’ they did put on a great show to get things started.

Hell's Gazelles

Goth rock n rollers Cadence Noir is going acoustic today, with three members taking the helm of this fine goth-folk-metal vessel.  Singer, Adrien ‘Noir’ Perrie is dressed to thrill in PVC and a tartan skirt.  Their blend of music with his superb vocals, accompanied by Tom on treble bass and Emma on violin, made for some ear-catching melodies.

Beth Blade and The Beautiful Disasters fronted by axe-wielding Beth Blade. With red hot vocals and killer riffs on songs like Give it all, You’ve got and Hell in High Heels. Beth is simply vivacious.  Asking the audience ‘if they prefer to get down or get dirty? It would seem the crowd like to get dirty! As they play this classic rock number Down n Dirty.

The quality of the bands is exceptional so far and it’s not even teatime yet!

Beth Blade

Toledo Steel brings the power vocals and classic metal riffs.  With a sound melded somewhere between Judas Preist and Iron Maiden. Toledo Steel is the type of act, to fit the bill perfectly for SOS Festival.  They tear up the place and rock the crowd with the killer track Speed Killer!

Empyre is a band you need to see, this powerhouse delivers two cracking sets on the acoustic stage. Henrik Steenholdts vocals are akin to Chris Cornell but with a nice husky edge. Keeping it melodic rock today, Did Coles, delivers some serious classical guitar instead of his usual blistering riffs on the very impressive new single Stone.

Splitting things up is Tomorrow’s is Lost.  Cass King roars like a lioness as she commands her audience with her zesty attitude.  This new wave of classic rockers bring a freshness and their performances get stronger each time I see them.

Gio, bring the fun and games covering songs from Guns n Roses to Thin Lizzy. We discover later that vocalist  Giovanni Spano was an X-factor contestant but sadly didn’t make it all the way through. But this moment of fame might explain the reason the band changed their name from deVience.

Gio

As Spires play their second acoustic set, I find them a bit of a sombre affair until they bash out Toto’s, Africa.  With only guitarist Paul from the band, he did a great job been supported by two friends.

As with all festivals, it isn’t possible to catch every band so sadly we missed out on a Samarkind, Metaprism and Fantasist and Luke Appleton on the acoustic stage.

But instead, we did some great band interviews which you can check out on the PlanetMosh YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgQLQrp23H-19xKbg44gkSw

Getting back to catch some of Welsh heavy rockers, Florence Black. They perform a catchy cover of Breadfan by Budgie, who also happens to be a Welsh trio.

The penultimate band of the day are progressive metallers Collibus. Gemma Fox has a unique vocal style,  she’s not quite your Lizzy Hale or  Sharon den Adel but somewhere in between. And what fantastic growl she has, as  Collibus delivered a fine and energetic set!

Collibus

Tonight’s headliner is A Jokers Rage. From the start to the end of their set the whole performance was nothing short of explosive, in every sense of the word!

Guitarist Adam ‘Twiggy’ Gauton takes to the stage and his platform in darkness. A floor spotlight lights the man and his guitar and you know he means business as you spot the flashing LED glasses that spell the word  #gameface. As Adam intro’s the show with almost three minutes of serious shredding. A well-timed cannon of confetti explodes as singer  Zakky Boy Taylor bursts into Temptress.  Using impressive backing tracks to give that extra dimension to this already kick-ass high-velocity band.

A Jokers Rage is giving one of the best performances of their lives. This a seriously intense. Adam solo’s again but this time to a mash-up of tracks from Sweet Child O Mine, Back In Black and Beat it.   Gemma Fox takes to the stage to collaborate with Zakky on a rather rocking version of Proud Mary.  We also get to hear their new single Shylock and the awesome fan favourite In It For The Kicks. 

Manging an impressive three costume changes. Zakky returns to the stage sporting a pork pie style hat and a rather psychedelic cat print tee. Going for a change of pace, the band give homage to The Beatles playing I Am The Walrus.  Encoring with Bounce, the whole of the audience is bouncing. And if A Jokers Rage didn’t leave you bouncing with joy, well then I have no words for you. I have to say this was the most impressive, and epic show I’ve seen them do.

A Jokers RageA Jokers Rage

 

Day 3 

Well, I can’t believe its the final day of SOS Festival. The performances have been everything from brilliant to outstanding. So, how is day three going to measure up?

Just after having a conversation and mentioning the fact that Poison should come back to play the UK. Melodic AOR rockers Atlas play a blinder of a set. Their brand of straight-up rock gets the crowd rocking. Vocalist Craig Wells adds a dash of the 80s with his vocal styling that reminds me of Bret Michaels as they play the aptly named Flesh and Blood.

Over on the acoustic stage, Stonewire plays the first of their two acoustic sets. Singer Sky Hunter has the perfect southern blues voice that could melt honey. The band play sweet harmonies that take your mind on a journey far away from the setting of Prestwich.

Scarlet Rebels formerly know as the VOiD seem to be getting a better reputation under their new name.  They play rhythmic classic rock with scorching riffs. Singer Wayne Doyle is a great frontman enticing the crowd to join and sing along. They certainly opened the eyes of this crowd, with a lot of good things said about the band afterwards.

 

Scarlet Rebels

 

Taking a break, As we headed off to the Press Room to do some interviews.

Unfortunately, we had to miss out on Ward XVI epic theatrical performance.  Which I believed involved getting the crowd into a circle pit of hokey pokey (not my words). It sounded very entertaining all the same, with costumes of an axe murderer and blood and gore.

Kane’d is an exceptional band with not one but three vocalists sisters Steph, Stacey and Chez. This 7-piece wonder is something to behold. With so much happening on the main stage, you’re not short of who to watch. Their alternative progressive rock sound draws you in on Show me your Skelton whilst Reckless is a total opposite with sleazy, gritty riffs.

Black Whiskey brings their heavy train of gusty classic rock with a blues twist. Rolling in with Cheat The Hangman and the popular Bullets they give a great performance. Simon Gordon on vocals gives rock stances galore as the band show us what they’ve got. Always a great live entertaining band.

Tequila Mockingbyrd is back brighter than ever. The now four-piece fronted by Gill Montgomery, you may know her from the Amorettes. They play hard and heavy classic rock with an edge of punk.  Money Tree gets you rocking with its sassy lyrics. These ladies prove they have nothing to lose and by joining forces it has made them an even better powerhouse. That must be the Smell of Rock n Roll and what a sweet kick-ass sound they make.

Tequila Mockingbyrd

Over on the acoustic stage is brothers Chris & Luke Appleton

Down on the bill as Luke & Friends.  Chris and Luke play three mighty songs, some from their band Absolva and also a special number I see Red from their early days as FURY UK. Armed with an acoustic guitar each they hammer out the chords. As the crowd cheers along with the set choices. You can watch the set here: https://youtu.be/7oodcjNKQoM

Back over on the main stage trio, Skam are ready to rock you hard! They didn’t waste any time getting down to business. With ballsy big riffs, they brought the groove on new song  Bring The Rain. Bringing the crowd together, with fists and horns raised in appreciation.

Headliners and SOS festival closers are MASSIVE. Currently, amid a two month UK tour. Massive’s high octane performance was nothing short of massive. With no theatrics or stage props, they brought hard-edged rock n roll. The band might have a reputation as beer-swigging Aussie’s to uphold but underneath that exterior is a rock band that means business on stage.

Singer Brad Marr delivers the goods from start to finish. You can’t fault his enthusiasm for rock n roll. These down n dirty pub rockers have got all the grove and licks on Generation Riot. Guitarist Ben Laguda pulls all the guitar moves you’d expect to see from Slash, well he does have the hair for it!

The crowd is hot, sweaty and rocking out, like on the number One by one they crank up the pace, swigging beer in between the vocal and riffing guitar solos duties. Brad pulls out the falsetto high-pitch notes with ease. This band were born to rock!

Well, been an Aussie band, they play homage to AC/DC with a cover of  If You Want Blood. Who doesn’t love some ”Acca Dacca“.

The deep bassy lines on the ever-popular Dancefloor erupts the venue and the whole crowd goes crazy. Brad is an entertaining frontman, telling stories in between the songs.

The final song tells a heartwarming tale of life’s tribulations, as they finally slow things down with the epic Ghost.

Massive to proved to be a great choice for the final headliner of the festival. I think everyone left SOS Festival feeling warm and fuzzy inside after such a brilliant weekend.

See you next year SOS Festival!

Massive

Thank you to all the SOS staff and all the wonderful people I met at this year’s festival.

Photo credit for to Steve Tottle for Witch Tripper and The King Lot

Photo’s and words by Alex English for PlanetMosh

 

About Alex English