Stonedeaf Festival, One day, One stage, One monster show
From the minute the gates opened at Newark showground the already waiting crowd soon filled the empty arena; while Twisted Sister’s ‘Oh come all ye faithful’ blasted over the PA system to accompany their very short walk from the entrance.
Paying homage to Monsters of Rock, with its one day, one stage concept. Stonedeaf brings you another great line up of bands. From festival openers Samarkind, Australias Massive, The Amorettes, Diamond Head, Geoff Tate, Wayward Sons, Phil Campbell and his Bastard Sons, Inglorious and headliner, the voice of rock himself Glenn Hughes.
Now into its second year, the organisers have got it nailed. Having worked on the niggles from year one, to bring you (the festival goer), everything you need for this year’s monster event. Looking after your wellbeing was an important part of the day. The overseers ensured there were water taps and earplugs available in the arena. If you needed to recharge or talk with someone because you felt a little overwhelmed, you could pop along to the ‘wellbeing’ tent. All the staff and volunteers I encountered couldn’t have been more helpful or professional in making Stonedeaf another successful year.
With an excellent choice of food and drinks vendors and market stalls, you could also pick up some nifty swag at the awesome merchandise tent. If you always hankered after meeting your idols, then today you could at The Planet Rock signing tent. All the bands playing were available for a meet and greet either before or after their sets. A perfect opportunity to get that album signed or grab a selfie.
The fans themselves also organised a tribute to our ‘Fallen Heroes’. At 11.11am the Stonedeafers met at the bar area and raised a glass to the ones no longer with us.
Winners of the Stonedeaf ‘opening act poll’ Samarkind kick off the day’s events. The Irish rockers have been busy on the festival circuit this summer and it’s great to see the lads play today. Singer David Byrne expressed his surprised at the number of people here to see them. Opening with the atmospheric southern felt Black Rain, you can feel the power and energy, as guitarist Michael Kulbaks strums the opening chords before the song launches in a hell-raising blues jig. Samarkind have a bag of kicking rhythm and blues tunes. As we feel midmorning sun searing down, the aptly named Sun Stroke gets everyone into a blues medley. Samarkind is a great rocking band and it would be good to see them rise higher up the bill. Closing with Blue Mountain, the drumbeat on this raunchy number provided by Darragh O’Heir along with Byrne’s earthy tones and Mark Dempsey’s throbbing bass lines makes for one hell of a sultry number; with Michael taking it to the bridge as he riffs it up for a huge crescendo blues-rock out song to remember. And what a great choice to end a set with. If you like your songs with a Deep Purple vibe, then I recommend you go check Samarkind out!
Massive has to be one of the best bands out of Australia, and there is quite a few. They have guts and great esteem and put on a solid show. Out, into the bright sunshine of midday doesn’t faze they guys as they go full throttle and deliver a raucous set. From opener Generation Riot to covering AC/DC’s If You Want Blood (you got it). The crowd is rocking all the way to the back of the arena, fists are pumped in the air and there’s a whole lot of rocking out going down. Joined on stage by a dozen madcap Stonedeafer’s (myself included) for the energetic Dancefloor. Massive turned up the dial to 11. Been on stage as part of a dance-mob, I got to experience Stonedeaf festival from the band’s point of view and what a spectacular sight it was to behold; watching thousands of rock fans, smiling and enjoying themselves. Finishing with the electrifying Long Time Coming, I belive Massive gained a few new fans today.
Be sure to check out the Stonedeaf promo video further down this review which perfectly captures the essence of Stonedeaf.
Not slowing down the pace Born to Break is a cocksure opener from The Amorettes these ladies are full of swagger as they play through favourites like Let the Neighbours Call the Cops and What Ever Gets You Through the Night. The Amorettes have an extensive back catalogue of songs, so picking today’s set can’t have been an easy task. As well as playing the guitar, singer Gill Montgomery has an amazing voice and is a sliver tongued vixen on Come and Get it, getting the crowd into a frenzy and even hotter and sweatier than they were before. Everything I learned from rock and roll off their latest album Born to Break surmises the band to a tee; it has sass, class and lots of rocking riffs. With its anthemic chorus “everything, I learned from rock n roll” you can already imagine the Stonedeafers going around humming this one after their set and it’s a perfect number for The fabulous Amorettes to play out with.
Iconic legends that are Diamond Head takes us into the mid-afternoon, with compare Krusher Joule introducing the band to the stage. Fronted by singer Rasmus Bon Anderson it’s hard to believe he’s been in the band five short years, but with a powerhouse of vocals, you can hear why he’s fitted right into the band, giving them a new dynamic edge. Enjoying the resurgence of their popularity, Diamond Head played a mix of old classics and new tracks from their latest album the Coffin Train: Death by Design, Belly of the Beast and The Messenger.
I spotted that their appearance at Stonedeaf today happened to be the first date of their The Sleeper Must Awaken tour, how first-rate is that? After playing much of the larger European festivals over the summer, it’s a win to have them here today. Guitar hero Brain Tatler looks to be having a right good time on the opener track Borrowed Time, as the hard-core fans mosh out down the front. You can feel the force of Diamond Head pulsate through the crowd on 80’s classic numbers Its Electric and Am I Evil? Talk about going out on a high, with a flyover by a Dakota DC-3 classic aeroplane at the end of their set to Am I Evil? The band and fans look up to the skies in awe as the classic bird flies overhead and back again.
Ex-Queensrÿche vocalist Geoff Tate brings his entirety of Queensrÿche classics with his Operation Mind Game band. Opener Empire begins with a voice recorded message just like on the album as Geoff rouses the crowd with his familiar voice. You feel transported back to days before all the bands’ bureaucracy. Breaking the Silence is hard and heavy on the riffs and less dramatic in its stylings but this Geoff so you’re not gonna get just a straight-up rock number but this is as straightforward as it gets, and it works well with the crowd. Slowing the pace down on Take Hold of the Flame, Tate can hit those high notes with ease. After a little chat with his audience, Tate delivers the anticipated Silent Lucidity a captivating almost lullaby of a song. Closing with Eyes of a Stranger, it’s not even 5 pm and we’ve already had some amazing bands perform so far.
One of the best NWOCR bands has to be Wayward Sons, they have a unique zest to them. Maybe it’s the collective experience of the bands’ members; from vocalist Toby Jepson (Little Angels) to Nic Wastell (Chrome Molly). Whatever they possess it holds them in good stead with their unique blend of straight up, no messing about, tell you how it is rock n roll! With one album Ghosts of yet to come and with another soon to be on its way The Truth Aint What it Used To Be you’ll be impressed at their virtuoso.
At the time of Wayward Son’s performance I was interviewing Inglorious, who mentioned to me they were missing Wayward Sons to be interviewed. You can watch the Inglorious interview Here .
From missing the start of their set, which included opener Alive, I heard there was a power outage on stage during the aptly named Killing Time. I managed to catch up with Wayward Sons as they were performing the popular Crush, a firm favourite of the fans; it covers all the bases with heavy riffs and melodic anthemic verses. A different surprise was Waywards cover of The Stranglers No More Hero’s, which was well-received by their fans and audience. Despite the technical interruption to their set Wayward Sons put on a great show today. And they seemed to have the most dedicated fans, who were out in force proudly sporting their Wayward tees! All too quickly, as the song title suggests Until the End closes their epic set. Be sure to catch Wayward Sons on tour with Black Star Riders later this autumn.
Phil Campbell and his Bastard Sons was the next band on stage and ironically I missed most of their set as I was interviewing Wayward Sons Toby Jepson – you can check out the interview Here.
Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell has gained a following and is complimented by vocalist Neil Starr with whom he shares vocals. The set wasn’t all Motörhead songs, very little in fact. You got a good mix of songs from Phil’s debut album The Age of Absurdity: Freak Show, Step into the Fire and the very bluesy harmonic based Darker Days. The covers they did include was the classic Silver Machine and the immortal Ace of Spades.
Sub headliners Inglorious, to some, is like marmite; you either love or hate them
Each time I hear Nathen James the singer of Inglorious, I’m reminded vocally of Y & T’s Dave Meniketti, especially when they play Taking the Blame. On this song, even down to the ripping guitar riffs you get that same kick-ass vibe as Y & T’s Mean Streak and that’s a good thing they’ve got going on.
If you’re thinking ‘I don’t recognise some of the members of Inglorious’, ‘except for Nathan and drummer Phil Beaver’; that’s because they’ve had three new members join, Danny Dela Cruz, lead guitar, Dan Stevens, second guitar and Vinnie Colla, bass guitar. This new 2018 line-up has seen many shows and young-gun Danny seems to be getting the crowd in awe with his flamboyant guitar solos.
Covering Alanis Morissette’s Uninvited was a bold move but I felt it put a bit of a slump into their set. And the bar sales might’ve gone up during this point? But firing up the energy and pace again with Ride to Nowhere and the tub-thumping I Don’t Need Your Loving both roused the crowd back to life. Letting us know they’re in it for the long haul they close with the monstrous Until I Die.
Tonight’s headliner is the voice of rock himself, Mr Glenn Hughes
Glenn Hughes has had an illustrious career working amongst notable bands such as Black Sabbath and Gary Moore and notably as the bass player for Deep Purple. Hughes has been honing his career over the decades with many projects and tonight the hard blues rocker shows Stonedeaf why he’s been given the acclaimed title of ‘the voice of rock.’ At 68 years of age, Glenn is no stranger to the crowds. Dressed in a silk floral shirt and red paisley waistcoat and matching red patterned flares. Hughes is out to impress and just not by his stage clothes which give him that extra oomph! He has the charisma and showmanship to deliver a great headline performance.
A delay to the start of the events has people wondering will he won’t he be performing but 30 minutes later Glenn hits the stage with Deep Purple’s Stormbringer. During the start of Glenn’s set, I was in the photo-pit for the first couple of songs, after I found myself enjoying the show from the midst of the crowd, where I saw Nathan James, singing along too and enjoying his set thus far. I worked my way through the crowds and gained a nice prime spot down the front. Personally, for me, rock and roll is best when you’re down the front; taking in the essence of what the band on stage has to give you; you don’t get that feeling right at the back or at least I don’t.
With Glenn performing classic Deep Purple songs this evening, the setlist was only 10 songs long but the solos and extended versions made for a terrific playlist. The evocative You Keep On Moving, Hughes topped all those high pitch notes, with its hazy deep bass notes you’re given a soulful blend of blues-rock with a burst of jazz melody played on the keyboard, with the lead guitar carrying the melody of this wonderful track.
Glenn born in Staffordshire must’ve got his baring’s amiss as he welcomed the crowd as ‘hello England’ at one point and ‘Nottingham’, it did make me muse. Well Hughes didn’t lose his mind on the muddy Mistreated with more epic vocals, you get transported on a psychedelic roller coaster …with Glenn filling in with a single noted ‘wail’ akin to an ‘ahhhhh’ just to remind you he is there, as the band jam the bars of this song, the feel is more exuberant with more extended keyboards, think The Doors and some!! The grandeur lasted at least 15 minutes; man o man can Glenn give you a good flare of his vocals on just one note!
Glenn Hughes brought you his Smoke on the Water with the crowd interacting with the euphonious chorus. Taking the set to climatic penultimate end was Burn, but following with the golden Highway Star he could’ve left Burn on the floor as Highway Star stands out itself and was a great track to close his set with.
Until next year Stondead! That’s not a typo. Stonedeaf has had a slight name change to Stonedead Festival for next year.
Stonedeaf is one of the best, one-day outdoors festivals I’ve attended. It’s very well organised and the staff and volunteers were more than helpful and friendly, the crowds were made up of an awesome bunch of folk and the bands were all spectacular in their own way. So thank Stonedeaf Festival for inviting PlanetMosh along to be part of your one day monster event!
Stonedeaf has had a slight name change to Stonedead Festival for next year. You can purchase tickets for this awesome event here: https://www.stonedeadfestival.co.uk/
All photos and words by Alex English for PlanetMosh