Winter Rocks 2015 – Corporation, Sheffield
A very windy day in December heralded the second ever Winter Rocks Festival at Corporation, Sheffield . After a successful event in 2014. There was a bit of a queue when I arrived and the event didn’t kick off at 12.15 with Skarlett Riot as initially advertised, Bad Touch were held up in traffic and didn’t make it in time, which resulted in a bit or reshuffle. For those who haven’t been, the main room is very long with a merchandise area and bar at the back and the stage area has another bar. Stage two, is in a smaller room, off the merchandise area and has it’s own bar. There’s also an outside seating area where food was being served, but as I didn’t partake of the food I can’t comment on the range, quality or price! This isn’t a foodie review anyway! Well stocked bar and competitive prices though, which is the main thing!
Fahran opened the festival on stage two, which had a high stage so you could get a good view. Although the stage was high it’s fairly small and there didn’t seem to be much room to manoeuvre, but five-piece Fahran put on an energetic performance, with their set including Take This City Alive, Ashes and 1000 Nights. A good perfomance from Fahran. Winter Rocks 2015 was opened and the bar was set! Over on stage one Skarlett Riot had started, slightly later than billed. Chloe was looking fabulous in tight leather shorts and ripped tights and got everyone singing along to One Chance is All We have then thanked everyone for coming along to support live music. Back on stage two, the first band I hadn’t seen before, Stags were already playing. Fronted by Chris Finney with Ronan Keating style good looks they looked like the archetypical Boy Band but the sound was more retro/bluesy rock, think Joe Cocker, The Doors, Blackberry Smoke, with Chris’ vocals being like a male equivalent of Amy Winehouse. Then back to stage one for Sumo Cyco, over from Canada to support Fozzy on his UK Tour, ballsy singer Sever looking stunning in a majorette style dress, with ripped tights, knee high socks and bright pink hair. Sever wanted to get people bouncing and came down into the audience to stand on a drink’s ledge in front of the bar before jumping off and climbing back onto the stage, an electric performace from the Sumo Cyco. I made it over to stage two in time for Back To Verona‘s flamenco type intro, then larger than life singer Danny Wilkinson suddenly appeared. Another band I hadn’t seen, nor knew anything about prior to today, but I recognised the Yorkshire accent when he asked ‘Who’s looking forward to Winter Rocks 2015?’ they have a very heavy sound with clean vocals. Danny asked if everyone was pissed, as the night was still young! The night hadn’t even started it wasn’t yet 3pm though with them being fifth band on it seemed later! Shadow, one of their mellower tracks was like a super fast Singing The Blues by Guy Mitchell. I picked up a bit of Red Hot Chilli Peppers heavy bass sound in place and the last song, which I didn’t catch the title of, was a bit Falling to Pieces by Faith No More.
I didn’t make it in time for The Dirty Youth‘s opening song or two so their set was already well underway, with Danni in a tight Uma Thurman-ish Kill Bill style jumpsuit, although mainly black with both a yellow stripe and a blue stripe. Their songs included Feel So Alive and Fight with it’s ELO style harmonius Chorus. Silverjet were over on stage two. Dave dedicated End of the Day with it’s Lynryd Skynrd type riffage to the ladies! He asked for a Hell Yeah before they played the song of the same title, a popular one and, being a local Sheffield based band, the locals should have known this one! Then Liam said that the next one was a joke song, and they don’t do many because Dave hasn’t got a sense of humur! It was also going to be their next single Do You Know Who We Think We Are this one had a Teenage Casket Company vibe, although as Dave also plays guitar for them that’s not unlikely!
Then it was Tax The Heat time over on stage one, and as I arrived vocalist Alex was asking ‘Who’s seen Tax The Heat’ before and a few yeahs and whoops indicated assent. They played their new single Some Sympathy these guys reminded me of Federal Charm and Fire Red Empress, although I have only seen the latter with former vocalist Nik Taylor-Stoakes and not with new female vocalist Jennifer Diehl. Alex asked anyone who knew it to singalong to Highway Home and said even if we didn’t we could sing along and with it’s Oh, oh, ohs it was easy to pick up. At this stage I needed to nip out for a caffeine fix so I only saw a couple of minute of Pete Shoulder‘s set, but Sean, who caught the set, told me he was very bluesy and polished and it was an excellent set. I caught the very end of two piece rock ‘n’ rollers The Graveltones‘ set, very loud, hard hitting and sweaty with a bit of an Aussie vibe although they’re from London.
Over on stage two, the band I’ve seen the most times, Falling Red were about to start and I found myself a good vantage point, leaning on the wall at the side of the stage, where I managed to get dry iced before they’d even started, Opening with Break Me they covered the stage well and their set consisted mainly of songs from their Empire of The Damned album. Frontman Rozey asked people to get their horns up for a pic but the flash didn’t go off, but I’m used to not being flashed by these dudes having missed the gig where Rozey’s pants split! The crowd were split in two for If You Ain’t Down With the Rock (You Can Fuck Right Off) and there was plenty of audience participation singing along to the ‘You can fuck right offs’. After a ‘Goodnight’ from Falling Red I fucked off back to stage one where Texan five piece Scorpion Child‘s set was underway. Interestingly singer Aryn Jonathan Black’s vocals reminded me of Fahran frontman Matt Black’s, I say interesting as they both have the last name Black, but I don’t think they are related! A lively set with heads banging Aryn got the audience to join in, clapping along. I picked up essences of Black Sabbath, The Doors and I thought one of their songs was like a psychedlic Thunderstruck by AC/DC, which one? Would love to be more exact but didn’t get any set lists. They thanked us and said we’d been a wonderful, wonderful crowd.
Flip The Pyramid on stage two, kind of localish and I say kind of as they’re from Rotherham and Presov, Slovakia and whilst Rotherham is in the same county, Presov isn’t even in the same country, so I don’t know how band practice works! Anyway, I digress, Winter Rocks was actually their first live show. Frontman Sawf reminded me of Kurt Kobain in looks, whilst bass player Lukas looked like my team leader at PlanetMosh David Farrell, who denys having been out moonlighting! Sawf said back in 2003 he’d met one of the other guys, and they’d had some great times, which led to a heckle of ‘Are you married’ and without missing a beat Sawf replied ‘Not yet, we’re working on it.’ A bit heavy, a bit grungy. A good, tight set and, if they hadn’t said so, I wouldn’t have realised it was their very first gig.
Back on stage one I was confronted with a young Blaze Bayley and Zack de la Rocha in the form of Brandon Yeagley and Jake Figueroa from Crobot, from Pottsville, Pennsylvania and Brandon said the first thing we were going to see of their bass player in those boxers was his butt hole. The said boxers were a very tight, grey and it’s fair to say that his butt was not the first thing my eyes were drawn to!!! A very lively and energetic performance with Brandon using the microphone stand as a prop to headbang wildly to. Brandon said it was an absolute pleasure to be here tonight and he needed our help to conjure up the devil before they played La Mano de Lucifer a Black Sabbathesque number, whilst last song Fly on The Wall was reminiscent of Blackstone Cherry say Me and Mary Jane. A few big jumps from Brandon and a ‘Cheers, Sheffield Winter Rocks. Thank you for having us as part of this beautiful festival’ ended their set. Regulus were literally just starting as I made my way back to stage two, a four piece stoner rock band from Sheffield, and there were a lot of people in the audience singing along so they obviously have a lot of local supporters. Very heavy with one song being about ‘The man who took my woman from me’ which turned out to be a bit of a depressing song! Frontman Luke said he hoped we were all having a good time and thanked us for being at Winter Rocks 2015. They played the title track of their latest self-titled EP which, of course, was Regulus. Bassist Carl then seemed to be looking for something on the floor, whilst the others played on, whatever it was he must have found it and came back in with a heavy bass line. Overall I’d say they reminded me of Soundgarden. I hadn’t been able to see drummer Joe from where I was stood at the side but he came to the front and I got to see his impressive dreads. Which set the scene for Nonpoint, all the way from Chicago and over on stage one, as not just one band member had dreads but three! Singer Elias asked if we were having a good time and said he didn’t know if we’d noticed but he was wasted and he was going to have a good time. Reminiscent of System of a Down Elias said they weren’t the band to stand around to, and they needed some participation, when we felt the rhythm and the beat we were going to bounce. He also asked that if the person next to us wasn’t jumping we were to grab them by whatever and make them jump and most people obliged. I also picked up a bit of Tool, and no I didn’t grab someone’s tool to make them jump I meant the band reminded me of Tool! Their set included Pins and Needles, Breaking Skin and a cover of Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight. A good set with lots of audience participation.
Over on stage two penultimate band on that stage were Liberty Lies an alternative hard rock band hailing from the West Midlands, and I have seen these guys before with Falling Red and Velvet Star at Grand Central, Manchester in November 2010, I wasn’t 100% certain but the name rang a bell so I trawled back through some photos. The guitarist and bass player were wearing all white, which made me think of Andrew W.K. and their sound was very hard hitting and heavy, a bit Andrew W.K. too! Powerful with a good mix of harder and mellower songs and coming to the end Shaun announced ‘This is the last song then you can go and watch Fozzy!’ Fozzy had already started their set over on stage one, with Chris Jericho standing out in a flashing jacket, well it lit up anyway, and gave him the look of a muscular Julian Clary! He asked Sheffield make some noise and cheers rung out, people were clapping and already there were shouts of ‘Fozzy, Fozzy, Fozzy’ and he said ‘Thank you very much Sheffield, are you ready for Fozzy?’ before a very heavy fast number and he ditched the flashing jacket to reveal a sleeveless waistcoast. Chris was bouncing around and clapping, looking like he was taking an aerobics class with star jumps and shouts of one, two , three hey, hey hey. He then said ‘Let’s see if you know the next one’ which was a rocking cover of SOS by Abba and it turned out that the majority of the audience were closet Abba fans, as everyone seemed to know it and be singing along! He asked how many people had never seen Fozzy before and when a fair few arms went up he said ‘We promise we won’t fuck you too hard Fozzy virgins’ People were shouting Enemy, ‘You want to hear Enemy? Ok fellas this one’s called Enemy’ a very popular one with the band covering the stage. We then got an introduction to the band before the funky Sandpaper. There were more shouts of Fozzy, Fozzy, Fozzy and he said he wanted us jumping, he said he wanted us to go home and say we saw the band of the night – Fozzy! One of the guitarists came out to play in the crowd. Chris then came out into the crowd before they carried him back to the stage and all the band stood for a bow to yet more shouts of Fozzy, Fozzy, Fozzy! Fozzie Bear with an i.e. may well have been a muppet but muppets Fozzy the band are not! A great set from the penultimate band on stage one!
It may well have been Winter Rocks and the winds outside did nothing to contradict this but the headlining band on stage two were Buffalo Summer a feel good rock ‘n’ roll band from Neath in South Wales. I managed to make it over to stage two before they started and they have been in Sheffield before as frontman Andrew said it was good to be back in the steel city. A bluesy sound and from the off people were dancing, Andrew said they were going to play a new song and if we’d seen them on tour with Crobot we might have heard it, I didn’t catch the title but it was a popular one and I could see lots of feet tapping and heads nodding along to the beat! The next song I did catch the title of and it was A Horse Called Freedom from their self titled debut album. The next song was for Crobot Down With The River a Blackberry Smoke/Black Crowes type number and Jake Figueroa the bass player from Crobot joined them on stage but I didn’t recognise him instantly as he was fully clothed! Some great riffage in this one and a few AC/DC Back in Black riffs ended the set.
With one band not making in time due to the weather the twentieth band and festival headliners came in the form of Rock ‘n’ Rollers The Temperance Movement. I’ve heard lots of good things about this band but had never seen them until tonight and what a band I have been missing! Fronted by Glaswegian Phil Campbell, who put me in mind of Kelvin Fletcher (Emmerdale’s Andy Sugden) but in his American baseball jacket and t-shirt emblazoned with ‘You Rock & I’ll Roll’ he was moving around the stage like a cross between a Whirling Dervish and Mick Jagger from the off! We were definitely not down on the farm. As to the temperance, I only noticed a bottle of water! I managed to get hold of a set list afterwards but I can’t necessarily tell you in which songs I picked up which similarities but I picked up flavours of The Kinks, The Who and in Three Bulleits, a Green Day Hitchin’ A Ride vibe. In one song the riffs sounded almost brass like. Phil said it was good to be back here and picked up some Maracas for a song with a Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar vibe. A bit of Joe Cocker, a bit of Black Crowes and Phil had long since ditched the jacket and was wearing a sweat shirt, ok so he hadn’t changed but the t-shirt was dripping in sweat! Phil announced Get Yourself Free as being their favourite song from their new album White Bear. A funky song a bit Black Crowes meets Free and he said it was easy to sing along if we knew the words, and even if we didn’t it wasn’t so hard.
After a couple more songs Phil said that was all they had for us and off they went but shouts for more saw them coming back on stage and Phil picked up an acoustic guitar for the mellow song Pride, which reminded me of Badfinger’s Without You. Phil thanked everyone and said what a great year 2015 had been for them with this being the last gig they were going to do this year. That meant the last song they did was not only going to be the last song of Winter Rocks 2015 but the last song The Temperance Movement played live this year and it was the more upbeat Ain’t No Telling reminiscent of Reo Speedwagon’s Back On The Road Again.
The Temperance Movement Set List:
Sun & Moon
Get Yourself Free
Taking It Back
Losing My Mind
Ain’t No Telling
Twenty bands, some more to my liking than others but they all put on a good show. Excellent value for money! I asked some friends who were there who their highlight bands had been Chris and Leslie both said Fozzy, Sean went for Buffalo Summer and Rachel opted for Nonpoint. I have to give a special mention to Flip The Pyramid who did ‘flipping’ well for their first gig, Stags a band I hadn’t seen, or even heard of before are one I shall look out for. Fozzy were great fun and very entertaining and The Temperance Movement definitely deserved that headline slot! Sheffield rocked this winter!