BROFEST 2015: Day One – Friday evening 27 February 2015BROFEST 2015: Day One – Friday evening 27 February 2015

Following in the illustrious footsteps of 2013’s Black Rose and Toledo Steel last year, Brofest 2015 was kicked-started by MANDORA, an energetic five-piece from South Shields who first formed in 1983 and who came back together in September 2013 after 26 years MIA. With animated vocalist Paul Binyon leading the charge from the front Mandora were pretty much the perfect openers, and not only turned a few heads but also engaged the crowd from the off. Not a bad start. AVENGER headlined the first night in 2013 and were a bit of a train-wreck, to be honest, but with vocalist Ian Davison Swift back aboard the hot ’n’ heavy express Avenger seemed reborn. A twelve-song set mixed oldies like ‘Enforcer’ and ‘Revenge Attack’ with ‘Fate’ and ‘In Arcadia Go!’ from their exceptionally good new album ‘The Slaughter Never Stops’, and by the time they wrapped things up with ‘Too Wild To Tame’ – naturally – they’d made it pretty obvious that they were well and truly back in business.

MYTHRA only managed one record back in the day – but what a record! Everybody knows the ‘Death And Destiny’ EP and all four tracks were included in the band’s Brofest set, the band’s first gig for thirty years (albeit as a six-piece rather than the old quintet). What’s more, vocalist Vince High sounded no different now to how he did when they recorded ‘Death And Destiny’ back in 1979. “No regrets,” said High at one point in their set. “At least we tried.” On the night they were probably the crowd’s favourite band from what I could judge, but that’s not to take anything away from headliners HOLLOW GROUND who proudly boast that they never changed line-up and still have the original members to this day. Last year’s ‘Warlord’ release on High Roller Records is a stunning album, and live, Hollow Ground are a stunning band. Last year they pulled out all the stops, but this year they managed to trump even that performance. What a start to the weekend!

© John Tucker March 2015