BROFEST 2015: Day Two – Saturday 28 FebruaryBROFEST 2015: Day Two – Saturday 28 February

At midday WARBASTARD announced their arrival by blasting through their set with little fuss but plenty of thrash. Their homage to early Eighties speed metal is best summed up by the fact that they wrapped things up with a cover of Slayer’s ‘Black Magic’, and their forty-minute slot was despatched in thirty-one minutes dead. It was, to be fair, a little early in the day for that sort of thing though. The three-guitar-fronted HUNDRED didn’t really do it for me either, the Londoners showing a lot of promise but exposing a lack of experience, the vocal harmonies being adventurous but not actually working well on the day. So it was HAMMERHEAD who really set the ball rolling, and for the neutrals in the crowd they were the day’s best band. Naturally the six-song set contained both sides of their 1981 seven-incher ‘Time Will Tell’ b/w ‘Lonely Man’ but in opener ‘Angels Fall’ the band have a metal classic up their sleeves and the sprawling ten-plus-minute 'The Sin Eater' is a truly terrific composition.

From the off it appeared that PHASSLAYNE were under-rehearsed and terribly nervous, but by the time they got to their penultimate number (album opener ‘Think It Over’) they’d hit their stride and were visibly relaxed. Hopefully we will be hearing more from Mick Maughan and his crew in the future. TROYEN on the other hand just let go and obviously had fun from the off, although unfortunately I didn’t see much of their set. I did see all of HAMMER though, the band formed by Kenny Nicholson after he left Black Rose and formerly known as Holland until they suffered an enforced name change. So the set called on the sole LP of each band, and the band were greeted with an enthusiastic response from a wholly supportive crowd. Nicholson himself is a guitarist of no mean talent and the showy Blackmore-isms in his playing added to the set’s vitality. They closed their forty minutes with Hammer’s ‘Caution To The Wind’ and ‘Holland’s ‘Do It’ and the crowd – including Carcass’s Bill Steer – all filed out with smiles as wide as the Tyne Tunnel.

Filing on in black t-shirts and white jeans the four-piece led by Chris Black and known as HIGH SPIRITS were met with rapturous applause. Their music is beautifully composed and well played, but on the night they left me stone cold. Everyone else liked them though and they went down a storm, so my lack of enthusiasm isn’t really going to bother them. Maybe it was because I’d been waiting over thirty-five years to see TRESPASS and inside I was hyperventilating? I cannot pretend to be objective here, but Trespass were awesome in the true sense of the word. Opening with ‘The Duel’, a song that features pretty much every Trespass trademark, was a smart move, as was playing as a five-piece with three guitars, thus allowing both Mark Sutcliffe and Dave Crawte to play those intricate twin leads while still have a rhythm guitar underpinning them. Seven songs came and went in the blink of an eye, and by the time the last notes of inevitable closer ‘One Of These Days’ had died away the Suffolk band had Brofest 2015 in the palm of their hands.

“We are RADIUM featuring RACE AGAINST TIME,” announced bassist Al Short. A bit confusing, but the stage featured Short and drummer Geoff Green from RAC and guitarist/vocalists Kevin Healey and Andy Meehan from Radium playing a set that mixed and matched both bands’ music and inevitably wrapped up with RAC’s ‘Bedtime’.

Given that 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of ‘A Time Of Changes’ BLITZKRIEG chose to play the album in its entirety (although not sequentially), pausing only long enough for Brian Ross to announce that their mascot/logo the Great Bird Of Armageddon was to be named Mario in honour of the band’s Number One Fan (and all-round nice guy). Having despatched the album and a few older songs with minimal fuss the second half of their ninety minutes featured later material like ‘V’, ‘Sahara’ and ‘Call For The Priest’ and inevitably things were rounded off with That Single from thirty-five years ago.

© John Tucker March 2015