STONEDEAF FESTIVAL, Newark Showground, 24 August 2019
For those of us who miss the days of just turning up at a festival, watching a number of bands on one stage with no funfair or any other noisy distractions and then just going home again, Stonedeaf is the place to be. The Newark Showground features a good site to host bands, everyone’s friendly, the weather held and Steve ‘Krusher’ Joule (a man who appears to be cryogenically frozen at the end of each year’s festival season) was on hand to introduce the bands. What’s not to like?
Openers SAMARKIND are a Dublin-based motley crew with an English singer, David Paul Byrn, a Polish guitarist, Michal Kulbaka, and a Dubliner rhythm section of Mark Dempsey (bass) and Darragh O’Hehir (drums). Edgy but bluesy, and sounding not unlike Glenn Hughes at times, they opened proceedings well – hell, getting any form of crowd reaction at 11:30 is a bonus! – but a misplaced ballad towards the end of the set killed the vibe and people’s attention wandered. A shame, as they are a good band, and weaving a sliver of ‘Heaven And Hell’ into ‘Fire And Blood’ was a clever touch.
In a nutshell: a band worth watching out for
Fronted by the short-in-stature-but-huge-in-presence Brad Marr, MASSIVE might have been a better choice to get the party started. They’re an Australian four-piece so sound like Airbourne, and worked a cover of AC/DC’s ‘If You Want Blood...You Got It’ (complete with bonus insert of ‘It’s A Long Way To the Top’, the bagpipe section being whoa-whoa’s along quite nicely) into proceedings. The manic ‘Dancefloor’ gave way to a stage invasion of family, friends and hangers-on and, all-in-all, Massive came, saw and did a damn good job of conquering.
In a nutshell: extremely entertaining
THE AMORETTES, now featuring just guitarist/vocalist Gill Montgomery from the original band plus rhythm guitarist Laurie Buchanan and Tequila Mockinbyrd’s bassist Jacinta Jaye and drummer Josie O’Toole, became the first all-female band to play the Stonedeaf stage, a feat that was never achieved in all the days of Donington’s Monsters Of Rock. They looked a tad nervous but still worked hard to pull off an interesting and crowd-pleasing set in front of an appreciative crowd, although their songs did start to sound a bit samey after a while.
In a nutshell: let the neighbours call the cops!
It’s hard to fathom why DIAMOND HEAD were so low on the bill, really. Rejuvenated by energetic frontman Rasmus Bom Andersen the band are in their second flush of youth, and newbies like ‘The Messenger’ and ‘Death By Design’ slot in nicely alongside the likes of ‘Lightning To The Nations’, ‘It’s Electric’ and, of course, obligatory set closer ‘Am I Evil?’ Unfortunately, technical issues meant they started late and overran their slot, and the World War 2 plane flypast which should have taken place ten minutes after their set disrupted the end of their signature song. Such is life...
In a nutshell: it’s electric!
GEOFF TATE shamelessly whipped out ten Queensrÿche tracks to make up his set, all pulled from those first four classic albums. And you know what? It was fabulous! Although the three-guitarist band looked like a bunch of blokes he’d met at a bus stop, they nailed songs like opener ‘Empire’, ‘Screaming In Digital’ and ‘Take Hold Of the Flame’ flawlessly and Tate’s voice reigned supreme throughout. Surveying the sun-drenched audience he remarked that there were “10,000 lobsters out there” which was probably over-egging the numbers a bit (an uneducated guess would put the crowd at about half that) but this was a truly great performance from a truly great singer.
In a nutshell: the comeback kid
Toby Jepson always comes across as a really nice bloke, which is why although WAYWARD SONS don’t really do it for me, I can see their attraction. Band t-shirts on the day seemed pretty evenly split between Wayward Sons and Inglorious (with a strong showing for Motörhead, too), so they had a loyal following before they played a note. They pulled a big crowd, and a new song ‘Little White Lies’ made the cut, as did a cover of ‘No More Heroes’. A power cut led Jepson to say that the band were “too heavy for Stonedeaf” but that was pushing it a bit.
In a nutshell: a pleasant hour of classic rock
Heavy did come in the shape of PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS, whose thirteen-song set featured four Motörhead covers and a romp through ‘Silver Machine’ as well (which seemed to leave some of the youngsters looking a little nonplussed). PCATBS are great at what they do, and appear to have a lot of fun doing it (although without the PC it’s hard to see how far they would actually have got) and they certainly notched things up that little bit more, even getting away with some audience participation.
In a nutshell: born to raise hell
INGLORIOUS by name, glorious by nature, Nathan James and the boys had little really to do to win the crowd over but still they worked at it and basked in the adulation they deserved. With three great albums under their belts they had a wealth of material to choose from, and the closing pair of ‘Holy Water’ and ‘Until I Die’ must rank amongst some of the finest songs ever written, yet it was the cover of Alanis Morissette’s ‘Uninvited’ which turned many heads though, along with the instrumental coupled to it which showcased the talents of new boy Danny Dela Cruz.
In a nutshell: magnificent
There was an hour’s delay between Inglorious leaving the stage and GLENN HUGHES appearing and, although it pains me to say it, it really wasn’t worth the wait. Still flogging the corpse of Seventies’ Deep Purple for all it’s worth, Hughes himself delivered long, pointless monologues between songs while battling with power outages that silenced the keyboards and guitars at times. To be fair, these setbacks he sailed though, but his incessant ramblings snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and the crowd thinned considerably as time went by. Hurry up and join The Dead Daisies!
In a nutshell: disappointing
© John Tucker August 2019