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Feature: Firefest : a personal view

Andy Nathan is a veteran of the melodic rock festival which attracts punters from all over the world...

A modestly sized festival in the East Midlands, run independently rather than by a commercial promoter, and featuring bands that barely dented the lower reaches of the UK singles and album charts 20 plus years ago. And yet one which inspires fanatical devotion and loyalty, and attracts fans who travel from all over the world. How can I explain this?

Partly it is that being a lover of melodic rock and AOR feels like being part of a cult sect persecuted by the outside world.

The genre is critically reviled by music critics and followers of the next best thing for supposedly being musically unadventurous and aimed at the lowest common denominator; to many it is associated with men in perms and high voices caused by ball-crushingly tight trousers, while the metal and hard rock fraternity routinely but mistakenly criticise the genre's 'wimpiness'.

And yet the way 'Don't Stop Believin' has lodged itself in the public consciousness after its Sopranos, Glee and X Factor exposure, shows the way this genre's rousing rock anthems with melody, emotion and a stirring message have the power to move everyone.

But its not just the music that in my view makes Firefest special.

It is very much a 'gathering of the clans' - many from abroad, primarily mainland Europe but also the USA and Canada, Australia and the Far East. Maybe even a third attending come from overseas.

This lends the gig an intensity and almost revivalist fervour, as the crowd by its nature are diehards of the genre rather than casual fans.

This leads to ever more outrageous unofficial contests to wear the most obscure T-shirt - even though the rise of ebay means you can see 1985 Night Ranger baseball shirts on people who were mere babes in arms then!

It is also organised by our own kind - I first stumbled across the names of co-promoters Kieran Dargan and Bruce Mee in fanzines before they branched out.

Kieran brought Firehouse and the reformed Danger Danger on UK tours when no established promoter would take the chance, while Bruce co-founded Now and Then records, who established the Gods festivals which were Firefest's precursor.

Supported by a loyal team of helpers, they joined forces to hold the first Firefest at Bradford in 2005, swiftly followed by one in Nottingham later that year. Ever since the festival has settled for a late October date at Rock City.

The other unique thing about Firefest is the organisers' gift for surprising fans by bringing long defunct cult bands back to the stage.

Grown men and women were weeping in delight at White Sister's first appearances in over 20 years a couple of years ago, the FM reformation began with a one-off for 2007 Firefest which persuaded them to do so permanently, and other cult bands like Blue Tears, Valentine and Romeo's Daughter have unexpectedly returned and relished playing in front of an audience they probably thought was no longer there.

This year, Strangeways, reunited with singer Terry Brock  is the unexpected blast from the past.

This year's is the biggest, and one of the most diverse, yet with a Friday warm up at the University headlined by youthful Swedish sensations H.E.A.T, followed by two full days at Rock City.

On Saturday night Lynch Mob, featuring ex-Dokken guitarist (and Eddie Van Halen's guitar teacher!) George Lynch headline a line up also featuring Dare and Bonfire showcasing two of the genre's best ever albums (Fireworks and Out of the Silence respectively).

On Sunday we are blessed with two acts who have had US No 1's making their first ever appearance on English soil - former Survivor singer Jimi Jamison, and Nelson, albeit shorn of the hair that led them to be nicknamed the 'Timotei Twins' back in the day.

More than Christmas, more than my birthday, more than the first day of the football season, even more than festivals I travel to in the States, Firefest is the event I most look forward to all year. See you down the front!

Tickets & Prices

Saturday - 48.50 Sunday - 48.50 Postage at 1 extra per order Day of Show 55

Payment : via paypal to :  or by Cheque/Postal Order/Bank Draft payable to

Bruce Mee C/O Fireworks Office and sent to:
10 Dunnock Close

Tickets will be mailed out within 21 days of order.

Other details

Firefest 2010 is an age 14 and over show.


More information

Official website


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