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Monsters of Rock

Miltom Keynes Bowl, 3 June 2006

And so it began, a 1000 + mile round trip to the resurrected Monsters Of Rock, just like the old days. And as such we decided to do it the hard way. No luxuries for us, it was overnight coach trips and poor personal hygeine all the way.

Naturally, things got off to a bad start as I had to pass the in progress Journey show which was taking place as I left. And as Journey were my main reason for going, that hurt. But needs must, and the usual coach load of vague undesirables was augmented by a couple of rock fans who should have know better. At least it was uneventful, bar me breaking the toilet door, necessitating the use of the magic spoon.

And I didn't even use the toilet, not daring to risk the minefiled of used syringes and nappies which seem to appear at random.

So, a bright and early arrival in London saw us heading for Paddington for an 8.30 connection to the Milton Keynes Bowl. It seemed ludicrously early, but at least we found the bus and, surprise, surprise, arrived long before the gates were due to open. It was nice to see that some things hadn't changed since the glory days of MoR, with the over zealous mini Hitlers working the gates refusing entry to an array of deadly sandwiches and soft drinks. Heaven forfend I should hurl a chicken sandwich at Ian Gillan! But soon enough we were in, spot claimed on the hill, arrangements made to meet fat friends, so let the rock begin!

Roadstar suffered the usual punish the opening act sound problems, but won over a substantial number of the early arrivers with their old fashioned good time rock and dodgy fake American accents, but the real start was, obviously, the Motor City Madman, the Great Gonzo, Mr Ted Nugent!

And he didn't disappoint, beginning with some severe roadie baiting for the bass tech - "I'm gonna skin you and make a dress out of you" - being the star turn. But once the music began it was good. He churned out everything you could want - "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang", "Stranglehold", "Free For All" (hurrah), "Cat Scratch Fever" and more.

He was in fine audience rapport fettle, and MOR 2006 was officially underway.

Of course you can always rely on Queensryche to ruin a good party, and by starting with their one good song, "Revolution Calling", it gave me some valuable sleeping / sunburning / admiring the view time before the arrival of Thunder. Now we all know why they were so far up the bill, but they were a real revelation. I've seen them a fair few times over the years, good, bad and indifferent, but they pulled out all the stops, working the audience in tremendous style, getting the party going after the yawnfest that had went before.

Now I could tell you how good Journey were, but you probably wouldn't believe me. With only an hour to kick it large, they rattled through more hits than you could shake a very big stick at. Opening with "Separate Ways" and running through "Wheel In The Sky", "Lights", "Any Way You Want It", "Faithfully", "Open Arms" and more. I'm feeling quite faint just thinking about it. A near perfect performance, only marred by Steve Augeris mustard coloured strides. Please! Nothing is worth 25 years for, but seeing Journey now completes my musical mission to see the best bands ever created - and they deserve to be in that pantheon.

Alice Cooper was also in good form, but as the set was nearly identical to his recent tour I didn't pay particularly close attention. Just a truncated mid section differed for the shorter set, but he is a consummate showman, and well deserved the adoring audience reaction.

And then it was the headliners. Twilight had arrived, the big screens were switched on, and Deep Purple blasted into "Pictures Of Home".

I'll spare you my usual Ian Gillan - the sixth best Purple vocalist jibes - I don't have any room left to file the death threats it engenders and concentrate on the good. "Hush", "Fireball", "Space Truckin", "Smoke On The Water", the new stuff no-one really listened to, and an excellent turn from Glover and Airey, in particular. I wandered back up the hill to savour the full effect of the band, crowd and lights, and it was a sight to behold.

Then to the strains of "Black Night" it was off to the coach park, only to find out the coach wasn't there, misdirections from the mini Hitlers, hooky t-shirts for a fiver, 20 minutes in the countryside before finding the coach in a layby near the exit - bastard, road works on the M1, the driver getting lost in London, taxi drivers refusing to stop for the dishevelled maniacs leaping at them, getting to the hotel at 2.30am for the shortest stay in a hotel ever, before getting on another coach for the 500 miles home!

Was it worth it? Oh, yes. Of course the glorious weather helped, catching up with old friends, making new ones and once you got past the evil stormtroopers, everything had a feel good, friendly vibe.

Here's hoping it was successful enough to warrant a regular return, and special thanks to the two girls (brunette and bluehead - you know who you are) who made the return leg to Edinburgh a much more pleasurable experience. See you next year, at MoR 2007 and SwedenRock 2007!

Review by Stuart A Hamilton

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