navigate easily from one photo to another using the direction keys on
Friday: Highlights were Virgil and the Accelerators, new kids
on the block who excelled with their brand of rocking blues. Watch out
for them in 2012 as they will become darlings of the festival circuit.
Chantel McGregor needs no introduction to readers of GRTR! Last
act up but not certainly not least. In a very short period of time she
has become a respected guitarist and talented writer in her own right.
audience warmed to her small frame but big heart. The queue for her
merchandise stall featuring a t shirt with around 40 dates on it headed
by 'Oh My God it's Chantel McGregor' on the back showed what incredible
progress this lady has made. Move over Joanne Shaw Taylor!
I wanted to
like her predecessors, Ten Years After and they didn't play a bad
set but it was a pretty pedestrian one. Similarly Roger Chapman
played a professional selection which was what you would expect from
Chappo. On this occasion, youth won over experience.
Keith Thompson writes:
Saturday: Arriving after the first night, it's always a moment of
trepidation when you discover from Noel that you have passed up an up
and coming act but we have been saying for some time here at GRTR! that
Chantel is Queen.
another winter festival Hats off to both Pontins (Hard Rock Hell) and
Butlins for contributing to a win win situation. A boost to the live
landscape in the winter and also a chance to sustain their business in
previously barren months.
Indeed it is
only right that we praise the comfortable accommodation, polite good
humoured staff and the excellent choice of food at Butlins, Skegness.
Put those stereotypes away for good, people.
As Deborah Bonham said in the post set interview, she realises
the reputation she has to live up to. Brother John is so iconic that she
confesses to feeling the pressure at times and sincerely questions her
ability to deliver.
This was a
moving set to all intents and purposes. 'Killing Fields' was a heartfelt
highlight for me but not quite so throat closing as the 'The Old Hyde'
which is ostensibly a tribute to the house John built with his dad and
brother, but also to other family members who enjoyed it and have
recently since departed, John and Deb's mum being a significant recent
seem a cliche to say that there wasn't a dry eye in the house, but it
was actually true. The encore of 'Rock n' Roll' that followed was the
only Zeppelin number of the evening and an aptly timed way to end the
performance. Look out for the new album around September.
complained to one of the organisers backstage that there "wasn't enough
blues" to which a united groan left the lungs of the assembled
eavesdroppers. Three days of waking up this morning does not a major
Prior to the Argent set, our little party skipped skipped across to
witness The Steve Gibbons Band. My last SGB gig was back in 1979,
around the time of ' the fun package,Tulaine.' Sadly that merry moment
at the Hamilton Club in Birkenhead was not repeated this time around.
I have a
soft spot on my mp3 player for Johnny Cash/Nick Cave style narratives,
but after a couple of similar trudging journeys through endless gas
stations east of Tupelo, I decided that this was one road trip that
needed to stop pronto. Mr Gibbons is a fine human being, but this kind
of thing is best appreciated by Country fans.
Notwithstanding this blip, someone complained to one of the organisers
backstage that there "wasn't enough blues" to which a united groan left
the lungs of the assembled eavesdroppers. Three days of waking up this
morning does not a major festival make.
rather have diversity around the pentatonic scale than purist pretence.
I once saw a man lose his night club and livelihood because of giving
way to the Delta aficionados. I know this will be greeted with barks of
dissent but blues needs the oxygen of diversity. .Delta Blues is part of
the rich legacy. It doesn't rule creativity.
were never a band to pose or assume a position in anger and yet this did
not detract from the quality of the songwriting and musicianship on
are of course an institution. Who, of a certain age, can honestly say
they haven't been moved by Ballard penned songs like 'She's Not There'?
Bet you didn't know that, Quizzers beware.
But this was
not merely a journey through the 'Greatest Hits,' the set began quit
mysteriously with a welling up of the characteristic Hammond. How
heartening it must be for roadies who no longer have to cart the valve
laden wooden granny up ramps of this world any longer.
version sounds just as sweet as the original and Rod Argent of course,
along with Jon Lord, Richard Wright and, Eddie Hardin were the greatest
purveyors of this beautiful instrument.
I have a 'thing' on my radio show at the moment about bands (such as Ten
Years After and Black Sabbath) who could still reform with the classic
line up. Armed with my 'exclusive' angle, I took the opportunity to
remind Rod Argent and Russ Ballard later that my research had so far
unfolded very few. The nods were polite but I didn't manage to persuade
them to do a 26 date tour instead of a six date fleeting glimpse which
served to confound exaggerated rumours of their death.
Argent have the luxury of re-launching Jim Rodford and Bob Henrit along
with the household names. Slowly but surely, via a thoughtful and yet
intriguing set which was tightly executed the hits began to well up.
one of my favourite studio mixes took on a new lease of life in a live
context. But the audience were feverishly anticipating the children
which Kiss and Rainbow so successfully adopted.
By the time
'Since You've been Gone' and 'God Gave Rock n' Roll to You, this good
nature audience of c.4,000 had worked up a frenzy. Argent were never a
band to pose or assume a position in anger and yet this did not detract
from the quality of the songwriting and musicianship on display. Look
out also for Dave Randall's review of the Manchester gig.
Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash concluded the action on centre
stage. Talking of bands that could reform, the classic line up are still
alive but with Steve Upton retired from the business, Ted in The States
and Andy Powell still doing the rounds with the original name, the
likelihood of 'Argus' being toured by the original crew are less than
nil. So Turner's four piece it is then.
The set began with the 'Argus' classic, 'The King Will Come' and we got
very few surprises but plenty of decent renditions of the best from
'Wishbone 4' like 'No Easy Road.'
inevitably it was the 'Argus' selection that won over a good natured
assemblage. 'Warrior' in particular excelled and it was good to see my
own favourite 'Throw Down the Sword' get an airing too.
beef was that both guitarists did seem a little flippant and not what we
associate with Ash. I suppose you can't impose attitude on musicians who
are interpreting songs they did not write and certainly not a criticism
to colour your judgment of this pleasing performance.
As is so often the case with multi stage festivals, it is difficult to
do justice to everyone's full set and I had learnt my lesson with the
earlier switch to see Gibbo run out of gas.
But I did
manage to catch the second half of Larry Miller once again.
Dressed Sharpe's nemesis, it was clear that he had the audience in the
palm of his hand. It's good to see a good honest musician making a
proper full time living doing what he does best, without the luxury of a
name band or a brace of hit singles to rely on. We are no less
though Larry is a musician to be imbibed live with a cold beer as
opposed to his studio work which sometimes purports to try and recapture
the live moment and doesn't quite deliver.
A few customary Jack Daniels at the end of the evening with my fellow
journo room mates, who included Dave Ling from Classic Rock, rounded off
what was a superbly well organised event for which PR, Dave Hill and his
team deserve full credit.
Sunday: was spent recovering, so it was with ginger gait that I
awaited the arrival of Gerry McEvoy's Band of Friends. Somebody
else coined Band of Joy a few years ago but joy was what Gerry, Ted
McKenna and moonchild, Dutch guitarist, Marcel Sherpenzeel delivered.
warmed to Gerry McEvoy when he played bass for Rory. He and Ted were no
backing musicians. They were part of an integral unit that allowed the
maestro to present his prodigious talent. Plenty of body language was
what I remember. Little nods here, smiles there and just enough ad lib
without over milking the solo breaks. The tradition continues with
Marcel in Rory's shoes.
assured that this is no tribute band. Think a rendition of a composer's
former work performed by those who have a full right to both perform it
and choose their musicians. RG would approve. No doubt. 'Moonchild' was
my all time personal favourite but I was thankful for rediscovering a
lost song, 'Philby." It's hard to dislike Band of Friends due to its
legacy but loving it is a different matter. The love poured out during
'Shadow Play' and the encore, 'Bullfrog Blues.'
Skinny Molly have been doing the rounds for quite a few years
now. Mike Estes is a man I admire greatly having caught him live on a
number occasions at smaller clubs. Yes the ex Skynyrd man can rightfully
trade on a name but he is very careful not to milk the cow dry too
Rockstar (just shut up and play)' kind of summed it up for me. The band
has now grown to a four piece, the extra guitar providing breadth to the
FM are a strange set of circumstances. They didn't quite hit the
heights first time around. No major hit single and mainly supporting
tours to the great and the good. So is it down to good PR that their
return was heralded with such enthusiasm? Was GRTR! readers' favourite
of 2010 'Metropolis' a flash in the pan? Is it just me or is almost
everything else in melodic rock so shit these days?
questions that will probably remain unanswered no doubt, but FM
certainly performed like a group of eager teenagers. 'Wildside' off the
aforesaid latter day masterpiece opened the set nicely whilst 'Let
Love Be a Leader' is one of the best AOR songs ever and benefits greatly
from the rougher live environment as opposed to the sugary pop treatment
it received n the 80's.
I was dissuaded from seeing large breasted female musicians from Sweden
earlier and yet instinct told me that I might be missing a treat. So
dutifully I returned in spirit to report a rapturous reception and fine
way of celebrating that aforementioned diversity. Crucified Barbara
were musically not the best but visually? Matron pass me my Delta Blues
Mark up Rock and Blues for next year. They are offering an early booking
deal of £80 per person. A panacea to the winter blues.