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Bradford, Penningtons 25 May 2003

First time ever to the Gods and boy was I looking forward to it! Only seen two of the day's line-up in concert before, Evidence One supporting Saxon in January this year and Bob Catley, although only in Magnum mode, not solo. So here we go?

TALON - tough call for this band as they had just come off stage backing Stan Bush in the early hours of Sunday morning plus they had to open Sunday's bill after Hodson was forced to pull out due to a sore throat. Never heard anything by the band before and sound wise they evoke the glory days of US hard rock a la Y&T. Their frontman is a bundle of energy as well ? close your eyes and it could just be Sammy Hagar! Highlights included 'Paradise' and 'Wrecking Ball'. Good, strong hard rock and the band set a high standard for the rest of the day.

EVIDENCE ONE - I saw this band supporting Saxon back in January and I was very impressed. They played a tight set again of crunching metal in the Maiden vein. Enjoyed 'Like Never Before' and 'Spend The Time With Me' and the vocalist was the only one in the whole day to sing unaccompanied, admirably highlighting his powerful range. Another great set but not as 'in your face' as the Saxon gig. NEXX - this Spanish band have high hopes attached to them and rightly so after such a strong debut album. If you hanker after a female fronted melodic rock band like Heart, this is the band for you! Fronted by a petite female vocalist (who was setting the pulses racing of many of the male members of the audience!) you can't believe the powerhouse vocals she belts out! Highlights? The catchy 'Believe' and 'Arches of Faith' Closing the set they covered Kansas's 'Carry On My Wayward Son' and pulled it off with style. The whole band play well together and they won over the audience with style.

DANNY VAUGHN - after a bizarre intro from a female Total Rock DJ, Danny Vaughn played a mainly acoustic set including the excellent 'Haunted', 'Ghandi Man' and an acoustic styling of Tyketto's 'Burning Down Inside' and 'Wings'. He even bought Nexx's vocalist and guitarist back on stage to join him on a couple of numbers, which was a nice touch. It was billed as an acoustic set but he bought Pride onto help him out on two Tyketto numbers fully plugged in ? nice! We got a storming 'Strength In Numbers' and I was in seventh heaven when they tackled 'Forever Young'! Danny Vaughn is a very talented vocalist and songwriter and it beats me how he isn't more widely known. I liked the acoustic set but it was more fun when fully electric!

BURNS BLUE - ex-Ten/Asia/Ultravox guitarist Vinnie Burns new band formed along with vocalist Sammy Blue. A tough gig for the band, as very few (bar reviewers) will have heard their debut album, 'What If' yet as it is just about to be released. The band played a solid set of catchy melodic hard rock with a sound reminiscent of Shy and sadly defunct Brit rockers Skin. They got a good response from the audience as well. A band to keep an eye on in the future?

KEN TAMPLIN - now this was a personal treat! I've been a fan of Tamplin's work for many years from his band Shout to his solo works. Many are put off by his overt Christian lyrics at times but you're missing out on quality melodic rock. The band also featured Talisman's guitarist Howie Simon (he also appears on Tamplin's new album) gives it a very guitar heavy sound. Highlights were many, 'Dreams For Sale', 'Wake the Nations' (where Ken Tamplin threw CD's into the audience for the best sing-a-along to the chorus!) and 'Radio Bikini' from the classic Magdellan album. The latter is a classic tune with a catchy chorus. Set closer was a cover of Toto's 'Rosanna' with twin guitars turning this into a heavy beast. Only mar was the trouble he had with his head mike!

ROYAL HUNT - not a band I am very familiar with bar their 'Paradox' album (which was recommended to me by Newswire members Ian & Claire ? thanks!), which is a 'must have' for any power/prog metal collection. The brainchild of keyboard demon Andre Andersson, the band had a large following present in the Gods audience. The band is awesome musically and the crowd lapped it up! New songs were aired of the new 'Eyewitness' album plus plenty of classics including 'River of Pain' ? I love this song. Vocalist John West is another asset with a fine vocal range and imposing stage presence. It was amazingly the band's first UK show but hopefully not their last.

BOB CATLEY - Magnum vocalist Bob Catley in solo mode with a fine backing band comprising drummer Jamie Lewis, Pulse guitarist Vince O'Regan, Ten keyboard player Paul Hodson (who wrote the songs on Bob's new album 'When Empires Burn') and Magnum's bass player Al Barrow. Highlights included 'Far Away', 'When Empire Burns' (the new songs are certainly heavier than anything Bob Catley has recorded before) and 'Pain'. Two Magnum classics get an airing (and rousing reception) 'Start Talking Love' and a storming run through 'Lonely Night'. He gets better as time goes on and he won the crowd over after the first song!

TALISMAN - headlining the Sunday night were the reformed Talisman, with a line-up of vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, bass player Marcel Jacob, drummer Jamie Borger and guitarists Howie Simon and Fredrik Akesson. From the off the band were hyped up for this spot and put in a tight set, with Jeff Scott Soto the star of the show. From audience participation to hammering out vocals on the glorious 'Mysterious', the funked up 'Skin On Skin' (I am still singing this track two days later) and 'Make Believe'. Bass player Marcel Jacob played an amazing bass solo (no it was good, honest) and put Manowar's Joey de Maio into the shade with the speed of his soloing. Newie 'Otta My Way' was an all out hard rockin' assault and the set closed with a cover of Ozzy's 'I Don't Know'. It was better than the original!

A great day, over twelve hours of hard rocking delight (plus you actually get decent music between sets) and if you've never been before get along next year. You may not be familiar with all the bands but that's the joy of music and the thrill of hearing a great new tune/sound. Performances of the day for me personally were Talon (lively openers), Nexx (live they matched the high standards of their debut album), Ken Tamplin (sheer class), Danny Vaughn (charisma, amazing vocals and the tunes to back it up) and Talisman (tight set with the fantastic vocal talents of Mr Soto).

Special thanks to Mark Ashton and all at Now & Then & Frontiers for putting on such a great day (only wish I could have made the other days!) and keeping the music live.

Text © 2003 Jason Ritchie

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