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On Sunday 14 August at 21:00 Keith Thompson will be playing music and interviews from bands appearing at this year's event.  More information

Cambridge Rock Festival

Sunday 7 August 2011

Photos by Andrew Lock

Photo Gallery 7 August

Ben Parkinson, photo by Noel Buckley
Ben Parkinson - Photo: Noel Buckley

The final day of another outstanding Cambridge Rock Festival was full of the usual diverse selection of rock acts from different genres which is of course one of the trade marks of this the friendliest of British rock gatherings writes Andrew Lock.

Empire Of Fools, photo by Andrew Lock

For me it was a bright and early start to the day to catch the opening act on the main stage Empire of Fools at the Godly hour (well it was Sunday) of 11.00am, hailing from Cornwall and Devon this youthful rock band hope to release their debut album in 2012.

For such an early start and considering the relatively small audience the band were full of energy and enthusiasm delivering a powerful mixed set of original material and classic rock covers.

Highlights on the original side the riff laden 'All Night Long' and fellow rocker 'Down to Earth', while on the cover side they did real justice to Velvet Revolver's 'Slither', excellent power packed start to the day by this promising new young rock outfit.

Crimes Of Passion, photo by Andrew Lock

Staying on the main stage next with my second look at rock/metal band Crimes of Passion, fresh from their trek around the UK and Europe supporting the mighty Saxon (very impressed with their set at the Leamington Assembly on this tour in March), they are another young rock band with hopefully a big future and are about to release a new album To Die For which includes a contribution from Saxon iconic figurehead Biff.

They produced a set full of head banging feel good rock music and led by charismatic and energetic vocalist Dale (who to some of the other members great amusement I have christened the band's Dave Lee Roth) the crowd lapped up the bands high octane set which included 'Hell and Back' and the first single from the album 'Blown Away'.

The bands set ended with a nice touch, a performance of 'Holy Diver' in tribute to the dearly missed Ronnie James Dio (well done lads), this track was also included in a free EP the band gave out after the show.

Blackwebb, photo by Andrew Lock

Moved over to the second stage for a couple of acts of the blues variety, firstly the quality blues/rock and roll trio Blackwebb with a set that included spirited renditions of classics 'These Boots Are Made For Walkin', and 'Baby Please Don't Go' and secondly my first look at Ben Poole yet another hot young blues artist joining the ranks of Oli Brown, Chantal McCgregor and many more in the current explosion of blues talent we have in this country. I caught his explosive act halfway through a stunning version of Jimi Hendrix's 'Hey Joe' and sat pretty much mesmerised by his guitar pyrotechnics for the rest of his set.

Ben Poole, photo by Andrew Lock

His playing really has to be seen to be believed and he has also mastered the showmanship side perfectly especially during the set closer, playing his guitar while walking through the crowd and then finishing the number stood on the bar at the end of the marquee, this guy will be huge.

Credo, photo by Andrew Lock

Back to the main stage for an impressive set by Credo full of intelligent progressive rock numbers for me along the line of early Genesis and Marillion, particularly impressed with the epic 'Staring at the Sun' with its outstanding guitar work and I thought I could make out great use of a You Really Got Me style riff during the number, I also loved the gentle flowing 'From the Cradle to the Grave'.

John Young, photo by Andrew Lock

Much in demand vocalist/keyboardist John Young and his high quality band also played an excellent set on the main stage and John's recent vocal problems did nothing to spoil his highly polished and in his own words "progressive" set which included the quite excellent 'Unknown Soldier'.

Mr So & So, photo by Andrew Lock

One of the stand out fun bands of the festival was Mr So & So with a set that mixed progressive rock, classic rock and at times folk rock, favourite track of this high quality set with its Celtic touches at the start, the magnificent grandiose 'Coup De Grace', and I also loved their use of atmospheric sound effects including rain (had to look outside to see if Thursday's down pour had returned).

Upfront the bands graceful vocalist Charlotte Evans was having a great time bouncing and dancing front of stage adding to the fun, but apart from the fun side they are also musically a superbly talented band.

Mostly Autumn, photo by Andrew Lock

My highlight from Sunday and this year sharing my award for set of the festival with the sensational performance by Larry Miller on the main stage on Saturday a band with a very special place in my heart and always a favourite at Cambridge and in my opinion one of this country's best rock bands Mostly Autumn. As with last year the band was introduced on stage by seriously injured soldier and Mostly Autumn fan Ben Parkinson this year also promoting the excellent care for amputees charity The Pilgrim Bandits -

Mostly Autumn, photo by Andrew Lock

The set started minus lead vocalist Olivia with a blast from the past, the atmospheric and haunting instrumental 'Distant Train' leading straight into (and without a pause as on the Passengers album) one of the bands greatest rockers 'Answer the Question' during which Olivia took to the stage.

Mostly Autumn, photo by Andrew Lock

The band have such a strong back catalogue that they could afford to throw in possibly their greatest number the epic sublime 'Evergreen' third number in and as always this gem worked its magic with Bryan's soaring guitar work and Olivia's awesome vocal delivery and for this show it was dedicated to ex vocalist Heather Findlay and her family.

They of course made several visits to their excellent latest album 'Go Well Diamond Heart', the full on rocker 'Deep in Borrowdale', my personal favourite from the album the heartbreaking 'Ice' and the moving 'Hold the Sun' introduced by Olivia as a story about the beautiful memories of people we love. On the oldie front we had another of the bands top rockers 'Dark Before the Dawn' and a simply beautiful and heartfelt performance of 'The Last Climb'.

Two crackers to finish the set and so good to have a Breathing Space track regularly included in MA sets after that band's sad demise, and what a song the award winning 'Questioning Eyes' followed by the only number that can really finish a Mostly Autumn show the Tour de force of power and emotion that is 'Heroes Never Die'.

Another excellent Mostly Autumn Cambridge Rock Festival set and this one on the release day of the bands latest live album 'Still Beautiful' recorded on the band's spring tour this year.

The band all on top form, Bryan Josh simply as good as a guitarist as you will ever see, Olivia perfectly settled in to her lead vocalist role and what a voice and stage presence she has, Anne-Marie as always doing about four jobs including excellent flute work and Liam a guitarist of such skill most bands would jump at the chance for him to be their lead guitarist. Andy on bass moved around the stage more than I have ever seen him keeping the rhythm engine room rocking along with the ever enthusiastic Gavin on drums and last but not least Iain adding his usual layers of keyboard magic.

Hopefully the band will return again in 2012 as Cambridge would not be the same without them.

Caravan, photo by Andrew Lock

Caravan and The Enid finished the festival proceedings on the main stage with two very different sets, Caravan uptempo folksy progressive rock which gained fantastic audience support, and The Enid playing a theatrical, orchestral ambient, chill out set as only they can.

The Enid, photo by Andrew Lock

For The Enid the stage was taken over with a large number of musicians and vocalists and for a while at the start of the set it looked it like band leader Robert John Godfrey was staging a stripped down version of Pink Floyd/Roger Waters The Wall shows with him seated at his keyboards hidden behind a youthful vocal group. The light show was excellent for this set and with the experimental music made quite a surreal end to another fantastic Cambridge Rock Festival.

Review and photos by Andrew Lock

Photo Gallery by Noel Buckley

4-6 August and Photo Gallery

Keith Thompson presents Rockwaves on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday 21:00 GMT+1

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