Rock And Blues Custom Show -
Coney Grey Showground, Pentrich, Derbyshire, 25th-27th July, 2019
Well I've not attended one of these since 2005 and it's good to know that it's still going strong despite a bumpy road, not mention a fair bit of mud – more on the mud later haha. The opening Thursday proved to be one of the hottest days in the UK in years with roads melting, trains being cancelled and god knows what else but myself and Steve Cooper managed to get there regardless.
After getting our accreditation and setting up the tents (talk about dry ground plus why is it you always seem to find the spot with rock about 4 inch in while hammering in a peg?) we grabbed a beer and headed down to the main stage ready for checking out Doctor And The Medics. Now for those of who aren't in the know, the Doctor (real name Clive Jackson) is the compere for the main stage for the entire event.
Yep, the band who resurrected Norman Greenbaum's 'Spirit In The Sky' in the late 80's are here on the stage (okay the odd line-up change I gotta say) and no female dancers but musically and vocally just as good as I remember. Throwing in covers that included songs by The Cult and Billy Idol, they warmed up the already beer 'n' cider soaked crowd into a joyous frenzy.
The Doc told us it was the 5th time they had played the Custom Show and tonight they played an original song for us which was received gladly as well. They were in fine Spirit for that famous song at the end of the set and the folk in here loved 'em – as if they wouldn't! Sir Clive dug every second of 'The Medics jamboree to say the least.
The party then continued with Mr. J introducing those legends, Bad Manners who of course are fronted by the epic Buster Bloodvessel who hams it up in the only way he knows how, which is giving us an avid flurry of 80's Ska classics that many of us grew up with such their version of 'Can Can', not to mention fantastic originals like 'Walking On Sunshine'; 'Just A Feeling'; 'Special Brew' and 'Lorraine' – what could go wrong? – sweet f.a. in this case.
They well and truly frothed up the fans with their brass playing, brilliance frolics and humourous tune-tales that are always great to hear again and again. Clive got them back for an encore – rightly so too as they went down so, so well...
What then followed was a rock and metal disco with plenty of AC/DC, Pantera and System of A Down etc, not to mention me and Steve sampling some of the amazing food on offer that weekend especially the Noodle bar which was exceptional – lovely, juvverly indeed.. mmmm washed down down with a large cup of tea from the offerings three venders down called 'Classic Coffee' or something like that. A perfect mix right there.
The main stage on the Friday started at 3.45pm with the youngish and truly amazing rockers who go by the name of Piston who I also got the joy of interviewing later that day. These boys were on fire and obviously no strangers to shows of this nature, only the previous week being on another prestigious stage down in the South of the UK.
Anyways, I'm going off on a tangent here.. back to the point again... Piston blew our minds with ballsy songs of theirs like 'Rainmaker', 'Leave If You Dare' and a ballsy take of CCR's 'Proud Mary' that never ceases to win people over – this rendition was no exception to the rule either – a marvellous milestone of a set lads!
Gin Annie followed in Piston's footsteps who again whirled up everyone in here proving that like the previous band, Rock will never die despite what any negative, narrow-minded critics will write – in fact with full-on artists like this treading the boards it's simply never been better. The boys fill our needy ears with future rock classics like 'New Bad Habit', 'Born To Rock 'N' Roll' and 'Chains'. Yet another killer group with many bright lights and worldly roads ahead of them.
After Interviewing conducting a couple of great interviews, I managed to scramble down to the main stage area again in and catch the set of Rock Goddess. Their frontess is Jody Turner with Sister, Julie on Drums & Jenny Lane on Bass. A full-on trio of girl power with balls, warts 'n' all proving that the women can sock the rock to us just as good as the men.
They give us some solid 'Fuck You' from the current e.p. and then some... with a slight apology for an kids in the audience tonight – not that anyone seemed particularly upset by the odd expletive. Like Steve said, “You wouldn't wanna argue with this lady!” - Can't say I would either.
Next up is a band who I've been looking forward to checking out for a good seven or so years (well that's when you include them going by their previous name, Mother's Ruin) who are of course known these days as 'Burnt Out Wreck' and fronted by the just recently interviewed by me, Gary Moat – former drummer of the 80's Rockers, Heavy Pettin.
The older gentlemen are certainly not burnt out when it comes to good ole rock 'n' roll deliverance and crank out songs from their entire 'Swallow' album with cookin' cuts like 'Medusa' and the title track itself.
Despite the rain deciding to come and soak the shit out of us all, we didn't shift from watching this enjoyable set. Dep Guitarist, Jeff Summers from Weapon UK and Statetrooper is also part of the band line-up too due to Miles Goodman not being able to make the date.
An utterly brilliant band indeed who will be supporting The Pete Way Band on various UK dates – be sure to check them out where and when you can – you certainly will not be disappointed as we certainly weren't.
I also decided to check out Chris Heath (compere of the Spanner Stage) in the acoustic tent who played a humourous set of songs in the style of Chuck Berry (his words – hahaha) with subjects that included Michael Jackson, Rolf Harris and Barack Obama of all people.
An intimate group group of us were in tears as well since Chris is so damn funny that came complete with audience participation shouting and singalongs plus even his own whistle backing band! The guy needs his own TV Show... more tea vicar???
Headlining the main stage tonight was Inglorious who I last saw a couple of years ago supporting Last In Line in Sheffield. As everyone knows, Nathan James and Phil Beaver are the remaining original members of the band and now have Danny De La Cruz (of La Cruz fame) and Dan Stevens (both on guitar) plus Vinnie Colla on bass.
Folk seemed right behind Nathan whose voice was so incredibly on form in here to say the least with the new members doing him complete justice with flamboyant soloing and exquisite tightness to match. Highlights included the powerful opener 'Where Are You Now?', the emotional 'Ride To Nowhere' and the always mind-blowing 'Until I Die'. The man even came out into the crowd to sing for us as well as doing a duet with his co-female writer!
If memory serves me right, they even threw a Whitesnake classic in there too! Another perfect show to end the second day on. I also got chatting to Nathan after as well after the gig who came over as a thoroughly nice guy and remembered me from the Interview we did last November as well!
Well the Saturday or should that be Splaturday as it was a muddy, wet affair thanks to the heavens opening had some class offerings apart from the cold, rainy weather. It began by being entertained by all things south with The Outlaw Orchestra – a trio today due to one member not being back in the fold on time from his holidays at somewhere hopefully drier – lol.
From their style, swagger and musical/vocal output, you would swear blind they were from Alabama or Louisiana but are in fact born and bread brits from Somerset or close to there. It's all good ole dixie tootin' brilliance with banjo, mandolin and riffs to die for from these guys.
We should be in a barn about 10pm onwards surrounded by straw and chickens watching them – well that's the vibe they give over – so authentic. Reminded me of American Dog meets Hayseed Dixie without the bad covers. Loved 'em and can't wait to see them again in September!
Sulpher were musically the complete opposite and cranked out what I can only describe as a mesh of industrial metal meets nu-metal – think Ministry meets Korn with some goth tinges to it. It was their first time there too and marked the occasion memorably by smoking us all out of the photo-pit and more.
Meanwhile over at the Spanner Stage more southern sounds were soothing my ears, courtesy of Sons Of Liberty, an outfit that Steve Cooper was especially enthusiastic about seeing. Little wonder as well since like The Outlaw Orchestra they totally nailed an Americana groove that was a mesh of Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet and Lynyrd Skynyrd all rolled onto one tasty platter.
It was raining pretty during much of the set but not on our parade since they had the power to keep the crowd hypnotised to their songs no matter what the weather was doing. A mark of a good band right there. Many shirts and CD's were sold after their glorious set too. Another bunch of good ole boys I am looking forward to seeing again on this side of the pond!
Diamond Head are well... pretty much a legendary folklore when it comes to Metal who gave the likes of Metallica a style and stepping stone to work from in the first place. Always amazes me why Brian Tatler's band were never massive like the big four with this current line-up kicking us in the nuts hard.
Without sounding too cliché it really was pumping fists and devil signs right through their old school set that of course included the rather well-known 'Am I Evil' and the other famous one going by the name of 'Helpless'.
Guitarist, Mr. T of course is the only original member of the outfit left from the glory days but the rest of the band like him thrash it up like its the 1985 all over again. A supreme frontman and showman overall is vocalist, Rasmus Bom Andersen who delivers those classics and a newer cut or two from 'The Coffin Train' to a rabid bunch of hardcore metal heads and bikers from all over the world. A killer set to say the least!
The real surprise of the day was going to be original bassist of UFO, Pete Way who has his own band now, aptly called 'Pete Way Band' with a couple of guys from the UFO associated family in there like Drummer, Clive Edwards and Guitarist, Laurence Archer. He had hung up his bass and took on the role of frontman which we were all curious about.
Could he pull it off? Well as Steve Hughes rightly states, “It started a bit shakey but he turned it around and had everyone behind him”.Performing many songs from his previous album, 'Amphetamine', Mr. Way and the band really grabbed our attention not to mention taking it up a level or two with a few UFO cuts like 'Too Hot To Handle' and 'Only You Can Rock Me' towards the end.
He literally had the entire tents congregation in his hands and was overjoyed at the response, thanking us many times for the appreciation, not to mention strapping on his bass for a number too – how can he resist it? Amid more applause!
After this reception, I can see his shows around the UK and beyond being really successful. Well Done Pete! Now go and check out my interview with him if you haven't already. A new album out soon as well!
Now earlier in the afternoon was a giant tour bus which could only mean one thing – the headliners of the night or the ones to climax the whole festival were here in the flesh. Yep, those early 90's Brit Rockers were soon to be in our presence – the one and only Reef who over the last couple of years had really made a big stand, playing all over the UK and around Europe too.
Tonight it was our turn. It will amaze you that in all these years it was my first time seeing them and had a lot of anticipation since had heard good things recently. Clive (The Doc) was genuinely excited to announce them and when they took to the stage proved that were indeed all they were cracked up to be in recent reviews and various fan reports.
Mixing in a range of stuff that would please both the hardcore fans and the general listener, it seems they had genuinely thrown a set together where everyone would get into the rock poppy groove and also their blues rock gospel vibe that flowed in the duration of some of the musical and vocal outpourings from those worth every penny speakers.
Firm favourites like that Sony Discman advertisement song, unleashed to us back in the day and set the bar got which us going about the 2nd or 3rd song in – Yes I am referring to 'Naked' – they blew us away! Some solid organ playing filled the already large sound on this stage as well.
Of course, 'Place Your Hands' that I personally loathed hearing in rock clubs after a while – so commercial but did put them on the map way more for the better in their case. The new album material just totally had it and full of Americana, making them sound like a UK equivalent of The Black Crowes. Jack Bessant sure has some mean moves and poses with that Fender Bass of his for sure and must have been growing that beard a fair while too.
A mean harp came from Mr. S which impressed me massively, not to mention their fulfilling rendition of The Face's milestone 'Stay With Me' – no doubt placed in and delivered to us with genuine passion because they dearly loved the song plus Jesse Wood, Son of Ronnie Wood is their lead guitarist now. He totally nails his dad's sound with Reef doing it massive justice – in fact for me, my fave part of their set.
Anyways, the atmosphere in here was electric both on stage and off with plenty of singing coming from the audience from front of house to all the way to the back where many were still purchasing numerous pints of beer and cider. And why not indeed. An absolutely superb enjoyable set from these GB heroes and pleased I got to see them at long last.
Now what could match this you ask? Well a full excitable tents worth of rowdy rockers and drunk bikers being conducted by Clive Jackson with mops to a 'Bohemian Rhapsody' singalong if course which went down great – it couldn't fail at all. Everyone joined in the crazy, zany fun and got into the groove of it. The idea was either complete madness or utter genius but funnily enough like the weather outside, it went down a storm!
A rock disco followed into the night till about 1am and then some... Overall a fantastic three dayer and we refused to let the bad weather get the better of us – all for the love of music – f*ck the elements every time! See ya next year!!
Review and Photographs By Glenn Milligan
Big Thanks to Steve Cooper for the Sons of Liberty Photographs