Rockin' The Bowl @ Don Valley Bowl, Sheffield –
Day 3 – Sunday 12th September, 2021
Sadly we have come to the last day at the festival that again is hosted by the magnificent Pete K. Mally! So did anyone hear an almighty bang earlier that day?? About 9.30 by all accounts – turns out it was the MW bunch trying out their new toys... anyways, no one got blown up.. hahaha... We were late in due to some toilet cleaner meets driver issue as well.. you simply cannot make it up... Total Spinal Tap? Oh yes.. the only way it can be at times right? It all got sorted so that is all that really counts... onwards and upwards....
Since The Dukes Of Bordello did so good the 1st time around in the tent as headliners, they were given the golden opportunity to open up the last day on the main stage who used it wisely up there. We got a varied selection of their material with a standout including their now well known tribute to the original Dr. Feelgood Guitarist entitled, 'Come Back Wilko All Is Forgiven' who of course got through his cancer ordeal.
The double upright bass looks great among the rest of the instruments and is a pleasant change to experiencing the usual held bass that we are so accustomed to. They give us punky delights such as 'Hellvis' which is very Wildhearts' or the Quo-like 'Alternative Jesus' The Dukes have paid their dues in Steel City – be sure to look out for their shows dotted around now and again.
Black Whiskey are a classic hard rock kinda band made up of Simon Gordon (Vocals), Craig Nabbs (Bass) and Rich Bannister (Drums) plus for this occasion feature one of the Sons Of Liberty guys, Fred Hale to be exact, stepping into guitar shoes of their Lead Guitarist, Kev Ingles who has sadly since passed away. They give it their all, performing songs from their current catalogue plus yesteryears too like 'King Of The Blind'.
Highlights include the slow 'n' ballsy 'Dry Bones' and the similar tempo'd 'Bitter Pill. A tight outfit who go down well here – I think the folk here may have woken up to this power of a vocalist who can go up and down the vocal register with no effort at all.
Now here's a band that have become a favourite of many in the space of about two or three years by having put the work in old school style – as in playing plenty of live shows either in their own right or on a festival status with others. The stories that the stick of Frontman, Rob Cooksley could tell..... and no doubt backed by the other band members who are Fred hale (Guitar), Andy 'Moose' Muse (Guitar/Vocals), Mark Thomas (Bass/Vocals) & Steve Byrne (Drums/Vocals).
I almost see Sons Of Liberty as the Dads or Granddaddy's of The Outlaw Orchestra with their authentic, true to form Americana looks and 'ism's who firmly put the party on the stage in full-on Southern Dixie style without a care in hell apart from giving us a good time and rooting us firmly to their deep south country tunes that have a fantastic rock form, coming courtesy of those Les Paul Gibsons, cooking harmonica work and then some...
So many highlights in their set that included the slap your thigh groove of 'Rich Man, Poor Man' the humours boogie of 'Up Shit Creek' or the tribute song that is 'Ruby Starr'. One of those units that always put you in a good mood and never fail to impress.
After seeing The Bootyard Bandits not too long ago previous, I gotta say it was a joy to again witness their tongue-in-cheek Carry On Film Country Rock cuts that mix in some funk, pop and disco at the needed and desired moments which throws in that added extra to spice up the hilarious but yet genius-like forged together songs in a whole mix and mash of musical and topical taste.
They have a combination of talent comprising of CJ (Vocals, Guitar); Bamm Bamm (Drums); Joey Bones (Guitar); Big Mac (Banjo/Guitar) & of course, Two Puds (Bass). Love or hate 'em – politically correct they are definitely not – and thank god for that because most of us guys love Milfs, Shirt Potatoes, being Ladies Men and having a Showdown one way or another – that's rock 'n' roll right?
Collateral remarkable young bunch from South East Kent who I witnessed a couple of years ago in this very city as part of a weekender. They are made up of Angelo Tristan (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Louis Malagodi (Guitar), Todd Winger (Guitar), Jack Bentley-Smith (Bass), Ben Atkinson (Drums) and Robert Richard James Fenning (Keyboards).
This six piece or sextet as they call it get us straight away with their hard riff-tastic melodies and beautiful harmonised hooks with songs like the opening AOR pomp of 'Mr. Big Shot'; the lovely positivity of 'Merry Go Round'; the countrifried 'Midnight Queen' and closing on the full-on bombastic 80's hair metal sounds of 'Lullaby'. Call it a cliché, but these guys can do no wrong and just keep getting righter and tighter!
Eddie Huntley an artist with the self -named band who was originally from Scarborough and now based in Sheffield playing the covers scene and with a batch of originals thrown in too to greet the crowd with in the tent.
They had a delectable warm bluesy kinda feeling to them not unlike say The Jimi Hendrix Experience at times with a smart ample amount of funkiness in there too with 'Revenge Of The Funkmeister' being a perfect example.
Other standouts include the blues of 'Midnight', the Santana'esque 'Spanish Dancer' orthe poppiness of 'Horizons' while they get slow 'n' soulified on 'Anything'. A band who are pretty damn versatile which makes a pleasant change these days.
A last minute addition to the bill due to Skam having to pull out, but what an addition they are. Another band I had heard the name of in the last couple of years but was trying to put my finger on why. The boys drove up from Hertfordshire at a days notice in order to do the gig – big kudos there and in all cliches made this stage and festival their own – I kid you not. Made up of Ollie (Frontman), Marty (Guitar), Lex (Bass) and James (Drums).
The Wicked Jackals are like a young British equivalent of WASP without the ego issues, pre-recorded vocals, bibles backstage and zero-alcohol rules – little wonder that they are the backing to none other Chris Holmes who needs no introduction at all. Hey they even perform a spot on rendition of 'Blind In Texas' as well as other songs of their own like 'Raise A Glass' & 'Ain't Gonna Change'.
They have cocksure confidence throughout with their drummer even daring to dive into the crowd to bang his wears. They also have the zest and bollocks of Motorhead too and deliver a great version of 'Going To Brazil' with vocals from the bassist. Call it early to say this, but for me and many this was the best band of the day and one I really look forward to seeing again in their own headline position or supporting a biggie!
Next up are Hollowstar who been around for 6 years so far, emerging from the market town of St Ives, Cambridgeshire and made up of by vocalist/bassist Joe Bonson (Bass/Vocals), Brother, Jack Bonson (Drums) plus Phil Haines and Carl Ledger (both on Lead Guitar). Well I recognised a song or two and the rest of their material ain't too bad either.
We get a powerful set from them that starts with the ballsy 'n' rollicking 'Take It All' and then take us 'Down By The Water' and later on the powerful 'Invincible', as well as a cracking take of Free's 'Wishing Well' too. Joe even tells us that he suffers from random, mental health (issues) and did something stupid a few years ago.
To turn a negative into a positive, he created got a good out of it in the called 'Feel The Burn' that reminds me of a particular Led Zeppelin ballad. Hollowstar are a decent band who grabbed the hearts of all the people and will continue to do so in many years to come I reckon.
Now Yesterdays Gone are the headliners in the Steel City tent tonight, a stoner bunch of rockers from the Birmingham are and made up of Rob Walker (Vocals), Stan Tomkinson (Drums), Danny Vernon (Guitar), Josh Walker (Guitar) & George Sharpe (Bass). Folk I know have been raving about them for a while and its not heard to see why to be perfectly honest with you.
They begin with the blistering filled 'Break Me' with the rest of the material following suit' and followed upp with some solid sounds like '(This Is) Rock N Roll', the bluesy stoner gutso of 'End Up Like Me and later on the racing 'Ride Or Die'.
before bringing it all to a close in the here for an other year with the pulverising 'False Smile' with it's venomous and precise high-end guitar soloing! The band had a great gig and really enjoyed it as did all the people who had packed themselves into here too!
Now we come to that point where it's the band of all bands of the last three Rockin' The Bow days afternoons and nights – the ultimate pinnacle of the entire occasion that spotlights on an act who have built their fanbase and reputation up bit by bit the old school way – having a dear, hardcore underground following that has been there for every step which forever keeps growing in numbers.
From the pubs to the clubs to halfway up the festival bill to now headlining one, Massive Wagons have come a long way in what seems a short space of time because basically they've put the work in and had the talent and correct business acumen to make it happen the right way. It's now at the point where they have their own Phoenix Tourbus – yep the ones the likes of Status Quo use plus now they've added a fair amount of pyro to their stage show as well that is to be premiered tonight.
Yes, like the song started amid the bomb and sparkles, we were 'In It Together' with frontman, Baz Mills looking like a fierey Circus Leader in all his glory, getting all his congregation going in Sheffield tonight immediately. Of course, the rest of the unit is made up of Adam Thistlethwaite (Lead Guitar), Stevie Holl (Rhythm Guitar), Adam 'Bowz' Bouskill (Bass) & Alex Thistlethwaite (Drums) who lay on their pounding rock 'n' roll sounds at us for our listening pleasure on that impressive stage.
They keep hold of folks attention following up with the driving 'China Plates' and later taking it down a peg or two with the acoustic sounding... 'The Day We Fell' errr no sorry it just exploded into a drum heavy crunchy meaty number much to everyones amusement that is all about Moby Dick and later after the happy soundinf down-ditty 'Sad Sad Song' or the one that everyone wished they had written called 'Ratio' plus the giant that is 'Fe Fo Fo Fum'.
Encoring with the humour of their well known phone order known as 'Curry Song' before burning it all up in our faces (and that's just the explosions) with their tribute to Rick Parfitt 'Back To The Stack'. They proved they had what it to took to come out on top and well deserved too with all in the bowl having a right raver of a time with Baz and the boys!
Once again, the RTB Team have done themselves proud – see ya next year...
By Glenn Milligan