Stonedead Festival @ Newark Showground, Newark-Upon-Trent, Saturday 27th August, 2022
So here we are again in a sunny Showground for another all-dayer of cracking bands, food and beer. It really does not seem a year since we were last here and I am pleased to report that it was packed to the gills and completely sold out! So let the madness begin!
Set List: Shine On/Force Of Nature/Evergreen/When The War Is Won/Black Gold/Testify/Don't Pray For Me.
It's a prompt start with one of the hottest bands at the moment kicking it off - Derbyshires 'These Wicked Rivers' - bang on at 11.30 who comprise of John Hartwell (Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar), Arran Day (Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals), Jon Hallam (Bass) and Dan Southall (Drums).
There's no Krusher to introduce them though – hopefully he will be here after right? Anyway, 'Shine On' starts it up where we are blessed with a blazing sun that shone down on us with blistering heat. In fact, our buddy Simon said, “It's too hot for those big long jackets". Big thanks to 'The Force Of Nature' right?
It was quirky to see those lampshades on stage in broad daylight as well as they blast out their hard rocking Stoner Americana like tunes. Overall they had cracking clear sound and a nice big stage to work their material on. We were treated to a new number as well called 'Black Gold' from their forthcoming album. This truly was a fab beginning to the day.
It's marvellous to see Krusher Jooule back after his cancer ordeal. He had us shouting “Fuck” and wished someone a Happy 160th Birthday called Carol. I wonder if it stole heart heart away? Two other folk were having their honeymoon here today instead of somewhere nice and deciding to spend it with all us f*ck*rs. Plus another couple were celebrating their 10th Wedding Anniversary at Stonedead too. Can't fault 'em really either!
Set List: Sweat/Freakshow/End Of The Road/Somebody New/Turns Me On/War/The Revenge Of Rock/Get Ready.
The first band that the Noisy Mothers legend welcomes to the stage are 'Kickin Valentina' from Woodstock, Georgia, USA who kick arse with big b*ll*cks of snarly sleaze who have a ballsy style not dissimilar to Buckcherry.
A gang of cool cats going by the names of DK Reville (Lead Vocals) from Jetboy, Heber Pampillon (Guitar), Chris Taylor (Bass) and Jimmy Berdine (Drums). DK has a squawky voice that is kind of a melting pot between Dee Snider and Brian Johnson in a deep timbre kinda way. They immediately pulverised the place with the opener 'Sweat' with its boundless energy with the fabulous 'Freakshow' immediately following it up.
DK said to us,“What a great day for Rock 'N' Roll. Can I get a hell Yeah for Chris and the whole of the fucking staff at Stonedead today?” Of course he can and did! Also asking, “Who is camping?” & “How many of the KV Mob are here today?” The name for their maniac fans. Many hands went up and a few roars were heard in loud response too. Cue to 'Somebody New' with its chorus line of 'Living on the edge of a broken heart' or something like that. Or what about the pounding 'Turns Me On' about some hot chick no doubt as well as the heaviness of the cut called 'War'.
They were having a tremendous time exclaiming “This is what its about. This is together” and went into another new song. “Are you ready? Let's go out with a bang!” and indeed they did with the sing-a-long ditty called 'Get Ready'. Call it a cliché but they made the stage and crowd their own – I need to see these guys in their own right some time if this is anything to go on!
It was also cool of them to invite the young dude onto the stage too. Anyway, are these f*ck*rs the new Motley Crue or what? Okay, you've heard that question a few times but in this case you just never know!
Set List: Fireclown/Love Don't Stay/White Lines/Gangland/Raised On Rock/Damn You!/Only The Brave/A New Heartbeat/Suzie Smiled/Love Potion No. 9.
Whitley Bay's Tygers Of Pan Tang follow with their classic old school NWOBHM brew of new and old numbers that guarantees a warm loud crowd. They have a line-up of original member, Rob Weir (Guitar/BV's), Craig Ellis (Drums, Percussion, BV's), Jacopo 'Jack' Meille (Lead Vocals), Francesco Marras (Guitar) & Huw Holding (Bass).
We are asked if ready for a song from the 80's and out comes 'Gangland' from the 'Spellbound' album. It has fast speeding riffery that's a perfect blueprint of its time. “Stonedead make some f*ck*n' noise!” we are asked by Mr. Meille. We did of course.
“I have a question and I hope someone answers. Where is Suzie? He (as in Rob) has been searching for her for 40 years. We want to see suzie smile!” which was a nice intro to the Pan Tang classic. They close with that famous cover originally by The Clovers that was a later hit for The Searchers too in 'Love Potion No. 9'. “Thank you Stonedead”, Jacopo shouts and then they are done!
Chris Sumby always surprises us with something immense with this year being no exception as we are treated to a magnificent Lancaster which circles the Stonedead Crowd twice in all its splender. I wonder what this Sunderland legend will magic up for us next year since that will take some serious beating!
Set List: Let's Get Dirty/Let It Begin/Eyes On You/Vampress/The Doctor/Bite Back/Wrong Way/Shake The Mountain.
Now there is now way in hell that the next band or any band for that matter can upstage that flying machine but The Treatment from Cambridge rock out and do incredible with their newer singer, Tom Rampton – okay he's been there since 2017....
They are completed by Andy Milburn (Bass), Tagore Grey (Guitar/Backing Vocals), Dhani Mansworth (Drums) and Tao Grey (Guitar). It's great having them here after the tragic short-notice pull out last year. The lads come out with the stomping rocking of the AC/DC' like 'Let's Get Dirty' and without a moments breath fly straight into 'Let It Begin' that's full of pumping high energy and hair everywhere! Oh and some splendid guitar soloing too!
Other stand-out moments in the meat and potatoes galloping, full throttle set included 'Vampress' with its soaring rich solo sections and note-perfect vocal harmonies on the pre-chorus part of the song as well as more Young Brothers like stuff in 'Bite Back'. Then what about the excellent fresh as a daisy new number that is 'Wrong Way' and create an avalanche of crowd power with closer 'Shake The Mountain'. They were waiting for good luck and it was definitely on their side today at Stonedead.
Set List: One By One/Rock Your Body/Dangerous Ground/Redefined/Hollywood/Straight For Your Heart/Come Clean/Back To The Rhythm/Beg Beg Beg.
H.E.A.T., the Swedish Melodic Rock Giants have their original singer, Kenny Leckremo back in tow since the second singer, Erik Grönwall jumped ship and joined Skid Row – ironically, the said band headlined here in 2018!
The rest of the line-up completed by Jimmy Jay (Bass/Backing Vocals), Jona Tee (Keyboards/Backing Vocals),
Don Crash (Drums/Backing Vocals) & Dave Dalone (Guitars/Backing Vocals). Overall, their performance was one of supreme showmanship with the backing vocals being so good that you would swear they were all pre-recorded. This was definitely not the case - they are simply cream-of-the-crop singers unlike many nowadays!
'One By One' sets the tone from the start of the sheer quality upon us both musically and vocally! This is Joey Tempest like standard when he was on fire in the heyday. Other standouts include the throbbing 'Redefined' with its amazing Eurovision kinda feel.
Kenny told us that it was 12 years since he was on stage with the band and last with them at Stanstead Airport. A new album 'Force Majeure' is now out and we are the first to hear a song or two of it. How lucky we are! The pop-cheese of 'Hollywood' is one of them. All it needs is Mr. Motivator doing his Morning exercise workout! I am going to hell for saying that!! I just know it!
Kenny came down into the Photo Pit to greet the fans at the front which was really nice of him. When he gets back on stage he ends of doing a leap and slipping over and had to be helped back up. There's no safety net with these guys as proven right there. That's pure Rock 'N' Roll for ya! They finish on an oldie from 2012 in 'Beg Beg Beg' and to be honest leave Stonedead begging for more!
Krusher then presented an award to the Wife and Daughter of the late Jon Hendley (of the Stonedead Team) who was lost to cancer, hence a bar dedicated to him.. Krusher is then presented with an award for his massive contribution to Rock 'N' Roll.
He told us how he discovered he had prostate cancer, whereby he continued to piss blood a good three weeks after a big party blowout at Bloodstock funnily enough. Then there was the sore on his foot that was giving him grief which I remember last year and personally asked him if he was okay.
He went onto say that if he had not partied to the extreme he would have never known and might not be here with us now. Therefore, he got checked up at the Docs who gave him the bad news but told us he had the chemo and is now cancer free. He urged all of us men to get tasted and all the ladies too if there were any signs at all.
Set List: Revelation/Stay All Night/Heartbeat Away/Black Sunrise/Let Me Go/Stronger/The Devil You Know/Worth Fighting For/Wait For You/Not Your Enemy..
Next up on the band front are Stone Broken from Birmingham/Wolverhampton who consist of Rich Moss (Lead Vocals, Rhythm/Lead Guitar), Chris Davis (Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals), Kieron Conroy (Bass) & Robyn Haycock (Drums/Backing Vocals).
Frontman, Rich said a thank you to Stonedead for being persistent in wanting to book them. The timing this year was right and it finally happened. They even cheekily advertised a gig in Dec 16th at their local in Birmingham too – and why not indeed. They even played a song from their current album that wasn't aired on their recent tour, keeping it especially for Stonedead – the song was 'Stronger'.
Opening up with 'Revelation' that has a building up intro to it they grace the stage and go down so, so good here with the ladies especially lapping it up – getting folks hands in the air early on. They basically sound like a UK equivalent of Nickelback and even dress in black too which maybe is why the girls seem to like them so much. Their sound is very bassy and dare I say it, detuned with a low heavy timbre with a tinniness overriding it too. It really works in their favour though adding a unique twist to the usual hard rock tones.
They played a very poppy stand up number in 'Worth Fighting For' that had metal outbursts and went down so, so well. Two competition winners got to be up on stage with the band to what it was like to be in that position and were even invited to talk to the crowd. The guy did a classic 'Hello Stonedead' or something like that whereas the lady took him totally by surprise and proposed to him. Luckily he said 'Yes'.
A lovely acoustic number followed in 'Wait For You' that for me personally was the stand out of their entire set that had a full band bit right at the end of the tune. 'Not Your Enemy' closed the proceedings, leaving many people happy in the audience.
The Stonedead Promoter himself, Chris Sumby then came out for a chat saying how happy he was that today had gone so well and hitchless as opposed to last year – although of course Thundermother pulled out for US Tour reasons we heard a few weeks previous.
He asked us what we thought to the stage which got massive applause since the one last year was small in comparison as well as reading out the winners names in the Stonedead Raffle, not to mention saying two staff were having their honeymoon here – so you won't sleep if you are next to their tent – hahaha!
One of the funniest things was him pointing out that his daughter, Maisie was meant to be born on the exact day a the festival but thankfully came out earlier. The guy was on tenterhooks to say the least and was so relieved that did not go as predicted by the doctor. LOL! We are all invited to her 1st Birthday party though that is happening in this very field next year! How apt. and awesome is that?
Set List: Shadows Of The Night/Freight Train/Hell And High Water/Sailing Ships/Judgement Day/Ride Like The Wind/Light Up The Sky/Here I Go Again.
Encore: Burning Heart/Rock And Roll.
Now here's the band I was really looking forward to seeing who go by the name of Vandenberg featuring Adrian Vandenberg himself on Guitar who of course spent a good bit of time in Whitesnake - most notably the 1987 era of the band.
I did not realise they had been going around 40 years on and off. What a singer the Swedish born Mats Levén is, who at one time was the frontman for Yngwie Malmsteen. Sound-wise, simply think of David Coverdale and Robert Plant all in one with those strong banshee vocals. The Dutch dude's line-up (of the same origin) was completed by the rhythm section of Randy van der Elsen (Bass) & Koen Herfst (Drums) who utterly nailed it too!
The band themselves with a musical style of Deep Purple, Rainbow and said Whitesnake as well as a hint of Led Zeppelin, take us right through the 70's and into an 80's sound which is still relevant and works well with us today. As you'd expect, Mats has a big vocal range and can hit all those top notes naturally without an issue in hearing distance.
I must say that it was nice to hear some acoustic Whitesnake and even a Led Zeppelin cover in the form of 'Rock And Roll'. Not sure if the drum solo was really necessary to be honest but on the whole, this really was on form stuff with plenty of sing-a-long action throughout.
Set List: Send The Reaper/Someone Someday/Video Killed The Radio Star/Kingdom Of Dust/Sick Of Me/Don't Give A Damn/Who Did It/Be You/Blink Of An Eye/Wake Up/Sin On Skin/Long Time Dead/Rock N Roll Ain't Dead.
Those Damn Crows had really upped their game a lot since we had seen them with The Wildhearts with their frontman, Shane Greenhall on acoustic guitar and piano too. They immediately warmed us up with opener 'Send The Reaper'. From hereon, we are treated to a variety of faves such as that fabulous cover of 'Video Killed The Radiostar' by Buggles proving what his voice could really do, especially on those high 'Oh whoah' parts of this classic song.
As many of you may know by now they are from Bridgend, Wales with the rest of the band ensemble being Ian 'Shiner' Thomas & David Winchurch (Both on Guitar), Lloyd Wood (Bass) & Ronnie Huxford (Drums). To say their singer owned the stage would be an understatement since he made full use of it, commenting on the inflated penis in the crowd and blow up sheep too – interaction at full pelt that is so often needed at a large event of these standards.
They gave us a new song as their new album, 'Inhale/Exhale' that he said is out before the end of the year (now put back to Feb. 2023) which is long overdue. The name of the number I cannot remember but no doubt someone will remind me. Shane came down to the crowd for 'Sin On Skin' and was given a Welsh flag that he proudly had draped over him while parading the stage that was quite an amazing spectacle to say the least.
Or what about the lovely ballad that is 'Blink Of An Eye' with Mr. Greenhall on piano which made me think of the late, great Freddie Mercury due to his exquisite prowess. Those Damn Crows completely proved they utterly deserved their penultimate place on the festival bill. Well done lads! A smart set was that. Something to be proud of! 'Rock N Roll Ain't Dead' and that's for sure!
Set List: Into The Arena/Cry For The Nations/Doctor Doctor/We Are The Voice/Looking For Love/Red Sky/Sail The Darkness/Emergency/Lights Out/Armed And Ready/A King Has Gone/Rock Bottom/Shoot Shoot/Let It Roll/Natural Thing/Too Hot To Handle.
What can you say about the German born Guitarist, Michael Schenker. A man who had Krusher himself saying that he needs no introduction, so I won't even try to give him one here. Let's face it, if you don't know who he is, then you don't know much about Hard Rock of the last 50 years!
What struck me straight away when he came onstage was the fact that the legend was really talkative and welcomed us to his set with 'Into The Arena'. In the past he often did not talk very much but those days are gone it seems.
Then out comes Lead Singer, Ronnie Romero (fomerly of Rainbow & Vandenberg coincidentally) who has some of the best pipes of the day. He hits those notes that some former MSG frontmen would have trouble nailing – well they are getting on a bit right?
The band who are completed by Steve Mann (Keyboards/Rhythm Guitar), Bodo Schopf (Drums) & Barend Courbois (Bass) have a set that's rich in UFO favourites like 'Lights Out' & 'Rock Bottom' as well as a variety of classics from the Flying V Maestros MSG efforts too like 'Assault Attack' & 'Armed & Ready'. We were even blown away by recent slabs of brilliance like 'Sail The Darkness' from the album 'Immortal' and a song that Mr. Romero said was about Ronnie James Dio called 'A King Has Gone' from current album 'Universal'.
The main man has us laughing at times such as when tells the Sound Engineer that the folk at the front could not hear his guitar so to turn it up or when he gave the lighting man grief as he wanted more light at the front so he would not be in darkness if he moved forward. Hilarious!
Mr. Schenker and his band provided the perfect recipe to end this colossal, top-notch day of mammoth quality acts from start to finish. I am really looking forward to next year which of course marks Maisie Sumby's 1st Birthday. As Chris said earlier, "You are all invited Stonedead!" See you in 2023!
By Glenn Milligan