Stonedeaf – One Day, One Stage, One Monster Show
Newark Showground, Newark-on-Trent, Saturday 25th August, 2018
Anyone hark back to the times when you got a classic festival all-dayer with killer bands, affordable prices and pure fun and love for marvellous Rock & Metal music? Well Stonedeaf pulled off exactly that – an event run by fans with business savviness and an amazing team of volunteers who put hours of work in to make it a real success with the legendary VJ, Krusher Joules compering the entire event!
Set List: Dirty/Burn/Awaken/Life's A Dance/Breath/How The Story Ends/Asylum.
The openers, Fallen Mafia got their dream to playing the event after winning the competition to do just that, coming 1st out of 22 bands who were up for the challenge. Always daunting being the act to put the first notes into operation on the main day and they completely rose to the occasion. A female fronted 5 piece who blast out hard rock and roll with an aggressive tone and dark timbre vocals.
Hailing from the North East, they consist of Hannah Elizabeth Neil (Vocals); Chris Johnson (Guitar/Backing Vocals); Steven Hope (Guitar); Jack Martin (Bass) & Adas Cowan (Drums). Highlights of their set included the opening pummeler that us 'Dirty'; 'Awaken' & 'Breath' from the forthcoming album out very soon and the epic ballad 'How The Story Ends'. Definitely an uplifting start to the day that woke up the crowd from the ungodly kick-off of 11.30am.
It was worth the drive down early on for sure – even though some may have been out on the piss the night before. We even witnessed Guitarist, Chris picking up litter later off the field which shows there's so much passion for Stonedeaf – it's nice when bands show love in a different way as well.
Set List: Intro/CMA/Pillars/Big E/Shooting Me Down/Take It Or Leave It/Thanks For The Angst/Now That The Days Are Gone/Cut Loose/Corporation Fear.
Let's hear it for the older boys on the bill – none other than the well-experienced Chrome Molly who started treading the concert boards in 1981, split in 1991 and reformed in 2009 and not looked back since. These guys can still nail it and show no signs of slowing down yet. The hair may be shorter or non-existent in some cases but that's utterly irrelevant as their songs are still strong and can match any of the newer acts doing the rounds these days.
They come just down the road from Leicester with a current line-up Steve Hawkins (Lead Vocals); John Foottit (Guitar) ; Andy Barrott (Guitar); Nic Wastell (Bass) & Greg Ellis (Drums). Classics from the Chrome' included 'Thanks For The Angst'; 'Take It Or Leave It' that totally took folk back to the sounds of yesteryear with big backing vocals and powerful blasting riffs.
Then of course there's the number that was cooked up by Jim Lea and Noddy Holder of Slade that goes by the name of 'Shooting Me Down' – originally intended for Samantha Fox believe it or not!
We were even treated with way more recent material like 'Corporation Fear' that closed the set and was just as blindingly good as their 80's material as well.
Funnily enough, they put me in mind of classic Saxon that you missed out of back in the day. A band that sadly should have made it bigger than they did but that doesn't stop these boys from cranking up now 'n' again and having a good time – proof that there is more life in these old dogs yet.
Set List: Looking At You/Moonlight Mile/Bad Reputation/Jacob's Ladder/Guilty/Pinstriped Arrogance/House Of Love/Sail On.
Well I haven't seen frontman, Neville Macdonald since the original days of Skin so was looking forward to his newer band, Hand Of Dimes – not that I wanted to try and compare the two though. They've been establishing themselves for a bit and played a handful of festivals recently. He's still got the pipes and the rest of the 'Dimes are pretty fine too in the instrumental dept.
Based in Wales, these guys are very much in a similar hard rock kinda vein and belt out cuts like the ballad 'Jacob's Ladder'; the ballsy 'Pinstriped Arrogance'. Brilliant to see that they aired a Skin fave in 'House Of Love' that was always a big crowd pleaser and still is right now in the present.
Made up of said fronter (also on Rhythm Guitar) alongside Bruce John Dickinson (Lead Guitar) of Little Angels fame; Mark Mabey (Bass); David Stephenson (Drums) and writing partner, Neil Garland on keyboards who was half of Welsh band 'Kooga' with Nev 25 years ago.
Hand Of Dimes were a decent enough band that went down well today in the glorious warm sunshine that we got lucky with as both Friday and Sunday were harboured with cold and rain. Would like to see them again on a headline show in their own right in Sheffield – Corporation perhaps?
Set List: Back To The Stack/Billy Balloon Head/Nails/Sunshine Smile/Under No Illusion/Ratio/Last On The List/China Plates/Tokyo/Fee Fi Fo Fum.
I have heard a lot of folk go on about these guys and how good they were as a band but was yet to see them myself. A big fanbase has been built over the last year and they've recently supported the Quo. The folk here were wild and rabid for 'em before the even took to the stage.
Those pink trousers are something that will stick in my mind that frontman, Barry Mills was wearing – topped off with his hawaiian shirt – brilliant – he has major balls to wear that get-up or don't simply give a rats ass – hahaha!
A hard-hitting voice and a truckload of rock is what the Wagon's rolled off the stage to us. Hitting 11 from Lancaster with Adam Thislethwaite on Guitar; his brother Alex on drums plus Alex Bowskill taking the bass duties with Carl Cochrane completing the unit on rhythm guitar.
They pipe up with the loud boogie of 'Back To The Stack' and followed up by the singalongish 'Billy Balloon Head' with other stand-outs being the cowbell filled power ballad 'Under No Illusion'; the genius of 'China Plates' about Facebook accounts or the punky closer, 'Fee Fi Fo Fum'. Needless to say Stonedeaf loved 'em from beginning to end.
Set List: Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live/All Night Long/Night Games/Jet To Jet/Rock You To The Ground/Stand In Line/Goodnight And Goodbye/Desert Song/Into The Night/Long Island Tea/Assault Attack/Since You've Been Gone/Lost In Hollywood.
Next up is a UK Rock Legend – none other than Graham Bonnet who alongside his supreme band treats us to a varied selection of songs from many parts of his colourful career spanning a few decades. Clad in his trademark shades and jacket leather, Mr B is bang on form both vocally and with humour as well.
It's the first time I have witnessed this new line-up and I was mightily impressed to say the least (no disrespect to any former members though at all since they were equally amazing) that's made up of Jimmy Waldo (Keyboards – former Alcatrazz); Kurt James (Guitar); Mark Benquechea and of course, Beth-Ami Heavenstone (Bass).
Graham can do no wrong here on this field in Newark filling our needy ears with faves such as solo number 'Night Games'; 'All Night Long' (Rainbow); 'Desert Song' (Michael Schenker Group) from that one and only album he did with him; 'Stand In Line' (Impelleteri) – who didn't pay him much by the sounds of it or the closing 'Lost In Hollywood' again from his Rainbow days to name but a few.
Loved the band introduction where he got saucy with Beth-Ami word-wise which was hilarious. They even played material from newer releases like 'The Book' in the form of 'Into The Night' which opens the excellent album.
Be sure to see Graham wherever you can as he never disappoints or even as part of The Michael Schenker Fest as well. After this show, the main man was travelling onto Japan - he never stops! He's really put the work in for the last few years and its paid off brilliant - big kudos hands down!
Set List: March Of The Crabs/666/Bad Ass Rock N Roll/Winged Assassins/Free As The Wind/This Is Thirteen/Mothra/Metal On Metal.
Now its always a fun outing whenever this Canadian crew are around since Lips always seems to have a permanent grin secured on his face – he obviously simply loves life – what a life too – wailing out good ole Heavy Metal tunes that have become even more famous by the 'This Is Anvil' movie in recent years.
All the trademarks are in the set such as Lips greeting the needy crowd by talking through his guitar pick-ups; the dildo solo and raucous amusement throughout. A touching moment of the set was when Lips dedicated a number to the late legend Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead which was preceeded by a story of their tour with them, plus how he was partying with him for 24 hours straight and never realised until it was time for their gig – LOL!
Drummer, Rob Reiner is on killer form as ever newer Bassist, Chris Robertson is one of the best bassists I've ever witnessed in a heavy outfit of this nature.The two of them get to shine in their own right – this trio/band has always been that way!
Songwise, there's plenty of wholesome metal goodness in their set that included faves like the opening instrumental 'March Of The Crabs'; 'Winged Assassins' and the epic closer 'Metal On Metal'. Anvil went down a storm at Stonedeaf – in fact the UK overall seems to love them.
Set List: Steel/Black Lagoon/You Load Me Down/Loco/Blue Sky/Money To Burn/I Like It Hot/Temple Of Rock/Smoke And Red Light/All Hell's Breaking Loose Down At Little Kathy Wilson's Place/Man Hunt/Paint The Town Red.
Wolfsbane have become one of those cult legendary Rock bands from the late 80's / early 90's that refuse to go away or get together now and again when the time is right – a bit like The Rolling Stones to be honest in the longevity theory.
Of course, frontman, Blaze Bayley went up a rung to being the vocalist for 'Maiden for a while but thereafter went solo and also reformed the 'Bane a few years ago with all the other original members intact. We are talking Steve Danger (Drums); Jason Edwards (Guitar) and Jeff Hateley (Bass) who I remember seeing support a band beginning with the letter Q a few years ago – more on them ironically soon...
Blaze has a real warm, entertaining deep way about him who introduces each song with a quirk pun or lets us know how the song came to be and where they were at the time, making the set way more of a joy than simply playing song after song to the end number has rung its final note – 'Temple Of Rock' Coming to mind about a rock club he like to go to or comically saying, “I don't like it cold, I like it hot!”.
So some of the band members are a bit more weighty and/or with less hair than in the heyday but those two factors are rather irrelevant when they put on a show of this standard that finished on the well-loved numbers 'Man Hunt' that had everyone going crazy.
The set closed with the rather brilliant singalong 'Paint The Town Red' that I haven't been able to get out of my head ever since – I kid you not! Like Mr. Bayley said, “We are all beautiful” – since their beauty has rubbed off onto the crowd here too!
Set List: Too Much Of A Good Thing/Misled/Going Down/There She Goes Again/Mona Lisa Smiled/This Is Rock And Roll/Hey You/?/Tramps And Thieves/7 O' Clock.
The Quireboys are one of those acts who have risen quite rightly over not too long a time as masters of the ceremony at any venue they have been invited to play at. They have the gift to turn every one of their gigs into a fun-filled backyard party with supreme lashings of alcohol and joyful, soulful rock 'n' roll, oh and a few singalong moments too!
A slightly different line-up to when I last saw them last - in fact that was 2014! Since then Nick Mailing is on bass and Dave McCluskey takes care of the drums. They still come across the same though regardless since you have Frontman, Spike Gray; Paul Guerin & Guy Griffin both on guitar with Keith Weir on organ/keyboards still there lovingly guiding the groove ship.
It's slickly tight and utterly perfect, despite how many times alcohol touches Spike's lips – the man never seems to falter ever. If only we could all drink on the job right? I hear Alan Sugar's voice right now.... hahaha! Their entire set is always a major highlight to be honest which I can truly say after seeing them numerous times over the years.
'Hey You' can't get 'Too Much Of A Good Thing' though can you because 'This Is Rock And Roll' – something we all live for anyway. Blaze was back on stage and joined the 'boys for '7 O'Clock' – much to the joy of the 'deaf audience! What can I say - Great as always!
Set List: Slave To The Grind/Sweet Little Sister/Piece Of Me/Livin' On A Chain Gang/Big Guns/18 And Life/Makin' A Mess/Rattlesnake Shake/Psycho Therapy/Quicksand Jesus/Monkey Business.
Encore: I Remember You/We Are The Damned/Get The Fuck Out/Youth Gone Wild.
Now it's not too long that I saw Skid Row at Corporation in Sheffield (as mentioned in the interview with Drummer, Rob Hammersmith that I did earlier in the afternoon). What struck me straight away though was that they seemed even more tighter – they were tight at Steel City but this was even better since new frontman ZP Theart (ex-DragonForce) seemed to have way more confidence and cock-sureness about him. Probably due to the fact he had a few more shows under his belt since then.
Skid Row totally owned the stage tonight – well thy were the headliners so it's rightly they did – making full use of front risers to solo on and prove their worth all these many years on. The guys were truly humbled to still be around and thanked us all as a result of it; playing classic after classic much to the utter joy of the packed out field who had looked forward to this for quite a few months. As well as the fans screaming 'Skid Row'; a chant was even started up that got louder on every shout 'Stonedeaf, Stonedeaf, Stonedeaf...' with even the band joining in for it!
They packed us to the punch with songs of yesteryear that went down a storm (with even one on pre-record too) for one of the famous numbers – 'I Remember You' that was part of the encore. As Nic Rudd so exquisitely said, This is like the old Skid Row when (insert the name of their original vocalist here) had the pipes to really deliver”. Very true as well – note perfect with original members Scotti Hill, Rachel Bolan, Dave 'Snake' Sabo and current (though he's been there a while) drummer Rob Hammersmith having an absolute ball tonight.
Good to see the acoustic guitar make an appearance a couple of times with some killer blue lighting setting the atmosphere. Sound-wise it was utterly faultless with everything coming through crystal clear – kudos to the mixing crew and that marvellous desk they were using as well. A lot of standouts to be honest from their catalogue that included staple cuts like the opening 'Slave To The Grind' that set the bar to a whole new level; Nic's faves 'Living On A Chain Gang'; 'Quicksand Jesus' plus Psycho Therapy by The Ramones sung by Mr. Bolan of course.
We also got epics like '18 & Life' that I remember from Wembley Stadium in 1991 (I really am that old - hahaha); a more recent number in 'We Are The Damned' and one I'd not heard in a while 'Get The F*ck Out' – that guaranteed an excuse making us bawl the word 'F*ck' as loud as we could before finishing off with one of their most famous blasters 'Youth Gone Wild' that quotes the bands name of course in it. The band had an absolute blast and we all did too.
Here's to Stonedeaf 2019 that I can see even more folk attending since this first one was such a huge success. It took a long time to prepare and was well worth it. See you all down the front next year!!
By Glenn Milligan