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Stone Free Festival 2018 - O2 Arena, London (UK) - 16/17 June 2018

SAT 16 JUNE

Triggerfinger from Belgium were a surprise with their kick ass drummer, Mario Goosens, dressed in a city suit and guitarist/vocalist, Ruben Block, decked out in a swirly, glittery suit with a Star Trek style Falsetto delivery. It was certainly diverting, if a little like watching grandad Rock out at a wedding. (DO)
However, the audience, while not the biggest of the day, seemed to appreciate them and even I started to like them, despite their slightly rough live sound, particularly when they played 'My Baby's Got A Gun' (Goosens was especially amusing to watch during this track). (AB)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Trigger Finger Live 1
Let It Ride, First Taste, Flesh Tight, My Baby's Got A Gun, Colossus, Funtime (Iggy Pop cover).

Warrior Soul were minus their usual UK Rock 'n' Roll guitarist Stevie Pearce, which was a handicap, but they delivered an aggressive set nevertheless. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Warrior Soul Live 1

American Idol, I Get Fucked Up, Back On The Lash, Burning Bridges, Bad News (Rock 'N' Roll Boyfriend), Rocket Engines, Generation Graveyard.

Stone Broken get more confident each time I see them, especially their drummer Robyn Haycock, and today they unleashed arena-quality Rock with a clear, bright guitar tone. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Stone Broken Live 1

Heartbeat Away, Better, Stay All Night, I Believe, Home, Doesn't Matter, Drum Solo, Worth Fighting For, Not Your Enemy.

I saw Orange Goblin last year at Download and have to admit that I didn't stay for the whole set. The vocals are of the screeching/growling type that are difficult to follow and it's really not my thing and, like last year, I left early to retain my sanity. (AB)

They also reportedly threw beer on the crowd which made me pretty glad I missed them eating! (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Orange Goblin Live 1

Intro, (In Bocca Al Lupo), Sons Of Salem, The Devil's Whip, Saruman's Wish, The Wolf Bites Back, Stand For Something, Renegade, Some You Win... Some You Lose, The Fog, Aquatic Fanatic, They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls), Scorpionica, Quincy The Pigboy, Red Tide Rising.

Buckcherry shone despite the absence of spotlights, piles of cables on stage and being on very early at half six before a lot of the evening audience had arrived. It was a high-energy and charismatic performance, after all, "moderation is for cowards!" It was not long before Josh Todd had to take off his smart military overcoat and go bare-chested from the heat. They got a great reaction from the hardcore standing audience around the stage and were a great opener for the main part of the Saturday event. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Buckcherry Live 1

Ridin', Broken Glass, Slammin', Lit Up, Say Fuck It (Icona Pop cover), Sorry, Gluttony, Crazy Bitch.

Megadeth were much less animated, and Dave Mustaine clearly looked more comfortable as a guitarist than a front-man. His longest interaction with the crowd was to lay into someone whose offence was not entirely clear from where I was standing (from my standpoint at the time, it was with someone who said something that Mustaine didn't like and it continued throughout the rest of the set – AB). Still the now switched on and much better (by this point) spotlights and projections livened things up a little, as did the appearance of their Eddie-like creature Vic Rattlehead. Despite some great guitar shredding and classical style with tone, at times the guitars also sounded like they were out of tune; however, the diehards did not seem to care. Despite the fact they threw in a couple of newer tracks, it was mainly a retro set and I fear one that was aimed very much at established fans only. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Megadeth Live 1

Prince Of Darkness (Intro over PA), Hangar 18, The Threat Is Real, Rattlehead, Wake Up Dead, In My Darkest Hour, The Conjuring, Sweating Bullets, Take No Prisoners, Tornado Of Souls, Dystopia, Symphony Of Destruction, Mechanix, Peace Sells.

Scorpions were amazingly energetic for their ages. It was amazing to see Rudolph Schenker (bearing in mind, he is around seventy years old and shouldn't be allowed to do such things – AB) who jumped in the air with his knees to the side and then ran down the catwalk with the energy of someone a third his age as he thrust his Flying V into the air (mind you, he did disappear a couple of times (probably for oxygen) while the rest of the band were joined by Ingo Powitzer on guitar – AB).


Stone Free Festival 2018 Scorpions Live 1

Although Klaus Meine did not use the highest vocal registers as much as he might, his voice was still delightfully distinct and 'Make It Real' was still great. Personally, I missed 'No One Like You' and would have preferred that to the slightly bloated anthem 'Wind Of Change' or 'Big City Nights'. Given the lights had been fully switched on (thank goodness) by the time Megadeth performed, there was quite a sophisticated light show for the Scorpions set with basket weave twirls, etc. Mikkey Dee played rather well and he also looked happy and healthy (during his drum solo, his platform was hoisted into the air on four chains, all without a safety belt! AB).


Stone Free Festival 2018 Scorpions Live 3

It was nice to see a cover of the Motörhead song 'Overkill' in tribute to Lemmy Kilminster (as well as a little bit of 'Holiday', the latter without accompaniment other than the audience – AB). Overall, they were better than I expected given their vintage and I was very glad to catch a group that doesn't play the UK very often these days. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Scorpions Live 2

Crazy World (intro over PA), Going Out With A Bang, Make It Real, Is There Anybody There?, The Zoo, Coast To Coast, Top Of The Bill/Steamrock Fever/Speedy's Coming/Catch Your Train, We Built This House, Delicate Dance, Follow Your Heart/Eye of the Storm/Send Me an Angel, Wind Of Change, Tease Me Please Me, Overkill (Motörhead cover), Drum Solo, Blackout, Big City Nights
Encore: Still Loving You, (Holiday (A Cappella)) Rock You Like A Hurricane

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SUN 17 JUNE

The second day kicked off at the Indigo 02 in classy style with Jared James Nichols, who was playing his modified Epiphone Les Paul (one volume and one tone pot had been removed, along with the pick-up selector switch) from which he produced a really sweet sound straight into his amp. Only scheduled for thirty minutes, he made his statement in fine form and sounded good on a stage that, yesterday, hadn't lent itself to most of the music performed (apart maybe from Orange Goblin), although he was sadly cut short as he ran over his allotted time. (AB)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Jared James Nichols Live 1

Last Chance, Don't Be Scared, End Of Time, Haywire, Honey Forgive Me, Can You Feel It?

Ginger Wildheart looked calm and collected despite recent tweets suggesting inner turmoil. Accompanied by a female vocalist, he delivered an acoustic, more Folk styled set with comedy á la his set at Camden Rocks a little while ago. Whilst it was a little 'Fog On The Tyne' in places, it was entertaining and topical, and showed off his skills as a poet with a social conscience. Closing with the popular 'Geordie In Wonderland', which was the only Wildhearts song he did, he put in a successful performance, if a little low key. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Ginger Wildheart Live

The Daylight Hotel, Golden Tears, Toxins & Tea, The Words Are Gonna Have To Wait, Caer Urfa, Paying It Forward, No One Smiled At Me Today, Geordie In Wonderland (Wildhearts song)

I caught a little Rising Souls on the Orange Stage (aurally from backstage) who sounded great. I also wondered if Richie Kotzen had joined them on stage at one point! I must make an effort to catch them in full next time. (DO)

Tyketto were in fine form today and they looked and sounded wonderful. They showed plenty of confidence given they played several new numbers, but they also delighted with the classics 'Wings' and 'Forever Young' which got an impressive vocal response from the crowd despite the festival being less busy, perhaps due to the football matches on that day. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Tyketto Live

Reach, Burning Down Inside, Big Money, Rescue Me, Wings, Lay Your Body Down, Meet Me In The Night, Forever Young

Richie Kotzen was also pure class and while not really a Heavy Rock set, he transfixed almost everyone with his guitar work (although, with a flawless technique (I never saw him use a plectrum), he did start to play on the edge of Jazz which doesn't appeal to me personally – AB). Kotzen has always had a wonderful voice and he never fails to delight with his supreme vocal control, yet he also always manages to be full of emotion and passion. Again, it was a smaller crowd than a non World Cup day, but those there were completely with him for every moment of his performance. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Richie Kotzen Live 2

Your Entertainer, Bad Situation, Love Is Blind, High, Fooled Again, Fear, Help Me.

First band on the main stage tonight was Anathema who I remembered were at Download last year (I believe so anyway, it could have been the year before). Now, tonight, as I came away from the pit after taking photos, one of the other photographers said "that was weird". I informed her that, at Download, singer/guitarist Vincent Kavanagh sang nearly all of their opening number out of tune and that was indeed weird.


Stone Free Festival 2018 Anathema Live 2

Now I am a Prog fan but I don't really get this band, mainly because, for the majority of their music, dynamic is conspicuous by its absence, and you start to feel, after a relatively short time, that it would be a nice time for a nap. I think the audience, which was quite small at this time, felt the same. (AB)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Anathema Live 1

Can't Let Go, Springfield, Closer, Distant Satellites, Untouchable Part 1, Untouchable Part 2

Joanne Shaw Taylor was a bit livelier with her Country-tinged Blues guitar. While it was fair to say that she knew how to play her guitar, I wouldn't have called the music exciting and I found it difficult to focus my full attention on it. I suppose there was too much "Blues" in it for me. She was a bit of a contrast to the rest of the bands on show today, but the audience had grown a little by this point and they seemed satisfied, so maybe it was just me. (AB)

Taylor was indeed a Bluesy contrast to the more Proggy Anathema who opened the main stage and this seemed to make some in attendance around me wonder if the festival was trying to cover too many bases as there may not be many who are fans of both. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Joanne Shaw Taylor Live 1

Dyin' To Know, Nothing To Lose, No Reason To Stay, Wrecking Ball, Diamonds In The Dirt, Wanna Be My Lover, Going Home

Last act before the headliners was Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) who wrote/co-wrote and sang all of the very successful Supertramp singles in the seventies. Therefore, I expected to hear some of them tonight and sure enough, with that very distinctive keyboard sound and voice, out they came – 'Take The Long Way Home', 'Breakfast In America', 'The Logical Song', 'Dreamer' and 'Give A Little Bit'. Every song was a Supertramp diamond and a lot of people clearly re-lived some of their youth today. (AB)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Roger Hodgson Live 1

From my perspective, Hodgson rolled out legendary song after legendary song and in a rather understated way, and the province of true genius wowed the stadium effortlessly. He got the pensioners dancing, albeit supported by their families when they looked like they might topple over, and he even won over the otherwise bored fourteen year old with her parents behind me. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Roger Hodgson Live 2

Take The Long Way Home, School, Breakfast In America, Hide In Your Shell, The Logical Song, Lord Is It Mine, Dreamer, Fool's Overture, Give A Little Bit, It's Raining Again.

Yes (as the Scorpions were recently) are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary. In fact, as Quintessentially Yes, it was chiefly Jon Anderson, the cute one with the lion soft toy and Castrato voice, Trevor Rabin, the dark and enigmatic one with customized guitars, and Rick Wakeman, the colourful keyboard wizard complete with cape. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Yes Live 1

The trio were assisted by drummer Louis Molino III (a man I initially thought was wearing a Groucho Marx mask) who must have been on something as I don't think I have ever seen a drummer so happy in his work. Throughout the whole set, I never saw him without a broad beaming smile on his face. (AB)
While there were lengthy epics like 'Awaken', complete with Anderson on harp, they did not neglect the more commercial and popular eighties material like 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart' which sounded great to me. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Yes Live 2

The lead guitar break for 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart' was actually played on a guitar rather than a synthesiser (Steve Howe can't do it), although there were a couple of duff notes on this occasion. They played a lot of stuff tonight that hadn't been heard at a Yes show for a long time, but I was particularly pleased that they did a complete version of 'And You And I'. (AB)

Wakeman mostly stayed on his large island of keyboards by which he was partly obscured from view, but he did wander out with a portable strap-on-like keyboard from his position stage right (while Rabin came down from stage left to meet Wakeman in the middle of the arena floor for a spot of musical jousting – AB). Wakeman also came to the stage front for the bow at the close. The fourteen year old behind me had fallen asleep by the end, but with a largely older demographic audience, Yes were winners and shouts of "We love you Jon" rang out and were heard a plenty. (DO)


Stone Free Festival 2018 Yes Live 3

Cinema, Hold On, Perpetual Change, I've Seen All Good People, And You And I, Changes, Rhythm Of Love, I Am Waiting, Heart Of The Sunrise, Awaken, Owner Of A Lonely Heart, (with 'Sunshine Of Your Love' (Cream) snippet)
Encore: Roundabout.

Whilst it was not stunning planning last year to clash with Guns N' Roses or this year to clash with the World Cup, StoneFree is becoming a well-established and well-run festival, even if it doesn't appeal to the average kid aged sixteen or less.

Review by Dawn Osborne (DO) and Andy Brailsford (AB)
Photos By Andy Brailsford

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