Stonedead Festival Hot

Written by ant-rocks     September 13, 2021    
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Almost every band said the same thing during the day, that they were so glad to be playing live again, and to see that so many people had come out to support the festival

Newark: Show Ground, 27thAugust - 28th August 2021


Putting the festival on this year for the Stonedead team, who you must remember are all volunteers, has been a nightmare disguised as a roller-coaster. Not only have they had to contend with a year's delay, and losing Tygers Of Pan-Tang and H.e.a.t. earlier on in proceedings, but certain things had occurred over the previous week or so that would turn any organiser's hair grey, but more of that later. The festival is advertised as "One day, one stage, one monster Rock show", but it's become one day and one evening to entertain the campers that were already there: Friday night saw the appearance of four bands under the title 'Friday Night Rock Show'.

First up was THE HOT DAMN!, who I hadn't realised were an all-female band, and who I unfortunately missed thanks to the horrendous traffic on the A1. We heard them in the distance as we were sorting our stuff out, and they sounded OK from what we could hear, which wasn't much and was quite muffled. Apologies for that, both to them and to the person reading this.

Next up was a three-piece called STOP STOP, working in the same configuration as Rush, with drummer, guitarist and vocalist/bassist. Despite what could be termed a setback, sounding nothing like Rush, they were absolutely excellent, with more energy than an electric generator. Probably the nearest thing to describing what they did was eighties style with a familiarity to Poison, but probably better. White painted and lipsticked bassist/vocalist Jacob A.M never stood still, even when singing. At the start of the song 'Stop Stop' the drummer came to stage front wearing a snare drum round his neck, following which they finished the set with covers of Bob Dylan's 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' and the Police's 'So Lonely', with all the band coming from the stage to wander round the crowd during the last number. Definitely a band worth keeping an eye on.
N.B. Due to being unfamiliar with Stop Stop and Cats In Space's material, the set lists may be incorrect, but I have tried to identify them from the notes taken, and they may be quite correct. Or may not.
Set list:- Let's Go, Lost In The U.K, Love Machine, Burn In Hell, Let Me Be Your Boy, Stop Stop, Knocking On Heaven's Door / So Lonely.

CATS IN SPACE were next up, and this was the first time I had seen the Cats, despite having heard quite a lot about them. I was well aware of their former singer, Paul Manzi, as he used to sing with one of my favourite bands, Arena, alongside CIS, before joining The Sweet, but I had heard no reports of the band with the new vocalist. Anyone who follows the band need not have worried, as the new guy was a power house himself and the band gave a consummate and powerful performance. With not a lot of time, and only six songs to make their mark, they appeared to have succeeded by the end.
Set list:- Too Many Gods, Revolution, I Fell Out Of Love With Rock N Roll, Hologram Man, The Mad Hatter's Tea Party, The Greatest Story Never Told

WAYWARD SONS I was familiar with, as I had seen them a few times, the last being when they played here in 2018. The band walked out to circus music, and someone walked to the centre of stage and my thought was "Who's this bloke?" He had a guitar, and he was stood in the middle, and then he started to sing. It was indeed Toby Jepson, but he probably confused quite a lot of people, looking very different with much shorter hair. The voice wasn't any different though, and they delivered a strong set. With reference to the problems the Stonedead team had over the previous forty-eight hours, Toby informed everybody that when they arrived earlier that day, only half the stage was set up.
Setlist :- Any Other Way, Don't Wanna Go, Even Up The Score, Big Day, Ghost, Bloody Typical, Faith In Fools, Alive, Fake, Crush, Small Talk, Joke's On You, Until The End.

Not really being part of the festival, while still being a big part, you would be forgiven for thinking that the entertainment would possibly be of less appeal than the line-up for the main day Saturday, as strictly speaking it's an add on with just four bands, but I can honestly say that those that I saw were excellent, and Stop Stop were the band that I will be looking into much further. I must also mention that the attendance was far higher than I expected, something which I should have realised as I went past the camp site, which was quite extensive. Now for Saturday.


Arriving back on site at around 10:40, for the first band at 11:30, it soon became apparent that, due to technical difficulties, the start would be a bit late. As it turned out, it was around 12:00 before the first band came on, and this delay carried on through the day, so not the best start. What is a complete mystery to me however, is how every year, they seem to arrange this festival on a day when the weather is going to be glorious. It rained slightly as we were on our way the previous evening, but not while we were here, and the forecast for Saturday was warm with plenty of sunshine, so a little delay wouldn't be much of a problem.

To start proceedings, we had a band that had won Stonedead's Opening Poll Competition, London based DEAD MAN'S WHISKEY. Again, for a band that not many people here had heard of, they were a good opener for the day, playing decent songs with hooks aplenty and catchy choruses. I was particularly impressed by the fact that an unknown (generally) opening band, managed to have pyro, smoke blasters and streamer canons. They gave us their new single, 'Breakout', and we had a vocal/guitar duel, á la Deep Purple with Ian Gillan and Richie Blackmore in the good old days, in 'Hoe Street'. 'Make You Proud' was quite poignant, as it was a song for vocalist Nico Rogers mum who survived a brain tumour.
Setlist:- Live, Loud & Ready, Breakout, This Fight, Last Train, Hoe Street, Make You Proud, Racing Bullet.

Having been aware for a few days that Black Star Riders had to pull out due to a member catching Covid, and being replaced by Uriah Heep, I was not aware that The Treatment also had to pull out for the exact same reason. ABSOLVA were the band that jumped in to fill the slot; another band I had never heard of, but once again, they were very dynamic and played some really decent stuff. Frontman Chris Appleton accompanied his very accomplished guitar playing with a multitude of facial expressions, and was also accompanied by his brother Luke, particularly on harmony leads, which have always been one of my favourite sounds. During this set, the fact that I was impressed by Dead Man's Whiskey having streamers, smoke and pyr, was somewhat diminished when exactly the same thing happened during Absolva's set, and subsequently every other band which sort of neutralised the effect. And, unbeknownst to me, I would get to see Absolva for a second time in the not-too-distant future.
Set list:- Life On The Edge, Rise Again, Never A Good Day To Die, Defiance, No Tomorrow, Never Back Down, Code Red.

Hands up for this one, as MYKE GRAY was yet another new name to me. I actually thought, when they came on, that Myke Gray was the vocalist, and it was only after subsequent checking on t'internet, that I realised he was, in fact, the guitarist. So, after a bit of amendment, here are my thoughts. Ex-Skin, Jagged Edge and Red White And Blues guitarist Myke Gray was, due to the Covid cancellations, bumped up a slot on the bill, and came on to Queen's 'We Will Rock You' wearing a very bold black and white quartered trouser/waistcoat combination and, armed with his Flying-V, proceeded to belt out some really good, solid Rock 'N' Roll. Due to my initial confusion, detailed above, when the vocalist (whose name I have tried to find on the web, but have so far failed miserably) came on stage in a black two piece suit, highlighted with white binding (a bit like Number Six's jacket in The Prisoner) and a black hat, it reminded me of something a Country & Western performer would wear, and my first thought was "Country And Western at Stonedead? Surely not!" And knowing that bands Myke had been part of in the past were Blues/Rock based, I wasn't terribly excited at that prospect either, not being a big fan of the Blues as it tends to send me to sleep after around twenty minutes, I was pleasantly surprised when they started to bang out the stuff they did. And similar to the last festival in 2019, where the BBMF Dakota flew over, this time we had a Spitfire during Myke's set. (And I have just realised that this section reads a little like a review of a fashion show).
Set list:- Stand Up For Rock And Roll, Trouble, House Of Love, Raised On Radio, You Don't Love Me, Look But Don't Touch, Take Me Down To The River, Tower Of Strength, Shine Your Light.

BLAZE BAYLEY appeared here at the inaugural festival in 2018, as part of Wolfsbane, but today he was Blaze, his own man with his own band. But wait a minute, was he? Well no, actually, probably not. I was very quickly aware that the guitarist/vocalist from the earlier appearing Absolva had been playing the exact same looking, blue Gibson SG, and I have not seen too many of those around. A closer look revealed that it was the same guy, Chris Appleton, and the rest of the Absolva guys who were now acting as Blaze's backing band. (I also later found out that the band they replaced earlier, The Treatment, had pulled out late on Friday evening, with these guys agreeing to fill the gap at just before midnight, so kudos to them). Blaze was doing a "40th anniversary of his joining Iron Maiden" set, so would be performing nothing but songs he had done with them. Again, the band and Mr Bayley, who was in fine voice, nailed it with ease, the dual harmony guitars sounding excellent. There was also the "audience participation" bit, where the crowd joined in singing along to epic Iron Maiden songs such as 'Sign Of The Cross', 'The Clansman' and 'Man On The Edge'.
Set list :- Lord Of The Flies, Sign Of The Cross, Judgement Of Heaven, Virus, The Clansman, The Angel And The
Gambler, Man On The Edge, Futureal.

KRIS BARRAS was another name I have seen flying around quite a lot recently, and another person I knew nothing about. I did find out that his music is Blues based however, which again didn't initially thrill me, but once again I found the music quite listenable, which included a new single, the rather grimly titled 'Dead Horses', and I would never decry a person's talent on their chosen instrument. Maybe if it had been a full concert set, rather than just forty minutes, my concentration may have waned, but to keep me interested for that long in a genre that is not my favourite must say something.
Set list :- Hi Ignite (Light It Up), Counterfeit People, Rock 'n' Roll Running Through My Veins, Dead Horses, What You Get, My Parade, Not Fading, Going Down, Lovers Or Losers, Hail Mary.

Another band that had already trodden these boards on the last occasion in 2019, was MASSIVE WAGONS. (Who I always thought were named as a mickey-take of the Canadian band Monster Truck, but apparently not). This Lancaster band just seems to keep growing and growing, and the crowd was fully appreciative of what they had to offer. Vocalist Barry 'Baz' Mills wasn't on long before he discarded his top hat and blue and gold flamed jacket, not surprising as it was very warm and the guy never stood still. As Stop Stop had done last night, Baz decided to come down and join the crowd for a while. The only problem with this set was that the voice didn't cut through the music, at least, from our position, just to the side of the mixing desk, which was a bit of a surprise.
Set list :- Pressure, In It Together, Bangin In Your Stereo, Nails, Ratio, Wark, The Curry Song, Changes, Tokyo, Billy Balloon Head, China Plates, Back To The Stack.

Glasgow's GUN, like Absolva earlier, features two brothers in the fold, Dante Gizzi on vocals and Giuliano Gizzi on guitar, and are not to be confused with the sixties guitar band of the same name (who also, rather oddly, featured two brothers). They were fairly big in the nineties, where they toured with the Rolling Stones and released a cover of Cameo's 'Word Up!' in 1994, reaching the top ten in the singles charts. They even had last night's headliner Toby Jepson singing for them when they re-formed in 2008. Like all the bands so far, they played a lively, energetic set which kept everybody on their toes, particularly with their third number, the aforementioned hit 'Word Up'. What was particularly remarkable about this appearance was that they lost their drummer Paul McManus for this gig, due to that bloody Covid thing (again) replacing him only the previous day with a guy called Joe, who had only just left school and only had one rehearsal before doing this. Amazing how such adversities can be overcome at such short notice.
Set list :- She Knows, Don't Say It's Over, Word Up! Money (Everybody Loves Her), Welcome To the Real World, Taking on the World, Inside Out, Steal Your Fire, Shame On You, Fight For Your Right (To Party), Better Days.

TERRORVISION are a band whose name I have seen at various festivals before over the years, but never actually got to see. Again, I knew very little about them, other than they were from Bradford and that they had been around for years. I didn't know what to expect. And to be honest, after seeing them, I wasn't totally sure what I had just seen. It seemed to be a mass of many genres, even Rap, which at a Rock gig smacks of sacrilege, all squashed together in a melee of adrenaline spiked madness, with an over-riding sense of fun and don't give a damn-ness, mainly down to vocalist Tony Wright running around the stage like a spider on acid, and small, amusing comments interspersed between songs. I am still not sure how to describe it, and I am sure that is why they are an attraction, and why they have been around so long. I did however think I may have heard 'Alice What's The Matter' before, and I quite enjoyed 'Some People Say', as everybody else seemed to.
Set list:- Discotheque Wreck, Pretend Best Friend, Celebrity Hit List, Alice What's The Matter, Tequila, Some People Say, Babylon, Josephine, D'Ya Wanna Go Faster, The Night That Lemmy Died, My House, Go Jerry, Oblivion, Middleman, Perseverance.

And so we came to the culmination of another year's (or two, or just one week) planning, and expectation, with the headline act. When I heard, just a week before, that Black Star Riders had pulled out, I had no idea what Stonedead would do to end the night. As good as BSR are, when I heard that URIAH HEEP had stepped in I was more than happy, having been a "Heeper" for many years, and them being one of my favourite live bands ever. They always seem to love what they do on stage, and I have never seen them do a bad show. There were technical hold-ups again before they came on (I believe this was with the three large screens on site, as they had suddenly gone blank and didn't come on again for the remainder of the night) but with regards to the band, tonight was no different and they played latest album song 'Grazed By Heaven', middle period songs 'Too Scared To Run' and 'Between Two Worlds' and really old stuff including 'Gypsy', 'July Morning' and 'The Wizard'. What was a little disappointing however, was when Bernie Shaw announced the end of their set, and the band walked off after just forty-five minutes. Obviously, technical hitches had swallowed up too much time, and no doubt curfews had to be observed, despite the site not being near residential areas. Things got a little better when they came back on for the encore, two songs, 'Sunrise' and 'Easy Livin'', which was a necessity really, but I would still have liked to have seen them for a while longer.
Set list :- Grazed By Heaven, Too Scared To Run, Bird Of Prey, Between Two Worlds, Gypsy, Look At Yourself, July Morning, Lady In Black, Sunrise, Easy Livin'

And that was it for another year (hopefully). Maybe it was just me that was slightly disappointed that Heep had only had time for ten songs, as everybody else appeared happy enough, probably because they were just overjoyed at seemingly getting back to normal. Almost every band said the same thing during the day, that they were so glad to be playing live again, and to see that so many people had come out to support the festival. And while I came with both a sense of disbelief and trepidation, I was glad I had come again, having attended since the first one, and such things like this should be encouraged. It was obvious that there were far more people here this year than in 2019 (including an invasion of inflatable giraffes for some reason) and that they had sold out, which can only be a good thing. The most important thing is that they are doing it as fans, and not (really) for profit, and as I said earlier, most, if not all, are volunteers. Many of the bands here today had had problems with this totally annoying plague, and the fact that they made it was admirable, and also the fact that the contractor who they were hiring the stage from had let them down at the last minute, so that on Friday morning they didn't have a stage set up, means you can only applaud them, support them more, and turn up next year (hopefully).

Review Andy B. and Lou C. Photo's Andy B.

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