ComMUNIon Of Rock Festival 2018

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ComMUNIon Of Rock Festival 2018

ComMUNIon Of Rock Festival 2018 - Municipal Arts Centre, Pontypridd (UK) - 03-04 November 2018

Saturday 3rd November was a typical South Welsh valleys Autumnal day, with the leaves of the trees bright yellow and orange, in contrast to the black wood of the trunks. I left my Valley and travelled over to the Rhymney, where the rain was heavy and the day darkening. Instead of tucking up under a blanket on the sofa and keeping warm, I was braving the weather to attend The ComMUNIon Of Rock Festival, at the historic Municipal Arts Theatre in Pontypridd. This was the first festival that Big Day Productions has put on, led by Aled Lewis who has been a promoter on the scene for a good ol' time.

Inside, the lights were dim, the hall partially empty and I took up my spot, sat with the two lovely Debbie's of "Its A String Thing", selling home-made bracelets from Artiste's old guitar strings, including works by Mr Myles Kennedy! I went and grabbed a much needed coffee and entered the hall to find that it was now filling up nicely. It may have been wet and dark outside, but inside the atmosphere was warm and friendly. Everyone was eager to get the first band on, and get the festival started.

Each band apart from the headliners had been allocated a thirty minute set followed by a fifteen minute changeover. Kicking of the proceeds was the Brighton based three-piece The Rocket Dolls, Nikki Smash (vocals & lead guitar), Benji Knopfler (drums) and Joe Constable (bass) with their mix of Rock and Nu-Metal, they certainly got bodies moving. During their set, the vocalist Nikki commented on how he "was gonna wear a sexy stage outfit, but wearing a leather jacket instead". I don't think the crowd minded about the attire, as they were all enticed by the music and atmosphere. The band had just come off tour with Massive and Those Damn Crows, who were also performing this same day. There was a pause for a small drum solo and crowd interaction, getting arms waving and clapping, revving up the attendees. Finishing with 'Deadhead', the air in the hall was certainly warmer after the Dolls had finished, thanks to the singing and rocking from the crowd as a result of their set.

Next up was another three-piece. This time, they came in the form of Sisters Sam and Charlotte Bolderson, (vocals/guitar and drums) joined by Harriet Wadeson on bass guitar; Haxan hail from South Wales and they had just returned from a series of gigs in Australia. A few minor sound issues interfered with their set, however this did not put the girls off from putting on a fantastic show. Full of Classic Rock riffs and catchy hooks, the band did a grand job, and even dedicated their penultimate song, 'Grave Digger', to an audience member who seemed very happy to receive this.

Communion Of Rock 2018 Haxan Live

The Hall was now filling up nicely, and groups of fellow goers were all up for having a great time. Pints in hand, jackets on, they were all pushing towards the front of the hall ready to support Irish band Baleful Creed who were next on. A four-piece hailing from Belfast whose Heavy Rock style, powered on by the dual guitar team, laid down head-nodding chunky riffs, touching on the Stoner Rock and even a bit of Metallica in places. The crowd cheered and whooped in appreciation when the last song ended. I can certainly say these guys were a definite fan favourite.

Communion Of Rock 2018 Baleful Creed Live

Another Welsh group, female fronted Psycho Kiss, burst on to the stage and I must say that vocalist Helen Ceri Clarke has got some pipes on her, and a whole lot of stage presence. Belting out the tunes with strength and might, easily flowing through the ranges with gravelly rock tones yet hitting the higher notes with ease, she led the band who gave a fantastic performance of Southern Classic Rock style. Three songs in and a magnificent ballad chilled out the fast moving pace since the start of the festival. They were awarded another excellent reception from the crowd at the end, with cheering and a lasting applause. Definitely ones to watch out for.

Communion Of Rock 2018 Psycho Kiss Live

Another quick nip to get a beverage and it was now warm enough to de-cloak the jacket and get set for Those Damn Crows. I must say, from the outset, the band were energetic and lively, and already it seems had their own group of avid fans who were wildly rocking out. The band certainly went all out and pumped up the crowd. At one point, the vocalist was climbing up the P.A speakers at both sides of the stage to sing, which further raised the excitement of the attendees. 'Who said Rock N Roll's Dead' had the crowd singing deafeningly, and boy, can the Welsh sing.

Communion Of Rock 2018 Those Damn Crows Live

After their set, I needed fresh air, so I braved the now torrential rain and dark for sustenance, which came in the form of a junior noodle box, which did the trick. Running back, I just made it in time for my personal highlight; Midnite City featuring Rob Wylde (vocals), Pete Newdeck (ex-Eden's Curse) on drums, Josh "Tabbie" Williams (bass), Miles Meakin (lead guitar) and Shawn Charvette (keyboards). From the outset, the band grabbed the attention of the hall, with their pure Classic Rock /AOR style, catchy hooks and Rob Wylde's excellent range. It was a real joy for me to see these guys live, as I had been introduced to them a while ago and had always wanted to see them. The whole place was lifted and taken back to the eighties. Adulation from the crowd was evident throughout their set, helped by the crowd interaction by all the band members who seemed to be really enjoying themselves. By the end of the last song, fans were heartily singing every note and dancing to their hearts content. Their set ended on 'Give Me Love' with the youngest Midnite City fan, who couldn't have been any older than eight, coming on stage and looking as proud as anyone could. He was having a whale of a time whilst looking slightly bewildered. It was the cutest thing to see. I believe the band would be suited on better stages/arena shows and I hope to see this happen in the near future.

Communion Of Rock 2018 Midnite City Live

Now that everyone was all hot and sweaty, it was time for the headline act. And what an act they are. Bigfoot, with the addition of their new singer Sean Seabrook, bounded onto the stage to much applause. With their style of "Chug Rock", the five-piece Hard Rock band from Wigan had everyone off their feet and rocking; well, some of the inebriated audience considered rolling on the floor playing air guitar to be just as effective. The adulation continued after every song and the band reacted to it with glee, really giving it their all. Nearing the end of the set, the 'Top Gun' anthem played, and took me back to the thrill of Tom Cruise bombing along the runway on his motorbike with shades, before Bigfoot banged into a Heavy Rock number to set finish their set.

Communion Of Rock 2018 Bigfoot Live

With the camera batteries dead, phone on its way out and me nearly done too, I was certainly needing to recharge all of my batteries after a fantastic day, ready for another stonking line-up on day two.

Sunday 4th November, and Day two started an hour earlier to give time for the same amount of hours of performances, but a 10pm finish to allow for the workers to get bed for Monday. Even though the wet Welsh weather was in full force, this didn't dampen the spirits of these hard dedicated rockers who came back for more. First off to start proceedings was Pearler, Swansea based veteran rockers that have past experience in other bands, who have come together to form a new band. Vocalist Wendell Kingpin (Killing For Company, The Sheershock Revival, Powder, Mother Nature, Backlash), guitarist Evs ( Vikki Van Zant, Warhead, Trail By Fire, Kruger ) and Freaky ( Last Harpoon, Jonny Thrash, Wrong 'Un, Vikki Van Zant, Sleeze, The Crue) provided a decent set of Heavy Rock, which was enough to smash off any remaining hangovers.

Next up was a band that I hadn't heard of before, but by the time they finished, I must say I was enraptured. Everyday Heroes, with their Black Stone Cherry, Southern-style Rock, put on a fantastic set. Ones to definitely watch out for if you haven't already, and to top it off, the crowd loved them

Fahran; A name that I have seen and heard everywhere but never had the chance to see them live, so I was happy that they were next to strut their stuff. The fans around me were all raving about the Viking-esque bassist, and he was really pumping that bass and banging his head joining the rest of his band mates blasting out high octane Nu-Metal and Heavy Rock. Before their penultimate song, it was announced that the "knitting" guitarist was raffling a scarf, and I'm sure there would have been some takers in the audience if there was any truth to it. Their last song was 'State Of Mind', which coincidentally was the song that got them noticed and led to them performing at Bloodstock.

The crowd, who now filled the Hall, had been warmed up and eased in by day one, and by now, they were game, all signs of hangovers gone as hairs of dogs had been consumed and they were oiled and rocking to their hearts content. Deever were next up. For those of you who are not aware, Billy Taylor (ex-Inglorious) decided that he would create something fresh and modern. He rallied some friends and Deever was born. They delivered a set full of aggressive riffs, a powerful sound with a British edge. They even added a Beatles cover in there for good measure. I caught up with the guitarist Stevie after their set. I found out that he fronted Twister, who are another big band up in the Northern English hemisphere.

Fans were already commenting on much they were enjoying the festival and how they hoped that there will be a recurrence in 2019. I myself was under the same opinion. Emerging from the deep dark South of Wales, Neath to be precise, comes Buffalo Summer. Frontman Andrew Hunt, with tambourine in hand, led bandmates gloriously through a set of Southern Blues Rock akin to early David Coverdale and Led Zeppelin, and it's another that I personally really enjoyed. The band have performed at some renowned festivals such as Download and Wacken and have toured with the likes of Buckcherry, Skid Row and many others. They certainly showed true professionalism on the stage and gave it their all. Ending on 'Down To The River', they certainly made a great impression on all in attendance.

Now, I had been constantly told about the next lot. In fact, some fans had even travelled from Scotland and England to be here to see this bunch. The electricity in the air was rippling as Massive Wagons bounded onto the stage. Vocalist Barry, adorned in his Skeleton outfit, with the support of his band mates had the crowd in uproar, excitement and appreciation, even tears for some. And that was before they had started. An Uber fan was side stage and couldn't contain their awe and excitement (cheers to Aled for making a ladies dream come true.) The whole band were jumping around and leaping high, even though they seemed to be crammed onto the adequate stage, as they blasted out their unique style, a mix of U.F.O, Rainbow and even Slade, accompanied with tongue in cheek lyrics. The room was electric and a sea of people were dancing, rocking and headbanging. I must say, it was emotional. A special thanks goes out to Baz for taking time out to chat and sign an autograph for a friend after the set, making one woman a very happy lady!

Communion Of Rock 2018 Massive Wagons Live

Last to hit the stage were headliners Toby Jepson and his Wayward Sons. The star-studded line-up included Nic Wastell on bass (Chrome Molly), Phil Martini on drums (Spear Of Destiny, ex Quireboys, Joe Elliot's Down'n'Outz), guitarist Sam Wood (a real new gunslinger from Treason Kings) and Dave Kemp on keyboards (ex Little Angels touring band and long-time sidekick to Toby). They entertained the hardcore people who were still going strong for an hour and half set. Bringing back sounds from the seventies and eighties with a modern twist, the band certainly showed why they were heading the bill. Full of energy and enthusiasm, Toby and the lads rocked us all until the clock marked the hour of 10pm. Silence now filled the hall, and with ringing in our ears, the crowd slowly drifted out, all brimming with joy and excitement and gratitude to the promoters of this festival.

Communion Of Rock 2018 Wayward Sons Live

It certainly was a massive achievement by Big Day Productions and I will end the review with the words of the fans; "We are looking forward to 2019."

Sonia Waterfield

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