2005 - TOWN AND COUNTRY CLUB (F.K.A Penningtons),
BRADFORD, Saturday May 7th 2005
(Reviews appear in the days running order)
Already a staggering two years since the last Gods fest and since then the event has changed hands, now under the handle of Britain’s No.1 melodic rock mag Fireworks and with a change of name too, it’s down to the music to stay the same. Well at least Dave’s still around to chat about it.
Having a band from last time open proceedings once again does help settle you into it. Thanks very much to PRIDE ….for volunteering, even though having them beginning to play just as the venue’s opened it doors isn’t exactly sociable. The Brighton Bon jovi-alikes, haven’t exactly been inactive of late with the Firehouse Tour amongst other things and are also back to being a full band tonight. Oh tell me that isn’t a familiar face on that new chap there. Former Contagious man Tony Marshall - yes he who threw Jeff Scott Soto’s mike into the crowd at the end of Talisman’s 2003 set, recently joined the ranks and handles the material very well having played for another of the country’s promising hard rock acts.
I band I’ve still at this stage yet to hear a headline show from, Pride still make the best of thirty-five minutes and tunes such as ‘Hold On’, ‘Could You Believe’, ‘Who You Gonna Love’ and ‘Say You’re Not Lonely’ incite noisy reactions in the room at least three quarters occupied by the end of their last chord.
Very nice lads. Just pity you don’t have time for more than two songs from ‘Signs Of Purity.’ (See review on our site)
HOUSE OF SHAKIRA
HOUSE OF SHAKIRA last played over here at the 2001 Wigan bash which I was unfortunately prevented from attending due to unforeseen circumstances. Bringing most of their recognised line-up with them they also have their original singer on backing vocals too but his performance just gets drowned in the mix.
Always a well received act at UK fests, H.O.S. could obviously do with twice as much time as the are given onstage, they are quite something of a live machine, ‘In Your Head’, ‘Wings’, ‘You Are’ and established crowd fave ‘Method Of Madness’ demonstrating Anders Eklund’s awesome vocal firepower. I understood they were originally to play the whole of their debut album ‘Lint’ right through but personally I prefer a mixed bag of stuff, their third album is a bit good, too.
A stunning if way too short set but great to see these guys at last.
The thing about great Scandinavian is you wait for one and …MILLION turn up at once. (give it away why don’t you.) I’ve not heard much by this fivesome before though enough to know that they play keyboard-laced party metal that couldn’t sound more European if it tried but they drill in almost pretty quickly.
Sporting a new guitarist – only 19 apparently - and singer, the latter has a particularly drilling live range that makes them sound bolder on stage than on their recorded material. Quite a few hooks to be found in 40 minutes if not many song titles, Million’s first visit here might not quite be their last going on the reception they got.
US veterans LEGS DIAMOND were the biggest surprise on the bill, few believing they even still existed for one-off shows but no, they have a new album on the way. Original members Mike Prince, Roger Romeo and Alan Poole are joined by new guys Adam Dury on bass plus former Wild Horses vocalist John Levesque.
With a lot more of their long-time fans in the room than I first thought, I become an immediate convert myself when I hear quality slabs of classic hard rock like ‘Rock Dokter’, ‘I Am For You’, ‘Fugitive’, ‘Rat Race’, ‘Stage Fright’, ‘Walk Away’ and ‘Woman’. Decent playing from Romeo - why hasn’t this guy had more notice over the last three decades - and Mr Prince, also a sometime second guitarist, their joint solo spot halfway through the set catches some people’s attention more than most of their tunes.
A healthy change of direction for the day after enjoying all the other bands on the block, it seems Legs have got some a**es to kick yet.
A Personal Thank-you from 'Rog of Legs Diamond' !!
I just wanted to personally thank you for the nice review of our set @ Firefest. We had a great time and plan to return to England soon. We should be playing in Germany around October and hope to extend it to other countries as well.
An impromptu trip back to the hotel to ditch my leather jacket - yes it does get a bit hot inside - forces me to miss a sizeable chunk of the slot by German act CASANOVA but what I catch of it ain’t bad despite not knowing a single note or title of their material. The four-piece were about once before and reformed after things for frontman Michael Voss’s other outfit Demon Drive went pear-shaped.
Their slightly power-metal tinted material is palatable, a vague sense of Gamma Ray decipherable in the air but it is the final and one song of the set I recognise but a man virtually everyone in the venue recognises, as MSG/Statetrooper legend Gary Barden takes to the stage for a belting run of UFO classic ‘Doctor Doctor’. A treat and likely to be one of the big talking points of the day, Casanova’s own material itself I’d still like to hear a bit more of, but not a bad start.
Halfway through the bill and everything is fine as compere DJ Stevie E introduces Pink Cream 69 onto the stage, but to an abnormally miffed reaction from the crowd.... hang on here.... what's going on. Erm since when did Darren Wharton front Pink Cream 69? As everyone realises that the band over the barrier is DARE, the groans and laughter turn to deafening cheers as the Brit legends are warmly welcomed as our second Gods '03 retournee of the day.
A late addition to the list, circumstances force their set to little over half that length this year but Darren and the lads do a spiffing job of delivering the cream of their crop to the countless loyal Dare-ites who have shelled out forty quid just to catch the band for this fifty minutes. Still retaining Sheffield-based, Richard Dews, the talented acoustic guitarist harmonises the projection of tunes like 'Silent Thunder', 'Remember Me', 'King Of Spades' and 'Wild Horse' in a way the absent bass he is utilised in lieu of just cannot do. Their third or fourth appearance at one of these festivals in the last seven years, Dare are up their with Bob Catley, Ten, Pride, Heartland, and the best of the rest in making British AOR festivals so special. Just what they're doing halfway down on this bill, I'd appreciate someone explaining.
PINK CREAM 69
Then it's the turn of Da.... I mean PINK CREAM 69, to appear, Mr Mee having apologised at the end of Dare's set for his earlier foul-up. Sporting a twin guitar line-up today, everyone sounds ready for this bunch as the Gerry quintet get up an' get rockin' and those who own copies of last year's 'Thunderdome' album seem to have learned the words already judging by the amount of moving lips amongst people as the title track kicks in.
Brit singer David Redman certainly makes no secret that he's glad to be back on his native turf, having been with the band for eleven years and smiles his entire way through the set, as we do ourselves on hearing belters like 'Hell's Gone Crazy', 'Lost In Illusion', 'Road To Nowhere', 'That Was Yesterday', 'Feel The Madness' and my personal fave 'Shame On You' closes the set. They played an hour but it was over so soon, it sounded like only half of one.
A treat for latecomers who missed the other bands, Pink Cream 69 should be definitely considered for Firefest 2006.
FIREHOUSE actually sold out a couple of their gigs on last year's tour - I think they've also helped shift a few tabs on tonight's bash as well - so they can expect little less than another deafening reception from the British throng this evening. 'Lover's Lane' is a less than orthodox opening selection and seems to take its time to get started too but they appear to have some patient fans who are soon punching the air along to that addictive chorus line.
Playing more or less a three-quarter-length version of last year's set, they cut and clip their list very carefully, to make sure that timeless trinkets like 'All She Wrote'; 'Shake n' Tumble'; 'Reach For The Sky'; 'When I Look Into Your Eyes', 'Love Of A Lifetime', 'Overnight Sensation' and of course longtime dance-floor dominator 'Don't Treat Me Bad' are not left out - exclusion of that last one would probably incite a small scale riot afterwards. Hearing rumours of another British trek for C.J and co makes the set even more enjoyable, though that would have taken some doing, the form that the US four-piece are on tonight is blinding, every single note.
Only a pity that 'Home Is Where The Heart Is' never seems to get an airing, probably their most underrated number. As is being plonked in only third place on the bill (BRUCE!!!!!) Show of the day without dispute.
Given that then, sitting... or rather standing through the two remaining bands is going to be the hardest part of the day, given that I hardly know a note of any of their tunes. In the case of TNT that's especially disgraceful given that they've been kicking round for two decades. Having missed out on their previous chance to play here after the pulling of the 2003 Z-Rock event, it is nonetheless a pleasure to catch these lads at last and be educated. I am glad to find I do actually recognise a few throughout the set, including the couple Tony Harnell covered with his other band Westworld at Z '02 but that was just an appetite whetter for this gig and three years on, the wait is over for those who have stayed loyal to the Norwegian outfit along the years bygone. TNT's material is easy to get into quickly, coming across to my ears as a mixture of Magnum, at their rockiest moments, and a more guitar-oriented Europe but messrs Black, Le Tekro and Dahl do bring almost purely their own dimension into the style which can be picked out through the by-this-time rougher PA sound.
Lapping up all seventy minutes of it with the rest of the punters, I can only hope the headliners make as good an impression.
SOUL SIRKUS unfortunately do not but try to put a dent. The room having started to empty after Firehouse, the remaining two-thirds of the gathering are firstly left waiting an hour and a quarter before messrs Soto, Schon et al appear. And when they do, they begin with firstly half an hour of stuff off their debut album which has only at that time been out a fortnight if that and only a select number of die-hards in the place probably alrady have.
Then for the next third of the set, the four members, completed by current Whitesnake bassist Marco Mendoza and Ring Of Fire sticksman Virgil Donati take turns in disappearing on and off through various solo stints, the highlight of which being Jeff Scott Soto's stunning but short rendition of Journey's 'Send Her My love' on piano for which Neal doesn't even take stage with him. I mean playing a Journey song with Neal Schon there and not having him play, what's wrong with you lot? And do we get 'Don't Stop Believin' or 'Seperate Ways' into the bargain. Not one single note of 'em. And all that ol' Sotey can give us on behalf of Talisman is the covers of Seal's 'Crazy' (still a very good run through though) and 'Stand Up And Shout' from the 'Rock Star' soundtrack. I mean, flawless performances on both, Jeff, but surely after some of us have been standing around for twelve hours just for the privilege, 'I'll Be Waiting' wouldn't have been too much to ask.
Then finally, all four take their bows and are off without so much as an encore and as the lights go up at half two in the morning there are plenty of boos audible amongst the disgruntely public. Don't get me wrong now, having these heavyweights in the same band couldn't work better if it tried, their solos all continued to underline what unbelievable musicians they are and the stuff I heard from that new album is very good, especially 'Higher Ground', but were these really the tunes everyone was stopping around over half a day to hear?
Sadly another anticlimactic end to another otherwise bill day for Britain's melodic rock believers, Firefest's debut instalment went with a damn good banging noise - and I had noise in my ears for two days after. Hopefully all or at least fifty percent of these acts will return in a years time. And.... I think you'll find I will too.
All Reviews by Dave Attrill
Thanks are extended as always to the organisers who made it happen, this time Kieran Dargan who was the principal organiser and Bruce Mee but not as much as those who put their Saturday aside to make the journey - I heard the final ticket figure was nearly 900.
Also, if you're reading this, staff of the Midland Hotel, Forster Square, Bradford for putting up with me for the night. I recommend your establishment for anyone attending this event in future years to come.
Many thanks for the review, and hope you enjoy the next one as much.
All the best,