Is it really Rockingham time of year again, this festival has quickly established itself on the Hard Rock/AOR scene because of the quality of the lineups and how well it has been run. With Rockingham 2018 set to take place in Nottingham Trent University, and The Level venue once again. Located just around the corner from the established venue for AOR events in the area, Rock City so not a big transition for the patrons that have been attending shows there for many years. There is something different to look out for each day of the Festival, alongside a great mixture of old favourites and young pups and maybe some bands we had never expected to see on a UK Stage. Let’s have a run through of what’s to come next weekend.
One of a growing list of excellent young Rock & Metal bands all over the UK, Mason Hill have been getting a lot of notice for their live performances, while we eagerly await their debut album these guys are one of the shinning lights coming out of the Scottish Rock scene and they just may be the ideal band to kick off this show .
Massive are coming all the way from Austrailia just to rock the party, and there is no doubt they will smash it, brash Rock ‘N’ Roll with sleazy elements in the sound, really looking forward to catching these guys on the Rockingham Stage and have no doubt this will be a fun set to watch.
Pink Cream 69 are back in the UK at Rockingham this year and it’s going to be brilliant, these guys are all top notch musicians and with David Readman leading the line you know exactly what you are going to get. Classic and most importantly, classy Hard Rock/AOR will be the order of the day and it really should be something special, it’s always a massive pleasure to get to see these guys playing.
Headlining Friday night this year are the wonderful Vixen who will no doubt blow the roof off the venue, expect to hear the hits like “Edge Of A Broken Heart” and “Love Is A Killer”, but hopefully much more, will be my first time seeing Britt playing with the band and really looking forward to see her adding her own mark the bands music. It’s great to see Janet back fit and healthy, and alongside Roxy and Share they form a formidable Hard Rockin’ team. Vixen are a band that have suffered more than their fair share of ups and downs, often having to deal with criticism that was not warranted and have cone through it all, last time I managed to see Janet/Roxy/Share it was a very emotional set back in 2013 in Nottingham and can’t wait to catch them again, great way to end the 1st night of the Festival
Set to kick off Saturdays proceedings another up and coming UK Hard Rock band, that has shown some massive promise, Departed have a big sound, and as was blatantly apparent on the track “Are You Ready” there’s lots to look forward to with these guys, steadily honing their sound playing support slots around the UK this should be a band to get in early for on a Saturday afternoon.
Scandinavia is certainly still rife with Hard/Melodic Rock bands and Sweden’s Wildness are one of the more recent additions to the list having released a great hook laden debut album last year, again massive talent, another very impressive lead singer and big backing vocals add into the mix, it sounds crazy, but there honestly isn’t any of the newer bands on this year’s lineup that aren’t on the must see list, food may have to be forgotten about until after the show each night.
British hard rockers Bigfoot are back with a new lead singer and just keep on forging ahead, their sound is a little heavier than most this weekend and that will create a nice contrast though the day, expect tracks from their excellent debut album and hopefully one or two new songs.
And it’s right back to ScandiRock for Norway’s Ammunition, making a more than welcome return. A revamped touring lineup for this year’s self-titled release, but reality is that Åge Sten Nilsen is the driving force here and crunching riffs and shout out loud anthems should go down a storm at this Festival, this is powerful Rock music with a really punch delivery, not something to be missed if you are still planning your days out.
Canidian AOR legends Boulevard are sure to be another big draw in this year’s lineup, having come back so successfully a few years ago and then being one of those few bands that reunites and then creates a brilliant album of new music in last year’s Boulevard IV – Luminescence release. This band is the epitome of pure classy AOR and if you get the opportunity to say Hi to these guys over the weekend then do, wonderful bunch of guys as well as being a stunning group of musicians, in David Forbes they have one of the best singers on the scene.
This one is a new one for everyone as Tokyo Motor Fist are playing live for the first time EVER at this year’s Festival, just take that in for a second. This really should be an awesome set, the band features the wonderful talents of none other than Ted Poley (Danger Danger) on vocals and Steve Brown (Trixter) on lead guitar and none other than Chuck Burgi (pretty much played with everyone) on drums. Teds vocals are a little deeper and I love it, some really cracking tunes on their album and can’t wait to her songs like “Put Me To Shame” (hope it’s in the set) live.
As soon as the announcement was made that Nelson was set to Headline the Saturday night at Rockingham 2018, a lot of people literally lost it, having been a long time since the brothers mad a trip to play on this side of the Atlantic excitement levels are at 11. When a band like Nelson are still performing, but you don’t see them making their way to the UK then you have that feeling that you will never get to see them playing live, unless you manage to catch them on a trip to the US, so it’s brilliant for so many that have either not caught them since their last trip to the UK eight years ago, or have never managed to see them before. The brothers can certainly still sing, sound great and with a catalog of classic hard rock songs to run through this is going to be a hell of a Saturday night. Thinking this will be a little on the emotional side and would be very surprised if the house isn’t brought down in a major way, thank you Rockingham.
Another young Swedish band, Creye have released an excellent debut album, and they have been creating a lot of interest on the scene. Unfortunately due to some personal reasons the singer and keyboard player will not be able to appear at Rockingham, but fear not the guys have drafted in some very talented replacements in August Rauer on vocals and Erik Wiss (album producer) on keys, should be something a little different and interesting. Although I think a lot of the tracks on the album are built around the vocalist, August will rise to the challenge.
Taking up an early spot on the final day are fellow Swedes Age Of Reflection, who play an expansive, guitar driven brand of AOR, that I think will wake any remaining Sunday sleepyheads from their slumber, it may only be lunchtime but this is already a very strong start. We are sure to hear a lot of material from last years extremely strong In The Heat Of The Night Album, certain to make a number of new friends and followers.
Aussie brothers Xavier and Jules once again bring their band White Widdow to a UK Festival and there is no doubt they will put on a great performance. With new album Victory just about to drop there should be a good mix of tracks in the set from throughout their career. Alongside guitarist Enzo, who will always bring a great sound and some wonderful solos, Ben on bass and Gavin on drums this should be a nice set and once again they will once again lead us to a happy place.
Wonderful to see Robbie LeBlanc returning to Rockingham so quickly, and this time his other band Find Me who have to date released some terrific albums and with the other main protagonist being Daniel Flores you already have a tonne of talent, can’t wait to hear songs like “Dancing To A Broken Heartbeat” live, classic AOR delivered by great musicians and a nice kick to it all. With guitars from Michael Palace and Philip Lindstrand it’s going to sound great, but if you don’t know Robbie’s voice, please go get yourself acquainted, it is a thing of beauty, be it Blanc Faces, Find Me or one of the many projects he has been a part of, you will hear this voice and fall in love with it.
Another band that lets be honest we never thought we would get to see in the UK are Canada’s Glass Tiger, while listening to the launch show this was the announcement that really floored me, Bucketlist band I was certain there was no chance of seeing them live, and I’m so happy to have been proven wrong, and this will be one of many special sets of the weekend. The hits will be sung loudly while the rest of the songs will just cement everything in the memory. This one will hopefully have many of us just going wow. It’s great to have the band back on the scene, playing more regularly and will be an honour to finally see them live.
Pretty Maids are a just one of those bands that have been aging gracefully and seem to have gotten stronger as time has gone on, and it’s brilliant to see Ronnie again, one of the most expressive frontmen on the scene. The Danes play melodic rock with a hard edge and bite, and that helps give more balance to any Festival like this. With 15 studio albums under their belts there really is a wealth of options when it comes to putting together a setlist, but these guys have some wonderful songs that you’ll expect to hear “Little Drops Of Heaven” and the marvellous “Future World” at the very least. Pretty Maids may very well blow the roof off.
Headlining Warrant have been one of the most requested bands for AOR Festivals for many years, and this time around it looks like it’s finally going to happen. The story of Warrant is filled with massive highs, and tragic lows, but through it all the band has managed to survive, continue to make new music and perform those classic tracks to adoring audiences all across the US. If ever a band got marked by a song it was Warrant and “Cherry Pie”, which in itself is a great fun track, but it often overshadowed just how good they were and still are as a band. I’m sure a lot of peoplewill be looking forward to catching this set and I will be one of them, “Heaven” will probably be enough to send me home an even happier old man.
We honestly just can’t wait, this is going to be another fantastic weekend. Even if every band on the bill doesn’t float your boat there’s always going to be the other element to a Festival like Rockingham, meeting up with old friends and making new ones that are more like family, and enjoying an atmosphere that’s always going to have something a bit magical. Roll on Oct 19th, the excitement really is starting to get too much. Eighteen bands not playing at any other UK Festival this year, not loads of repeats from last year and some that haven’t been to these shores in years, bring it on !!!
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