Review & photos by Stephen Brophy
Saturdays proceedings kick off with up and coming Swedish rockers Cruzh who are making their UK debut with this early afternoon slot. Vocal duties today are being looked after by Philip Lindstrand ( yes he played guitar with Blanc Faces the previous night ) rather than the man that took vocal duties on their debut album, tonight’s man behind the Keyboards Tony Andersson, so it definitely results in a bit of a different sound to some of the tracks as Tony’s range was higher. Something didn’t quite work with the set today, I know they had some technical issues which I’m sure didn’t help, but these guys certainly have a lot of determination and there’s plenty more to come from them, hopefully we will get to see them back again soon and firing on all cylinders. Highlight of the set for me was ‘In N’ Out Of Love’ even though it was one of the more laid back tracks.
The job of really getting the growing crowd moving fell to The Amorettes in an early afternoon slot, and they duly obliged with a stormer of a set, the Scottish 3 piece really do know how to kick up a racket. Always oh so solid, very engaging and have that ability to involve the crowd in the set, from start to finish it’s just a Rockin’ good time. Tracks like ‘Bull By The Horns’, ‘Let The Neighbours Call The Cops’ and the perennial set closer ‘Hot And Heavy’ really do get heads moving with the Rockingham faithful. There is absolutely no doubt that the hard work that Gill, Heather and Hannah have put in over the last few years taking a lot of good support slots and playing as many shows as they can has paid off, they are a very tight outfit and put on a great show, always a lot of fun to see their shows and there must be bigger things ahead for this very talented band. The reaction of the crowd as they finished their set said it all as applause rang out all around the venue and just as importantly the girls seemed to be having just as much fun on the stage.
British hard rockers Vega are always a joy to watch, tonnes of energy, frontman Nick Workman rarely stands still during the set and this energy works really well with the style of music that they play. VEGA are a band that never let you down and have become very polished live over the years, the songs are always strong and upbeat and you have come to expect a high quality show. Today is certainly no exception to the rule, and what a strong opening to their set with ‘Hands In The Air’ and the magnificent ‘Stereo Messiah’ kicking things off, hard to keep that sort of momentum up for a full set, but they manage it and throw in some proper hardware problems with both guitarists, seriously when do you see 2 strings break in a set of this length, but as they do, they just power through it barely stopping or allowing the fans to notice it, minimum of fuss until Nick makes a big joke of it all, but it’s this charm that brings them closer to the hearts of many, it’s a set with a lot of raised fists, lots of singing along and a tonne of smiles.
The set is packed full of their best songs, one after another until a terrific climax, it’s not just all sounding the same either, there are some great variations in the way they now put sets together, yes there are lots of anthems in there but they also generate a wonderful flow. Closing todays festivities with a terrific extended version of ‘Kiss Of Life’ that really brought a very loud bit of crowd interaction, great stuff on a day when bands appear to be trying to perform better than the last band on. Third time seeing the band this year and despite the small issues the best, they don’t let things stand in their way always great to catch live, that never changes.
One of the surprise bands from last year’s Festival and certainly making a welcome return again this year are Fortune, and believe it or not this time they are even better than their first appearance on UK soil. The band consists of the Fortune brothers, with Richard on Guitar/Vocals and Mick on Drums/Vocals and additionally the excellent Larry Green (Vocals), Ricky Rat (Bass) and Mark Nilan (Keyboards), and this time around they had the opportunity of showcasing some new material in the form of some tracks off their brand new EP alongside great tracks from the debut like “Thrill Of It All” and “Dearbon Station” that were simply stunning again, a band that simply oozes class, beautiful arrangements, great playing all around and songs that live long in the memory, and best of all the new songs fitted in really well into the set, yes the sound is a little more updated, but it’s a blend of what they’ve produced in the past and suits them perfectly.
In Larry Greene they’ve got a frontman that can sing his ass off and at the same time somehow put you at ease as a member of the crowd. The band are a tightly integrated unit bolstered by the energy of Ricky. Everyone in this band fits together perfectly though, it’s not just the playing it’s the backing vocals, the underlying Keyboards that weave magically through each song, very understated but at the same time just perfect. The excitement in the air at the start of their set is still there at the end and this is another massive success, can’t wait to hear their new album and hopefully that will initiate another return visit, a band good enough to grace any stage, for the 2nd year running one of the Festival’s highlights.
Another of the most highly anticipated performances this year, the original lead singer of Survivor, none other than Dave Bickler and he’s also got a backing band of some excellent British Melodic Rock musicians. Stepping into the breach this time around are the guts of the band Bailey, who themselves are set to play the following morning. With Nigel Bailey reverting to a familiar role on bass, Boyd/Hume on guitars, Clarkson on Drums and Nigel’s brother Andy on Keyboards, quality bunch to go into battle with, and it showed.
In ways similar to John Parr’s set the previous night there’s nothing at all wrong with how anything is being played, but the composition of the setlist leaves a number of people disappointed. Again the fanbase here is one that is very knowledgeable one and they look forward to hearing not just artists hits but also rarities from their period with their main band that they may bring out at an event like this, not covers that they could perhaps hear in a local bar or club any weekend and although very good perhaps too many tributes to the Jimi Jamison era of Survivor (if that’s possible, personally I thought they were very well played and sung, all going to show a special bong between the two), but hopefully there will be a return visit soon where this may be possible. Don’t get me wrong here, what was played was really good, but one would have expected the likes of ‘Poor Man’s Son’, ‘Heart Is The Lonely Hunter’ or ‘Summer Nights’ but none appeared, of course it’s any artists prerogative to play what they want to, but maybe a good opportunity was missed this evening to form an even stronger bond with a crowd screaming out for early Survivor music they had never heard sung by the original singer, maybe next time out, still a really enjoyable set, but could have been so much more.
Canadian heavy hitters Harem Scarem are always a band that bring everything when they play anywhere, and with a back catalogue like theirs you are always guaranteed a top show, and of course with the sublimely smooth vocals of Harry Hess at the helm every opportunity to see them should be cherished, proved again at Rockingham 2017. After releasing another very well received album, United, earlier in the year it is always interesting to see how these new songs integrate into the bands set, and it’s got to be said they sound great tonight. Of course every band has a choice to make when playing Festival sets, you generally go with either a Greatest Hits set or you push the album you are currently Touring, and tonight we get the later, with a good mix of classic Harem Scarem in between, and that’s fine, makes for something a little different from what the UK crowd has heard in recent years, and if as a band you are proud of what you have created then by all means push that album.
With a limited time for any festival set and in order to fit in the new songs it is inevitable that somebody’s favourite/s are going have to be left out, for me tonight it’s the magnificent ‘Saviours Never Cry’, but when you have beauty like ‘If There Was A Time’ or the ageless ‘No Justice’ in there it is silly to be upset, this is another bloody excellent set from a band still creating relevant new music with passion. Of the new album tracks perhaps ‘Here Today Gone Tomorrow’ which has a very classic Harem Scarem sound to it, the band are just on fire, Pete, Stan and Darren all equally help to make this one of the stand out performances of the weekend, and the backing vocals are as always top notch.
As soon as the announcement was made that Vince Neil was set to Headline the Saturday night at Rockingham 2017 the discussions went crazy, and yes they certainly weren’t all positive. For me Vince has never been one of the best vocalists on the scene, but he’s always been a very charismatic and interesting, to say the least, frontman. Getting the opportunity to see someone of his stature playing at a Festival and venue of this size is a massive coup by the Rockingham organisers, but there is always also a bit of a worry after some not so flattering stories about Summer Festival dates that this could be a bit of a car crash. Some of those fears are of course allayed by the fact that Vince has such a brilliant band on Tour with him, Dana Strum (Bass), Jeff Blando (Guitar) and Zoltan Chaney (Drums) are simply brilliant to watch, and despite some pitch issues here and there it has to be said that Vince Neil put on a really entertaining set to headline Saturday night at Rockingham.
They did arrive on stage later than expected, but when he did arrive it was with quite a bang, and a massive smile on his face. The set was almost exclusively Crue songs tonight and more than enough to satisfy the eager crowd, lapping it up, some visibly could not stay still throughout the whole set, and one cover, Jeff Blando took over lead vocals for a really good cover of Sabbath’s ‘Heaven And Hell’, boy can he sing. Hard to go wrong with Crue classics like ‘Dr. Feelgood’, ‘Looks That Kill’ or ‘Wild Side’, and it’s the songs that are a bit more lively or aggressive that sound the best tonight, I feared for ‘Home Sweet Home’ but it was better than expected and without a doubt a lot of people would have to eat some humble pie after this performance, I believe that a lot have forgotten that this was the frontman of one of the most successful bands in Rock, and damn if he wasn’t enjoying himself all the way through the set, which added a lot for me. For the culmination of the set ‘Girls Girls Girls’ and ‘Wildside’ the guys were joined by the lovely Hell On High Heelz dancers which added a little bit extra to the stage show. All in all a really enjoyable set, and if you don’t enjoy watching that band play anywhere you have some issues, Strum is a whirlwind and Chaney is the best Drummer to watch on the planet at the moment, congratulations Rockingham on pulling this off I think the large crowd waiting on Vince at the exits afterwards was an indication of how much people had enjoyed the set and it was great to see the man himself take some time out to sign stuff and take photos with fans on the way out.
Piece Of Your Action
Looks That Kill
Home Sweet Home
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
Heaven And Hell (Black Sabbath cover Jeff Blando on vocals)
Kickstart My Heart
Girls Girls Girls
Read our review from day 3 here