Rockingham has become a go to Festival for AOR Fans both from the UK and across the world, which is always great to see. The 2018 line up has once again made this years event one that can’t be missed, and alongside the wonderful music there is that Rock Family atmosphere, seriously this is also a hugfest for sure. It’s that feeling that you are among family that helps create a great atmosphere.
Day 1 – Friday 19th October
A nice surprise addition to open the show this year are the Rockingham AllStar Band, playing Charlie Castro’s Rockingham Theme Tune live for the very first time. The band consists of a number of the Festival’s favourite sons; Charlie himself on guitar, Gannet Ries on drums (both of whom played with At The Fire in 2016), Nigel Bailey (Bailey) on bass, Irwin Parratt on keyboards, Jonas Nordquist (Age Of Reflection) guitar, and it was a really cool way to get things started. Catchy song and a lot of fun.
One of the most talented bands coming out of Scotland right now are Mason Hill, who have been getting a lot of attention for live performances and an excellent EP. While things appeared to stall for the guys, it looks like everything is back on track with a new record deal and the debut album finally on its way, this was a set a lot of people were looking forward to.
The band have to me always been a little more on upbeat hard rock/melodic metal spectrum but in the new single “Hold On” if feels a little more towards Shinedown’s style, and it sounds great live, great to see them ready to deliver new material, and a really solid opening set.
Aussie rockers Massive are one of those bands that just get out there and do it, with the least amount of fuss and maximum amount of volume. They hit the stage and powered their way through a high energy set dragging the crowd along with them and definitely setting up a fun atmosphere. These guys are definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea at a festival like this, but damn they are going down well with the crowd, and isn’t that what it’s all about. They entertain; a little bit in your face and some good banter between songs. Frontman Brad Marr is just a fully charged ball of energy which he unleashes throughout the set.
The band is a powerful rocking machine with the highlights here being “Blood Money Blues” and the different but excellent “Ghost” which is a completely different type of track to the rest of their songs, for me they could do without the covers, but they went down pretty well. This is one hard working band and I’m sure we will see them back again soon. A very enjoyable set for me.
Next, Pink Cream 69 are back in the UK and these guys are once again on absolute top form. Led by the excellent voice of David Readman the band play Melodic Rock with a slightly heavier edge, catchy, crunchy riffs at times and definitely a touch of Prog at times, and having always loved the blend this was one of the sets I was most looking forward to, and once again they delivered.
Aside from their classic songs something that really stood out for me was the power of their newer material live, from “Walls Come Down” from last year’s Headstrong album, this is an absolute belter of a track live and shows that the guys are still making relevant music twelve studio albums in, and although they have been on the go for over 30 years now when you look at them play they are still loving it. Other highlights for me were “Livin’ My Life For You”, “Talk To The Moon” and of course the wonderful “Shame“ to close the set, I’ve always thought this was one of the more underrated bands in the scene, and one I still don’t listen to nearly often enough. Pink Cream 69 are one of those bands that everyone should check out if you get a chance; a terrific bunch of musicians with a back catalog of great songs. A special mention too for Roman Beselt who was stepping in on bass and fitted in perfectly so solid. Terrific set and the crowd appeared to agree, lets hope we get to see these guys again soon.
Headlining Friday night are the one, the only Vixen, who certainly need no introduction, but this is the first time the UK gets to see Britt Lightning on guitar and Tsyon Leslie on keyboards/backing vocals. It really is a pleasure to see Janet Gardner not only looking so fit and healthy after her recent health scare, but also to know that that voice is still in great shape.
One thing I have always loved about this band is that the individuals all have the ability to draw your attention be it Roxy’s excellent drumming, Share’s precision bass or Janet’s terrific vocals, and we now know that Britt’s Guitar work can be added to the list, Tyson stays a bit more in the background providing keys and backing vocals, but that certainly adds to the overall sound dynamic. The moves are still there, they look and sound great and the audience is right into this one from the moment they hit the stage, don’t know what it was, but this band just warms the heart and what an attribute that is to have, brilliant stuff.
Alongside what was expected in the set we also got “Only A Heartbeat Away“; a track that had been played for the first time live at their previous show in Madrid two nights earlier, and a couple of covers which hopefully won’t make an appearance next time around when the girls have a new album to support. There’s nothing wrong with covers, but I look forward to be being a Vixen only set.
The classics though are what people want, and they are all over the set; “How Much Love”, “Cryin”, “Love Is A Killer” and of course closing the set with the mighty “Edge Of A Broken Heart”. There really couldn’t be anything else to close things off, and with the accompanying pyro it certainly added to the spectacle. So many beaming smiles from the girls and Janet as always works a crowd so well, alongside as always paying tribute to Jan. Fitting headliners, once again a joy to see play and a thoroughly entertaining set.
Rev It Up
How Much Love
Only A Heartbeat Away
I Want You To Rock Me
You Oughta Know
I Don’t Need No Doctor
Love Is A Killer
Love Made Me
Streets In Paradise
Edge Of A Broken Heart
To thank the loyal fanbase that has been building up over the last three events the organisers also put on an Aftershow Party on the Friday night in the Crowne Plaza, where most of the artists and a lot of the fans were staying. This is a great idea meaning that fans that go to the event year in year out and are among the first group of people to order tickets for this year’s event are the ones that get access up close and personal with the bands for some acoustic sets, and it’s not just for those that can afford the more expensive ticket options – bravo Rockingham! With acoustic sets from Boulevard and Åge Sten Nilsen and an album launch for the excellent new Midnite City opus it was a hell of a present.
So some technical issues aside with the sound it was a brilliant first night for the Festival, roll on Day 2.