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Rockingham festival preview

 

About to run for it’s third year, Rockingham 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 2017 set to take place in Nottingham Trent University, in The Level which turned out to be an excellent venue for last years Festival. It’s 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 later this month.

Friday 20th

One of many thriving Rock & Metal bands coming out of Northern Ireland aright now Maverick are set to kick the gates open at Rockingham, these guys are full of energy, no shortage of talent and they are continually improving both on album and live. They really do Rock the party. Vocalist David Balfour will no doubt whip up the crowd and this will not only be a great stepping stone for the band but also a great chance for a wider audience to get to check them out – don’t miss these guys they always bring it, and with Tours supporting the likes of Treat and The Poodles and a new album coming out in the new year you are in for a treat, this should be a perfect start to a Friday night.

Blanc Faces for those that do not know the name are comprised of the LaBlanc brothers Robbie and Brian, Greg Trabant (Drums) and looking forward to seeing what musicians are going to round out the band. Most will know Robbie more recently for his work as lead vocalist of Find Me, but irrelevant of what the man sings we are all in for one hell of a set, wonderful voice and add to that some brilliant songs from the two Blanc Faces album. The combination of both brother’s voices is superb, could definitely be a Festival highlight.

I know a lot of people were gutted when Honeymoon Suite pulled out of this year’s lineup, but what a way to pull a rabbit out of a hat John Parr back on a UK Stage with a full band – WOW, it’s been too way too long, with a bag full of hit songs at the ready and he still has a great voice there is little doubt that the fans at Rockingham this year are in for one hell of a set. Classic Hard Rock/AOR will be the order of the day and it really should be something special, familiar band members should again bolster the sound, can’t wait for this set. Have a feeling this one is really going to rock.

Headlining Friday night are the one, the only Kix, who will finally be making a return visit to the UK after managing to get to Europe for the Frontiers Festival earlier in the year, this will be one of the most looked forward to sets at Rockingham. The band are still firing on all cylinders having consistently Toured since their reunion in 2003 and we are sure to see some ass kicking Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Possibly the loudest band on the bill and certainly going to bring everything they have, nobody will be dozing off during this set, a vibrant and continuing presence on the Rock scene in the US, they will be one of the most eagerly awaited bands of the weekend.

 

Saturday 21st

Set to kick off Saturdays proceedings are up and Swedish rockers Cruzh who are making their UK debut, yes they are very much a Melodic Rock band, but they have managed to stay away from some of the ground a lot of their compatriots have trodden in recent years, yes we have lots of great hooks, solid riffs and some really good harmonies, will be interesting what they play, most likely tracks from last year’s self-titled debut album, which was well received generally, but hopefully some new music too to see what direction the band are progressing in.

Without doubt The Amorettes have been working extremely hard since arriving on the scene a few years back, and that hard work has not gone unnoticed having gained a number of high profile support slots with the likes of Europe, Danko Jones, Black Star Riders and slots at some of the major Rock and Metal Festivals in Europe. A very talented band Gill, Hannah and Heather will as always get the crowd involved and give 100%, what they do is Rock n’ Roll and they do it very bloody well. The time they have spent on the road over the last couple of years has moulded them into a very polished band and always a band to look forward to, enjoy.

British hard rockers VEGA are very well known to the local audience as they are a very hard working band playing as much as they can either in support capacity or on their own Tours. These guys 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 have developed on each album to date and have become very polished live, they can often be seen with the cream of Brittish Rock such as FM, Magnum or international acts like Dan Reed Network and of course they are always a great draw at Festivals such as Rockingham, having played the first edition of the event, another one of those bands that just don’t let you down and manage to put smiles on the faces in a crowd.

One of the surprise bands from last year’s Festival and certainly one that is making a speedy and welcome return this year are Fortune, and it’s a really nice surprise. 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), the band will hopefully be showcasing some new material alongside great tracks from the debut like “Thrill Of It All” and “Dearborn Station” that were simply stunning last year, another set not to miss out on. A chilled kind of West Coast vibe to them but a great sound there’s no doubt that they will be just as good this time around and hopefully with some new tracks, a new Fortune album would be more than welcome.

Evoking many feelings, the original lead singer of Survior, none other than Dave Bickler another big draw in this year’s lineup, having had three stints fronting the band including a run sharing lead vocals with late Jimi Jamison, this should be a really interesting set. There are some wonderful songs from early era Survivor along with the possibility of some new material as Bickler has been putting together songs for a new album. Although probably best known as the vocalist on “Eye Of The Tiger” there are so many other great songs to hopefully look forward to such as “Poor Man’s Sun”, “Children of the Night” or “American Heartbeat”, and with a familiar backing band this should be another of the many highlights, and really could be the set that pulls on the heartstrings this time around.

Canadian heavy hitters Harem Scarem are always a band that always peaks your interest when they are on a Festival lineup, hard not to with the talents of Harry Hess, who has become an excellent producer alongside that wonderful voice, at the helm and such a fine band. They certainly have a sound that’s very much Harem Scarem, strong guitar and drums mix happily with massive melodies and always terrific backing vocals, that sound of theirs is big. Whether it’s rockers like “No Justice” or beautiful ballads like “Honestly” there’s certainly enough material in their catalogue to play two sets and still please their fans. One of those sets where you can just let the music wash over you and take you to another place.

As soon as the announcement was made that Vince Neil was set to Headline the Saturday night at Rockingham 2017, playing a set of Motley Crue greatest hits, the discussions began. But you have to applaud the organisers for bringing in the lead singer of one of the biggest and most controversial bands in Rock, it has to be a major coup for a Festival of this size. He won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, is there ever a Festival bill where there’s not a band that simply doesn’t do it for you, but that’s what music is all about. With a greatest hit’s set it’s hard to go wrong, again Crue had a massive back catalogue and we can be sure to hear lots of the big hits like “Dr Feelgood”, “Kickstart My Heart”, “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Home Sweet Home” Not ignoring the rather negative side of many discussions, there are questions about the quality of Vince’s vocals and the short length of recent sets, but what I would say as I do with most things, go in with an open mind, check out a couple of tracks and you may well be surprised. His backing band on recent European dates has been made up of Slaughter members Dana Strum (Bass), Jeff Blando (Guitar) and Zoltan Chaney (Drums) and that’s another interesting part of this set, Zoltan alone has enough energy for a whole festival.

 

Sunday 22nd

Another wonderful artist to open the show on Sunday will be Bailey and there should be familiar faces in this band too. Nigel Bailey has become one of the most respected and recognisable musicians on the UK Melodic Rock scene, with his more recently projects like Three Lions, Dirty White Boyz and of course Bailey. Hanging up his Bass and focusing on just being the frontman with this band seems to be working really well and the addition of Paul Hume (Demon, Lawless, DWB) on guitar has always been a really good one. The early slot on a Sunday at a 3 day Festival is often difficult after a couple of nights of partying under everyone’s belt, but this is definitely a band you should not miss.

Moritz, having been in the wrong place at the wrong time first time around, finally got their first album recorded and released in 2014. That album has deservedly been well received and it’s good that they have been able to play all of the major AOR Festivals in the UK over the last few years, and it’s great to have them at Rockingham. This band plays terrific AOR with an edge and some wonderful hooks, and with a new album under their belts, About Time Too, and a refreshed lineup, the guys are ready to hit the road again. We are lucky we get to hear some of this excellent new music aired live and check out one of the best sounding UK AOR act, with a mix of classic and new tracks in the set.

Airrace are sure to be an interesting addition to this Festival, they have not played much since the release of the Back To The Start album back in 2011 and an appearance at Hard Rock Hell that year, but now it’s 2017 and there’s a new lineup and new music on its way with the band with the band having signed to Frontiers Records recently. There has been a change in sound with a harder edge than the eighties material the band are known for. Vocally they sound a bit different too, replacing vocalist Keith Murrell is Adam Payne is part of what adds that bit more edge to their new sound, reminiscent perhaps of newer Gotthard. Still retaining Laurie Mansworth (Guitar) alongside his son Dhani (Drums, also of The Treatment), Rocky Newton (Bass, Lionheart), and rounding out the band is Linda Kelsey Foster (Keyboards) – mark this one down to check out.

 

Back for a visit after a few years Finland’s   Brother Firetribe return to Nottingham on the back of one of the best releases of the year with the Sunbound album. A truly gifted band do not miss out on this set, they provide something for everyone, one hell of a voice from Pekka alongside some amazing musicians lead by Emppu Vuorinen (Guitar) who is of course also a founding member of Nightwish. The band visited the UK to play the final Firefest back in 2014 and ripped the place apart, now they will appear having released one of the albums of the year in Sunbound. Another one with the potential to be very special.

Another band that have been flourishing of late are DARE having roared back to top form with the Sacred Ground album last year, and yes it’s got a lot of the Celtic Rock influence in it, but great songs, the band are tight, seem to be loving playing live and have a tonne still to offer. Having been lucky enough to catch the guys a number of times recently this is sure to be another great performance. Expect to hear songs from the terrific debut Out Of The Silence right through to the newest of material. Darren’s vocals are as good as ever and Vinny Burns is always wonderful to watch, along with the rest of the band of course.

Great White are a band that have gone through so much over the years, and now with Terry Ilous (XYZ) now fronting the band it is going to be great to see a great band that have rarely played live in the UK in recent years on the stage at Rockingham. The transition to Ilous from original lead singer Jack Russell has not appeared as easy externally as it seems to have been internally, more than likely due to the legal battles over the band name and public hostilities, but the good work on the Elation album has been further strengthened by the excellent Full Circle and it will be great to hear those new songs mixed in with the classics in this set.

Headlining the final night of Rockingham 2017 will be the legendary Canadian’s Loverboy have been one of the most requested bands for AOR Festivals for many years, they hold a special place in many people’s hearts and the opportunity to finally see them live is big on most people’s list. From “Love Will Rise” through “Notorious” and of course the classic “Working For The Weekend”, we could be in for a rocking set, a mix or something a little softer, but that’s part of the beauty of seeing a band like Loverboy for the first time, or not having seen them for almost 30 years, it’s pretty much all new and fresh and the options for a set are massive. Still very much active and definitely still a band with more to offer.

I 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 20th the excitement really is starting to build quite rapidly now. Eighteen bands with more than enough variation in their sound to keep it all fresh and interesting, bring it on !!!

 

All the information you need is over at the Rockingham HQ

Or on the Rockingham Facebook page

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  1. Brian McGowan says:

    cracking line up.

    • Stephen Brophy says:

      Absolutely Brian, and I think there’s something for everyone in there too, really looking forward to this one ;-)