Review by Lulu Davenport, photos by Sean Larkin
Adjusting to the disorientating bat cave like conditions at Rock City, Firefest has lit the beacon on this, its eleventh chapter, beaming a bright light of musical array in this pit of darkness. Lingering in wait is a sea of rockers, moshers and gig goers awaiting the next band to enlighten the three day festival.The balcony is adorned with flags from around the world displaying the variety of countries from which the committed fans and some bands have traveled from. All to witness this gig, the last fling, which will always be my first and last ever experience at this legendary sold out event.
I managed to get in in time to find a good spot for the beginning of Shy. The atmosphere is friendly and set to party time, as friends old and new rock out to the infectious melodies from the opening track ‘Skydiving’ to the slower ballad ‘When The Love Is Over’, which they dedicated to passed guitarist Steve Harris. The ballad is executed with a heavy heart by the band whose sombre demeanour gives an intense performance making the song more poigninant. The Brummie rockers bounce back with the more up tempo ‘Breakaway’ and bring out an acoustic guitar for ‘Breaking Down The Walls’. They end the set by going back to 1987 with ‘Talk To Me’.
Opening their set with ‘Misery Loves Company’, The Poodles hit the stage and immediately get the crowd rocking. They are a band firing on all cylinders, featuring a great energetic frontman with a varied voice ranging from Aerosmith type shrills to predominantly masculine growls. The Swedish band play a set that takes in ‘Shut Up’ from 2013’s Tour De Force album alongside more familiar material such as ‘Night Of Passion’ and the title track from Metal Will Stand Tall. A great set, performed with impeccable style.
Melodic hard rockers Ten are up next to entertain. While the band have talent by the bucket full they weren’t my preferred cup of tea, but hey each to their own. My main point is the band were placed in the running order between energetic sets from The Poodles and H.E.A.T.
Ten and their blend of atmospheric tracks seemed a little ill placed. During ‘Alone In The Dark’ there is a brave experimental attempt to record a track captured with the most amount of camera angles. The uploaded result is one I will keep an eye out for, not least because I barely reach just over five foot and the view I get is mostly the back of peoples heads. Brand new song ‘Battlefield’ gets an airing from their new album Albion due out imminently.
Friday night headliners’ intro starts (what else but ‘The Heat Is On’ by Glenn Frey) and teasingly the curtain that shields the stage is wiggling up and down to create tension leading the crowd to chant and finally the curtain drops to heavy applause. H.E.A.T. tear into opening track ‘Point Of No Return’ from this year’s Tearing Down The Walls release. With lead vocalist Eric Rivers mirroring the crowds energy, he headbangs and dances like a rocked out energiser bunny…with wings… on an energy drink drip. No one can ever accuse them of being wooden on stage, and the whole band look like they are thoroughly enjoying themselves, feeding off the audience’s admiration and throwing in some melodic tracks.
H.E.A.T are at the forefront of this new wave of melodic rock/metal. The band are celebrating their fourth appearance since 2010 with hits from their 2012 album Address The Nation; ‘Living On The Run’, ‘Breaking The Silence’ and ‘Heartbreaker’ all go down a storm with the Firefest crowd as the Friday evening races to its conclusion. Having been around since in 2007 and securing a place in Firefest hall of fame, my first impressions put this band as being more advancing in years, resulting in me being a little surprised. But I needn’t have worried, H.E.A.T have a charisma and showmanship far outnumbering their years.
The day is for me full of mixed emotions as I will be missing out Saturday which sees Firehouse, Boulevard, and Babylon A.D. While finale day Sunday closes with Danger Danger after sets by Autograph and Coney Hatch. Highlights of Friday is defiantly H.E.A.T and The Poodles, but Shy’s track ‘Give It All You’ve Got’ deserves a special mention as it’s still bounding round my head a few days after.
1. Point Of No Return
2. A Shot At Redemption
3. Better Off Alone
5. Is All About Tonight
7. Tearing Down The Walls
8. Mannequin Show
9. Late Night Lady
10. In And Out Of Trouble
11. Beg Beg Beg
12. All The Nights
14. Rebel Son
15. Enemy In Me
17. Breaking The Silence
18. Living On The Run