Review by Rob Billingham, photos by Lisa Billingham
With the weather gods being particularly kind and feeling suitably refreshed, it’s time to embark on what will be a very busy day. The V Lounge was hosting its first band at 11.30, perhaps still a little early for some of the Thursday nighters! Norwich alt rockers Blind Tiger had the honour of opening the day and despite the predictable smallish crowd, these four lads were soon into their stride, striking up some good humoured exchanges with a few fans before aiming their well-crafted, full on, ten song set in our direction. Much fine guitar riffery is driven on by superb team work in the drums and bass department. Charlie McCarthy’s well-honed vocals weren’t bad either!
As I make my way to the Regency Room, the number of awoken bodies had grown significantly and the beer was already flowing rather well. Only 14 hours to go!
Dr & The Medics were well into their first number, Dead or Alive’s ‘You Spin Me Round’, by the time I found a place to park myself. Although the band’s most successful era was the 80s, they are still wowing crowds on the live circuit. The enigmatic Dr and his Medics were certainly injecting their unique vaccine into some classics today; Spirit In The Sky? … there was certainly loads in the Regency Room and the crowd’s reaction suggested many hangovers had been beaten into submission.
Back in the V Lounge now, just as another local band, Bad Touch, took to the stage. These Norwich heavy rockers have been making a name for themselves in recent times, justifiably so in my opinion. With a splattering of blues thrown in, their music is quite pulsating and in front man Stevie Sparrow, they have a vocalist who sounds about as perfect as you could get for this genre. Love his musketeer-esque image too! Catch these guys as soon as you can.
Moving quickly back to the Regency Room, things were about to slow down a touch with the arrival of Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack. With Christine McVie (formerly Christine Perfect) amongst the many past members, Stan Webb has remained the only ever-present and his slick, sometimes silky six-string work was well received by the fair sized crowd. Whilst I’m sure Chicken Shack wasn’t to everyone’s taste, a nice bit of blues to chill by is fine by me.
With just enough time to catch some of Ulysses in the V Lounge, these guys were really rocking along with their heavily 60s and 70s influenced sounds which left the appreciative throng well satisfied.
Yo-yoing back to the Regency Room next band on was Splintered Soul. Describing themselves as Progressive Epic Cinematic Metal and with influences ranging from Pantera to Prokoviev, this six piece of fine musicians brought a touch of glamour in the form of Erica Mengod (vocals) and Sally Jo (six string electric violin). With Chris Frost and the other guys most definitely taking a back seat visually, Splintered Soul brought a totally different rock adventure to the mid-afternoon proceedings with bright, fresh sounds stylishly played out.
Lawless were into their set by the time I caught up with the better half in the V Lounge who was busy snapping away. These Staffordshire guys came recommended so I needed to catch them play. Lawless played good, honest rock and their style pays homage to the likes or Maiden and Whitesnake. Their set including as it does, melodic anthemic rock through to heavy riff laden metal and a few points between for good measure. With a new album R.I.S.E due for release on 21st November, this is a band that is most definitely pointing forwards!
With the first full on timing clash, it was decision time. The Jimi Anderson Group swung it for me over Arthur Brown, as I had never seen this band to date. The man from Lanarkshire has been singing since 1978. Jimi has become well experienced in the ways of the music world and as well as his tributes and covers years, Jimi writes some good stuff himself. The band we are seeing today proves Jimi’s desire to succeed and this quintet of fine musicians earned every bit of applause they received. Ten songs that rocked and got the dance floor moving demonstrated the versatility of the band.
The early evening 5.30 slot in the Regency Room was filled by Mostly Autumn; purveyors of rock with prog and folk overtones. Inevitable I suppose given the early influences of Genesis, Renaissance and Pink Floyd. Mostly Autumn maintained the high standard of music to which the Legends of Rock crowd had been treated. Fans can soon catch vocalist Olivia Sparnenn-Josh and Bryan Josh on their acoustic support slot with Steve Hackett.
With the V Lounge now closed for the day, we could set up camp in the Regency Room for the remaining bands. First up were Tennessee band Skinny Molly; formed by ex- Skynyrd guitarist, Mike Estes and drummer Kurt Pietro, they delighted the very full room with their moody, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll. With a new album Here For A Good Time due out in November, that’s exactly what we were all having. A great set was brought to a climax by the almost inevitable ‘Freebird’. Stunningly performed too! I need a drink after that.
As expected, Voodoo Six were a no show, having found themselves without a frontman as Luke Purdie announced he was stepping down from the band due to ill health. But credit to all concerned, the crowd was still royally entertained by a mix ‘n’ match of musicians including Matt Pearce, introduced as Voodoo One, who made the trek to Great Yarmouth (bless him) and jammed their way through a series of classic covers. Spontaneity can be good !
Penultimate band Alabama 3 certainly know how to get their message across. Uncompromising and sometimes a little outrageous. Hailing from Brixton in London, Alabama 3 make no apologies for what they do and to be honest why should they. Mixing many styles – techno, blues, punk, electro pop to name a few – the underlying thumping, rhythmical beat of their music was hypnotic in its relentless journey. Alabama 3 without doubt lived up to their reputation as a top live band who love to party and just have a good time. Although a few people I spoke to thought they were perhaps not the band for this festival, the vast majority were certainly in favour and went to the bar for refills very happy people.
And so it was up to the ever popular Quireboys to bring Friday’s entertainment to a close. With the crowds still simmering from Alabama 3, the Quireboys soon brought them back to the boil with a stonking set of rock ‘n’ roll bringing those 70s influences right up to date. Spike and the gang took us well into Saturday morning in style.
Time for a well-earned alcoholic beverage for me and the boss before we turn in and then it’ll be time to start all over again.