STONEDEAD FESTIVAL – Newark Showground, August 28th 2021
ONE DAY, ONE STAGE, ONE MONSTER SHOW…back to the good old days of the Monsters of Rock festival, where a large proportion of the crowd and staff here started, including myself!
Now in its third phenomenally successful year, the first thing that always hits me when entering the site is how friendly everybody is, the volunteers here are fans, friends, music lovers and bloody lovely people, the sun is shining, the music is playing, step through those gates and leave the rest of the world behind for the next 24 hours. Oh yes Stonedead it’s good to be BACK!!! Onto business…
Dead Man’s Whisky
Dead Man’s Whisky are the perfect openers for today, their classic heavy southern-rock tinged vibes going hand in hand with the morning sun and a nice livening coffee to start my day, getting us all in the festival spirit with ease. Then a moment I wasn’t expecting or had prepared myself for, a dedication to MMH’s breakfast show legend Mr Tony Heare, who is sadly terminally ill and been told he’s off to join Lemmy for a JD or three way too soon and despite every effort imaginable he just wasn’t strong enough to be here at the festival today that he loves so dearly and loves him back in spades, singer Nico is also struggling with his own mother’s serious illness and so takes the time today to reach out to us all and talk abut Tony and his own personal experience and dedicates ‘Make You Proud’ to them both, I’ve been here less than half an hour and I’m smiling ear to ear and tearful already, as the streamers shoot out into the crowd the atmosphere is electric, no other festival does this to me! Everyone watching their set felt every word of that song, thank you Nico and the boys, couldn’t imagine a better start to the day, ending on a high with flames going off to ‘Racing Bullet’ helps us all man up and compose ourselves again and get ready to head off to the bar pumped for what’s to come next! (Tina C.)
Absolva hit the stage and my ears immediately prick up, I love a good traditional metal guitar attack and we are soon fist pumping to some fine slabs of metal in the form of ‘Rise Again’, ‘Never a Good Day To Die’ and ‘Never Back Down’ stepping in last minute for Covid casualty The Treatment, which is never an easy task for organisers and band alike, but as most of them were already here as part of Blaze Bayley’s band coming up later, it made perfect sense and it was a fine set too welcomed by the crowd and contained a perfect Stonedead moment when the very metal Chris Appleton tells us all to “raise your giraffes in the air and scream for me” now there’s something I bet he thought he’d never say! (Tina C.)
I haven’t seen Myke Gray play live for many many years, since his Skin days, always a great guitarist and performer and more recently an avid champion of real music for real fans, telling the real story behind the current murky world of the music biz, he’s not on streaming sites and literally ties himself up in knots recording/producing/packing/shipping his music and merch out to all his fans, and thus inspiring a very loyal following that just want to own his music and make sure he personally reaps the benefit of their hard earned merch money and his hard work making the music, always taking the time to connect with his people, it’s a very beautiful thing. Expectation builds to the intro of ‘We Will Rock You’ opening with the energetic and fitting ‘Stand Up For Rock n Roll’ and Skin classics ‘House of Love’ and Raised on Radio’, always been a big fan of Skin and Neville MacDonald’s voice, it would have been hard to imagine hearing anyone else sing those songs, that is until I heard Dan Byrne singing them, big fan of his other band Revival Black, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing him belt out my old favourites as naturally as if they were his own, a shining talent on the current NWOCR scene that I am sure will go far and a perfect compliment to Myke, a first class guitar hero and bona fide rock star of our generation, they killed it and was easily my set of the day stealing the show song after song, pyros, streamers, red white and blue beach balls bouncing above the crowd and even without all the added extras I could just watch Myke play guitar all day long, such a class act! Made all the better by the whole field singing along to anthem ‘Look But Don’t Touch and ‘Take Me Down To The River’ as the sun beat down and Spitfires circled the sky above our heads, I had actual goosebumps this moment was so perfect!
This is the best of British rock and the best of British rock festivals right here right now.
Closing with another massive ‘Tower of Strength’ singalong, Myke and the boys Dan, Colin (Parkinson ex-Inglorious bass player) and drummer Neil, they just stole the show for me. (Tina C.)
One of the things I especially love about this festival is the overall experience, between bands, we get the entertainment of our crazy bunch of MMH DJ’s of course (DJ Skid and Stevie J today, plus yours truly yesterday, along with Caz Parker, DJ Mitz and Adam Onslaught!), so today I get to happily toddle off for a refreshment break, singing along to some fine tunes, chatting to nearly everyone I encounter as everyone is so friendly and still be back in time for the next band, no stress, all perfectly thought out in terms of consumer experience, I realise it’s a little more chaotic than that behind the scenes, due to normal festival stresses but now with the added Covid throwing spanners in the works left right and centre, it’s down to sheer hard work and determination that we are even all here today, so there were gripes about lack of supplies and queues on the Friday, but by the Saturday all seems happy and I don’t have any complaints at all, not one! One thing you’ll never hear from this festival is complaints about the prices, everything from the actual cost of attending, to the merch, to the food and drink, it is all so reasonably priced, hats off to you all, as I witnessed just a tiny smidgen of the back breaking work that is going on behind the scenes to make this a day to remember and it’s enough to make you weep! Amazing people! Back to the music…
Blaze Bayley frontman of the mighty Iron Maiden 1994 to 1999 for the release of their two albums, the X Factor and Virtual XI, he of course fronted the national treasure that is Wolfsbane and now his solo band with which he has recorded 10 studio albums! However, today’s performance is based solely of songs from his Maiden years and Blaze’s band Absolva take to the stage for the second time today for the likes of crowd singalongs ‘The Clansman’ and ‘Sign of the Cross’, the better known from those albums and greeted with a hearty reception they are too, as are opener ‘Lord of the Flies’, ‘Judgement in Heaven’ and ‘The Virus’ to name but a few. Blaze’s performance one of the day’s highlights for me and a crowd winner too for sure. Blaze will be back out supporting his new solo album soon and behold the great news that Wolfsbane will also be giving us a new album too, do make an effort to go out and catch the inimitable Blaze Bayley coming to a venue near you soon. (DJ Skid)
The imposing figure that is Kris Barras literally lights up the stage with opener ‘Light it up’, I’ve been looking forward to this set since catching him briefly at a rock and blues festival in 2019 and today is a first class performance, with the perfect balance between blues guitar jamming in the sunshine, guitar solo histrionics and solid sing-along crowd pleasing rock anthems, such as ‘Rock n Roll Running Through My Veins’ and ‘What You Get’ and I’ve got to say, I love the guitar, it’s sound is what got me into rock music in the first place, and it occurs to me I haven’t enjoyed watching a guitarist just jam it up live on stage this much since Richie Kotzen, high praise indeed in my book and in many a book, myself along with many here today are already booking up for his March 2022 tour on the back of today’s performance.
We are treated today to a new song ‘Dead Horses’ out this coming Friday 3rd September and it goes down a storm, really looking forward to getting hold of this and the other new one aired today ‘My Parade’… now something quite remarkable happened at the end of this new song and something I have never witnessed in my previous 33 years as a gig-goer, at the end of this brand new never heard before track, the band ended the song and the crowd immediately sang back the words to Kris and the band, I couldn’t believe it, it was a beautiful unusual and goosebump inducing sight and sound, I think it’s safe to say we’re all really looking forward to the new material haha! I particularly enjoyed ‘Lovers and Losers’ and set closer my personal favourite, the crowd pleasing ‘Hail Mary’ absolutely brought the house down, a joint band of the day for me, it’s all about the guitar heroes today! (Tina C.)
I first saw these guys at Stonedeaf 2018 (The festival was renamed as Stonedead for the 2019 extravaganza) and was instantly hooked. They were brought in as a replacement for H.E.A.T for this years event, and I was very much looking forward to seeing them again. The whole band brings such a mesmerising energy to the stage, and the audience is soon eating out of their hands. The vocalist Baz, is a born entertainer, who never stays still. His vocals always remain on point during the whole set though, despite this. Before performing one of their hits ‘Ratio’, Baz dedicated the track to MMH’s very own DJ legend, Tony Heare. Tony couldn’t join us due to being seriously ill, and the dedication meant a lot to us at MMH. Another of their hits ‘The Curry Song’ is an instant hit with the audience, containing lyrics, such as “I say keema you say naan! Keema, NAAN, Keema, NAAN, I say rogan you say josh! Rogan, JOSH, rogan, JOSH. I say rogan you say MOSH! It seemed like the entire crowd were singing and dancing along at this point! These guys were one of my highlights of the weekend, and one I will never forget. Towards the end of their set, Baz commented, that Chris Sumby (part of the Stonedead team) must have sold his soul to someone, as every time Massive Wagons had been on the Stonedead stage, the sun was blazing. (Maria Thomas)
Cast your mind back to 1994 when GUN were riding high in the charts with the Cameo cover ‘Word Up’, out of the backstreets of Scotland in the mid 80’s now having released 7 long players under their belts, including a few line-up changes and a re-shuffle, we today arrive at the current line-up of brothers Gizzi, frontman Dante and guitarist Jools with Tommy Gentry, Andy Carr and last minute replacement drummer Nick Georgiou. They crushed it with top class tunes, rocking with ferocity and panache. The sign of a top band is how many songs you know but don’t know you know, GUN are always a good night out and are a top draw live act covering their career tonight with tracks from ‘Welcome to the Real World’, ‘Taking on the World’, the obligatory hit ‘Word Up’ and finishing off with a perfect cover for this current time in history The Beastie Boys ‘Fight for your right to party’ and their own ‘Better days’. The whoops of joy and bopping from the crowd cementing their spot high up on the bill. Catch them supporting the Dead Daises soon and well done Nick the drummer who did a great job! (DJ Skid)
Keeping the atmosphere buzzing into the evening hours with ease, the party perfect sounds of Terrorvision, made all the more lovely by having former drummer from back in our day and now MMH DJ supreme Shutty here with us to support MMH and his former band mates, it’s testament to their career that everyone here knows all the words to every song, bopping to our little hearts content to ‘Some People Say’ and ‘Josephine’ before the lights fail, oops! I can only imagine the panic, sweat and tears backstage as the crew go about fixing things, but out front the crowd are unphased in their mission to party and the band grab a torch and launch into a now very atmospheric ‘Do You Wanna Go Faster’, no fuss, not marring the evenings performance at all from where we’re standing and the set goes on, eventually with lights, and onto more crowd pleasers in the unique style of Tony and the boys ‘My House’, ‘Oblivion’, ‘Middleman’, ‘Perseverance’ a solid hit list brought to a close in stadium style with streamers and all, a brilliant festival band any day of the week. (Tina C.)
When headliners the Black Star Riders had to pull out with a last minute Covid disaster it seemed a major blow to many, but this awful turn of events was eased by veterans and professionals Uriah Heep stepping up to headline with a minutes notice. 24 or so studio albums from their 1970 debut ‘Very eavy..Very Humble’ up to 2018’s ‘Living the Dream’. Mick Box, one of the elder statesmen and gentlemen of the music scene beams throughout the set, a set which includes their career spanning with ‘July Morning’, ‘Lady in Black’ and ‘Easy Living’, ‘Stealin’ and ‘Gypsy’. Black Star Riders were missed but Uriah Heep did an incredible job as headliners and brought Stonedead 2021 to a fitting grand closure. (DJ Skid)
The lasting impression that has stayed with me now I’ve had a couple of days to recover and reflect, is that the organisers have found the perfect balance of just about everything here, not too long or huge that it’s a chore to get around or last for the entire duration, but not too small, so it still feels grandiose, especially in terms of quality of bands on the bill, I can almost guarantee nearly everyone at that festival is still buzzing now from it, top marks again, Chris, Jenny, Neil, Lee, Gin, Krusher and everyone I met who worked their asses off for the pure love of it all and the amazing volunteers and fans that just become one big Stonedead family on the day that we are all missing already!
Special mention to MMH’s very own DJ’s Skid and Stevie J Giraffe’s superb DJ set, seeing a field of thousands of punters waving inflatable giraffes in the air to Skindred was a sight to behold, the ‘Newark Helicopter’ is born!
I’d strongly suggest you book up now for next year to avoid disappointment… as it will sell out again!!!
Roll on 2022… see you at the bar!
Words by Tina C.
Reviews by Tina C. Simon Kidd and Maria Thomas where stated.
Photos by Manny Manson (unless otherwise stated).
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