STONEDEAF FESTIVAL – Newark Showground, August 25th 2018
ONE DAY, ONE STAGE, ONE MONSTER SHOW…harking back to the good old days of the Monsters of Rock festival, organised by Donington Vets and promising a Friday night rock disco featuring the voice of the legendary Mr Tommy Vance… oh yes… this is appealing to the teenager in me that would religiously tape the Tommy Vance Friday Rock Show and walked the hallowed grounds of the Monsters of Rock festival, plus it also features three of my teenage top bands, Skid Row (minus Sebastian Bach), Wolfsbane (minus some hair) and Neville MacDonald (minus the rest of Skin), I am SO there!!!
So here I am, in the sun, it rained yesterday and it’s going to rain tomorrow, but for today the weather is on our side and the 100% proof spirit of the 2000 or so rockers here to party like it’s 1989 is infectious. You just know that any day that starts off with a cab share with Krusher is going to be one helluva day!
The first thing that strikes me upon entering the Newark showground, which is perfectly sized and arranged for the day, is the friendliness of everyone, I am greeted by stewards and escorted to pick up my pass, then escorted to be shown around the press area and where everything is, I’ve been here less than five minutes and am already feeling the love and pride that has gone into bringing this crazy dream of some Donington vets to fruition.
Whilst waiting for it all to kick off I survey the reasonably priced stalls for later and soak up the vibe. Right down to the Motley Brew tent serving Ellefson coffee, the attention to detail here is just wonderful to see. I sit and have my very metal cup of coffee and chat with one of the volunteers who is working hard and genuinely happy to be doing so and to be a part of this day, what a breath of fresh air all these people are!
Time to rock…
Kicking off the day are Fallen Mafia, no easy feat at 11:30am, but their attitude shines through and we’re soon getting into the spirit. A 5-piece female fronted hard rock band from the North East, citing influences such as Motley Crue, WASP, Skid Row and Steel Panther. Front woman Hannah Elizabeth Neil has a strong voice, belting out tracks from their latest release ‘Asylum’ such as ‘Dirty’, and ‘Burn’. They’ve got the image and some nice hooks, a touch of glam, solid chugging guitars and maybe even a touch of Marilyn Manson I can hear? We’re treated to a little song about a starfish, I must check this out further at some point! A good opener and nice to see up and coming bands being supported in this way by giving them the opening slot. I heard the band mucked in to help with some of the post festival clean up, how lovely is that.
I’m putting it out there now… Welsh rising rockers Kane’d for the opening slot at Stonedeaf 2019!
Our very own DJ’s Smudge, Tony Heare and Glyn Shepherd are the in-between bands entertainment, time for a quick boogie.
The organisation is going well and there’s little downtime between bands, just about enough time for a refreshment break and it’s straight back down to business with Chrome Molly, originally formed in the 80’s and re-formed in 2009, they have a nice sized following here today, opening with ‘CMA’ it’s all fists and chanting, vocalist Steve Hawkins working the crowd up, or waking the crowd up, and thrusting us firmly into the afternoon with single ‘Shooting Me Down’ co-written with Noddy Holder. Following this performance, I’m looking forward to checking out their new release ‘Gunpowder Diplomacy’ produced by Toby Jepson.
A mention should now go to our legendary compere for the day, Krusher! The in-between-set banter is just as enjoyable as the bands, although not for the faint hearted!
One of the moments I’ve been waiting for, Hand of Dimes take to the stage for a lesson in simple goosebump-inducing straight up rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a wonderful surprise to see Bruce Dickinson (Little Angels, Colour of Noise, WaterBear music college) up there on guitar today, adding that little something special to the performance. As always Neville MacDonald is a pure pleasure to behold, I’ve heard his voice described as heavenly, velvet, chocolate and more X-rated variations of all of those, and none of them are wrong! The love for Neville and Bruce is written over everyone’s faces here today and these two modest men seem genuinely surprised by this adoration and it makes us love and respect them all the more. Opening up with singalong crowd livener ‘Looking At You’, followed by the likes of ‘Bad Reputation’ and the epic ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, their 2016 release ‘Raise’ appears to be in the record collection of a lot of today’s crowd judging by the bad singing that’s going on all around me, the organisers got this choice spot on! By no means overlooking the new material, it’s great, but let’s face it, we all want a Skin reunion and we all want to hear those songs today, so we are treated to ‘House of Love’ and Neville is treated to a full house going mad for it.
Currently riding high with their brand new ‘Full Nelson’ album, entering the UK top 40 album charts at number 12 no less, Lancaster’s Massive Wagons are on everyone lips right now, and rightly so. Fresh sounding catchy rock ‘n’ roll delivered with a Northern realness by a frontman that you just simply have to see and Barry Mills does not disappoint today! Colourful in every way, edgy and unpredictable, the crowd is massive and this band could be massive the way they are heading and it’s all going off right here right now! Their faithful following singalong to every word and I can’t help but join in for personal favourites ‘Ratio’ and ‘Tokyo’. The energy builds and like a Tasmanian devil Baz fly’s off into the crowd to further whip up a frenzy, he is eventually pulled out with the addition of somebody’s flowery hat, it then all turns a bit Morecambe & Wise as he blames the guitarist for pushing him into the crowd and mock beats him to the floor. The crowd go wild, the band are wild, many new fans have been made and I dare say most of us here today will be catching these guys live whenever we can, better get a bigger wagon boys.
Nobody really wants to follow the Wagons, the field is still buzzing, so a complete change of pace with some classic rock was a very good decision, as we gladly take some time to chill to the dulcet tones of Graham Bonnet Band. Graham rose to rock royalty status by replacing Ronnie in Rainbow, try saying that tongue twister after a few of these reasonably priced beers today! We all know that, what we may not all know is that he can still go hell for leather on vocals at the grand age of 70! Having just completed a UK tour he shows no signs of stopping, it’s great to hear the songs we know and love him for ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ and ‘All Night Long’, which also fittingly Graham performed at the first ever Monsters of Rock festival in 1980 with Rainbow, this is a good reminder of the calibre of rock royalty here today and credit to the organisers, a brand new festival, self-financed and built from a dream and just look at the quality of the bill, simply amazing!
One thing is becoming apparent, today is all about the bands, most people here today will have watched every band on the bill, mixing the new with the old, just like the crowd, I see those that were at the original Monsters of Rock festivals here with their children.
Talking of those that were at the original festivals, Anvil take to the stage next for some straight up balls to the wall rock. Lips is a loveable frontman of the old school, we enjoy his dedication to Lemmy accompanied with the story that Anvil toured the UK with Motorhead in ’83 and in a Birmingham hotel one night after a show, Lemmy turns up to Lips’ room with a very large bottle of vodka and a very small bottle of orange juice, “you’re wasted” says Lemmy eventually looking down at Lips who is by now under the table, something a little more potent is required, Lemmy tells Lips to ‘sniff it you c*nt’ and they didn’t stop talking until a knock at the door came to tell them it was showtime… 24hrs later!!! This is rock ‘n’ roll motherf*cker and this one is for Lemmy ‘Free As The Wind’.
What can I say about Wolfsbane, our favourite bunch of Howling Mad Shitheads, that hasn’t been said before? Well that was a boring show…yes that’s it…I bet that has never been said before! …and of course, that will NEVER be said, as these legends in their own lunchtime and local heroes possess something that you can’t quite define and can’t quite understand, but they have it in spades! Teenage me adored this band and it appears that older me still does, so come on let’s get sweaty and lose our shit to ‘Steel’!!!
‘Black Lagoon, ‘Load me Down’, ‘Loco’, the soundtrack to my youth is played out before my very eyes, Jase is shredding, Jeff is jumping about in his holiday shirt and Steve Danger is contained behind his drum kit for now. Wolfsbane should have been bigger, Blaze tells us they all thought they would have been with ‘Money to Burn’ someday and so wrote a song in anticipation of it, it didn’t quite come, but the faithful remained and are still here today. For the next forty minutes Wolfsbane are, as their latest album title suggests, here to ‘Save The World’.
Newer songs such as ‘Blue Sky’ and ‘Smoke and Red Light’ precede the crowd-pleasing singalongs of ‘I Like It Hot’, ‘Kathy Wilson’, ‘Paint the Town Red’ and ‘Manhunt’. Blaze Bayley commands a fascinating relationship with his Wolfsbane fans! He can insult us, scare us, pretty much do what he likes to us and we lap it up!!! With that he’s off into the crowd for hugs and snogs and fist pumps.
There is so much love in the crowd for these Brummie bastards, it’s all a bit too much for one gal as she feels compelled to rise above the crowd on someone’s shoulders and flash Blaze more than an eyeful of her boobs, it’s the eighties all over again. Ahhh that’s enough excitement for one day, we’re all off for a cuppa. See you on their December tour for more sweat, beers and probably boobs!
You can’t follow the high intensity of a Wolfsbane performance, so the chilled out bluesy rock hits of the Quireboys are the perfect antidote to what preceded them and just what the doctor ordered, great line-up arrangement again. Spike is part of the UK rock ‘n’ roll furniture and we grab a Cloven Hoof rum and join their bluesy brand of fun as we get down to business with opener ‘Dirty Town’. It’s a nonstop singalong for the crowd as the likes of ‘There She Goes Again’, ‘This is Rock n’ Roll’ and ‘Hey You’ are played out, followed by the emotional ‘I Don’t Love you Anymore’, what a song. Back to party mode with the loveable Spike for ‘Tramps and Thieves’, ‘Sex Party’ and a rip-roaring ‘7 o’clock’ featuring Blaze Bayley for guest vocals and ball-grabbing.
The Quireboys, an awesome party band that never fail to put a smile on all our faces.
Just enough time to grab a beer and a hot dog to keep our strength up – the vendors are rapidly running out of food, it seems they under estimated the crowd size and appetites of a field of hell raising rockers! The sun has gone down and you can really feel the buzz about the place as the headliners slot draws near.
Skid Row were my favourite band for many many years, I fell out with them big time when they parted with Sebastian Bach and tried to carry on as if nothing had happened! Nothing in the preceding years changed my mind on this and then last year I happened to be at a festival that Skid Row appeared at and within the first song of the set I had begrudgingly forgiven them, for in ZP Theart they seem to have found the impossible, a worthy alternative to the irreplaceable Sebastian Bach. Ok so it’s still not quite the glory days we all wish for, but it’s damn close and I never thought I’d say that! I guess it’s testament to how much these guys really must not want to work with Sebastian Bach ever again, when you think they surely could’ve been up for a Download headline slot if they did!
ZP has been quoted as saying he was a fan of the band himself, I think that shines through in his approach, as for my money he must have one of the most difficult jobs in rock today, the impact that Skid Row and Sebastian Bach had on the scene back at the end of the 80’s into the 90’s was massive if you were there, which most of us in today’s crowd were. ZP seems to take all this in his stride and simply delivers the songs through his remarkable set of pipes and let’s that do the talking. This guy can sing, hitting the high notes with some force and boy are those notes high! He also looks the part and is likeable. For the first time since 1995’s ‘Subhuman Race’, I am looking forward to seeing what a new Skid Row album might sound like, as are many in the crowd, everybody I spoke to said the same, they are genuinely excited about Skid Row again with this line-up.
The atmosphere is electric as the band burst onto the stage with songs that have long since carved themselves a place in everybody’s playlists, these songs are pummelled through tonight with no mercy, ‘Slave to The Grind’, ‘Sweet Little Sister’, ‘Piece of Me’, ‘Big Guns’, seriously guys give us a breather we are all horse!!! It’s a wonderful sight to see the organisers losing their shit in the pit and rocking out with us too! Thankfully the pace slows, slightly, for the heavyweight ’18 & Life’, goosebumps all around, man that ZP can sing! ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ and ‘Makin’ A Mess’ are greeted like long lost friends, as are Dave ‘The Snake’ Sabo and Scotti Hill, their powerful axe attack and camaraderie are a thrill to witness, we have a little giggle at Scotti’s boiler suit and crazed facial expressions, he looks like a serial killer, but one we wouldn’t run too fast away from we all concur!
Then a speech from the coolest of dudes, the punk loving, nose-chain wearing Mr Rachel ‘fucking’ Bolan, loving what he’s seen here today, the band shirts, the battle vests, what he calls the “United Nations of Rock ‘n’ Fucking Roll”, he launches into ‘Psychotherapy’ by the Ramones and the place goes up!!!
I’m left speechless at the vocal performance of ZP on ‘Quicksand Jesus’ damn have you tried singing that song, it’s insane! Oh my god it’s ‘Monkey Business’ we can’t cope! Sebastian who? Every single person here is in the moment and in agreement these have been the perfect headliners. We catch our breath a bit during ‘I Remember You’ and ‘We Are The Damned’.
Now we all know what’s coming last, yes tonight we are all once again the ‘Youth Gone Wild’ and they go out with a bang, there’s sweat and tears at the end of what has been a magnificent achievement that defies explanation, you simply had to be there to feel the enormity of what the organisers, bands, volunteers and crowd have done today, and if you weren’t there you truly missed a little piece of rock history!!!
With today’s rock festivals getting bigger, longer, more diverse, they are becoming diluted and starting to sacrifice the ‘metal family’ feeling and to some extent more recently the feeling of personal safety. Today has felt like an extended party in a field full of 2000 of my closest friends, who live and breathe this music and lifestyle and for us the line-up today was a perfect mix of old and new.
The Monster is back and we are delighted to hear it’s happening all over again at the same place, same time, next year! Every single comment that’s followed has been positive and/or constructive, I don’t have any gripes, apart from maybe the wasps eeeewww, ooooh that gives me an idea…WASP for Stonedeaf 2019!
This is not the end, this is the beginning! See you down the front next year!
I’ve had an amazing day and a big thank you from the bottom of my heart to the organisers for making this happen!
We strongly suggest you book up early for next year to avoid disappointment and especially whilst the amazing value early bird offer is on, this monster is growing fast!