Amplified Festival 2018

Quarrydowns Gloucestershire – Sunday 8th July.

Sunday, so soon! I was having so much fun as well! Still, I do have almost a full day ahead of me! Sadly I couldn’t stay the whole day but thought I’d stick around long enough to immerse myself within the bands who were scheduled to appear today. Out of the line up, there were one or two I definitely had to see and maybe some surprises, I never knew existed! Glad I stuck about to be honest!

As I sat, basking in the sunshine, enjoying my morning breakfast cob, I got a message, asking me If I wanted to interview Doyle, from his UK PR agent! I sat there and pondered for a minute, then thought, ah, why not but more on that later!

The first band over on the VMA stage who really grabbed my attention, were King Leviathan. These guys play blackened thrash metal, so no surprise they appealed to my senses then, is it! These guys hail from Brighton and were founded in 2014. In a very short space of time, it would appear that they are making a lasting impression – one gig at a time, on the people who go to see them at a live show. Thankfully, I managed to see them at Amplified Festival although I’m aware they are appearing at another prestigious metal festival, in a couple of weeks. Someone, far more intelligent than me, proclaimed that these guys are three gigs away from entering the stratosphere within their genre! And the best of luck to them as from what I saw, they’ve certainly got the potential – go for it!

It just so happens, that the far more intelligent and undoubtedly better looking person I previously referred to, features in the next band I’d like to speak about and they go by the name of Resin. Yes, you guessed it, it’s Simon Yarwood I’m speaking about and I love this human being! Not only does he play guitar within Resin, he himself is a pioneering figure within the music community, as he is one of the organisers behind Uprising Festival. He also does a lot to promote other bands through his promotion company “Resin Events” but I think that’s enough sucking up for one review, so back to todays set!

The band have just released their new album ’The Cycle of Need’ after having successfully reached their pledge campaign target. I’ve managed to listen to it and can confirm it’s very good. It’s well thought out musically and you can hear that a lot of work has gone into producing this album, which is very clear from the off! Dave’s voice has a striking resemblance to Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, as does their music but that is by no means a bad thing! Emma, on the violin, helps to give a very unique dynamic and sound to the band, which I loved hearing today! All told, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Resin today, despite failing to get certain members to smile!

The next band I caught up with over the main stage today were Tequila Mockingbyrd and these gals genuinely blew me away! It’s hard not to comment on the fact that Louisa, Jacinta and Josie are absolutely gorgeous but equally as important, is the fact that they are VERY talented as musicians too and given the right opportunities, like Amplified Festival, I can’t think of anything that will stop Tequila Mockingbyrd from going on to become mega superstars!

Whilst on the subject of female superstars, I also managed to see the super talented Soap Girls over on G’s bar stage today. These ladies are beautifully bizarre and also have the kind of approach to their post punk/rock that makes them stand out from others. Sure, they’re racy and yes, they do play semi naked, which isn’t to everyone’s liking but they don’t bow down to hateful opinions either and I applaud them for that and not letting the reactions of some, spoil it for the rest of us.

As the day went on and time drew ever closer to meeting up with Doyle, I received a request from Doyle’s manager for The Soap Girls to join us for the interview. Well it’s safe to say that my interview didn’t go quite as I’d planned……. so if feeling awkward is your thing, then you’re gonna love this interview for sure. (https://youtu.be/5tgG8Pp2Kps)

Thankfully, I did get to see the legendary guitarist play his set, which was kinda weird yet super exciting all at the same time. Doyle was everyone’s main focus – I think I looked over at one point, whilst photographing the rest of the band and there must of been about twenty photographers stood in front of him, twenty photographers I hadn’t seen all weekend, to be honest! There is a core bunch of us who try to see every act throughout the weekend, or at the very least, cover as much as possible like in my case (little old me) all on my own. It’s hard work, but we do it because we love it!

Alex, the bands singer, was clearly zoned into his own little world, yet coherent and loving life and this stance awarded me with one of my most favourite shots from the whole weekend! It’s just him perched on the end of the stage looking into space – most likely seeing dead people dancing around but I love it, it’s a real moment!

After seeing Doyle, I had to leave to save my family from the In-laws house, which disappointed me greatly as it meant I had to miss so many other amazing bands, like legends Therapy!

There’s always next time, I guess, providing I get invited back and by all accounts, Amplified Festival 2019 is already looking very likely, which is ace news and I will be buying a ticket for next year, to show my continued support for the festival, as I believe it’s one of the great summer events of the festival calendar! I’m glad to see so many others share my sentiments as well, as the pre-sale tickets which went on sale straight after this years event, sold out in record time. So fast in-fact, they released another 50 more!

I’m biased, I guess, but with very good reason as I know a good thing when I see it. I just hope I see you there in 2019, having a good time like me! BOOYA!

Be sure to visit us over on Flickr for more photos from Amplified 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Iron maiden

The U.K. leg of IRON MAIDEN’s much vaunted ‘Legacy Of The Beast Tour’.

kicks off next week in Newcastle on Tuesday 31st July with a Spitfire buzzing the stage during the opening number Aces High. The plane is a 90% sized replica of an actual Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb registration number AA 853 from 302 Squadron that saw active duty in 1941.

Says singer Bruce Dickinson,“ We would have made it actual size but we had to cut it down by 10% to fit on some of the festival stages, otherwise it’s an exact replica of arguably the greatest plane design ever, in fact one of the best designed machines ever! “

Since the opening night in Tallinn, Estonia at the end of May, the band has already played to around 750,000 fans in sold-out stadium, arena and festival shows across Europe including selling out the prestigious Atletico Madrid football stadium in Spain last week.

Launching the show with crowd favourite, Aces High, the Spitfire is seen propelling above the stage. But this is certainly not the only show-stopping effect in this theatrical performance with the band then proceeding to race through a spectacular two hours of music, pyrotechnics, special effects and ever-evolving stage sets, including new incarnations of mascot Eddie, and showcasing many of the most beloved songs in their revered career alongside rarely-played classics from their extensive back catalogue.

The production and set list were inspired by the Maiden free to play mobile game “Legacy of the Beast” which is available on iOS and Android platforms.

Starting in Newcastle on Tuesday July 31, the UK tour continues in arenas in Belfast, Aberdeen, Manchester and Birmingham finishing with two nights at The O2 in London on 10th/11th August. Special guests at all U.K. shows are Killswitch Engage.

The shows are all sold out but some Production holds will be released in the days before each show so fans who have missed out are advised to check the box offices nearer to show date.

Rave reviews across Europe hail it as the Must-See show of the summer:

“Iron Maiden arrived with a Spitfire on stage, delivering a major performance. The band continue to deliver insane shows” Paris Match, France

“If they had told you that a WW2 aeroplane would descend on stage during the show, you would not have believed it. But on the Iron Maiden stage, everything is possible… The Legacy Of The Beast Tour is one of the most beautiful shows to see this year” Italy La Repubblica XL newspaper

“A visually stunning show, refreshing setlist and an energy that’s out of this world” Sweden Aftonbladet Newspaper

“Iron Maiden made more than 52,000 people vibrate in the Wanda Metropolitano [Atletico Madrid football stadium]” ABC Newspaper, Spain

“A perfectly staged heavy-metal-opera with unbelievable force”. The Munich Informer

“This is the best Iron Maiden show of all time”Italy Altro Spettacolo newspaper

“Iron Maiden continue to be sublime… the best metal has to offer”. Berlin B.Z Newspaper

“The band remains an unstoppable touring machine, seizing any opportunity to go
spread the gospel on every stage… an excellent show” Le Figaro newspaper, France

“The Legacy Of The Beast show has to be seen to be believed. This is a love letter to Iron Maiden fans, hand-delivered by the band themselves.” Metal Hammer.

“Seriously this could be their finest set to date” Kerrang!

UK tour dates are:

July 31 Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
Aug 2 Belfast SSE Arena
Aug 4 Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre
Aug 6 Manchester Arena
Aug 7 Birmingham Genting Arena
Aug 10 London 02 Arena
Aug 11 London 02 Arena

See www.ironmaiden.com for last minute production holds release tickets.

Amplified Festival 2018

Quarrydowns Gloucestershire – Saturday 7th July.

After a traumatic night, feeling ill and having to take a shit in the woods, I kid you not, I started Saturday, rather jinjerly…get it! Yes, today is the day I get to see my favourite band on planet Earth, right now!

Before that though, we had many an amazing band to watch, before hand!

Sadly, the only band I managed to see, on the ‘Legendary G’s Bar Stage’ today was Pretty Addicted” as due to the continuing heat, I didn’t wanna melt. Bear in mind, this stage is in the marque bar which proved as the festivals saviour last year! This area has had an upgrade and now has a proper stage area which works very well, despite the heat. Having seen the only two band members, who bothered to show up this weekend around the festival all weekend, they looked like pretty interesting characters, so I wanted to check them out. Although not a full band, we had a vocalist and the bands bassist who gave us one hell of a show! Great to photograph too! Wonderfully weird and extravagant!

The first band I managed to see over on the ‘Very Metal Art Stage’ were the Derby lads, Fahran, who I haven’t managed to see since their show at Derby Theatre, when the pyro set off the fire alarms and cleared the venue during the first song! Haha! I love their energy, which they had in abundance during their Amplified Festival set today. I also love their sound as it’s very original! These guys are being tipped as the next big thing and mark my words, given the right guidance, they will get there! Someone said to me recently, “we all have a book to write, within us” and this story would most definitely feature within it!

Irish lads ‘Animator’ caught my ear this weekend again over on the VMA Stage. These guys play a great mixture of metal that I’d mostly class as thrash metal, to be honest! Not that that’s a band thing, as I personally love old school thrash. Think Anthrax and you’ve got these guys in a nut shell!

Sadly, X-Method didn’t mange to make it to over to play the festival, so Paul McMonnies, managed to send the band a personal and heart felt ‘Hello’ from all of us here, to make up for it!

I’m also disappointed with the fact that I missed Arron Buchanan as I believe I was interviewing the awesome Evil Scarecrow, at the time. As much as I hate interviewing bands, for this very reason, Evil Scarecrow made it worth while, as it was loads of fun! Check that interview out here – we think this interview was/is hilarious and really helps to give people an insight into the crazy minds, behind one of Britain’s best loved metal bands!

Back to thrash then, courtesy of the AWESOME Bull-Riff Stampede! It’s been a long time since we last saw these guys play a show, in fact I think the last time was when they supported Lawnmower Deth, at their Christmas show down in London at the Underworld! This is apparently only their second performance of 2018 and to be fair, family life is more important than music (but music is life). Certain members of the band are also performing in other bands, like Jay, who plays guitar for Xentrix’s and James, who has recently been announced as Onslaughts new drummer, which is awesome news! As much as I love both of those other two bands, for me, these five individuals ARE Bull-Riff Stampede and should remain that way and yes, that’s me being selfish! I hope to see more of these guys soon, as I love them. P.S, I’m still waiting to hear ‘Mask of Five Skulls’ live fellas, sort it out!

Headlining the VMA Stage today we have the ultra funny Psychostick, all the way from Chicago – America, to entertain us, with their unique style of metal! Funny hats, beards, songs about beer and boobs, what’s not to love! I’ve never seen these guys play before, so was intrigued to see what the Amplified crowd would make of them? To describe into words, if you threw Evil Scarecrow, Alestorm and Gwar into a room and they had an orgy, Psychostick would be the resulting love child and I think it’s safe to say, the crowd loved them! Thanks to the fact that their was no band clashes, between the main stage and the second stage, it meant that there was no excuse for missing these guys, or any other band that you wanted to see. If however, there was a band on the 3rd stage you wanted to see, you were screwed but the festival did try to schedule these bands sensibly. Well done, this worked very well!

Today on the main stage, there was a real mixed bag of music that didn’t follow any one genre or theme, it simply showcased the best in music, today and had something for everyone! It’s worth mentioning that last year, the main stage was on the opposite side of the field, facing the sun. Acoustically, I though this worked well but it didn’t appreciate or take into account the sun as it passed over. I’ll be forgiven for not factoring this in, as we didn’t see the sun last year! With the main stage in it’s new location, it worked very well I thought, ok, the sun was super bright this year, so photography was a challenge in the morning, but as the sun set we were treated to some super cool colours and even managed to capture some cool sunset images in the background, behind the main stage. Acoustics weren’t affected either! Bonus! Going forward, I can see the main stage remaining in this location for future years!

Another band that caught my ear today were King Creature and what a great sound, live. I’ve since gone back and listened to their recorded material but sadly, that same energy which I saw on stage today, appears to have been lost in their recording of ‘Volume One’, which got released last year. Coincidentally and in a conversation I had with Sean, Voodoo Bloods lead guitarist, he admitted many bands fall foul to the modern way of recording an album these days. He agrees that the live, musical element gets lost when each instrument is recorded separately, then layered over the top of one another and suggests, if/when Voodoo Blood get around to recording their debut album, they’d look to record tracks in one take together, like bands used to back in the day! Yes Sean, this will work very well, especially with a band like his, whose live shows sound phenomenal!

The next band that literally blew me away today were non other than Jinjer, who I knew would do just that after seeing them perform at Rock City’s Basement Room back in December 2017. So sure was I of this bands talent, I took a punt and shared one of my images in the Amplified Festival Facebook group, suggesting they book them for this year! Amazingly, Gary messaged me back 24 hours later, stating he’d booked the band and was just waiting on them to sign the contract! Since then, the music industry appears to have opened their eyes and their ears and have taken notice of these guys from the Ukraine, especially after touring with Arch Enemy in Europe and Cradle of Filth in North America!

Jinjer are already massive in Europe, as it’s easier for them to get visas to enter those countries. After speaking with Eugene, the bands bass player and voice, he admitted it’s the UK border control that makes life difficult for them when trying to enter the UK. This problem reared it’s ugly head again after driving from their own country and across Europe to Germany as they needed to get an approval stamp, granting them entry into the UK. Sadly, this process took a whole two days, which meant they had to cancel their appearance at Tech Fest and another show that they had planned to use as a warm up. They did eventually get permission to cross the channel and to enter into the UK, just in time for them to get here and perform for us. Although extremely tired, they put on one hell of a show which clashed with the England quarter final game, which sucked, as the crowd wasn’t nearly big enough for a band of this caliber!! Those that did bother to witness Jinjer’s first and only UK festival performance in 2018 were blown away by it! I know this, because I spoke with many people at the festival over the weekend, who said so! Fair play Gary, you did us proud!

Evil Scarecrow are now a worthy headlining band and after their impromptu headline set at last years event, Gary clearly saw their potential and granted them an official headlining slot for this year. To make their set even more fun, the band had upped the anti, going all out on their performance and features to enhance the spectators enjoyment of the show. Features include pyro, CO2 cannons, confetti and of course, people dressed up in various costumes, relating to their songs! Fair play to the person, who dressed up as Red Riding Hood and who ventured out into the crowd, during the bands performance of the yet to be released track off their fourth coming album due out this October! I thought they were going to slip and fall, but they managed to stay on their feet!

I love photographing this band – it’s true, but I enjoy watching the show even more these days! Although it was an open pit, which meant I could have sat there throughout, taking pictures! Instead, once I got the shots I needed, I raced into the crowd, found my friends and watched the rest of the set with them which for me, was way more enjoyable!

Sadly, after a very long day I made my way to bed so I missed Electric Eel Shock, who, by all accounts, were very entertaining and very funny to watch! Next time guys! Roll on Sunday!

Be sure to visit us over on Flickr for more photos from Amplified 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)