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Amplified

Live review Sunday 23rd July 2017.

Sunday dawned dry and sunny which is an excellent start to any festival – add in a host of great bands, great music and good company to look forward to and voila, you have day 3 of Amplified Festival 2017!

So, and without further ado, it was time to head on over to the Beer Tent to get acquainted with my first of many Amplified bands and getting my Sunday well underway, were Hell’s Gazelles. This four piece band had brought a pretty dynamic dose of hard hitting rock ’n’ roll up with them from Oxford and if you like to go check out the up and coming bands who pack a punch, then Hell‘s Gazelles need to be at the top of your list!

My first experience of the Red Stripes main stage came courtesy of Instill and once again, here was a band that were new to me and who really do need to be seen and heard when the opportunity arises.

With 2.30pm fast approaching, it brought along with it the ultimate fear of many a festival goer – the stage clash! I desperately wanted to see Garganjua but I also wanted to see Courtesans aswell, so at times such as this, there really was only one decision to make – go see both.

Having had the great pleasure of seeing Garganjua live on a few occasions over the past eighteen months, I really was quite blown away with the strength and power present today within the bands song content and stage presence. Garganjua’s music sits with the mesmerizing genre of doom, but their style of doom is one of the most animated that I’ve seen and these guys certainly put their life’s blood into today’s performance. Intense and bloody marvelous to say the least!

A quick gallop across the field brought me to probably the midway point of the Courtesans set and immediately it was clear to see why this band are such a talking point for so many. Courtesans posses a thought provoking mix of both beauty and the beast – the element of beauty being obvious to the eye, whilst the beast lies within their music and its lyrical capture of the darker side of life. With both elements combined, Courtesans stand tall in a league of their own and their set today was really quite something to behold.

After a quick break, I headed back on over again to The Red Stripes stage to catch Bad Touch who really seem to be making excellent headway on the live music scene and also brought the sun out with them. The bluesy rock and roll just flows from this band and their set this afternoon certainly delivered that good time festival feel to one and all.

Next up for me were In Search Of Sun and once again, these guys were another must see band of the day. The one thing that I find really interesting about In Search Of Sun is that they manage to span the boundary between hard rock and metal with effortless ease, resulting in songs that can fit whatever your mood or particular preference is and today’s set from them certainly hit the right spot indeed!

As afternoon turned into early evening, it was time to go check out Massive over on the Red Stripe stage and if I were to choose my favourite performance of the day, then these guys would be it. Not only do Massive deliver a colossal dose of great rock and roll but their infectious personalities and humour just fixed the smile on my face from start to finish.

And carrying on in that same vein of big rock sounds – but this time in a more melodic style, were my next band of the day, Vega. I first saw Vega several years back in 2011 at Firefest so it was excellent to see them up on stage again today and clearly at the top end of the melodic rock ranks.

Amplified Festival has given me, and quite possibly many others, the chance to see bands who I haven’t come across before and I have to hang my head in shame and confess that Unzucht were one such band. With a sound and style that is darkly charismatic, their set today was an absolute excursion into the depths of industrial metal and an experience that I will look forward to repeating again!

Today had definitely brought about some pretty impressive performances and with that thought in mind, my next pit stop was Heck but boy oh boy, in no way was I prepared for the madness and mayhem that these guys were about to unleash! Heck are most definitely not for the faint hearted as they pack a punch on par with a charging rhinoceros and that was really quite something to witness.

With daylight finally slipping away into night, our two remaining bands of the day held the honour of bringing Amplified Festival 2017 to a close and with those bands being Reef and Diamond Head, then I just knew that this would be an ending to remember.

With the Red Stripes stage lit to cool blue perfection and ready to rock, 90’s icon’s Reef took to the stage amidst some of the warmest cheers of the day and what a set they gave us indeed. With many of their past iconic songs being given the big seal of approval from the audience, this was a pretty cool trip down memory lane for sure, but I did love the fact that newer tracks were included aswell and hope we will have plenty more Reef to look forward to.

And so, my last band of the day were to be Diamond Head and you just gotta love these guys as they always give 110% with each and every performance and all their great songs, both old and new just kept coming tonight. It certainly seemed like both band and fans alike were set on enjoying the moment and with plenty of dates still in their diary for 2017, do make a point of getting to see them live if you can.

I must add that Jay Hawkin’s had chance to chat with Karl Wilcox from Diamond Head earlier in the day so be sure to check that out here.

Looking back on my day at Amplified, I can only say that it was a great day and an experience that I would happily repeat and recommend. So huge thanks going out the Gary Paterson and everyone whose hard work, can do attitude and helping hands, made this festival something pretty special to be part of. My one regret from today was not checking out the Tavern Stage, so I do give my sincere apologies for that.

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle

Amplified

Live review Saturday 22nd July 2017.

Some called it biblical, some called it apocalyptic, either way, I can confirm Friday evenings weather messed everything up but that didn’t stop us from having a great night though, even if things there after didn’t go to plan.

Saturday’s proceedings saw the main stage playing host to a combination of bands from both the Very Metal Art Stage and the Red Stripe Stage, as the VMA stage basically closed for the rest of the festival but thankfully, the guys who ran the main stage managed to get it back up and running safely, and allowing us to continue enjoying ourselves.

Bands who were scheduled were contacted and asked if they still wanted to play and if so, Amplified would try and slot them in, on either the main stage, or the newly adopted second stage over in the beer tent. Sadly, with the pit in the beer tent being very small, access was restricted to the official festival photographers only so I was restricted to the main stage only for today.

That said, there was a great days entertainment to be had on the main stage and first up are a band I have some seriously conflicting emotions with. Outright Resistance are made up of some very talented, yet on stage, very angry young individuals which helps make Outright Resistance, who they are. During today’s set, Paige, the bands lead singer gave several rousing speeches about equality, mental health and other aspects of society and mentioned that if anyone was feeling down, they were free to contact the band, or them personally and talk freely to them about issues they may be experiencing which I though this was commendable.

Press to MECO were up next – we love a good three piece here and these guys didn’t disappoint. There is no question that 2016 was a pivotal year for Press To MECO, building on their unconventional take on riffs, pop hooks and 3-part vocal harmonies that have become a trade mark. PRESS TO MECO have released their new single “If All Your Parts Don’t Make A Whole”, the first track to be taken from the band’s forthcoming album “Here’s To The Fatigueout on 17th November 2017.

Scarsun, a female fronted band, ticked all the right boxes. Jessica’s vocals reminded me of Floor’s – the whole band, in fact had a very similar feel to that of Nightwish, which was enjoyable to listen to. Matt, the bands guitarist, who I’ve known of for a while, appeared to be concentrating very hard, yet the bands bassist, Paul appeared to be a right character, playing up to the cameras, to great effect! I will try and catch this band again!

Welcome Back Delta recently supported Lionize at The Flapper in Birmingham, which was probably a great gig as from what I saw of the in between rain falls, they appeared to have all the right ingredients for an accomplished rock band – antics, great songs and riffs, plenty of riffs and that is always good. Unfortunatley, trying to operate a camera through a plastic bag is in fact a very hard thing to do – so I didn’t!

When an apocalypse is upon you, there’s only one band you need have play and to get you through it and they are Anti-Clone. I simply love this bands music and their live performances which I got to mention to Con, one of the bands guitarists, who said the bands energy and persona on stage was a conscious decision that the band made back when they first formed, as going to shows before hand were boring and lifeless. Yes – a band that gets it as a live show needs to be just that, entertaining! Take a bow Anti-Clone and speaking of which, at the end their set the band played out to a Linkin Park track and whilst doing so, they revealed their true identities for the first time ever out of respect for the recently deceased Chester Bennington. RIP sir, you’ll be greatly missed. Many bands, over the course of the weekend paid tribute to Chester, in one way or another, which was great to see.

Firm favourites, ‘Rain’ of Fury’ brought a little light humour to their set by wearing some super ‘sunnyHawaiian shirts, which made us all feel as though we were somewhere sunny and hot. No such luck, but their set was terrific as per usual. I must say, this bands drum kit reminds me of a porn film though, what with the leopard print on it. ah, the laughs!

Time for a break, so I jumped on over to the Motley Brew tent for another of many cups of tea that I had here, over the course of the weekend. Phil, who runs the best tea stall at any and every festival going is a great bloke, he also makes a mean cuppa! Thanks dude.

Back on the main stage we had Krysthla, who were my surprise find of the day. I’ve received their press releases from Stampede Press over recent months, so I was keen to check these guys out live. Today’s set was a powerful display of metal, which followed on nicely from the previous two bands we’d just witnessed! The bands new album, released earlier this year, titled ‘ Peace In Our Time’ appears to be doing very well, in various music charts and has been well received, by the critics. Be sure to check these guys out, if you can – you won’t be disappointed.

Having spoken to Barry, the lead singer of Massive Wagons, prior to their set in the beer tent, I’d told him of my disappointment at missing photographing their set due to pit restrictions and thanks to his powers of persuasion, he managed to sweet talk the stage manager into opening the pit up to all of us non-official togs wanting to shoot Massive Wagons. I, of course was first in line, no second, no third, well, I eventually got in the pit to shoot these phenomenal rockers, from Lancashire! I love this band and the guys who make it so awesome are the biggest reason why I love them so much, they are all great guys and very entertaining. Some would even go as far as calling them sexy….ppfft, behave, have you seen them with the lights on? HAHA!

I watched as much of the ‘Massive Wagons’ set as I could but as I heard One Machine starting up over on the main stage, I made a mad dash to catch them as this was the first time I’ve been able to catch this band live. This band features non other than Stefano, on bass, who’s also another fantastic character in the music world, such a nice guy. When ever we’re at an event together, he always says hello and is happy to chat with me, which we do when ever we get the chance. I haven’t seen him performing live since his time in Savage Messiah, which was some time ago now! One Machine, remember this name, I dare say you’ll be hearing it a lot more, from here onwards! Great live band!

With Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons opting to deliver their headlining slot over in the beer tent instead of the main stage, this now meant that Evil Scarecrow would play the Red Stripes stage instead – Result! And as Evil Scarecrow are one of the best performing live bands around, who provide one of the best live shows in the music world today, it was fate. All their usual antics took place tonight, just as you’d expect and as a special thank you to the two contestants of the televised game show, ‘Pointless‘, who’d mentioned the band live on air, stating they’d spend their winnings on going to watch Evil Scarecrow, the band got them up on stage to say thank you and also to show off their winning trophies. The pair certainly appeared to be enjoying themselves, up on that stage, with the band for a song. After which, Dr. Hell stated “now get off my stage” in the nicest possible way, of course!

Evil Scarecrow have recently announced that to celebrate the fact that they started some 15 years ago, to the day (nearly) that they’re heading off to perform at Waken open air festival, which is a dream come true for the band and well deserved too. I wish we could be in Germany to see it, like we have for all of their other major milestones but sadly we’re not, however I know those who are there will have an absolute blast, as will everyone in the band. Enjoy guys.

I’ll now hand you over to Sue for her take on the Sunday here at Amplified Festival. It’s been a blast and I hope that we get to do it all again and see you back at Amplified Festival in 2018!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Amplified

The first encounter with Amplified.

Concept – This festival is the brainchild of one, Gary Patterson, who had an ambition to put on a festival. I commend anyone who tries to put on a new festival these day, what with the amount of music events now available in the UK, so getting one off the ground and successful must be a daunting prospect.

Many have tried and some have failed before they’ve even got people through the gates, remember Alt Fest? Some have failed after the first year, remember Rock and Metal Circus? Some have even failed for one reason or another, after many successful years of activity. Yet, there have been new festivals that have started big and just got bigger, look at Rambling Man Fair or Steelhouse Festival – they appear to be doing very well and stand to be very successful. I know Gary has invested a lot of time and his own money into getting this festival up and running. He also appears to be a really nice bloke, so we thought we’d support him and the festival as best we can. Sadly, some people I spoke with, only knew of Amplified’s existence two months ago, which really surprises me given the amount of coverage and press this event had on the run up to it? We know that every single band out there wants to get their music heard by as many people as possible, so to be given an opportunity to play somewhere like this, they generally bend over backwards to do so. Given the location of this festival and the lack of events like this, in that part of the world, I think people should help to support this festival, because if they don’t, it will be gone forever and then where will the best in underground bands, such as the ones billed on this years line up get to play? Speaking of the line up, I couldn’t help but notice how varied the bands billed to play this weekend were. We had extreme metal, rock, punk, blues mainstream and everything else in between. This was a very exciting prospect as discovering new bands is a passion for me, so I was looking forward to seeing lots of different types of music over the course of the weekend.

Amplified Festival (in a nut shell) – The event itself took place in a superb location deep in the countryside of Gloucestershire, between two very small villages called Aldsworth and Eastington. The event website has a wealth of information available to help people find the place, they even supplied a post code which I used and managed to find the first car park relatively easily, although I took a fortuitous wrong turning and stumbled upon it. I arrived at 8am on the Friday, expecting to get stuck in traffic but a lot of people had already arrived the day before. Sure there were very few signs directing people but everyone has a sat nav now, right? I did hear one person say, the post code took them to someones house, if that’s true I bet they got sick of cars pulling into their driveway expecting to find a festival! Although I found the main car park relatively easily and at the time, there were volunteers helping direct people to the right place but I’m aware those same volunteers went home at the first sight of rain, leaving Gary, his brother, even his mum, doing most of the work. The fact this was such a family affair, warmed the cockles of my heart and reminded me of another family run open air event that takes place in August. They started at humble beginnings, now look at them – they’ve just sold out of tickets for this years event – that’s 15,000 people attending (give or take) and it’s taken them the best part of 10 years to get there! On arrival, I was greeted with a field which looked to have the makings of a festival within it, so I knew I was in the right place. The press/band liaison was present at all times, although I saw one comment saying anyone could rock up and swipe a press/artist/VIP pass to gain access but from what I saw, there was always a steady stream of people in and around this area, so they would of had a job getting away with it. Sure, security could have been tighter but I quite enjoyed the lack of security presence and to be honest, it seems if we go to anything these days where security plays a massive part, yes its because of these difficult times we live in and they do keep us safe, but they can also make us, the punters feel like criminals/terrorists and can spoil it for us!

The Site – Camping was a bit of a free for all, with everyone I spoke to getting told to camp somewhere completely different but there was plenty of space to choose from. For future reference, the ground is rock hard, so take a hammer, next year! The main campsite was a lot easier to find and the path that lead to it was nicely lit, which felt very romantic at night! Once camped, I set off to find where everything was, which is always the first thing I do because I know it’s useful, having attended many events, such as this. I even managed to use what I’d discovered on my travels, to help direct others to what they were looking for, most of which was to find the vip/media/artist liaison area.

Amplified’s main arena had a very familiar feel to it, with both food and drink stalls being dotted around the outskirts of a big field. The main stage (Red Stripe Stage) was in the far north corner of the field, which I felt worked well as it was well protected from the elements. The surrounding trees helped to retain the sound within the vicinity of the stage. The second stage (Very Metal Art Stage) was to the far south corner and was a sufficient distance away from the main stage to not have both of their sounds clash but I felt it was in the most exposed part of the site, so when the wind blew, the sound traveled along with it into the valley. The view was nice though! A short walk away between both stages and into a clearing in the woods, was the third stage (Shoot Ya Hoops Stage) I never did find out why this stage was given this name, was it the name for a charity or a sponsor? Either way, this was my favourite stage position. It felt very secluded and the sound was well contained. I’d love to see maybe the second stage in this area, to be honest. The fourth stage (Tavern Stage) was simply a truck with the side taken off, which was brilliant. I dubbed this area hippy corner as it felt like it’s own festival all together. Here we had incense burning (amongst other things), it’s own bar and food areas, hula-hoop girls dancing, it was great – just like a miniature Glastonbury. The bands that performed here fell under the quirky category and sadly, I only got to see two bands on this stage before the rains came. This stage then got moved into the Tavern itself with absolutely zero lighting, which makes photography very difficult! I’m aware, the band Healthy Junkies got moved to the main arena beer tent and went down a storm! (Pun intended) a female fronted punk/rock band who did a cover, or two, but their energy was superb and I enjoyed these very much, but sadly I couldn’t photograph them!

There was a VIP bar/food area, which was in a very secluded wooded area and was a beautiful location situated behind the main stage but no one could find it or knew it was there, so they moved it.

There was plenty of choice as far as food goes, I managed to try about 80% of the food vendors available, which is one of the most important parts of a festival for me. My top three were the Pie and Mash guys, who made all their own pies, which most days sold out, so that tells you something. The Smoke House was great food aswell but a bit pricey and I hate eating bread. Seriously, try going for a shit at a festival after three days of burger buns, it ain’t happening! My number one food of choice, which I didn’t try until the last day sadly, was the Burrito guys, jebus, that was some seriously good food and a lot of it for a reasonable price. I’m gutted I didn’t try the Chinese guys, but they went after the Friday. I also saw some seriously nice food coming out of the vegan place and wish I tried that, although I do like eating meat!

With the festival oganisers already making arrangments for a return next year, lets be honest, I’m so looking forward to it already. We’d also like to take the opportunity to say thank you Amplified for letting us explore and review 2017’s fantastic line-up..

Review By Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)