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Amplified

Live review Friday 21st July 2017.

Let The Good Times Roll – The sun was shining and as the venue started to fill with eager party goers and musicians alike, the first band on any stage were Dorja, over on the VMA Stage, a five piece all female band, from parts unknown. I’ve known of this band for some time, so was keen to go check them out. I also know their bassist, Becky, quite well, from other projects. These ladies seriously rock, but for me, the operatic vocalist seemed slightly out of place compared to the rest of the band. Great vocals though, not sure it worked with the bands sound but I was suitably impressed non the less. Their current tour ended with this show, but more is coming from these “soon to explode on the scene” rock chicks!

Knowing the Sponsor for stage 2 ‘Very Metal Art’, I know Andy Pilkington’s (the man behind this company) knowledge of the underground music scene is impeccable, mostly because he’s the ‘go to’ man for anything band art or video related these days. As this is common knowledge in the music industry now and because of his fairness, bands recommend him to other bands and quite rightly so as he does a lot for the music scene, so all credit to the man. I also know he’s done a lot for charity over the years, the best one was getting Simon Hall to do a barrel roll live on the Sophie Stage at B.O.A last year. I both witnessed the event and gave money in aid of a great cause. People like Andy are a much needed resource, yet a rare commodity in the music industry these days! I know, after speaking with him, he did in fact hand pick all of the bands that were to feature on this stage over the weekend, so this was looking like my favourite stage.

Bleed Again’s set was great, I really enjoyed these but the band Codex Alimentarius, which is a bit of a mouthful, kinda blew everyone else who featured on this stage, off the face of the earth with their performance today! Having seen this band perform at Beermageddon in 2015, I was aware of what these talented musicians were capable of. Elliot, one of three guitarists in this band, I’m aware of from other projects and is a very accomplished musician. Ray, the bands vocalist though, gave his all and that was evident with his whole persona. He kinda freaked me out a bit, with the way in which he approached the crowd, it was reminiscent of something out of a horror movie! After speaking with Ray after their set, I’m aware the band have a charity all dayer coming up, but I’ve forgotten the full details as I’ve slept since then!

I was both shocked and pleased to see Conjurer performing on this stage, in day light no less! The last time I saw these guys was at KOKO in Camden, as part of last years DessertFest, which was quite a dark and dingy affair, but that’s how they like it and lets face it, that’s the conditions you want for a doom metal band right? Dan, one of the bands vocalist and guitarists kept it real though, hiding himself away from the sunlight (yes there was sun at some point during the day) with his hoody pulled over his eyeballs, like Kenny from Southpark – he wasn’t gonna risk getting a sun tan, that’s for sure! DOOM BABY!

As I flitted between stages, I felt myself starting to gravitate towards the Shoot The Hoops stage more frequently as I was enjoying the youthful exuberance of the bands that were playing on it. As I love to discover knew music and like to think I’m down with the kids, I was keen to see who was coming up next. Out of the bands I got to see who were playing this stage, I really enjoyed ‘We Come From Ashes’, I, The Lion and Woes, which is where the day started to turn on it’s head but they’re from Scotland, so I can only assume the sight of rain made them feel at home! (haha)

Out of the bands we got to see on the main stage, I loved Rival Bones, who are only a two piece, believe it or not and consist of James on guitar and vocals and Chris on drums. I was seriously impressed with the volume and fullness of their infectious rock sound, despite the lack of instruments and musicians to play them. We were scheduled to conduct an interview with these guys, but that didn’t happen so we’ll definitely have to catch up for a chat next time!

In my experience, I’ve noticed their are two types of musicians in this world. The first are solely into the music and get on with it and the others are born entertainers and are very much in tune with the crowd. Although New Volume fall very much into the second category, they felt a very professional outfit and will appeal to a mass audience within the commercial music world. This is true of all of the bands that featured on the main stage today, such as Tess of the Circle, who appeal to the folk rock world, The Amorettes, who I have a love/hate relationship with. I love them, but they hate me, so I’ll go no further with them. Incidentally these ladies were the last band to feature on the main stage, sadly due to the weather. Puddle of Mudd, of course, are a massive success story from the 90’s. They, however, didn’t headline on the main stage tonight, instead they got moved to the beer tent, which was a much more intimate affair!

During The Amorettes set the heavens opened and caused some electrical issues, preventing any further performances to take place upon it. In fact, the weather was so bad, it caused the entire festival to grind to a halt and preventing any further performances to take place, on any of the planned stages for the rest of the day. The VMA stage never got used again, so many bands who were meant to play on it, didn’t get the opportunity to do so, although the organisers did try to accommodate as many of them as they could elsewhere. However, this meant organised time slots got moved to later times and as a result, some bands couldn’t play until later, so never played at all, but they were given the opportunity if they wanted it. Some called it biblical and at one point the rain was horizontal, but thankfully the water didn’t turn to blood or any fish die, but that didn’t stop the keyboard warriors from spreading malicious rumours about it on social media.

One such rumour was that someone got electrocuted and died at the festival, which was pretty stupid of them and forced The Amorettes to issue a formal statement to say everyone was fine!

Truth is, the organisers managed to set up a decent sound system within the covered bar area, where everyone was hiding from the elements. As there was no room for a photo pit, my work for the day had stopped, but that didn’t stop me from getting pissed and socialising with bands and party goers. The make shift stage enabled Acid Reign to perform, which some are calling their best performance to date and it was certainly one of the most fun, if that’s possible. If you’ve never seen this band perform before, then you may be unaware that unusual events generally occur, on a regular basis so they were probably one of best bands to have, in a situation like this. They certainly lifted everyone spirits on the night, along with a few free beers, which I know Gary is still talking about! haha!

Headliners on the main stage, Puddle of Mudd, also got to perform in the bar area, having come a very long way to be here, so it was only right and everyone was looking forward to seeing them play. It was a very stripped back and personal performance, which everyone seemed to enjoy. Before their set though and as Wesely, the bands lead singer and guitarist was walking to the stage, Ritchie of Witch Tripper stopped him and asked him if he was in a band and that he looked like he was in a band…….its safe to say, Wesely thought he was a nut job and walked off, to the stage, to perform with his band, Puddle of Mudd! Bonkers night, it’s safe to say, I got a little drunk, but we all got on with it and because we were all together, we had a great time.

At 2am, I thought it would be funny to conduct an interview with Witch Tripper, but I can’t even bring myself to watch it, as I know we were all really quite drunk!

I usually hate sleeping in tents but thankfully, my £15 bargain, from Tesco withstood what mother nature threw at it and remained dry. I even slept very well, but the amount of alcohol consumed probably played a massive part in that. I know the air bed didn’t, bloody thing!

If you was there, you’d know, but if you wasn’t…………….You don’t know man, you weren’t there! Roll on Saturday!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Uprising

Metal to the Masses Final Leicester 2016.

Now Drownload’s out the way, I can sit down and pen some words about this fabulous new event, that is Uprising (Resin Events in association with Firebug & Andy Wright) the brainchild of Matt Kirk and Mr. Simon Yarwood who are responsible for the M2TM’s events in Leicester and its new ‘Goldenboys’, as they managed to pull off the largest and best M2TM’s final to date.

Simon Yarwood - Resin

This all took place at the marvellous De Montford Hall and as I walked from the car park, which is a mere stones throw away from the venue and very reasonably priced at £4 for parking all day, I couldn’t help but notice the grandeur of today’s venue and the grounds in which De Montford Hall is situated are equally as impressive. This lead me to investigate a little more and did you know, De Montford Hall was in fact named after “Simon de Montford” a late Earl of Leicester (c. 1170–1218, confirmed 1207) I shit you not! The Architect was Shirley Harrison and it’s auditorium alone has a seating capacity of around 2000 people, which houses a restored pipe organ, estimated to be worth over £5 million, back in 2014… wish I’d known that before I went!

As grand as it’s setting, the days line up for ‘Uprising’ was equally as impressive as on the main stage alone, we had five great bands (Garganjua, Blood Oath, Final Coil, Conjurer and Temple of Lies) who were all battling it out for a place on the New Blood Stage at this years Bloodstock Festival. We also had five of the biggest and best live acts, currently active in the live music scene today (Internal Conflict, Beholder, Conan, Hell and Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band) and if that wasn’t enough, we had Acid Reign, AGHAST, Morass Of Molasses and SWAMP DELTA over on the second stage, as well as acoustic sets from Resin, James Cull & Rhett Barrow and The Midnight Dogs. And it didn’t stop there either, as we also had some rather alluring Burlesque acts who entertained the masses between the acoustic acts on stage 3.

Beholder

The whole day was extremely well organised and thoroughly thought out, with everything taken into consideration. For example, outside in a safe and pleasant enclosure we had three types of food vendors to choose from, which I managed to sample two of, For me, the food selection is as important as the bands that play as in my book, I love eating! Motley Brew, who cater for all your caffeine and non caffeine related drinks, for the non-drinkers or those driving (like me) who, incidentally, were an official sponsor of today’s event. I’m sure you’ll spot him about, at a summer event near you, if so, go over and say hi, he’s now one of my festival highlights and saviors, especially the morning after a heavy days drinking! As for drinking, not only did we have the two bars to choose from, but we also had some very fine real ales to choose from but as this event was also sponsored by Hobgoblin, what did you expect!

As you can plainly see, this was a full days entertainment, in a fantastic venue, all for less than £20!!!

As this was primarily a M2TM’s finale, we were very eager to see who would go on to play Bloodstock, as we’ll be attending in an unofficial capacity (we won’t be covering the event as we’ll be getting drunk and enjoying ourselves for once) so it’s probably a good idea to discuss our thoughts on the bands that took part!

Garganjua were first up and are a band we know all too well, as this is a side project for Beholder’s lead guitarist, Scott Taylor! We have in fact reviewed Garganjua’s new album, which is fantastic so we’re aware of the doom-tastic capabilities of this band and wasn’t surprised to see them in this final. Lighting was dark and gloomy, just the way they like it, although difficult to shoot in but it does make for the perfect setting to their sound, so we can’t complain. I’m not 100% certain, but Scott sounded a little nervous in his vocals on the day, I don’t know if that’s because of the scale of this event, or if he’s not quite comfortable being a front man but Where he lacked in his vocal capabilities, he more than made up for with his guitar playing ability, phenomenal!

Garganjua

Blood Oath are probably the first band that I know of to get to a M2TM’s final, having only been a band for eight months, yet their attendance today based on the performance we witnessed, was justified! We can be forgiven for not knowing who this band were going into this event, as it appears very few people do looking at their Facebook page, with only an insulting 259 people following, s that really doesn’t do this band any justice! All I can say is, the few that have heard of this band have very good taste, so when these guys become massive stars, playing their Groovy Death Metal, which was brilliant to watch btw, at least you can say you knew of them, before the fame and the glory. Personally, I love discovering bands like this and watching them grow in popularity! I’ve seen it happen many times now and I’ve gotten pretty good a spotting real talent and potential, so I’m tipping these to be a huge success in the not too distant future!

Final Coil we’re our least favourite band out of the five, that doesn’t mean to say they were rubbish, but in a battle of a bands, you consciously rate bands in some measurable order, based on ability. For us, I felt the vocal were their weakest point, but their musical ability was brilliant and I got into their groove quite well during solo’s etc. This band consists of a great bunch of people though, and their bass player rocks!

From what I can gather, after speaking to people on the day, the next band, Conjurer went into this competition as a firm favourite to win it and their energy and style of music (post-sludge) was faultless on the day. Andy, the band’s Bass player even decided to jump off the massive De Montford stage and jam out in the photographers pit, where he was soon set upon by said photographers – like a swarm they were! Great set, from a very hard working, competent band, who are currently signed to Holy Roar Records and we expect to see more of these guys!

Conjurer

The final band battling it out for a place were Temple of Lies and another band tat we’ve not come across before today but are now happy we can say we’ve seen them play live, as they played out of their skins on the day and we really enjoyed their set. Front man Si Shaw is a born performer and a joy to watch on stage. Signed to Attic Records, I’m certain we’ll be seeing these guys playing again very soon!

All the bands that played in the final are winners in our book, if it was left to us, we would have sent through either Blood Oath or Temple of Lies but thankfully, that responsibility wasn’t ours and we didn’t envy the judges, who’s job it was to decide the winners! That honour went to more distinguished gentlemen, who chose Doomer’s Conjurer as their overall winners, but with a plot twist, they also decided to grant Garganjua a runners up prize, so they too go on to play at BOA this year and much kudos to these guys, we’ll see you all there!

Looking at both the winning bands and the doom metal style they play, this clearly tells us what the festival were looking for this year, it’s true, doom has grown in popularity of late – just look at Desert Fest, for example. Great stuff, the losing bands shouldn’t give up, as the M2TM’s event is a great way to play to a well distinguished organisation and if nothing else, it gets you recognised by new fans!

As for the rest of the day, Internal Conflict were subliminal and it was great to see them playing on a large stage, such as De Montford Hall. These guys are a great example of what a band can achieve going through the M2TM’s event and we love them for it. They’re hard working, produce great ‘energetic’ music and all members of the band are grounded, down to earth guys and who are easily approachable, yet they have ambition and desire to do well, which no one can fault them for!

Internal Conflict

We saw yet another flawless set from Beholder, who’s latest album ‘Reflections’ has been their most successful offering to date and has catapulted them into new territory and stardom. It’s popularity has also earned them a return slot on the Sophie Lancaster stage at this years BOA, so we look forward to seeing them again this year,which must be our fourth time in 2016 alone!

Doom lords, in comparison, Conan, wow’d the crowd with their crushing riffs and these guys were a great compliment to today’s line up and a great choice, as they’ve already played Desert Fest and are soon to embark on their second tour of Australia, which also includes their first trip to New Zealand. These guys are going places in the music world, so to catch a glimpse of them here, at Uprising, was a great honour.

Hell, who hail from rival city Derby (my current place of residence) stole the show today though, with a full stage production, that included all the pyrotechnics you’d expect at a Rammstein gig! Although, this was only our second time seeing Hell, it was in fact our first full show experience, as not every venue you play in can accommodate 12ft flame blasts, which are as hot as hell it’s self – let me tell you! I was under the impression the togs were only allowed in the pit for the first three songs, as only after that, would the flames be fired but nope, I was stood right next to one when it first fired and I shit my pants, quite literally! I survived though, with an experience I’ll never forget as this band are truly amazing. What a show, wish they’d also play Bloodstock this year aswell, nudge nudge, wink wink!

Hell

As the stage was stripped bare in preparation for Motorhead’s own Phil Campbell’s All Star Band, I felt a little sorry for them having to follow on from Hell, but with Phil’s legendary statues and guitar playing, if anyone could pull it off, he could, well, you’d think so anyway. The start of their set seemed to be plagued with issues, with Phil not entirely happy with the sound and few grimacing faces from other band members and the lead singer constantly looking down, to read the lyrics to cover songs. This wasn’t the band I remember seeing a few years back at HRH, when they were excellent! Less we forget, Phil has recently lost a lifelong friend and former band member in Lemmy Kilmister, earlier this year, god rest his soul, so maybe I’m being a little too critical, but as a viewer, it wasn’t the best performance of the day, by any means! As their set went on though, it did get infinitely better and watching Phil shred was a delight – he truly is a master guitarist, of that I’m certain!

Phil Campbell's All Star Band(1)

Mr Yarwood and co. pulled off a truly memorable all day event, of which I’m certain will only grow as I’m aware that the gears are already turning for next years event! We’d like to extend our gratitude, to Resin Events for inviting us to cover their first ever Uprising and certainly hope it isn’t our last, as today was incredible! I feel I’ve waffled on enough, but I’m sure you’ll agree, this event was far from ordinary, it was in fact very special!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)