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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

Beermageddon

Stoke Prior Sports and Social Club Friday 19th August 2016.

As summers go, I’ve had a pretty shit one to be honest and with other festivals done and dusted, Beermageddon is the one summer festival that we here at music224 always look forward to with open arms. And long may that continue as we plan on attending every year that this festival is on – providing they want us! Read on to discover why we think this festival is a must in your summer calendar for 2017!

Jim Beerman

Many people arrive on the Thursday now, set up camp and make a holiday of it and why not! Thankfully, the weather is usually pretty good at the end of August, so camping isn’t usually an issue. The on-site facilities at Bromsgrove’s Stoke Prior Sports and Social Club are improving every year but for those who seek plusher accommodation, there are plenty of affordable rooms at hotels close to the venue. I’ve only ever camped at Beermageddon once in the five years that it’s been held and this is something I need to rectify because I miss out on so much of the fun that goes on over the weekend – I’m just shit building a tent! Haha!

Friday is fun day and personally, my favourite day of the weekend as it’s the day everyone makes an effort to dress up. This years theme was Vikings, obviously! As the contestants lined up to be judged, by us the crowd, each was eliminated when Jim asked us to shout the loudest for our favourite costume. I’m aware Clare and Wolfie’s daughter took part this year, this being her first year at Beermageddon but sadly she didn’t win although she came a respectable second. The winner, however, was a deserved winner and the same person that also won the event last year. For his efforts, he won a pair of ticket for next years event (AGAIN), to which Jim asked him, ‘Are you ever going to buy a ticket to Beermageddon?’. Sadly I don’t know the young mans name, but it was a great costume!

At 6pm sharp, Prolapse AD took to the stage to officially open the festival. First though, a rousing speech was delivered from the Master of Ceremonies himself, Mr Jim Beerman, the festival’s organiser and adjudicator. Jim’s even an ordained minister, which is technically a Pagan Priest and he has successfully conducted a wedding, every year on the Sunday, since the festival began five years ago!

Matthew White - Prolapse AD

As you’d expect, the first band on had to make an impression and I think we can safely say Prolapse AD did just that, as the people that I spoke to over the weekend absolutely loved these guys! Primarily thrash, they remind me of Slayer but with a lot more energy and personality! The bands front man, Alex Lewis was a very charismatic and energetic young man, trying to capture him, on camera was hard work but the crowd loved it. These guys were the perfect openers, they even got the crowd moving, with the best mosher winning a t-shirt!

Having never seen The Dead XIII before, nothing prepared me for what I was about to see. The band are from Manchester and I could easily compare these guys to The Defiled in both their appearance and their style of music. The lead singer however, is totally unique and a complete inspiration in my book as I’ve never seen a front man with only one arm, play in a band and stand in-front of the crowd completely comfortable with their appearance as an amputee, and it certainly didn’t prevent him from belting out those songs! Kurt Blackshard, we salute you, you sir are an inspiration, respect!

The Dead XIII

Boy, it’s the half way mark for the bands tonight, so that can only mean one thing, Beerma-Bingo! Last year, the Boat Race was a highlight and a lot of fun so I was looking forward to this! If you can imagine getting 600 people around your house for a party, this is what you get at Beermageddon with everyone having a great time, drinking, laughing, yet someone else clears up the mess! So the rules of this game were simple – those participating had to split into two groups and each person was given a ball with a number on it. When your number got called out, you had to rush to the front and down a glass of mead and the first group to get all their players numbers called out and having downed a glass, won, only it’s never that simple with the Beermageddon lot, which just adds to the fun. Lets just say, a lot of people lost their balls!

Beerma-Bingo

Garganjua took to the stage soon after the party games were over and it’s safe to say that people were in high spirits for these guys – well, they were full of mead! Having successfully gone through the MTTM’s final over at Leicester’s successful event ‘Uprising’, this meant the band would play at Bloodstocks, New Blood Stage, which I heard went down very well and having missed them there, I was keen to see how they faired here. Since that gig in Leicester when I last saw them, Garganjua have played many other shows up and down the country and already I could see a vast improvement with the bands ability to play alongside each other. They appeared to be a lot more comfortable on stage, performing with each other and this really showed in tonight’s performance, as they were amazing! However, they don’t like their pictures being taken when they perform, which makes promoting them from a visual perspective very difficult. They opt for all blue lighting and lots of smoke, which sucks for me but I’ve hopefully said enough here to make you want to go see these guys live for yourself, as their music really does do all the talking. By the end of their set, they had the crowd in fits of hysteria, cheering, shouting, clapping, chanting and above all, wanting more. I’m going to predict these guys will be back at Beermageddon in 2017, for more of Doom’s finest!

Scott Taylor - Garganhua

Having played at Beermageddon last year, Gehtika won the right to come back this year and headline the prestigious Friday night, which is a great honour not only for them but also for the Beermageddon masses, as they are one of the best live acts on the circuit today! As this was a headline set, the band got to perform for a whopping 70mins, which enabled them to play tracks that they wouldn’t normally get time to play. This also enabled them to make their show, a show to remember. To help them achieve this, they enrolled the services of Haerken, who played a brilliant part in making this show a show that people will speak of, for a long time to come – lets just say the confetti cannons helped it all go off with a bang! Every member of the band is a born performer, who love every minute they are on that stage, entreating the crowd they so love. They can also get said crowd to do anything they want, within reason. I can safely say, tonight’s set had me smiling from ear to ear throughout. The band even stayed and camped the whole weekend, allowing fans the opportunity to talk to, drink with and take selfies with them over the course of the weekend.

Gehtika

I’m also aware that the band all signed one of Marc’s drum cymbals for a young fan, I only know this, because I photobombed the picture they took with the fan, when they presented them with it… sorry buddy! Respect guys!

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)