Looking Back at Firevolt Festival 2023

We take a moment to look back at some of the highlights of Firevolt 2023 as this years festival approaches!
Firevolt is in an outdoor setting that feels like it is the middle of the countryside with undulating hills and a small lake – without a shadow of a doubt it is idilic. There is camping on site just a short stroll from the action which is spread across two stages.  All of this and it is just a few miles south-west of Stockport.
One of the improvements they’ve made in 2023 is a bigger gap between bands, this gave us a chance to get up and down the hill without missing the start of a band, and a chance to grab a cheeky beer too!
Also of interest, the name has changed from Firestorm to Firevolt Festival and 2023 was fully charged!

Day 1

It was a late start for me, extracting myself from work was difficult, but I wasn’t alone – there were plenty of people arriving to start rocking later in the afternoon. 

Cardinal Black’s set was astonishing; classic blues rock with soul drenched vocals.  From slow blues to rockers they were a class act from beginning to end and just so unbelievably soulful.  Impressed I was, so much I bought the album.

When Rivers Meet are on a roll at the moment, they’d recently completed a U.K. tour, and there is new material previewed too with a new album coming out in September and for a bonus they were at Firevolt too!  Violin, electric mandolins, a cigar box guitar this band is stretching themselves but also have great songs to match.  Grace Bond’s vocals are exceptional, Aaron Bond’s guitar playing is spot on and the rest of the band is just so tight!  For me Testify is the absolute highlight.

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More photos of When Rivers Meet at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtwSQ

The wait for Massive Wagons seems so much longer than 20 minutes but it is well worth it.  With explosions and fireworks they start with a bang.  There is lots of singing along too as everyone here are fans – the Firevolt party is now well and truly happening and they are going down a storm.
Baz has got to be the hardest working front man and they are another band that is incredibly tight as the songs flow – it’s a very long set list they cram into 75 minutes. The lighting is superb too, it’s hugely effective for them as it works well with the music.
I am Triggered!

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More photos of Massive Wagons at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtBWB

Swedes always have an ace or 10 up their sleeves and Royal Republic have them all. The crowd are with them too, with a serious proliferation of fake felt moustaches in honour of their lead singer Adam Grahn.  They are fun and exciting and can’t stop moving with the music, they even get out the keytar a couple of times.  The crowd goes wild when Full Steam Spacemachine with its underlying disco groove kicks in, I am fully hooked too!
Back From The Dead with Adam’s heavy metal guitar see’s the band getting as close to heavy metal as they are going to get. Like A Lover Like You slows things down, we do need a break.
The band then run off stage and head to a second stage at the back for a two song acoustic interlude.  When normal service resumes, well as normal as it can be with these Swedes, they continue on and on – these are fun times. Pop, rock, metal, disco, ballads – Royal Republic covered all the bases.
They are my new favourite band – when I got home I ordered their album Club Majesty album which was due to be re-released on vinyl a couple of weeks later.
Phew!  I am blown away again by the quality that is on offer.

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More photos of Royal Republic at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtwRN

Day 2

Following the excitement of yesterday I managed to get my sorry arse in gear and get down to Firevolt for more rocking times, and The Hot One Two are just underway with a truly galvanised audience in a fairly full big top – pretty good for a midday performance.  The band are new to me and I am thoroughly enjoying their set, they are also incredibly humbled to be here too.  They’ve gotta be ready for a repeat appearance.

Next up are Thieves of Liberty and again I am enjoying their performance on the main stage, their two guitarists are laying down some serious driving riffs and they are sounding so clean too!

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More photos of Thieves of Liberty at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtAno

Three piece A’piori are on in the big top and are making a hell of a racket, no bassist so we have a keyboard player instead, which whilst is an interesting twist, but we aren’t getting much in the way of keyboardy sounds from the PA.  They are a cracking band though both Halo and Concrete Vein are veritable bangers in their hugely strong set and they go down an absolute storm with the crowd in the tent.

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More photos of A’piori at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtvTs

Talking of storms the one predicted on the weather has thankfully failed to materialise and it remains lovely and warm and mostly dry.  However, Valhalla Awaits… and the sun came out albeit briefly and then it rained and then the suns out, almost in time with the different songs. Apparently they are a man down today too, although I can’t tell!  Black Waters from their first EP rocks hard with a groovy riff and is probably my favourite song of their set.

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More photos of Valhalla Awaits at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtwXp

I’ve got to be honest, I am a big fan of Scruffy Bear and once again they don’t disappoint, getting tighter every time I see them.  A cover of Foxy Lady is interesting and like Hendrix’s Strat, the band are on fire playing this.  All the songs played showcase the blues rock power of the band and Georgy’s vocals are insane, definitely evoking the spirit of Janice Joplin.

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More photos of Scruffy Bear at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtyPg

At this point of the day where you’re never going to please everyone and Absolva are not everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee).  However, their slick professionalism is impressive and it shines throughout their classic NWOBHM inspired set with more than a nod to Iron Maiden for some of their riffs.  And whilst they are not my thing these days I am engaged throughout. Blaze Bailey absolutely chose the right band to back him.

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More photos of Absolva at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtyQP

Vega have never been on my radar before and I’ve no idea why!  It’s hard rock with a pop edge and there nothing not to like.  Every Little Monster is damn catchy and after the first chorus I find myself singing along, ditto Gonna Need Some Love Tonight, ditto White Flag, ditto pretty much everything they play.
They’ve got an album and a tour upcoming so if this is your bag grab a ticket and buy the new, EIGHTH album Battlelines, you won’t be disappointed.  This band are productive – eight albums in 14 years – I guess I have a lot of post-festival listening to do.

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More photos of Vega at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtAhi

Day 3

Gin Annie are providing huge amounts of entertainment as they always do. It’s been a few years since I last saw them and they are still on top form.
There is a first time for everything and for me it is seeing Black Spiders live.  Their punk infused classic rock has me nodding all the way through the set. 
Their opening three song salvo is  strong – Death Comes, Hot Wheels and Stick It – they’ve grabbed me by the… Balls with added cowbell is a great singalong song, it’s Black Sabbath infused slow riff driving it along.  The improbably entitled KISS Tried To Kill Me is entertaining but Stay Down could be a Motörhead song, it has such girth!  The crowd is dedicated and raucous which adds to a killer atmosphere.
Blimey!

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More photos of Black Spiders at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtx4G

Collateral bring the Bon Jovi vibes, it’s banging pop rock. The country rock style of About This Boy is brilliant and gives everyone a chance to take a breath after the initial salvo of songs.  Their set is littered with new songs too, No Place For Love is a veritable banger and Angelo Tristan really knows how to work the crowd well whilst wistfully smiling at the ladies in the crowd.
Highly entertaining.

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More photos of Collateral at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtx4m

Classic melodic rock from Dare are closing out the Big Top and it is rammed. It’s 10 years since I last saw them at Firefest X in Nottingham and I’d truly forgotten how good they are live.  Fronted by ex-Thin Lizzy keyboard player Darren Wharton they deliver at set of 80’s style pop rock.  The Raindance is truly anthemic, Dreams On Fire is still an absolute anthem, and You Will Abandon Me is sublime.  In fact their whole set is jammed with great songs, played perfectly. 
Who dares wins, as the saying goes, and on the day Dare won!

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More photos of Dare at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtAoA

Former MMA cage fighter Kris Barras is evolving.  His heavy blues rock band now has a metal tinge, 5 sting basses a taking the low end down – it is an interesting development.  And his set, closing the main stage, is like a breath of fresh air featuring old classics and new songs.
Opening with Hail Mary is a masterstroke with the crowd singing along.  The trio of bangers – Dead Horses, These Voices and Heart On Your Sleeve lay down a serious groove for the crowd to enjoy.  A couple of covers – Lewis Capaldi’s Forget Me and Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll are unnecessary considering the quality of his own material.  Who Needs Enemies and My Parade close out a phenomenal set from the Kris Barras Band, and I’ll be putting a preorder in for the new album when it is announced.  Cracking stuff Gromit.

Setlist:
Hail Mary
Dead Horses
These Voices
Heart On Your Sleeve
Wake Me When It’s Over
Hostage
Forget Me (Lewis Capaldi cover)
Chaos
Rock And Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)
Light It Up
Who Needs Enemies
My Parade

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More photos of the Kris Barras Band at Firevolt Festival 2023 here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBtx41

We hope you enjoyed our look back at Firevolt Festival 2023.
Check out the poster below for what is coming to Firevolt Festival 2024.
Tickets are available here: Firevolt-tickets

About Ant Firmin

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