This will be a co-review between myself and PlanetMosh stalwart Louise Swift, who unfortunately couldn’t make the afternoon sessions. Last year’s Rockmantic saw the Saturday afternoon given over to acoustic performances, this year it was the turn of the youngsters. First up we had Black Nevada, a five-piece alt.rock band from County Durham with a Token Female (the drummer). They were fun, and stompy, and not too shouty, and oh so very very young! Reminded me of early Papa Roach and their energy, musicianship and obvious love for their music impressed me a great deal. Definitely one to watch.
Next came Scotland’s Mothertone, who dedicated part of their performance to the late great Lemmy. Another very young band with more of a classic, almost stoner-rock feel to their songs. I felt they were somewhat lacking in stage presence and by the end of the set it seemed time was starting to drag a little. Kudos to them for getting up there and doing their thing, but it wasn’t really for me.
They were followed by A Jokers Rage, a band who came second at last year’s Highway To Hell competition, and I could see why. Grinning white-painted faces took us into a fast-paced but funky set that the crowd loved. Singer Zakky Boy’s vocals had a touch of the Ozzy about them, although the overall sound was more Limp Bizkit. They danced, we danced, it was entertaining and the addition of a mashup of one of their own songs with the seminal “Sweet Child O Mine” towards the end of the set was very well received.
Last band of the afternoon session was another local one, the five-piece Hellion Rising. They had pointy guitars so I knew they were going to be loud and indeed they were. Loud and heavy with lots of riffs but still maintaining good melodies, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands right from the off. A chorus of “Tops Off” from the girls in the audience resulted in just that, and the rest of the set was completed bare-chested much to the delight of said ladies! It was hard to pigeonhole their sound, closest I came was to scribble down “early Sabbath” and the musicianship was spot on.
We then had a bit of a break before heading into the evening session. I’ll hand you over to Louise for most of that, with just a couple of lines from me to add to what she says.
Louise: I’ve seen Cumbrian four piece Bulletproof Rose many times so was pleased to see that they were on the billing at Rockmantic 2016. I arrived as they were playing Gypsy, There was lots of hair flying and guitarist Brian was celebrating his nineteenth birthday, with a climb up on to the top of the doors which form a platform at the side of the stage. We got a new song Life By Any Means, which reminded me of Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive. They finished with a lively Bang Your Head. Jacob thanked Raz for putting them on at this ‘Amazing festival’ and they finished with Jacob down in the pit. These guys always put on a great show, with songs reminding me of Bon Jovi, Status Quo and Slaughter and the Dogs! Me: It was a shame that the crowd was still a bit sparse when they came on as they were really on form tonight. They play melodic rock that’s packed with DC-esque riffs, big choruses and the chance for the guys to throw some decent shapes. Recommended.
Louise: Like yesterday the only band I hadn’t seen before were the second of the evening and this time Scottish three piece The King Lot. An air raid siren introduction and lots dry ice, or someone with a pesky e-cig! heralded their arrival with singer/bass player Jason in baseball cap and hoodie. They had a vintage feel; very melodic too reminded me of Colour of Noise and Place Vendome with some Doors-y riffage thrown in too! Finishing with a drum roll and ‘We are The King Lot’. Me: To me there were shades of Extreme and a funky groove going on. Not so much my thing again but very good at what they do.
Louise: Next came Wigan based Bigfoot, who were joint winners of HRH’s Highway to Hell, with Thirteen Stars. I think their cover of Hot Stuff by Donna Summer had been a key factor in why the won, that and their core following of one rather pneumatic, plastic enhanced groupie who had followed them to Carlisle! Frontman Antony Ellis is a real powerhouse and great fun to watch, he reminds me very much of Jack Black, strutting around the stage as though he owns it, which he usually does when performing and throwing his fluorescent green mic stand around! He thanked Raz for bringing them up from Wigan and said something about how great it had been to reach Wigton! Yeah, I like wigs too! Antony picked up the acoustic guitar for one song Come Down My Way, which reminded me of the band which were to follow, Knock Out Kaine. The groupie even got up on Antony’s shoulder for a while before being flung back into the audience! Bigfoot can’t fail to entertain you, great music and great fun to watch. Me: I was too busy bouncing to write much about Bigfoot. They really tore the place down, and went down really well with the crowd. Excellent band, I think they have the potential to really go far.
Louise: Another band I first saw at The Brickyard came in the fighting form of Knock Out Kaine from Lincoln, who opened with 16 Grams of a Heart Attack and then went into Cascading, with a tune, which matches the chimes of Lincoln Cathedral bells. Dean in aviator shades said how great it was to be there; in fact he thought they’d been every year. They’ve definitely been to all three I’ve been to anyway. He thanked everyone for turning up and asked us to give ourselves a big cheer. Most of the set was from their second album Rise of the Electric Jester with Ain’t Your Kind being a song about bigotry and bullying which has been picked up by The Sophie Foundation, and started with a powerful ‘Whoa’ Hoss from Thirteen Stars joined them for a cover of Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road. Title track Cool Britannia from their new EP was a middle finger to the Royal Family and Conservative Party. A punky number with a melodic Sex Pistols vibe, They finished off with a cover of Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell and Dean removed the shades, leaving him looking like a sweat drenched, cross between younger Blaze Bailey and Glenn Danzig. A great one to end their set and Dean ended with a ‘We’ve been Knock Out Kaine. God bless you. See you at the bar’ Lee had somehow managed to lose his bass over the edge of the stage and was last seen pulling it back up by the remaining guitar strap! Hope it survived the knock out! Me: Another band that just get better and better every time I see them. Delighted to hear that their pledge campaign to get their upcoming EP recorded had reached 100% they day before, drinks were on you then! The set featured some old favourites, the title track from the new EP and a couple of covers. This band are pure entertainment.
Louise: Penultimate band of the festival were Leicester based SKAM, I didn’t recognise bass player Matt at first in a flat cap and tweed jacket but as soon as he started getting in the zone and pulling his amazing gargoyle faces I soon remembered! It was good to see other bands, Bulletproof Rose and Heartbreak Remedy rocking out to their energetic performance with songs reminded me in essence of Black Sabbath and Tool. Frontman Steve said what a good day it had been and how the line-up had been spot on, I have to agree on that point! They played Peacemaker, the title track from their last album and Neal had managed to break his snare but like magic, a replacement appeared and was quickly installed and a Thank you went out to Bulletproof Rose for the loan! I noticed the fickleness of the Bigfoot groupie as she was now flaunting herself at SKAM. Let’s Get Rocked was dedicated to all the ‘Crazy mother fuckers who support live music’ Soldier of Rock reminded me of Skid Row’s Another Piece of Me whilst their ‘favourite track off the new album’ had a Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by Black Sabbath vibe. They finished off with a high octane performance of No Lies and I’m telling ‘no lies’ when I say what an excellent set it was. Me: I would like to like Skam, I really would, but sadly despite them being excellent musicians and having some really good original songs their sound just doesn’t gel with me and I found them uninspiring. Sorry!
Louise: Last band of the night, and the band who had travelled the furthest, were Sweden’s Confess, who I loved instantly when I saw the video for Bloodstained Highway and then saw live when they toured early last year. The band has had a couple of line-up changes since then. With Van Noice now on bass and Richie on a guitar, although when I saw them the stand in bass player was Richie and he looked familiar, so perhaps became a permanent replacement for Lucky (or unlucky for him that he left!) and I couldn’t help noticing that he was playing a fetching Gibson Flying V! I forgot to ask for a picture with the V but maybe next time! After a short intro Frontman John strutted onto the stage owning it from the off, and the bank launched straight into Bloodstained Highway. Straight away I was enthralled by the energetic performance, and although I enjoyed them last year they seem to have grown in confidence. They have a similar sound and style to fellow Swede’s Hardcore Superstar. Scream, contained some powerful screams! Before I Go had a strong rhythm section. Van Noice had a few problems with the sound not coming through on the bass, but that was soon fixed, which luckily, was in time for a song about their old bass player Got Lucky. John handed round a bottle of JD but there was still plenty left when it made it’d way back to him! He thanked Raz for putting on this awesome festival and told us they’re going to start recording a new album this month. They ended their set with a couple of covers What’s Love Got To Do With It (Tina Turner) which saw John down in the pit and he came back with a Burberry hat on which he put on Blomman, but it fell off so John held it up and asked if he should swap the hat for the remaining JD, but he decided against it as he said ‘It won’t make me drunk, but I’ll look pretty in it!’ The last song Live Wire (Motley Crue) he told us he first heard when he was nine and found a Motley Crue album in his Dad’s record collection. John thanked Raz for bringing them over and asked us to scream for Raz, which we did! I do confess that I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys at HRH AOR next month. Me: I loved Confess. The recent lineup change resulting in 2 new members has been a real positive move for them and they were fresh, vibrant and just superb. It had been a long day by now but were they worth waiting for? Oh hell yeah!
Final word from Louise: “Rockmantic 2016 ended on a scream and a high note. Definitely one to add to the gig diary for 2017, in fact, I’ve already booked my accommodation and I don’t even know who’s playing yet!”