Stonedeaf Festival 2019: Live Review
Words and photos: Anthony Firmin
Now into it’s second year this years Stonedeaf has a cracking lineup of classic bands and the weather is as glorious as the music; the organisers now feel they are the natural successor to the 80’s Monsters of Rock festival of old, we shall see!
The opening bands, Samarkind and The Amorrettes, we are seeing tomorrow so with it being an almost 3 hour drive today to get here we weren’t too fussed about missing them. Whilst we get set up in the media area we could hear Massive’s set and with Dancefloor pouring out of the speakers it seems like everyone is having a raucous time, as they should be. One thing that was evident early on was how well organised everything here is, we are very impressed.
It’s like a lightning strike to the nation as it’s 37 years since I last saw Diamond Head on their Borrowed Time tour. This now feels like the second coming for one of the architects of the NWoBHM as they play their socks off. Their ‘new’ singer Rasmus Bom Andersen is doing a fine job of the old songs as well as the new - they have definitely won more fans and I too am well into this performance. A fly-by from a DC-3 provides the icing on the cake as the band closes with Am I Evil which makes me very, very happy!
The soap opera that surrounded the splitting of Geoff Tate and Queensryche was a major distraction from the music and it is now five years since that was resolved, time flies. Also, although this performance is billed as Geoff Tate this outfit is currently touring as Operation: Mindcrime which confused me a little bit. But, this isn’t a distraction as it is good to see Tate happily performing as well as to hear many of these songs played live again. He and his band deliver a perfect set that only includes songs from Queensryche, and there a no complaints from anyone here especially me from the opening of Empire to the closing notes of Eyes Of A Stranger, it is quite simply sensational. But as always Silent Lucidity gets me as it blasts from the PA.
They have only been together for a couple of years but Wayward Sons have been anything but wayward. Led by the band’s omnipresent leader, Toby Jepson, who, having previously earned his stripes with Little Angels, Gun and Fastway, the band go for it big time with an opening triple-salvo of rockers Alive, Don’t Want To Go and Killing Time although their momentum was undercut by a powercut during that latter song. They are professionals and they recover well with Ghost. Jepson’s voice is still impressive and the cover of Strangler’s No More Heroes an interesting choice.
Not on purpose, but, I’d managed to bypass Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons on several of their visits to Manchester due to clashes with other gigs so it is with interest that they are on the billing today, but I am not entirely convinced by what I witness. What we get is good, competent rock’n’roll but I am not sure what the band want to be as Freak Show has a Thin Lizzy feel to it. Sure, there are four Motorhead covers in the set, including Born To Raise Hell and R.A.M.O.N.E.S. but to my mind the cover of Silver Machine was unnecessary.
I have always been unsure of Inglorious but they have achieved quite a lot during their relatively short tenure together including several lineup changes that has led some to say that this is merely a vehicle for Nathan James voice, however, this latest grouping of musicians has created quite a cohesive operation. His choice of covering Alanis Morissette’s Uninvited is going to challenge a lot here even with James asking everyone to hear it through, but as a fan of her work, and of this song, I am doubly sure this was not a wise move. The last two songs, Holy Water and Until I Die, are performed brilliantly with his voice still in spectacularly great form, at times reminding me of David Coverdale.
Talking of the ‘Cov, his old mucker Glenn Hughes is headlining this little shindig with his Deep Purple Experience and I am seriously looking forward to it. The wait is ridiculous though with Hughes going on stage over 30 minutes after his scheduled start time due to “technical difficulties”. Opening with a sensational Stormbringer the voice of rock is starting on firing form, Might Just Take Your Life is brilliant too and it is a joy to hear a couple of great songs from Come Taste The Band: You Keep On Moving and Getting Tighter are performed brilliantly and allowing us to get our funk together.
Shouting “Hello Nottingham” isn’t a great move as we are actually in Newark and this is sadly the start of things going downhill... Mistreated isn’t great, in fact it is awful. Smoke On The Water and Highway Star are unnecessary and are cringeworthy, Burn is a screech-athon and gives me a headache. The number of people that stream out during his performance is surprising too.
I know he can do it, the California Breed gig I saw was sensational when his band presumably helped keep it tight, but solo he struggles to be concise and it is disappointing as a result. There were so many more songs that were missing that could have made it onto the set list and made for a much tighter performance, You Fool No One being a prime example. I so wanted this to be truly outstanding and it failed and flailed. Next: The Dead Daisies awaits the arrival of Glenn Hughes, wonder how long this will last.
Next years Stonedeaf has already been announced, albeit renamed Stonedead, on 29th August 2020 and we are already anticipating a killer line-up for the festival and it will once more be an amazing experience if it is as good as this years has been!