Welcome to KK’s Steelmill for the New Wave of Classic Rock Festival, my first time covering this event. As an amateur photographer and reporter, I felt like royalty and was treated like a VIP by Helen Biggs and the staff in the “green room”. NWOCR has a couple of double CDs on the market which celebrate and showcase the upcoming bands of the moment, some of these on the second CD are here for the weekend. It’s gonna be a blast!
Hailing from Rochester in Kent, Gallows Circus is Steve Kitchener – Drums, Ben Atwood – Guitar, Ian Day – Vocals/Harmonica, and Richard Tunbridge – Bass.
Up until a couple of days ago, I had never heard of Gallows Circus, that has changed considerably as they open proceedings with soul and style. They smoothly switch from the blues-tinged and wonderful soulful “Faith to Believe” to the slightly heavier-sounding “Game On”. The sound and vibe of these guys are right up my street.
I recognize from my quick research, “Medicine Man” and “Hells Whisky” the latter opening with a funky bass line (reminds me of something?) some twiddly guitar (musos fill in technical term) and then Bam!! The power comes in and we’re in the rock n roll, groove, great vocal party. You can be sure “Hell’s Whisky” needs consuming, I’m there….Do yourself a favour, and check these guys out. It does beg the question, if the first band on is this good, how good is this gonna get?
Ed Clarke – guitarist, Chloe Josephine – Twin lead Vocals, Lindsey Bonnick – Twin Lead Vocals, Billy Dedman – Bass Guitar, Donna Peters -Drums.
Brave Rival is making waves everywhere they go. I have their album and have given it a fair old go, thinking, I’m gonna like these guys but to be honest, I was looking for something. The album is good but, for me anyway, there was something missing. Let me tell you now, I think I may have found it. Portsmouth’s own Brave Rival, live are a different animal. Everyone that has seen these guys said, I was gonna love ‘em, yep, yep, yeah.
Opening the show with “Run and Hide” in your face and at us, a great opening track that rocks live like a mutha. Great guitars, drums and vocals. Seeing them live you get the true concept, the feel of the band, and chemistry. You see that the rhythm section Donna and Billy and the secret weapon on guitar Ed Clarke are all major components of this wonderful band, it ain’t all about the vocals (although it normally is for me!). “Bad Choices”, “Secrets” and the excellent “Heart Attack” follow and both Lindsey and Chloe Josephine are in fine form, hitting every note that’s ever been invented and a couple that are about to be. Vocally these two are enough to give any fan of harmonies and great vocals a bit of a heart attack. They front up the band with power, passion, soul and personality. It feels as though they are talking to you, that’s a great talent alone. We even get a new track “Stars Upon My Scars” an awesome tune that bodes well for the future of this band if they are gonna write songs like this. I must admit the opening guitar riff had me singing Hey Hey My My…..but it is such a wonderful song. The mesmerizing “Guilty Love” follows along with “Fairytale” and finishes off with one of my personal favourites “What’s Your Name Again?” which is a question I ask regularly due to my age and lack of memory. Where was I again? One thing I won’t forget is losing my Brave Rival live virginity, they weren’t gentle but it was a wonderful experience and totally without pain but passion-filled. If you like blues guitar, wonderful harmonies and powerhouse drums and bass you’re gonna love Brave Rival.
White Raven Down
Stu Bailey – Vox & Guitar, Luke Chappell – Bass, Tom Mrazek – Drums
I saw these guys storm KKs at the Mayors Festival earlier in the year. They were so good I bought their brilliant Don’t Shoot the Messenger album. Today they enter the arena more like a great white shark than a white raven. They add some seriously heavy riffage to events. White Raven Down are heavy but filled with cool melodic, aggressive vocals. They take no prisoners and mean business from their opener “Mind Reader” with dirty guitars and punchy vocals, the Raven is soaring again. “All Day Long” follows on and then “Void and Flame” sounding great to me. I was chatting with Stu before the show when he told me he was recovering from illness but on this showing, I couldn’t tell. Obviously, illness takes it out on you so we get “Silence” and a touch of “Iron Man” and loads of crowd participation and finishing with “Take Me” which sounded bloody awesome and the wonderful “Lost Your Hold Over Me”.
Beth Blade and The Beautiful Disaster
Beth Blade – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Luke Gilmore – Lead, Sam Brain – Drums, Dan Rowe – Bass Guitar
Our wonderful host the legend that is, Pete K Malley, introduced the band as “The kindest band in the world”. He may well be right. Every time I see this band, they get better and better. Beth’s vocals sounding awesome from the very start, opening with the brilliant “Tonight I’m With You”. As with a lot of bands, they sound heavier live. These shows are going too quickly! Beth’s vocals sounding powerful, melodic and along with the rest of the band, full of energy. Next up is “Give It All You Got” and we’re in a full-on rock n roll show. Beth has the audience in her hands as she eases through the set which includes “Undo Me”, “Persephone” and “Hold Your Heart”. “Hold Your Heart” holds a sensitivity that sets it apart from the set, littered with melody and emotion, a wonderous change of pace building into what will no doubt be a Beth Blade classic. The band continues the show with the sleazy bluesy “Down and Dirty” and from the Show Me Your Teeth album the catchy, poppy “I Ain’t Got Nothing (If I Ain’t Got Rock n roll)”. The show finishes with “Jack and Coke” and I ask you….is there a better way? Anyway you slice it Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters are finding their cutting edge.
The Karma Effect
Henry Gottelier (lead vocals and guitar), Robbie Blake (guitar), Seb Emmins (keyboards & vocals), Liam Quinn (bass), Ash Powell (drums & vocals)
I make no bones about it, I saw these guys at Call of The Wild and loved them from then on, right up my street, it’s turning into a motorway with all these great bands but The Karma Effect is Karma Perfect. I love the vocal of Henry Gottelier, it suits the vibe soothes the soul and rocks with heart and soul. Kicking off the show with “Wrong Again” I’ve had this playing in the car on the way here. Shooting t-shirt bundles into the crowd, a great way to get ‘em onside. A storming album, a storming show. “Doubt She’s Coming Back” and “Mercy”, funky and groovy and cool ass tunes follow along. I know they ain’t heavy but they are definitely vibrant and the music is textured and dripping with classic rock vibes a la Black Crowes or maybe a bit of Cry of Love, just a great vibe. I’m not sure if you get it but I quite like these guys, “The River” is up next another catchy little number. The set included “All Night Long” the wonderfully emotional “Stand”, “Promised Land”, “Steal Your Heart” and “Testify”. For me The Karma Effect is one of the very best new rock bands on the scene, to be fair though, there is a lot of competition and some of it is here this weekend. Love ‘em Yeah!!!!
Alex Cooper (vocals), Baz Blackett (guitar), Kieran Topp (guitar), Jamie Downes (bass guitar), Lars Wickett (drums)
Devilfire used to be a Birmingham-based band but they now travel from all over the place. That aside though, it feels like a homecoming and the guys look like they are enjoying treading the boards again. It looks and sounds great from here. This is their first gig in over 12 months but no rust is apparent. They open with “A Thousand Times” from back in 2017, sounding as fresh as ever. Staying with the theme of 2017’s Dark Manoeuvres album we get “(You Gotta) Revolution”, live these songs come alive. With a set that includes “Chasing the Pain” from 2022’s Black Soul Vendetta, “In and Outta Love”, “Kill Your Love”, Devilfire is smokin’ tonight. They are cool, rock n roll with a touch of glam, a touch of sleaze but they play rock n roll tunes that get you moving and wanting to sing along. “Sell My Soul” proves the point so well, opening with heavy low down guitars and in comes Alex sounding like he means it, and we can all join in, probably my favourite track of the set. They finish off their set with the moody “Waiting for a Rockstar”.
I don’t really understand why these guys aren’t more popular, they tick all the boxes, confident, cool, entertaining and full of great tunes. Devilfire …..be careful….they burn,
Henrik Steenholdt (vocals and guitars), Did Coles (lead guitar), Grant Hockley (bass), Elliot Bale (drums)
Empyre is like one of those dates you go on when you’re single “It’s not you, it’s me!!!” I try to like them because I do appreciate the talent here, everyone in the green room were big fans of the band, just me then!!!
They like to change the mood, they do it really well. Henrik quite obviously has a cool dry sense of humour which warms me to the band. I have to admit I’m not in the know with Empyre and as you may have gathered they’re not really my thing. They do play highly polished progressive rock music, I would even suggest it has an air of Queensryche about it (I love Queensryche) although that may be a bit of a stretch. Henrik is clearly an excellent frontman, entertaining even if it is somewhat subdued. Empyre do have a decent following, loads of t-shirts on show tonight. I look to others for guidance about the band as they opened the show with a real slow builder “Waking the Light” taken from their current release Relentless. If there is a track that may pull me in it’s “Cry Wolf”. This band haunts and perhaps how they catch you. I won’t lie I’m revisiting “Cry Wolf” as I write this at home, it’s more uptempo and maybe a little more commercial. As I stated it’s me…. I find them a little strange and I would suggest they are for the more discerning music lover. I wish them luck in what they do but I still remain uncaptured.
Andy Milburn (bass), Tagore Grey (guitar/backing vocals), Dhani Mansworth (drums), Tao Grey (guitar)
The Treatment isn’t shy in coming forward as they kick off headlining Saturday night with the brilliant and subtle…”Let’s Get Dirty”. Never boring, never standing still, a full-on rock n roll show “Let It Begin” keeps the runaway train movin’ on. The Treatment mean business tonight, to be fair they normally do and they ain’t pushing me “The Wrong Way”. They never fail to impress, loud raucous rock n roll the way it’s meant to be. Strolling through the show like consummate professional rockers this is my kinda into “Bite Back” coming across all AC/DC. “Bite Back” is a cracking tune. We get “Running with the Dogs” and “The Doctor” really get the place rocking, not that it needed much encouragement, The Treatment has KK’s where they want it. We even get Pete K Malley giving the guitarist a shoulder ride in the pit. Poor Pete looks shattered, I doubt it though he’s a legend… we also get to clap along and sing as Tao encourages the crowd to join in “On The Money” one great tune after another with “Shake the Mountain” and “Let’s Get The Party On” these guys sure know how to hold a party. They re-appear for a couple more tunes “Devil in the Detail” and “Rat Race” finish the first night in style.
Full photo galleries and Day #2 blog coming soon to CGCM Rock Radio: NWOCR LiveFest 2023 – Complete Coverage