On the Road
Just travelled up the motorway to one of my favourite British cities. I have had a long love affair with the Steel City, from visiting mates at Uni, to football trips and many gigs in this wonderful place. With many wonderful pubs, beautiful buildings, lovely people and just a home from home. I may even get a chance to pop into Tamper for breakfast… I actually went to the Museum pub for my Steak and Ale pie. Mind you, the barman thought I was asking about a pint of Steak rather than a pint of Stout. He struggled with my midland accent, lucky for me though the food was lovely.
The Corporation – Sheffield
I was on my way to my first adventure at the Corporation Sheffield. When on the way I found myself at a weird an uncomfortable location. For some reason I arrived at a scene I had dreamt about, roughly three weeks ago. I dreamt I was attacked and murdered at this very site. Suffice it to say, I went a different way on Saturday avoiding the site of my impending murder. Yeah, I know ….WIERD!!!
Anyway, enough of this nonsense!!! The Corporation, I arrived and was guided in by Dave O’Hara. He always seems happy to see me, which is really cool. I take a walk around, get my bearings, with a little help from Tosh and Mark Ellis (a real photographer). For many, many years my favourite venue was Notttingham Rock City. I loved the Hummingbird Birmingham too, oh, and the old Birmingham Odeon was awesome.
I digress…. The Corporation reminds me of Rock City. Don’t think it’s as big but I like it. It possesses a rock ambience, feels like a rock venue, sticky carpets and all. It’s dark, dingy, 2 bars in the main room. And tonight anyway a great soundtrack with Maiden and Demon getting some airplay. I like this place a lot although for an old guy like me the choice of real ales isn’t really there. Although an IPA did suffice late on. My rule tends to be to get my photography duties out of the way before beer. You’d think I’d be better at it, but, hey ho! Let’s go!
I checked these guys out on youtube and Facebook beforehand, I confess to knowing nothing about them previously. I’m glad I checked them out. I always get there early anyway for photography but if “Dearly Departed” is anything to go by, I’m gonna like this…. In a long line of wonderful Sheffield Rock bands, we now have this four-piece, Shadow Smile.
Opening their set with “Marionette“, they don’t disappoint, puppetry of the highest order. I didn’t have to wait long for “Dearly Departed“. I do like these guys. Hey I like most live music, but my attention is maintained. “You’re Safe” references the pandemic and the trials and tribulations many of us suffered and are still coming to terms with. Connor McGovern delivering excellent vocals over the shape-throwing and heavy licks from guitarist Adam Smith. “Beautiful Disaster” is a wonderful ballad that builds and lifts the atmosphere and helps to gain a good response from this decent-sized audience at 17:00 hrs on Friday evening. “Digital God” and “Nameless” finish off the set both songs giving evidence of Connor’s vocal versatility. “Nameless” leaning on the heavier vibe and Shadow Smile opening the festival in style.
All the way from my birthplace of Birmingham, England. The boys from brum play their brand of melodic, heavy, cool rock tunes that are both emotive and filled with angst. I had a glimpse of these guys earlier in the year at Call Of the Wild. But this time it’s down to business and giving these guys the attention they deserve. It’s a mantra you’ll hear me say a lot about the UPSTAGED crew, but how do they get these bands to play low down the bill?
Endscape are punching and fighting their way up the bill with their awesome brand of heavy and powerful tunes. Opening their set with “Rain“, setting the vibe right from the off. These guys are bloody good. Great melodic vocals of Karl Ficarotta supported by the wall of sound provided by Jay Dodkins and Josh Warhurst (guitars), and a rhythm section of Chris Threlfall (drums) and Jake Barnes (bass). They continue to plough their way through their catalogue of cool tunes.
“Validate Me” and “Suffocate” keep the tempo going. My only regret here is, I didn’t buy any of their merch, will do next time. Endscape are on the rise and definitely worth checking out. You can start by checking out their new single, released on December 9th via the E.P. Not Worth Saving, featuring the set closer a cover of the Pendulum output “Propane“. Endscape is the start of something big.
She Burns Red
The Scottish Invasion continues! This will be my third time watching these guys this year. Really looking forward to seeing them again. If Rockmantic, Blackpool is anything to go by I’d better strap myself in…
They open their set with “Gone” and once again the guys are on the money, teasing and taunting the crowd and continuing in their own style with “Copernicus Fall“, “Touch” and “Crosshairs” which is probably my favourite.
James McCulloch (bass) and Andy Moore (guitar) do most of the vocal work here. James; looking every bit the archetypal Scottish rockstar in his Kilt and a broad red stripe across his eyes; cajoles the crowd, celebrating or lamenting that, this is the third time they have made the 5 hour journey to Sheffield, having played the Steel city more often than their native Glasgow. These guys are full of energy passion and great tunes. Naz Scanferlato supplies the riffs, making it look easy along with the powerful drumming of Scott Hanlon. Remember to check them out and give ‘em a follow, a like……. For me, She Burns Red are one of the best bands coming out of Scotland at the moment. But there is something going on North of the border….Cool As…
I’ve been warned about this lot, Dave Evans from Dementia Aware Fest is regularly singing their praises. My friends that are with me tonight aren’t so sure. So, my expectations are set quite low really, expecting theatrics without substance…..let’s see!!
Looking at the stage and the set-up, backdrop, props, whatever you want to call it, I wondered if they needed planning permission to set this up. My apologies if I have this wrong but according to their set list they opened with “Mister Babadook“, “Imago” and into “Burn the Witch“. Whilst I have seen comparisons to Alice Cooper to be fair to Ward XVI, they are theatrical with more blood spilling than a dodgy bar on a Saturday night or the local hospital but they don’t sound like Alice. They are spooky, they are weird, but all in a kinda cool way.
Initially, this sixty-year-old fella didn’t quite know what to make of them. As the show developed I have to admit I liked them. They are thoroughly entertaining and the songs sound cool. You really can’t take your eyes off this band with blood everywhere, cannibalism and stuff of nightmares. You gotta see it to believe it. I’m gonna have to buy some stuff to get a better understanding of Ward XVI.
The band are apparently, Psychoberrie-vocals, Doktor Von Stottenstein-guitars/vocals, Wolfy Huntsman-bass/vocals, Bam Bam Bedlam-drums, Rico, and Mother, sourced from website linked below. They play haunting tunes, lyrically thought-provoking. The show proceeds with “Shadows“, “Andrenochromania“, “Cry of Siren“, and the finale of “Toybox“.
This is a must-see show you don’t want to miss. The challenge for this band is how to keep this fresh for new shows but with the obvious creativity here, I think they have a long career ahead of them….Must-see. Did I mention this is a must-see…..maybe I did…..not sure?
South Of Salem
The boys from Bournemouth here to burn up the Steel City. It took me a couple of visits to realize and acknowledge that these guys are destined to conquer the world. South of Salem, for me, and many others, are the real deal. Opening their set with the anthemic “Let Us Prey” they take us on a rock n roll dark journey. A combination of older stuff sourced from their excellent The Sinner Takes It All album and new stuff, ably assisted by an engaged and hypnotized audience. They keep up the tempo with “The Hate in Me“, “Another Nail” and “Severely Yours“. SOS write songs with hooks to die for. You only need a couple of listens and you are a “sinner” singing along with every tune.
This is all you’d expect from a South of Salem show and it appears that they are becoming more familiar to their audience. That’s down to all the hard work and touring these guys are doing currently. A truly excellent live band. They continue with “Made to Be Mine“, “No Plague like Home” and the awesome and spine-tingling “Demons are Forever“. The latter being a superb emotive number that battles with the subject of suicide and loneliness. There’s room in the set for their excellent version of the Velvet Revolver song “Slither“……so good. “Pretty Little Nightmare” and “Cold Day in Hell” have the audience singing and cheering. The cat is out the bag, South of Salem are building a serious fan base and on recent shows they thoroughly deserve it.
Dead Man’s Whiskey
I‘ve been lucky to see these guys quite a few times at HRH and with Ryders Creed. I gotta say from the outset, I have a lot of time for them. I love their sound and love the vocals. So, here’s a totally unbiased view….ahem, cough! Cough!
So, yeah, first band of the day, here in the Corporation is Dead Man’s Whiskey hitting the stage with the bluesy, positive-sounding “Sleep When I’m Dead” and then “Last Train“. Nico Rogers in fine form this afternoon as are the rest of the band, Billy Kons (lead), Elliot D’Alvarez (rhythm), James Titley (bass) and on the drums Charlie Gray. Next up a dedication to the wonderous place Walthamstow and the cracking tune “Hoe Street“. There is crowd participation singing along to Dead Man’s Whiskey with an E….The guys, once again excellent with “Make You Proud“, a moving pledge to Nico’s mother and the struggles they have shared. A truly wonderful ballad and the finale of the crowd-assisted “Racing Bullet“. These guys never disappoint. Really looking forward to their new album, for updates check them out through the links below.
Slyder Smith & The Oblivion Kids
I make no bones about it, I like Slyder Smith and the Oblivion Kids too.
Opening the show with the first single release from the exciting new album Charm Offensive chugging along nicely is, “When The Rain Comes“, a happy vibe that kisses more like sunshine than rain.
It is a very similar set to Rockmantic and one I like, which included “Calico Queen“, “Crash Landing in Teenage Heaven“, a reworked Last Great Dreamers song and an excellent reworking too. Once again, the song that made me smile at the Waterloo, Slyder and the kids give a bit of credibility to the Limahl song “Neverending Story“. The crowd lap it up and rockers and rollers smiling and singing “Neverending Story” is a sight to behold.
This second stage at the Corporation is high up and there’s not much room to move about but “The best-dressed man in Swindon” Tim Emery does his best to move around the stage looking exactly as Slyder described him in a sharp black shirt and a white jacket with his bass guitar hanging on his waist. On drums tonight we had (I can’t read my own writing!!) Carl Donaghue and once again Slyder knows best and says “he’s too tough to wear make-up”. I would go with that, he’s the drummer, his profession is to hit things hard all through the gig, he’s probably tough….nuff said. The set also included “Maya” from the new album and finishing off with the obligatory “Oblivion Kids“, always enjoyable rock n roll to make you smile.
Honestly, never heard of him till now or his four-piece rock n roll band. There is no denying that Jason is an excellent frontman, confident and possessing a really good voice. Initially, I got the Southern vibe from the opening few tracks especially the third track in “My Wasted Heart“. Listening back though opener “Unknown Direction” is clearly not Southern, it’s a cool slightly “poppy” bouncy tune. Second in is “The Road I Take“. I’m also on the first bitof the video in the pit! Fame at last!!) is a melodic mid-paced tune with chugging guitars.
“My Wasted Heart” is next up and feels a bit like One Vision at the opening but the audience are lapping up Jason’s style and warming nicely, dancing and singing along. “If anyone is looking for a witch or a moodie” at least that’s how I think he introduced “Love By The Hour“, one of my favourites from his set. Scrub all that southern stuff this is more than that, as we get onto drinking songs, songs about goin’ for a Swalley “drinking for the weekend, judging by the antics later on in the Dove and Rainbow quite a few had been.
Finishing off a thoroughly enjoyable set with “She’s Fighter“, I’m pretty sure were going to hear a lot more from Jason and the guys, I don’t know what’s going on in Scotland but there is some great music coming from “god’s country” at the moment, add Jason to that list.
The Tom Killner band, a band I erroneously totally missed at Call of the Wild, won’t happen again. The band are getting a rapturous reception from the busy stage 2 room and there is a reason for that. Tom is a new discovery for me, and the kind of new discovery I love. A classic blues band with a country influence, featuring lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and drums, opening with “Get Back Up“, “When Love Comes” and “Midnight Call“. Get Back Up is Tom’s current album (2018) and it accompanied me down the M1 back to the Midlands, it’s a brilliant album.
This show is soaked in whiskey, like a smoke-filled bar in deep south of USA, Rotherham based Tom Killlner is a transportation genius, I hear Skynyrd, Neil Young, he’s just stunning, jaw-dropping tunes that fill my ears, and hypnotize the room. This is definitely my find of the weekend, and let’s face it, there are some awesome bands on here. “Don’t Waste My Time“, “Light It Up” and the “Other Side” bring the show to a close, I’m lost for words sooooo good. Favourites from the set probably “When Love Comes“, but you gotta check this band out, my sort of music.
These guys are a five-piece making loads of noise in a melodic and powerful way, opening up with “For My Sorrow“, “Sinner” and “Standing Tall“. Fallen State bulldoze their way into the venue.
Led by the powerful vocals of Adam Methven, Fallen State have the Corporation clapping and singing along with tracks lifted from their early EP Crown Your Shadow (2016), and albums Dead Set Endeavour (2019) and recent album Between Hope & Illusion which brings us to the first time playing “Mirror” live. “Mirror” opens with eerie harmonics on guitar with a low vocal tone that gives the feeling a build is coming, sure it is…true to form. This is probably my favourite track so far, quite proggy but cool and passionate at the same time. “Lost Cause“, “Burn It To The Ground” and “Nova” fill out the set. Fallen State are popular for a reason, great tunes, cool harmonies and an all-action show.
Anyone that knows me, knows I quite like this outfit. All the way from Blackpool A’priori are not only growing as a band, but their following is also expanding too. The reason, is they are an exciting band filled with youthful energy and rock n roll the way it’s supposed to be. Loads of hair flying in the stage lights as they open with “Watch the World Burn” taken from their 2022 album House of Cards.
“Here Comes the Rain” keeps it moving along nicely, Tony Lang sounding great tonight on vocal and lead guitar backed up by Mouse on drums and Mark Wilson on keyboards and vocals. The songs keep rolling on with the catchy singalong “Making Love To The Devil” A’priori should be playing bigger stages and venues, I’m sure it’ll come soon enough with tunes like “Black Church“, “Better Man“, “Nah Nah Nah Nah” and “Wasted Years“. A’priori have my vote as one of the best new bands around.
The L.A. Maybe
Another band I was lucky enough to see at Call of the Wild and I loved ‘em. The L.A. Maybe enter the stage and like sunlight the audience is filled with smiling faces. The L.A. Maybe is a talented band. This five-piece fill out the stage with their constant movement and bouncing. Comparisons are already being made to Guns N Roses and whilst I can see why it’s been said the LA Maybe has a lot more on offer than labels. Opening with a touch of Van Halen into “Play Hard“, “Sucker Punch” and “She’s Reckless” they are sounding great. The guitar sound and playing by Dallas Dwight is something to behold, a future guitar hero, right before our eyes, he can really play. Singer Goliath Furr also performs well and carries the vocals extremely well.
The “Long Road” is an excellent, vibrant and bouncy mid-paced number that draws cheers and clapping along from the expectant crowd. They cover songs really well to delivering a fantastic version of “Welcome to the Jungle” by an obscure 90s band G’n’R and then Dallas lets loose on a montage of “Star Wars“/”Hotel California“/”Fade to Black“/”The Boys Are Back in Town” as I said he can really play but the band perform excellently too. There is a buzz around L.A. Maybe but there are no buts or maybes about the talent on show here, looking forward to seeing how these guys develop, it’s gonna be a fun ride. Check out their excellent album Dirty Damn Tricks and their website below.
Female-fronted rock band, really, what are the chances of me not liking them….pretty slim, as opposed to me being pretty stout.
I walked into the second stage and they were already halfway through “Fiction“. I confess, I like Bastette, think this is my third time this year and Caroline Kenyon has an exceptional vocal style. Really like them, so much so, I already had the EPs on sale here. Lyrically Bastette like to tease and torture but mainly for pleasure. “Hunter” is next and then “Psycho” lifted from their Awakening EP, they have the ability to sweetly lull you in. My favourite track is “Talk About It” although I love “Sick and Twisted” too. Talk about it is so catchy I could see this taking off given decent exposure, well polished and produced catchy pop-rock number.
There is definitely a gap in the market for Bastette, they look great and live, they sound even better. “Good Time Girl” is another corker and “Sick and Twisted“…..well, we all get like that sometimes. “Rip Me to Shreds” and the wonderful “Rollercoaster” bring the ride neatly to a close. Bastette are a good band that write cracking songs but when it comes to live performances I think Caroline’s voice takes the band to a higher plain. Love ‘em, excellent show.
The New Roses
All the way from Germany, one of my favourite bands of the current crop The New Roses play clear concise singalong rock n roll songs and they do it really well. So many times tonight throughout the set the crowd are clapping, dancing and singing. These guys play to massive audiences across Europe, we are so lucky to see them in such an intimate environment, opening with the “Usual Suspects” followed by “The Lion in You” (from Sweet Poison) a fast-paced number that sets the scene for this evening, they’re just gonna keep us dancing.
Slowing it down a bit with “All I ever Needed” sounding like a cross between Bon Jovi and Springsteen and of course the crowd join in the chorus. I was told by a punter when I was in the pit that Timmy Rough the singer is the most gorgeous man on the planet and I better stay out of their way whilst taking photos…..Well, he’s cool but, best of all he’s a great frontman, smiling, chatting and laughing with the audience. His English is better than mine, you’d never know he is German.
Dallas from LA Maybe joins the guys on stage for a brilliant version of the Neil Young classic “Keep on Rockin’ In The Free World” and the roof is coming off. Dallas is awesome and it’s not even 1PM….
The classic tunes keep coming with “Whiskey Nightmare“, “Warpaint” and another one of those tunes that just grabs the rock fraternity “Life Ain’t Easy (for a boy with long hair)“. The New Roses are just bloomin’ here with the excellent sing-along “Nothing But Wild“. Everyone’s favourite song “with a six-pack and a radio” “Down By the River“, “Glory Road” and the Upstaged crew and just about everyone join the boys onstage for a bit of “Old time Rock n Roll“. The New Roses are the nice boys of rock, playing wonderfully catchy tunes and closing the show spectacularly.
I know there is a lot of nothing written here, but, one thing I can say without question The Corporation is a cool venue and the guys from Upstaged and their team are incredible. Looking through the whole two-day event the talent was impressive throughout, these bands can look to expand on these shows, all these bands will have gained a few fans from these shows. The organizers and all their team should take a bow and an incredible amount of pride for producing incredible lineups. I’ve done Call of The Wild, Rockmantic Blackpool and now Winterfest, all were nothing short of excellent. Thank You