Winter Storm festival, Day One Nov29

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Winter Storm festival, Day One

 

Winter Storm festival, Day One

Well this was a first, getting up for a rock festival to be met with snow. It is Scotland and it is winter so what do you expect? Luckily there is no camping and the event is indoors.

I realise not many people outside of Scotland will have heard of this festival but after this years event word of mouth will spread the news far and wide. It is set in the beautiful town of Troon(yes, the place with the famous golf course), right on the coast with the venue overlooking the sea. It may have been cold but the scenery was stunning just like the weekend.

The weather caused the usual chaos and meant that I arrived late and had already missed the first two bands which was a real shame as I had been looking forward to the late entrants of Till Death Do Us Part and Bigfoot. The first band which has a very talented young guitarist in Kieran Robertson and a certain Geoff Tate’s daughter(Emily) on vocals. This band are one to watch out for.

I recently caught Bigfoot in Glasgow’s Hard rock Cafe and as always they blew me away. If there is one band you want kicking of festivities it is them, even if they went at it too hard and set the fire alarm off twice. Good luck with the lawsuits boys when people start dying of hyperthermia from standing outside in that wind, sleet and snow.

I arrived mid set of Syteria and quickly got into the venue to check them out as I have been hearing quite a buzz about the band. The theme of this years festival was the original Reading festival(when it was actually good) and with Jax Chambers from Girlschool in the line up the box was well and truly ticked.

The line up out front of three women obviously pleased a lot of the old guard males in the hall and when you start sticking on leather, pvc jumpsuits and high boots the medical staff could have been on standby very early.

The music is what this weekend is about though and as my first band of the weekend I have to say I am happy. The riffs were there, the songs were cracking and in vocalist Julie you have a very powerful woman with a voice to match…what a way to start this thing.

Next up were local lads Attica Rage. The hall was pretty full for these boys set and they brought the octaves a touch higher. This band can now be classed as veterans as they have been going for 10 years and have rocked the stages of many festivals previously. They were a perfect choice this early as it guaranteed punters in and got the party rocking to a heavier beat.

We were treated to a good dose of their classics and finished on the first tribute of the weekend to Malcolm young with “Dirty Deeds Done Dirts Cheap” which for me was genius as its my favourite album and far less well know by the masses. A brilliant shift from the boys.

Now for me old muckers in Stone Broken. It is well known I love this band. I have been at every Scottish show they have played to date and barring injury, death or some crazy idea I need a sex change and I cannot leave the house as it isn’t working out whilst keeping my beard I will be at every one in the future.

If I had to place a bet before this festival and say 100% what band I knew would not disappoint it would be them. They are so focused, so driven and so damned determined to make it in this business that you just have to believe them. This year has been amazing for them and with a record deal and a new album out next year you can bet they will not be low down on festival bills for long.

It was great to see Robyn aloft the boys on the high drum riser and watching her bashing the living daylights out of her kit, mascot shaking in the barrage and hair flying from side to side. The venue itself may not be huge but the stage was and this band filled it with ease. Many times in the past I have watched a band struggle to make the leap from smaller venue to mid size and from mid size to arena. The way this band grab an audience, fill a hall with immense songs and just make you forget life tells me there is only one way for them to go.

Tonight we were treated to new single “Worth Fighting For” with its deep Nickelback feel, “Stay All night”,”Better” and the forever set inclusion in “Wait For you” which was introduced with just one chord to which the crowd went mental.

An absolute belter of a set from the band and the tempo was seriously risen and from this point in the night just took off.

Praying Mantis were the shock of the weekend for me. I first saw them in 1980 with this other small time band, Iron Maiden I think there name was. For me they just didn’t rise above the pulpit of some of the NWOBHM bands at the time and they somehow lost their way. Although I had no high hopes for them I was interested to say the least but the moment vocalist Jaycee opened his mouth I was blown away.

I should have guessed something had changed as a mediocre band will never last this long in the business but I was not expecting a show like this. The soaring vocals, the dual axe attack and songs made in metal heaven. I have seriously had to rethink my opinion of this band and I now look forward to checking out everything I have missed in the years in-between.

If like me you let this band go by you do yourself a favour and check out album “ Sanctuary” and get on this band wagon now. Things have changed and this band is one serious contender.

From the heavier side we get dipped in Blues royalty in The Bernie Marsden Band. The original Whitesnake line up WAS Whitesnake, end of story. My favourite live album is still “Live In The Heart of the City”. The bluesier sound was what made them, not the twiddly, gorgeous guitarists, not the buffont hair or the super glossy sound.

So to see this band take it back to the way it was meant to be was sublime, playing songs like “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues”,” Fool For your Loving” and “”Here I Go Again” with drifter instead of that stupid hobo line was a dream come true and took me back to The Glasgow Apollo. It must have done the same for everyone here as we all sang it like we wrote it(and we sounded better than Mr Coverdale).

It was safe to say this was when my voice started to fail me and my emotions were completely pumped up on alcohol, memories and good times. This was just incredible.

There was no let up with next band Tyketto. The one stage was turned around in 15 minutes like clockwork and I suddenly jumped a decade from 80s to 90s. Three bands stood out for me in the 90s, Thunder, Little Angels and this band. They were my song book of that decade. I travelled far and wide to see all three bands and every time they paid their dues and came up trumps.

Their debut “Don’t Come easy” has been a constant companion since 1990. My love for it has never faded and I think it stands up as one of the best debuts of that decade. A lot of people ask me why I have such a hatred for grunge and the fact this band never made it is one of the main reasons. The bloody tartan shirt, saddo brigade ripped my precious hair metal to the ground and stomped on it with their depressed, mopey lyrics….damn you all to hell ha ha.

I managed to catch the band and Danny on the acoustic stage at Download a few years back and the fire was rekindled, recent album “Reach” is not far behind that debut and to see the band play such an incredible set was a dream come true. The best things I heard afterwards were from people who had never heard the band before and were completely blown away just like I was with that original album.

Can you tell I was looking forward to this? Well with all this expectation I was still knocked for six. Danny has a voice you can pick out from anywhere. With songs like “Wings” and “ Forever Young” my voice was left in bits, no amount of alcoholic lubrication could assist. Add to this a version of Waysted’s “Heaven Tonight” and you really could not make me happier. Yes, Danny replaced original and Scottish singer Fin but we forgave him and it was my first taste of those fantastic pipes.

I hope like the band Thunder this group makes it this time. There is too much talent and incredible songs to see this band fall to the wayside again. Live they are a machine of the top order and long may that continue.

Heavy Pettin’ are the reason I am at winter Storm. I bought a ticket as soon as they were announced, long before I knew I would be covering the event. Why? Well let me tell you a story…

When you were a rock/metal kid in the 80s in Glasgow you had a routine, an unwritten rule that we all abided by. On a Saturday morning you picked out your best(or cleanest) band t-shirt, you picked either a biker, denim ,Afghan or military jacket, you covered it in stupid amounts of patchouli oil and you made your may to town.

First stop was the Glasgow Apollo to purchase a ticket for a show you had saved money for and check out what new bands were announced(yes, kiddies, no internet, no Ticketmaster). You then hung out with mates and if you were lucky there was a band playing that night and you could sneak into the balcony and watch a soundcheck.

You then moved onto the record stores, you trawled through listen’s huge second hand collection and from there to 23rd precinct to see what imports they had that week. By this time you had spent a good 6 hours in Glasgow but it wasn’t finished yet, no, you finished it off in your favourite pub(even though a good many years under age). My choice was always the Burns Hauff. You had a choice of watching a movie on a huge projector on the wall(god, how old do I sound?) or you made your way upstairs and hoped there was a band playing and here was where Heavy Pettin’ came into my life.

I saw many, many bands in that pub and most were mediocre(and that is me being nice) but I sat there with a black and tan and I watched this long blonde haired guy, a man with a Slash hairdo before Slash grew it and an incredible guitarist, my world was changed. It was my very first why are this band in a pub moment. They were far too good.

I told all my mates about this brilliant band I saw in the Hauff and I was mostly treated with disdain with comments like “yeah right, a good band in the hauff” followed with laughter. That all changed as they progressed through Shadows, Rooftops and finally the hallowed and scarily high stage of The Glasgow Apollo.

This was the first local band I had spotted straight away that reach amazing heights. It filled me with such pride to see the record deal, the tours with Kiss and Ozzy, the big videos. They were the cream of the crop locally and I was gutted when it all came to an end way to early so folks, that is why I am here tonight.

I will be honest, I have never been nervous going to see a band, a show is either good, bad or boring but I had just watched the previous bands play bigger and better shows than I had seen them play before. Each one had pushed the bar so high I actually thought there is no way they can live up to the hype I have heaped on them. I was worried about all the people I had spoken to and sang their praise from the 80s till today. I totally felt I was going to end up with egg on my face. I had not seen them for about 30 years, they had not played a gig for 25, fuck me, what was I thinking?

Then the lights went down, the Lion Rampant was in place( the same flag that had adorned every stage they played. Kept all these years by their manager and all round legend Dutch) and those same guys I saw all those years ago strode onto the stage liked they owned it, they passed it on for a few years but now they are back.

My main worry was dissipated as soon as Hamie burst into “Love Times love”, the years rolled back and his voice was just as quirky and amazing live as I remember. From there we went right into “In and Out of love” which had me singing every word(OK, I may have cheated and dusted off the old vinyl last week for a little brush up). I was at the barrier and it could have been the Hauff, Shadows or The Apollo I was that happy and how Hamie has been away from a stage so long I have no idea, the man was made to strut his stuff.

Gordon Bonnar and punky were completely on point as if they had never been away, the bass line, the flying V, this is grade A nostalgia. The new boys also played their part and they got to see a Scottish audience say hello to a band held close to our hearts.

After “Roll the Dice” we run into a three song sing along with “Rock Me”, “Shout It out” and set closer “Hell is Beautiful” and the reception these songs got told you all you needed to know about how good it is to have them back.

The first step has been taken, I am sure they boys were shitting bricks as we say up here. I am sure a lot hinged on tonight’s show for them. I have no doubt they had a lot more worries tonight than the very first time they stood on a pub stage in Glasgow and their smiles told you all you needed to know. I am sure every one of them had the thought “we are back” running through their minds.

You bet your ass they are back and now I want a tour, I want an album, I want the name Heavy Pettin” on everyones lips, phones and Ipods.

What a day Winter Storm, you took me to heaven, you took me to hell and yes, it was beautiful.

Images and words Ritchie Birnie

Winter Storm Fest Day 1

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