Winter storm day 2 Dec05

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Winter storm day 2

 

Winter Storm Festival Day Two

Day two started a lot slower than day one. Due to me being wired to the moon like a kid on blue smarties after a hell of a day I was not ready to settle down for bed so I partook in Troon’s ambience, lovely people and very late pub licenses. That is as much of the detail as you are getting but lets just say it meant I was not up at the crack of dawn, jogging along the beach.

This is all part of festival life but the issue here is I can usually turn up at a festival any old time and no one notices. Unfortunately for me my good friends and two of the best upcoming bands in Anchor lane and Black King Cobra were on first…and I missed them.

I had to hang my head in shame and apologise in person to them but it didn’t help. These two bands are going places I can assure you and everyone I spoke to who seen them loved the sets( and the green t-shirts) so I will apologise again in black and white and promise I will make the gig both are playing in the Dreadnaught in Bathgate on 16th December. If you are local make sure you check them out.

Next up is another local bunch in King Lot. The band with the most bizarre merchandise on the planet. They even have their own Irn Bru tablet. The Edinburgh trio are far from a sweet tooth though with their brand of Rock. They done really well with their Tyketto cover of Wings for charity and I was surprised there was no jam(jam/tablet/rock…this was not meant to be a food based review!) last night but the boys do not need to be propped up with any band to ensure an audience has a good time.

They dusted away the hangovers and rocked out. Thanks guys…you got me back on my feet.

I say thank you as I do not think I could have went straight into a Massive Wagons set feeling rough. All that running around, hair waggling and flamingo fucking(dont ask) would have knocked me over.

This band are consistently one of the best live bands in the UK bar none. I was a bit late to the party and only caught them for the first time last year but since that day I have caught them every time. I even had to watch them through a pub window in Camden due to the one in, one out rule and all I could see was Baz’s hair going frantic.

Nobody could ever say these boys take it easy and with some brilliant songs to boot you will always be entertained. They are a brilliant festival band and everyone I spoke to who had not seen them before couldn’t stop speaking about them.

It is great to see they have signed a new record deal and have lined up a UK tour for early 2018. Do not miss this and their brand on fun, loud and high octane rock.

This may get some abuse but the life was squeezed out of the festival by Rock Goddess. I do not know if everyone was drained after the wagons rolled or the hangovers made another plea to be heard but the girls got a very reserved reaction.

You have to hand it to these three, they did change rock and attitudes to females in the business. They also started out in the 70s and are still going strong but for me it just didn’t swing it. I go a long way back with this band as I saw them in the 80s in a co headline tour with Y&T. I saw Y&T a couple of weeks ago and they were as good and as relevant now as they were then. The same cannot be said for Rock Goddess.

The rather empty hall filled up quickly as locals and second time Winter Storm players Mason Hill took the stage. As a local and someone who has seen this band many times and played their EP to death(if it was on vinyl I would be onto my second copy by now) it is easy to forget how good this band are. It has been three months since I had seen them last at yet another sold out headline show and I think the whole excitement about this festival and some of the bands playing meant my excitement had waned slightly.

I had no doubt they would play a great show as I have never see a bad one but when the boys strode out onto the stage and started playing I got that OMG feeling I had the very first time I witnessed them live. This band is class of the highest order. Each member has there place and each one are musicians at the top of their game. It is sometimes difficult to write about the guys as I see them all the time and I don’t want to boost their ego too much but it is difficult not to sing their praises when they knock you back on your feet and give you goosebumps.

They filled their short set with what I call classics and everyone here was singing along. With one EP(I will not stop going on about this) we know the songs inside out. As I was taking photos too I was downstairs and in the circle at which point I watched the packed hall sing along to “Survive”, “Your Memory” and only video song” Now You See Me” and you could feel the love, the pride and the sheer enjoyment of the crowd.

I may joke about the one EP but there are some amazingly exciting things happening in this camp, the record deal with Frontiers and as for the album…well, you will have to wait like the rest of us. All I can say is we were treated to a new song which for me was huge. To overtake the songs I already love with just one play speaks volumes. James is working his skinny little ass off and knowing the man and his own high standards he will not disappoint.

As individuals these boys kick ass. Craig on drums was elevated on the riser. Would have been good to see him but the lights didnt seem to reach that far. Marc and Matt(the hair bear bunch) just have a blast every show, Scott on vocals has grown so much as a front man to when I first saw him. His confidence is sky high and he owns a crowd…he also just happens to have the voice of a siren.

That leaves little old James Bird. The man who lets his guitar speak his genius. He has a whole different level of cool. Like Myles Kennedy or Joe Perry talent seems to ooze from his pores and I am always drawn to him on the stage when it is a flurry of action around him. It is like a calm within the storm. The man with no airs, no graces and supposedly no smiles just holds his chaos in his fingers, passion in his heart and talent in every cell in his body.

When you put this bunch together it is like conjuring a spell and with closing number “ Where I Belong” the little buggers had tears running down my cheeks. Only music can take you to so many places. In that 5 and a half minute song I remembered the first time I saw them, knowing they would make it, it took me to all the highlights music has provided over the years, it gave me a closeness with all my music family here today and the lyrics have held a very different meaning over this last year and that is also down James(OK, I will give you credit sir) and for that alone this band will always be close to my heart. I love you boys and I cannot wait for 2018 and what it brings you.

Tygers of Pan Tang…now there is another name from the past. I have not seen this band since the 80s and back in the day I did like them but over the years the memory faded but tonight that all changed.

The songs came flooding back with a vengeance. I suddenly remembered how good Spellbound and The Cage were. I remember my red vinyl and pic discs with glee and who could forget the great artwork?

The line ups may have changed over the years, no John Sykes anymore but this band are as tight as 80s spandex. Jacopo Mielle on vocals was astounding, he gave the old songs a real burst of energy and with Robb Weir on guitar guiding the band from the heyday this was a real blast from the past and I now need to get a hold of The Wildcat Sessions, Animal Instinct and Ambush.

It is great to see these bands from my youth still going strong and still pushing forward rather than reliving the past…long may it continue.

Dare are up next and after some funny stories from compare and Scottish legend Tom Russell we settle in to the band and the songs. I was never a great Dare fan, for me they veered too much to the softer side of rock but what do I know? Another band going strong, more talented players and a packed hall full of happy fans.

The band entertained but as I have to eat sometime I chose this moment.

The break from the above band meant I was fed, watered, relieved and ready for Graham Bonnet Band and as well as a Reading theme by the end of this weekend a decidedly Rainbow theme was loud and proud(and I am not talking about bungle here people).

This weekend has surely made me feel old, all these bands from my past and Mr Bonnet is lodged in there very tightly. The first rock album I bought was Down To earth. I was only 13 in 1980 but due to very good musical taste cousins I had heard all of Rainbow’s albums to date. I can remember the shop I bought it from, it was clear vinyl and I had to take it back 3 times as it was warped.

And that was when I heard that voice. It was also when I realised this man walked his own path. In a hoard of long haired band members he had short hair, he wore the spiffy clothes. No jeans and t-shirt or spandex for this man and he has stuck by that his whole career. It is why he stuck out, it is why he is still doing what he does and is at the top of his game.

I never saw the down to earth tour so it is great to see songs like “All Night long” performed live by the original singer. His band held up duties perfectly and it made for a memorable set indeed. We were all whisked back to the eighties and my already busted and broken voice was tortured some more.

This man is part of rock history and I hope it’s future for many years to come.

The Quireboys are the reason I love festivals. I know people who stick to main stages, people who only go to bands they know but for me the first two ticks in my box are the tents for new talent and giving some of the bands I had either missed in the past or who I just didn’t rate another chance.

This band fell into the latter. I had seen the band back in the day and they just didn’t do it for me. Spike’s vice just grated on me and on record I thought there was so much better out there but so many people told me how good they were live that I stayed in the hall and kept an open mind. That open mind didn’t take long to be swayed as the man strolled onto the stage and demanded your attention.

If there is a more perfect frontman out there it is difficult to see. He swaggers like Tyler, he has the energy of Dee Snider and he has the patter of Billy Connolly. His voice was just as it was in years gone by but tonight was about a whole performance and he came up trumps. I also realised I knew most of the lyrics to songs like “Hey You”. I still agree lyrical content was a bit weak but this was a festival and the boys brought the party. I think I also put my easily changed mind down to my renewed love of all things 70’s. A big chunk of my gig going these days is watching fresh, young talent like Bad Touch so the switch was easy.

There were some memorable moments like the head falling off his carnation before he threw it out, introducing a song from the White Trash Blues album twice and being told it wasn’t time. Just like the 70s performers this man doesn’t really give a shit. He plays music, he performs and he has a good time doing it…he also looks far too good for his age up there.

My mind was well and truly changed tonight and just like finding a new band I love or reconnecting with old bandsI had forgotten about this makes me happy. I have Winter Storm to thank for so many things it is incredible.

Now to the finale and what was always going to be the dark horse of the festival. With Glen, White and McManus your appetite was whetted from the get go but what would they play? How would they play together? There was a host of question marks around this set but I was hoping for pure gold dripped in Scottish blood.

There is no doubting the calibre of these three men is massive. Doogie White in my opinion is the most underrated singer in this business. Do I even need to give Chris Glen an introduction? The man is a living legend in Scotland and across the world and Paul McManus, well, I just saw him pack out a Glasgow Barrowland with Gun.

The night was also littered with additional stars, the happiest had to be James Bird who looked in awe on that stage surrounded by rock celebs. Another guest was Jools Gizzi from Gun and Doogie informed us that Dante was also in the building but resting up and had given Doogie full permission to go ahead and fuck up the Gun songs included tonight. It may have been a joke but the versions of “Word Up” and “Better Days” were outstanding.

We were treated to some SAHB in “Midnight Moses” which went down a treat for this mostly older crowd. This set was a thing of beauty for us old rockers, seeing band members that had dominated Scottish rock for decades. At some points I realised I was standing with my jaw wide open and staring in disbelief. These guys should tour this as it is far too good for a one off event in a blustery, cold Scottish town but if it is not I can honestly say I witnessed something spectacular.

All of this would have been enough for a memorable show but how this festival ended is a dream come true to any rock fan who lived through the 70/80s. The final song was introduced by Doogie saying Chris Glen said this would not work…well, it is not often people can say Chris was wrong but by god he was so far off the mark it was scary.

The last song was a tribute to all the fallen heroes and there is no way you could have done better as their version of Rainbow’s “Temple of the King” was just magical. Doogie sang this perfectly and done Ronnie James Dio proud. When it finished I had tears in my eyes and when I looked about there was a lot of twinkling eyes.

This one song summed up this festival and my life. The past in all the bands I have witnessed before, The song I first heard as a spotty teenager. Dio who was Rock and Metal personified. The present at this festival, watching bands old and new mix so well, me surrounded with so many friends, the amazing woman I share this musical journey with and what a fantastic climax to an amazing weekend. Then the future, the bands that are brand new who are good enough to take over the torch from the legends, my future in watching them progress and after this weekend knowing Winter Storm is here for good.

This festival was up there as one of my all time favourite ones. From Donnington, Download, Hellfest, Barcelona Rocks, Bloodstock, Wildfire…you name it and they have a run for their money with this one. The good thing is the dates do not clash with any other festival so there is no reason for not attending. This well organised, friendly and fantastic festival will be noted in my gig diary for next year and many more ahead.

Winter Storm you rocked us like a hurricane.

Images and words Ritchie Birnie

 

Winter Storm Day 2

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