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Frontiers Rock UK Festival 2019 O2 Institute Birmingham 2 Feb

 

After many successful festivals across Europe and America Frontiers have brought it to the UK for the first time, showcasing six of the best English acts signed to the Frontiers label, being one of the premiere rock labels in the world the fans were excited to see all the UK based talent on show tonight.

First up a London based three-piece City of Thieves

2019-02-02_Frontiers_01-CityThieves-10the trio are Jamie Lailey Bass, Vocals, Ben Austwick Guitar and Will Richards Drums, I was impressed straight away by Jamie’s powerful throaty vocals and how he immediately interacted with the audience. They play fast and furious rock along with great slow mean and moody songs. Working with Wayward Sons frontman Toby Jepson who produced their debut album Beast Reality released early last year, they have gone from strength to strength and the song Fuel and Alcohol was voted in the New Wave Of Classic Rock poll as one of the best singles of the year, and you could see why, a great song and the crowd sang and clapped along. Their set was strong and with only three in the band they made a great impact, loud and a very impressive stage presence, I had heard a lot about this band and I wasn’t disappointed, a great start to the night.

Second band of the night Doomsday Outlaw:

2019-02-02_Frontiers_02-DoomsdayOutlaw-10five guys from Derbyshire play blues-oriented rock with an early Sabbath vibe at times. Playing songs from their recent album Hard Times I loved their sleaze style image, it suited the Apocalyptic name, Phil Poole lead vocals, Stephen Broughton guitar, new guitarist Alez, Indy bass backing vocals, and John Ironfoot Willis (drums), play tunes with a real groove, influences like Led Zep, Whitesnake, and even the southern boogie bands like Black Stone Cherry can be heard; all sung with Phil’s soulful voice who never stops moving on stage with Jaggeresque/Jarvis Cocker moves, the deep bass played by Indy drove every song along, nice guitar work by Steve and Gavin and the drumming was hard and heavy. Getting lots of airplay from Planet Rock, this band are currently supporting Wayward Sons on their tour and later in the year will be support to the Graham Bonnet Band.

Next up Bigfoot

2019-02-02_Frontiers_03-Bigfoot-1and judging by all the t-shirts I had seen worn they were very popular. A five- piece from Wigan formed in 2014 and through constant gigging and playing at various festivals they have built a big following. Their self-titled album reached No 11 in the Planet Rock magazine readers poll of 2018, and I also understand they are writing new material for their second album to be released some time this year, so plenty more to come from these hard rockers. The band Sean Seabrook Vocals, Sam Millar guitar, Mick McCullagh guitar, Matt Avery bass, and Tom Aspinall drums came onto the biggest cheer of the night so far and their new charismatic singer of about five months had the crowd immediately singing along to Tell Me a Lie, a good mix of early 80s metal laced with a bit of blues; some impressive dual guitar work and some lovely melodic ballads. I could see why they were so popular, with many influences ranging from the Eagles to Pantera. I really liked this band and loved the way they joked and enjoyed themselves on stage as well as delivering a great performance I look forward to seeing them on the road again.

Vega

2019-02-02_Frontiers_04-Vega-7 were the next band to come on, and I would describe them as AOR mixed with a hard rock sound. Formed back in 2009 and the first keyboard of the night, this six-piece are Nick Workman Vocals, twins Tom Martin bass and James Martin Keyboards, Marcus Thurston guitars and MyKey Kew guitars and last but not least Martin (Hutch) Hutchinson on drums. Nick has an incredible range in his voice and a phenomenal falsetto which he uses on many of the songs: he had the crowd joining in the minute they hit the stage on Let’s Have Fun Tonight and the energy and excitement they bring to their performance was amazing. With five studio albums to their name they played songs from their new album Only Human but mixed the brilliant set with older songs too, you can’t escape the AOR label but they bring a hard rock vibe in their style, with influences ranging from Def Leppard and Bon Jovi they definitely have their sound etched from the 80s but what separates them from just being any old AOR band is their diversity, you’re getting a hard and heavy rock sound from them then some quieter songs and ballads, the next minute the two guitarists let rip and both together and individually you get some awesome shredding. They ended the set with Nick jumping into the pit and shaking hands and high fiving the fans. By now the place was rammed and they all witnessed an electrifying performance from Vega tonight, don’t think they are just an AOR band: they are far more than that and the cheers of the crowd and shouts of “more” proved that.

Penultimate band of the night Wayward Sons

2019-02-02_Frontiers_05-WaywardSons-6Toby Jepson the ex-Little Angels /Gun, guitarist and frontman’s new band formed in early 2016, Toby has also produced many albums for rock bands such as The Virgin Marys and Saxon but he has gathered together four great musicians to form the Sons. Guitarist Sam Wood (Treason Kings), Nick Wastell bass (Chrome Molly), Phil Martini drums (Spear of Destiny, Quireboys) and Dave Kemp Keys (Little Angels) performing songs from their 2017 debut album Ghosts of Yet To Come. You could tell by the crowd’s roars of appreciation when they came on stage that this the band that many had been waiting to see tonight, with such an array of talent on stage they couldn’t but give a brilliant performance and this they certainly did, with Toby’s amazing range and vocals which I could listen to all night. Starting with Alive then Ghost, a big fan favourite, Don’t Wanna Go which had nearly everyone in the huge crowd clapping and singing along with, Killing Time a deep bass Black Sabbath vibe to it, Crush with a clever Blondie/Union City blue medley added for good measure. Phil is my kind of drummer, beating the skins like there’s no tomorrow: some amazing tub thumping, and the guitarists all three shone, some great solos and Toby himself duck walking along the stage: a rock and roll master class and the highlight band for me. Their 45-minute set seemed to fly by. Having seen and reviewed them at HRH in 2017 I was impressed with them then, but tonight they showed so much more, they are a band that is really going places, Toby tonight you and the guys smashed it.

The Headliners tonight were Inglorious

2019-02-02_Frontiers_06-Inglorious-2fronted by Nathan James who made his name with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Scorpions Uli John Roth, formed in 2014 Nathan was hoping to go on tour and promote their third album Ride to Nowhere when out of the blue three members of the band up sticks and left and Nathan had the unenviable task of searching for new members to not only learn the new songs but to tour with. He has gathered together a new band now, including a young guitarist just 19 years old Danny Dela Cruz who had played with James in other projects, along with new members Dan Stevens guitar, Vinnie Colla bass, and surviving member Phil Beaver drums. Nathan posted “This is new beginnings for the band now, a different sound and a different line-up”. The band are being heavily promoted by Planet Rock and I was interested to see how they would sound live and if they could deliver, especially after only having a reasonably short time to learn all the songs. Complete with a cool graveyard scene backdrop the band took to the stage followed by Nathan himself to a huge cheer, into the first song Where Are You Now. It wasn’t long before the young guitarist was showing off his skills with an impressive guitar solo and the cheers from the crowd and the smile on Nathan’s face from the reception said it all. It was also possibly a bit of relief that the first song was done and they had nailed it, they settled into the set well playing songs from all three albums in their own style and definitely do sound different to the old band but in a good way, I don’t know if it was nerves on Nathan’s part but he had a few wobbles on some of the numbers tonight, not quite hitting the falsettos he’s known for and a bit pitchy at times but he smiled throughout the whole night and his mic control is brilliant. The songs they play are definitely deep into the 70s and I can understand the comparison with Deep Purple and Sabbath, but all done with a modern feel. Towards the end of the night he thanked the Frontiers label for putting on such a great show and the fans for continuing to support Inglorious and live music. Some of the songs tonight had a real theatrical feel to them atmospheric ethereal and even a nice ballad, but I don’t think you need a long guitar solo half way through, it took away the feeling of the song. I know Nathan is promoting the new band and especially the young guitarist, but there was just one too many guitar solos tonight: he’s a great axeman but I don’t want to hear a solo on nearly every song; rein it in a little bit. Nathan finished an encore up on the balcony and then walking through the crowd and singing with them which was a nice touch. Overall the performance was a bit like the curates’ egg (good in parts): they have a way to go yet but the new brand of Inglorious with more touring ahead and with Nathan at their side will get there I’m sure.

Review by Dave Martin & pics by Carol Henson aka LadyGigger

For Jace Media.

Frontiers Rock UK Festival 2019 O2 Institute Birmingham 2 Feb

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