Fri 29th Jan 2016
8.30pm Mostly Autumn
10pm Graham Bonnet
11.30pm Mick Ralphs Band
Reds – Stage 2
8.30pm Roscoe Levee and The Southern Slide
5pm These Wicked Rivers
6pm Western Sand
7pm Blood Orange
Sat 30th Jan 2016
2.30pm Aaron Keylock 2015 Introducing Stage winner
8.30pm The Acoustic Parsons Project featuring Lenny Zakatek
10pm Procol Harum
11.45pm Oliver’s Army (Graham Oliver from Saxon)
Reds – Stage 2
1pm John Verity Band
2.30pm Federal Charm
8.30pm Del Bromham
10pm Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
11.30pm Wishbone Ash
4.00pm Trident Waters
5.00pm No Glory
6.00pm Madam Guillotine
Sun 31st Jan 2016
1pm Texas Flood 2015 Introducing Stage winner
2.30pm Big Country
8pm Krissy Matthews Band
9.30pm Ian Hunter & The Rant Band
Reds – Stage 2
1pm Billy Walton Band
2.30pm Russ Ballard
8.30pm Deborah Bonham
11.30pm Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock
3.00pm Seven Sisters
4.00pm Skarlett Riot
5.00pm The Raven Age
6.00pm Jupiter Falls
Butlins is the last place I ever thought I would end up for a rock festival, but here I was at one of their live music weekends Giants of Rock. Not only is the a first for me at said live music weekend, but its actually a first time at Butlins, or any other holiday camp for that matter. You’d have thought that being a child of the 50s and 60s, and from a working class family, I’d have made it to one of many camps prevalent in that era for a family holiday, but no here in 2016 I’m a holiday camp virgin.
Having gone through a painless check-in, I wandered through a maze of chalets to find my ‘apartment’ for the weekend, settled in, and checked out the brochure with the bands timings. Therein lay the first problem of the weekend, clashes on all the bands due to play the main and second stages (there are only 3). Now we all know that all festivals with muliple stages have conflicts, but the organisers here have clashes right across the board, matching timings for both the main stages. It would seem that some planning and sacrifice would be needed.
As the main acts weren’t due to start until later in the evening, I popped along to the ‘Introducing stage’ to check out a couple of the newer bands on show. Opening the event were These Wicked Rivers. With a newer twist to a classic blues sound, it wasn’t a bad start. Next up was Western Sand. I’d seen these guys a couple of years back when they opened for the Black Star Riders and the Dead Daisies, and I was interested to see if there had been any improvement. There was, obviously tighter than the last time, their sound at times reminds me of a young raw Skynyrd, big shoes to fill, but they’re on their way. Unfortunately, that was the last I’d see of the Introducing stage.
The venue ‘Jaks’ was a nightclub, a small nightclub, and once people started arriving in numbers it became claustrophobic and the sound suffered, something that would happen at the second stage venue, ‘Reds’, throughout the weekend.
Before the start of the evening’s entertainment I had to make the first choices of the weekend on who to see. My choices would be Mostly Autumn, Snakecharmer and Mick Ralphs.
Mostly Autumn should have become one of the biggest bands of the 90s, but for some reason they didn’t. With music heavily influenced by 1970s progressive rock, the band fuse Celtic themes, hard rock and strong, emotional melodies. I particularly like lead singer Olivia Sparnenn’s voice, which had a haunting sound during the slower ballads, but still had the strength to rock it out when required. This was one of my best picks of the weekend.
I chose Snakecharmer over Graham Bonnet’s band for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve always liked Laurie Wisefield’s guitar playing, and secondly I’d spoken to one or two people who’d seen Bonnet recently and were disappointed with his voice, so the charmers it would have to be. The set started late due to problems with Wisefield’s rig (this wouldn’t be the last time this would happen over the weekend), but once they got warmed up, the audience was treated to some songs from their own albums, sprinkled in with some classic Whitesnake tunes. A lot of people were saddened when Micky Moody left the band late last year, but in his first gig, new boy Simon McBride certainly cut the mustard, and might just take this band into a new direction.
Michael Geoffrey Ralphs is rock royalty. Founding member of both Mott The Hoople and Bad Company, he has been one of my guitar heroes for many a year. I guess when you have such a back catalogue of hits like Ralphs has it must be hard to choose what to play. What we got this evening was a mix of good old fashioned blues, intertwined with some old favourites thrown in there for good measure.
Saturday started with the unusual choice of club covers band Freebird. Being a big Skynyrd fan I had to try out a band with a name like that didn’t I? I say unusual choice, because with all the bands out there, it seems strange to bring in a covers band, and then put them on the main stage. However, that apart, they did do a sound job, and in Steve Lawton they have a very good guitarist.
The other act on the afternoon schedule was Aaron Keylock. Keylock won a vote of attendees in 2015, who picked out the best acts on the Introducing stage, which meant he’s been brought back and allowed a main stage slot. The young man certainly has talent of that there is no doubt, with some superb guitar licks, and he has been opening for the likes of Blackberry Smoke and The Cadillac Three. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest that sooner rather than later he’ll be headlining shows of his own.
My evening choices would be The Acoustic Parsons Project featuring Lenny Zakatek, Procol Harum and Wishbone Ash. The 10pm choice was very hard, as I would like to have seen both Procol Harum and Steve Harley, but because of the stages they played, Harum won.
The Acoustic Parsons Project is an offshoot of the more fame Alan Parsons project. I say offshoot in that Lenny Zakatek was a studio vocalist with the Parsons Project. Normally singing with a larger band, tonight he showcased Parsons Project songs ‘acoustically’ with just a guitar player and keyboard player. I have to say I never heard anything by Alan Parsons, but Zakatek has a great bluesy voice, and put on a good, if laid back, show.
Some people get Procol Harum, some don’t. I guess you have to love Prog Rock, and the sometimes long winded stories that the songs tell. I really enjoyed this set, classics such as The Devil Came From Kansas, Pandora’s Box and of course A Whiter Shade Of Pale. I heard a couple of punters say after the set that Gary Brooker’s voice had gone. Totally disagree with that, it seemed stronger than ever, well as strong as a 70-year-old rockers can be. It’ll do for me every time.
Downstairs to the second stage for the final act of the evening, Wishbone Ash. Now everyone who knows me knows that Wishbone Ash are one of my favourite bands, but it’s been nearly five years since I last saw them. Way too long. The set didn’t start well with a delayed start, once again due to sound problems. This meant that due to restrictions they only got an hour. In that time though they managed to fit in most of the old favourites the audience no doubt wanted to hear, Blowin’ Free, The King Will Come, Warrior and Throw Down the Sword, before finishing with Living Proof and Open Road. The venue was packed again, perhaps too full, with many people leaving because of this. Note to self, go see this band again soon, at a proper venue and with a full set.
Sunday started with another of last year’s Introducing Stage winners, Texas Flood. As with Aaron Keylock, it would be no great surprise if these guys are soon filling bigger venues than this. Full of energy, screaming licks from guitarist Tom Sawyer, superb bass riffs from Tom Williams and Ben Govier on drums (you’d have got a bigger build up Ben had you not pulled a face at me – big LOL here).
Following on from Texas Flood were Big Country. Now I would never have thought I would say this, but Big Country rocked. Still with founding members Bruce Watson and Mark Brzezicki, they also have Simon Hough (doing his best to replace the sadly missed Stuart Adamson) on vocals and Bruce’s son Jamie on guitar. They had to borrow Matt Pegg from Procol Harum to do a stint on bass. A fast paced, in your face set, culminated with the band’s biggest hits Fields of Fire and In a Big Country.
First up in the evening line-up was the Krissy Matthews Band. I only caught a few minutes of these guys, but they sounded OK. More laid back than the other two newer bands that had played the main stage earlier in the piece, but they are a band I will definitely check out later.
A quick trip downstairs once again, just in time to catch the start of the Deborah Bonham Band. Sister of the late Zeppelin drummer John, Bonham has been recording and touring since the mid 80s. Described recently by French Press as the “Princess of Rock”, she regularly plays festivals throughout Europe. I find it hard to understand why she has not made a bigger name for herself, as she showed with tonight’s performance what a great rock/blues voice she has.
Saturday had its rock icon with Mick Ralphs, Sunday had Ian Hunter former bandmates in Mott The Hoople. Looking nowhere near his age (he’s 76 now) he and his band rocked the main stage for nearly an hour and a half. Lots of great Hoople hits, Once Bitten Twice Shy, All the Young Dudes and All the Way from Memphis to name but three.
I also wanted to try and catch Nazareth, but it was disappointing. Over half an hour late, again because of sound problems, I left early because, for me at least, they were poor. I’d never seen them before, but friend who love them told me they’re a band not to miss. I’m afraid I now have to disagree with them. Dan McCafferty was always going to be hard to replace. Similar to say Freddie Mercury with Queen, their vocals are so unique, once they’re gone you just can’t replace them. This is no slight on current vocalist Carl Sentance, but it just isn’t the same.
Unfortunately due to an early start the following morning, I missed both closing acts on Sunday, Stray and Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock, but by all accounts they seemed to have finally sorted out the sound in ‘Reds’ for Schenker, and his performance was ‘electric’, to quote one attendee.
All in all, it was a decent weekend. The quality of the acts was good, but the quality of the venues well that’s another thing. Many people I spoke to were of the same opinion as me, that if this festival is to grow, then some changes must be made. Centre Stage (main) is fine, but should be used as the second stage. The venue has a large (unused) stage on the Skyline Pavilion and would be much better used for the main stage acts. This would then mean that the Introducing Stage could be moved to ‘ Reds’, thus preventing overcrowding and hopefully the bad sound and lighting which plagued the weekend. Just a thought!
Aaron Keylock photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156434990520177.1073741877.748680176&type=3
Acoustic Parsons Project ft Lenny Zakatek photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435186970177.1073741878.748680176&type=3
Big Country photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435291765177.1073741881.748680176&type=3
Deborah Bonham Band can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435327560177.1073741882.748680176&type=3
Freebird photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435350775177.1073741883.748680176&type=3
Ian Hunter and the Rant Band photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435429950177.1073741886.748680176&type=3
Krissy Matthews Band photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435483220177.1073741887.748680176&type=3
Mostly Autumn photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435510650177.1073741888.748680176&type=3
Nazareth photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435529790177.1073741889.748680176&type=3
Procol Harum photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435555250177.1073741890.748680176&type=3
Snakecharmer photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435582200177.1073741891.748680176&type=3
Texas Flood photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435595460177.1073741892.748680176&type=3
Wishbone As photographs can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156435640630177.1073741894.748680176&type=3
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.
Crash Landing | Burning the System | Life Is Beautiful | Too Close to Call | Singer in a Band | Hearts and Bones | Renegade
Black Star Riders setlist
Bloodshot | Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy cover) | Soldierstown | Charlie I Gotta Go | Are You Ready (Thin Lizzy cover) | Hey Judas | Through the Motions |
Waiting for an Alibi (Thin Lizzy cover) | Hoodoo Voodoo | All Hell Breaks Loose | The Boys Are Back in Town (Thin Lizzy cover) | Bound for Glory | Blindsided | Kingdom of the Lost | Finest Hour | Emerald (Thin Lizzy cover) | The Killer Instinct | Rosalie (Bob Seger cover) | Jingle Bells (Edison Male Quartette cover) |Whiskey in the Jar (Thin Lizzy cover)
I decided the other week that I would give the Def Leppard/Whitesnake/Black Star Riders gig in Newcastle a miss for a couple of reasons. Firstly the last couple of times I’d seen the 2 headliners I was far from impressed. With the Lepps, musically great, but I felt Joe Elliott’s vocals were on the wain. Similarly with Whitesnake, Coverdale’s voice just isn’t what it was, and he spent a massive 15 minutes off stage for various solos. Finally, with the Riders being the opening act, they were only getting 40 minutes. If you go to see one of your favourite bands, you want to see a full set.
So, I ended up at the Wulfren Hall in Wolverhampton to catch the BSR headline show, which they managed to fit in on an spare evening when the older headlining bands needed a rest (tongue in cheek).
Opening the night’s festivities were the London based trio Leogun. The band is Tommy Smith (Guitar & Vocals), Matt Johnson (Bass) and Michael Lloyd (Drums). It was a short but quite impressive set by the band, Tommy Smith has a great voice, and isn’t a bad guitarist either. They’re currently out on tour, so check your local listings, and if they’re playing near you, go check them out, they’re worth a look.
Second up were Toseland, fronted by former world superbike champion James Toseland. Following the premature end of his racing career, Toseland turned his focus to his first love – music. After parting with his then band Crash, he started again with Toseland. The band are completed by Zurab Melua (Guitars), Ed Bramford (Guitars), Roger Davis (Bass) and Joe Yoshida (Drums). As with Leogun, I was surprised at how good these guys were. The play with a great old fashioned classic rock style. I managed to get a few words with James later in the evening, and his enthusiasm and work ethic shone through in our conversation. He said it hadn’t been easy, coming from success and being top of the tree in superbikes, the business class travel and posh hotels, to loading and driving the gear for the band, basically doing most things himself. With the passion he has, but most of all with some great music, I have no doubt that this band will succeed. Another one to check out if they come to a venue near you.
Finally, the Black Star Riders. Coming to the end of a 6 weeks tour, with headlining shows and as I said earlier now opening for Def Leppand and Whitesnake. When I last saw the band at Moondance Jam in July, they had improved greatly since I last saw them in 2013, and I was hoping for further improvement this time around, especially as they’ve been given the chance to tighten up with this long tour. Improvement! you bet. From the opening chords of Bloodshot, through to the end with Whiskey in the Jar, the band had the very enthusiastic crowd in the palm of their hands. Despite now having their own identity, the band haven’t forgotten their Thin Lizzy roots with the inclusion of classics such as ‘Are You Ready’, ‘Waiting for an Alibi’, ‘Emerald’ and of course ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’. It was interesting though to notice that the crowd responded more to the bands own compositions, than the Lizzy songs. I guess it shows just how far they have come in a few short years. They have more to offer though, and as singer Ricky Warwick pointed out, they are just at the beginning and there’s plenty more to come, before thanking the audience for their continued support.
A special thank you to Adam Parsons (Siren Management) for allowing me backstage after the show, and for the guys in the band for kindly signing some stuff for me. 5 of the nicest guys in rock you’ll ever wish to meet.
Black Star Riders photos can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156280452865177.1073741876.748680176&type=3
Toseland Photos can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156280409185177.1073741874.748680176&type=3
Leogun photos can be found here : https://www.facebook.com/ian.routledge.50/media_set?set=a.10156280387280177.1073741873.748680176&type=3
It’s been 4 years since I last attended Moondance Jam, and I have to admit I’ve missed it.
Moondance Jam was started in 1992 by Bill and Kathy Bieloh, and was a modest event, with local bands playing on stages made from straw bales, and a fairground feel to it. Over the years however, it has developed into a huge, well run rock festival, and has hosted some of the biggest names in the business. Bands such as Kiss, Judas Priest, Journey and Def Leppard have travelled to this small town in northern Minnesota to take to the Moondance stage.
In recent years things have changed slightly, with the line-ups no longer consisting of solely “Classic” bands. In To keep the festival moving forward, “newer” rock bands have been added to attract a new generation of festival followers, and this year is no exception, with the Jam hosting the likes of Papa Roach and Shinedown.
Another newer act who were to have appeared, in fact they were due to close Thursday night, was Nickelback. Then the ‘Curse of Jim Morrison’ struck Moondance once again. The curse is so named as one of the first ‘late’ cancellations was the Doors of the 21st Century, who had to withdraw because of naming rights. Since then the curse strikes every so often with the likes of the New Cars, Thin Lizzy and The Family Stone all pulling out very close to the festival. This year Nickelback had to pull not only MDJ but the remainder of their US tour as singer Chad Kroeger needed urgent surgery on his vocal chords.
As with previous years Moondance managed to secure a replacement, with the Red Rocker Sammy Hagar and special guest Michael Anthony, stepping up to fill the closing spot.
Wednesday 15th July – Pre Jam Party
7:30 Alive: Pearl Jam Tribute
9:00 Fabulous Armadillos
In order to cut down on entry congestion, Moondance came up with the idea some years ago to allow campers the chance to arrive a day early. To entertain those early birds they provide some free entertainment, now forever known as the Pre-Jam Party. It normally consists of excellent local/state bands playing the main stage, along with others playing the Moondance Saloon stage.
Opening up the whole event this year are Alive – A Tribute to Pearl Jam. The band consists of Scott K Vocals, Brian Waterman Drums, Paul Remillard Guitars, Brian Hollenbeck Bass/Vocals and Leni DiMancari Guitars/Vocals. Unfortunately I don’t know a great deal of their music, however according to aficionados of the band, Alive did a great job of covering the early Pearl Jam sound, and I certainly enjoyed their set.
The Fabulous Armadillos are an 8 piece group, with 3 lead singers, who offer a large range of classic covers. This evening the assembled throng were treated to a great range of songs from Journey to The Who, Deep Purple to The Eagles. I particularly enjoyed their cover of Purple’s ‘Highway Star’, with singer Billy Scherer hitting notes that Ian Gillan certainly can’t these days.
Closing the party as always was Hairball. Now don’t get me wrong these guys are fun, but perhaps Moondance could think of a change, as they’ve closed the Pre-Jam Party for a number of years in a row, certainly the last 4 or 5. The band is a tribute to all things “Arena Rock”. They juggle 3 singers who between them bang out hits from Van Halen, KISS, Motley Crue, Queen, Journey, and Aerosmith to name but a few. Perhaps I’m wrong in asking for a change, because the audience adores them, they put on a great show, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.
Thursday 16th July – Day One
3:00 Pat Travers Band
5:00 Pop Evil
7:00 Black Stone Cherry
9:00 Papa Roach
As I said in my introduction, over the last few years Moondance has moved away from being a totally classic rock festival. Thursday (day one) now seems to be the “newer” band day (or that may just be coincidence), so it seems rather strange that today’s menu starts with classic rock guitarist Pat Travers. Canadian Travers hit the big time in the mid-70’s, and whilst he’s never reached the heights that perhaps his talent deserved. He is a steal for the festival in the opening 3pm slot. As usual he provided the audience with a slick sounding blues set, and an excellent cover version of Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’.
Pop Evil are the first of the new bands on show today, and one (won’t be the first) I’ll to have admit I hadn’t heard of when they were announced. The band is made up of Leigh Kakaty lead vocals, Nick Fuelling lead/rhythm guitar/backing vocals, Dave Grahs rhythm/lead guitar/backing vocals, Matt DiRito bass/backing vocals and Josh Marunde (AKA Chachi Riot) on drums. Although unknown to me, they seem to be well known by the younger generation, and have made an impact, especially on radio, with a number of their singles getting plenty of airtime. Despite some heavy rain at the start of the set, the band attracted a large audience, and finished in fine style with their #1 US Hard Rock single ‘Trenches’.
And then it happened! I was just about to head from the campsite to check out Black Stone Cherry when the heavens opened. I don’t mean rain, I don’t even mean heavy rain, I mean apocalyptic rain. This rain was so heavy it almost hurt when it hit you. Black Stone Cherry, God love them, did try to start, but had to abandon their set after 4 or 5 songs, due to the danger. Papa Roach never even struck a chord as it was announced that due to the weather all performances on the main stage were done.
This wasn’t going to stop Mr Hagar though. Somehow his roadies and Moondance backstage staff managed to get his gear to the covered Saloon. He played for over an hour to those inside, and many hundreds of brave souls outside, ending with the Beastie Boys ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)’, which in the circumstances was quite apt.
Friday 17th July – Day Two
3:00 Honeymoon Suite
7:00 Jefferson Starship
9:00 Huey Lewis & the News
11:00 Doobie Brothers
It was incredible after the monsoons of Thursday night, the main areas of the festival and campgrounds were almost dry by midday Friday. Apart that is from the lakes which sat in the low lying areas, some upwards of 5 feet deep.
Friday to had Moondance back to the festival I first came to. We the 80’s with Honeymoon Suite and Vixen, through to the classic rock sounds of Jefferson Starship, Huey Lewis and the News and closing with the Doobie Brothers.
Honeymoon Suite were formed in Canada (is this an invasion from over the border this year?) at the beginning of the 80’s. I’ll admit to never having heard of the band when they were announced. As always though I went in with an open mind, because that’s what festivals are all about. There always seems to be a surprise at here, a band that you maybe haven’t heard of, or know little about, that you end up really enjoying. For me, this year it was Honeymoon Suite. They have a great pop/rock sound which provided easy listening in the Friday afternoon sunshine (yes it was sunny!!).
Not wishing to be sexist, but I guess Vixen were every young hot blooded rockers dream in the late 80’s. Hot girls, dressed in leather and playing some kick ass rock music. The band now consists of Janet Gardner lead vocals/rhythm guitar, Gina Stile lead guitar/backing vocals, Share Pedersen bass/backing vocals and Roxy Petrucci drums/backing vocals. I read somewhere that these days the girls all have other jobs; it’s the way of the world isn’t it. Apart that is from drummer Roxy, who is as Gina and Share put it in an interview in 2014, simply a ROCK STAR. What a performance they put in. They hit the crowd with a greatest hits performance, including their biggest hits ‘How Much Love’, ‘Edge of a Broken Heart’ and an excellent cover of Neil Young’s ‘Rockin in a free World’. Oh and being sexist again, they’re still hot!
There seem to have been so many members of the Jefferson family over the years. They started as Jefferson Airplane, then transformed into tonight’s band Jefferson Starship, who begat Starship, then Mickey Thomas’ Starship – well you get the idea. Jefferson Starship was formed in the early 1970’s when Airplane seemed to have run its course. The band still has two original members in Paul Kantner and David Freiberg, which may be two more than other early 70’s bands that still tour today. Their set started slowly, with Kantner seemingly having major problems with one of his guitars, which had his guitar tech running backwards and forwards. In the end he left the stage, lit up a cigarette and stood on the side while the other members of the band continued without him. Eventually, guitar now working to his satisfaction, he returned, and we were treated to hit after hit, with (not surprisingly) ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody to Love’ being the stand out songs.
Huey Lewis and The News closed Moondance 13, my first visit to the festival, and they put on a great show that night. Currently on a co-headling tour with the evening’s closing act The Doobie Brothers, Huey and the boys have so many great hits to choose from, it must be very hard for them to pick a set each evening. Tonight’s performance was, well outstanding. Lewis has such an easy going charm about him, which comes across when interacting with the audience. The a cappella section with the rest of The News was superb, as were ‘Doing It All for My Baby’ and of course ‘The Power of Love’.
Closing the evening were The Doobie Brothers. The band last played Moondance in 2006, a year I sadly missed, so I was really looking forward to the show. Like Jefferson Starship, they can still boast two original members in Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons. The Doobies have always prided themselves on smooth harmonious vocals, combined with a mix of rock and blues. Having looked forward to this for a while, I have to say I was a little disappointed in the set. Maybe it was the fact there was a lot of early stuff that only Doobies fans would know well, or because their set was a little ‘laid back’ after Huey, but at times they did lose a lot of the crowd. It was a little like the year The Allman Brothers followed Lynyrd Skynyrd, an upbeat set followed by one not so upbeat. After all being said though, it was good to hear the likes of ‘Long Train Running’ and ‘Listen To The Music’ played on the Moondance stage.
Saturday 18th July – Day Three
5:00 Black Star Riders
7:00 Finger Eleven
9:00 Peter Frampton
Day 3 and it’s my birthday. Wasn’t it nice for Moondance to arrange to have two of my favourite bands to play for me today! If only that was the case, but as it happens with Thundherstruck and the Black Star Riders on early, it was a great start to the celebration.
Thundherstruck have played the Jam on many occasions, but for those who don’t know, they are a five piece all girl AC/DC tribute band from California. Fronted by Dyna Shirasaki who does a great job of both Bon Scott (cap off) and Brian Johnston (cap on), the rest of the girls are Diana Widegren rhythm guitar, Tina Wood who plays some great Angus riffs on lead guitar, Andrea Zermano bass and Stephanie Leigh on drums. Sometimes it’s like having the real AC/DC up on stage, just these girls are better looking!!!! Once again they attracted a large audience, larger than some of the later bands, which shows just how much Moondance Jammers love them.
The Black Star Riders morphed from being Thin Lizzy in 2012, when four of the then band members decided it was time to retire the name. I for one was very disappointed when they did this, but totally understood the reasons why. They were about to produce a new album, and in doing so wanted their own identity, and boy have they done just that. Fans waiting to hear lots of Lizzy and just a few BSR songs would have been disappointed, because as I’ve just said this band now has its own identity, and plenty of material from two solid if not bestselling albums. The current line-up of Ricky Warwick vocals/guitar, Scott Gorham lead guitar, Damon Johnson lead guitar, Robbie Crane bass and Jimmy DeGrasso drums, do however still boast that ingrained Thin Lizzy twin lead guitar sound. As usual these guys didn’t disappoint. A cool mixture of their own material and Thin Lizzy hits with outstanding performances of ‘Bound For Glory’, Kingdom Of The Lost’, ‘Soldierstown’ and ‘Bloodshot’ from their own catalogue, and ‘Emerald’ and ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ from Thin Lizzy. Only disappointment was the size of the crowd. I know people know Thin Lizzy and was expecting more because of this. Perhaps after this performance, word will now go around the US at how good this band actually is.
Finger Eleven are the third band this year that I have heard nothing of, and another part of the Canadian invasion for this year’s Jam. I suppose because they are slightly better known Stateside, have had more radio play time, and have had some US and Canadian chart success, it has put them higher up the pecking order than BSR in the 7pm slot, but really! (That’s just an observation, not a gripe). I wish I could say I enjoyed their set, but this just isn’t my type of music. As soon as I see guitarists trying to headbutt the stage and thrash about, I tend to switch off. The younger element of the crowd enjoyed them however, so they did go down well.
It’s been 15 years since Peter Frampton played Moondance. I know they have tried on several occasions to get him back, but have just failed to do so. 2015 is the year they made it happen, and I know of many many people who are very happy with this signing. Bigger in the US than his UK home, he started his career at a very early age, joining first The Herd, and then forming Humble Pie with Steve Marriott. His biggest success however, is and probably always be, the album “Frampton Comes Alive”. Usually slated as being one if the best, if not the best live rock album of all time, it catapulted him to stardom in 1976. Now aged 65, it only showed once, when he attempted to kick a beach ball off stage, and ended up flat on his back! For a moment I feared the worst as roadies rushed to pick him up, but he was quickly back in the swing, and joking about his little mishap. It has to be said the man is an excellent guitarist and showed it during tunes such as ‘Baby I Love Your Way’, ‘Show Me The Way’ and according to a friend, the longest ever version (at 19 minutes) of ‘Do You Feel Like We Do’.
Shinedown are as Moondance put it, indisputably one of the biggest rock bands over the last ten years. Millions of albums sold, playing to sell out audiences, and yet! I know very little about them. I suppose that’s my bad again for not following up on newer bands. I do know however, that they have a big reputation to follow, coming from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s hometown of Jacksonville Florida (in fact they often include a cover of Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” in their set. Writers have characterized the band as hard rock, alternative metal and post-grunge, and I have to say after listening to the set it is hard to put them in one classification. I’m not sure whether I enjoyed the band or not, for me there were too many ‘add-ons’, vocally and instrumentally. A solid if unspectacular performance.
And so ends another year of great music, friends and all things Moondance Jam. Overall it’s been yet another success, and that is totally down to the Bieloh family and their staff. When Bill Bieloh sadly passed in 2010, they could quite easily have called it a day, but they didn’t. They picked up the mantle, and ran with it, meaning today it’s still one of the best rock festivals around. It will be interesting to see what Moondance 2016 has to offer, it’s 25th anniversary.
From me a big thank you to the Bielohs (Kathy, Jon and Bri), Bernie Schumacher, Mark Kirchhoff and Kevin Abernathy for all the help they continually offer. All my friends at Camp Howler, Lisa, Eric, Chris, Troy, Sam, Lori et al, for getting this greenhorn through his first years camping experience. Camps Hippy and Nisswa for putting on some great parties. Carrie, Greeter, Hippy, Toots and way too many others to mention. Laura and Kel for getting me there and back, I couldn’t do this without you. If I haven’t mentioned you, please forgive me, there are just too many names for an old man to remember.
Full photograph albums can be found at : http://s16.photobucket.com/user/Ian_R/library/Moondance%20Jam%2024?sort=3&page=1
The Chain | You Make Loving Fun | Dreams | Second Hand News | Rhiannon | Everywhere | I Know I’m Not Wrong | Tusk | Sisters of the Moon | Say You Love Me | Big Love | Landslide | Never Going Back Again | Over My Head | Gypsy | Little Lies Gold Dust Woman | I’m So Afraid | Go Your Own Way
World Turning (Including Drum Solo) | Don’t Stop | Silver Springs
I’ve been lucky enough to see Fleetwood Mac before; alas it was without Christine McVie, who I have always thought was the heart and soul of ‘The Mac’. It’s nearly 40 years since the band released the “Rumours” album, which catapulted it to global stardom. Since then, the band has of course gone through well publicised trials and tribulations, breakups and reunions. Ms McVie ‘retired’ to rural England in 1998 to be nearer her family and it was during her hiatus that I managed to catch my one and only gig with the band. Luckily for me, and all Fleetwood Mac fans, she has now come out of that retirement, and returned in 2014. So now the ‘fab 5’ are back together and in the middle of yet another world tour, aptly named “On With The Show”.
Before the gig I managed to blag myself a meet and greet with Mr Fleetwood himself. Firstly let me say what an amiable chap he is. You never know what to expect from celebrities, some are good some are bad, but Mick Fleetwood ranks very highly among those I have been lucky enough to meet. After a quick chat to the ensemble, during which he that it was an honour for him and the rest of the band to continue on this journey which is Fleetwood Mac. He also expressed gratitude that after all these years people still paid out their hard earned cash to come along and see the band. After these opening formalities the obligatory photo shoot in front of his drum kit, but of most interest to me, there followed a 45 minute Q&A session on all things from Peter Green to his restaurant in Hawaii. Some great stories, and I think he would still have been there come show time if his manager hadn’t dragged him away.
And so to the main event. Led on stage by Fleetwood, and to the thumping beat which is the introduction to ‘The Chain’, the band arrived to rapturous applause. It was a “Rumours” fest for the opening songs, with ‘You Make Loving Fun’, ‘Dreams’ and ‘Second Hand News’ following the opener. A couple of things quickly became evident; the first was that no matter how good the backing singer, the harmonies and lead vocals offered by McVie had been sorely missed. The second was that although Stevie Nicks’ voice has changed over the years, it’s now deeper and earthier, but she can still belt out a good ballad with the rest of them.
Hit followed hit, with ‘Rhiannon’ swiftly followed by the McVie penned ‘Everywhere’ from the “Tango In The Night” album. “Tusk” then got an airing with ‘I Know I’m Not Wrong’, ‘Tusk’ itself (without the marching band, but with a marching McVie on electric accordion), and this segment closed with ‘Sisters Of The Moon’. I say segment, because there was an intermission at this point, without an actual intermission. All the members apart from Lindsay Buckingham left the stage, and he went into this long story about love and angst, before finally getting into ‘Big Love’. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the song, but to drag it out as he did, would have sent me to the bar if I drank these days and the beer hadn’t been nearly £6 a pint!!!
Nicks then joined Buckingham on stage for the next slot in the “Stevie & Lindsay show” for ‘Landslide’, which I do like, and as I stated earlier in the piece it suits Nicks’ earthier tone. Then we had a problem. I really love the song ‘Never Going Back Again’, but between the two of them, they murdered it, and I wasn’t happy. Anyway, mini rant over, back to the full band, and another McVie penned track from the “Fleetwood Mac” album, ‘Over My Head’. Another small break, another story, this time from Nicks’ and how she went shopping in Velvet Underground in the late 60s, and felt the spirit of Janis Joplin, before writing ‘Gypsy’, which was the next song by the way. Back to “Tango In The Night” with ‘Little Lies’, before Nicks gave us ‘Gold Dust Woman’, which I have to admit dragged on a little. The heavier (totally unlike the Mac of this era) ‘I’m So Afraid’ preceded the final song of the set ‘Go Your Own Way’, which had everyone dancing in the aisles.
So to the encore, which started with ‘World Turning’ from the “Fleetwood Mac” album, and as the band leader is a drummer, we had a drum solo, which allowed Fleetwood to go just a little manic with the help of some crowd participation. The backing band were then introduced to the audience, which I have no problem with, but then to introduce the main cast (like everyone doesn’t know who Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham is), perhaps an ego trip too far? Especially when for the umpteenth time in the evening Ms McVie was welcomed back into the fold. I think at this stage she was definitely looking slightly embarrassed by all the praise being heaped upon her. Finally back to the music, with ‘Don’t Stop’, and the closer ‘Silver Springs’. I have to confess a strange choice to end the show, a song that never made it to an album even, especially with several more great hits sitting unused.
All in all, a wonderful evening, with over two hours of great entertainment. My only gripes were the fact that the setlist seemed a little upside down, it started off at a great pace, but finished with some lesser known songs that could perhaps have been fitted in mid-set. Oh, and no ‘Songbird’, a major disappointment for me personally, as it’s one of my favourite songs ever. Wrapped knuckles Fleetwood Mac!!
Better late then never. As everyone who knows me will atest, I loved Thin Lizzy both old and new generations, and was somewhat aghast when in 2012, four members of the band Ricky Warwick, Scott Gorham, Damon Johnson and Marco Mendoza, decided to put the name to bed for a while, and re-incarnate themselves as the Black Star Riders with Jimmy DeGrasso replacing original drummer Brian Downey. Their first album, “All Hell Breaks Loose”, was of course pure Thin Lizzy as the songs were originally written to become the first Lizzy album for 30 years.
“The Killer Instinct” is the band’s second album band, who have had a line up change since album one, with Robbie Crane replacing Marco Mendoza on bass.The title track is pure Lizzy, with Ricky Warwick’s vocals a fitting tribute to the great Phil Lynott. “Bullet Blues” track 2 is a heavier rocking with cracking tag guitar solos from Gorham and Johnson. “Finest Hour” is a lighter track, which has daresay a ‘poppy’ feeling. “Soldierstown” takes you back to the Thin Lizzy days of “Emerald” and “Black Rose” with its Celtic sound and historic references about terrorism in Ireland. The chants which are heard throughout the song are stirring and Ricky Warwick vocals are once more spot on.
Following on is “Charlie I Gotta Go”, inspired by Charles Manson, and the guitar solo on the track is outstanding. The winding six-minute ballad which is “Blindsided” does as good rock ballads should, growing from a quiet opening, building up through a riff laden middle section, and ending back at it’s melodic start. “Through The Motions” and “Sex, Guns And Gasoline” combine the classic Lizzy sound with the new BSR modern version, which results in a raw hard rock mixture, using tasteful guitar licks and a blazing solos. The final tracks are the Celtic sounding “Turn In Your Arms” and “You Little Liar” which has Warwick once again paying homage to Lynott with his rasping growly vocals.
Thin Lizzy were a legendary hard rock act, and it would be unfair to Gorham and co not to expect them to write in a similar vein, in fact fans of both bands probably expect it. While Black Star Riders will no doubt continue their homage to Phil Lynott and all the great guitarists who made Thin Lizzy what they were, this band kicks enough butt in their own right to push forward into the future, knowing not only are they carrying the legacy, but they now have their own identity which will hopefully continue to bear fruit for many years to come. “All Hell Breaks Loose” started the new revolution with some killer tracks, “The Killer Instinct” has built on that, and then some.
Ricky Warwick – vocals, guitar
Scott Gorham – lead guitar
Damon Johnson – lead guitar
Robbie Crane – bass guitar
Jimmy DeGrasso – drums
1. Killer Instinct
2. Bullet Blues 3.
5. Charlie I Gotta Go
7. Through The Motions
8. Sex, Guns & Gasoline
9. Turn In Your Arms
10. You Little Liar
Black Star Riders Announce New Album “The Killer Instinct”
23rd February 2015
UK & Eire Tour – March 2015
Fresh from the critically acclaimed debut album “All Hell Breaks Loose” in 2013, Black Star Riders are set to release a new studio album, “The Killer Instinct”, in February 2015. The album will be followed by a full UK and Eire co-headline tour.
The band toured 2013’s “All Hell Breaks Loose” for a year – playing across the globe. October 2014 saw them gather in Nashville, TN and enter the studio with heralded producer Nick Raskulinecz (Rush, The Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains, Mastodon) to start recording the follow up. The result is The Killer Instinct. Ricky Warwick explains, “Life’s not fair, never has been, never will. Sometimes you have to live with a killer instinct just to survive in the ongoing pursuit of happiness. Because nobody can do for you what you should be doing for yourself.”
Full tracklisting is as follows
1. The Killer Instinct
2. Bullet Blues
3. Finest Hour
5. Charlie I Gotta Go
7. Through The Motions
8. Sex, Guns & Gasoline
9. Turn In Your Arms
10. You Little Liar
The energy in the studio from a year of touring, and Black Star Riders gelling as a creative force has resulted in a truly powerful sophomore effort. From the Irish-tinged rock of “Soldierstown” to the balls-out twin guitar riffing of “Sex Guns & Gasoline”. From the dirty groove of “You Little Liar” to the acoustic “Blindsided”, this is a band coming of age. “The Killer Instinct” will see Black Star Riders cement their place as one of the most exciting contemporary rock acts.
Damon Johnson says, “Nick Raskulinecz came riding out of the sunset like a Viking warrior, with his record collection and arsenal of killer guitars and amplifiers and proved to be the world class producer we had heard so much about. Indeed, the rumors are all true. There’s no doubt that Ricky and I had written a sizable number of songs, but Nick patiently walked through the full song list with the entire band and made sure we focused on the material to best represent Black Star Riders in 2015.“
Black Star Riders head out on a co-headline UK and Eire tour with Europe throughout March 2015. Full dates are:
March 2: Olympia Theatre, Dublin
March 3: Ulster Hall, Belfast
March 5: o2 ABC, Glasgow
March 6: o2 ABC, Glasgow
March 7: o2 Academy, Newcastle
March 8: o2 Academy, Leeds
March 10: Rock City, Nottingham
March 11: Corn Exchange, Cambridge
March 13: Academy, Manchester
March 14: Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
March 15: University, Exeter
March 16: o2 Academy, Bristol
March 18: o2 Academy, Bournemouth
March 19: UEA, Norwich
March 20: o2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
March 21: o2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
Tickets are available from all usual outlets
THE AMORETTES are support on all dates except Glasgow March 5th and London March 20th – support on these shows tbc