27th August 2017
Lostock Club, Northwich
Review by Beth Jones, with notes and interjection from Rick Tilley
Here’s one for you; What do you get if you cross an old style social club, a menagerie of music hungry rockers and thirteen great bands? You get a top quality old school one-dayer, in this case RockWich. Now in its fourth year, RockWich on the face of it is a small-scale event showcasing some bands in a local setting, but look deeper and it is so much more than that. This was our first visit to the event, staged by Prometheus Promotions, and to say I was impressed is an understatement! I am not easily pleased, but right from the get go I knew I was going to have a good day.
The setting took me back again to my youth, going to gigs in the local Miner’s Institute and Memorial Hall, and the relaxed atmosphere created by the event staff instantly put me at ease. It is easy for people to be blasé when trying to achieve a relaxed atmosphere, but one thing that you could see straight away was that all the event staff were relaxed because they knew precisely what their role was, and were well rehearsed and experienced in it, which was a big plus point for me, being a stickler for organisation.
The club itself was well laid out and they had catered for all as everything was disability friendly, with nearly everything on one level, and seating available at the sides. The merch was positioned well and throughout the day each band had an area for their merch, which again was swapped over like clockwork between bands – so much so that you didn’t even notice it happening, but all of a sudden, a new set of band merch appeared! The bar was well stocked and the bar staff were very friendly, as were the kitchen staff who prepared a good selection of food for the hungry punters wanting to fill a gap, and everything was reasonably priced, which really made it feel like the good old days!
However, the thing that impressed me most was the standard of music being showcased on the day. There was not one band who I didn’t enjoy, even though I had not really heard many of them in depth previously, and one band in particular massively impressed me, but we shall come on to that later.
So – to the bands!
First up were ‘The Sourheads’. They describe themselves on their Facebook page as a fusion of ‘the swagger of The Stooges, the poetry of The Doors, the danger of Alice Cooper, and the dirt of Kyuss then make it bigger.’ This sums them up perfectly! The lead singer owned the stage, with a powerful vocal over rich, thick and creamy guitar sounds and they were a great way to start the day. Their look was very interesting, with the barefooted, dreadlocked singer looking slightly out of place in the band. It shouldn’t have worked, but somehow it did, and it was solid. Two thumbs good from me! Their new album is out in November and I will be intrigued to see if their onstage passion transposes to recorded material.
Next – from the sublime to the cor blimey – Liverpool based ‘Black Cat Bones’. Good, punchy, riff -laden classic rock. These guys have a very distinctive look – in my opinion not dissimilar from a certain classic rock band whose name begins with Guns and ends in Roses. However, once you had put this stereotype to the back of your mind they did have a very good sound, stage presence and a performance that was tight, together and perfectly rounded! Rick got the chance to interview them later and found that their energy off stage was the same as it was on!
Ryders Creed were up next and proved that the buzz word of the day was definitely going to be ‘energy’ because they were another group of guys who had bags of it. Comprising of ex-Black Rose Cadillac members: Ryan Hulme (Vocals), Richard Clark (Bass), and Myles Cooper (Guitar) and joining forces with Lee Spencer on guitar, and Lee Gilbert on drums they were superb. With obvious influences from Sabbath, they were driven by heavy bass lines and solid drum work. If I had to sub-genre them, I would say Stoner Rock. The thing that impressed me most about them was Ryan’s vocals though – superbly rich with just the right amount of husky to make it great. Well worth checking out again.
I had a slight break at this point to take my kids home as, much as they love live music, they aren’t quite ready to spend a whole day listening to it! So I left the reviewing in the extremely capable hands of my partner in crime, Rick Tilley!
Unfortunately, due to my interview with Black Cat Bones, I wasn’t in the venue for much of The Senton Bombs set, however we could hear them pretty clearly outside and when I did get back inside to witness their last two songs I was mightily impressed. I’ve always liked The Senton Bombs brand of dirty and lively Rock’n’Roll but this was the first time I had seen them live and their music comes across even better in a boiling hot and sweaty room. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again, I shall be wearing my new Senton Bombs t-shirt with pride and I’m shouting out to the local council of their home town Blackpool to say get their name up in lights!!
Next up were Baleful Creed and they were one of the bands whose name had really stood out when I saw the line-up for the first time. Having already reviewed their debut album (and with a review of latest album ‘Seismic Shifter’ on the way) I was eager to see how the material transferred to a live setting and I wasn’t disappointed. Hailing from Northern Ireland this was Baleful Creed’s first gig on English soil and they had come with the afterburners firmly turned to the ‘on’ position. They put on a thunderous display of downtuned Stoner Rock that had the packed crowd enthralled. I count myself as very lucky to have witnessed this debut English performance and hope they return soon. Seismic indeed!
I have to be honest and say I felt a little sorry for next band Beckon Lane. Whether it was the ridiculous heat in the venue, the need for food, drink and a breather (we were about half way through the day at this point) or just unfamiliarity with the material but the crowd did thin a bit for their set. It was their loss though because, even though I was also unfamiliar with their music, I really enjoyed their Hard Rock, almost, Melodic Metal sounds. They were catchy, tight and professional. Vocalist Lewis Phillis is certainly a good frontman and their time onstage seemed to go by incredibly quickly which left me wanting more! I also loved the fact that instead of having a painted banner, the band name is proudly displayed in front of the drums on a specially made street sign.
Just as Beckon Lane were finishing their set Beth re-appeared from dropping off the kids so I’m now passing you back to her for the rest of the day’s proceedings. All I’ll add is that if the first six bands were great then what was to come was fantastic and RockWich has cemented itself in my head as one of the best one day events I’ve been to in thirty five years of going to gigs so well done to all involved for putting on such a great show!
One band I had been looking forward to, purely because they are fronted by a female power house, was ‘Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters’ and thankfully I got back in time to catch her full set. If you look up power in the dictionary, the definition should just read ‘see Beth Blade’! Holy Jeebers can this girl belt out a tune. Heavily influenced by ‘Kiss’, she confidently powered through an awesome set like a tank. She had something to say and we were all going to damn well listen! It was tight, it was punchy, it was rocky and it was mesmerising!!! It was also new guitarist, Luke’s, first show and he smashed it, perfectly capturing what Beth and her Beautiful Disasters were all about. I needed a sit down at the end of their set!
Hell’s Addiction were up next. They had obviously brought a lot of support with them as the room filled up very suddenly. They were old school and obviously seasoned musicians, who were technically very good. They had a very full sound and the lead guitarist was very well versed in complicated solos. I am however rather gutted to say that, out of the whole day, they were the band who excited me the least – sorry guys and any fans. I just didn’t feel the same connection as I had with the previous bands and whilst I couldn’t fault them technically, I just didn’t get that same emotional excitement that I had become accustomed to that day so far. Maybe I was just emotionally drained after Beth Blade!
Now doomy anything has never really been my sort of thing – I find it a bit slow and laboured and it just doesn’t float my boat. That is until I heard the next band, Regulus. Here were a bunch of guys, who describe themselves as groove-laden, riff-drenched, psychedelic heavy blues, who totally didn’t look like they were all from the same band, from the slick guitarist to the wild haired front man, who when they played made me stand up and listen and rethink some of my preferences! They were mixing doomy riffs, with 70s funk! It was down tuned and groovy and peppered with intricate solos that gave it the indulgent feel of a good chocolatey dessert and I was sold! Their defined sectioning in songs worked well and they moved between rhythms with ease. I will definitely be looking them up and listening to more even though they have messed with my brain because I shouldn’t like them, but I do!!!
Now, earlier in this review I alluded to the fact that one band in particular really impressed me. This band was the next band up – Mason Hill. When I say they really impressed me, what I really mean is they totally blew my mind with how awesomely good they were. They were very fresh melodic rock which was so good, so tight, so together and so electric that I have to admit it actually made me emotional. That has only happened to me twice before in 25 years where music is concerned. The first occasion was on listening to Queen’s ‘Made In Heaven’ album for the first time, and the other was watching Doro Pesch on the main stage at Bloodstock (mainly because I worship the ground she walks on though!) For the first couple of songs, lead singer Scott battled with some microphone issues, but rather than let it knock him off his stride, he seemed to become more emotionally charged by it and the audience could feel it. The roar of approval from the audience when it was fixed was testament to this! And boy when we could hear it properly, what a voice this guy has! His vocal range is huge and his tone is exquisite, and then there is the rest of the band. Each member oozed charisma and stage presence to the point where they could all easily be front men – even the drummer, and I was falling over myself with superlatives to describe them! Their final song of the set was a ballad, ‘Where I Belong’, which was stunningly good and left the audience shouting for more. I could have listened to them all night. The band has been around for a few years, but has gone through some changes and have only really settled in the last year, with the current line-up they have now. And it is perfection. It needs no other words to describe it. Their performance is still exciting me now as I write this. Their debut album is out next year and I am advising everyone to buy it and to keep a very close eye on these guys because, even though I’m not a gambler, I would put money on them being very big very soon. Wow!.. Just… Wow! That is all!
Whoever was to follow Mason Hill had a huge and daunting task on their hands, however this job fell to seasoned professionals in the form of the very lovely and very lively Knock Out Kaine, fronted by Mr Charisma, Dean Foxx!! Due to unforeseen circumstances, they were without their regular bass player, Lee, however they had one of their session musicians deputising and he was a damn fine player. Dean, as always, had the audience eating out of his hands pretty much straight away and they all looked happy and comfortable on stage. They have a very classic 80s American rock sound and are a great feel good band, who you can’t help bopping along with. We got the opportunity to speak to Dean before they went on stage and discovered that they are working on a new album, which we are certainly excitedly looking forward to in this household.
The penultimate band of the day were Screaming Eagles. If you like good solid classic rock and roll, in the style of ACDC and the like, then this is the band for you! Whilst we were starting to flag a bit, they kept the energy up and had the crowd really rocking out to their old school melodies and riffs, and front man Chris Fry covered every spare inch of the stage throughout their energetic and upbeat set. Grand!
Now you always know you are going to get a good show with Massive Wagons, and they didn’t disappoint for the final band of the evening. Despite the stifling heat in the hall by that point, they powered on to the stage and pleased the packed out room with a feel good, catchy, crazy show as always. They are purely and simply a great rock band who should be sniffed out if you have not yet done so!
And that was that! What a great day. It was relaxed and fun, musically superb, and from start to finish, managed impeccably, from the stage management of the bands, to the organisation of the space and all those in it. And I can say no more than that. The only reason I have given it a 9 out of 10 is the lack of air con, but that only bothered me because I am a delicate middle class twat! Superb day! Well done to Prometheus and all those involved. Can’t wait for next year!
PS MASON HILL ROCKED!!!!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities