Sunday 26th August 2018
Lostock Club, Northwich
Review By Beth Jones
After the cracking Saturday ‘Unplugged’ session, we were really warmed up and raring to go for the main event on Sunday and headed over to the venue in perfect time to start the day. One word summed up the weather on that morning…wet! My, was I glad we hadn’t camped, as mother-nature had clearly fallen asleep in the bath with the taps still on again, and Cheshire was definitely under the drip!
After wading through a few puddles, we were greeted at the door by the ever smiling and welcoming face of Colesia Pryse, one of the event organisers, who lovingly works the door for the majority of the day, in the cold, draughty and underwhelming entrance to the Lostock Club. Hats off to you Colesia – you do a fantastic job.
The first thing that struck me was how many people had turned up at lunchtime on a Sunday in time to see the first band, and the other thing that struck me was everyone was smiling even though most were a touch damp! What is very clear from this crowd is that RockWich is very definitely an annual meet up of old and distant friends, and that really makes the heart of this event. The abundance of handshakes and embraces was very warming and lovely to see in today’s society which, on the whole, seems to hate each other most of the time!
But enough of these melancholy musings – to the music!!! First up were a new name to us, Quiet The Thief, a Stoke based four piece who were ready to wake us all up with a hearty dose of hard rock, which they did, big time! They gave us a full-on Sunday carvery with all the trimmings! Great meaty riffs, solid rhythms and some pretty catchy melodies on the side, topped off with aggressive punchy gravy in the shape of Stig Chell’s vocals. Well lush!!!! I almost wished they had had a longer set, but just like a perfect meal, they left us wanting more – so much so that we purchased their EP and will try and slot it on to the review list!
There is only one thing to do after a hearty meal like that, and that is have a quick fag, and then go back for dessert! So, after a quick nip out in the rain for a vape (cos we is all new age and healthy-ish now) we headed back in for Novacrow, another new name for us. I knew I was going to like them when the guitarist appeared on stage in a top hat – quirky, random and fun where three words that instantly popped into my head. Yet again I was not disappointed. Like a delectable dessert, they served up an almighty helping of randomness and lively stage craft, with bass player Federico bouncing about like a recently uncaged animal, the impressive stature of guitarist, Jonyx, traversing the entire length of the stage in three steps and fronted by the awesome vocals and guitar of my new favourite pocket rocket, Kitty Staunton, who incidentally also has epic hair.
Their version of sleazy hard rock was peppered with brilliant humour and extremely polished performance techniques, worthy of a much higher spot on the bill. Their cover of Tragedy (The Bee Gees / Steps – depending on what era you were born) was ingenious and Kitty broke the forth wall by coming into the audience for this song, and having a good old amble around, as did Federico towards the end of the set, basically so he could jump off a table! These guys were too cool, too good, too funny, too stylish and I think I may be a little bit in love with them. My favourite band of the weekend, and they were only the second to perform on the day. I kind of felt sorry for the next band up, because that was going to be hard to follow.
Next up were Empyre. We had earmarked these as one to watch at Amplified in July but had not managed to get into the tent to see them, so we were very glad they were on this bill. Hailing from the Midlands, they bill themselves on their website as performing ‘intense, atmospheric rock, with a dark and introspective edge to their writing’, and this is what they did. But to be honest, I’m not sure if this was the right setting for them to bring an introspective edge in, especially after we had just been beaten around the head with a pointed Novacrow shaped stick. The first and last track were lively and upbeat, and worked in the party atmosphere that was forming inside the Lostock Club, but the rest of the set felt a little laboured and down beat. They didn’t really look like they were enjoying it either. Perhaps they were having an off day, who knows, we all have them. It left me a little meh, but I think I need to listen to them more to really cast judgement.
After another quick vape break, we headed back in for The Idol Dead, a bunch of seasoned punks sent to deliver their own brand of Punk Rock and Soul! And that is what they did. If there is one thing we can do well up North, it is combining lots of genres to make good tunes! They gave us a half hour set of absolutely brilliant, thrashy, punky bangers which you couldn’t help but lose your shit to. They were perfect for this party atmosphere and they had the audience in the palm of their hands for the whole performance. Guitarist KC gave it some welly all the way through the set, and sadly towards the end his beloved guitar suffered a bit of a catastrophic malfunction incident (the head stock decided it didn’t want to be a headstock any more RIP), but this didn’t stop them in their quest to jump around like loonies and make the audience have a damn good time. Really well worth earmarking as a band to see if they are in a venue near you. Great fun.
Psychobabylon were next up. Before they started my first impression was, ‘this is what it would look like in another dimension where a tall Dani Filth was the front man of The Levellers’. They didn’t have the look of classic rock, or metal, but were instead a weird meld of a bit of everything. I was dubious about what they would sound like, given their strange look, and to me they did sound a little like they looked, almost like it was two different bands playing at once. The vocal style of Rusty D was great, but I’m not sure if it went with the band, and equally the rest of the band were all very tight and well-rehearsed, but it just seemed a weird fit. That being said, they did play some catchy songs, and they were good fun to watch onstage, even if they were a bit like the musical version of eating a cheese and jam sandwich.
We were now heading dangerously towards tea time, and I had one thing on my mind – CHIPS! Lovingly served in a polystyrene tray from the kitchen hatch by the bar, in true working men’s club style. Bloody tasty and a perfect accompaniment to our next musical serving – the outstanding Witch Tripper. We have seen these guys at pretty much every gig we have been to this year, which shows how hard they work; however, they never get tired or boring. They are so groovy, so smooth and so full flavoured that you can’t help but lap up their energy and stage presence. They ooze dirty great riffs and the bass rumbles like a freight train, and if you aren’t drawn to move with these guys then you definitely have no soul. This coupled with their ridiculous work ethic, will see them going big places very soon, I have no doubt.
The next band had been one of the stand out bands at Amplified earlier in the summer – the Southern Rock ‘n’ Roll Meisters from Cumbria, Thirteen Stars. Seriously could have listened to these guys all night. They are so cool and so chilled out, with a great dry sense of humour, that it takes you away to somewhere, on a paddle steam riverboat, with a bottle of bourbon in one hand and a Cuban cigar in the other. Aside from this coolness, however, is a band of very accomplished musicians, with some excellent guitar licks and perfect timings to boot. It was a shame that their set only allowed time for six songs; it seemed to be over far too quickly.
So, from Southern Rock ’n’ Roll, it was time to move swiftly on to some good meaty British Rock, in the form of New Generation Superstars. These guys have been on the circuit now for a good few years, but it was my first time seeing them (Rick has seen them before and really likes them) and I was impressed. They are good, no nonsense, sleazy rock, and really know how to work the crowd. Their liveliness and sense of fun really shows though in their performance and they are tight as anything. It certainly gets you tapping your toes and nodding your head. These guys are all seasoned pros and are able to demonstrate a level of understanding of who they are that only comes with experience. Gaz Wilde on drums totally lived up to his name, putting in a thunderous performance, and Johnny Suicide made a new friend during this set, a little person that could not go unmentioned in this review. All day long, a tiny little chap (aged just 2) had been busting out some killer moves and headbanging with the best in the mosh pit at the front. It was now nearly 6.30 in the evening, and he was still killing it on the dance floor. He was up against the crash barrier, rocking his little battle jacket in perfect time to the music. He was the dude! Hats off to his parents – parenting level epic: Achieved! I do not know how he was keeping going, as I was seriously starting to flag by this point!
Next up were Red Spektor. A total contrast from the comfort of knowing where you are with New Generation Superstars, these guys are Psychedelic 70’s heavy rock stoner doom, with some US hard rock and blues thrown in. Pass the mushrooms will you darling! They are incredibly difficult to describe, and to be honest, I’m not sure I quite got it. It was all a bit shy and insular for me, they didn’t seem to be aware they were playing to an audience, they were just playing and there happened to be some people there listening. They did make a lot of sound considering they are only a three piece, so they have to have credit for that, but it didn’t grab me in the way a lot of other bands on the day had done, and it wasn’t quite ‘party’ enough for the atmosphere in the hall. This was kind of evident in the thinning of the crowd after a few songs. I expect that they would be great to listen to on recording or as part of a ‘chill out’ session, but in this atmosphere, for me, it didn’t quite work.
It was time to liven things up again next, with Wicked Stone, a band from Devon who had just had an extreme 7 hour journey to get to the venue, all to play a 40 minute set. That is dedication. Thankfully, the room filled up again almost as soon as they arrived on stage and were delighted by the thumpingly catchy songs of this merry band of west country gents. Set Me On Fire was a track that really stuck out for us and had me heading to their merch stand to buy a CD! Would love to see these guys again soon, and really want to try and get a review done of their album as it is fab (It is called ‘Ain’t No Rest’ if anyone wants to check it out).
We were now heading quickly towards the business end of the show, with only three bands left. Filling the second support slot here was Falling Red, bringing an explosion of excited energy from the wilds of the North! They had also played Amplified in the summer, and we had missed them! Epic fail on our part! Their set included one of my favourite songs of the year, and one which had been on my own Amplified playlist all summer, ‘Hell In My Eyes’. I LOVE this song, and it gave me my second wind. They are a great melodic rock outfit and they kept on throwing out really catchy tunes, which have great depth, solid melodies and are backed up by tight rhythms. They are very current and appeal to a wide range of tastes, young and old. Really impressed by them. Another band to add to the ‘to see again soon’ list.
The penultimate act of the night, Stop Stop, are a tenacious gang of Glam Rockers with a very rock ‘n’ roll back story, which Rick had filled me in on some weeks before the show. I was really looking forward to seeing them and damn they did not disappoint. They were jaw droppingly good. They had everything; catchy tunes, cheeky smiles, brilliant riffs, superb vocals, lights, dry ice, and crazy energy. It was relentless brilliance and it blew me away. Not content with the stage, as it was clearly way to small for that much personality, this trio of hair and skinny jeans decided towards the end of the set that it was time for a wander around the crowd, so drummer Danny Stix harnessed up a snare drum and off they went like a merry gang of pied pipers into the crowd. They climb on seats, they bantered with the sitting punters, and they partied on the dancefloor with those that still had the energy to do so (including the little dude who was still down there!) and they made every person in that room feel part of their performance. It was very special. They just ooze charisma and totally own their craft. It isn’t just music for them, it is their entire soul, right there in a performance. It literally ticked every box for me. Some may find them cliched, but I really don’t care! They were bloody ace!
Yet again I kind of felt sorry for Trucker Diablo, our headliner of the night, as they had a bloody hard job following Stop Stop! But as always with these guys they put on a great show, whilst they are not as raucous as the crazy Spaniards, and a completely different style, they are equally as tight, catchy and professional. They bang out cracking tune after cracking tune with confidence and ease and do it all with a cheeky glint in their eyes. They have a very dedicated and growing fan base, and, like last year’s headliners, Massive Waggons, are definitely going somewhere. For those of you who haven’t seen Trucker Diablo before, (why the hell not, where have you been, get you head out of the cave and go watch them) they are a 4 piece from Armagh that bring a brand of feel good rock with a punch. They were a great way to finish off the party for another year and it was brilliant to see the smiling faces and feel the vibe in that room.
As we headed out we felt very happy to have been witness to this great little event once again. Yes it has its weird bits – the venue for me being the main bit that I just don’t quite gel with, but all in all it was a great weekend and it gave us a bit of everything; the discovery of some great new names to us, the chance to catch up with some other names that were more known to us, familiar faces and new friends, chips, chips and more chips, the little dancing dude in his groovy little battle jacket, and there was even a marriage proposal live on stage, which made all us girls go gooey and romantic! And all this was encased in awesome music. A massive well done to the organisers, Prometheus Promotions, on doing a sterling job again, and to all those involved in making the event run smoothly, from Colesia on the door, to Mik Matzen and Sharon Cooke stage managing, Simon Dunkerley keeping us press types in check, and a host of others making sure things ran smoothly, we thank you again for having the passion to do this and keep us, the fans, stoked up with live music.
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 all parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
All photos courtesy of Beth Jones and PhotograBee Images