Inaugural Stonedeaf Festival leaves fans Stonedeaf Forever
Organising a Rock and Metal festival with the mission statement of bringing back the glory days (or day) of Monsters of Rock may seem fairly impossible to your average cynic, especially when considering those responsible for it are all volunteers with minimum experience.
However, the power of dedication to the rock and metal cause prevails, as the first Stonedeaf festival proves to be a triumphant success amongst fans and bands alike.
Stonedeaf kicks off with the Friday Night Rock Show hosted by TotalRock, a nostalgic throwback and worthy tribute to icon Tommy Vance. It’s a night of pure live entertainment as performances are interspersed with tales of Vance and insistence of relentless alcohol consumption by the legend that is Krusher.
Explosive three-piece Theia are the opening act, their performance living up to the consistent hype surrounding their live abilities. Their sound is developed and hard-hitting rock n roll, the bass refusing to allow the guitar to take typical precedence. Instead bassist Paul Edwards provides refreshingly audible bluesy riffs that compliments Kyle Lamley’s admirable playing. Complete confidence fuels their passionate energy, intensifying their hard rock formula to maximum impact. This is emphasised further by the lighting set up resembling a scene of staccato lightning, creating a frantic display that would send those plagued by epilepsy into oblivion.
New Generation Superstars give a punk flavour to the evening, intertwined with rock n roll riffs. Their set is one that encourages a party atmosphere with the front portion of the crowd jumping and dancing to a selection of their infectiously catchy material. They prove to be a band of the people, quite literally when bassist Jonny Suicide plays amongst the audience during their excellent cover of The Ramone’s Blitzkrieg Bop.
Unknown Refuge concludes the evening, proving that despite being the youngest band on the line up, they’re a formidable force to be reckoned with. Drummer Morgan Deveney particularly proves his talents through his machine-like ability when playing double bass. Their inspirations of Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold are obviously interweaved into their own material yet singles such as If the Gods be Goodclearly demonstrates their potential and song writing abilities. However, closing cover of Killing in the Nameis the clear highlight of their performance as a sizable moshpit powered by alcoholic anarchy develops in the centre of the crowd. The vibe of the audience is perhaps best represented by a man on the sidelines taking a quick gulp of beer, middle finger raised high in the air before stumbling back into the ever-growing pit.
The revival of the Friday Night Rock Show is already a prominent success for Stonedeaf, confidently leading the way into Saturday; the day of the festival’s birth.
At eleven in the morning, Fallen Mafia have the rather pressurising yet honourable task of being the first band to grace the stage at Stonedeaf. Their mix of hard rock and down tuned metal improves throughout the set with frontwoman Hannah Neil warming into the melody and power their songs demand. She clearly has a strong presence, leaning from the front of the stage and engaging with the audience to really emphasis and deliver the emotion of slower tracks such as How the Story Ends. As a whole, the band have the potential to not only climb into higher line up positions at Stonedeaf but also gain further recognition in the contemporary rock and metal scene.
Chrome Molly are a huge success with the Monsters of Rock veterans and NWOBHM fans populating the crowd. There’s an eruption of validating cheers in response to Steve Hawkins inquiring who was around in 1988 when the song Shooting Me Downwas released. It’s an admittedly satisfying and sweet sight to witness members of the audience thriving in the nostalgia of their youth and raging along to Chrome Molly classics such as Thanks for the Angst. Despite a few voice dips that inevitably comes with aging, the band deliver a set that increases the already high spirits of rockers and metalheads congregated at Stonedeaf.
Besides the bands, the arena is filled with a variety of gems, including a tent dedicated to vinyls and CDs as well as another stall that hosted the haven of vintage patches and pins. Stonedeaf’s Merch stall was visited frequently, to the point of selling out of sacred t-shirts by midday and earning owners bragging rights in the future. Arguably, most metal of all was The Motley Brew stall proudly promoting being the only UK supplier of Megadeth bassist David Ellefson’s Roast in Peace Coffee. Wonders never cease.
Throughout the pleasingly small half an hour gap between bands, Krusher can be heard hyping up the audience further with more demands to drink the bar dry. It was miraculous that he was still conscious by the end of the day.
Anvil are insane. But endearingly so. The band provide an entertaining set of first rate heavy metal, showcasing their brand built upon musical integrity and comedy. Drum beats and solos are accompanied by exaggerated facial expressions ranging from shock, surprise and joy. Bassist Chris Robertson spontaneously decides to leap into a series of jumping jacks during the intro of Winged Assassins, eyebrows raised and mouth open in an extended grin. Its a sight to behold but also a reminder that although Metal has the capability to be seriously indulgent and atmospheric, it’s also fun whilst verging on ridiculous. As proven by guitarist Lips Kudlow abandoning his plectrum in favour of performing a rather impressive instrumental with a golden vibrator.
The Quireboys are rock n roll to the core, exuding such an infectious flair that encourages everyone to dance, for better or worse. Their set is of excellent quality but it’s clear that the audience is waiting in anticipation for 7 O’Clock and nothing else. The suspension proves to be more than worth it, with Wolfsbane’s Blaze Bayley joining Spike on stage for a unique duet with plenty of seamless throws of the microphone stand to share vocal duties. It’s a performance filled with joy and obvious friendship as the audience rapidly applauds and cheers in approval, satisfied with their dose of premium blues and hard rock.
Amongst the backdrop of darkness, the sound of air raid sirens marks the imminent arrival of Skid Row, diminishing into that infamous heavy opening riff of Slave to the Grind. Its an explosive introduction that soon descends into material off their debut album with ZP providing the quality that the vocals require. Throughout the set he releases a series of screams which unfortunately fail to transmit into the audience due to sound issues. Despite this, the band are on fire, clearly thriving off the thrill of being the first ever headliner of Stonedeaf, claiming the experience as a perfect conclusion to their UK tour. With extended duelling solos from Scotti Hill and Dave Sabo and Youth Gone Wildsending the crowd into soaring elation, Skid Row successfully carve an unforgettable indentation in the first chapter of Stonedeaf’s history.
There’s definitely a future for Stonedeaf. You only had to hear the repeated chants of Stonedeaf after Skid Row’s performance to be assured that the revival of the one-day festival is here to stay for many years to come.
A testament to what passion, commitment and solid teamwork can achieve.
Review – Amy Lawrence
Photography – Mark Ellis
Shoot The Groove Photography