Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: The SoapGirls revive theat Punk Spirit of defiance

DECADES after its inception, punk still has the power to shock, inspire and be thought provoking; Saturday night's gig in Voodoo certainly proved that. French-born, South African-raised The SoapGirls swung into Belfast as part of their UK and Irish tour and put on the type of show rarely seen in punk: as equally arresting visually as they are sonically, with serious attitude and proper, feminist sass.

How often does one get to say that after a punk gig?

Setting the pace was first local support act, the eye catchingly-named A.R.S.E, for whom punk will always be set in the Seventies and the likes of Bad Manners and Stiff Little Fingers will always be kings.

Not that there's anything wrong with that; their bolshy brand of oi punk is infectiously catchy and actually rather fun, with front man Petesy Burns in fine form, at one point jokingly admonishing the crowd for some rather unenthusiastic applause: “at our age, if we do four songs in a row we deserve more than that!” he quips.

Their half hour set fairly rips along, including some original tracks ('In Your Face', 'Religious Wars') and covers (The Jam's 'Down In the Tube Station at Midnight' and Dead Boys' 'Sonic Reducer').

Clearly more a labour of love than vast money spinner, A.R.S.E are nonetheless a dynamic and entertaining band who take to the job of warming up the crowd with glee, and do it well.

Second support Madhouse are in equally fine fettle: with a hefty dollop of rockabilly thrown into the mix, they are boisterously engaging right from the word 'go' – there's even a mammoth double bass up there on the tiny stage. With buzzsaw riffs aplenty and a lively Stray Cats vibe, their set is gloriously over the top.

Singer Billy Riot begins the show dressed as gangster on a yacht circa 1984 and ends it in trousers and shoes only (even the sunglasses come off) but keeps his tongue firmly in his cheek the whole time, cheekily introducing songs such as 'Bend Over, I'll Drive' (“this is a song about getting sucked off in a car”) and final number 'Too Drunk To Fuck' (which needs little introduction, to be fair) with a glint in his eye. By the time that final track rolls around they have thoroughly entertained the crowd and surely gained a good many new fans.

All of which means that by the time the diminutive Soapgirls take to the stage, the room is full of wide smiles and a buzz of anticipation.

Arriving in their usual handmade tiny costumes, the most kick-ass red vinyl thigh high boots, and granny masks (as they've heard Belfast is the capital of 'granny porn'), they chat for a minute in character before launching into 'Society's Rejects', the song that encapsulates them perfectly.

Theirs is a sort of Riot Grrrl, riffy go-go punk sound, all angelic voices with a heavy dose of snarl and attitude - but when vocalist/bassist Millie cranks it up she unleashes a scream that would comfortably fit onto any metal album.

Their seventy minute set runs the gamut of emotions, from 'fuck you' number 'Rather Be Dead', to the slinky 'Original Sin' and even the melancholy, heavy 'Bury Me', a song about losing a loved one to cancer.

In between, the girls' banter and total ease onstage warm the room and create a real bond with the audience, who respond with loud applause and passionate singalongs. Highlights include proper Riot Grrrl punk rock tune 'Sam's On Crack', vitriolic final number 'Bad Bitch', during which they invite all the 'bad bitches' in the audience onstage, and a towering, rage fuelled 'Drag You Down to Hell', with its ska punk-infused chorus.

A long and effusive 'thank you' from the two of them follows 'Bad Bitch', and the show is over.

Afterwards, they then hang around for several minutes, seemingly keen to thank every single audience member. Brilliant show, smashing young women.

Quite literally 'sisters doing it for themselves', their own way, on their own terms – and fuck the haters – The SoapGirls prove yet again that punk is NOT dead, and that women can kick as much ass, and be as fearless and individual as any male musician you care to compare them to. Long may it continue, too.

Review by Melanie Brehaut
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

BLOODSTOCK: The madness, the mayhem and the glorious music

WHEN it comes to festivals Bloodstock towers head and shoulders above most - and not just because they had the man mountain Johann from Amon Amarth present...

Genuinely friendly, a selection of bands to warm the cockles of every metalheads' hearts and a carnival atmosphere across the site.

Deep in South Derbyshire the very earth trembles every year and Bloodstock 2017 was no different...

With all weekend tickets sold out and day tickets at a premium it was perhaps one of the biggest adventures for BOA, but the scale was not too big to intimidate - apart from the enormous waits for entry. People who arrived clean shaven had a beard by the time they got in.

The queues were phenomenal on that first day, due to additional security steps, but that just meant some delay in erecting tents and heading back for beer stocks...well it is Bloodstock and you wouldn't expect anything else but ample beers.
By Mark Lloyd

The opening night always has a party atmosphere on the Sophie Lancaster Stage and rounding things off BattleBeast hit the right note of fun and heaviness. However, come Friday the heft of metal was to the fore.

A wealth of brutality bore down on the crowd as the usual races between stages to catch acts began in earnest. Decapitated drew heavily from their recent 'Anticult' release, and surprisingly for some many of those down the front knew each word and inflection.

When it comes to thrash Testament are among the godfathers. Chuck Billy was his usual larger than life self and the might of the tracks were evident - Bloodstock gathered as the 'Brotherhood of the Snake', headbanging happily.

With Blind Guardian delivering their symphonic majesty as the skies began to darken there was a real sense of anticipation. As many hurried from catching the excellent Lionize on the Sophie Stage Amon Amarth came on as if primed for a raid, ready to pillage.

Flames, massive Viking helmet, dragons, hammers - a proper stage show. All would be for nowt without the immensity of the songs. 'Runes to my Memory', 'Guardians of Asgard', and of course 'Twilight of the Thunder God' had the site bathed in glory.

They have appeared before at Bloodstock, but now are worthy headliners.

Saturday - more sunshine and the dash between stages in earnest as bleary eyed campers stumble forth to the familial camaraderie.

One of the more controversial choices was Flint, Michigan crew King 810, missing an axeman due to alleged firearms offence. Their abrasive off-stage attitude translated into one of the most challenging sets. Rather than have the big screens showing the band a series of disturbing images that forced those paying attention to consider their own attitudes. And as the crowd sang 'Fat Around The Heart' they may have redeemed themselves.

After another exemplary set from Annihilator - including some inter-song Canuck humour from Jeff Waters preceded mayhem.
By Darren McVeigh

No not the band Mayhem, but the mayhem that was Municipal Waste. Never in the field of human surfing has so many crowd surfed. As the punk thrash lasted a mere 45 minutes of intensity a total of 711 mad metallers crowd surfed - smashing any previous records by almost 300...Oh the music was good too.

Hatebreed teeter continually on the border between hardcore and metal, a dangerous place for some bands, but the fact that the Bloodstock community is more open-minded than most they were among the hits of the day.

Having consulted widely around Camp Midgard (well six people) we could not find anyone who has seen a bad Kreator set. The Teutonic thrashers are always good. They weren't at BOA 2017. No, they were fucking great. On another level that left many open-mouthed, agog at the tight, precise battering they were producing.

There was no way Ghost could top that. Sure their dark pantomime works for many, but the rotating membership, the choir et al sometimes grates as contrived. Macabre closing the Sophie stage are more intimidating - and better.

As if the preceding three days weren't enough Sunday was an absolute barnstormer.

But before that a word about the New Blood Stage. After months and months of battling bands won the right to perform at Bloodstock. It is a tribute to the quality of the acts that fought through dozens of heats on Metal2TheMasses that they attracted so many away from the main stages to see the emerging talent.

And, while we were impressed by many we saw, we are biased and thus a special mention for Shrouded. The Northern Ireland melodic death metal foursome could have easily been over-awed by the occasion, given their tender years, but stayed focussed, no faffing about - they came on stage and nailed it.

Over on the Ronnie James Dio stage masked Mexican metal banditos Brujeria tempered their assault with a cover of 'Oh Macharina' - yep it was that sort of day.
By Katja Ogrin

Segue from that into Possessed's power, Obituary's threat and Hell's theatricality it could be excused if the Bloodstock audience was feeling shell-shocked. But from somewhere they summoned up the energy for Skindred.

Exuding positivity in every word and every lick large proportions of the Catton Park site couldn't stop moving; dancing and grinning. Their reggae metal may not suit everyone's tastes, but it enlivened the day, and when 'Warning' played as a closer there was no doubt that the Newport Helicopter of thousands of t-shirts swirling made for an epic spectacle. Even the security staff lifted their hi-viz's aloft.

Arch Enemy offered a break from that communal silliness, but Skindred had given everyone a second wind and the 'Enemy seeped into everyone's bones.

Closing the main stage was Big Four members Megadeth. Well safe to say Dave did what Dave does, nothing more and nothing less.

As the dying strains of yet more widdly widdly guitar solos from Megadeth faded the job of closing the Sophie stage fell to Wintersun. Sure, it may have all the hallmarks of a vanity project, but somehow there is more of a life to the intricate self-absorbed tracks that works better on stage.

And, thus another Bloodstock drew to a close.

Another celebration of the outer reaches of metal that earns devotion; another celebration of a metal community that walks together, drinks together and yells each word with fervour and passion.

As the camp sites slowly emptied on a dank Monday there was the usual "see you next year" - and that's what makes Bloodstock special. For those with hearts steeled for metal it is one festival not to miss.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
(And...all that and we didn't get to even mention the Jägermeister Stage...)

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Virtual Metal Band Pentakill release League of Legends Album and Tommy Lee is there with Jorn Lande

WHEN gaming and metal collide the result is the virtual band, Pentakill, featuring lead vocalist Karthus, blazing axe-man Mordekaiser, enchanting keyboardist Sona, bassist Yorick, berserker drummer Olaf, and new member Kayle, a winged warrior goddess who sings songs presaging the end of the world, all based around the 100-million player League of Legends gaming universe.

Pentakill - Valoran's favourite rock band – are breaking further out of the 100 million-player League of Legends gaming universe and onto the playlists of metalheads worldwide. Their second release, II: Grasp Of The Undying, hits international all major digital streaming platforms today, including Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and more.

In conjunction with the album’s release, League of Legends and Pentakill are streaming II: Grasp Of The Undying in full via YouTube and the Pentakill music landing page here: http://pentakill.leagueoflegends.com. At the same locations, you can also witness the brand new state-of-the-art, cinematic animated music video for the punishing track, “Mortal Reminder”.

Within 24 hours of posting, the “Mortal Reminder” video racked up over 7.3 million views across platforms. Witness Pentakill's live musical carnage in Bandle City, recorded in the catacombs of the Shadow Isles!

II: Grasp Of The Undying features not only the skills of League of Legends developer Riot Games’ most passionate in-house composers, songwriters, and producers (who also happen to be diehard metalheads), but an elite list of metal, rock and electronic music heavyweights.

The album showcases the musical talents of rock/metal vocalist Jorn Lande, songstress Noora Louhimo of Battle Beast, producer Scott Kirkland of The Crystal Method, producer and vocalist Danny Lohner formerly of Nine Inch Nails, world-renowned drummer Tommy Lee of Motley Crüe fame, drummer Mike Pitman and vocalist Rich Thomson of Xerath, vocalist Per Johansson of Ureas, and many more.

 Jorn Lande, the voice of Karthus, states: “It's great for a classic heavy rocker like myself to be a part of this modern gaming music world, and I'm excited and grateful for the opportunity to work with such a great team of talented people. This exciting development is not just about creating an original twist to the online gaming industry, but also about pioneering some groundbreaking new metal! My job is to make Karthus the singer he is, and add the classic heavy rock element to his performance. I'm proud that Karthus and his band are back to bring new Pentakill metal your way!”

Noora Louhimo, the voice of Kayle, adds: “It's been so exciting and an honor to be part of the second Pentakill record. This has been my dream come true to work in the gaming world. This is just the beginning and I can't wait to see what the future brings. I hope people love the result as much as I do!”
 It features genre-influences ranging from power metal, NWOBHM, thrash, modern progressive death metal and everything in between – even electronic/industrial!
Pentakill was spawned from massive League of Legends fan/player engagement, theories and buzz. Wanting first and foremost to give back to a global community of players, Riot Games and their team of in-house composers, songwriters, and producers came up with the idea to write, record and release a real heavy metal album based on a virtual heavy metal band comprised of members embodied by the original skin line they originated from. In their virtual reality, Pentakill is billed as the fictional land of Valoran's most famous rock band.

In 2014, the Riot Games music label issued the band's first foray out of the video game realm, Smite and Ignite – an eight-track collection of appropriately punishing songs that was written completely in-house at Riot, and supported by the talents of studio musicians, including ZP Theart of Dragonforce, Derek Sherinian of Dream Theater, Danny Lohner of Nine Inch Nails, and Jorn Lande. Upon its release in 2014 and with absolutely no traditional promotion, Smite and Ignite went on to debut Top 40 on Billboard and #1 on the iTunes Metal and Rock charts, plus charted top 30 on the overall iTunes charts, in addition to millions of YouTube and Spotify streams.
Stay tuned for more exclusives and news coming soon, and follow all things PENTAKILL at http://pentakill.leagueoflegends.com

INTERVIEW: At Ramblin Man Aaron Buchanan talks about the album The Man With Stars On His Knees

BEFORE Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics hit the stage at Ramblin Man Fair we caught up with Aaron and sister Laurie to find out a little about the album 'The Man With Stars On His Knees' and the ideas behind it.

Also, he revealed some of the ways he writes and how pleased the band are with the reception the songs are receiving. Here's what the former Heaven's Basement singer had to say:

Friday, August 04, 2017

INTERVIEW: Aussie rockers Massive reveal the secrets behind their music - and it might be beer..

MASSIVE have been working hard to bring their Aussie rock across Europe. Spending a significant chunk of the past few months bringing their Melbourne mayhem to Ramblin Man Fair we caught up with them to hear a little about what makes them tick.

In a crowded press area we even caught one drinking water...

Ramblin Man 2017: Sunshine and hard rocking fun on Day Three at RMF

SUNDAY. The day of rest? Not a chance at Ramblin Man Fair when rock is tearing up the vicinities of Maidstone, guitars reverberating across sun-drenched Kent. What says you? Yes, after being soaked Ramblers were basking in the temperatures of previous years.

But never mind the weather reportage, because this was another jam-packed day of guitars and music that had enough variation to thrill all.

Moments before Stone Broken opened the main stage Prog In The Park kicked into high gear with The Gift, whose deceptively relaxed songs unveiled some intriguing complex rhythms. The easy banter introducing each song was welcome in the early afternoon sunshine.

Down on the Rising Stage Killit were quite literally killing it with the proverbial vim and vigour and a set that displayed how much was on offer down at the smallest stage.

Blues Pills were making their second Ramblin Man appearance, and as they prepare for more UK dates this was more than a taster for those shows. Elin is a charamismatic and entertaining front woman but it is the cohesion of the band that works so well with Dorian Sorriaux's guitar weaving psychedelic patterns.

With buckets of energy The Fallen State were almost falling over themselves to entertain the Rising Stage, more than compensating for the gap before Monster Truck roared with all cylinders revved up on the main stage. By all accounts Big Boy Bloater were also keeping the Blues Tent enthralled.

Focus may be a group of ageing rockers by their own admission, but their off-kilter manic prog - complete with the usual yodelling - had many an ageing rocker straining their lungs, and enjoying every second.

Magnum are about to sit down to record their next album, but this was an opportunity for the Brummies to showcase songs across their career, opening up the throttles and encouraging all to revel in their songs. Let's put it this way, in the massive queue for the toilets many, many people were singing along to 'Les Morts Dansant'...

Meanwhile down at The Rising Stage Blackwater Conspiracy were showcasing their blues tinged rock, airing tracks from 'Shootin' the Breeze', which judging by how many were singing along it is an album that a significant proportion have already added to their collection.

Aussie rockers Massive faced a tough task to follow that, but with beers in hand they launched with intent and riffs peeling out like devilish bells.

On the Blues stage The Quireboys were performing their own new blues set - rehearsals for which led to the forthcoming 'White Trash Blues' and the current ep 'Leaving Trunk'.

As always relaxed and still edgy the band had every ounce of space down in the blues tent filled even though it was not their usual set.

There is no doubt that UFO are amongst the premier league of UK bands. They may be getting on a bit, but that doesn't halt them at all. For all gathered they received every track they could have wished for from their back catalogue.

'Only You Can Rock Me', 'Rock Bottom', 'Love To Love' et al were aired, and, of course proceedings concluded with 'Doctor, Doctor'.

At times Phil's voice struggled, but it was only on the odd occasion, and he is so at ease on stage it was barely evident. Special mention for his commending the late Jim Marshall on developing his namesake amp, something which Mogg happily declared they are still using.

The Devin Townsend Project may have been late stand-ins for the fest, but that didn't in any diminish what they did on stage, with at times it verging on a stand-up comedy show, such was Devin's quips on the Prog Stage.

There then was an outbreak of beard envy...Every hirsute male gazing on the always impressive beards on two thirds of ZZ Top.

We all came for the hits and the exemplary playing, and ZZ Top did not disappoint. Opening with 'Got Me Under Pressure' before a blazing duo of 'Waiting for the Bus' and 'Jesus Just Left Chicago' set the scene for the massed Ramblin Man choir to sing every word of 'Give Me All Your Lovin'.

Billy's playing is as smooth as ever. 40-odd years on the road and 16-odd European dates on this current leg of the tour have every lick locked down, every tone tuned to the song.

They may not be as mobile ass before, but they do what it says on the proverbial tin - 'Catfish Blues' was sublime and set closer 'Act Nuturally' left all satisfied.

As the Ramblers left Mote Park to head for camp sites or hotels there seemed to be a unanimous uttering: "See you next year!". What better endorsement for Year Three of Ramblin Man Fair.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh and Lizzie Torbitt (as indicated).

NEWS: Magnum set for Belfast return on Lost On the Road to Eternity Tour

AFTER a series of stunning festival performances legendary prog rockers Magnum are set to release their new album 'Lost On The Road To Eternity' in six months and will tour it in 2018 with a  Belfast show on March 1st at Limelight1.

They played Belfast and Dublin on their last tour in what was a triumphant return to these shores, comfortable that they had not only hits for fans of their 80s albums, but new tunes that stood up well with the singalong songs such as 'Les Morts Dansant' or 'Vigilante'.

Indeed when Belfastmetalheads caught them at Ramblin Man Fair they may have focussed more on the hits - it was a festival set after all - the smattering of more recent songs didn't deter the audience one bit.

With this headline show in the Limelight one can expect a more fleshed out set as a mature band, comfortable as elder statesmen of the scene, able to introduce new songs and having no problem milking 'How Far Jerusalem' or 'Just Like An Arrow' in an appropriate manner.

'Sacred Blood, Divine Lies' was an outstanding album with many subtle under-currents amidst the pomp - all of which bodes well for the release of 'Lost On The Road To Eternity' and the Belfast March show.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Accept nail the metal formula on Rise of Chaos

WITH Accept you get what you ask for and nothing more - a heavy metal band, playing heavy metal music: no frills, no fucking about, no bullshit and no pretence or genre splitting. Yet this time out they stretch their vision so much further...

With their latest release 'Rise of Chaos' you get a stand-out album of riffs, solos, choruses to sing-a-long to, and more importantly deceptively straightforward metal.

This album rocks like Satan's rocking chair on amphetamines. Sure, there is nothing too particularly ground-breaking that is going to bother the charts or the wankers on the Mercury Music Awards - but fuck them! They are more to be pitied than hated for not listening to Accept.

As  Mark declares the band he - and the band - are an "old-school son-of-bitch".

There is something glorious about this release. With 'Blind Rage' they topped 'Stalingrad' but on 'Rise of Chaos'  there is a looseness and anger steeped within every track: a vision of the outsider standing, looking at the mayhem around them, yet still staying true to Accept's snear.

Wolf declared the intent behind the album when he said: “The Rise Of Chaos is something I have been thinking about often. It describes a condition which is slowly spreading around the world.

"With the stage setup on our latest European tour, we wanted to portray rather dystopian and destroyed scenery. If you now take a look at our new cover, it’s the same imagery. This time however you can also spot the invisible destruction that we feel more and more in these times, as well as the visible destruction.”

And by Baphomet's hairy balls they have achieved something remarkable...

From the declaration of the title track, through to 'No Regrets' and 'What's Done is Done' it is hard to find fault with this release. Packed with songs that will have feet tapping and heads banging it is wondrous.

In fact, here in the deepest bowels of Metal Mansions we had to check with our coven of witches and wizards were we over-rating it...Nah, of course we weren't!

Even the metal mutt Toby was seen to be bopping along to 'Worlds Colliding'.

Wolf hammers out his usual excellence, Mark roars his indignation but there are two key elements that take this to the next level. One is Andy Sneap's production, capturing the live essence of Accept on this album. The other is Peter, Christopher and Uwe. The trio manage that almost mystical balance between tightness and the feeling of a rhythm section packed with loose groove.

Of the songs on display here it is almost impossible to pick one that should be selected head and shoulders above all others, but 'Koolaid' (re-visiting the same topic as Manowar's Guyana: Cult of the Damned) and the closer 'Race to Extinction' would just edge it, with a tiny lyrical misstep on 'Analog Man' the only reason it isn't there.

Yes, some of the topics touched on aren't the most profound; they're not preaching to the as yet unconverted with environmental themes and horror at the world, but each is an important statement in its own right.

We all watch the 'Rise of Chaos' in a world where distorted hypernormalisation is the pattern set by 'leaders' but crank this fucker up, raise a single finger to dystopia and bang yer fuckin' head.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Rise of Chaos is out on Nuclear Blast on August 4th

ALBUM REVIEW: Bloody Hammers wander the gore stained highways of horror

From the moment, you glance at the album cover, you can tell exactly what the Bloody Hammers are about...

From the naked women, vampire imagery and old school Sabbth-esque font, you can tell this is a Hammer Horror from the get go. Hell - it even bills itself as an Original Motion Picture Soundtrack!

The album aptly opens with Gates Of Hell, which sounds a bit like if you turned up the scuzz on a 69 eyes track and added a bit of Rob Zombie’s marching beats in for good measure. With themes of witching hours and journeys into the darkness, and a sythy organ sounding solo - it’s does exactly what it says on the tin.

Next up, Blood.  The track mainly consists of a pretty bare vocal track for most of the verses, which could do with a bit more oomph rather than just having the drums behind it. You can hear what they’re going for in the verse, alluding to bands like Fields of Nephilim or The Mission, but with a Tool-esque chorus it ends up feeling just a bit disjointed.

The Beyond brings in elements of John Carpenter soundtracks (think Escape From New York) with a darkwave intro and a spooky and sexy vocal line throughout. A romantic ballad, dressed in black. If you like your Goth music like I do, this will definitely be your favourite track of the album. It certainly manages to create the eerie yet sensual sense of taking a stranger’s hand and following them down the path of temptation.

Vultures Circle Overland then takes the listener in the complete opposite aural direction. Again, utilising the bare-vocal-track-and-drums-behind-it verse with the explosive chorus formula, this isn’t when the band sound at their best and ends up giving the track an early 00s Nu-Metal feel - church organ solo or not. Which, after dreamy The Beyond, leaves the listener feeling a little lost.

All The Colours Of The Dark initially shows no signs of retreating back to that Goth safe haven, with a heavy guitar riff intro. However, as soon as the synth kicks in all hope is not lost! Sensual gothness returns. All The Colours provides a nice blend between the two extremes the band can offer in The Beyond and Vultures… and this is exactly how it should be done. It feels like the band have found their grove with this track, with things feeling less jarring and juxtaposed. Very Gary Numan- esque (See: I Am Dust from Splinter for reference) in style, with moody and depressive tones this track wraps and coils around the listener like an anaconda and slowly squeezes.

Ending on The Bloodsucker Leads The Dance – it borrows organ imagery from Ghost and a deep grumbling bassline which peeks it’s head above the parapets for the first time on this track. A bit confusing at times with bassline, piano and church organ all vying for the listeners attention and seemingly equally mixed, a little bit more layering of these individual elements would have gone a long way to bring the track together. An atmospheric closer, this final dance of the dead is like a funeral procession bidding the listener farewell.

Review by Lynn Carberry

Ramblin Man 2017 Day Two: Mud, metal, rock and four packed stages

AFTER the wind and showers of Day One the dawning of the second day came with cloud and a little sun - but it wasn't long before more rain swept across Kent, dumping water on the Ramblers at Mote Park, Maidstone.

But as with the previous day those attending Ramblin Man 2017 were not to be deterred - and with four stages to chose from the day and night reverberated with guitar driven music and a lot of people with hastily donned ponchos and raincoats...

With 30 bands it was impossible for reviewers, photographers and fans to see every band - but to be spoilt for choice is no real problem when a plethora of acts are pounding out at the top of their proverbial game.

For those who are unfamiliar with Ramblin Man the stages are all within a few minutes walk, from the main stage, to the Grooverider Stage, to the Outlaw Country stage or to the Rising Stage. [NB the Grooverider stage transforms to Prog in the Park on Sunday and the Country stage transmogrifies to Blues on Sunday].

But when it all comes down to it the smorgasbord of acts had people scurrying around, simply enjoying themselves - as the arena opened to the strains of blues rockers The Nile Deltas laid back blues power.

Being biased we have to highlight the fact that Trucker Diablo and Screaming Eagles drew good crowds to the Rising Stage - engaging all with their high tempo entertainment with fists in the air and horns being thrown.

However, the main stage opened with guitar virtuoso Jared James Nichols showca
sing his talent on his trusty single pick-up Les Paul.

While Toseland were making a return to the park as their set came to a conclusion there was a noticeable buzz as people gathered to see British Lion - yes that British Lion with one Mr Steve Harris. Even in the remoteness of the Press Area there was a noticeable roar as the band mounted the stage.

While Reef had everyone's hands in the air - you know the song - on the Grooverider stage one half of Tenacious D brought joy. Yes, The Kyle Gas Band had a unique take on rock, with added dashes of fun and ridiculousness delivered to a backdrop of tight musicianship.

Despite trying to keep their composure the crowd were quickly into their second wind when Glenn Hughes mounted the main stage for a consummate performance, that of course ended with an extended version of 'Burn'.

Splitting time between a humourous and fun set by Dan Baird and the Homemade Sin and Dokken invoking the 80s abandon provided the media plenty of execise. A quick few songs were caught from the excellent Rival Sons' before the Black Star Riders stormed the main stage.

And, they really did storm it. Hit after hit, choruses belted out by band and audience. Ricky Warwick holding thousands in the palm of his hand.

With three albums to pick from the band's identity is becoming ever more solid -they truly have a live 'Killer Instinct'.

Headliners Extreme arrived with much expectation, as they were re-visiting their hit album Pornograffiti.

Of course, songs such as 'Get The Funk Out' and 'More Than Words' are lodged in the collective memory of rock fans - memes before memes took on their internet definition.

Nuno laid down some terrific solos, proving - if it ever needed proving that he is a true maestro of six-strong histrionics.

However, at times the set lacked a certain something, perhaps a band a little too confident, but the amount of people streaming out of the arena to hotels and the camp site was evidence that not everyone was overjoyed by Extreme's show.

Indeed it was the subject of much debate the next day....

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh and Lizzie Torbitt [as marked]