Firefest Friday Nottingham Rock City 24-10-14
So 10 months after the announcement of the line up for Firefest's Final Fling the day was here.
Arrived at 5 past 1 with the queue snaking round the building and before we know it into the dark for a final time.
First up was Angels Or Kings who had won the competition for unsigned bands to open the event and at the very un rock n'roll time of 1.30 the lights went down for the first time.
Their 5 song 25 minute set focused on the release of their debut cd due to be released on Rocktopia Records the following Monday. The band had the songs ready over 20 years ago but only recently reformed with new vocalist Barrie Jackson and now finally have some product out.
Jackson gave his all maybe over straining at times but with a poor sound mix not helping with the guitars very muffled and keyboards low too.
Their best song was the last and the title track of their cd " Kings Of Nowhere " with its huge chorus going down very well.
They had a blast and I look forward to hearing the cd.
Next up were Redrum who hail from Greece and they were so pleased to be playing. Their more straight ahead rock style with plenty of head banging turned the notch up.
Their US vocalist Michael Bormann was a class act with great stage presence and huge vocals.
" Scream " and " Can't Buy No Hero " had the set off to a fine start and " Judgement Day " had big riffs and a big chorus and great guitar solo's from Panos Baxevanis and Athan Kazakis. Their sheer enthusiasm and joy to be in the building meant their 30 minutes flew past.
Next up Circus Maximus who released their latest cd in 2012 on Frontiers called Nine and their 40 minute set focused on that.
Here is what they played.
Architect Of Fortune
Arrival Of Love
Game Of Life
From an AOR band to straight ahead rock and now very progressive rock in 2 hours we had it all. Being a huge Dream Theater fan I do like my rock progressive and this was top quality.
Starting with the 10 minute " Architect Of Fortune " this song had everything thrown in bar the kitchen sink . Monster heavy riffs , keyboard swathes , heavenly bass work , time changes aplenty , crazy drum patterns but also some of my beloved light and shade which means when they crash in again it is twice as heavy.
Led by the quite fantastic vocal range of Michael Eriksen and Mats Haugen on guitars who could pick a melodic solo but also shred with the best of them.
Truls Haugen on drums was a powerhouse and also added some growly death grunts on one track too. Glen Cato Mollen on bass Lasse Finbraten on keyboards were the rock this super band were built on.
Every song was perfectly played with each member adding to the mix with everybody playing their part in a performance that for many people present would find hard to beat.
That is what Firefest is about with a band I never expected to see live being so very good.
Lets hope they return.
Half way through already and the return of Shy . One of the reasons I had bought a ticket was to see them again after 27 years and to hear their music one final time .
Their 50 minute set included the following songs
Can't Fight The Nights
Give It All You've Got
When The Love Is Over
Break Down The Walls
Talk To Me
Starting with the excellent " Skydiving " from the Unfinished Business cd was a great opener with Tony Mills in great voice . Considering the man had a heart procedure only a couple of months ago he was in fine form .
We then went back to their 80's heyday with " Telephone " and " Can't Fight The Nights " with Mills hitting the high notes and Carl Anthony Wright and Neil Hibbs on guitar embellishing the work of founder member and sadly no longer with us Steve Harris .
" When The Love Is Over " took the pace down with Mills giving us a vocal masterclass hitting every note on the best ballad of the day.
The set again flew past and the standing ovation as they left the stage was well deserved.
Next up was the Poodles and due to technical difficulties they were late on and early off and did nothing for me . The crowd enjoyed them but their song " Shut Up " for me summed it up.
Next up was the now 7 piece Ten with the live debut of new guitarists Dann Rosingana and Steve Grocott .
Their 70 minutes set mixed songs from their soon to be released new cd "Albion " and classics from their back catalogue that now stretches back 18 years .
Here is what they played.
Fear The Force
The Lights Go Down
After The Love Is Gone
Alone In The Dark Tonight
The Name Of The Rose
Starting with 3 out and out classics was just superb . No sign of The Poodles technical difficulties with Rosingana especially standing out with his melodic soloing .
Gary Hughes may not look like he did back in the day but he was in great voice . Singing in a slightly deeper register he handled the vocals on rockers and ballads alike . He looked like he was enjoying the company of his new band too .
The 3 new songs from " Albion " all had the classic Ten sound of big vocals and melodic rock at it's finest . " Alone In The Dark Tonight " will be the first single and it's chorus would have been all over the radio when The Friday Rock Show ruled the waves .
" After The Love Is Gone " had the crowd in fine voice before the classic " Red " had the whole place go up a notch with band and crowd at one .
Ably backed up by John Halliwell on rhythm guitar the 2 new boys solo'd when required and showed a fine melodic tone but also the ability to shred when needed .
Ending with " The Name Of The Rose " was the only way to go and Gary promised to return in the New Year .
Back in 2010 I attended my first Firefest . I have only ever been to the Friday version ( getting too old ) and that year that was played around the corner at the Trent University site had H.E.A.T. as headliner. It was only their second show with new vocalist Erik Gronwall after the sudden departure of Kenny Leckremo .
4 years later and after 2 quite wonderful albums they are now genuine contenders to carry this genre on into the next decade .
I saw their London garage show in May and was blown away by the new material and their scintillating live show .
As show time drew near the expectation grew so as they hit the stage both band and crowd went nuts .
For 80 minutes we sang our vocal chords to within an inch of their life and bellowed our approval at one of if not the most exciting live band on the planet .
Here is what they played
Point Of No Return
A Shot At Redemption
Better Of Alone
It's All About Tonight
Tearing Down The Walls
Late Night Lady
Beg Beg Beg with Highway Star by Deep Purple snippet
All The Nights
Rebel Son ( Jimi Jamison Survivor tribute )
Enemy In Me
Encore of Living On The Run
Where to start . At last a great sound with everything loud and clear . I'll talk about the band members first. Jona Tee on keyboards adds a real depth to the sound and great to hear him this time . Both he and Jimmy Jay on bass have great backing vocals too and Crash on drums is really the man that gets them ticking over. Plenty of fills and the engine that gives them such life.
Eric Rivers on guitar has really stepped out of the shadows since the departure of Dave Dalone before the recording of "Tearing Down The Walls " . His stage persona has grown a thousand per cent and his razor sharp riffing and melodic soling are now a major feature of the band .
Last by no means least Erik Gronwall is just a phenomenon . The Duracell bunny on extra heavy duty batteries . He is the best frontman on the planet . He is always on the go cajoling the crowd for more , shadow boxing , in the front row with the fans but also an excellent vocalist too.
With the set mainly culled from the 2 albums with Erik it is hit song after hit song . Opener " Point Of No Return " hits hard before " A Shot At Redemption " takes the crowd singing to a level not heard in many a year .
I won't mention every song the quality of performance and crowd involvement never dropped for a second .
Armed with an acoustic guitar did slow Erik down for the title track of the new cd and showed his vocal range off to the fore .
As did the keyboard and vocal " All The Nights " which was sang heartily by all.
Jimmy Jay gave a personal touch with his introduction for a cover song . He had been lucky enough to play with Jimi Jamison at 2 Firefest's and the band played a quite wonderful version of " Rebel Son " in tribute to the legendary vocalist who sadly passed away recently.
I for one will always remember seeing Jimi in 2011 and the hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention for the whole song . Superb Erik vocal on the song did the song and great man justice .
The last 3 songs kept the level at a peak that few can match and a romp through " Living On The Run " with Erik being carried on his back over the crowd at the end of the song saw it end on a massive high .
Luckily I see them again in December in London as there star continues to soar .
And so it was over and if that was The Final fling what a way to end .
To Kieran and Bruce and all the Firefest crew thanks for many great memories and what will I do next October ?