Rockingham – Nottingham, The Level – 22 October 2016 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby and The Dark Queen   
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 04:20

The Über Rock team may not be as fresh as the crisp Autumn morning – well, there had been a bit of a post-show session in the Tap And Tumbler following Friday’s opening night, and it would have been rude not to imbibe in a few bevvies with some of the band members and assorted other friends, old and new – but that doesn’t stop us getting to the venue bright and early to accept our invitation to witness the soundcheck (well, it helps bypass the queue!) and grab a quick interview with Jean Beauvoir, who would be making his UK solo debut later in the day… but we’ll come to that anon…


Stone Broken - Rockingham 2016


Having missed their set at Hammerfest back in March, I had been looking forward to catching up with openers Stone Broken, and I most definitely was not disappointed as the lads kick ass right from the off, possessing the energy of a hurricane in full force. Musically, they inhabit that middle ground between heavy rock and classic metal that makes them a natural fit onto almost any bill, and the band are tight and obviously having fun.


Frontman Rich Moss is cut from the same cloth as the likes of Chad Kroeger and Chris Robertson and is as confident and assured as either of said gentlemen. One of the set’s undoubted highlights is the passionate ‘Wait For You’ (which coincidentally was UR’s ‘Video Of The Week’ the very next day), but all the songs during their half hour set exhibition of their debut album, ‘All In Time’, are delivered with aplomb and appreciated enthusiasm.


  • Stone Broken support Glenn Hughes on his forthcoming tour, which kicks off in Leamington Spa on Tuesday 8 November. They also headline the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton (supported by Trucker Diablo, Mason Hill and Wicked Stone) on Saturday 12 November.


Blood Red Saints - Rockingham 2016


Blood Red Saints were one band I had seen in Pwllheli seven or so months ago, and I had been looking forward to making their re-acquaintance as they had just blown me away: equally, herself couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss I had been making since was all about! And, again, they don’t disappoint as they keep up the momentum with the exactly right combination of heaviness and melody, the latter most characterised by their brilliant use of five part vocal harmonies, which are first exhibited on the hugely impressive ‘Mercy’.


Vocalist Pete Godfrey is undoubtedly one of the best in the business, possessed as he is of a full four octave range, as well as a killer sense of humour, both of which he demonstrates to the full, while the rest of the band are tighter than a nun’s knickers (and Rob Naylor must surely have won the award for the suavest man in the building!). At just shy of 2pm, they set a trend for the rest of the day by turning back the clock (“to the days when the music on the radio was real,” as Godfrey puts it) with a nailed on souped up version of Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’, which leaves nary a dry eye in the house. The strength of their performance is recognized when Paul Laine joins them onstage for an almost elegiac duet.


Lionheart - Rockingham 2016


As Dennis Stratton points out a short way into their set, it had been 32 years since Lionheart had appeared on a stage, and had only two days of rehearsals before this special reunion show. The ring rust did appear for just a second at the beginning of the set when vocalist Lee Small misses his cue for the start of ‘Wait For The Night’, but they quickly find their stride. By ‘Hot Tonight’ – surely one of the most fondly remembered British melodic rock anthems of its generation – it may be only mid-afternoon outside but it’s certainly that inside the room, with every voice in the place raised to the ceiling.


It’s a great comeback by a band who have been sadly missed by many fans over the course of the past three decades. And the magic is still obviously there, as just a few days later Stratton announced that band – completed by fellow founder members Steve Mann and Rocky Newton and returning drummer Clive Edwards – will be heading back into the studio to record what must one of the most overdue second albums in history…


Crazy Lixx - Rockingham 2016


The one thing noticeable about Rockingham’s second day is the lack of women on the stage – but that’s something Crazy Lixx quickly rectify when they bring own female dancers to the fore for the appropriately entitled ‘Hell Raisin’ Women’. Always a consistently good live band, Lixx keep the energy level turned up to maximum, showing that the younger bucks can give the older ones a run for their money in terms of producing high quality melodic hard rock.


Danny Rexon is another consummately easy frontman, interacting on an almost one-to-one basis with the audience (and especially the ladies present, naturally) and paying attention to every corner of the room. The band’s a compact and precise sound is one which definitely cannot fail to get your toes tapping and your head moving to the infectious melodies of their impressive catalogue, which gets a “best of” style airing fitting the relative brevity of a festival slot.


The Poodles - Rockingham 2016


It could be argued, very strongly (but probably till the cows come home) that Jakob Samuel is quite possibly the most flamboyant frontman this side of Dave Lee Roth and/or Vince Neil. Certainly, he shares many characteristics with them: the long blonde hair, the stage mannerisms and his particularly individual sense of style. Add into the mix a fucking great voice, a sense for the melodramatic and showmanship oozing from every pore and you’ll sort of see where I’m coming from.


With the evening drawing in, it’s a bit like being caught in a time machine as far as The Poodles are concerned, as Pontus Egberg once again takes his place on bass duties – albeit temporarily following the sudden departure of his replacement, Johan Flodqvist. But, it’s as if he’s never been away, as he fits so smoothly back in, as the band look as tight and well-practised (especially in their smoothly choreographed stage moves) as ever. It’s another high energy, enervating performance, with highlights including the classic glam bump ‘n’ grind of ‘Beg Steal Borrow’ and gigantic closer ‘One Night Of Passion’, which provokes the biggest singalong of the weekend so far (and as a whole). The Poodles are another band who rarely, if ever, disappoint live, and tonight is no exception.


Jean Beauvoir - Rockingham 2016


If one man epitomizes the term “cool muthafucka” then it most definitely is Jean Beauvoir – the musical equivalent of ‘Demolition Man’-era Wesley Snipes and Samuel L Jackson rolled into one! He looks cool, calm and collected as he strolls onto the stage, before proving that he is most definitely ‘Rock Ready’ as he lays into an absolutely electric set that runs the entire gamut of his storied career, right back to The Plasmatics, through Voodoo X and, of course, Crown Of Thorns to his most recent Beauvoir Free project.


Reunited with Voodoo X sidekick Tommy Lafferty (of whom we would see more later in the weekend), both he and the band are as solid as the concrete foundations on the nearby building site – if not more so – especially in the rhythm section, with their combination of taut harmonies and even more tightly wound melodies. Alternating between guitar and stand-alone frontman, Beauvoir also demonstrates a sense of comedic drama in some of his song introductions, especially at the start of ‘Feel The Heat. A manic closing cover of Zeppelin’s ‘Rock N Roll’ is punky and fresh, yet faithful and beautifully sets the scene for tonight’s headliners…


Steelheart - Rockingham 2016 - Mono


… who are quite possibly the singular reason a substantial proportion of the crowd have made their pilgrimage to Rockingham (certainly, they were one of the singular deciding factors for your UR team – and especially the female half!). SteelHeart’s performance is nothing less than triumphant: virtually flawless in every regard (even down to the two stunningly delivered Led Zep covers).


It’s also an historic one, as it sees Kenny Kanowski on stage with the band for the first time in 20 years: despite having the nightmarish start to the day of having his pedals fried during the morning soundcheck, he looks like he’s never been away, as he slips effortlessly into his role stage left, writhing and dancing and wringing the living hell out of his guitar neck. The rhythm section of Mike Humbert and stand-in bassist Mårten Andersson have the precision of a Swiss watch.


But the undoubted star of the show is Miljenko Matijevic. It’s hard to describe the beauty of his vocal performance. He hits every note precisely, and with seemingly relaxed ease. He even hits the full top fifth of his range on ‘I’ll Never Let You Go’ and holds the note there for longer (and much steadier) than many singers could possibly dream, before almost out-doing himself by hitting three high Cs in succession during the ‘Immigrant Song’ encore. Of course, the set highlights have to be ‘She’s Gone’ (and herself almost is – at the knees anyway – by this stage) and ‘We All Die Young’, both of which are massive in both their delivery and reception, the latter of which is largely in the shape of goosebumps down the spines of everyone in the room.


Steelheart - Rockingham 2016


And so day two finished by fulfilling the promise that it had brought with it at the beginning. Two true moments of history were witnessed. What would the third and final day bring our way? Well, after another few social post-show soft drinks (as if!) and a good night’s sleep, it was early to rise to find out… and you can tomorrow by checking back with your frontline Über Rock reporting team…


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © The Dark Queen