Iron Maiden @ O2 Arena: Metal Gods Still Flying High

“Doctor doctor, please, don’t you know I’m goin’ fast.  Doctor doctor, please, don’t you know I just can’t live.
[…] Livin’ lovin’ I’m on the run. So far away from you. Livin’ lovin’ I’m on the run. So far away from you.”

The famous UFO song (always played at the start of an Iron Maiden gig) is a promise that makes the audience roar. Knowing that their heroes are about to hit the stage, the thousands of loud, sweaty people in the arena scream even louder than they have for the past 15 minutes.

This is the type of audience most bands can only dream of. But this is no ordinary audience, no ordinary band, no ordinary night. These people – from teenagers to their retirement-age parents – have turned up at The O2 in London to witness the final show of Iron Maiden‘s spectacular Legacy Of The Beast 2018 Tour, an experience that’s been 43 years in the making.

Iron Maiden (Edyta K)

Iron Maiden (Edyta K)

“We shall fight them on the beaches…” The famous Churchill speech booms around the arena like a punch in the face of today’s world, where fascism has been reborn with new names, handshakes, fake smiles, and clothes. In a world where intolerance has slowly become the norm, it takes guts to speak about freedom and sacrifice.

Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

To the sound of a roaring engine in mid-flight, the stage explodes in lights to reveal an almost full-sized replica of the actual Mk VB Supermarine Spitfire (registration number AA 853 from 302 Squadron) flown by a young Polish pilot on duty in 1941.

Iron Maiden (Edyta K)

Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

As the plane flies above the stage, the distinctive riff of Aces High hits the air and singer Bruce Dickinson jumps straight out of nowhere dressed in pilot’s goggles and leather jacket. Without a doubt, this is the most spectacular start to a show I’ve ever seen.

Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

Janick Gers (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

Where Eagles Dare brings a full scenery change. The Spitfire, goggles, and pilot jacket are gone. With the energy a 20-year-old could envy, Dickinson jumps out in a white winter jacket and hat. It’s hot as hell, yet the group embrace the winter theme with the frontman effortlessly running and singing one of his greatest hits. But despite how easy he makes it look, pushing his voice and body to their absolute limits, Dickinson and the rest of Iron Maiden aren’t just going through the motions.

This isn’t just another night on tour. This is a night of enjoyment and celebration, not just for the fans but for the band themselves. As an Iron Maiden fan, I’ve seen them live multiple times and they’ve never sounded better. This is a night that sends shivers down your spine, that redefines your view on the British music scene.

Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

“Scream For Me London!” Yells Bruce as the band rushed into 2 Minutes To Midnight. The classic tune brings another change in Bruce outfit and sets the different mood to the performance. Bruce is back on the front line, leading his band and fans, like a ship captain during a storm. What a way to celebrate his 60th Birthday that happens to be only a few days before London’s show.

Iron Maiden (Edyta K)

Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

The Trooper brings the band’s mascot, Eddie, to the stage for a sword fight with Dickinson. It’s just one part of a carefully planned performance where, as promised by the singer, the music and pictures tell the story. The well-oiled metal machine known as Iron Maiden smoothly moves from song to song and theme to theme. Revelations, For The Greater Good Of God, Sign Of The Cross, and Flight Of Icarus (back in the set after only 32 years) comprise a precisely planned anti-war, anti-fascist metal opera with crosses, smoke, and singalongs.

Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

In a set that’s equally big on fan favourites, long-lost classics, and the hits, Fear Of The Dark is the peak, as usual. The crowd somehow scream even louder than before and sing every single word of the band’s anthem, before The Number Of The Beast and finally Iron Maiden (the song) wrap up the first part of the show. But the true fans know it’s not yet over. Even with the lights out, it’s still not the end, it’s just the break until you hear Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.

Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

And they’re back, in full power and style with The Evil That Men Do, Hallowed Be Thy Name, and finally Run To The Hills. The air is heavy, and the person standing next to you looks like a friend you’ve known for years. This is the magic of music connecting generations. This is Iron Maiden.

Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden) (Edyta K)

The crowd for Iron Maiden (Edyta K)

Words and Photography by Edyta K at Iron Maiden live @ O2 Arena, 11th August 2018


The Struts Bring Manchester To The Boil

The blisters have healed. My voice has gone back to normal. And my neck no longer hurts every time I move. It’s only taken three weeks for my body to go back to normal after seeing The Struts in a tiny Manchester club called Gorilla.

That’s because these fine young lads from Derby really know how to put on an energetic show that takes everything out of the audience.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

Far more popular across the pond than in their homeland, The Struts are vocalist Luke Spiller, guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott, and drummer Gethin Davies. They formed in 2009, and after a period of touring small clubs across the UK, released their debut album Everybody Wants in 2014. They also set about conquering the US, settling in Los Angeles in 2015 and going on to appear on late night TV shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night With Seth Meyers, opening for Guns’n’Roses and The Who on dates of their recent North American tours, and supporting Foo Fighters on the US leg of their current Concrete And Gold world tour.

Meanwhile, their debut album picked up an audience in the States and the 20 headline shows promoting Everybody Wants all sold out. (Their Los Angeles debut at The Troubadour did so within 30 minutes.) 

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

It’s a shame that a British band have to go to the US to make it big. But their homegrown fans certainly haven’t forgotten about them. Even without any promotion, and with very little radio and magazine support, The Struts’ two UK dates sold out within a day. And on show day there’s a long queue to get into the tiny Manchester club, hours before the doors open.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

Luke is the driving force behind the phenomenon of The Struts. Described by some as the impossible love child of Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury, he combines the best of both. He is the King and the Queen, a Wizard, a Charlatan, an ancient Rainmaker; he owns the stage and the crowd, he takes your soul and leaves no hostages.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

It’s a hot June afternoon and Gorilla is packed to capacity when the band hit the stage. They kick off with Put Your Hands Up and you immediately know it’s going to be a night of dance and joy. Five hundred raised pairs of hands can’t be wrong, as they respond to a man who turns the temperature up even further and makes the whole room jump (simply by demanding it).

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

“Are you sweating yet? Let me tell you, if you’re not, you’re not doing it right!” Luke screams from the stage, encouraging the fans to jump even higher, sing louder, and wave their hands continuously – creating a feeling of unity in ecstasy.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

The audience consists mostly of young people, and what’s surprising is that they’re mostly disconnected from their phones. There’s a sea of hands instead of a sea of mobile phones raised in an attempt to capture the moment.  In fact, they’re all in the moment, enjoying the here and now, rather than trying to get that blurry picture of their idol.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

Storming through the set of funky, melodic rock gems, Luke teases and challenges the crowd with his arsenal of tricks. He calls them out, encouraging them with gestures, his voice, or just the look on his face. He’s funny and acts like he was born on stage, making other bands seem dull in comparison.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

One Night Only, Primadonna, and Kiss Kiss are the highlights of the night, causing the crowd to erupt with even louder applause and singing. It’s at this point that Luke mentions they’ll be filming a live video for Body Talks, the new single from their upcoming second album.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

The fans (somehow) get even more excited, dancing and screaming like there’s no tomorrow, while Luke takes the opportunity to give his label and PR reps, present in the room, a cold shower.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

In terms of The Struts’ influences, the first that come to mind are Queen, The Rolling Stones, Joan Jett, Def Leppard, The Smiths, Oasis, and Aerosmith. So I’m really pleasantly surprised to hear a stellar cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark, that even involves a fan coming up on stage to dance with the band (like Courteney Cox in the original’s classic music video).

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

Putting that much energy into the performance on a hot day, in a steaming room, requires a lot of commitment and a bit of break. After a short encore timeout, Adam, Jet, and Gethin return. Without their charismatic leader, there’s finally time for them to showcase their ability to interact with the crowd. Impressive guitar riffs and funky basslines, along with an excellent drum solo, keep the audience occupied as they wait for the Shaman to return.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

He returns in a different outfit, presenting his leather jacket proudly to the audience. It takes a lot of commitment to stay dressed like that when the temperature’s so high, let alone come back in another leather jacket.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

Shhhhh,” Luke tells the crowd, silencing them with just a hand gesture. Apparently, he’s blown the budget on his outfit and there’s none left for fireworks. So he’s come up with the idea of “man-fireworks”: the audience sit on the floor and, on his signal, jump up high while pretending to explode like sparklers.

The Struts (Edyta K)

The Struts (Edyta K)

As we’re in Manchester, The Struts invite up Tim Ogden and Josh Dewhurst of local heroes The Blossoms to join in on another cover, Rebel RebelIt wouldn’t be fair to judge them on just one song, but the guests seem overwhelmed by the atmosphere in the venue. And, to be fair, there aren’t many bands that can keep up with Luke.

The Struts Feat Blossoms (Edyta K)

The Struts Feat Blossoms (Edyta K)

The Struts end the show with two strong hits of their own: Could Have Been Me and Where Did She Go, leaving fans hungry for more. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for their next appearance in the UK.

The Second Sons (Edyta K)

The Second Sons (Edyta K)

The Second Sons (Edyta K)

The Struts were supported by The Second Sons, a punk-glam band boasting catchy tunes and a ’70s look.

The Struts live @ Gorilla, Manchester, 20th June 2018
Review and photography by Edyta K

 

Stone Free Festival In Photographs

Not every music lover is automatically an outdoor festival goer. The idea of seeing different bands over a weekend might be appealing, but the prospect of torrential rain, mud, temperatures of 30 degrees, or sleeping in a tent can be enough to stop people from going to festivals.

Richie Kotzen (Edyta K)

Richie Kotzen (Edyta K)

But there’s an alternative. No need to pitch a tent. Or prepare for all types of weather. Just hop on the tube and head to The O2, where there’s no chance of the unpredictable English summer stopping the fun. Now in its third year and expanded to a two-day event, Stone Free Festival makes the most of the London venue for a jam-packed lineup of music.

Scorpions (Edyta K)

Scorpions (Edyta K)

The first day of the festival was a real feast for metal and hard-rock fans. With bands like Megadeth and Scorpions headlining O2 Arena, the venue became a home for all metal-related activities.

Stone Free Festival (Edyta K)

Aside from the O2 Arena, Stone Free Festival took over the more intimate Indigo, the Orange Amps Stage located near the entrance, and Speak Easy Lounge, home for acoustic acts, activists, and stand up comedians. Situated inside All Bar One, it was also a place to chill out, relax, and snuggle on a sofa under golden lights.

Stone Free Festival (Edyta K)

In addition to the live entertainment, a record and music memorabilia fair was held inside the main building on Saturday afternoon.

Stone Free Festival (Edyta K)

The Orange Amps Stage was built outside the main building and presented festival goers and passers-by with a selection of upcoming young bands rocking from the early afternoon. It was the first stage to start with the music and the only one with free entry. Featuring Nitroville, Killit, Anchor Lanne, Dirty Thrills, and Dax & Roxanne, the stage constantly pulled in a crowd. But it was Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics who took my breath away.

Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics (Edyta K)

Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics (Edyta K)

Laurie Buchanan playing with Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics (Edyta K)

Headlining the smallest stage, the London-based five-piece rocked my socks off. With an energy rivaling Pearl Jam’s performances with an added hint of Arctic Monkeys melody lines, and the girl power of Shirley Manson, the band has found a recipe for success. There is no surprise the group performed at last year’s Download Festival. To be honest, I was surprised they were chosen to play the smallest stage at Stone Free Festival. In my opinion, they deserved a slot at Indigo, and in a no time could be headlining that stage.

Warrior Soul (Edyta K)

Warrior Soul (Edyta K)

Inside the main building, Indigo featured various acts from mid-afternoon. Triggerfinger and Stone Broken delivered strong sets and, as expected, filled the venue with raised arms and voices. But the night had only two kings: Soul Warrior and Orange Goblin.

Warrior Soul (Edyta K)

Warrior Soul (Edyta K)

Warrior Soul (Edyta K)

The American alternative metal group Soul Warrior probably had their greatest commercial success in the early ’90s when Nirvana pushed the alternative sound to the masses. But the band have preserved and continued to deliver album after album to their sturdy fan base. Kory Clark’s dirty vocals combined with impressive guitar riffs and his charismatic stage personality won over the crowd as easily as in their heyday.

Warrior Soul (Edyta K)

Warrior Soul (Edyta K)

Headlining the Indigo stage, London-based Orange Goblin confirmed that they can live up to all the hype that surrounds them. Vocalist Ben Ward was hailed as the monster on the stage, “the Thunder”, “the Man”. Well, he lived up to his nicknames and after the Indigo show could add a few more to his collection.

Orange Goblin (Edyta K)

Orange Goblin (Edyta K)

Orange Goblin (Edyta K)

The four-piece hard rock and metal band are very British in their look and influences. If anything, the presence of Lemmy is more than felt from the moment they hit the stage and unleashed their massive sound. Devil’s Whip, Saruman’s Wish, and Stand On Something were the highlights of the set with the audience going nuts watching Ben spit water on stage.

Orange Goblin (Edyta K)

Orange Goblin (Edyta K)

Orange Goblin (Edyta K)

The Orange Goblin set could be only topped by the real rock legends: Scorpions. The German rock veterans brought their Crazy World Tour to London, kicking off with Going Out With A Bang. Singer Klaus Meine, rhythm/lead guitarist Rudolf Schenker, and guitarist Matthias Jabs dominated the whole stage and runway, swinging back and forth, encouraging singalongs and mastering the art of owning an arena. With over 110 million records sold worldwide, the band celebrated their music and fans in style by playing all-time favourites like Is Anybody There, Still Loving You, Winds Of Change, and Rock You Like A Hurricane. And once again Lemmy Kilmister was celebrated in the best possible way, with a stellar cover of  Motorhead’s Overkill.

Scorpions (Edyta K)

Scorpions (Edyta K)

Scorpions (Edyta K)

Scorpions (Edyta K)

Sunday brought Father’s Day and a far more relaxed atmosphere at The O2. It was a wise choice to make this day a celebration of prog and blues. The small stages opened around midday and the festival site once again began to fill with music lovers of all ages, not just dads.

Godsticks (Edyta K)

Godsticks (Edyta K)

Godsticks, a five-piece progressive rock band from Cardiff opened the day at the Indigo stage. Hailed by Metal Hammer magazine as “one of the UK’s most idiosyncratic rock bands” they were one of the groups on my must-see list. I must admit I was slightly shocked seeing the venue fairly empty during their set. Energetic, with heavy guitar riffs and echoes of symphonic metal, Godsticks are a band I need to see at least one more time, on their own, preferably headlining their own gig.

Godsticks (Edyta K)

Meanwhile, on the Orange Amps Stage, Fire Red Empress rocked hard on Sunday afternoon, bombarding the audience with music and emotions. The vocalist Jen Diehl threw herself into ecstatic dance on a stage that looked too small for her potential and the band’s performance. She screamed her soul out, repeatedly kicking the air and jumping up and down. Without a doubt, this was another band that could do with an upgrade to Indigo.

Fire Red Empress (Edyta K)

Fire Red Empress (Edyta K)

On the other end of the scale stood Ginger Wildheart on the Indigo stage. After the pure energy and wild force of Fire Red Empress, it was time for a much-needed acoustic set.

 

Ginger Wildheart (Edyta K)

Ginger Wildheart (Edyta K)

Wildheart, better known for his glam rock sets, decided to put on a show that could be broadcast on MTV’s Unplugged Sessions.

Ginger Wildheart (Edyta K)

Still in Indigo, it was time for Tyketto, who are possibly still best known from their 1991 single Forever Young. Their set sounded as good and fresh as it would have in the ’90s. With breathtaking guitar riffs and, after all those years, crystal clear vocals, the band pulled off a show that changed the 2500-capacity room into a dancefloor.

Tyketto (Edyta K)

Tyketto (Edyta K)

Tyketto (Edyta K)

Tyketto (Edyta K)

Up next, ex-Poison, ex-Winery Dogs, ex-Mr. Big guitar god Richie Kotzen was one of the most awaited acts of the day. He delivered a series of classy licks from his own catalogue and probably the only reason his set wasn’t longer was the arrival of Anathema to open the main stage.

Richie Kotzen (Edyta K)

Richie Kotzen (Edyta K)

Richie Kotzen (Edyta K)

Anathema are another group that started in the ’90s and continue to perform. Evolving from a heavy metal sound to ambient prog landscapes, the current incarnation is more Tangerine Dream or early Pink Floyd than the gothic metal old fans might expect. Personally, I found it a somewhat calming experience, the kind of music that goes best with a cup of tea in your favourite armchair.

Anathema (Edyta K)

Anathema (Edyta K)

Anathema (Edyta K)

Anathema (Edyta K)

As the day goes by everyone awaited acts were finally taking the stage at O2 Arena. Roger Hodgson from Supertramp and YES featuring ARW.

Roger Hodgson of Supertramp (Edyta K)

Roger Hodgson (Edyta K)

Roger Hodgson of Supertramp (Edyta K)

The audience filled the O2 Arena with sounds of excitement and joy as Roger appeared on stage. Moody lights, plants, white piano and brought on stage band helped ex Supertramp to deliver a spectacular show. An hour set filled with fans favourites School, The Logical Song, Give A Little Bit, and as Roger said the song that seems to be popular around the world, but no one quite gets it like the British, Breakfast In America. It was almost a shame that there was another act coming up that night.

YES ft. ARW (Edyta K)

YES ft. ARW (Edyta K)

The Owner Of A Lonely Heart hitmakers, Yes featuring ARW, closed the Stone Free Festival as Sunday’s headliner. Celebrating their 50th anniversary, Anderson, Wakeman, and Rabin brought back the beloved ’80s version of Yes. With songs like Cinema, Hold On, And You And I, Rhythm Of Love, Heart Of The Sunrise, Owner Of A Lonely Heart, and the closing encore Roundabout this was one of the greatest nights in prog music history with a legendary band once again proving to the old school fans and new generations that music doesn’t have an expiry date.

Stone Free Festival, London O2 Arena, 16-17 June 2018
Words and photography by Edyta K

 

https://rockshotmagazine.com/210139/roger-hodgson-over-oslo/

Stone Free Festival – Fathers Day With Blues & Prog At O2 Arena

This was my first time at Stone Free Festival, which is a well thought out two-day event.  Day 2 was billed as Prog and Blues, but there was enough variety to keep everyone entertained.

The whole of the O2 venue is used, from the undercover Orange Amp stage (which is outside near the entrance) to Indigo at the O2 (a smaller venue inside with a great stage plus plenty of room to move around). The main arena also comes into play later in the day.

Stone Wire (Edyta K)

When I arrived, I caught a few minutes of StoneWire, with a female singer, Sky Hunter, who really impressed me and made me wish I was there a bit earlier to hear the whole of their set. They had a great groove going on from the two guitarists, Gaz Annable and Duncan Greenway plus solid bass lines from Steve Briggs. The drumming was provided by Rob Glasner. They’re a band I really want to hear more of as they are vibrant with a blues-rock vibe that reminds me slightly of Blues Pills.

Jared James Nichols (Edyta K)

Then it was off to Indigo to see Jared James Nichols who’s a very impressive guitarist, ably supported by Dennis Holm on drums and Gregg Cash on bass. For a three-piece this band really know how to produce a huge amount of sound. Jared was full of blues swagger, looking every bit the front man, with his flowing blonde hair whipping about, while he creates the most sublime riffs. The crowd really grew and I could see loads of people dancing along.

Jared James Nichols (Edyta K)

Gregg provides thundering bass which works really well in adding contrast between the rising licks that Jared produces effortlessly. It’s really fun to watch the interplay between the two musicians, especially when they do their mock guitar battles. The crowd were willing participants when asked, very nicely, by Jared to sing along during Baby Can You Feel It, eventually winding them up to “Scream that shit with me!” A great set that delighted the crowd although it was over too quickly.

Jared James Nichols (Edyta K)

Back outside at the Orange Amp stage I heard a couple of songs by Vambo, a four-piece rock band who seem to me to be influenced by a number of ‘70s bands.  This is not a bad thing as they provided music that felt comfortable, allowing you to nod your head along to the rhythm. The riffs were plentiful with precision drumming and bass grooves that really stood out.

Vambo (Edyta K)

Next up were The Rising Souls. Unfortunately, I didn’t see much of their set, which was a real shame as they sounded fantastic. They’re a combination of Rival Sons and The Temperance Movement, with rich, sonorous  vocals that pack a real punch. They drew a large crowd and it wasn’t hard to see why: they had an infectious groove going on that was putting a smile on many faces. I definitely want to see more of this band as theirs is feel good music played extremely well.

The Rising Souls (Edyta K)

The Rising Souls (Edyta K)

Back to the Indigo for Tyketto who drew a large crowd.  Lead vocalist Danny Vaughn really interacted with the crowd, who loved him for it. There was great camaraderie on stage between all the band members, with nodding smiles, some laughs, and everyone having their moment to shine.

Tyketto (Edyta K)

The precision playing was top notch, combining soaring vocals and elegant guitars.  Danny quipped that he was “not doing his best Michael Jackson” impression and explained that they played a gig the night before in Switzerland, got three hours’ sleep, and that his underwear “was a bit loose as a result”. It’s nearly the 25th anniversary of their second album Strength In Numbers and so they played Rescue Me, a song inspired by a letter the band received from a fan.

Tyketto (Edyta K)

This is a band who know that chugging bass lines, fluid riffs, and great vocals will win over an audience. Getting the crowd involved was also a large part of their set, encouraging them to sing along to Lay Your Body Down.

Tyketto (Edyta K)

It’s back outside to see the band closing the Orange Amp stage, after their endorsement by Orange earlier this year: The Bad Flowers. This was a personal highlight for me as I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this band grow both in stature and ability over the years I’ve been following them. It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen them that their deep, funky basslines, precise and vibrant riffs, plus the throbbing drums went down really well with the crowd. The Bad Flowers drew people to them like moths to a flame, seducing them with the infectious sound they create, combined with lyrics you can sing along to, and melodies that make your toes tap and head nod.

Bad Flowers (Edyta K)

From the starting track of Lions Blood to the closing of City Lights, this was a set that delighted and hit the crowd hard. The thunderous riffs made Tom Leighton’s hat fly off, whilst Dale Tonks’ basslines were so deep and funk-filled that he got his own moment in the spotlight. Not hard to see why when he plays his bass like a lead guitar. There was stick twirling aplenty from Karl Selickis, who managed to combine precision with intensity and did more than just keep time. Hurricane kept the howling wind at bay and even brought out the sun for a few moments. Tom thanked everyone for coming to see them, outlining just what a huge year this has already been, acknowledging everyone from Planet Rock to the audience in a voice that could barely contain his emotion. This was a blistering finale to the Orange Amps stage and one that will not be forgotten for a long time.

Bad Flowers (Edyta K)

Bad Flowers (Edyta K)

The next act I got to see was Roger Hodgson of Supertramp in the main O2 Arena. The beautifully crafted Take The Long Way Home, which took me right back to childhood holidays, featured really strong vocals and was the perfect opener to a pretty perfect set. Roger, looking resplendent in his white suit and deep blue shirt, gave a heartfelt introduction, saying how emotional he was and how glad he was to be in the UK.

Roger Hodgson of Supertramp (Edyta K)

He moved effortlessly from keys to piano and guitar, playing all the hits you would want including School and Breakfast in America, which Roger joked that only the UK audiences get. Logical Song, featuring extremely sultry sax playing, was perfect for me, being Father’s Day, as my dad loved this track.

Roger Hodgson of Supertramp (Edyta K)

The band were impeccably tight, each knowing precisely what was required of them.  As Roger raised his tea cup to the audience, he said the UK tugs at his heart strings as the tracks were mainly written here, and he was grateful to have touched so many people. Fool’s Overture was moving and hauntingly beautiful, Give A Little Bit got the crowd singing and clapping along while Roger played acoustic guitar, and set finale It’s Raining Again sounded perfect and far too cheerful for the lyrics.

Roger Hodgson of Supertramp (Edyta K)

The crowd adored him, giving rapturous applause and it was very easy to understand why: his was a perfect performance, very tight and beautifully executed.

YES ft. ARW (Edyta K)

To round off the night we got to see a very small part of the set by Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman. With Rick wearing his red, sequined cape looking like a mighty wizard and Jon in a silver suit, they kicked off with Cinema. This again promised to be another slick set, the music wrapping you up in clouds of cotton wool. The mesmeric beauty of Hold On was next up, with Jon hitting even the highest notes, backed up by first-class playing from the rest of the band.

YES ft. ARW (Edyta K)

YES ft. ARW (Edyta K)

They sounded so good, I’d have loved to stay for the entire performance. But, as an amazing rendition of Perpetual Change began ringing out, I had to start making my way home, unfortunately cutting short a full day of excellent music and performances. I’m sure I’ll be back next year.

Stone Free Festival, 16th June 2018, London O2 Arena

Review by Samantha Lamb and Photography by Edyta K of Stone Free Festival, 16th June 2018, London O2 Arena

Phoxjaw An Interview With A Band That Bites

2000trees were excited to add Phoxjaw to their festival lineup, so I took some time to get to know a little more about the Bristol alt-rock band who have been getting a fair bit of attention this year.

I began our interview by getting a little introduction to the five band members, and how they met. Brothers Kieran Gallopvocals & drums and Josh Gallop, who plays guitar, were previously in a metal band together. Guitarist Glenn Hawkins and bassist & vocalist Danny Garland had met at school and also spent time with each other in groupss. And Huw Allen was the latest addition to the group after they decided to add some synth and keys.

Phoxjaw (Edyta K)

In a time where there are so many mundane band names doing the rounds, how did they end up with theirs?

“It was a word engraved on Josh and Kieran’s great nan’s ancient wooden leg,” they say at first, before confirming: “Nah, that’s a lie. It was plucked out of thin air but we decided to be super edgy and replace the F for a PH.”

Phoxjaw (Edyta K)

They’ve also been super busy: we’re not even six months into 2018 and they’ve released an EP, toured the UK, and made a music video.

“It was all shot in one day, a very long day at that,” they say of the clip for Triceratops. “We started around 10 in the morning and didn’t get finished till at least 10 or 11 that night.”

The shoot took place at John Wesley Methodist Church in Bristol. It’s a beautiful setting, so a lot of work must have been put into making it appear as dark and intense as it does onscreen.

“It was by chance that our videographer James Harris knew somebody who could get us access to the church. It was a fantastic venue and was exactly what we were after when we pitched James the idea, something grand that would look great on camera.”

Filming can be a very stressful time, especially if you’re doing it for 12 hours non-stop, but the band made it through the day unscathed.

“We filmed all the performance shots first in the church, then went back to another location for the attic torture scene,” they explain. “Huw and Danny were so convincing with their acting in the torture scene we all looked at each other after and had to go get a pint to wind down. It was super intense.

“”We are stoked with the result, so it was all worth it.”

Phoxjaw (Edyta K)

Triceratops is taken from the new EP Dinosaur, which has been extremely well received and has had some glowing reviews.

“It’s been awesome,” they say of the response. “We’ve been quite taken aback by how much people are loving it. Hearing that people are finding their own meanings in the songs and the lyrics.

“The EP was out for about 5 days before we did our hometown EP launch gig and people were already singing the lyrics back to us, which is an amazing feeling. It just keeps on growing and growing as well, so we are excited to see what more comes of it.“

Phoxjaw (Edyta K)

But what makes a band choose to go with an EP over an album? It must be a hard decision to make, especially as this will be the first thing many will hear of the band.

“We really wanted a body of work to release that had a cohesive feel throughout. We are all fans of albums but with the way people consume music at the moment, especially when you are a relatively new band, it made more sense to put out an EP. There is also a lot of pressure on a debut nowadays, we are working towards an album though.”

Phoxjaw (Edyta K)

Alongside the music releases, Phoxjaw have spent time on the road touring the UK experiencing new venues, and making new friends.

“Each date had its charm for us and it was great hitting some places we’ve never been before, Bristol was a great show as we previously mentioned, being our own city and all. We really enjoyed Brighton as it’s just a great place to be in and the Green Door Store is a great venue. We also really enjoyed Swindon; we played with a great band called The Guts who were phenomenal, so can’t wait to hook up with those guys again.”

With festival season on the way, the band’s enthusiasm for 2000trees matched that of the festival organisers.

“We are very excited to have that one, it was a bit of a goal for us when we first started this band to play there, and we didn’t think it’d happen so soon.”

Phoxjaw (Edyta K)

The band are looking forward to finding out the difference between playing a run of the mill gig, and a festival. They don’t plan on changing anything in their performance though.

“Being a relatively new band we kind of missed out a bit on festival season last year due to recording for this release so we are going to find out ourselves! We’ll bring the same energy though as we put into any Phoxjaw show. Whether we’re playing to 1000 people or 10 people, if you are at a Phoxjaw gig you are going to be entertained.”

That sounds promising, and I’ll be sure to catch them alongside their suggestions of other acts to catch.

“Loads of great bands we look up to are playing the festival, but go check our mates in Black Peaks, Holding Absence, Soeur, and Haggard Cat. They all kick ass,” the band advise.

I finish up asking the hardest question of all. One that really makes you think about your answer and Phoxjaw don’t let themselves down. With the dinosaur EP theme they had going on, what’s their favourite dinosaur?

“Oooooh this is a tough one, but I’m gonna go with the Diplodocus because they’ve got a long neck and I’d love to see one at our gig head banging. T-Rex would be no good in the mosh pit if it fell over because of the short arms!”

Catch Phoxjaw at 2000trees on Friday 13th July at The Cave.

2000trees tickets are now available at https://www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk/

Paul Lyme in conversation with Phoxjaw May 2018

Portrait Photography by Edyta Krzesak

https://rockshotmagazine.com/206612/frank-turner-urges-us-kind/