STONEDEAD FESTIVAL 2021
Newark Showground, United Kingdom
Saturday, August 28th, 2021
All Festival Coverage: Nicky Barker
And as I had hoped… Saturday WAS something else…
It’s at this point I would like to praise the organizers of the festival for making the 2021 show happen. Not only have they had to deal with putting on an incredible show, but Covid meant there were multiple bands that could not make it so replacement bands had to be found. Stonedead managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat every time.
With only 5 days to go Saturday Festival headliners Black Star Riders announced that one of their members had tested positive for Covid and were unable to make it. The organizers worked their magic and Uriah Heep were anointed as the new headliners. Then on the morning of the event, Treatment had to cancel and with some quick juggling and coordination, instead of pressing on a band down, they were able to to be fill the slot with Absolva.
Saturday and the weather gods were being very kind indeed. The sun was shining and everyone was in a great mood. Laughing and having a great time. There was such a lovely atmosphere everywhere. A steady stream of rockers arrived in the arena ready for the days monster rock show.
Dead Man’s Whiskey
Dead Man’s Whiskey are a 5- piece, hard rock band from London, UK. They are Nic Rodgers (vocals), Billy Kons (lead guitar), Elliot D’Alverez (rhythm guitar), James Titley (bass) and Charlie Gray (drums).
Opening up a monster rock show can never be easy, but these guys absolutely nailed it. They have a really big sound. Nic’s vocals have a Southern rock vibe about them. They played songs from their debut album ‘Under the Gun’ including ‘Make You Proud’ (a beautiful power ballad written as tribute to his mum) as well as more recent tunes ‘Last Train‘ and ‘Breakout’. I really enjoyed their set. It was a very good start to the day
The next band on the bill should have been The Treatment, however, Covid struck again and one of its members had unfortunately tested positive. Stonedead in true fashion conjured up a replacement who turned out to be Manchester based metal band Absolva. The band have twin lead guitars giving a heavy, classic metal sound, with clear influences from Iron Maiden/Sabbath/Priest. For being brought in at the last minute Absolva did a sterling job.
Due to the band change, Myke Gray’s set was slightly later than billed. Formally of Jagged Edge, Red White and Blues and Skin, Myke Gray is no stranger to the rock music scene. His dedication and commitment to his craft is admirable. Myke only got married in June, but has left his wife and step daughter in Florida to fulfill his commitments to both Stonedead and The Rock and Blues festivals. It was last year when he had said he would do the festival and he stuck to his word. In Myke’s words “my word is my bond”. A true professional.
Singing today for Myke Gray was the very talented Daniel Byrne. Daniel is the frontman of Revival Black, but has also sung for Myke a few times in recent months. Blasting on to stage in his signature black and white trousers, donning his Gibson Flying V Myke and his band ripped straight into ‘Stand Up For Rock and Roll’.
Daniel Bynes vocals are phenomenal, you would be under the impression he had been singing the Skin and Jagged Edge songs for years. Not only did we have streamers and pyrotechnics on stage but also during their set a Spitfire circled overhead above the arena. A real feel-good moment.
The crowd sang along happily to ‘Tower of Strength’ before ‘Shine Your Light’ brought Myke Gray’s set to an end. Holding his Flying V high in the air as smoke billowed out, Myke showed his appreciation for the crowd as they did the same for him.
Wolfsbane frontman Blaze Bayley was up next. As I started taking pictures, I thought his backing band looked familiar, then I realized they were the members of Absolva who had played earlier in the day.
Blaze was Bruce Dickinson’s replacement in Iron Maiden for 5 years between 1994-1999. These maiden years were reflected in his set today as all the songs were Maiden tunes. ‘Lord of The Flies’, ‘Sign of The Cross’, ‘The Clansman’, and ‘Man on the Edge’. Blaze gave his usual passionate vocal performance. The fans were delighted when he mentioned the release of a new Wolfsbane album in the near future.
At this point I would like to give a shout out to the stage crew working tirelessly behind the scenes. The changeover of bands was seamless and there was hardly any wait at all. It seemed as though as one band finished another started. As we were waiting, we were treated to crackin’ rock tunes brought to us by MMH radio DJ’s.
Kris Barras Band
I have followed Kris Barras from very early on in his career, and he just never disappoints. Today’s set up I noticed was a little different, Josiah J Manning usually on the keyboard was today up front of stage playing guitar. The band started with ‘Light It Up’ with the crowd singing every word. A couple more familiar songs before we were treated to some new tunes. ‘Dead Horses’ and ‘My Parade’.
During the set Kris and Josiah had a “guitar off”. I’m not sure Josiah was expecting it, but it was very entertaining to watch. A real unexpected and spine-tingling moment happened at the end of ‘My Parade’ when the crowd carried on singing. Even though they had never heard the song before, the words ‘my parade’ were sung over and over. Kris looked visibly emotional and said he will expect that at every gig from now on. Their set seemed to fly by ending with crowd pleaser ‘ Hail Mary’.
The Kris Barras Band seem to have taken on less of a blues tone and elevated to a much heavier sound. I love it! Their new song ‘Dead Horses’ will be available September 3rd.
Before I move on to the next band, I have to mention the giraffe theme this year. It all started from a Facebook post where someone mentioned how good of value the Stonedead festival was and how you couldn’t even buy a blow-up giraffe for that money. From there on in everyone started buying blow up giraffes to bring along to the festival. At one point the DJ from MMH had the crowd lift up their giraffes and do Skindreds’s famous Newport Helicopter or the ‘Newark helicopter’ when using giraffes…haha!
I would also like to mention the story behind the pink t-shirts. As an April fool joke, Stonedead put on their Facebook page that instead of the usual black t-shirts, this year Stonedead would be selling pink t-shirts, thinking people would be horrified. Actually, the opposite happened… Everyone loved the pink and loved it so much wanted to purchase one. So Stonedead decided they would have some printed up, along with the usual black shirts.
Massive Wagons were brought in as a replacement for H.E.A.T who had to cancel/postpone a lot of their gigs for this year. Yes, you guessed it, Covid related. Anyway, I have never seen Massive Wagons, and judging by the ever-growing crowd, (the largest crowd I had seen all day) we were in for something special.
Massive Wagons are Baz Mill (vocals), Adam Thistlethwaite (guitar), Stevie Holl (guitar), Adam Bouskill (bass) and Alex Thistlethwaite (drums). The band formed in 2009 and initially the name Massive Wagons was a joke as it was a pet name they had for a local barmaid. Eventually the name stuck.
Lead singer Baz bounced out on stage to begin their set with ‘Pressure’ a very energetic and captivating frontman. Throwing his hair and mic stand all over. Singing loudly and dancing, it was clear the crowd love him. As beach balls were being tossed about, the band played more hits ‘Ratio’ and ‘The Curry Song’ there was a real good feeling around the venue. It’s been a long time coming, but finally live music can be enjoyed again. The energy in the arena could be felt everywhere. Finally, ‘Back in The Sack’ brought the Wagons set to an end.
Gun have had quite a few line up changes over the years. Todays line up was Dante Gizzi (vocals) Giuliano Gizzi (guitar), Andy Carr (bass), Tommy Gentry (guitar) (and usually Paul McManus (drums). But before their set started Dante announced that Paul had tested positive so was unable to make it. Their stand in drummer, Nick Georgiou was a young lad who had just finished his exams. Dante at one point asked Nick if he wanted a glass of milk.
Two of my favourite albums from the 80’s/90’s was ‘Taking on The World’ and ‘Swagger’ so I was delighted that most of their set were songs from these 2 albums. Starting with ‘She Knows’, and ‘Don’t Say It’s Over’. Of course they had to do their biggest hit, the Cameo cover ‘Word Up’ which of course the crowd always loves.
The young drummer gave a very polished performance for someone so young and at such short notice to learn the songs. One highlight was a cover of the Beastie Boys song ‘Fight for Your Right (To Party)’ the crowd singing along enthusiastically. The band ended their set with ‘Better Days’. Gun will be touring the UK at the end of this year.
Next up was another band from my youth, Terrorvision. Even though they are from my home town of Bradford, and I have always enjoyed their music, I never had the opportunity to see the band live before today. I have been missing out. Right from the outset Singer Tony Wright bounded out on to the stage, he never stopped bouncing about the whole set. ‘Discotheque Wreck’ opened their high energy set. The stage and arena were one big party. The band played all their biggest hits ‘Pretend Best Friend’, ‘Alice What’s The Matter’, ‘Tequila’.
At one point during the set all the lights went out and the stage was plunged into darkness. The band did not stop playing. Tony, completely unfazed, grabbed a torch and carried on. You would have thought it was part of their set. More hits followed, ‘Oblivion‘, ‘Middleman’ with ‘Perseverance’ bringing their 15 song set to an end. Why have I never seen them before I ask myself? For me they were the band of the festival. I have already got myself tickets for their tour in December.
With only days to go before the festival, headliners Black Star Riders were forced to pull out. Yes, it’s that Covid word again! This was a massive disappointment to many. However, Stonedead managed to replace BSR with rock veterans Uriah Heep. Their experience with over 50+ years in the business showed with a very polished, professional set. Playing a selection of songs from across their extensive back catalogue including ‘Bird of Prey’, ‘Gypsy’, ‘Lady in Black’. Their set and the 2021 Stonedead festival ended with Uriah Heep’s biggest hit ‘Easy Livin’.
This was my first Stonedead festival, but will certainly not be the last. There are no negatives, just all positives. Every member of the staff was extremely friendly. Right from when we arrived, to waiving us all off as we left. The organizers had to jump through hoops to make this year’s festival go ahead. I’m sure I am speaking for everyone when I say it is very much appreciated indeed. Thank you all. See you next year!
The tickets for next year’s Stonedead are already selling fast. To avoid disappointment, I suggest book now. The early bird tickets have already sold out.
Tickets can be bought here – https://www.stonedeadfestival.co.uk/
Until Next Year this is…
Stonedead Festival: Night 1 Coverage