Festival: Phoenix Rising Festival 2001

Artists: Ten, Bob Catley, Strange Days, Deadline, Buckshot  

Venue: Jilly's Rockworld, Manchester

Date:   27 may 2001

Having heard wondrous things about these Phoenix Rising events, added to the addiction we have to all things Bob Catley related, we decided that it was about time we packed our overnight bags once more and ventured down to Manchester once more.

Having only seen both Ten and Bob Catley play at our home town a few nights earlier we were still in the party spirit and ready for another great gig.

THE STRANGE DAYS


First on the bill was a bright new band from Wythenshawe, The Strange Days. They took to the stage at about 4.50 in the afternoon, which for any band is a bit of a strange time as it's still feels like the middle of the afternoon.

The band were brought in as replacements for the advertised support act Lost Weekend who had sadly had to pull out at the last minute due to their singer having Laryngitis. Lost Weekend came on stage to apologize to the fans for having to drop out, which was nice.

The lead singer was tucked up at home somewhere as he had been told to rest his voice for a further 2 - 3 months!

The Strange Days took this last minute gig as a chance to impress and impress they did. They gave each and every song their all and really made a big impression on the crowd that had started to gather for the Festival.

This 4 piece band may have been a bit on the young side, or at least the looked it in the dark!, but they had a mature approach to their songs. Half the time they were quite funky and upbeat rock, the other half were soulful and deep.

To the centre of the stage we saw lead singer Chris Blow. A young man who possessed a wonderful vocal range. Not only that but he knows how to control his voice properly to ensure he gets the best out of it when performing.

To his left we saw a very youthful looking guitarist. You never can tell the true age of someone these days, but surely anyone who plays a guitar that confidently must be a lot older than he looked? Behind them we saw a slightly older figure playing the drums and singing along as back up to the songs.

The poor bassist had no lights on him at all throughout the whole show so there he stood on the stage in a shadowy darkness. We knew he was there, we could just about make him out, and he sounded wonderful!. We just couldn't really see what he was up to very well that's all.

Half way through the set due to the lack of dancing going on at the front of the crowd he decided to improvise and duly jumped off the stage and proceeded to dance and play at the same time himself and show them how it should be done. Well-done Adam!

The last song he performed standing on top of a speaker for the first part and then towards the end he did the full Rock N' Roll lie on your back and keep on playing while you roll around the floor of the stage. Now that's what we call showmanship!

The band were good, they may still be at the support act stage at the minute but if they continue to play as professionally as this without any hic-ups and at the last minute, then they are sure to have a bright and exciting future ahead of them.

I later found out that they had been a run away success at one of these Battle of the Bands things you see around the place, hardly surprising really if they played half as good as they did here for us today.

Setlist: Better Life, Mosquito, Swallow, Sweet Talkin', Takin' Over, Soul, I like It, Free Ride, Old man Jack, 67 Gypsy Hill, A kind of Unknown
 
During the interval between the first and second band we spotted none other than Bob's mam Ollie looking as radiant and glamorous as ever. What a wonderful woman, not only does she still help out with the fan base but she still comes to support him at his gigs. She sat quietly hidden away in the crowd like all the other fans who had come along today, but was more than happy to talk to the fans and seemed to enjoy all the bands that performed that day.

In fact she was still up enjoying herself with the best of them when we left at 1 am the next morning due to sheer exhaustion!

Where she gets all that energy from is beyond me, she puts us younger ones to shame I can tell you! Also seen wandering about was Colin and Vince, catching a few beers before they were due to perform. This was the end of a very long tour for them and they were ready to let their hair down a bit.
 

DEADLINE


The second band on the list was Deadline, another bright young band, this time hailing from Rotherham. The lighting was much better for this second act as we could actually see them all in all their glory, as well as hear them of course, which is indeed an important factor!

They did a good hours set of material which included at least one song from their forthcoming new album, entwined with the songs from their current EP 'All things considered', and a few other treats that have yet to be released.

This is another band that have risen rapidly throughout their local rock scene. Not only had they also one Battle of the Bands competition, but also this was their second gig at a Phoenix Rising festival. Obviously they had made such an impression the first time they just had to be asked back to do another one.

They had in fact been asked to appear after yet another band had dropped out of the Festival, can't remember what their excuse was but the band in question was Emerald Rain. Shame because having seen this band in action a while ago I wanted to hear how they were progressing musically. However Deadline duly came along and played a great set.

The crowd were starting to warm up a bit by this time and we saw a gaggle of young females take to the front of the crowd and get down to the music with some serious dancing. The bands music was most defiantly Classic AOR, and good it was too!

It's easy to hear the bands and artists that have influenced this band of young men as they were so easy to listen to your ears just had to accept each and every song they performed here tonight.

We look forward to seeing them when they support Nelson & Mitch Malloy of their UK tour over here in October. If this was anything to go by then it promises to be quite some bill.

The band commented on how nice it was to hear and see people enjoying themselves and clapping, as so often at these sorts of gigs people tend to stand around emotionless for much of the day. Which of course is so very true and don't we all know it!

Being fair to the bands and the fans though, anything that starts that early in the day is going to take a bit of warming up and people were still flooding through the doors when they were performing and looking for their first pint.

Once watered the crowd soon loosened up though!

At the end of the set the announcer thanked the band for their performance and called them 'Superb'. Superb just about summed up the set they had just delivered.

BUCKSHOT


The biggest surprise of the day has to be the third band though, I didn't quite catch their name but I think it was something like Buck Shot? Maybe someone will be able to confirm this either way for me as I was too gob smacked to hear when I saw them run onto the stage and start playing.

I say gob smacked because:
a) We were expecting Bob and the lads to come on at that very moment.
b) They were stark naked!

This is true, I kid you not! Ok so a couple of them had small bits of material the size of a tea towel tied around their waists, but that didn't hide their blushes, and the lead singer (?) was most defiantly dressed in what God gave him, his birthday suit!

The drummer hid behind the drum kit in a leopard skin ensemble and a mask, lol, hardly surprising really all things considered!

The crowd stood stunned for a few minutes then burst into hysterics and whistled and clapped these brave chaps and their nakedness. They played one song and then were off like a shot as quickly as they had appeared.

We later found out that this was the sound & lighting guys from Bob's tour and being the end of tour party/gig this was their chance to let it all hang out and hang out it did!

BOB CATLEY


Once all the hilarity settled down we were ready for some real action.

It was time for the band we had been waiting for, Bob Catley! Hurray! The crowd went wild, the cameras flashed at a dizzying pace and the noise of appreciation was deafening.

The band beamed at the crowd and the crowd beamed back. We were ready to rock!

Our all action heroes launched into their opening track 'Return of the mountain King' taken from their new album 'Middle Earth' with gusto and enthusiasm.

This was their last gig on this tour and they were going to make it the highlight no matter what.

Earlier in the week we had been impressed with their gig at Newcastle upon Tyne, and doubted that they could top it, but here they were doing just that.

The adrenalin was pumping, the crowd were going mental and the band were going to go out with a bang. This was quickly followed by another new one 'City Walls'. What an anthem like song that is, definitively one to stand the test of time.

Tonight gigs was on a much bigger stage than that at Newcastle and so the band were able to wander around and pose for the crowd to their hearts (and ours!) content.

They had so much room and yet they didn't look at all lost in the expanse of space, if anything it was so much better as they could really enjoy themselves and move around so much more freely.

We saw Bob take center stage with what was now being known as 'The Hat' (I heard on the grapevine that it will be doing a mini tour on its own later this year! lol). He still had those tight black leather pants on but this time he had his faithful black tailed jacket on and a black waistcoat.

To his left we saw the wondrous Al in black t-shirt and sloppy Joe joggers. Twinkling the keyboards once more was Paul looking a lot more alive than he was the other night. Bless his cotton socks, the lad has been worked extremely hard on this tour, what with doing the keyboards for both bands.

Next to Paul we had saw Colin pounding the old skins there, topless as ever and looking a wee bit warm under all the lights at the back of the stage. Lastly we had the little man with the cheeky grin, Mr. O'Regan. There's not much you can say about Vince other than he's totally mad, he plays well, and he's a good sport when it comes to the fans.

Thankfully someone had managed to get some proper fans on stage, (of the air conditioning type, not the physical ones), and so the band were given a few blasts of cool air throughout their set.

The fans of the vocal variety jolted back and forth, up and down and tried to miss the droplets of wetness that dripped from the ceiling. Towels and water were plentiful for the band and if it had warmed up anymore I think a stage invasion to get to them might have commenced.

'The Hat' stayed on Bob's head a lot longer for tonight's gig, must have been the cool air that made all the difference. It did however escape into the crowd onto one young girls head but it didn't crowd surf tonight. After a few moments it was quickly retrieved and placed on top of Dodgy, sorry Vince's head!

There was no room for Bob to launch off the stage to dance with anyone tonight so he had to make do with a backpack of a furry Gizmo (think gremlins?), to twirl around the stage with for a song or two.

The set ran through songs old and new from all three Bob Catley solo albums and of course a few old favourites from the Magnum days. Each and every one a huge hit with the band as the lights bathed them in all the colours of the spectrum. The atmosphere was immense, the whole place was alive and the bands were dazzling us with a fantastic performance both in sound and sight.

Bob thanked the fans for coming along tonight and also gave special thanks to his crew and to Annie his manager for all her assistance. He also said a special thanks to Chev one of the Festival's organizers who wasn't able to be here tonight due to being unwell.

The set was finished off with 'Fear of the Dark', the band might have thought that was it, but no the fans were having none if it. With screams of delight and rabid clapping the band returned to the stage to play one more track.

Once more they came, the played, they conquered each and everyone in the room. Not one person was left disappointed with the set they had done.

Ollie sat at the side of the room and must have been so proud to see her little lad put on yet another brilliant performance with his mighty band.

Is it any wonder the fans are so loyal when they keep giving us 200% each and every gig? I'm sure I'm not the only one who could have stood and listened to them play all night long.

We'll all just have to wait patiently until the next tour I guess, let's hope it's not too long in the coming.

Setlist: Return of the mountain King, City Walls, The Pain, Dreams, Scream, Stormcrow and Pilgrim, Vigilante, Start talking Love, Lonely Night, Storytellers Night, Fear of the Dark. Encore: Days of no Trust.

TEN


After such a fantastic performance from Bob and the lads, Ten really had their work cut out for them when they came onstage at around 9.30 pm.

Opening the set with 'March of the Argonauts' the band had the crowd hooked once more. It wasn't until they played 'The Robe' that we really saw the crowd clap wildly with excitement. I guess if you had to name the fans favourite then this would have to be the one tonight.

The stage looked the lightest it had all day for Ten's set. I think this was largely due to the large fluorescent light strips along the back walls. Why the heck didn't they have these on for all the other bands? Having said that I don't think poor Colin and Paul could have stood much more heat from the lights. Paul especially as he was doing both sets.

During the opening lines of 'Bright on the Blade' we saw Gary Hughes rest his weary arms against the firm shoulders of Vinnie Burns as he sang the introduction.

It's been a long tour and the set was only just beginning. It was almost with a sigh of contentment because they now had a very successful tour under their belts, that he went into the opening lines of the song.

The crowd stood intent and watched like vipers about to strike. They knew what was to come and they were keen to let loose in a seconds notice. Time may have been getting on but energy was bountiful in both band and audience.

It was just before the band went on to play the magnificent 'Spellbound' that Gary took the time to thank Chev, one of the organizers for all her help.

Unfortunately she wasn't able to make as I said earlier, but the thoughts and well wishes of all the bands and the fans were very much with her tonight.

This song we were told was apparently one of her favourites and so it seemed only fitting that they should dedicate it to her. The crowd cheered and applauded at this announcement, as a lot of them are very fond of her and missed obviously missed her a lot.

Before we knew it the set was over, yet another great band and another great performance. The set was nicely finished off with an encore of 'Name of the Rose', during which Gary wore a pair of sunglasses.

A case of bright light syndrome perhaps or perhaps just to hide his tired eyes? Whatever it was we could forgive the fashion statement after witnessing such an impressive performance.

He thanked his band for an impressive 28 days on tour and a special thanks was made to Vinnie Burns on guitar and also Paul Hodson on keyboards. Paul might have looked shattered but it didn't stop him dancing the rest of the night away after a few more beers!

Setlist: March of the Argonauts, Fear the Force, The Robe, Bright on the Blade, Spellbound, We rule the Night, After the love has Gone, The Stranger, Silent Rain, Stay with Me.  Encore: Name of the Rose.

Overall the sound during the festival was great, the stage looked super with its camouflage netting over the ceiling. The bands were a real treat and each and every one of them gave 100% throughout their sets.

The fans were up for a good time and a good time they all had too.
The venue was kind enough to keep the club open and the rock disco going until the wee small hours. A large proportion of the fans and bands that were there stayed back and helped finish the night off in a most delightful way!

The only downside was that I lost one of my APS camera films which had the support bands on, if anyone out there found it please let us know! Thanks!

 

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