Festival: SOS Festival 2010

Artists: Blaze Bayley, Fury UK, Babylon Fire, Nightvision, The More I See, Moth Circus, Spires, Extreme O.D., Collibus, Skull Branded Pirates, Fantasist, Afterdown 

Date: 10th July 2010   

After a hearty breakfast it was back on the road for the 15 minute journey from the hotel to Radcliffe Civic Hall for Day 2 of the SOS Festival 2010 and we prepared ourselves for a day of METAL!!!! 

Due to Saturday afternoon traffic we arrived mid way through the first band Afterdown’s set, but a lot of people didn’t have that trouble and the hall was filling out nicely by the time we arrived.  Not bad for 1.40pm on a Saturday afternoon. 

What I heard and saw was quite impressive.  The opening band slot is always a hard slot to play at any festival no matter what size whether its here today or Sonisphere, but this also means that the opening band always sets the bench mark for the rest of the day and Afterdown certainly set it high. 

The songs I caught ‘Brothers in Arms’ and ‘What Won't Kill You Makes You Stronger’ were the highlights of the set for me and the band seemed to get the punters warmed up and ready for action and the day off to a tremendous start. 

Next up were a band that I must say gave us 30 minutes of sheer joy and merriment, shiver me timbers and cast me a mid ships it’s the Skull Branded Pirates. 

Yes the Jolly Roger was raised literally as Fradders the Cabin Boy, Davey Blast-Bastard, One-Ayed Wilson, Dread Pirate Duncan and Scare-V-Knave took to the stage and unleashed their Pirate Metal on us unsuspecting land lovers. 

The Skull Branded Pirates take their Pirate Metal very seriously where bands like Alestorm have thrown the bandanas, the pirate garb and eye patches to one side, TSBP keep the persona alive and these guys can play as well. 

Opening salvo came across the broadside with the likes of ‘Sea Doggin’ and the 'Legend Of Salty Jim’ ( the tale of the giant lobster king), unfortunately Salty Jim didn’t join the band on stage today but I’ve heard he is sight to behold as he and One Ayed Wilson do battle on stage. 

The tales of sea fairing folk continued as the band paid tribute to Edward Teach otherwise know as Black Beard with the romping ‘Blackbeards Last Stand’.  There were special effects ahoy which is always good to see as other than the mighty KISS, not a lot of bands seem to make that much of an effort these days.  

The set romped on with ‘The Stormed and Cursed Seas’ before finishing with a modern sea shanty ‘Inside The Inn’, which rounded of a great set from the Leeds based pirates.  Whether pirate metal is your thing or not, I highly recommend you check out these guys.  They rock big style and will leave you with a giant smile on your face and a Yo-Ho-Ho in your heart. 

After the pirates of Leeds it was time for some traditional metal in the form of Collibus a local band from Manchester who were led by the monster vocals of Gemma Fox, who along with the rest of the band powered through a six song set that not only displayed Fox’s varied vocal style, but also the bands diverse metal sound.

The band like all the bands lower down on the bill had just a short 30 minutes to impress and Collibus certainly laid down a monster mix of both heavy and progressive tunes from the fantastic ‘Dead Inside’ the mellower ‘Breaking The Silence’, before the only glitch in the set when Fox’s took up the acoustic guitar for ‘Hollow’ but unfortunately this wasn’t to be, and the band carried on the song without the acoustic sound. 

It was back on track with ‘Insurrection’ another big metal track, the band rocked out in style with the closer ‘Burn Out’, again I was impressed with the vocals of Fox who showed another side to her vocal style, this is a girl who can push it to the limit one minute and the bring it down the next, a great vocal talent no matter what genre of music. 

It was all change once more as Funk Metallers Fantasist from Manchester who brought a whole new brand of metal to the day, mixing the heady bass of the likes of The Chili Peppers and the same Meshuggah style vibe to their style of metal. 

With Ollie on guitar, Robb on bass and Seb on drums this trio pounded out some great tunes like ‘Man Obsessed’ with Ollie reminding me of Ricky Neilsen from Cheap Trick, with his stage antics, and Robb on bass with his blonde dreadlocks equal to Ollie as both did their best to cover every inch of stage space.

The band funked up the metal day big style with an array of tunes, unfortunately I didn’t catch any titles but if your into the likes of the Chilli Peppers mixed with a little Cheap Trick then I would highly recommend these guys. 

 

The diverse nature of the metal day was apparent with next two bands Extreme O.D and Spires, who were both extreme and immensely heavy, for that reason we decided to take a break and put on the old nose bag and have something to eat. We didn’t have to travel far because unlike most festivals SOS had to foresight to pick a venue that not only had a kitchen, but also had an area laid aside to sit down and enjoy your meal. 

It may have only been chips and burgers but when you haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast it was a banquet. 

After seeking nourishment it was back to the metal with The More I See from Peterborough, bringing with them Gizz Butt former-guitarist with The Prodigy and a sack full of tunes hard edged metal. 

The band quickly got into their stride as Butt and James Cluer threw out the big licks, while vocalist Peter Ellis powered out a mighty vocal, that had just a tinge of Bruce Dickinson about them, even his stage persona was Dickinson like as he stalked around the stage like a animal in a cage, just escaping enough to unleash a mighty vocal attack, on tracks like ‘Near Extinction’ and the almost thrashesque ‘The Unholy Feast’. 

This band is as true to the metal stereo type as you can get.  Big monster licks, a massive massive metal vocal and a powerhouse rhythm section that just pounded out monster after metal monster.   

It was now time for another international act, this time it was Norway’s Moth Circus a band I was really looking forward to after hearing their debut album ‘Sideshow Sweetheart’. 

The bands gritty rock style is very reminiscent of fellow Scandinavians The Hellicopters and Babylon Babies a mix of metal and punk with just a hint of alien abduction. 

The band roared onto the stage with reckless abandonment and really rocked the place opening up ‘M.I.A’ with Johnny and Alien Ken firing out those big Scandinavian licks , while Glenn pummeled the drums like a fiery Tommy Lee, and pushing out the big bass lines was Tommy.   

The band continued to impress with monster tunes like ‘Murder’ the fantastic ‘A Dog & His Junkie’ and the stomping closer ‘Sideshow Sweetheart’, the title track from the bands album. 

This was a storming set which really left its mark on me, so much show that when I saw the band were playing in Newcastle the following Friday we made it a point to check them out again, but that a review for another day. Again another storming band that I highly recommend to anyone who loves gritty hard rock.   

Networking has always been a must at these festivals and events and it was good to see a number of old faces here like us for the first time and like us who were really impressed with not just the line-up, but the overall organization of the entire two days.  It was due to this that we only caught the tail end of Nightvision’s set but what I heard was impressive the Lincolnshire boy sure can rock. 

A band that have been a permanent fixture at SOS are Greater Manchester’s Babylon FireThe band have been on the bill since the very first event and have seen themselves rise both on the bill and in popularity, and so today they deserved their third top billing. 

The band showed their metal from the off after the Omen intro it was down to business big style with ‘Freight Train’, a stunning slice of pure bred metal with frontman Mark D leading the pack.  This metal express carried on with some monster tracks like ‘The Day The Angels Died’, the excellent ‘Strength’ and the closer ‘Rise From Babylon’. 

The band have certainly made their mark since their inception in 2007 and no doubt they have a bright future just on the evidence of today. 

Now to a band that needed no introduction to the SOS crowd, Fury UK, a band that we have followed since we first saw them when the band supported Diamond Head in Newcastle back in 2007.  That night they not only blew Diamond Head off the stage but they also blew us away as well.  The band have evolved over the years into one of the tightest Metal trios around, with brothers Chris and Luke Appleton on guitar and bass respectively and powerhouse drummer Martin McNee. 

The band really set out to impress from the start with ‘ I See Red’, a track from their forthcoming album ‘A Way Of Life’, which was a real barnstormer of a start to the set.  From here on in the band had the crowd hooked with Chris firing on all six as usual, although it was Luke that really showed how much he has grown since he first came into the band replacing Marc Dawson.  He reminds me of a young Marco Mendoza with his stage presence and what can I say about McNee, since his insertion into the band in late 2007 he has brought a massive drum sound to the band and together this band have become a real force to be reckoned with. 

They continued to showcase the new album with the tracks ‘Nemesis’ and ‘Savior’ before a couple of massive metal tracks from the bands debut release ‘VR’ with the stunning ‘Brotherhood’, which Chris dedicated to all at the festival over the two days, before rampaging through ‘Call To Arms’. 

The guys really brought the house down with the superb ‘Death By Lightening’ one of the best songs the band do.  A real ball buster of a metal track that remains one of my favourite tracks from the band and an excellent closer to what was another great set. 

But it wasn’t ended there, the guys remained on stage as SOS paid tribute to Ronnie James Dio on this his birthday. 

Joining the guys on stage Fifo from 4 Bitten, guitarist Rishi Mehta from Babylon Fire and headliner Mr. Blaze Bayley as the ripped through a storming version of the Black Sabbath classic Heaven And Hell, the crowd also paid homage as the chanted "DIO! DIO! DIO!" as the song closed, which was a fitting tribute to one of Heavy Metals legendary vocalists. 

Now for the headliner, a guy who has been through a lot over recent years but a guy who has come back bigger and stronger and with a new album ‘Promise And Terror’, the one and only Blaze Bayley. 

Joining Blaze tonight on stage were Luke and Chris Appleton who filled in for regulars Nico and Dave who couldn’t make it today due to visa problems, but this was only a minor set back as the band ripped through a real monster metal set.  Opening up with ‘Madness & Sorrow’ instantly the man had the crowd eating out of his hand.  With a guy like Blaze he feeds off the audience's energy, if they are pumped up then he feeds off that and really gives one hell of a show and tonight was another great example of this. 

The tremendous set continued with the excellent ‘The City Of Bones’ and the superb ‘Blood & Belief’, this was old school metal at its finest. 

Blaze has become a philosopher in his old age and each song was introduced with a little life coaching from the man himself, and believe me he can preach up a storm.   

The set had to include a couple of Maiden songs and the Maiden fans weren’t disappointed as he ripped through ‘Futureal’ and ‘Man On The Edge’, before returning to the new album for ‘Letting Go Of The World’. 

Then it was time for something from ‘The Man Who Would Not Die’ opus with ‘Voices From The Past’, a storming slice of melodic metal with stand-ins Chris and Luke more than equal to the task, as they looked like they’ve been a part of Blaze’s band since the very beginning. 

It was back to the debut solo album ‘Silicon Messiah’ for ‘The Launch’, again as stunning slice of old school metal, then there was time in the set for another Maiden song  this time ‘The Clansman’, which went down a storm with the crowd. 

The set was capped off with ‘Robot’, another stormer of a track which rounded off not just day, the set but also the weekend.   

As I said to begin with this was my first taste of SOS Festival and it certainly won't be my last.  I would like thank Mark and Lynne for putting on a great weekend of Rock and Metal which was extremely well organized and well put together.  The inclusion of an acoustic stage late on Day 2 was great.  It was a great way to spend time in between the main stage changeovers with Emma Fox from Collibus and Fofi from 4 Bitten all putting on great acoustic sets. 

I came away from this festival with no doubts about coming back next year, the two day format was just inspirational, having two different days dedicated to different genres of Rock and Metal worked well.  There was also a number of bands that could have played either day, which was good.  I couldn’t fault the venue, the beer prices were reasonable and weren’t hiked up because of the festival.  The food was good, cheap and filled the gap.  The inclusion of a proper press room was a great idea and was well utilized across both days.  As well as merch stalls inside the main hall for each of the bands performing, there was also a small metal market.  To be honest I couldn’t fault the weekend at all.  There are a lot of festivals around these days many on the same scale as SOS but this was by far the best I’ve been too, and many of the others could take a few lessons from Rocksector Records SOS Festival, this is how it should be done. 

SEE YOU ALL NEXT YEAR!  

 

 

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