Festival: SOS Festival 2014 (Day Two)

Bands: Fahran, Twelve Gauge, Bigfoot, Skam, Black Star Bullet

Venue: Radcliffe Civic Hall, Radcliffe, Manchester

Date: 20 July 2014



After an extremely hot and humid Day One I was hoping the weather would be a little cooler, however the Rock was once again at melting point.

With Day One angled more as a Metal day, then Day Two definitely was more Hard Rock orientated and got under way early with Coventry’s Black Star Bullet, as Trev, Andy, Martin and Gav got the day underway with their infectious groove filled Hard Rock.

The set was filled with good old fashioned hard hitting rock n' roll, with definite highlights being ‘In My Blood’ and 'Take it Back', as well as the stonking '8.50'.  The band even managed to squeeze in a new song ‘Catch The Bus' resulting in a real ballsy set that got Day Two off to a great start.

It was to the acoustic stage for what was billed as The Glass Guns, but because they were a no show, it was up to the sound and lighting guys to step up to the plate and give us a few acoustic AC/DC classics including ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’, 'Highway To Hell’ and 'Whole Lotta Rosie’.  A cracking job they did too.  With a change in opening replacing chants of "ANGUS" with "SOS FEST", they paved the way for the next band on the Dean Hocking Stage, the excellent Skam. 

Hailing from Leicester, Skam took up where The Black Star Bullet’s left off, with their own brand of grooved filled rock as Steve Hill, Matt Gilmore and filling in on drums brother Neil.  The band's usual drummer was absent due to having an X-ray after damaging his hand while playing cricket (not very rock n' roll).  With their new album 'Peacemaker' currently getting rave reviews, the guys showed that they can deliver on stage as well as in the studio.

With a corking non-stop rock n' roll bonanza, with great songs like 'Rivers', 'Dead From The Waist Down' and of course the new albums title track 'Peacemaker', the trio delivered on so many levels.  Notably the antics of bassist Gilmore who pounded the stage like a man possessed and even had his eyes rolling back into his head at times, as the groove took over his body, alongside replacement drummer Neil really setting the skins alight.   Which left Hill to lead the charge both vocally and on the six string.  A really powerhouse trio that could go a long way.

With the bar set so high by the opening two bands, it was going to take something extra special to really take things to the next level and boy did we get just that from the next band Bigfoot. 

A band that has only been together for a matter on months, but it was a chance encounter with organiser Mark that the band were set to conquer the S.O.S. Stage.  Mark was so impressed with these guys at a recent show in Manchester, that he knew straight away that these guy would be perfect for S.O.S.

The band led by the exuberant frontman Anthony Ellis, aided and abetted by Sam Millar and Mick McCullagh on guitars, Matt Avery on bass and last by no means least Tom Aspinall on drums, hit the stage running with the opener ‘Tie Me Down’ and from this point on never looked back.

Ellis dominated the stage prowling round like Michael McIntyre on acid, but boy can this guy sing.  The band's sound had a definite old school vibe about it, but with enough of a punch to appeal to a younger crowd. The twin guitarists were just superb bouncing off each others riffs like two kids on trampoline, all the while the powerhouse rhythm section kept it hard and mean.

The set continued with the excellent ‘In The Gutter’ before the slow burner ‘Come Down My Way’.  The band brought back the heat once more with the stunning ‘Bitch Killer’, but if I had to pick one stand out song of the set, then it would have to be the set closer ‘The Other Side of Paradise’.  This song encapsulated what Bigfoot are all about, big licks, a big chorus and hard hitting rhythms.  A real barnstorming set.  It's hard to believe a band this tight has only been together such a short time.  This is a band that REALLY got me excited and I for one can't wait to see what a few more months together produces.  This definitely one band to look out for. 

Well Day Two was turning out to be a corker, but I’m afraid due to work commitments our day was to be cut short.  However before we had to hit the road we still had time to catch two more bands perform, the first of those bands being 12 Gauge.

This hard rocking quintet led by J M Ward on vocals, with Ian Johnson and Mike Pilat on guitars, Andy White on bass and Graham Bennett on drums, kept the good rock going with their heavy, melodic and infectious sound, mixing the influences of Metallica, Aerosmith, Velvet Revolver and Soundgarden, to bring it all together and producing their own unique sound.

Kicking off the set off with ‘Sins of the Flesh’, it was over to the bass laden ‘Tomorrow Comes Your Way’, before bringing the heavier tones of ‘Touch Me’.

Wasting no time at all it was straight into the rocking ‘All My Love’, before it was time to slow things down a touch with ‘Take Me Back’.  This was just a short reprise as it was back to those hard hitters with excellent ‘Hell To The Morning’, before rounding off the set in style with ‘Lose Control’.  A song that shows that Velvet Revolver styling to great effect and rounded off what was a great set.

Our final band of the day for us was Fahran, a band that we were no strangers too, having see the band on a number of occasions over the past couple of years.

Only recently have the band replaced their singer Nick Whitcroft and bass player Alex Stroud and in steps ex Serpentine’s Matt Black on vocals and Joshua Ballantyne on bass, together with Jake Graham, Chris Byrne on guitars and JR Windsor on drums, combined they're set to take the band ever forward.

With a new album ‘Chasing Hours’ due for release in early August, this was the perfect chance to showcase what the band are all about.

Despite Black’s having a sore throat, the band set out their case for edgy melodic hard with ‘Silver Scene’, taken from the bands self debut, before the first of the songs from the new album, the storming ‘Take This City Alive’.  Which gave a real taste of what the new Fahran is all about.  This is pure modern, edgy, melodic hard rock with soaring licks and a monster rhythm section.

It was back to the debut for ‘Serenade’, before returning to the new material for the excellent riff infused ‘I Heard A Joke Once’, a real ballsy rocker that just exploded from the off.  That same hard rocking continued with another superb song ‘Caged In Steel’.  

By this time the crowd were right behind the band who were undoubtedly winning new fans hand over fist.  The band continued their set by showing their heavier side with the thumping ‘Long Gone’.

The title track off the new album was next ‘Chasing Hours’, again a hard hitter that still kept that melodic edge.  A real slow burner.

But if I had to pick one song from the set that really stood out from the rest, then it would have to be the next one ‘A Thousand Nights’.  This without a doubt the finest Fahran song from both albums.  To be honest I’m surprised this one wasn’t the first single off the new album, it's gritty, ballsy rock of the highest order.

The set was rounded off with a return to the debut album for ‘Ashes’, which rounded off a great set and rounded off our S.O.S. Fest 2014 weekend in great style.

Once again I’d like to thank all those involved with S.O.S. Fest for making this years festival possible.  Without you guys the weekend wouldn’t happen (simple as) and with some of the bands for 2015 already announced, S.O.S. just seems to be getting stronger and stronger as each year passes ... and long may it continue!

Review by: Barry McMinn & Little Linda





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