Event: S.O.S. XI Festival 2018 (Day One)

Bands: Bigfoot, Gorilla Riot, King Witch, Doomsday Outlaw, Stormrider

Venue: Longfield Suite, Prestwich, Manchester

Date: 13 July 2018


When the country is in the middle of the longest heatwave in years and with the threat of imminent hose bans it can only mean one thing, Summer is here and with it comes our annual pilgrimage to S.O.S. Festival.  

Now in its 11th year the festival has gone from strength to strength and continues to bring the best of the new talent the UK’s rock scene has to offer.  

Over the next three days we would be treated to 25 bands on the main Dean Hocking stage, as well as acoustic sets on the Wizz Acoustic Stage, between bands on the main stage and all that at just £20.00 for a weekend ticket!  That works out at under £1.00 per band on the main stage!  Talk about a bargain!. That's 4 bands for the price of a pint!!!!  

Kicking off the Friday night were Manchester’s own Stormrider, who got the whole event underway with set of classic NWoBHM styled rockers, fronted by Mike Coyle, a man with Viking looks and a vocal style very reminiscent of Blitzkrieg and Satan frontman Brian Ross.  With tracks from their debut EP 'Heavy Metal Machine', like 'Made of Metal' and the epic ‘In Time’, the band kicked this years S.O.S. Festival into top gear.  

Next up were Derbyshire’s Doomsday Outlaw, who kept the good rocking going with their deep stoner fused blues, instantly winning over the crowd with ‘Over and Over’, with Phil Poole leading the charge on vocals.  Despite his Hipter looks, this guy really as a set of pipes on him and the rest of the band aren’t to shabby either, as they rocked the place with the likes of 'Bring It On Home', a massive slab of grooved filled rock that just set the place alight, as did the title track of their album 'Hard Times'.  A real delight to hear their infectious groove on the Dean Hocking Stage and this wasn’t the end of Poole’s appearances tonight, but more of that later.  

The Stoner Metallers King Witch kept the thunderous tones going.  These Scottish rockers from Edinburgh led by the mighty Laura Donnelly on vocals, put the heavy into Metal, with this dark but impressive outing hailing tracks from their 'Under The Mountain' album.  Favourites being 'Carnal Sacrifice' and the darker ‘Aproaching the End'.

Next up it was time to lighten things up with the infectious dirty Southern Blues of Manchester’s own Gorilla Riot, led by the vocals of Arjun Bhishma, a man with more soul than the devil himself. The bands deep roots blues infused with just enough Grunge and Country to keep the crowd gripped.  

The rocked the Friday night and were worthy of their second top spot on the nights running order. With monsters tracks like ‘Dirty’ and the massive 'Kerosene Clown', this band have a real chance of hitting the big time, the rock gods permitting.  

The band hadn't even finished their set when the Mrs had nabbed my wallet and made a bee-line to the bands merch stall to buy a copy of each of their CD's, such was the impression they'd made on her. Fingers crossed we'll be seeing a lot more of these guys once the word gets out just how impressive a live band they are. 


The Friday night was rounded off by one of our favourite band's, the mighty Bigfoot and judging by the amount of T-shirts bearing their name in the crowd, this is one band that many in the crowd here tonight wanted to see.  And to be honest, it was only a week or two before that I thought this show, as well as their current tour was in jeopardy, after the band announced that singer Anthony Eddis had left the band.

But Sam and the rest of the band have a special place in their hearts for S.O.S. and their fans, as this was one of the first places many here today saw the band, when it was still in it's infancy.  So for one night only, Bigfoot would play with not one, not two, not even three, but seven guest vocalists and to quote Freddie Mercury ... “The show must go on”.  

As the band of Sam Millar (guitar), Mick McCullagh (guitar), Matt Avery (bass) and Tom Aspinall (drums) hit the stage to riotous cheers, they kicked things off in style with 'Eat Your Words', introducing the first of tonight's guest vocalists Craig Wells from Atlas UK, who really got the ball rolling with ‘Eat Your Words’ and continued to rock big style with ‘In The Gutter’.

The Bigfoot guys have obviously been working hard these guys and it really shows by the air of professionalism that has been the forefront of the band since their incarnation.

It was time to bring out guest number two, this time it was Matt Jones from Twisted Illusion, as the tempo was brought down a touch with 'Come Down Way', before unleashing hell with a massive version of ‘Freak Show'. Just two singers in and the band showed they were up for one hell of rock show, and the show just got kept getting better and better as each vocalist brought on the heat.  

Next up was the return of Phil Poole to the stage, as he put a bluesy hip thrusting spin on 'Prisoner of War' and 'Forever Alone', then it was time for the one and only female guest vocalist as Cass King from Tomorrow is Lost, who really set out to show the guys just how it's done with absolutely stunning versions of 'I Dare You' and 'Run', definitely the star of the set so far.  

But then it was time for Dendara and Powerquest vocalist Ash Edison to bring his vast vocal range to the proceedings.  Ash brought his own unique vocal presence to the stage encouraging the audience at every opportunity as he rocked through ‘Tell Me A Lie’ and ‘The Fear’, before unleashing pure hell with one of my favourite Bigfoot songs ‘The Fear’.  

Next up was Midnight Prophecy frontman Craig Cairns and boy did he kick some vocal ass. matched with his Seb Bach stage presence and great vocals, he really set the bar high with 'The Other Side of Paradise', before continuing to impress with ‘Yours’.  Along with Edison he one of the best vocals of not just this set, but the whole weekend, but more of these guys later.  

Well last but by no means least on the vocal front was Mr Massive Wagons himself Baz Mills, who kicked into top gear from the off with ‘Karma’, before nearly bringing the house down with ‘Blame It On The Dog’, before wrapping things up with ‘Uninvited’, which ended a stunning Friday night and set us all up for what would be a very memorable SOS XI.  

It was just the next day we found out that Switchblade City frontman Sean Seabrook had been announced as the new frontman for Bigfoot.  I think a great choice as the guy has great vocal range and will hopefully help to take the band to the next level. 

Review by: Barry McMinn




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