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Wiston Lodge, Biggar
Sunday 28th June 2015

Johnny Main: Photos by Carlan Braid.

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wildfire festival

As Sunday dawned over Wiston Lodge, the heavens finally opened. After threatening rain for the Friday and Saturday but coming to nothing, those waking up were faced with a cold and damp campsite.

The damp weather didn't dampen the enthusiasm of those up early enough to catch the first couple of bands. Sure, the aftermath of Lawnmower Deth's set saw many early risers holding mugs of strong coffee instead of the expected beers but at least they made it up at a decent hour.

The first band were Sheffield based trio, Silverjet, who drew a respectable crowd with a number of hardcore fans huddled together in front of the stage. The band kick off their set with 'My Drug' which is a good paced number which is followed up by 'Machine' which has the audience clapping along before the first headbangers of the day make their appearance.

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Bass player Liam 'Pais' Hill comes across well with his thundering bass lines whilst the guitar solo from front man Davie Kerr is short but enjoyable.

The band treat the audience to more tracks from their 'Push Kick Bravado' album including 'What It Takes' which has a slower pace which has drummer Lee Stoyles punching out a solid beat at the back whilst the crowd happily clap along before 'Enemy' which Kerr describes as "heavier", and he's not far wrong!

wildfire festival

It's a good performance from the band and as they close with a respectable cover of Billy Idol's 'Rebel Yell', they have certainly done themselves proud with their early morning performance.

Silverjet are:
Dave Kerr - Vocals/Guitars
Liam 'Pais' Hill - Bass/Backing Vocals
Lee Stoyles - Drums

Silverjet Setlist:
My Drug
What It Takes
Hell Yeah
Rebel Yell

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Next up was a sharp Sunday morning wake up call courtesy of Ballsdeep, a band who I'd not heard of before but there were a number of people wearing their shirts over the previous two days showed that we were in good company as we patiently waited for the band to hit the stage for what turned out to be a very heavy, aggressive and very, very good set.

'Way Misguided' kicks things off as front man Rich 'Bez' Beresford paces the stage menacingly as he spits out the lyrics whilst guitarist Paul 'Hinge' Priestley lays down the solid riff whilst head banging furiously. There's no respite as they drive headlong into 'Surrender' which tempo of which doesn't slow down much. Beresford lets slip a smile showing he's having a much fun as those wedged hard against the crowd barrier as the track culminates in a long curdling scream - top notch stuff.

'1000 Nights' is a slower paced number but doesn't lack power with Beresford really putting his voice to extremes. Drummer Rob Broad plays really well whilst bass player Will Harris keeps a solid rhythm as he head bangs away. The band treat the audience to a song so new that it still doesn't have title and this proves to be the most aggressive song of their set but and sees Priestley laying down a razor sharp guitar riff.

From brand new to a much older song, the first song the band ever wrote together 'Til You're Dead' shows how far the band have come since they formed in 2011.

As excellent performance from a band who I'd not heard before but will definitely be keeping tabs on them in the future - as the back of the band shirts "Aggressive Not Progressive" which is accurate but maybe they should put "And bloody good too!" at the bottom as well!

Ballsdeep are:
Rich 'Bez' Beresford - Vocals
Paul 'Hinge' Priestley - Guitar
Will Harris - Bass Guitar
Rob Broad - Drums

Ballsdeep Setlist:
Way Misguided
1000 Nights
Livin' The Dream
(Untitled New Song)
Til You're Dead

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Five-piece heavy rockers Emperor Chung hail from the Midlands and brought their own unique brand of music to Wildfire for their first ever appearance. It was another band that I'd not heard of before, so as the band took to the stage, I settled down beside the bar to see what it was all about.

"The Chung", as they were jokingly referred to by my compatriots and me all weekend, have a good solid sound that makes them just about perfect to get the festival audience going after the intensity of Ballsdeep. Their fifty minutes set contained seven tracks taken form their self-titled 2013 debut album. Opening with the fast paced 'I Vow This Day', vocalist Martin Jackson really put his voice through it's paces early on whilst the guitar riff carries the song along well.

'Pyramid' has drummer Eddie Hodgkinson throwing out an unusual beat as singer gives it everything once again as he bounced around the stage trying his best to enthuse the audience - not an entirely fruitless task, it must be said as an enthusiastic crowd gathered in front of the stage. Worthy of note is the guitar solo performed by Richard Shaw, which was very, very good.

'Our Weaknesses' has a chunky guitar riff which is punctuated with some fine guitar fills but Jackson seems to struggle a bit with some of the higher pitched notes, which is a shame, but overall, it's another solid performance from the band - especially the twin guitar work of Danny Beardsley and Shaw.

Emperor Chung are:
Martin Jackson – Vocals
Danny Beardsley – Guitar/Vocals
Richard Shaw – Guitar
Daniel Hayes – Bass
Eddie Hodgkinson – Drums

Emperor Chung Setlist:
I Vow This Day
My Next Foe
Our Weaknesses
Victory's Calling
Free At Last

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wildfire festival

As early afternoon came round, the festival site was beginning to get busier and busier as those who had been partying all night started to arrive back for another day of quality live music, just in time for Newcastle based quintet, Hellion Rising.

This is a band who I'd seen live before at Wildfire and Ice at Highway To Hell (both held in Glasgow city centre), I was absolutely blown away with their performances each time, so I was hoping for more of the same this time around and I'm pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed with the bands main stage performance.

An unashamedly Metal band, they kicked off their set with fan favourite 'Goat Charmer' which sees guitarist Giovanni Camillo laying down the great, moody solo to perfection. 'The Beast' from their debut EP follows up which is another immense number and with the crowd filling it slowly in the main arena, it seems their fan base were out in force at Wildfire. 'Bereavement Of The Chimes' is another popular song judging by the reception to it as frontman Matt Adamson tries to get the very best out of the audience.

Drummer Adam Telford has his moment in the spotlight during a cover of The Misfits' 'Skulls' (taken from their 1982 debut album) which may not be an obvious choice to play but as far as Hellion Rising are concerned, it suits them down to the ground. If I was being picky, I'd question why they felt the need to play the cover when they have so many good original songs, but I'm willing to concede that the band made the right choice here. It's a well preformed cover with Adamson giving a particularly Danzig-esque performance.

'Just For Tonight' brings their set to an end but they have gained a good number of new fans through their performance at Wildfire and I'm hoping the band get the offer of a return visit with a much higher billing thrown into the deal, because they really do deserve every success.

Hellion Rising are:
Matt Adamson – Vocals
Davey Reay – Guitars
Giovanni Camillo – Guitars
Kieran Cant – Bass Guitar
Adam Telford – Drums

Hellion Rising Setlist:
Goat Charmer
The Beast
Bereavement of the Chimes
Murder In The Family
Just For Tonight

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wildfire festival

Uncle Rust feature brothers Chris and Justin McConville who hail from Central Scotland originally, so their appearance at Wildfire is something of a homecoming for the boys, and they're treated well as the crowd applaud them as they make their way on stage.

The band released their debut album, 'Six Years In The Desert', last year to critical acclaim and most of their set centres around the album, with a couple of new tracks thrown in for good measuring showing that the band aren't resting on their laurels.

'Outta Sight' is a good opener, but it's the mid-set placing of 'One More Time Around' has the band reaching the pinnacle of their performance for me. Both guitarist Magdy Abdel-Rehim and bass player P J Phillips add some fine backing vocals to the mix whilst frontman Justin McConville gives a truly sincere performance. For me, it's a true highlight of the album and so should be included in the set, but I think that maybe it should be used as a set closer instead?

Don't get me wrong, the remaining two tracks from the album, 'Here Alone' and 'These Cold Emotions', are fine set closers and the audience show their approval to the band's overall performance and I'm sure they sold a few copies of their album after their set.

Of the new songs, it was 'My Sickness?' that seemed to go down best with the audience. Drummer Chris McConville really punishes the drum kit and Justin produces a great guitar solo generating applause from the audience. There's some good twin guitar sparring between Justin and Magdy showing how well matched they are and they seem to be having a great time judging by the smiles on their faces.

Uncle Rust are:
Justin McConville – Vocals/Guitar
Magdy Abdel-Rehim – Guitar
P J Phillips – Bass Guitar
Chris McConville – Drums

Uncle Rust Setlist:
Outta Sight
A Heroine
One More Time Around
My Sickness?
Here Alone
These Cold Emotions

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Liberty Lies seemed delighted to be at the festival as they bounded on stage and it wasn't long before the crowd was energetically dancing along to their first song, 'Someone Else' taken from their 2013 debut album, 'Reflections'. The track itself is an ideal opener and shows the power of the band from the vocals courtesy of Shaun Richards to the solid beat set out by drummer, Adam Stevens.

"This is our first time playing in Scotland," says Richards proudly as he gets his first chance to address the audience before enquiring "Is there anyone here from Airdrie?" which is greeted with a somewhat awkward silence. I'm sure that there were people from Airdrie there but perhaps they were too nervous to answer or simply weren't around at the time.

"It's just that my dad comes from there," continues Richards to some muffled laughter at the back. Continuing on with their set, the band treat the audience to a second track from 'Reflections' later in the set, called 'Russian Dolls' which, again goes down well with the audience.

The rest of the band's set are newer numbers taken from the 'Fractures' EP released in January this year. The best of these are 'Circles' which has Stevens punching out a complex drum beat which he does with precision whilst Richards stretched his voice during the chorus sections. The title track, 'Fracture', is a great way to end the set with its gritty guitar riff really driving the song as Richards gives his performance everything one last time.

This may well have been the bands first time in Scotland but I'm pretty sure it won't be long before they head back up north of the border as either a support band on a major tour or as part of a headlining tour in their own right.

Liberty Lies are:
Shaun Richards – Lead Vocals
Josh Pritchett – Lead Guitar
Liam Billings – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Adam Howell – Bass Guitar
Adam Stevens – Drums/Percussion/Backing Vocals

Liberty Lies Setlist:
Someone Else
Russian Dolls

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wildfire festival

Bad Touch are veterans of the festival having appeared the pervious year to high acclaim, so it was only right that the band should be invited back.

Bad Touch's star is definitely on the rise and having witnessed their live show nearly half a dozen times at various venues and festivals over the past twelve months, the band's live performances just seem to get better and better, which is presumably why they were so high up the bill this year.

'Halfway Home', title track of the band's debut album, shows frontman Stevie Westwood's bluesy singing style to a tee and the hands of the audience are raised in the air whilst they are happy to sing-along to this standard of their live set. Quite rightly, this song should be included in every gig the play live as it's suitable to start the gig off, have it as a great finale and it even goes down well slap bang in the middle of their set - a true Bad Touch classic.

'Wise Water' picks up the pace slightly with some great twin guitar work from Rob Glendinning and Daniel Seekings before Westwood again gets the audience involved. Drummer George Drewry punches out the beat to 'Sweet Little Secret' before Westwood once again claims the spotlight as he shows off his mouth organ skills during 'Preacher'. It's not long before Rob Glendinning steps up to centre stage, though, to deliver plays a measured solo which showcases his skills perfectly.

Bad Touch like to add in the odd cover now and again, and their Wildfire is no exception as they perform a well executed version of the Zeppelin classic 'Ramble On'. Despite it being well performed, I'd still rather hear an original number from the band as they have so many high quality original material - especially in a time limited set like this, but that's just a minor point.

Closing off with 'New Day', it's the end of another solid and professional set from the Norfolk based quintet who, I have no doubt, will soon be headlining festivals like this in their own right and have, I'm sure, a very long and successful career ahead of them.

Bad Touch are:
Stevie Westwood – Vocals
Rob Glendinning – Lead Guitar
Daniel Seekings – Guitar
Michael Bailey – Bass Guitar
George Drewry – Drums

Bad Touch Setlist:
Waste My Time
Halfway Home
Wise Water
Sweet Little Secret
Words I Never Said
Good On Me
Ramble On
New Day

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wildfire festival

I remember Saturday 30th June 2012 like it was yesterday - the second day of the very first Les-Fest (now Wildfire Festival) and the fourth band onstage that day was Estrella.

Now I'd not heard of the North of Scotland quartet before that day, but after their thirty minute set, I was walking around the festival site clutching my new Estrella shirt (that I still wear with regularity it must be said!). Since then, the band have gone from strength to strength as they have undertaken numerous tours of Europe supporting the likes of Robin Beck and House Of Lords.

Their second album, 'We Will Go On', has recently been released to rave reviews and it seems only fitting that the band take their place back at the festival as one of the big name attractions. As the band prepare to go on stage, the crowd are more than ready as they jostle for position at the front and let our a huge roar as the band and have also recently released their An expectant crowd aren't disappointed as the bands burst onstage into song one.

Obviously proud of the new album, most of the songs in their set are pulled from it - only three songs, 'Shout (I Wanna Hear You)', 'Do It Til' We Drop' and 'Whatever It Is' remain from their old set list. The former is an old favourite and sure to be a staple in their stage show for some time still to come, I'm sure, whilst the latter two have a chance for the audience to sing-along and it's something they're not shy about doing either.

'Whatever It Is' also sees guitarist Luke Gunn taking a sojourn into the audience during his guitar solo - a show stopping moment that the crowd like as much as he does, it seems!

For the new songs, 'Rock This City' is a great set opener whilst 'Wheels Keep Turning' is a funky tune that keeps the crowd dancing. 'This Heaven' slows the place and gives band and audience a breather as well as the chance for front man Paul Gunn to strap on his acoustic guitar.

Finishing with a double barrel shot of 'We Will Go On' and the first single from the new album, 'Here I Am' just smacks of pure genius - two incredibly upbeat and catchy numbers that I'm sure will help the band get to the next level of their career.

Estrella are:
Paul Gunn – Vocals
Luke Gunn – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Nathan T. Gunn – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Leo J. McPherson – Drums

Estrella Setlist:
Rock City
Shout (I Wanna Hear You)
This Heaven
Do It Til' We Drop
Whatever It Is
Wheels Keep Turning
We Will Go On
Here I Am

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wildfire festival

The first time I saw Diamond Head live was at Knebworth Park as part of the Sonisphere Festival in 2011 when they were first on the main stage on the first day swiftly followed by Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica - all bands who they have had an influence on.

There were over 50,000 people there that day so when it was announced they were playing Wildfire it actually took a bit of time to register. One of the defining bands of British (and worldwide, I guess) Heavy Metal appearing at Wildfire - is that a coup or what?

It was the first time in Scotland for the band's new singer, Rasmus Bom Anderson, and as he and the rest of the band stepped onto the Wildfire stage for the first time, the volume from the packed crowd was incredible. They may be 'Special Guests' but this was one band that no-one seemed to want to miss - and not surprising as what followed was a master-class performance.

Opening up with 'Borrowed Time' from their 1982 titled album, they debuted a brand new song, 'Bones' which got just as much appreciation from the audience. A quick blast through the classic 'Lightning To The Nations' followed before the double blast of 'To Heaven From Hell' and 'To The Devil His Due' had the crowd almost at fever pitch.

The band were truly faultless with Anderson in particular looking like he was loving every minute of not only his performance but the adulation that comes with being the frontman.

'Shoot Out The Lights' had Anderson testing the lighting gantry to see how secure it was before he decides grabs hold of it swinging towards those wedged against the crowd barrier who get more and more wild. Of course, it's "those" classic songs that everyone wants to hear (ie. the ones recorded by Metallica) and the audience aren't left disappointed as the latter half of the set is classic after classic track. 'It's Electric' and 'The Prince' get huge ovations but the loudest is left for the band's last song of the night - 'Am I Evil?'

The noise from the audience as Brian Tatler plays "that" riff is just deafening - almost drowning out his guitar. It's a classic set from a classic band and as they depart the band thank the audience not only for the welcome they've received during their set but for unwavering support of the band.

Let's hope that the band capitalise on their resurgence and the addition of Anderson to their ranks and deliver their new album sooner rather than later.

Diamond Head are:
Rasmus Bom Anderson – Vocals
Brian Tatler – Guitar
Andy Abberley – Guitar
Eddie Moohan – Bass Guitar
Karl Wilcox – Drums

Diamond Head Setlist:
Borrowed Time
Lightning To The Nations
To Heaven From Hell
To the Devil His Due
In the Heat of the Night
Shoot Out The Lights
It's Electric
Sucking My Love
The Prince
Am I Evil?

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wildfire festival

The last band to grace the festival stage were melodic Metal merchants Coldspell who had flown in from their base in Sweden specially for their headlining appearance, and what a fitting way it was for the weekend to finish.

Let's be honest though, that Diamond Head were pretty much a guaranteed hit while there seemed to be a few amongst the festival goers who hadn't experience the Coldspell show before. One thing is for sure, though, is that those who stayed for their set didn't go away disappointed.

Formed in 2005, the band may have only three albums released, but it was a masterful performance from start to finish that kept the audience enthralled. 'Legacy', from the band's 2013 album 'Frozen Paradise', kicked things off with it's long guitar chords courtesy of Michael Larsson which are backed up by the synth sounds of keyboardist Matti Eklund as the vocals kick in from front man Niklas Swedentorp, the head bangers down the front are off. Continuing with the faster paced 'On The Run', there's a bit of onstage fun between Larsson and bass player Anders "Kebbe" Lindmark.

'Six Feet Under', from the band's 2011 album 'Out From The Cold', has the audience stamping their feet in time and drummer Perra Johanson was hitting the drums so hard that he managed to dislodge a drum skin which is quickly spotted and rectified by Wildfire stage technician supermo Ross Louden ensuring that nothing stops the band's performance. They also play the title track from their second album, 'Out From The Cold', which doesn't dampen the band or audiences enthusiasm as the evening ironically takes a cold turn.

A performance of 'Infinite Stargaze' from the album of the same name is a bit of a big deal we're told by front man Niklas Swedentorp as it's never been played outside Sweden until now, and the audience appreciate the gesture as the song comes to a glorious end with Larsson coming across particularly well.

'Soldiers' has a distinctly Scottish flavour injected into it and the crowd love every minute of the almost faux bagpipes sound from the keyboards. As happens with festivals, bands rarely run to time and as such, the band are forced to omit a couple of numbers to ensure they don't over run their curfew so rather then end with 'Keep On Believing' which opened up their debut album, they're forced to end on 'One In A Million' instead.

Having said that, though, it's still a fantastic song and brings to the end not only a faultless performance but leaves the festival goers on a high.

Like many who hadn't seen Coldspell live before, it made us all glad that we'd stayed at Wildfire instead of seeing some smaller band at King Tuts or having to sit through a rather predictable performance by AC/DC at Hampden Park.

With Wildfire over for another year, there wasn't much else to do but to carry on partying until the small hours, and that's exactly what we did. See you all back there next year at the end of June to see what bands will have to follow this year's eclectic but thoroughly entertaining bill.

Coldspell are:
Niklas Swedentorp – Vocals
Michael Larsson – Guitars/Backing Vocals
Anders "Kebbe" Lindmark – Bass Guitar
Matti Eklund – Keyboards/Vocals
Perra Johanson – Drums

Coldspell Setlist:
On The Run
Six Feet Under
Infinite Stargaze
Out From The Cold
Night Falls
Angel Of The World
Straight Things Out
One In A Million

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