Maid Of Stone – Sunday. The Mote Park audience was basking in the sun when the irrepressible Elles Bailey hit the stage, bringing her catchy blend of bluesy soft rock-tinged Americana. Though one of the lighter acts musically on the day, she had nothing to fear and won over the crowd in an instant.
The key point to recognise is not only does Elles have a great band and catchy, well-crafted songs, but she’s also a full-on performer who wears her colours on her sleeve and does not hold back. An Elles Bailey performance is always a 100 percenter, and this was no different.
In a glittery outfit reflecting the sunlight, she hit the stage ready to stake her claim to the set of the day, and certainly, the audience sat up and took note.
From the opening chords of The Game, she set about winning over any nay-sayers out there, and it was noticeable by the influx to the stage that she was succeeding and casting her spell across Mote Park. With Stones following in quick succession, she had the crowd rapidly eating out of the palm of her hand, and a quick foray to the barrier brought them surging further forward.
Elles is an artist who is confident enough to reach out to her audience, and on this occasion, this was no different. The approach she takes to engaging with her fans is to be applauded as the love clearly started to flow in both directions.
Elles has a wonderfully textured voice that can create sweeping soundscapes. Her songs are not one-dimensional, and she doesn’t pull punches lyrically. She is a feisty writer and a flamboyant performer, one moment dancing, the next prowling around the edge of the stage.
The set in itself has changed around from some of her more recent concerts, and the addition of Over The Hill, a cover of a John Martyn song, brought an additional texture to the performance. This also saw a good audience reaction as the hands went up into the air, and there was a considerable clap along with the band.
Hole In My Pocket was preceded by a litany about her new sparkly boots ending with Elles proclaiming that they were the reason for the “hole in her pocket.” Yet this saw her wrack up the noise level and had Mote Park rocking out.
Following on from the changes around the set, we were introduced to Elles forthcoming single, a cover of the Delaney and Bonnie tune Long Road Ahead, which gave the band an opportunity to flex their musical muscles and show what they could do.
Her latest single, Devil Claims His Prize, was well received, with the song aimed at those who lust for greed and power and who will do anything they can to ensure that they don’t lose the crowns they have made for themselves. Not just a little political there, eh? Perhaps so, but the song also has a strong reflective commentary on social issues as well.
Finishing with the upbeat Sunshine City, a song dedicated to those who had drunk too much tequila, she ended the set on a high tempo upbeat rock out which saw the audience singing and waving arms in the air and Elles leaping off the stage to run out into the crowd before finishing the number sat on the barrier.
This was quite simply a stunning performance that not only won over a lot of new fans but proved that there was definitely a place for her variation of more American-driven bluesy rock on the bill.
This is a lady who knows how to entertain, how to write great music and how to have a good time and bring everyone else into it with her. Exceptional.
Maid Of Stone Festival 2023 was held over the weekend of 21-23 July 2023. MetalTalk’s Adrian Stonley, Paul Monkhouse and Robert Sutton were reporting from Mote Park.
All Photography: Robert Sutton
Early Bird tickets are available for next year’s festival held over 19-21 July 2024. Tickets are available from here.
All MetalTalk Maid Of Stone 2023 coverage is at https://www.metaltalk.net/tag/maid-of-stone-festival-2023