The headline statement was the motto used by Stret and Bev when starting out on their journey to bring top International and local bands to Firevolt Festival 2023 and how right they were.
Firevolt Festival – Saturday Part One
The Hot One Two
The Hot One Two kicked off the Saturday shenanigans on the Big Top stage at 11:45 in the morning. So a special mention to all those shaking off a Friday hangover, though perhaps it should have been on the Trooper stage because everyone in attendance was an absolute Trooper!
Billed as The Ones To Watch Party, somebody obviously forgot to bring fifty pence for the meter to get the party started as the guys from Cambridge hit the unlit stage with gusto. Undeterred, the band rip into the high-octane hard rock of The Fray and boy, are they enjoying themselves.
Guitarist Kev Baker is doing his utmost to outdo Royal Republic’s Adam Grahn in the funny face stakes whilst singer Simon West wears a smile as big as the Big Top itself. Acknowledging that it’s still morning, West dedicates the next song Rolling Stone to everyone with a beer in their hand, of which there were obviously plenty.
I know time is limited at festivals, but half an hour wasn’t long enough by far for these guys as they ended their set on a high with Tie Me Down, but not before throwing t-shirts into the baying crowd and as I had a pint in each hand I obviously didn’t catch one!
I’m pretty sure Firevolt have a policy where three bands are invited back for next year. So in my book, the band should be nailed on for an elevated slot on the bill, therefore ensuring a deserved longer set. The Firevolt guys were spot on with this one. The Hot One Two really are ones to watch.
Thieves Of Liberty
Thieves of Liberty from the North East are the second battle of the band’s winners to open up the day of rock on the Trooper stage, and as the first song, Ain’t Goin’ Home, ends, guitarist Kieran Wilson quips, “So were technically on after Royal Republic”, which I guess is true right?
The Mackem’s brand of heavy blues rock has been grabbing attention for a while now, and with songs as strong as Shangri La up next and the single Calypso getting great crowd reaction, these guys are heading in the right direction.
Rabbit Hole, Sick Pup and Cherry Queen keep the audience on side and show what a fine gritty set of pipes frontman James Boak has on him. Ending their short set, the last song, Smoke In The Air, has an impressive guitar dual going on that ends up with Wilson playing with one of Tom Bushby’s drumsticks. Not exactly innovative, but great fun to watch.
These guys are keeping busy and have gigs up to the end of the year supporting The Karma Effect and The Bad Day, so there are plenty of chances to catch up with them again soon.
Watching almost thirty bands over a long weekend, there’s a good chance you’re going to bump into your new favourite band at some point along the way, and I may have just found them. Blackpool hard rock trio Apriori consists of frontman Tony Lang guitar/vocals, Mouse, which I’m pretty sure is not his real name on drums and Keyboard player Mark Wilson.
So no bass player, which is interesting, with their bio suggesting that Wilson’s keyboard wizardry blends the sound better than a bass ever could.
From the moment they hit the stage with Shotgun Blues, it’s obvious these guys have a decent following garnered with hours on the road playing a multitude of gigs and the release of their debut album Black Church.
Lang introduces the next song, Better Man, as the first song the band wrote together five years ago, which raises the question, how the hell have I not come across these guys before?
The frontman has a Myles Kennedy thing going on vocally which can obviously only be a good thing, and he kind of also reminds me a bit of John Sykes, who coincidently also came out of Blackpool with local band Streetfighter before going on to greater things.
Lang’s stage presence is huge, which is a quality greatly needed in a three-piece, and he appears to be the full package. Halo makes way for a new song, the title of which escaped me, whilst Making Love To The Devil takes the tempo down temporarily until the catchy Nah Nah Nah Nah gives the crowd something to shout about.
Wasted Years brings an excellent set to an end. I’ll be catching these guys again next weekend at RockWich, and it can’t come quickly enough.
Valhalla Awaits are yet another quality band on the seemingly never-ending conveyor belt across the Severn Bridge out of the Welsh valleys, and these guys seriously rock.
Grungy songs such as Dying Inside and Skin & Bone are set highlights, while Rolling Thunder, with its Alter Bridge overtones, brings more Myles Kennedy vibes from singer Andrew Hunt.
These guys have a confidence about them that manifests itself in songs like Where Do We Go From Here and Inside The Sun, while the medley of Black Waters, with its filthy riff giving off Soundgarden vibes, and Slave was amalgamated in the middle with Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song.
Digging The Grave and Nirvana cover Breed close out the set in crushing style without ever compromising on melody, ensuring an enjoyable set from these Welsh dragons who are a force to be reckoned with and are definitely in the ‘ones to watch’ category.
Firevolt Festival 2023 was held over the weekend of 11-13 August 2023. MetalTalk’s Dave Bonney reports from Whitebottom Farm.
All Photography: Dave Davies
All MetalTalk Firevolt Festival 2023 coverage can be found at MetalTalk.net/tag/firevolt-festival-2023.
For more details, visit the Firevolt MCR website.