Firevolt Festival 2023 – Friday. The beautiful Etherow country park at Whitebottom Farm just outside of Manchester hosted Sons Of Liberty, Hollowstar and Cardinal Black as a wonderful Friday’s entertainment rolled along.
Sons Of Liberty
Sons of Liberty brought their Southern vibe up North from Bristol along with their new vocalist Russ Grimmett and are next up in the Big Top. During the set, whilst on the barrier, I was looking down at my phone, jotting down my notes as usual. Unbeknownst to me, Russ had jumped off the stage and was standing right in front of me, watching me scribble whilst singing, much to the amusement of everyone around me.
It wasn’t until I’d finished writing down what a great singer he is and that he obviously inherited his dad’s voice (the legendry Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper/Lionsheart fame who sadly passed away a year ago today) that I realised I was the focal point of everyone’s hilarity.
The irony in all this is that this sausage finger scribe pressed the wrong button after the set and undid all the text from the notes I’d taken during the set. So thanks to Andy Muse for sending over the set list to jog my old memory a bit.
A set that started off with Big Ass, Time To Fly and Light The Fuse before getting the crowd involved during Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man Thief. Further highlights included Up Shit Creek, Damaged Reputation and personal favourites I Come In Peace and Beef Jerky Boogie, which is great fun, before ending on a high with Ruby Starr.
A great set that worked well with the new guy, who I look forward to hearing on the next album.
Hollowstar have featured on many shows and festivals I’ve been lucky enough to have been at over the last few years. They never fail to deliver with their brand of fist-pumping yet melodic rock, collecting awards along the way, such as NMG’s Breakthrough Artists, Breakout Artist and Best Rock Band over a two-year period as well as being included in Planet Rock’s top five bands in their annual awards for Best New Band category back in 2019.
They clearly have what it takes, but if you’ve seen them perform live on stage before, then you already know this, of course. Arriving on to the Trooper stage in the barn to great applause with Take It All setting the tone for the rest of the set.
With songs such as Let You Down, Price Of Fame, Money and Overrated, which they most certainly are not, they then take a break from their own songs with a cover of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic Simple Man, which has become a firm live favourite. This saw Joe Benson deliver superb vocals to match Phil Haines soulful fretwork to bring this epic to a climax.
If all that wasn’t enough, the band finished off the final third of the set with Little Miss Innocent and Good Man Gone before bowing out with All I Gotta Say to end a blinding performance which preached to the already converted. It’s time for Hollowstar to step up.
By the band’s own admission, Cardinal Black are the oldest new band in the world, long before guitarist Chris Buck’s other highly acclaimed band Buck & Evans was even thought of. They benefit from the adage that it takes years to become an overnight sensation.
You can feel the anticipation in the air of the Big Top stage as a near full tent awaits the incomparable Buck and Co. I’ve only seen Buck in his other guise, and one might be forgiven for being suspicious that Cardinal Black might be just another vehicle to showcase the enviable talent that has achieved the accolade of being voted best guitarist in three different categories by the esteemed Guitar magazine.
But that definitely isn’t the case here with songs such as the crowd-pleasing Tell Me How It Feels and Terra Firma confirming the undeniable talents of the rest of this great band, not least singer Tom Hollister whose voice, both powerful as it is exquisite at the same time, is as big a focal point of this band as Chris Buck’s magic fingertips are.
We’re a few songs in before Hollister notices the Firevolt banner at the side stage, which advertises three days of face-melting rock. He quips, “Apologies to all you people who came to see us today expecting face-melting rock,” raising a chuckle from everyone inside the tent.
With the rhythm section of Adam Roberts and Sam Williams complimenting Buck and Hollister, the band’s soul-soaked blues rock certainly wasn’t face-melting, but it was exactly what everyone had turned up to see.
A wonderful set that was eagerly soaked up by all in attendance, and I’d say they are ones to watch, but the whole world is probably already watching them. I’m already eagerly awaiting their next gig.
Firevolt Festival 2023 was held over the weekend of 11-13 August 2023. MetalTalk’s Dave Bonney reports from Whitebottom Farm.
All Photography: Linda McDermott
All MetalTalk Firevolt Festival 2023 coverage can be found at MetalTalk.net/tag/firevolt-festival-2023.
For more details, visit the Firevolt MCR website.