Firevolt Festival / Scruffy Bear, Absolva, Vega and The Virginmarys

Firevolt Festival 2023. Firevolt Festival continued at a relentless pace. Saturday continued with Scruffy Bear, Absolva, Vega and The Virginmarys.

Firevolt – Saturday – Part Two

Scruffy Bear

Scruffy Bear filled in last year after a late band withdrawal and were rewarded with an invitation to return again this year after reportedly blowing the Trooper stage away. I first came across these guys as a support act at the Garage in London a few years ago when they blew me away with their fuzzy tones and energetic flair, not least bouncy whirling frontwoman Georgy Eaton, whose petit frame belies the huge soulful voice that emanates from it. 

Firevolt Festival 2023 - Scruffy Bear
Firevolt Festival 2023 – Scruffy Bear. Photo: Dave Davies/MetalTalk

This time around, the North Yorkshire hard rock/heavy blues combo stepped up to the plate on the bigger stage in the Big Top tent and took advantage of the bigger surroundings with aplomb, hitting the stage with gritty opener Keep On Rollin’. 

With an eclectic mix of influences, it’s no surprise this band bring a little bit of everything to the table, and the new song Good Intentions is testimony to that. 

Foxy Lady is a fine rendition of the Hendrix classic, and Blackmoss leads into the slow burner that is Water, which eventually turns into a frantic fuzz fest affair before returning to clean riffage and heavy low-end tones that see the set out. Fantastic stuff.

Absolva

Well, what can I say about Absolva that hasn’t already been said before? They have been around for a long time now, having risen out of the ashes of Fury UK after bassist Luke Appleton took up an offer from heavyweights Iced Earth to join the American band before returning nine years later to join his brother and frontman Chris as guitarist in the band.

And they are still going strong. You know exactly what you’re going to get at an Absolva live show: straight down-the-middle classic rock/Metal with melody and harmony aplenty to keep everyone’s attention piqued. 

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Firevolt Festival 2023 - Absolva
Firevolt Festival 2023 – Absolva. Photo: Dave Davies/MetalTalk

Also known as Blaze Bayley’s band, the local boys were pleased to be here, and it showed after having to completely reschedule a host of European and UK dates as headliners after Blaze’s recent heart attack, of which this gig is the first.

Out of adversity comes opportunity, they say, and the band took this opportunity by the scruff of the neck with a glorious set including old favourites and album title tracks such as Flames Of Justice, Never A Good Day To Die and Side By Side.

There was also a healthy slab of songs from last year’s Fire In The Sky, including Stand Your Ground, the title track and Refuse To Die, with Beyond The Grave rounding off one of my favourite performances of the weekend.

Vega

Vega tick this year’s Firevolt AOR box, and if that’s your bag, then these boys have everything you want in spades. Last spotted by yours truly supporting The Dan Reed Network at London’s 100 Club, I always thought they were a little lightweight, but a good song is a good song, right?

Firevolt Festival 2023 - Vega
Firevolt Festival 2023 – Vega. Photo: Dave Davies/MetalTalk

The band put on a flawless performance for the die-hards. Nick Workman’s faultless vocals are key to songs such as Love To Hate You. I reckon this deserves a listen as this song is on the rocky side with more hooks than the old Marquee cloakroom. 

Kneel To You brought the pomp and grandeur, and Every Little Monster got the ladies dancing. I enjoyed their set. They hooked me in.

The Virginmarys

The Virginmarys are another band on home territory, and to be honest, I know nothing about them. As far as I remember, they never introduced a single song, and I didn’t get a setlist.

So what can I say? Well, what I do know is that they are the second band on the bill today without a bass player. They make more noise than seems possible for a duo, and the old saying, less is sometimes more, seems particularly relevant in this case. 

Firevolt Festival 2023 - The Virginmarys
Firevolt Festival 2023 – The Virginmarys. Photo: Dave Davies/MetalTalk

They rock hard and heavy, if not a bit punkish, and the packed audience absolutely loved them. They started life out as a trio and could hardly afford to lose a member, could they? What is it with these bands, binning off the poor bass player? Don’t they realise a bass player is for life, not just for Christmas? 

Being from just up the road in Macclesfield gets me thinking, wouldn’t it be amazing if Stret could prise those wonderfully obnoxious braggarts, The Macc Lads, out of the pubs and local chippy’s of Macc and back onto a stage for next year’s Firevolt. 

Now, that would probably break the internet.


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 and Dave Davies.

All MetalTalk Bloodstock Festival 2023 coverage can be found at  MetalTalk.net/tag/firevolt-festival-2023.

For more details, visit the Firevolt MCR website.

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