Firevolt Festival – Sunday. It’s only been two weeks since my last sighting of the next band, up a cold, wet and dank mountain in the valleys of Wales at Steelhouse Festival, and it’s a testament to the band that their brand of good time rock ‘n’ roll didn’t let the weather dampen on that occasion.
Firevolt Sunday – Part Two
Not that Black Spiders ever disappoint, mind and nor did they tonight. Death Comes Creepin’ opens up the frivolity, and anyone who’s ever seen the band live will know how things usually pan out. When one wag shouts out way before time, “Fuck you, Black Spiders,” frontman Pete Spiby comically retorts like a stand-up pro with a quick-fire comeback.
“You’re too early, mate, you’ve premature ejaculated,” shuts down the now limp ‘heckler’ to great merriment from the crowd.
Drummer Wyatt Wendels, moonlighting from his Planet Rock DJ day job, lays down the beat for new song Hot Wheels from the recent album Can’t Die, Won’t Die. This couldn’t be more aptly titled, given the band’s recent upheaval. Stick It To The Man ramps things up further with its no-nonsense straight down the middle rock ‘n’ roll, which essentially is everything this band is about.
Destroyer takes it down while Stabbed In The Back is relentless. The brilliantly titled Kiss Tried To Kill Me ramps up the fun before Spiby gets the crowd going during Stay Down with the obligatory singalong line, “Fuck you and this one horse town. ” I’m pretty sure I saw two horses in the field leading up to the camping area. That’s the signal for ‘premature ejaculation man’ to get his timing right, joined by almost a couple of thousand mad screaming fans.
This is a right of passage at a Black Spiders gig. Mixing AC/DC, Motörhead and Ramones vibes for the three-song run out of Teenage Knife Gang, Alright Alright Alright, and A Rat Is A Rat to end a quite brilliant set to rival anything we’ve seen this weekend. Anyone who hasn’t witnessed the madness of Black Spiders live needs to put that right as soon as possible.
Collateral have been knocking on the door for a few years now. Since winning a competition to support Jon Bon Jovi on his Mediterranean Cruise show back in 2019, they have been steadily honing their craft on stages all around the UK and Europe, supporting top acts such as Skid Row, Phil X, Jarred James Nichols, H.E.A.T and Reckless Love as well as a whole host of their own shows in smaller clubs.
Featuring one of the most engaging up-and-coming frontmen in the business in Angelo Tristan, the band are the darlings of Planet Rock with their radio-friendly songs. They curiously reached No. 1 in the Australian radio charts with Midnight Queen, so the word is spreading.
Making their entrance with Mr Big Shot, the band bring the big hooks, big choruses and big time to the barn stage. The aforementioned Midnight Queen, with it’s country feel, brings stadium rock to the smaller stage with big energetic sounds coupled with Tristan’s emotive storytelling lyrics.
It’s a surefire mix with his stage aura that connects with the audience in a way few other frontmen do. The band re-recorded their debut album with an array of special guest musicians, with this track featuring Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn on vocals. The rest of the album featured the likes of Bon Jovi guitarist Phil X, Jeff Scott Soto, Rudy Sarzo, Sari Scharr and Europe’s former guitarist Kee Marcello. Impressive stuff to say the least.
Sin In The City, Promiseland and Going With The Wind, which sees the frontman break out the acoustic guitar, getting all the ladies in the audience a little hot under the collar. Informing everyone the new album is done, the singer said the band rehearsed for this run of shows, and they had no plans to play any new stuff, but they tried one out and decided to just do it.
So Glass Sky gets only its second airing after the show in Southampton the previous night and a resounding thumbs up from the crowd, setting the bar high for the new release. Long Road, About This Boy and In For The Love shows what the rest of this band are about with the rhythm section of Ben Atkinson and Jack Bentley Smith laying down the grooves, allowing guitarist Louis Magalodi to shine over the top.
Since the departure of guitarist Todd Winger at the beginning of the year, Malagodi has slipped into the role of sole six-string duties effortlessly, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen this guy play live before. Having also recently joined the ranks of former Revival Black frontman Dan Byrne’s new band, he now has the accolade of playing with two of the most talented vocalists on the UK circuit, which tells you everything you need to know about the guy.
No Place For Love rounds off a triumphant evening for the Kent based band, with the crowd singing along, whetting the appetite for the forthcoming album and headlining UK tour. Make sure you catch them on their travels.
Darren Wharton is happy to be here, and he’s not shy about showing it. With his infectious, never-ending smile, he has to be one of the happiest men in rock. The former Thin Lizzy Keyboard man’s band Dare have been around since 1985, bar six years in the ’90s, with a seemingly ever-revolving door of personnel.
Another local band on this year’s bill, they’ve predictively pulled in a full house to the tent, and as the Celtic feel of Cradle To The Grave gives way, it sets the tone for a run through of ridiculously good songs. Wharton is the ringmaster bouncing around the stage, waving and constantly giving thumbs up to people in the audience.
Home is melodic rock at its finest, while the Celtic feel returns with love song Until, which has the ladies on the barrier swooning. I’ll Hear You Pray, with its tear-jerking lyrics, literally brought a lump to my throat. Music can be so powerful, and with beautiful soulful guitar from the master Vinnie Burns, this song sucked everyone in.
Abandon is everything that was good about the era. Heavily influenced by Def Leppard and Bryan Adams, it doesn’t get much better than this if you’ve got your ’80s head on. The Raindance, with its obvious John Farnham and Lion King vibes, could easily be mixed into a mash-up with You’re The Voice without skipping a beat.
Penultimate song Thy Kingdom Come from Road To Eden, could easily have been a Lizzy song, as could so many others in Dare’s catalogue, which is a testament to the greatly missed Philo’s influence on Wharton’s songwriting.
Wharton only takes his shades off to address the audience, doing so again to introduce the beautiful tribute to Phil Lynott with King Of Spades, accompanied by more sumptuous guitar from Burns, while an emotional Wharton blows a kiss to the sky.
Dare were simply magnificent and a joy to watch. Definitely one of my bands of the weekend, which I never would have thought would be case beforehand. I’ll definitely be revisiting the band’s back catalogue, and I’m already looking forward to seeing them again.
The current UK scene is shouting out for bona fide headlining heavyweights as the current crop, who can’t go on forever, gradually make way for the new contenders. Kris Barras is rightly poised at the top of that contender tree, which he’s gradually climbed over the last few years.
Before lockdown, he toured tirelessly and constantly, delivering quality slabs of hard blues rock to anyone willing to listen, culminating with him incredibly being voted thirteenth best blues guitarist in the world by Music Radar.
Also championed by Planet Rock Radio, The Kris Barras Band are only just scraping the surface to what they can achieve. Tonight’s headline spot is thoroughly deserved, and judging by the capacity crowd at the Trooper stage, I’m not the only one who thinks it.
Straight to the point, Barras opens with crowd favourite Hail Mary, instantly getting the crowd singing along to the chorus. Dead Horses and These Voices lead into Heart On Your Sleeve, in which the frontman gets the whole audience bouncing to the groove. Well everyone except yours truly with his bad knee, that is.
Barras lays down some serious fretwork. Ballad Wake Me When It’s Over gives everyone a breather until Hostage ramps things up to a bouncy level again. Forget Me is a cover of the Lewis Capaldi song rocked up KB style and so much better for it. Chaos makes way for the second cover of the night as drummer Billy Hammett leads the band into Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll. Barras rips the all too familiar opening riff before turning it into their own unique jam session where everyone gets their own showcase.
Light It Up and Who Needs Enemies lead into the final song, My Parade, where Barras leaps the barrier and parts the crowd like Moses parting the Red Sea before leading everyone into the chorus, “This is my parade, fall into line or get out of my way.”
Who’s going to argue with the former MMA cage fighter? Not only a great climax to the evening but to the whole four days at this wonderful festival.
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.