It’s so wonderful to see the world of live rock music re-opening. Mullets have grown, band t-shirts are back in abundance, beer guts are expanding, and we are back enjoying and supporting all the musicians who’ve struggled during the pandemic.
Legends Of Rock, Great Yarmouth. 2-7 March 2022
Words: Sara Harding and Gavin Archer
Photography by Sally Newhouse.
One event that does it bigger and better is Legends of Rock. A festival created by fans, for fans and this year’s event, celebrating its tenth year, features a vast lineup of superb original and tribute bands, with over 60 bands and jams over five days.
Taking place in the Vauxhall Caravan Park, the two venues continually stream out music from 11 am until 4 am with after-show parties. This year guarantees no sleep and very loud music.
This is why we at Metaltalk nominated Legends of Rock as the best live festival.
Thousands of rockers descended on Great Yarmouth to party. It’s the only festival I know where the bands and fans all mingle together – one minute you are watching your favourite group play live and the next minute you are having a bacon butty or beer with them. Created by the Yates family affectionately known as ‘The Bastards’, this clan are absolute pioneers for emerging bands and top-class tribute bands.
The Mentulls are a class act, a hard band to pigeonhole. The influences are varied from AOR, Blues and Prog, so imagine a cross of Genesis, Toto and blues Gary Moore, and you kind of get the idea. The band, although a four-piece, sound like a much bigger ensemble, with lush layered keys and superb harmonies. Most of the set was from the bands new album Recipe For Change with the one excellent cover of Don Henley’s New York Minute. The band are currently on tour promoting their new album. Go see them. They are something very different and refreshing but also incredibly familiar, which is in itself is a superb feat.
Northern Irish powerhouse trio, the Davy K Project, made their Legends debut and certainly delivered. This band certainly saved us during the pandemic with over 56 live Facebook gigs but to experience them live and in person was simply epic. The band’s original songs are up there with Ricky Warwick and Thin Lizzy with nods of Bob Segar. Soon to support the Quireboys, this band were the buzz band of the festival – so good we all bought the T-shirts.
Moving on to some of the iconic tribute bands, the arena was packed with fans all eager to enjoy a classic setlist from their favourite bands, and they all delivered. Sets from Who’s Next featuring the truly awesome Max Edwards killing it on the bass, Aladdinsane, Bon Giovi, Boot Led Zep, Black Country Community, Telegram Sam, Motorkill, Too Petty, Fleetwood Bac and Shot Through The Heart took us on a nostalgic trip through the setlist of anthems we know and love.
Back to the best of emerging British rock bands and Blind River, who were the breakaway stars of last year’s Rockdown Festival in Leamington Spa, took to the stage. Sweary, beardy, with massive chest rugs, these easy on the eyes rockers blew the audience away. Singer Harry Armstrong who also plays in Orange Goblin, never disappoints. “Some c*nt’s knocked my beer over and bloody hell you lot are beautiful, sexy bastards”. We’ll take that.
Their stellar setlist is dirty, very dirty and very grrrrr! A five-piece explosion of riffs, man rugs and big balls songs. Can’t Sleep Sober has become the anthem of the legends. “Turn off Netflix and fucking go to live gigs,” the band scream. Blind River are powerful, primaeval, raw and polished. Check them out on their UK tour, and I promise you, you won’t sleep that night, and you certainly won’t be sober.
Birmingham band, Daylight Robbery have been crowned the Kings Of Melodic Rock, having played alongside Metallica, Alice in Chains and Def Leppard. Every song on their setlist was an anthem.
With Iron Maiden in their DNA, with Joe Lazarus incredible on drums and John Oakley as Eddie (who has more costume changes than Cher), Hi On Maiden treated us to journey through Maiden’s back catalogue – “scream for me legends” – they cry. But I’d lost my voice already!
Saturday morning kicks off with a mighty crowd for Straighten Out, a completely authentic tribute to The Stranglers. With a Greenfield keyboard set up, which completely epitomised the late great organ warrior, they were Nice and Sleazy – and that’s just the band.
Over to the V Lounge for the truly awesome trio of talent of Trident Waters, Andrew Knightley (Vocals/Guitar), Wilson Zaidan (Bass), and Greg Zaka (Drums). Taking inspiration from Rival Sons, John Lee Hooker, Winery Dogs, Albert King, and Joe Bonamassa, the band despatch an engrossing alternative-rock sound that is underpinned by edgy blues-rock.
Trident Waters are steadily picking up new fans and have already extensively played throughout the UK, sharing stages with genre legends such as Michael Schenker, Hawkwind, Shark Island and Procol Harum. In the over-saturated Rock world, not many bands have the capability and musicianship to stand out from the crowd. Trident Waters achieve this very feat. Playing passionate, powerful hook-laden tracks, they blaze a trail ahead of many of their contemporaries.
Knightley’s vocals are a true blend of Chris Robinson and Jack Daniels. Great Yarmouth meets the retro south via the blues with guitar genius, killer solos and a tighter than tight backline. Can I get an amen!? It’s the band’s second time here, and watch out for their extensive UK tour dates.
Now, if you ever want to experience the ultimate party band, Mr Sparky and the Hipthrusters belt out every rock crowd pleaser. Kicking off with comeback band of the minute, The Sweet and Hellraiser. The dance floor was heaving, and the beers were flowing, and we danced those lockdown calories off.
It was a packed V arena for the hottest band in the UK right now, Collateral, and this five-piece performed a storming set. Angelo (who played Steven Tyler from Aerosmith in their biopic) and the band got their rocks off.
The group are at their best performing live, and the pandemic was hard for them. Due to go on a world tour with Bon Jovi, which was later postponed, I truly believe this band will be playing world stadia sometime very soon, and boy am I glad we got to witness them here at Leg-ends. Anthem after anthem, they were as tight as the pleather pants they were wearing.
As always, we love a bit of AOR, and Jimi Anderson never disappoints with a trip from Toto to Don Henley. This is polished rock at its best. Well known for his catchphrase, “I wanna see your hands at the back”, the whole place was fist-pumping to these classic tunes.
Thin Lizzy Experience was one band I wanted to see, but we couldn’t even get into the V lounge. It was rammed. With the brilliant Joe Lazarus on drums with his thousands of followers of his drumming skills on Youtube, he is the drummer to look out for.
Much as we love our classic rock and blues, sometimes we need to switch up to Metal, and for me, Metal Fatigue delivered! Velvet Revolver, System and Rage got the mosh pit going!
Sunday, and we are hanging, but it’s time to head back to the V Lounge and shake off our hangovers with Matt Long and the Revenant Ones. The stellar frontman of the hugely rated Catfish is here with his own combo. Long is a riff lord of blues.
A trio of noise – seriously incredible vocals, bluesy backline and dirty grungy geeeetar – this was a true rock breakfast! The guitar solo was off the charts! And a six-string bass bigger than me and those drums! An experience, not just a gig as we all stood agape at their sheer musicianship. We are sooooo glad we witnessed it. Go see this band and thank me later.
Matt Long’s Jack Black style humour had us in hysterics as they introduced their ‘sex’ song Wild Animal. Singer Matt asks who’s had sex this weekend, and out of hundreds of us there, only two people put their hands up. Well, who is going to put out when there are over 60 bands to watch?
Matt Long and his Revenant Ones got the biggest and most well-deserved standing ovation! Again, the trio will be performing throughout the year, and it will be the best money you’ve ever spent.
One man that has been all over Legends is Matt Pearce – from Fleetwood Bac to the jams, so it is great to see him doing so well with his Matt Pearce & the Mutiny band. Their debut album Gotta Get Home reached number one in the Amazon Blues Charts, and playing material from the new record The Soul Food Store, Pearce and co performed a sonic set of soul, ballads, psychedelia and even a bit of disco.
The post-gig jams that took place every night had us up until 4 am with the cream of rock talent. There were so many other bands that played that we physically couldn’t get to see them all, but the great news is each and every group will pretty much all be touring this year, so get out and support live music.
Right, I need to go and have a lady lie down after all that rocking – but I do so knowing that my caravan is already booked for next year, and we can’t wait.
Every year the event raises thousands for St Mungo’s charity, and this year there were donations to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
This review is dedicated to Legend’s legend Russ Sacko Saxton and our beloved Rita Newcomb in hospital, whom we all raised a glass for.