Unlike the previous two days of the M3 Rock Festival, the final day started off much tamer. By tame, I don’t mean musically. I mean, mother nature must have made up with the rock n’ roll gods because the weather was much warmer and much sunnier than the rest of the weekend.
The spirit was much more reminiscent of the way I imagine it was at music festivals back in the prime of these bands.
M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Sunday 7 May 2022.
Lineup: Burning Witches, Leatherwolf, The Quireboys, XYZ, Zebra, Yngwie Malmsteen, Stryper, Skid Row, Tesla
Words and photography: Shannon Wilk
Kicking off what would be arguably the heaviest day of the weekend were Swiss heavy Metallers Burning Witches, who last month were throwing themselves into intense, high energy Metal in Scotland.
As a female musician myself, it’s always exciting to see an all-female band featured at a big festival like M3. This performance was one of this band’s first-ever gigs in the United States – something many European Metal bands can only dream of.
Despite having a short set, these ladies did more than prove themselves. They blew the damn roof off the place in the name of Heavy Metal. Their 6-song, 30-minute set certainly lit a fire under the asses of the bands to follow.
The second act of the day were California Heavy Metallers Leatherwolf. Many festival goers said they were most excited to see Leatherwolf out of all the bands playing at the festival. The band debuted with a new lineup featuring Keith Adamiak on vocals, Rob Math, Luke Man and Wayne Findlay on guitar, with the latter taking keyboard duties too, Brice Snider on bass and Dean Roberts on drums.
Adamiak’s vocals were spot on and this lineup has certainly brought new life to a band returning to the stage for the first time since 2018. A superb set.
Hitting the stage at 1:50 PM coming all the way from London, England were the Quireboys with their own brand of dirty, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll, sounding like the feral younger cousins of the Rolling Stones. Back in February of this year, the Quireboys played their first show without Spike fronting the band on the Monsters Of Rock Cruise.
But with equal amounts of swagger and soul, the five-piece tore into their set of good-time party anthems, mixed with some slower numbers that showed their more sensitive side. The twin guitars of lead singer Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin locked together in perfect harmony as Keith Weir added some barroom keys over the top, with Chip Z’Nuff covering bass duties well. Here was a band that guaranteed that you had to dance as you rocked.
Stripped of any pretence, they conjured images of perfect, wildly abandoned nights at the Whisky A Go Go on the Strip, enjoying the music and a few beers with your buddies.
Another band featuring new blood, XYZ put on a stellar set! The band featured two fill-in members – Ian Smith and Jacob Mann of All or Nothing. Their 40-minute set featured primarily songs from the band’s 1989 self-titled release. Out of the countless times I’ve seen XYZ in concert, I have to say this was most definitely the best.
Coming out with their usual 3-piece, completely original lineup, Zebra brought their A-game.
Their set started out with the catchy As I Said Before and continued with the same great energy and musical skill all the way through to their classic tune Tell Me What You Want.
Next up was the Swedish neo-classical guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen. After a small electrical fire and some of technical difficulties, Malmsteen was ready to shred.
After a couple of songs with lots of white light and minimal smoke after the electrical problems with the machine, this guitar icon was not having it. Malmsteen produced a full set of ripping shredsational music tickling the eardrums of the other musicians in the crowd.
Following Yngwie Malmsteen were Christian rockers Stryper. The band appeared on the stage clad head-to-toe in their class black and yellow garb. After playing a set of religion-inspired rock n’ roll, Michael Sweet announced that while the band would not push their religion on you, they will throw Bibles at you as they have from the beginning of their career.
And Stryper Bibles were tossed into the crowd as such. From Surrender through to To Hell With The Devil, Stryper put on a rockin’ set.
Next was perhaps the fan-favourite of the weekend, Skid Row. With the recent replacement of the band’s former frontman ZP Theart with Erik Grönwall, formerly of H.E.A.T., everyone was looking forward to seeing what Grönwall has brought to the band.
Let me tell you, he did more than prove himself. His stage presence and amazing voice brought an electricity to Skid Row’s hits. 18 And Life was superb, Ramones cover Psycho Therapy was thrown in, and the finish of Youth Gone Wild was sensational.
The band is a well-oiled machine and they’ve still got the fire. As their new song states, the ‘Gang’s All Here.’
The last band of the festival was Tesla. They brought the bluesy rock riffage paired with Jeff Keith’s notorious raspy vocals – a recipe that has brought them success album after album. Their set featured Tesla hits Modern Day Cowboy, Edison’s Medicine (Man Out Of Time), Love Song and others.
Guitarists Dave Rude and Frank Hannon traded licks with special guest J.T. Loux for a fiery finale of Allman Brothers’ Ramblin’ Man and Five Man Electrical Band’s Signs.
These modern-day cowboys put on an unforgettable headline set.
And so, the 13th edition of the M3 festival drew to a close. The weather may have not been great for the first couple of days, but spirits were definitely not damp. The M3 festival continues to grow and is already an internationally recognised ’80s arena rock experience, drawing fans from six continents, 20 countries and every state in the USA.
This was the second year back after the Covid-19 enforced break, which is now a distant memory for most. Bring on 2023.
All the MetalTalk M3 Festival 2022 coverage can be found at metaltalk.net/tag/m3-festival-2022