Maid Of Stone – Sunday. Despite the early slot opening the Phoenix Stage, there was an impressively sizable crowd for Hampshire rockers Brave Rival, their constant touring and rising social profile drawing in the committed and the curious.
There is something utterly irresistible about the five-piece, though, their dynamic performances, easy-going warmth and hook-laden songs that touch on the sort of firepower that Fleetwood Mac had at their commercial peak, making them impossible not to take to your heart.
Whilst the jaw-dropping voices of Chloe Josephine and Lindsey Bonnick are the icing on the cake, this is very much a family of musicians locked together in perfect harmony.
Driving the songs, drummer Donna Peters brings power at the rear of the stage, her playing rock solid with no need for flashy gymnastics, and this matches the groove and formidable presence of bass player Billy Dedman, his sense of groove and precision adding movement and punch.
Finally, guitarist Ed ‘the Shred’ Clarke is developing into one of the finest six-stringers around, his playing full of feel for the songs and his solos lyrical without being an exercise in fretboard onanism.
The massive drive and hook of Run and Hide kick off things in fine style, its claws immediately sinking their way into your skin and the rush of adrenaline like mainlining the site’s electricity, the following Guilty Love revelling in its singalong chorus and sass.
Deftly mixing fan favourites like the strutting soul of Secrets and punchy Heart Attack, new songs are proof positive that the quality of their writing shows absolutely no sign of dipping.
With the stomping Bad Choices, slow blues of Stars Upon My Scars and the dynamic Fairytale slotting easily into the set, album number two is a mouth-watering prospect.
Still one of the biggest highlights of their set, Come Down shows Brave Rival at their absolute peak, the world-stopping power of Josephine and Bonnick’s voices able to reach down to the most hidden recesses of hearts and fill them with a love of music that is so primal and all-consuming that at that moment nothing exists but those collections of notes, strung together in a song.
The quintet may not have set out to change the world, but their music will see dreams fulfilled: theirs and others. Watch them fly.
Maid Of Stone Festival 2023 was held over the weekend of 21-23 July 2023. MetalTalk’s Adrian Stonley, Paul Monkhouse and Robert Sutton were reporting from Mote Park.
All Photography: Robert Sutton
Early Bird tickets are available for next year’s festival held over 19-21 July 2024. Tickets are available from here.
All MetalTalk Maid Of Stone 2023 coverage is at https://www.metaltalk.net/tag/maid-of-stone-festival-2023