If anyone wanted proof that the flame of down and dirty rock ‘n’ roll still burns as brightly as ever, a quick trip to Norwich on a cold Tuesday evening would be enough to bring a heart-warming affirmation. With the expansive floor of Epic Studio filled with a multi-generational audience, this was the perfect night to start Part Two of the Triggered! tour. Massive Wagons brought German outfit The New Roses along for the ride for a few hours of high-decibel mayhem.
Massive Wagons – The New Roses
Epic Studios, Norwich – 14 November 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Photography: Steve Ritchie
Overcoming obstacles thrown in front of them, both bands have shown that the only way to do this properly is through long hours on the road, sleeping in vans and playing anywhere and everywhere they can.
If you could harness the sheer energy of Massive Wagons frontman Baz Mills, you could power a city. The nattily dressed and moustachioed singer is a blur of kinetic movement. It’s no wonder, though. The sheer joy of being back on the road once more feels like a homecoming, and the band are never happier than when they’re in front of an audience up for a party.
The quintet are certainly masters of their craft, and this commitment to squeeze every last drop of fun out of a show is what has made them such a compelling band on the circuit. The fact that they have a selection of absolute anthems makes things even sweeter, the spirit of the sort of football terrace chanters that brought so much fame and fortune to the mighty Slade.
There’s always been something honest and wilfully working class with the band, and what you get is what you see, their ethos seemingly one of bright, good-time entertainment but with a soul that’s shorn of unnecessary flash, instead filling it with a relatability and grit. The sort of band you’d happily spend the night down the pub with, Mills, guitarists Adam Thistlethwaite and Stevie Holl, bass player Adam Bouskill and drummer Alex Thistlethwaite engender nothing but warmth and the fanaticism of their ever-growing fanbase is a testament to the community feel present here.
The boogie of Rick Parfitt tribute Back To The Stack is an adrenaline rush of an opener. Mills leaping from the drum riser, a moment of sheer rock ‘n’ roll theatre as the riff slams in, the whole a primal unleashing of the power of hard rock. It’s certainly a glorious sight. Instead of easing off the gas slightly, things are pushed further to the floor with the punky Pressure and the urgent drive of a bouncing Freak City show they mean business, taking the audience with them.
What Massive Wagons are so good at is distilling some of the best tropes from classic rock bands from the last four decades and putting their own spin on things, the mix both tipping the hat to the familiar whilst being fresh and with a modern edge.
There’s a touch of UFO in the classy ’80s hard rock of Big Time, some ’70s glam rock meets punk with Skateboard and Fuck The Haters is pure Lancs Hair Metal (surely a sub-genre that needs to be highlighted). But somehow, all these influences fit in perfectly with the band’s aim to put rock music back at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Played with endless enthusiasm, Please Stay Calm could find its natural home in the soundtrack of a Hollywood blockbuster. The euphoria it engenders is infectious. The snatches of Mysterious Girl and No Woman No Cry in the reggae breakdown during Generation Prime bring wide grins to the faces of all there.
It’s a blast, and the race to the finish of an anthemic Bangin In Your Stereo and the blistering Nails as Mills exhorts, “Norwich…bang your fucking heads!” is enough to set everyone up for the week.
Massive Wagons should be part of the National Health on prescription. Their guarantee of a good time is something that we all need in these difficult times. Long may they continue their rise to the top.
The New Roses
It had been a long road to get to Norwich, but The New Roses were determined to tear things up and give their all. With their brand of high-energy hard rock that takes the grit of AC/DC and adds huge amounts of melody, they seem to have hit a sweet spot that is paying dividends.
Opener, The Usual Suspects, gets an already buzzing crowd moving. There’s certainly a no-frills ethos at play here, the quintet throwing all the right shapes as they plough into the set, and numbers like Every Wild Heart and It’s A Long Way hit a great groove.
Strapping on an acoustic guitar, singer Timmy Rough declares, “We wanna save the rock ballad.” A man of his word, The Only Thing is a prime slice of impassioned and drama-filled widescreen songwriting, complete with soaring solos.
There’s a Bryan Adams vibe to Down By The River that injects a little summer sunshine into proceedings, and the pounding duo of Forever Never Comes and Thirsty brings the set to a close.
Big hooks, killer harmonies and thrilling riffs, The New Roses have them all.