This past weekend saw KK’s Steel Mill host the second NWOCR Live Fest, which coincided with and celebrated the release of the NWOCR – Volume Two compilation album.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term for NWOCR, read New Wave of Classic Rock, a Facebook Group that has evolved into a movement whose aim is to provide a platform for the many rising bands whose own music is heavily influenced by the classic artists of the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and Noughties.
Those who attended last year’s inaugural event were well aware of what a well-organised, friendly and thoroughly enjoyable weekend it was. With word getting about, this year’s was even better attended.
If there’s any band that can be trusted to bring a Saturday Night to a rousing conclusion, then it’s Cambridge-based adrenalised rockers The Treatment, who live by the mantra ‘Getting The Party On’.
One knew from the moment they hit the stage that this would be a full-on, in-your-face exhibition of supercharged classic rock ‘n’ roll.
With the opening salvo of Let’s Get Dirty and Let It Begin, the atmosphere is crackling, and enough energy is being generated on stage to power a small town. Eyes On You demonstrated that even when they ease a little off the gas, they can maintain the impact.
Having recently completed a tour of Germany, this was their first performance back on home soil, and they were overjoyed with the reception they received. “Our first gig back, and this is what we get,” exclaimed vocalist Tom.
A common theme throughout the weekend was bands referring to the venue’s own ‘Day Job’. “We recorded the video for this on this very stage. It was the first time the five of us had been on a stage together.”
Live favourite Wrong Way is a perfect example of how they have taken a classic sound and moulded it into a hugely accessible and infectious slab of modern rock.
The final notes of The Doctor led seamlessly into perennial crowd-pleaser Shake The Mountain. The perfectly choreographed turn of all the guitarists away from the drum riser and back to the stage front was a moment of simple yet unbridled joy.
Following this came their ‘theme tune’ if you like in Get The Party On.
With the line “When Things Are Going Wrong Get The Party On”, someone should suggest that Rishi Sunak address his Cabinet in such a manner first thing Monday morning.
And to top it all off, Tagore saved his most blistering solo for last.
The encore of Devil’s In The Detail and Rat Race rounded off an explosive performance in which The Treatment demonstrated just what a totally rocking, feel-good, entertaining band they are. I defy anyone not to be swept up by this soundtrack to an ale-fueled rave. Just remember to party responsibly, boys and girls.
Having announced that they are going back out on the road early in the New Year on an extensive run of dates as support to Buckcherry, Tom said, “That is going to be one helluva rock ‘n’ roll show”. One cannot disagree on this form, and surely a tour not to be missed.
In sharp contrast, in the Special Guests slot were Northants-based ambient masters Empyre. The band have a unique bond with their hardcore fans, which manifests itself in the interaction with the many in attendance this evening. Those unfamiliar with this intercourse must wonder what on earth is going on.
It is also fair to say that they are a ‘Marmite’ Band. Many do not get them, while an ever-increasing number do. I fall firmly into the latter category.
Waking Light makes for a most atmospheric opener, its controlled arrangement intensifying prior to the full dynamics of their sound kicking in. The restrained guitar above the propulsive rhythm section accentuates the mood.
Parasites is haunting. Henrik’s distinctive mournful vocal appeared at odds with him bathed in a pool of incandescent lime lighting. Third number, Cry Wolf, saw the band fully ignite.
If there has been a more darkly beautiful song released this year than Forget Me, then I have yet to hear it. Simultaneously melancholic but uplifting, it is a number that touches the hearts and triggers the emotions of those who can identify with its lyrics.
“I don’t have the spirit to be alive, I’ll be better off a soul,” tells only part of the story. Such an intriguing subject, more can be found on the inspiration and creation of this track during my recent chat with the band.
Immersing oneself in numbers like Hit & Run just elevates you onto a higher plain. Only Way Out is always one of the set favourites, and what struck me was how the characteristically crystalline output of the sound system allowed the clean tones of the guitar playing to shine. As the number developed, Did’s climactic solo was a piece of symphonic magnificence.
The title track of this year’s sophomore release, Relentless, made way for another crowd-pleaser in Homegrown, which is a thing of ascending beauty before finishing on New Republic. The latter is a number that, should you so wish, permits a jolly good headbang, although jolly might not be a welcome term in the world of Empyre.
Empyre are a band whose music deserves serious time and attention, and if afforded that, their majesty unfolds. Bringing this to life so exquisitely on stage, each performance leaves you with a deep glow within.
NWOCR Livefest 2023 was held over the weekend of 23-24 September 2023. MetalTalk’s Sophie James reports from KK’s Steel Mill
All Photography: Jason Samuels
All MetalTalk’s NWOCR Livefest 2023 coverage can be found at MetalTalk.net/tag/nwocr-livefest-2023.