Topping the middle order of Sunday’s NWOCR Livefest bill were Devon’s The Fallen State, with Trucker Diablo and Syteria. All three shined at KK’s Steel Mill.
The Fallen State
After what has been a pretty tumultuous few years, to say the least, it was heart-warming to see The Fallen State return. The manner in which they took to the stage demonstrated an approach and an intent to treat this as one of their own shows.
To aid this, they were the weekend’s only act to utilise their own visuals on the enormous back screen. “We’re only using about 25% of our projections,” remarked singer Adam. “To see the rest, you will have to come to one of our shows.”
Opener Hope In Revival was an assault on the senses. The intensity of the arrangements, together with those flashing spasmodic visuals, combined for maximum impact. Contrastingly, Sinner was built on a more melodic foundation while losing none of the impact of its predecessor.
Songs Of Avarice built from its gentle intro into a 21st-century rock epic. Standing Tall was about “Being told what you can and cannot do.” Knives was as menacing and cutting as its title suggests. On the careering Lost Cause it struck me just how assured new boy Adam was in his role.
Among the wealth of material aired, American Made still stands as one of their finest, as is the most musically rousing chorus.
As we were approaching the conclusion, the pace showed no sign of relenting. Burn It To The Ground had it all. Its blistering cadence allied to another massive chorus.
Finishing on the most exquisite Nova, a song that saw them collaborate with Black Stone Cherry’s Chris Robertson, did much to bring them to many folks’ attention. I simply adore the line, “In my Solar System, you’re the Sun.” This was just one of many hooks in this most appealing modern southern-influenced anthem. A robust contender for ‘Song of the Weekend’.
Another outfit that needs more than just a casual listen to fully absorb and appreciate the intelligence and seductive sophistication of their arrangements.
Their demeanour and slickness also gave you the impression that here was a band who had the ambition, not to mention capacity, to escape the constraints of their current status and make inroads into playing venues at the next level. With what was seen here, who could bet against them?
A much-needed shot in the arm for those flagging late on Sunday afternoon came in the form of the Northern Irish rock ‘n’ roll machine that is Trucker Diablo.
Comprising Tom Harte (Vocals & Lead Guitar), Simon Haddock (Guitar), Jim McGurk (Bass) and Terry Crawford (Drums), they are, without meaning to pay them any form of disservice, what I like to call a perfect festival band.
Read into that – a good ‘Drinking Band’, i.e. a wholesome, honest, straight-down-the-line outfit who will provide the perfect soundtrack to a good time, be that headlining your local rock spot or, as here, midway through a diverse itinerary.
Heads down, and we were off into the driving rhythms and anthemic groove of The Rebel. “Can you go any faster – cos here I come.”
Let’s Just Ride continued that momentum while possessing a distinctly commercial edge and accessibility. Rock Kids Of The Eighties was the kind of song you can imagine being all over US Rock Radio during the great hair decade.
Suffering an instrument issue here, Simon changed his guitar with the speed and efficiency of an F1 Pit Crew, albeit completely unaided.
Fighting For Everything continues those seductive melodies but allies them to a sharper, more modern edge, while Other Side Of The City came across with more vivacity than the melodic recorded version.
The brief snippet of Proud Mary was supplemented with a level of vociferous accompaniment comparable only later to Scarlet Rebels’ Wanted Dead Or Alive before it then segued into the frenzied ‘signature tune’ of Drink Beer Destroy. “Party going on, party going on.” One doesn’t need to paint a picture of what kind of scene this could or did cause.
Like the earlier Rock Kids, Drive just showcased their supreme knack for penning a catchy, uplifting tune. “Let’s Rock!” What a groove Dig, the band’s contribution to the Event CD had.
Closing with their maiden single and Ricky Warwick collaboration Juggernaut, which, along with ‘Drink…’ was arguably the most frenetic number of the set.
When a group has such an endearing charm, allied to a no-nonsense approach, then enhanced by the ability to create a songbook of memorable material, what is there not to like?
Some of you may be more familiar with guitarist Jackie Chambers due to her long-standing membership in a little band named Girlschool, who you may well have heard of.
Here in Syteria, she is joined by siblings Julia and Pablo Calvo on Vocals/Guitar and Drums, respectively and Steph Dawson on the Bass.
Together, they fuse a modern, effervescent melodic rock sound with significant pop-punk influences and multi-part harmonies, which creates an overwhelming urge to bop along.
Syteria were one of only two of the weekend’s acts that I had not seen previously, and as such, it took a few numbers to get acquainted with their sonic attack.
Julia was a restrained, mesmerising force of nature with a bubbly stage presence steeped in the traditions of pop punk. Those characteristics were none more evident than on the bouncy and bassy It Hit Me and similarly on the grainier E.M.P.T.Y.
The above brace sandwiched Plastic Fantastic, which dealt with the modern obsession with self-image. By the time they had reached Monsters, I had warmed to them, appreciating their compositional acumen and the riffing and shredding of Jackie.
This set highlight contained the line “People are the real Monsters you’ve gotta hide from,” which left me with an earworm. They, too, appeared to grow into their set with Make Some Noise, an ideal number to get the festival crowd involved.
Cramming 11 songs into their 40-minute set, they concluded with the comic horror feel of (Scream It’s) Halloween. Their sound and vivacity were yet another distinctive thread in the weekend’s rich tapestry of rock music.
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.