Station 18 Festival prides itself on showcasing both established and new bands. Sourcing local outfits as well as those that travel from much further afield, it’s an opportunity to find that new favourite group, pick up some merch, and generally enjoy what’s on offer.
Station 18 Festival
Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday, 20 October 2023
Words And Photography: Paul Hutchings
South Wales four-piece Idle Minds braved the apparently challenging M4 traffic to get to the venue in time for their opening slot. As more punters arrived, it became apparent that once more, the nightmare of travelling to South Wales was once again real.
A day that had seen torrential rain for much of it may have put a few from paying on the door, but they missed a treat.
Idle Minds made sure that everyone was in no doubt who they were by the end of their short set. With songs set in the melancholic, there’s not much cheery about the band. But Megan Jenkins is an engaging frontwoman, singing from the heart about deep, sad topics.
She’s also a decent guitarist, joined by lead guitarist Morgan Price, drummer Tom Witcombe and bassist Kyle Chaplin. Belying any sign of nerves, a six-song set flew by. The new song, God In Your Eyes, described as an upbeat, cheerful song, was outside of a few comfort zones.
It’s all good stuff though, and the band’s efforts were duly rewarded by a decent ovation.
Formed a decade ago, Circus 66 are very much the cohesive outfit. Whilst eyes may be on striking singer Annabelle Zaychenko, who has a voice that could raise the dead, but it’s the overall package that makes the band a welcome addition to the event.
Drawing songs from 2021’s Follow The Black Crow, as well as a selection of their singles, this was a high-energy show with an infectious groove and a hard rock edge.
New single Replace the Pain slotted in neatly. A combination of contemporary and classic rock, this was an enjoyable set that flew by, which is always a great sign. Circus 66 are a band well worth catching live.
London’s Vambo arrived on a high, with their new album Vambo II released on the same day. It’s a fine release, and I’m pleased to report, the songs work fantastically well in the live setting.
Bathed in pink lights, Vambo kick off with Minute Of Madness, the opening track from the new album. It’s a real earworm, and it isn’t long before the four band members have managed to get the audience tapping along.
They don’t play it safe though, flooding the setlist with new music. Love Candy gets a few dancing, whilst most are content to enjoy Jack Stiles’ fine vocals and marvel at his hat and glasses combo.
The band are tight, focused, and play the ace card of a storming cover of Deep Purple’s Burn to close their set. It gets the crowd up, and they do it justice. Another band on the list for future shows.
Daxx & Roxane
I’ve seen the Swiss/UK hybrid Daxx & Roxane twice this year, supporting Raven and Geoff Tate, where they did well. Tonight, though, it’s really their chance to shine, and boy do they do that.
Over their 70-minute set they simply explode, lighting up the venue and marking their place in Station 18 history. Few bands can deliver with such vibrancy, but Daxx & Roxane do it with ease.
There may not be many in the hall, but those who are there are treated to a show that should be gracing Academy-sized venues in this country.
Fourteen songs are delivered in their own high energy style, and by the time they are halfway through, there isn’t anyone looking anywhere but at the stage. Their infectious groove is backed by a self-depreciating approach, with guitarist Cal Wymann as energetic and vibrant as previous viewings.
Musically, they draw on everything from AC/DC to Zeppelin with a sleazy undertone. Vocalist Cedric Pfister possesses a top quality, soulful voice, and he also deals well with a slightly excited fan who demands to know why he has better hair than her.
Running leaps, jumps of the bass drum and changing places with drummer Luca Senaldi, it’s all happening on stage, with Wymann leading the lunacy.
Underneath it all, there’s the music and songs like Sugar Rush, Heal, and Fast Lane get the venue stoked up several degrees. By the time we hit Hard Rockin’ Man from 2017’s Ticket to Rock, Daxx & Roxane have won the day.
In fact, for many, they have won the weekend and several tell them that they would go down a storm at Steelhouse Festival. That they would. You heard it here first.
Station 18 Festival returns from Friday, 3 May to Sunday, 5 May 2024. Some early bird tickets remain.