Maid Of Stone Festival 2023 – Saturday. From the younger expressive bands that are kicking up a storm on the main stage, I took a step back to the Phoenix stage and also rolled back to my youth to see the Tygers Of Pan Tang.
Tygers Of Pan Tang
These are a band that seems to have been with us forever yet has never received the credit or plaudits that they richly deserve. Much as I was approaching this with an element of nostalgia, there was also an interest in what the 2023 Tygers sound like following a number of recent band changes. Quite simply, they seem rejuvenated.
Like Kira Mac, they took the risk of playing new material in a festival environment, where often all the punters want are the big hits and golden oldies. But this is a band that remains fresh and is not sitting on their laurels.
Certainly, the newer material sat well against the older favourites, and let’s be reasonable, there were enough old favourites to keep the die-hard fans happy. From the moment of their arrival to the chords of Euthanasia, we knew that this was going to be a good afternoon.
With other old favourites such as Keeping Me Alive, Love Don’t Stay, Gangland and Edge Of The World following in rapid succession, it was clearly becoming a set that was destined to be crowd pleaser.
With the audience sufficiently warmed up, we were introduced to the new album with its opening song, Edge Of The World. This was the first of four new songs that the band were to play, and this didn’t disappoint.
In fact, it fitted into the set like a glove having all the traditional elements of a Tygers song. Riff Driven – tick, Dual Guitarist – tick, soaring melodies – tick. Despite the well-publicised changes in the band camp, it was clear that these new(er) Tygers are here to stay and intend to put down a strong footprint for the future.
Dropping back to another old favourite, Paris By Air, they continued to win over the audience and by the grinning faces around the stage, the love for this band was growing. It was interesting to hear more than one comment along the lines of “We haven’t seen these for years. They’re still fucking brilliant.”
The bigger test came when three new numbers were played back to back with A New Heartbeat, Fire On The Horizon with a half-hearted attempt to get the audience headbanging, and Back For Good [no, not the Take That pop hit, but certainly a statement of intent), complete with ‘Freddie’ style singalong to its catchy chorus.
Yet despite this interlude into less familiar territory, the crowd were continuing to lap it up. Everything that the Tygers provided in the past was back here in Spades. New guitarist Francesco Marras has brought a fresh approach with his guitar playing, but he more than rivals past exponents in the band and his contribution cannot be ignored.
Once we were done with the new material, we were back into the final run-in with more old favourites Slave To Freedom, Suzie Smiled, Hellbound [complete with crowd singalong], thought we missed the old hit Love Potion No. 9.
I suppose I should also mention a stage visitation from a ten foot troll (I kid you not) that brought smiles to a few more faces but certainly didn’t detract from the set.
Note this date because this was not only a return to form but quite simply the day that the new Tygers made a claim for territory as a band still to be reckoned with. Many older fans (and unfortunately, due to ages, that term is applicable) went away happy, having had their slice of nostalgia, but more importantly, many more new fans were won over today.
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