Winterstorm / Tyketto Are Winners, But It’s A Close Run Thing

Day Three of Winterstorm, and it’s a slow start all round. The survivors of last night’s Massive Wagons party rolls into the hall, and it’s Cassidy Paris whose job it is to wake them up.

Winterstorm Festival Day Three

Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023

Words: Ian Sutherland

Photography: Scott Anderson

Cassidy Paris

Already a veteran, though barely in her twenties, Cassidy brings her Aussie swagger to the early afternoon Winterstorm crowd. Her energy levels are off the charts, and she never stands still, making her a tough gig for the photographers out front.

Cassidy Paris - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Cassidy Paris – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

It’s a family affair with Cassidy’s dad, Steve Janevski, on guitar. The music is well-crafted melodic hard rock, and the cover of Joan Jett’s I Hate Myself For Loving You is right in the sweet spot of their sound.

Cassidy Paris - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Cassidy Paris – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

Cassidy’s infectious energy and catchy tunes are a winner with the early risers here, and the day has started in a suitably rocking fashion.

Trucker Diablo

Trucker Diablo are from a little closer to home, a few miles across the The Irish Sea from Troon in Northern Ireland. Their brand of rock has a southern bent, but it’s the US variety. It’s not Rory and Phil they’re channelling.

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Their big chorus and neat harmony vibes matched an easy bonhomie, and lively banter with the crowd made them easy to warm to. The rust is being thrown off, and the growing crowd are starting to groove, easing into their third day of rock ‘n’ roll.

Trucker Diablo - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Trucker Diablo – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

The end of the Trucker’s set comes way too early, but with promises from the band to be out and about in the bars later, I think the warm welcome given to these talented guys will continue all day.

The Blue Lena

The good times continue on the Winterstorm Sessions stage with The Blue Lena. An English band also influenced by southern US music, this 7-piece band leans more towards Fleetwood Mac-level rock.

The Blue Lena - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
The Blue Lena – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

Crammed into the small stage, they manage to retain the quality musicianship and excellent harmonies that characterise their sound. A more chilled but finely crafted vibe to add to today’s delights.

Chantel McGregor

Back on the main stage, blues chanteuse Chantel McGregor makes her first of two appearances today.

With an acoustic set planned later on the smaller stage, she takes the chance to show she’s as capable of a solid blues rock stomper as the next top-notch guitar player.

Chantel McGregor - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Chantel McGregor – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

There are quieter moments and long, dreamy guitar workouts, but this is Chantel in fire-breathing power trio mode and is massively impressive.

Her deft talents and laid-back charms are equally appealing on her short solo acoustic set later. But it’s the fiery blues rock in your face Chantel that sticks in the memory today. What a talent.

Ashen Reach

Clann An Drumma are a traditional Scottish tribal music outfit that added a bit of local colour to events, but Merseyside is the next stop on the main stage with modern melodic Metal merchants Ashen Reach.

Ashen Reach - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Ashen Reach – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

It’s a change of pace for Winterstorm, and the first vocal growls all weekend. But the crowd take it all in their stride and buys into the raucous energy and melodic flourishes within.

These guys have attitude in spades, but much more going for them than that. It takes some going to inspire the first and probably only moshpit of the weekend at a classic rock festival. They have memorable tunes, too, though, and make a great addition to the breadth and colour of the weekend.

Rigid Soul

Rigid Soul from Glasgow were added to the Winterstorm Sessions stage bill at the last minute. But they’re a really pleasant surprise, a groovy, jazz-edged kind of smorgasbord blues rock. There are so many influences, but they mesh them together seamlessly. It is a band to look at in more depth sometime.

Doogie White

A dash back to the main stage, and it’s time for Doogie White and friends. The ex-Rainbow frontman’s friends on this occasion are his bandmates from La Paz, his first foray into the rock world from way back when.

They still make a tight and together outfit, and a slew of well-crafted, hard-hitting rock songs follow with Mr White in a very fine voice out front.

There’s plenty of banter, too, with Doogie reminding me of Billy Connolly with his current look.

The music continues apace with Cornerstone’s excellent Wounded Land, and then it’s time for some Rainbow. No going for the obvious Stranger In Us All tunes here, they delve into the Dio era with a cracking run-through of Kill The King and a version of The Temple Of The King, which incorporates a tribute to lost icons and a snippet of Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City.

It’s emotional and uplifting stuff, and it deservedly brings the house down.

Praying Mantis

It’s up to Praying Mantis to follow that, and they give it a damn good go. With John Jaycee Cuijpers up front, they are a lean hard rock outfit these days, and some driving tunes with catchy choruses and their trademark harmonies keep the hall grooving.

Praying Mantis - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Praying Mantis – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

It’s when they delve into their NWOBHM roots that things take off, though, and the grizzled veterans of that era in the crowd raise the roof for Panic In The City, Children Of The Earth and a rousing Captured City.

Praying Mantis - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Praying Mantis – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

Tyketto

Things move on a few years after Tyketto take the stage. It’s only thirty-odd years since the band’s debut album!

This is the opening show of a short UK tour for the band, and they look hungry and ready to go from the off. Whether the addition of guitarist Harry Scott Elliot has added some youthful vigour to the band or whether there’s some magical elixir of life to be found somewhere, the effect is the same. The energy levels are high and a packed hall returns it in spades.

Tyketto - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Tyketto – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

Frontman Danny Vaughn is his effervescent self, a dynamic and magnetic frontman, throwing shapes, chatting to the audience, leading the choral singing and showing what a fabulous set of pipes he still has.

I’ve been watching Tyketto live for decades, and this may be the best he’s ever sounded. Astonishing.

He talks about his music family a lot, and that’s the vibe in the room. Everyone on and off stage is on the same page, and the atmosphere is electric. The sing-alongs to classics Wings and Lay Your Body Down are loud and proud, but every tune is a winner tonight.

A blistering Forever Young caps a magical hour of music and bonding. Performance of the weekend? Probably, though, Danny might need to discuss that with Mr Schenker.

Syteria

The rapid-fire succession of talent on the main stage meant I could only delve in and out of the Sessions stage as the day progressed. Syteria impressed me with what I saw.

Syteria - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Syteria – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

They’re improving nicely with songs from new album Syteria World hitting the spot, and the cheery charm of Jackie Chambers and Julia Calvo is always hard to resist.

Wicked Smile

Wicked Smile are hard-rocking Aussies with a lot of Cassidy Paris band DNA and gave a fine full-throated in-your-face performance, while The Brink finished things off with their abrasive, attitude-fuelled take on hard rock. The style of the old matched the attitude of the new, and they made some new friends here.

Graham Bonnet

Closing the main stage was the Graham Bonnet Band. Bonnet has never been the archetypal rock frontman, always choosing to plough his own furrow. Walking on stage, the 75-year-old singer keeps up that tradition in his suit and tie and affable attitude.

Graham Bonnet - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Graham Bonnet – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

His band are impressive, and it’s great to hear Rainbow classics such as Eyes Of The World and Love’s No Friend given proper big-time rock treatments. Bonnet’s oft-talked-about vocals are, for the most part, pretty good, and the crowd is enjoying the run-through of fondly remembered tunes.

It becomes obvious, though, that there hasn’t been much planning for a truncated festival set, so the ad hoc nature of deciding what to play and some technical issues means the set kind of falls apart as it goes on with no one really knowing what’s going on.

Graham Bonnet - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Graham Bonnet – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

The band suddenly leave the stage and then returns before the audience figures out if they’re supposed to be cheering for an encore. A cracking outing of Lost In Hollywood saves the day, though, and ends what was an enjoyable but chaotic set.

Doogie White - Winterstorm Festival - Troon Town Hall - 25 November 2023 - Day Three
Doogie White – Winterstorm Festival – Troon Town Hall – 25 November 2023 – Day Three. Photo: Scott Anderson

The chaos seems to be catching, though, as the organiser’s planned tribute to Bernie Marsden fails to materialise, but the moment is saved by Doogie White giving a spontaneous a capella rendition of Whitesnake’s We Wish You Well. There was barely a dry eye in the house.

Winterstorm is a very well-run, very nurturing festival that cares about its audience and has a well-deserved reputation among bands and punters alike as a good place to play and watch. I highly recommend a visit.

There’s still the After The Storm acoustic show to go to, though!


Winterstorm Festival 2023 was held over the weekend of 23-26 November 2023. MetalTalk’s Ian Sutherland reports from Troon.

All Winterstorm Festival 2023 coverage can be found at metaltalk.net/tag/winterstorm-2023.

2024 Tickets will be available from the Winterstorm Festival Website.

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