On Sunday 24th May my wife and I took our three youngest kids to the Lechlade Music Festival, held on the Riverside Park in Lechlade-On-Thames. The children had been asking to see Status Quo play live in concert for some time, and when the band was announced as festival headliners we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to give them what they want, especially given the family friendly and wallet friendly set up of this festival.
So it was that we sat down in the early Sunday afternoon sun to catch Twister, a rock band from Durham who have previously supported Simple Minds take the main Riverside Stage in front of just a few dozen interested spectators. Frontman Stevie Stoker had something of Mike Peters about him, not just with the very blond hair but definitely vocally. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say that the band’s material was also reminiscent of Peters’ band The Alarm either.
A mix of some good original material and a few covers thrown in meant that the band kept everyone entertained. Their reworking of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” and a moody rocker with tasty guitar solo was impressive, as was the funky riff given to their version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”. Less successful, in all honesty, was a blast through Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” which stretched Stoker’s vocal range a little too much. “Follow”, the final song of their set saw an atmospheric intro build into a nice anthemic number – again bringing to mind the likes of The Alarm, which is no bad thing. A promising band for sure, and one who really deserve a bigger attentive audience.
Next up was Cirencester band Dealer. Formed back in 1979, Dealer are an unapologetic NWOBHM band. Still led by founder member singer / guitarist Trevor Short, the band is completed by guitarist Steve Peril, drummer Rupert Irving and bassist Tom Bull.
First track “When Midnight Comes” and it’s heads down, double bass drums and twin flying Vs – great stuff! “Looking For A Reason” and “Better Things To Do” (the latter played in memory of former bassist Pete Gentil who died in a motorcycle crash in 2013) showcased some tasty harmony guitar work, and the band’s epic number “The Final Conflict”, with plenty of stop-start riffing was another demonstration that this was a group that deserved more success back in the early 80s than fate dealt them.
1. When Midnight Comes / 2. Muscovite / 3. Looking For A Reason / 4. Epitaph / 5. Shatter The Night / 6. Choose Your Weapon / 7. Victim Of The Night / 8. Lap Of The Gods / 9. The Final Conflict : I Prologue – II Conflict – III Genocide / 10. Better Things To Do
Then it was time for me to head over to the Shire Stage to catch Light Zeppelin, the moniker used by three members of top Led Zeppelin tribute act Whole Lotta Led for their acoustic shows. The band had headlined the main stage on the Friday night with their usual electric set, so this performance was obviously hotly anticipated. The tent was packed even before the group started, and stewards and security had their work cut out trying to keep track of who was coming and going to avoid overcrowding.
The set began in low-key fashion with the instrumental “Black Mountain Side”, before moving into a wonderful acoustic rendition of “Kashmir”. Throughout the performance it was clear that the three were having a ball and love celebrating the rich legacy of Led Zeppelin.
Both guitarist Nick Ferris and bass / mandolin player Geoff Hunt played their parts perfectly, but special praise must go to singer Lee Pryor whose vocals were bang on the money. In a tent full of people of all ages the trio went down a storm, especially when “Stairway To Heaven” reached its epic climax.
One thing I don’t get about some people though – why on earth must so many folk talk at top volume all the way through artists’ performances? One might get away with it during a full powered electric performance, but the noise of talking during the quieter moments of such a brilliant, and at times delicate, performance was rather disrespectful to the band I felt.
1. Black Mountain Side / 2. Kashmir / 3. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You / 4. Thank You / 5. That’s The Way / 6. Going To California / 7. Tangerine / 8. Stairway To Heaven / 9. Rock And Roll
Following Light Zeppelin’s masterful set I made my way back to the rest of the family in time to catch the tail end of Dirty Thrills, who I am led to believe were OK, although the outfits and histrionics of the band members – particularly the pirate-themed bassist – meant that they left the impression with my wife that they all belonged in different bands!
Next act on the main stage was Swedish singer Mia Klose. First impressions were the Klose looked the part in her bright green lycra outfit but appeared to be fronting someone else’s backing band!
Vocally Klose was, to our ears, too poppy and “nice” to be fronting a hard rock band. The riffs were there, there were several bouts of synchronised headbanging from the singer and band members (though one of the guitarists was conspicuous by his non-participation!), but Klose lacks the grit and edge of the likes of Lita Ford and Pat Benatar – though this is less evident on her recorded work.
The songs, such as “Living For Love” and “Let’s Get Wild”, were fairly catchy, though not especially memorable, and to overriding impression was of a Eurovision pop singer fronting a fairly generic sounding rock band. This was most obvious on the closing Guns N’ Roses cover “You Could Be Mine”. Klose has the look – even more so when she chooses a more rock wardrobe – but just lacked that edge vocally. You can’t fault her professionalism, effort or enthusiasm though and the crowd certainly seemed entertained.
1. Brand New Day / 2. Unknown / 3. Unknown / 4. Living For Love / 5. Let’s Get Wild / 6. Winning This Game / 7. Stronger / 8 . Not The One / 9. Never Too Late / 10. You Could Be Mine (apologies for any errors – not all songs were name-checked)
An all-girl rock band from Aberdare in South Wales followed. The Kix were formed by sisters Sam (vocals / guitar) and Charlotte Bolderson (drums), with Harriet Wadeson completing the line-upon bass.
Hitting the stage and kicking off with a playful teaser intro of Status Quo’s “Caroline” riff before launching straight into AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” the band were on to a winner from the off.
With Sam Bolderson and Wadeson both wearing skin-tight shiny black trousers and the girls sporting long dark hair all round the trio definitely looked like a rock band, and they played like one too – think along the lines of The Runaways or The Donnas and you’re not too far off course.
A perfectly judged set mixed originals like “Lady Luck” with a host of varied cover versions, and the rapidly expanding audience loved every minute of it. All three were technically proficient and locked together well, but I was particularly impressed with Sam Bolderson’s vocals and guitar playing – even more so as she carried on playing without hesitation when her guitar strap came undone during the last song! These girls should go far.
1. Whole Lotta Rosie / 2. Back To My Place / 3. Lady Luck / 4. Devil Gate Drive / 5. Medley : a. Don’t Bring Me Down / b. I Hear You Knockin’ / c. Don’t Bring Me Down / 6. Bring The Thunder / 7. Medley : a. Fat Bottomed Girls / b. We Will Rock You / c. I Want To Break Free / d. Another One Bites The Dust / e. Tie Your Mother Down / 8. Johnny B. Goode / 9. The Timewarp / 10. Delilah
Finally, as darkness began to fall the drone introduction issued forth from the PA system and suddenly there, picked out by a spotlight, was Rick Parfitt hammering away on his trusty telecaster and headliners Status Quo got the place up on their feet rocking with “Caroline”.
Our kids’ eyes lit up and they were loving it – even the one who had announced the previous day that they didn’t like Status Quo and that the event would be boring(!?!). Hit after hit followed, with the odd heavier track thrown in too.
Francis Rossi’s usual green and white telecaster was nowhere to be seen until later in the set, an all-green instrument – which Rossi referred to as German and being able to tune itself – being used as the main guitar instead. Regardless, the whole band sounded superb – even Parfitt’s vocals, which have sounded over stretched during prior gigs, were pretty good.
Andrew Bown seemed to spend more time prowling the stage with a guitar strapped on and less time behind the keyboards than I recall being the case previously, John “Rhino” Edwards was as solid as ever on the bass and new boy, drummer Leon Cave, was excellent.
Parfitt seemed to lose it briefly during the quiet section of “Roll Over Lay Down” and Rossi occasionally fluffed the lyrics, but to put on such a high energy and rocking show at their age – particularly given that they had performed the previous night in Cornwall – I think the odd mistake can be excused!
The set seemed to fly by and it was time to head our way home all too soon, but everyone seemed to have had a thoroughly good time – our kids definitely loved it, so job done – you can’t go wrong with the Quo!
1. Caroline / 2. Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like / 3. Rain / 4. Paper Plane / 5. Little Lady / 6. Hold You Back / 7. Beginning Of The End / 8. Medley : a. What You’re Proposin’ / b. Down The Dustpipe / c. Wild Side Of Life / d. Railroad / e. Again And Again / 9. Big Fat Mama / 10. The Oriental / 11. Creepin’ Up On You / 12. In The Army Now / 13. Drum Solo / 14. Roll Over Lay Down / 15. Down Down / 16. Whatever You Want / 17. Rockin’ All Over The World / 18. Junior’s Wailing / 19. Medley : a. Rock ‘N’ Roll Music / b. Bye Bye Johnny
1 and 14 originally from “Hello!” (1973) / 2 originally from “Never Too Late” (1981) / 3 and 9 originally from “Blue For You” (1976) / 4 originally from “Piledriver” (1972) / 5, 15 and 19b originally from “On The Level” (1975) / 6 and 17 originally from “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977) / 7 originally from “In Search Of The Fourth Chord” (2007) / 8a originally from “just Supposin'” (1980) / 8b originally a single release (1970) / 8c originally a single release (1976) / 8d originally from “Dog Of Two Head” (1971) / 8e originally from “If You Can’t Stand The Heat…” (1978) / 10 and 11 originally from “Heavy Traffic” (2002) / 12 originally from “In The Army Now” (1986) / 16 originally from “Whatever You Want! (1979) / 18 originally from “Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon” (1970)