Young Welsh four piece Buffalo Summer opened up the evenings proceedings, a tight, groove packed sound from a band who at times reminded me a little of The Answer with a touch of The Black Crowes and possibly the swagger of early Zeppelin, they have plenty of energy and throw touches of blues and southern rock into the mix. Another Zeppelin comparison for me can be heard in the power packed drum work of Gareth Hunt, full of the Bonham trade mark ferocity.
A set highlight was when they stepped into Black Stone Cherry/Lynyrd Skynyrd southern rock territory on ‘Down to the River’ and another standout was the catchy, chorus driven rocker ‘Typhoid Mary’. Finishing with a snippet of a vintage Led Zeppelin riff this was a quality, no holds barred performance which went down a storm.
I Am I is the new band put together by ex Dragonforce vocalist Z P Theart and he has found a top quality band of young musicians while for me he himself is simply a star just made for the large arena/festival stage.
Their set showcased numbers from the bands impressive debut album ‘Event Horizon’ and after a scene setting intro tape and then a brief technical hitch (soon sorted) on the vocals it was full steam ahead, ‘In the Air Tonight’ made a storming first number with its Iron Maiden style opening.
Set highlights included ‘Wasted Wonders’ with its head banging main riff, ‘Cross the line’ a more melodic Jovi/ Europe type number and then after Z P saying he would “slow things down” the polished, catchy, radio friendly rocker ‘Stay A While’ a real show case for his fabulous vocals.
As well as that voice the front man really walks the walk and talks the talk, when the crowd appear not quite as up for it as he would like with mic in hand he walks through the crowd right to the back of the hall geeing everyone up (and it worked) and he also regularly cooled the front few rows down with jets of mineral water in between good natured interaction with the fans.
‘Pave the Way’ with its take on classic Judas Priest style riffola was another highlight along with the epic ‘Kiss of Judas’, another opportunity for the frontman’s vocal range to shine. After the promise of “Something you will know” came a truly inspired cover of John Farnham’s ‘You’re the Voice’ with the crowd well up for it, arms in the air and singing along to every word
The closest they came to the style of Dragonforce was possibly the frantic ‘Silent Genocide’ with its lighting fast twin lead guitar work and spot on vocal harmonies, an excellent set by a band as I mentioned in my opinion just made for the big stage with one of the best showman I have seen up front.
Headliner time and after rotating stage lights and the gee up of the Ramones ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ intro tape Skid Row bounced on stage and straight into pounding oldie ‘Slave To the Grind’.
With a punky, aggressive edge and full of energy the set as promised by frontman Johnny Solinger combined the classic Sebastian Bach era numbers with more recent output plus the bonus of brand new yet to be released material from their United World Rebellion Chapter One release.
Classics ’18 And Life’ and ‘Monkey Business’ were performed to perfection and treated like old friends by the audience, the majority with arms aloft and voices high, and the new material showcased ‘Kings of Demolition’ and ‘Let’s Go’ both slabs of no messing, high octane rock and roll were very well received.
The band who apart from vocalist Johnny is made up of original members guitarists Dave “The Snake” Sabo and Scotti Hill and bass guitarist Rachel Bolan along with the more recent addition on the drums Rob Hammersmith say all the right things from the stage including “You sure know how to make a bunch of Yankees welcome” in response to the audience appreciation and that “you Brits have never forgotten how to rock”.
It was back to the good old tradition of cigarette lighters in the air for the golden oldie ballad ‘I Remember You’ and the band paid tribute to musical heroes the Ramones with a lighting fast (of course, how else !) cover of ‘Psycho Therapy’. Lead vocalist Johnny was a real on stage dynamo whether running around the spacious stage or jumping in the pit and conducting the audience in a sing-a long. Only one way to finish the show and the evening and that was with a pulsating ‘Youth Gone Wild’ with again the Assembly air full of upraised hands.
A great evening three rocking bands, three different styles, three knock out sets, what more could you ask.
Review and photos by Andrew Lock
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Power Plays w/c 13 May (Mon-Fri)
WARM RAIN Here Comes The Rain Again (Rain Recordings)
DARWIN Cosmic Rays (indie)
MICHAEL THOMPSON BAND Love & Beyond (Frontiers)
MARQUIS DRIVE Shine On (indie)
YOUR LIFE & MINE Remind To Remember (indie)
EMERALD SUN What becomes Of You (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 13 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 JIM PETERIK WORLD STAGE Winds Of Change (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 WHITESNAKE Flesh & Blood (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 BUFORD POPE The Waiting Game (Unchained Records)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
NEVER THE BRIDE Surprise (2005)
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