With the resounding success of sister event Rockstock, Planet Rock seized on the idea to stage another event this time in the south of England in Poole, a somewhat neglected area for touring rock bands. I think it is safe to say that weekend events like these, and the Hard Rock Hell franchise, are here to stay and will be selling out quicker and quicker year on year.
Friday opening act at were Welsh band Hand Of Dimes with the unforgetable set of pipes of Nev Macdonald, with catchy blues/rock that always goes down well. It still surprises me how many people are not aware of this band , and with their album recently released they need to get out around the country more and develop the healthy interest being shown.
Tilt and Aaron Keylock , while proving how accomplished musicians they are never really set the crowd alight. Keylock is a young master of his craft and potentially has a great future but whenever I have seen him live it feels there is a certain lack of direction.
One man who did set the crowd alight was the legend that is Bernie Marsden, he has assembled a band of the finest british musicians in Jim Kirkpatrick (FM) Mickey Barker (Magnum) and Neil Murray (everybody!!) and tonight they showed everyone on the bill how it should be done.
His set flew by all too quickly, with everyone enjoying the selection of tunes from his Shine album, but it was the Whitesnake songs that ignited the blue(s) touchpaper: ”Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues, ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Ain’t No Love…’ which the whole room decided to sing pretty much all the way through. Every event like this needs a Bernie Marsden.
Toseland had the uneviable task of following such a great set and, in fairness, they performed well, full of energy and they actually look like a band now and not the vehicle for James Toseland. However, I still feel it is too polished and choreographed and the songs are not of the quality they need to be to reach the next stage of their career …yet!
A healthy, early, crowd gathered for Sugarman Sam And The Voodoo Men, and what a great surprise even if the name needs changing; bright bluesy/rock which had a great melodic feel to the songs that made you want to sing along, all four members of the band enjoying themselves on possibly their biggest gig so far and they were a breath of fresh air.
Voodoo Vegas and King Creature both went down really well and warmed the crowd up. King Creature with quite a heavy sound whereas Voodoo Vegas were a paint it by numbers rock band. Both acquitted themselves well and gained a few friends from the weekend.
I may be a little biased but there are not many bands out there who can touch Massive Wagons live. ‘Tokyo’, ‘Ratio’ , ‘Red Dress’ and ‘Fe Fi Fo Fum’ are songs that could rival and better some of the headline bands’ songs, and they work the big stage for all its worth. A great support slot on an arena tour would surely suit these guys in their upward trajectory.
Chantel McGregor is another blues guitarist/vocalist getting wider attention and largely achieved through regular gigging. It’s a saturated genre and while her playing was mesmerising, and the velvet-like vocals entrancing, the stage show was a little wooden.
Gun kicked off with ‘Let It Shine’ – not the most upbeat of openers – but that soon changed when they played ‘Word Up’ very early in the set to get everyone to up the tempo.
Dante has comfortably transformed into a formidable frontman and looks assured and confident in the role and a new guitarist was unveiled tonight.
What can be said about Inglorious that hasn’t been said already? It has only been 14 months since they played their first official live show, so much has happened for them, countless tours across Europe with some big name bands, festival appearances and album number two in the can ready for release in May. And maybe the first band to use the Grandstand theme tune as intro music?
Inglorious is obviously built around that huge voice of Nathan James – a great British rock voice which we haven’t heard since the heady days of Coverdale/Hughes. With a second album of material to include in the set they have a much more varied choice of setlist. New single ‘Read All About’ opened proceedings and gave a little taster of what to expect of the next album.
Not their first headline set at a festival as they did Wildfire in Scotland last year but their first UK show this year with the addition of a new guitarist who seemed a little reserved on stage to his predecessor. Hopefully that will change over the coming year as it was the only down point of an otherwise faultless performance. One of the hardest working bands around last year and all the miles and gigs played have tightened them into a sleek unit.
Fireroad are another Welsh band who are starting to get noticed more, and delivered a welcomed set of punchy rock songs with the inclusion of a couple of new numbers from the not yet released second album, with ‘Fallen Skies’ and ‘Second Hand Soldier’ hinting that this album could be a belter.
Skam along with Dirty Thrills are two of the busiest bands out on the club scene, playing up and down the country on a regular basis, highlighting British rock’s great future.
Vega are still riding the crest of a fantastic year in support of their latest album Who We Are and their Winter’s End appearance presaged their tour with Dan Reed Network.
Dare also have a recent new album – Sacred Ground – but a little less in the public eye due to sporadic tour dates in this country. And if Darren Wharton still sometimes looks a little uneasy as a frontman all things are corrected when he starts singing the classics, ‘Abandon’, ‘King Of Spades’, ‘Sea Of Roses’ and the rockier ‘Wings Of Fire’ which is a welcome change in tempo to the lighter side of their stuff.
Sandwiched between Vega and Dare were Stone Broken and after their performance there were more than a few people stating they should have been the headline act. Perhaps that’s a little exaggerated but in all fairness they blitzed the place. A lot of people comparing them to Nickelback, this band has great potential and were also touring in February with Glenn Hughes.
Having to leave early due to a long jourmey back I only caught a brief 15 minutes of The Answer set, a band I have had trouble connecting with in the past. What I saw in those few songs convinced me to give them another try again at a later date, they sounded a lot more melodic with a celtic feel far stronger than before and they seemed to be going down well.
The inaugral Winter’s End proved a huge success, the staff and security at the venue was exemplary and the park was a pleasant place even if it was the end of February. Hopefully it will return in 2018 and establish itself as an annual pilgrimage for rock fans.
Review and Photos by Daniel Price
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