News during the week that Wetherspoons had taken steak off their menu may not have been of great interest until we learn that Butlins also get their meat from the same source that is currently “under investigation”. The loss of beef from the dining menu may have been as significant as the loss of 20 minutes from Magnum’s set but fortunately we needn’t have worried: steak was on. Magnum were off.
We’ve proudly covered GoR since its inception in 2014. The return of old troopers and some new blood probably applies as much to the audience as the artists. And, inevitably, there are the timing overlaps but the Butlins schedule is fairly well spaced although the temptations of FM versus Curved Air may have frustrated some on the first night.
Day 1 – Friday
On the main stage, FM were an ideal opening act for the event – their easy listening brand of radio friendly rock ‘n’ roll providing a suitable backdrop to like minded souls getting their bearings and re-establishing acquaintances from previous gatherings. Offering punch, pizzaz and soul in equal measure, the band made short work of that tricky warm up slot as the weekend got up and running.
Meanwhile, in Reds, Curved Air were playing an early gig with a new drummer and guitarist and there was no doubting the musicianship on show on such pieces as ‘Time Games’ and ‘Stay Human’.
But, really, in a short set of just an hour someone should have written it in to the contract that the band should at least play their one and only “hit”. As it was the band exited with the somewhat grandiose ‘Metamorphosis’ which in truth seemed an anti-climax bookended as it was with Robert Norton’s impressive but interminable piano flourishes.
Magnum, on the other hand, have just released one of their strongest albums in recent years and it was pleasing to hear ‘Peaches And Cream’ amongst the tried and tested tunes even if it lacked some beef due to issues with Tony Clarkin’s guitar.
Proceedings eventually ground to a halt and the band left the stage for twenty minutes. This in itself was a surprise, surely Bob and Tony would have some contingency for such a dilemma? Would Bob start cracking jokes, would Al do some magic tricks, would we get an impromptu acoustic interlude that could have turned a crisis into a festival highlight? No, we got silence.
Malfunction resolved, the band struggled to regain their initial momentum and in spite of bravely playing two more songs from the new album, the set ended somewhat abruptly. Hopefully they’ll have better luck on their Feb/March tour.
In contrast, Martin Turner garbed in denial of the passing years – albeit a more New Romantic/Vivienne Westwood than a ‘classic rock’ look – found time to crack a joke about three nuns at the gates of heaven as his Wishbone Ash breezed through an organic medley of the band’s ‘greatest hits’ from the Argus era such as ‘Time Was’, ‘Leaf And Stream’, and ‘The King Will Come’.
Turner himself was in fine form laying down some exemplary bass lines and it was nice to see the old material given, at times, an almost irreverent new lease of life.
Alongside his new trousers, the band certainly provided the most ‘sparkle’ on Day 1, more than whetting the appetite for the eleven discs of previously unreleased live material to be included in the mammoth 30 CD Vintage Years box set due out in April. Authorised by the original band members, fans will be hoping the time has finally come for them to lay down the sword.
The evening wound up with The Brew which essentially was a noise-fest not for the faint-hearted whilst on Reds Stage Those Damn Crows (2017 introducing stage winners) welcomed Main Stage refugees and insomniacs.
Review by David Randall & Pete Whalley
Photos by David Randall
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Power Plays w/c 19 February
THUNDERMOTHER Revival (Despotz Records)
THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT There’s Still Time (Earache)
TAX THE HEAT The Last Time (Nuclear Blast)
DOOMSDAY OUTLAW Spirit That Made Me (Frontiers)
BAD WOLVES Zombie (Eleven Seven Music)
ALL THAT REMAINS The Thunder Rolls (Eleven Seven Music)
Featured Albums w/c 19 February (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 TOTO Greatest Hits: 40 Trips Around The Sun (Sony Legacy)
12:00-13:00 SHIRAZ LANE Carnival Days (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 THE LYNNES Heartsong For The Radio (indie)
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