When the weather is already a little inclement, you’re tempting fate slightly when the first band of the day play their tracks “Hurricane” and “Thunder Child”, but that’s exactly what The Bad Flowers did. If the rain hadn’t woke everybody up, then this hard rocking trio from Birmingham certainly did. Vocalist/guitarist Tom Leighton took the opportunity to show off his brand new guitar, beaming with pride.
Being a three-piece, its easy to think that the music would lack substance, but it’s the complete opposite. The depth and layers in their sound is something a lot of bands are only able to replicate in a studio. It’s a shame that the weather meant they had a smaller than expected audience at the stage, but those watching from the bar were having as much fun as those on the barrier.
By the time Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics took to the stage, the rain had turned into continual torrent, showing no signs of relenting. As a frontman, Buchanan is mesmerising to watch, but he makes a point of reminding people that it’s not all about him as he declares “Forget my name up there, we are The Cult Classics”.
Despite the conditions, they blasted through a set containing both Cult Classics and Heaven’s Basement tracks, with Buchanan not afraid to venture out from the shelter of the stage, casting his dripping wet shirt aside. Unfortunately, their set had to be cut short due to the lightening, but it did at least give people a chance to shelter from the hailstones and grab themselves a beer.
The rain finally started to subside and people tentatively left the protection of the bar and the packed Motley Brew tent ready for the next act. I had heard lots of great things about Myke Gray, but I’d not had a chance to catch him live so was a little disappointed that he stuck to mostly playing tracks from his previous band Skin.
I think I was in the minority with this opinion though, as the crowd seemed to enjoy this trip down memory lane. I personally wasn’t blown away the set; there wasn’t anything that captured my attention. Perhaps hearing great things beforehand had raised my expectations a little too high.
Unable to make it last year, blues rockers King King took to the stage after a bit of bantering from the Planet Rock DJ’s. Alan Nimmo sauntered out wearing his trademark kilt and a huge grin before kicking the set off with the catchy “(She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’”. The whole band looked relaxed and were clearly enjoying themselves, feeding off the energy from the crowd, who were dancing in the rain and lapping up every note Nimmo played.
King King might not be my musical cup of tea, I have never seen a bad performance from them and this was no exception. There may currently be bigger names on the blues scene, but I doubt it will be longer before this band are giving them a run for their money. At this point I had to take my hat off to those in the crowd, I was soaked through and frozen so retired to the warmth of my car for a short while rather than risk having to miss the rest of the day.
Suitably warmed and armed with some dry clothes, I headed back to the arena for the next act. I had no idea what to expect from Dan Reed Network, a view shared by a good number of people I spoke to. If I were to say I was pleasantly surprised, it would be a massive understatement; I need to know how this band weren’t on my radar before today! Regular references to funk and disco in various write ups may have been the cause for this, but despite my like of both, it works. It really, really works.
This was a set filled with such an eclectic mix of everything, my senses were literally blown away. “Rainbow Child” had that classic 80’s rock ballad feel, whilst “Ritual” makes you want to dance with its pop-funk groove. Visually the whole band were so impressive it was difficulty to know where to focus attention. If you’ve not seen Dan Reed Network, I highly recommend getting along to their upcoming tour; you will not be disappointed.
Having seen Myles Kennedy’s solo show previously, I was surprised to see him announced as he doesn’t quite fit into the ‘classic rock’ theme this festival has. But todays bands had been an eclectic mix and there were certainly enough people who were looking forward to seeing him. Most know him as the frontman to hard rockers Alter Bridge and vocalist for Slash. He is currently touring his solo album “Year of the Tiger”, with intimate, acoustic shows, but here he was accompanied by a bassist and drummer.
This allowed him to add extra depth to his chosen setlist and play tracks that were more suited to a festival environment. Personally, I am a huge Myles Kennedy fan. I was blown away by his solo show early in the year and am certain that “Year Of The Tiger” is a future classic album; in my opinion everything he touches turns to gold. But unfortunately, that didn’t happen here. Not a fault of Mr Kennedy himself; his voice was pure perfection, his interaction with crowd was brilliant, and his setlist was a good mix.
The crowd only seemed to come to life during Alter Bridge and Slash tracks, given that “Year of the Tiger” isn’t a ‘rock’ album, it probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. The acoustic version of “Addicted to Pain” had many confused initially, taking a while for the penny to drop before they joyfully joined in singing.
Crowd favourite “Watch Over You” was as emotionally charged as it would be in an arena. Kennedy had the who crowd telling the rain to “f*ck off” during “World On Fire”, however they didn’t need much encouragement. Finishing the set with “Year of the Tiger”, Myles Kennedy and Co. received rapturous applause before leaving the stage.
I was eager for tonight’s headliner; Glenn Hughes performing ‘classic Deep Purple’ promised so much. I’m not a follower of Hughes, but I was brought up listening to Deep Purple.
The opportunity to hear these classics live was not one I was going to miss. Everything was in place for what should have been a trip back to the 70’s; the backdrop was suitably retro and Hughes, with his flowing locks just oozes 1970’s style. Just to add to the excitement, Hughes managed to banish the rain.
Unfortunately, the hype and the promise didn’t deliver. I wasn’t expecting to recognise every track played; but most went over my, and others people’s heads, even those who were around in the ‘Classic Deep Purple’ era failed to make the connection.
The set had very little substance and was punctuated with solos that were, in my opinion, far too long. Musically and vocally the performace could not be faulted, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. “Smoke On The Water” gained the best reception from the crowd, myself included. It may be one of the most over played, and now cliched tracks of a generation, but it was the only one I recognised.
Perhaps my own expectations were the cause of my disappointment. Having Myles Kennedy join him on stage for “Highway Star” was a genius move though. Two of the biggest names in rock sharing the stage is not something that is witnessed every day.
Review by Michelle Flynn
Photos by Linda Flynn
On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.
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Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)
Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)
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