Gig review: THE DARKER MY HORIZON & FRIENDS FESTIVAL, The Vic, Coalville, 20-22 August 2021

I think it would be fair to say that travelling to the venue on 20th was challenging for most, due to a number of accidents and roadworks everywhere, however, none so much as The Darker My Horizon (TDmH) as their van broke down enroute and couldn’t be repaired at the roadside – for many bands, that would have been that, but not this bunch of guys, they got towed to the venue and decided to worry about getting themselves and their kit home later!

Little did I know upon arrival, and spotting George unloading in the car park that he had now been tasked with the responsibility of setting up that evening, given TDmH were severely delayed. We had a bit of a chin wag and there was no sign of anything untoward – great job, George and co. I’d last seen him a year ago, doing an acoustic set. What a difference a year makes, with an EP under his belt ‘Vexxed’, Rawkus Redz sees George come of age in a spectacular fashion – tight performance, blistering vocals that surprised most – what depth, what a performance, I can’t wait to see where this goes next! Highlights – Human and Fat Cats.

This was swiftly followed by the sublime, Voodoo Sioux who demonstrated from the off, with ‘Edge of the World’ exactly why they have been around present on the scene for as long as they have. Quirky, original, awesome showmanship this was a blistering set that engaged and enlivened the audience. We are in for a fabulous weekend if these 2 bands are anything to go by! Highlights – Damage, Pandora’s Box

TDmH arrive, 5 hours later than planned, with a brand-new drummer who has had 2 rehearsals to learn the set for a double headline festival – poor guy must have wondered what on earth he had got himself into.

Having set up at pace, TDmH took to the indoor stage and the place went up – a combination of the fact we have all waited for so long to go to a gig without restrictions, most of us who had travelled hadn’t had the best of journeys, let alone the band who frankly, had every reason not to show up.

This turned into the most delightful melting pot of great musicianship, music, ready to party their socks off fans, and the perfect venue for it. The Vic is simply put one of the best music venues in this green and pleasant land. John and his team work tirelessly to support live music and the place absolutely rocks. Was it a party? Was it ‘fuck it Friday’? It most definitely was – top work by TDmH as always, but special mention has to be made of Russ, the new drummer – what an astonishing debut, welcome to the band and to the TDmH family!

Day 2 starts off with the news that The Loved & Lost have had to pull out as one of the band has had a positive covid test, absolutely the right thing to do and all the other bands scramble to extend their sets to cover the gap – how delightful to see such camaraderie and support amongst the bands – how refreshing!

It would be fair to say that having partied hard the night before, the crowd that gathered at the Vic from lunchtime was slightly more subdued than the night before initially, coffee seemed to be the order of the day but not for too long. By the time, the first band was ready to hit the stage, we had summoned our energy up and were ready to go again with an amazing line up to tickle our collective rock taste buds.

So, we kick off with the rather tasty, Guns for Girls – as my fellow Quarantune Rocks admin observed, if ever there was a band that would be my vision of what a band is, this is it – so excuse the massive fan girl crush.

The opening set of the day and what a way to absolutely blow the cobwebs away – for a 3 piece they make a lot of accomplished noise. Having chatted extensively (unknowingly) with their bass player the night before, I couldn’t quite believe it when he stepped up and played like a man possessed and Gavin, on lead vocals and guitar delivered perfection on every level. Simply put I loved them, I need the t-shirt and I’ll be seeing them again soon. Highlights Where is the Sun, It Takes All Kinds Baby and Finale.

Next up are Naked Sunday who I’d spotted earlier, chatted to briefly and then observed totally supporting the opening act – great to see. I’m always a fan of seeing females in rock bands and Laura on bass is pretty special, not only did she face some technical difficulties which she took completely in her stride, that girl can play, she rocked that stage with her heavy bass lines – this day is just getting better and better!

Her husband is on lead vocals and guitar, initially he reminded me of Myles Kennedy, but his range is much broader – what a vocalist, what a performer – that what a showman looks like, right there. Highlights – Until the Crash, Unbreakable and Lillith, which be on the soundtrack to the film ‘Tales of the Creeping Death’ – I suspect we will be hearing much more about Naked Sunday.

This was followed by a replacement for the Psycho Dollz, due to 2 of them breaking ribs (one in a rock n roll gardening incident) and being unable to play, step forward Acey Lust (of the Psycho Dollz) the rock n roll gypsy. What a treat this was as we were served up a gravelly, smooth JD country rock acoustic set with stories and which included sending shots round the whole audience to celebrate the fact that they could play live to an audience again – cheers!

The extended set saw Abigail, who was originally joining for one song, do the whole set after only having a couple of weeks to learn it – way to go! The set included a poignant cover for Acey’s Mum, that she had been asking him to play for years – Rose Garden – having heard it now, I’m wondering what took him so long too…. Absolutely awesome set loved it.

By this stage, I am thinking that things might start to drop off, surely, we can’t keep building up and up? How wrong I was… next up the False Hearts and I’ll just say this right now, my newfound love for them is anything but false. When Emma takes to the stage, she totally commands it, her vocals have such power and depth, there’s no denying this lady puts the ‘heavy’ into rock and her band back her 100 percent.

A blistering set and performance – we are on a winner and looking around, the audience are captivated. This is a band to check out if you haven’t come across them already. Highlights – Misery, See Me Now, Remedy

Blown away by the talent shown so far, I am wondering what on earth Daylight Robbery can deliver to maintain or indeed, up the pace – I wasn’t disappointed. My notes simply say ‘fucking awesome’ as I was too busy dancing!

Another 3-piece delivering highly accomplished musicianship and great tracks – the bass player provides vocal support and again, the lead vocalist is a showman who knows how to entertain – this band know how it is done. What a set, what a walk down memory lane with the rather awesome ‘Edwards no 8’. Highlights Digital Preacher, Samarah

Now it is time for our headliner, TDmH and we are in the mood to party once more, their set doesn’t fail to deliver and again all credit to Russ, the new drummer as he delivers on track after track – I can’t wait to see how this relationship develops. Paul Stead typically delivers his usual blend of humour, personalising the set to suit the audience, Mark Stephenson is on fire on lead guitar and Paul Hamilton, the neon warrior, is in party mood too coming out to join the audience.

Closing out their blistering set, where the whole place is jumping, with ‘Still Alive’ I can most definitely confirm that live music is very much alive, we want to hear and experience live music. The Vic absolutely rocks as a venue, the team working there are the nicest bunch of people you would ever wish to meet and everyone who attended was the perfect example of rock family, enjoying themselves in harmony with each other. What a weekend, what a blast, I’m still grinning.

Review and photos by Karen Clayton

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Power Plays w/c 8 August 2022 (Mon-Fri)
BORN LOST Take Time (Mouthpiece) (Revolver Records)
JAIME KYLE Driving With The Brakes On (Conquest Music)
SCARLET DORN Born To Suffer (SPV Recordings)
HOLDING ABSENCE Coffin (Sharptone Records)
TYRANNOSAURUS NEBULOUS Get Some (Echoed Past Records)
KROOKED TONGUE When The Beaches Bleed (indie)
SKYPILOT Knifed On The Beach (The Distortion Project)

Featured Albums w/c 8 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 LESSMAN VOSS Rock Is Our Religion (Atomic Fire Records)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. Force Majeure (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 THE SLAMBOVIAN CIRCUS OF DREAMS A Very Unusual Head (indie)

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