Those wonderful people at Classic Rock Tours hold a festival each year to celebrate rock legends. They also hold an indoor festival for originals too. The 3-day festival is held at the excellent 5 star Vauxhall Holiday Park in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, United Kingdom. This year we visited.
Over the course of an autumn weekend in Norfolk the Legends of Rock (the Originals) Festival introduced rock fans from across Britain to 38 fascinating acts. Some new, some old. With exciting legacy acts such as Carl Palmer of ELP, Nazareth, Wolfsbane and Uli Jon Roth, expectations were running high.
It was a weekend that was packed and busy – there could be no loitering – so things kicked off promptly at 2pm on Friday 16th October. First on stage at the main arena were the local (Norfolk) lads Blind Tiger. These reminded us very much of Pearl Jam. Their lead singer (Charlie) enthusiastically performed, his authentic and endearing voice winning over the crowd. Their debut album (produced by Chris Tsangarides) took nearly three years to record, re-record, re-re-record (but not fade away.) Theirs was a tight and energetic performance and set the bar very high for the other bands.
Wicked Faith — also from Norwich, were first on in the elegant V-Lounge. These hard rockers, fronted by the talented red-head Jade Murray — spiced things up and rocked us awake.
We were looking forwards to Leeds hard-rockers Jupiter Falls. And they didn’t let us down. Their ‘Revolution’ disc is very fine indeed. Suffice it to say that their show was a sledge-hammering glory-fest. They will be embarking on a big tour next January… so go see them and see what all the fuss is about! Of course, Raw Glory never disappoint. With a pedigree that includes rock backgrounds with bands like Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Heavy Metal Kids and Pallas, who can argue? Fronted by Paul Manzi on vocals and with some incredibly nifty drum work from Les Binks, this was an irresistible pleasure.
The first of two sets for the Peckham Cowboys started over in the V-Lounge, followed by the hardy and vigorous Scream Serenity from just up the road at Lowestoft. And around the same time, we were getting excited about The Amorettes. The girls were playing the main arena. This skillful Scottish trio brought us good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. Slightly punk-tinged, but no less enjoyable for that. Gill (lead guitar and vocals ) is hypnotically proficient.
Many folk ventured to East Anglia to see one band in particular — Tamworth’s famous howlers and their favourite sons: Wolfsbane. Who could not be excited to see Blaze Bayley perform?
Carl Palmer and his ELP legacy were an education. Many revellers told me that his drum-solo (alone) was well worth making the trip to the Norfolk Broads for. And the day was topped off with Ali Clinton and friends.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, on Saturday we were up early-ish to take in Spiral Dive on the V-Arena stage. This loud ‘n’ meaty crew from Kettering played us wildly riotous & untamed heavy metal with more sustained full-load output than Scroby Sands wind farm during a superstorm. Meanwhile the mature and consummate 3 Sixty band from Worcestershire pushed the boundaries of maximum potential intensity over at the V-Lounge.
Then we witnessed one of the sharpest shows of the weekend. The second set from those Peckham Cowboys — this time on the arena stage.
We love The Quireboys (and, more importantly, the early Faces) so we fell deeply in love with these pearly king banditos immediately.
Sharp and dangerous as bladed fileros and loaded escopetes, they might just be eel ‘n’ pie beggars, but they were more arrogant than a gang of outlaws who had just outsmarted the Pinkerton agent. Their image seems to have been supplied by Danny the dealer, but no matter. Their sleazy boogies-blues-fed rock had us all up and dancing.
One of the most anticipated acts of the weekend was The Graveltones. And the authentic rock ‘n’ roll debauchery from duo Jimmy O and Mikey Sorbello did not disappoint.
Their sound was like White Stripes, Slaves, Dolomite Minor and Royal Blood. All fused together. Then sent back to 1955 in a time machine… To begin all over again at Chess Records.
Meanwhile Black State Highway all the way from England’s South Coast were entertaining the loungers. Liva (lead vocals) suffered a brute of a head cold (she was drinking pure honey) — but this did not stop her putting on a breathtaking show! Definitely one of the best singers of the weekend.
After this smashing set, the Staffordshire super-rollers Piston took to the stage. This five piece played a breathtaking show and we could see why they had been chosen to support Wolfsbane later this week in Birmingham.
While their performance was still buzzing, we were preparing for a spectacle… Because the ridiculous (but loveable) Evil Scarecrow were coming onto stage.
For those in the audience who had not seen this show, there was a real sense of shock, disbelief and revelation as the Nottingham metal-spoofers took the stage riding a ‘steed’ and hamming it up to number 11.
Yes , it was like all of our Halloweens had come at once! Maximum joy, maximum enjoyment and maximum decibels.
Sunday should be quiet and peaceful. But not for revellers at Vauxhall Park it is not!
So happy campers headed en masse for the first band of the day which was Soulweaver on at the main stage. This husband and wife team from Cambridgeshire now boast the talents of drum-wizard Dave Mackintosh (previously with Dragonforce.) Their heavy prog sounds won over many new fans along with their regular Army of Weavers.
Serpentine pulled out of the show at the last minute. But any disappointment we felt was offset by the enormous effort and sublime musicality from Western Sand (image below) over in the V-Lounge.
This Bournemouth based Southern-Rock inspired band played one of the most impressive and exciting sets of the festival. Absolutely riveting.
So many people turned up for the favourites – City of Thieves who were playing in the lounge — that frontman and mega-bassist Jamie exclaimed “F*** me! Is there anyone else left in the arena?” The smaller lounge venue was packed to the rafters.
This month the lads are featured on the front disc of Classic Rock Magazine and they were able to perform their entire new album.
Served hot and sweaty… This is what live rock is all about. The boys delivered motoring raw energy. And their wonderful show made our weekend complete!
For plentiful alcohol, quality rock ‘n’ roll, bacon butties, fish and chips, high-spirited stupidity, hurt knees (falling over chairs in the dark), mischief-making, ridiculous costumes and more happy faces than we’ve seen in quite a while… This was an epic weekend.
Yes, the music was excellent. But what made this really, really special were the rock-fans!
They were the most happy, friendly and just plain daft bunch of stalwarts we have ever met!
Special thanks to Eddie and Elaine from Classic Rock Tours and the whole crowd at Vauxhall Holiday Park for making such fun weekend.
Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2015 ©