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  MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS

GIANTS OF ROCK FESTIVAL, BUTLINS MINEHEAD

Photos by Noel Buckley

mark taylor

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butlins minehead

I've lost count of the amount of outdoor festivals I've attended over the years and although there has been some most memorable ones including the Knebworth Fayre 85, countless Monsters Of Rock fests at Castle Donington, the days when Reading rocked plus the numerous European jaunts I've been on including the mother of them all at Wacken in Germany, lest not forgetting the mighty Rock In Rio.

But in recent years it's been a new kind of festival I've started to enjoy the most... the indoor festival.

When I say indoor festival, it's the ones held at holiday camps that really shine. No need to worry about the rain or the muddy windswept sound or the three mile hike to get to the next stage in time to see your favourite band. This love affair started with the Hard Rock Hell events that have mushroomed in the past few years. These gave me a taste to attend the Rock and Blues Festival at Butlins Skegness. It was then that I realised that Butlins really have raised the bar and have shook off that saucy postcard Carry On image of bygone years.

Article continues below...

   


What I've experienced at Skegness, the same can be said for the Butlins site of Minehead. Luxury rooms, top quality food and more importantly for music lovers is that the sound produced is of the most pristine crystal clear clarity you will ever hear at any music venue around the country from which every band benefits highly from performing here.

The inaugural Giants Of Rock Festival had a stellar mouth watering line up to please all devotes of classic rock. After driving up from London, a wee tipple was in order before the evening meal. A perfect way to start any festival.

curved air

Friday night started off with a whimper rather than a headbang. Curved Air put to rights their below par appearance the previous year at Skeggy with a thoughtful intricate set of progressive folk delights that required the punter to listen with intent. Sonja Kristina and her band could hold their heads high with a noble display of soothing subtlety.

martin barre

Minus a flute player, Jethro Tull's Martin Barre had more room to musically manoeuvre in a more bluesy direction and pleased with heavier versions of 'Minstrel In The Gallery, 'A Song For Jeffery' and a stomping 'Locomotive Breath' but surprised many with his unique rendition of Gov't Mule's 'Thorazine Shuffle'. On this showing, Barre will be in no hurry to call up Mr Anderson for his next assignment.

john coghlan

I really wanted to enjoy John Coghlan's Quo but after witnessing him with the classic Frantic Four line up last year at Hammersmith this was a bit like going back to Benidorm after you've just had the vacation of your life in the Maldives. Once you've ordered off the a la carte menu, the plate of ham, egg and chips dosn't quite taste the same. Even my beer was starting to go flat.

So Friday evening ended with a little party back at our room in a quest to demolish the bottle of Jack Daniels before the serious business that lay ahead on the Saturday.

elliott randall

One time Steeley Dan session man Elliott Randall and his band played some delightful jazzy blues with Randall clearly enjoying himself. Ending the show with 'Reelin' In The Years' with a guitar solo just like it was on the goddam record brought beaming elated smiles across every grown man in the room. The finest moment of the entire weekend.

2.15pm was the scheduled time for Southern rockers Molly Hatchet as we got ourselves into a decent viewing position and waited patiently. That patience soon wore thin when the DJ and was handed a note explaining that the next band will be Iron Horses and Molly Hatchet will then immediately follow... "Simples", he told a quizzical crowd... Iron Fooking Who?...

It seems that not only were Molly Hatchet totally unaware as to the reason why they were here, thinking they were doing an evening show, but they brought along their uninvited support act from the Euro tour and insisted they the Germans got a slot on the bill! Fair enough some may think, but in all honesty Iron Horses were one of the worst bands I've ever seen in my life, full of every metal cliche ever invented.

I was looking around for the TV crew thinking this was some kind of spoof band. Total shite and totally out of context with the rest of the bands on the bill. Molly Hatchet then flirted with disaster by only doing a forty minute set. Their only saving grace was that what we got was very good, but when singer Phil McCormack yelled: "Let's hear a Hell-Yeah for Iron Horses", a "Hell-No" was the muted reply.

big country

Big Country were the black sheep of the festival but were a refreshing joy with an arsenal of celtic flavoured big hits including 'Chance', 'Look Away' and the beer raising 'Fields Of Fire'. The new material neatly fitted in too. A success for the Scots.

fm

Melodic rockers FM played a highly polished set full of feel-good clean radio friendly hits that should've been. Now in their 30th year, the band still sound so fresh and young. They've moved on in the fashion stakes from their 80s heyday of full blown mullets and padded shoulder jackets but thankfully there is no need to pad out their set. Every song is a instant winner.

bev bevan

Bev Bevan and band ignored his ELO past but fondly remembered his early roots with the Move's 'Fire Brigade' and paid homage to his short tenure in Black Sabbath with 'Paranoid'.

hawkwind

Hawkwind played a set that was both captivating on the eyes and ears. A visual sonic attack with a psychedelic light show and magical manoeuvres from their two mesmerizing girl dancers. The Santana cement mix ride of 'Steppenwolf', the epic trance of 'Orgone Accumulator' and the reefer madness of 'Hassan I Sahba' earned Hawkwind a well deserved encore of 'Brainstorm' before riding out high on a 'Silver Machine'.

stray

For fans of Stray, it indeed proved to be a very special show as one time member Pete Dyer played for the entire set on guitar and rarely heard chestnuts such as 'Percy The Pimp' and 'One Night In Texas' were highly refreshing, as was the beer at this point of the night.

As well as the regular Stray numbers Del Bromham played a few choice cuts from his recent solo album, 'Nine Yards', with invited guest singer, the wonderfully named Cherry Lee Mewis who added her honey voice to the tipsy 'What Goes Around' and the 'Ballad of JD'. With Bromham adding guitar heroics to 'All In Your Mind' this was one unforgettable set.

deborah bonham

It was down to the Deborah Bonham Band to cure the hangovers on Sunday morning. The barefooted Deborah puts her heart and soul into her performance playing songs from her new album 'Spirit' that strike a chord with the early revelers. A dedication to her brother John Bonham with Led Zep's 'Rock 'N Roll' ended an emotional set.

wishbone ash

Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash (Or Martin Turner Plays The Music Of Wishbone Ash as they now legally known as) followed with a clinical set full of sublime delights. 'King Will Come' and 'Phoenix' featured the the twin guitar work of Danny Willson and Ray Hatfield who bring a renewed freshness to the sound of these timeless classics. Martin Turner was in good humour, as ever, dedicating 'Warrior' to the football fans up and down the country. A classy set.

snakecharmer

Another band that has risen from the ashes, and even feature a former Wishbone Ash member in Laurie Wisefield, along with former Whitesnake commandos Micky Moody and Neil Murray were Snakecharmer. A set divided by former Whitesnake glories and tracks from their eponymous debut in which the band showed a lot of confidence in playing tracks such as 'Guilty As Charged', 'Accident Prone' and the the delicate 'Fallen Leaves' neatly sat side by side with the stadium rockers of 'Slow an' Easy', 'Here I Go Again' and the chest beating 'Fool For Your Loving'. A success.

wilko johnson

For a man who has the grim reaper knocking on his door Wilko Johnson seems to be in no hurry to answer it. A riveting set from the Canvey Island lad full of his trade mark riffs and zany swagger complimented by Blockhead Norman Watt-Roy on the bass. Proving that simplicity works best with 'Down By The Jetty', 'The More I Give' and 'Roxette', this was textbook R&B at it's best.

the sweet

After stuffing my belly full of a delicious Sunday roast it was Sweet who supplied the dessert. The cream was poured on heavily by Andy Scott and his men with a set list that read like the greatest hits of the seventies. What really pleased the hardened rockers here was the inclusion of the rifftastic 'Set Me Free' from 'Sweet... Fanny Adams' that certainly put a broad smile on all of the connoisseur rockers faces.

blue oyster cult

The real coup of the festival was the booking of the Blue Oyster Cult who hadn't visited these shores in over seven years and what was even more remarkable was that Minehead was their only UK date on this short European visit. Eric Bloom and a dapper looking Buck Dharma remain from the original line-up, bolstered by the inclusion of the well travelled bassist Kasim Sulton, best known for his time with Utopia, Meat Loaf's 'Bat Out Of Hell' album and with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.

Opening with the punk saliva of 'This Ain't The Summer Of Love', this was most certainly the winter of love as the adulation poured out for the band with beer glasses raised high for 'The Golden Age Of Leather'. The AOR smoothness of 'Burnin' For You' and 'Dancin' In The Ruins' followed with further wise choices in 'OD'd On Life Itself','Harvest Moon' and 'The Vigil' representing their entire career. 'Then Came The Last Days Of May' featured a stunning guitar workout from Dharma'. 'Godzilla' and '(Don't Fear) The Reaper' ended a truly magical set.

uriah heep

Uriah Heep put in a high 'n mighty display with the latter day material taking up the main percentage on the first half of the set with 'Overload', 'Between Two Worlds' and 'Into The Wild' proving that the Heep can still deliver. Bernie Shaw is a confident frontman engaging with the crowd, Russell Gilbrook is a formidable drummer who knocks the hell out of 'Look At Yourself' with Mick Box taking the song into an orgasmic frenzy.

The acoustic flair of 'Lady In Black' is the perfect song to sing along too at this drunken hour of the night and the ladies are invited up onto the stage for the encore of 'Free 'N Easy' for a jolly headbang. Happy days!

screaming eagles

At 1.00am it's was left to rising rockers The Screaming Eagles to round off the event. Unfortunately I didn't catch them but my trusted lens man Noel Buckley loved them. I was busy demolishing off Uriah Heep's rider in their dressing room along with numerous other band members and journalists who shall remain nameless, but shameful mistaken identities and strong cocktails were the order of a very long night. All guilty parties will be held to ransom at a later date.

A terrific weekend away and you'll be a fool to miss next year's event. No wonder Butlins call it the 'Big Weekends'. They don't get much bigger than this.


beer beer beerbeerbeer




28.4.14


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The recently formed London based rock/Metal band will undertake a set of UK dates in August 2014...

blitzkreig BLITZKRIEG ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN TOUR FOR SEPTEMBER 2014
The band will visit five countries on their only tour this year...

sonisphere LATE NIGHT ENTERTAINMENT AT SONISPHERE ANNOUNCED
Only two weeks away - get ready to continue the party after the headliners leave the stage...

finntroll FINNTROLL REVEAL LIVE FOOTAGE OF SEMINAL TRACK 'TROLLHAMMAREN', FILMED AT THEIR LIVE ALBUM RECORDING SHOW IN AMSTERDAM
"Lock up your daughters, kegs of rum and men of God, for The Trolls from Up North are coming for you...live!..."

dragonforce DRAGONFORCE REVEAL NEW VIDEO 'THE GAME' (FEAT. MATT HEAFY OF TRIVIUM)
The track is taken from the album 'Maximum Overload', which will be released in August...

motorhead aftershock MOTÖRHEAD RELEASE 'AFTERSHOCK - TOUR EDITION' ON 7TH JULY
The album is released with a live CD. It proves one major thing no-one should ever forget...they are Motörhead, and they play rock'n'roll!...

grave GRAVE REISSUE 'SOULLESS' ON VINYL ON JULY 14
The limited editions of the third album by the Swedish Death Metal act are issued in several colours...

wolf WOLF ANNOUNCE DETAILS FOR NEW ALBUM 'DEVIL SEED'
All the elements are aligned for this fierce slab of pure Heavy Metal mayhem...

darkest era DARKEST ERA RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'BEYOND THE GREY VEIL'
Watch the thematic centerpiece for the album 'Severance' right here...

hordes of belial DEF CON ONE ANNOUNCED AS HEADLINERS FOR HORDES OF BELIAL V: A 2014 SCOTTISH EXCLUSIVE
The Geordie quartet will play the Dundee event along with other high quality Metal bands...

sikth SIKTH ANNOUNCE HEADLINE TOUR OF THE UK
"We decided we had to do a full UK tour, just one show was never gonna be enough for us... Also we aim to add some 'never played before live songs' too"...

tankard TANKARD ANNOUNCE HILARIOUS NEW ANIMATED VIDEO FOR 'FOOLED BY YOUR GUTS'
The latest track from 'R.I.B.' (Rest In Beer) has been created by producers from The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology...

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE US SUMMER DATES WITH KISS & DEF LEPPARD
The band are ready to "bring some some kick ass, analog rock and roll music to all of you with the legendary KISS and Def Leppard and help make your summer as memorable as possible"...

suicide silence SUICIDE SILENCE ANNOUNCE ONE-OFF INTIMATE UK SHOW AT THE BORDERLINE, LONDON
The Borderline show is on 27th June. The Metal heavyweights will also headline Yorkshire's Ghostfest on 28th June...

Eluveitie ELUVEITIE RELEASE FIRST SINGLE 'KING' ONLINE, TAKEN FROM THEIR FORTHCOMING ALBUM 'ORIGINS'
The Swiss Folk-Metallers release a mighty tale of the historical figure Ambicatus...

sikth UK TECH-FEST WELCOMES THE GODFATHERS OF UK TECH-METAL SIKTH TO THE BILL
Djent monsters Monuments and acoustic guitar master Jon Gomm also join the line up...

escape the fate ESCAPE THE FATE ANNOUNCE UK TOUR FOR OCTOBER 2014
Now it is time for UK audiences to get their first look at the new look Escape The Fate...

anthrax ANTHRAX ANNOUNCE LIMITED EDITION COLOURED VINYLS AS PART OF THRASH BACK CAMPAIGN
Celebrate 30 years of Thrash with reissues from Anthrax and other classic bands...

gatecreeper GATECREEPER RELEASE VIDEO FOR THEIR SELF TITLED EP
'Force Fed' is available as one of the tracks on the pay what you want download...

jonny morelli JONNY MORELLI, DRAUGR DRUMMER DIES IN CAR ACCIDENT
Condolences start to pour in for the musician, tattoo artist and writer...

at the gates AT THE GATES ANNOUNCE FIRST EVER IRISH SHOW, BLOODSHOT DAWN TO SUPPORT
Swedish Melodic Death Metal pioneers to play Dublin in January 2015...

nita strauss ALICE COOPER ADDS NEW GUITARIST NITA STRAUSS TO LINEUP FOR 2014 SUMMER/FALL TOURS
The LA guitar wiz will join the tour in Michigan on June 26...

whitechapel WHITECHAPEL PREMIERE NEW VIDEO 'WORSHIP THE DIGITAL AGE'
The clip is the first full performance video from 'Our Endless War' and was directed by acclaimed director David Brodsky...

behemoth BEHEMOTH, DECAPITATED & GRAND MAGUS ANNOUNCED FOR DECEMBER TOUR
A chance for the UK to see 'The Satanist' performed in all its hellish glory...

steel panther STEEL PANTHER ANNOUNCE THEIR BIGGEST EVER UK TOUR
The dates include a night at the legendary Wembley arena in March 2015...

alestorm ALESTORM UNVEIL NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'DRINK'
If you need a new anthem of the summer then look no further...

rik mayall RIK MAYALL'S 'NOBLE ENGLAND' SONG HEADING FOR NUMBER ONE SPOT AS ENGLAND'S WORLD CUP ANTHEM
The beloved late comedian looks set to storm the UK Top 10 with his lost anthem...

red dragon cartel EXCLUSIVE: RED DRAGON CARTEL GIGS BACK ON - BAND TO PLAY MANCHESTER AND BUCKLEY THURSDAY AND FRIDAY
Tickets for both shows will be at the special price of £10 as a gesture to fans who were inconvenienced by last weekend's events...

brutal truth DAN LILKER OF BRUTAL TRUTH INVITES YOU TO OBSCENE EXTREME FESTIVAL
This will most likely be the very last chance fans will get to see Danny and Brutal Truth live in Europe...

belphegor BELPHEGOR PUT THE FIRST 'CONJURING THE DEAD' STUDIO TRAILER ONLINE
The Black Metal giants are gearing up to unleash their tenth album ...

ill nino ILL NIÑO RELEASE ALBUM TITLE AND NEW SINGLE
Every pre-order for Till Death, La Familia will receive an instant download of 'Live Like There's No Tomorrow' and will automatically be entered to win an ESP guitar autographed by Ill Niño. ...

kobra and the lotus KOBRA AND THE LOTUS WILL BE OPENING ACT FOR KISS AND DEF LEPPARD THIS SUMMER
The new album 'High Priestess' will be released in September...

triaxis becky TRIAXIS ANNOUNCE NEW BASSIST & NEW ALBUM PLANS
Outstanding bassist Becky Baldwin joins the Welsh Metallers for third studio album...

rival sons tour RIVAL SONS ANNOUNCE DECEMBER UK TOUR
Following their current run of sold-out dates, the Californians return this winter with their unmissable live show...

spike frankie miller SPIKE ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF '100% PURE FRANKIE MILLER' IN SEPTEMBER 2014
The celebratory album features Ronnie Wood, Andy Fraser, Simon Kirke, Ian Hunter and more...

arch enemy ARCH ENEMY REVEAL NEW VIDEO FOR 'NO MORE REGRETS'
The album 'War Eternal' is out now worldwide and the band hit the road from July to December...

sanctuary SANCTUARY FINISH RECORDING NEW ALBUM AND ANNOUNCE THE RELEASE DATE
'The Year The Sun Died' will be out on September 29th in Europe...

rock metal circus ROCK AND METAL CIRCUS ANNOUNCE NEW VENUE FOR 2015
Roll up to Northants for Voodoo Six, Tygers of Pan Tang, Wolf plus some of the hottest new acts around...

aor 3 NIGHT RANGER TO HEADLINE HRH AOR 3
Adrenaline-fuleed rock and roll is the latest addition to the bill...

alz grinder ALZ-GRINDERS PLAN GRINDING FOR A CURE VOL 4
Over 300 extreme bands have contributed to the fundraising albums so far...

cambridge rock festival LINE-UP FOR CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL ALMOST COMPLETE
The main stage is booked and stages 2 and 3 are filling up fast...

headbangers open air ANVIL REPLACE DEATH ANGEL FOR HEADBANGERS OPEN AIR
After Death Angel cancelled their entire European tour, Anvil step in with a special "best of" set...

uli jon roth ULI JON ROTH CANCELS GUITAR GODS DATES IN NORTH AMERICA
It's official - this guitar god has been grounded by visa problems...

joe bonamassa JOE BONAMASSA ANNOUNCES NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'DIFFERENT SHADES OF BLUE'
The new album of all original material lands on 22nd September...

red dragon cartel BREAKING NEWS: RED DRAGON CARTEL ISSUE STATEMENT OVER WOLVERHAMPTON GIG CANCELLATION
The band made a barbed official statement denying the reasons for the cancellation made by the promoter without actually addressing the main issue...

red dragon cartel BREAKING NEWS: RED DRAGON CARTEL CANCEL WOLVERHAMPTON SHOW, REST OF UK TOUR IS OFF, DOWNLOAD IN JEOPARDY
An argument broke out between the band and promoter Denise Dale who was representing Metal Music Bookings and Management...

uli jon roth ULI JON ROTH FACES CANCELLATION OF HIS PARTICIPATION IN GUITAR GODS TOUR
"The tour is in jeopardy...this has never happened in over thirty years of visas"...

les fest wiston LES-FEST ANNOUNCES MAIN STAGE TIMES
Get the latest from Scotland's premier Metal festival right here...

beermageddon METAL FEST BEERMAGEDDON STRENGTHEN THE LINE UP YET AGAIN...WITH EVEN MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED
Jaldaboath, Monumentomb and Furyborn are among the latest additions...

blues pills DORIAN SORRIAUX FROM BLUES PILLS PERFORMS A GUITAR PLAY-THROUGH OF THE BAND'S NEW TRACK
Watch and learn as Dorian deconstructs 'High Class Woman'...

cj wildheart CJ WILDHEART RELEASES FIRST SOLO ALBUM IN SEVEN YEARS
'Mable' is available for pre-order now via Pledgemusic. CJ will also be releasing his own brand of hot sauces this year...

hrh aor3 HRH AOR ANNOUNCE FIRST 10 BANDS
FM, Dare, The Poodles and Starz lead the charge for March 2015...

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