With the hangovers from the previous night slowly clearing, day two of the festival kicks off with an easy mid-afternoon start. After the Metal intensity of yesterday, there's a more relaxed day of rock planned for everyone to look forward to.
Cumbernauld based D3VILMAYCRY kicked proceedings off their thirty minute set of mostly original material including 'No Rest For The Wicked', 'Dark Lullabies' and 'Not For Me'. Frontman Ryan Patterson does a good job of handling vocals whilst the rest of the band tries their best to impress the audience – quite successfully it transpires as they get a good reception.
Paisley band 15 Times Dead, who are veterans of many a UK Metal festival and also the pioneers of 'Girth Metal' were next up, and they really helped to get things going. I wasn't too sure what 'Girth Metal' sounded like but the band's solid, heavy sound is mixed with some good clean sounding vocals from bass player Andy Ritchie and isn't what I was expect, so it's a pleasant surprise. The band turns in a very professional performance with 'No Friend Of Mine' going down particularly well. With a few high profile support slots under their belts already helping them raise their profile, they're certainly a band worth catching if you see them playing a gig near you in the coming months.
Massive Wagons are a young band from Carnforth near Lancaster with a sound that gives a nod towards Motley Crue's sound and endless amounts of enthusiasm. Frontman Barry Mills not only has a great singing voice but also great stagecraft which he uses to his full advantage, whilst lead guitarist Alex Thistlethwaite plays some great solos whilst still managing to pull a few Metal poses.
Amongst the tracks performed during their set were 'Alive' (a great heavy mid-tempo track) and 'SWT' which was a more upbeat 12 bar song that got the crowd moving before ending their set with the very fast 'Fight The System'. The latter song seemed to transfix the audience and the band are obviously having lots of fun. Sadly it's all over too quickly but I for one am hoping that this band will be returning north of the border again very soon.
North of Scotland based Estrella look like they had stepped straight out of the 1980s – and that's not doing them any disservice at all, as the audience lap up their distinctive brand of retro-rock. Luke Gunn is a truly gifted guitarist who even ventures into the audience for one of his frantic solos whilst his vocalist brother, Paul, is a full of talent and life. The band produce some solid rockkin tunes and are a bit like Steel Panther – only without all the innuendo!
Drummer Leo McPherson keeps a solid backbone to the band, along with the final Gunn brother, Nathan, on bass guitar, as the band rip through songs like 'Dirty Girl#' and 'Chance Of A Lifetime' before finishing with a cover of AC/DC's 'Highway To Hell' by which point the band have managed to have a hall full of fans shouting for more. A great set from one band who I'm certainly looking forward to hearing more from in the future.
Severnth are a hybrid Welsh/English band who bring in the Metal quotient for the afternoon as we get solid crushing drums from Dave Roberts and solid riffs whilst (dreadlocked) vocalist Peet Bailey screams his way through the set. This is the band's first time in Scotland and they seem to go down very well today.
'Two Mirrors' (for which the band have recently made a video) was well received, but you can't help but think they would have gone down better last night as their sound is definitely more Metal orientated as opposed to the numerous Rock bands that fill today's bill. Still, the band gives their performance everything, debuting their latest song, 'God's Game', alongside the excellent 'Wayward Days', which despite its heaviness has a very catchy chorus.
Dana O'Hara are a young Lesmahagow band and are one of the reasons that this festival exists at all, explains Les Fest organiser Dave Ritchie. He saw them live in Glasgow and thought they deserved to be seen on a bigger stage.
The band have a sizable following here and the five piece repay Ritchie's faith with a very memorable performance. The band's sound is a cross between power and thrash metal with vocalist Gordon Scott ably taking care of frontman duties and playing keyboards whilst also managing to keep this rambunctious bunch of musicians in check.
'Service' has drummer Jamie Gill holding down a solid beat as Scott hollers down the microphone to the delight of the burgeoning crowd. A circus of sorts then ensues as the guitarists Colin Scott and Scott Harper take the show (literally) to the fans by playing in the audience while Gordon Scott runs round the arena like a madman. 'Risky Woods' gets the dandruff flying down the front followed by the keyboard laden thrash that is 'Interception', with the crowd raising their hands in appreciation before 'In The Arms Of A God' which is brought abruptly to an end when the plug is unceremoniously pulled due to the bill overrunning. All in all a great (if somewhat unpredictable) performance.
Next up are a suited and booted (which makes a change from the norm of black jeans and black t-shirt) Manchester trio, Fantasist with a funky edge to their music. It's the charismatic drummer Seb Sweet who seems to relish being the centre of attention smiling and laughing his way through the set from the word go, and he doesn't miss a single beat, even when he has issues with the drumkit meaning he has to stand up at one point to fix the problem.
The aforementioned funky edge is provided by dreadlocked bass player, Robb Sutcliffe, who possesses an incredible skill on the guitar, even dispensing with the pick at one point to slap the bass, UB40 style whilst guitarist Ollie Cordwell completes the line-up as rather dapper guitarist of an equally happy disposition.
Inferno hail from Hollyhead, North Wales and the band have their own brand of fast and frantic straight ahead rock. 'Are You Alive?' is an early number in their set, which gets a lot of crowd appreciation, even through the relatively quiet middle section. There are some solid riffs and guitar solos from Liam Jepson along with drummer Jay Lee who keeps the beat solidly through the bands mid-paced tracks.
Showcasing both 'The Suicide Pact' EP and their debut album, 'Welcome To The Lion's Den', the band launch into 'Snakes And Ladders' (with Lee's almost relentless beat), 'Veni Vidi Vici' which has a slight rockabilly feel to it during the verses and 'Death By Rock And Roll' which is a pure joy to hear with its bouncy bass rhythm carrying the song along, before wrapping up in fine style with 'El Toro'.
The Amorettes are a trio of rockers who were fresh from a big name support slot in Edinburgh earlier in the evening, and are worthy of inclusion so high up on the bill as their 35 minute set turns into one of the highlights of the whole festival. Drummer Hannah McKay and her sister, bassist Heather, work away solidly leaving Gillian Montgomery (guitar, vocals) to energise the appreciative crowd. 'Whoot Woo', 'Hot And Heavy', 'Talk Nerdy To Me', 'Too Much Is Never Enough' (which gets the fists in the air) all show how musically talented the band are before 'Son Of A Gun' brings the curtain down on a triumphant performance. With their debut album, 'Haulin' Ass' selling well, I'm certainly looking forward to album number two when it's released.
Prayiong Mantis are genuine NWOBHM legends who came all the way from London for this one-off performance and as I'd never seen them play live before, this was a real treat for me. The band rightly received a great reception from the audience, which was a good mix of older fans along with some of the younger bands anxious to see this legendary band.
As you would expect from a band of this caliber, they played a superb 70 minute performance with vocalist Mike Freeland having the audience in the palm of his hand from the first song, 'Children Of The Earth' to the last song 'Captured City'. Bass player Chris Troy and his brother, guitarist Tino Troy, couldn't hide their evident enjoyment of playing to such an intimate crowd, and their set included 'Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark', 'Highway', the song 'Praying Mantis' itself and a brand new song, 'Dream On'.
The band gained a lot of new fans tonight so let's hope they come back to Scotland for another gig soon.
The final act of this years festival was Kyrbgrinder and because I'd not seen them before I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was told to imagine "lead drums instead of lead guitar", which I found intriguing but was pleasantly surprised by what I saw when the band finally came on.
Opening up with 'Cynical World', drummer/vocalist Johanne James didn't have to encourage the audience too much before they started singing along. It takes a huge amount of talent to play the drums but to sing at the same time and keep the audience involved is a huge task, and James pulls this off brilliantly. After tonight's performance alone it's easy to understand why he's such a highly rated drummer.
Backed up with the dependable Tommy Caris on guitar and Dave Lugay on bass guitar, the trio gave a rip-roaring performance including 'Don't Be So Cold' and 'Where Do We Go From Here' before bringing the night (and the festival) to a triumphant close with 'My Heart Bleeds'.
Les Fest has firmly put Lesmahagow on the Metal map and judging by the reactions of the fans and the bands it looks like this is the first in a long line of Les Fests. The countdown to Les Fest 2013 begins now!
Main Stage Line Up:
15 Times Dead
Kyrbgrinder – http://www.kyrbgrinder.net/index1.html
Praying Mantis – http://www.praying-mantis.com
The Amorettes – http://www.theamorettes.co.uk
Inferno – http://www.infernoband.co.uk
Fantasist – http://www.mwaweb.com/fantasist_homepage.htm
Dana O'Hara – http://www.facebook.com/danaoharaband
Severnth – http://severenth.org
Estrella – http://estrellarocks.com/band
Massive Wagons – http://massivewagons.com
15 times Dead – http://www.15timesdead.com
D3vilmaycry – facebook.com/D3VILMAYCRYOFFICIALBAND