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  CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL 2013, 4th/5th AUGUST 2013

Liz Medhurst: Photos by Noel Buckey, Simon Dunkerley, John Price and Gillian Lerner

liz medhurst

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cambridge rock 2013
Attica Rage

Cambridge Rock Festival is now is in its tenth year and has a great reputation, an extremely loyal following and attracts new attendees every year. It all started on Thursday night and over the four days more than 100 bands played across the three stages.

I arrived on Saturday lunchtime, and after checking out the arena, which was very well organised with good use of space, the first thing to do was stock up with plenty of beer tokens to ensure a steady supply of the brilliant selection of ales and ciders on offer. While trying the dry pear cider, I caught a bit of Austrian band Cornerstone's set on the main stage which was a pretty good rendition of their melodic rock catalogue, enhanced by lead singer Patricia Hillinger's quasi-futuristic silver playsuit. I then wandered over to stage two for a bit of indulging in Undertow's excellent set of rock covers, nothing to fault here.

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The first real surprise of the day however was The Temperance Movement. Every now and then you discover a band that makes you stop everything and immerse yourself in the music you are hearing. I went into one of those trances where it was all about the present moment, and loved every minute of what I heard and saw. The Temperance Movement have taken blues rock, merged it with their heart and soul, put a new hat and coat on it and unleashed it back out to the public in a very special way. This is a band that own their individual space and communicate instinctively with each other and their stage presence is very special indeed. Oh, and they are cool as fuck too. Their debut album is due to be released in September, this is something I will be snapping up.

phr
Pearl Handled Revolver

The crowd had only just started to come down from this performance when it was time for Pearl Handled Revolvers to take the stage. This hard rock and psychedelic combo was another revelation, with immaculate songwriting, and luscious grooves. It was completely hypnotic and one of the best natural highs around.

As if this wasn't enough to be going on with, it was then time for The Pat McManus Band. Pat, Marty McDermott and Paul Faloon grabbed the crowd by the balls from the first note and didn't let go. This was a masterclass in charisma, performance and the most solid of songs from the power trio. Not only that, the sheer joy that exudes from every pore of Pat McManus is an infectious delight which lifted the energy of the festival several more notches.

debbie bonham

After experiencing three fantastic sets, it was time for a bit of a sit down and some more of that refreshing cider. Not for too long though as Debbie Bonham was next up, performing a classic blend of soul-tinged rock backed by a tight band. This was a great and enjoyable performance. I didn't see all of the set as word was getting round of what was happening over at stage two. This was Laurence Jones, a twenty one year old fresh faced blues guitarist who was wowing the crowd with a virtuoso performance that belied his years. The tent was packed and he gained a lot of new fans – he will be around for many more years to come I hope.

hazel o connor

I dropped in for a couple of numbers of Hazel O'Connor's set, mainly from a nostalgic point of view, as I remembered loving her when I was a teenager as she was edgy and different. She still puts on a very good show. I spent most of that hour around stage 2 though, as Del Bromham's Blues Devils had commanded the tent, and were hosting a brilliant party. An extra treat happened when a couple of the lads from Pearl Handled Revolver joined the band on stage, along with Cherry Mee Lewis, so there was a bit of a mini super-group going on there. A good-time blues set, but with half a point docked for the over-the-top and unnecessary situation of having seven endings to one song – just finish the damn song!!

caravan

As the sunset gave way to darkness, there was a choice of styles to end the evening with. Caravan were as polished and ever with their brilliant quintessential English prog, infusing the main stage with a bit of a chill out vibe but Buster James and his band provided the rockier end to the night, blasting Stage 2 with their old time rock and roll and finishing the party in great style.

Sunday

For a nice gentle start to Sunday morning, we were treated Attica Rage at 11am. These boys are brilliant, and it was the first time I had seen them since High Voltage. They were kind enough to provide a wake-up call for the campers, and blew any cobwebs and hangovers away with top grade Heavy Metal.

The songs from the new album, '88mph', sounded amazing, in particular 'Long Ride Home'. Johnny Parr told us all about the band's fan led initiative in sending a single copy of the CD around the world as a kind of chain letter, hoping that it gets returned by the end of their tour in the autumn having travelled the world in 88 days. It's only reached England at the moment so a bit of travelling still to do.

There was an awesome interlude when bass player Colin Wilson took over vocals for a fantastic version of 'This Life' (theme from Sons of Anarchy) which blended amazingly well into the set. At the end of this incredible set of biker anthems and blues-tinged metal, we were treated to a Heavy Metal version of the Osmond's 'Crazy Horses' followed by 'Rebel Yell'. A brilliant start to the day.

hekz

Bedford's Hekz were up next – a band I had not been aware of before, and their prog Metal set was captivating and engaging, and something I would look forward to hearing again. They ended with a blistering version of Deep Purple's 'Burn' – a crowd pleaser, but nonetheless done with style.

It was left to the Ben Poole Band to bring some Sunday afternoon smoothness to proceedings. The six piece band were a brilliant showcase for Ben's original songs, capturing the vibe of early Dire Straits mixed up with the flying fretwork of Joe Satriani with a dash of Robert Cray thrown in. Ben is an awesome guitarist and effortlessly drew the crowd in, and there were several jaws dropping in amazement at the epic version of Hey Joe which he completely made his own.

Some unexpected between-set entertainment occurred when the Editor was leading an impromptu football kick around with several kids and displaying quite remarkable progress – until he sliced it at the wrong angle and lobbed it over the Radio Caroline Tent and into the depths of the equipment area of the site. Thankfully the question "can we have our ball back please?" was met with a cheerful response.

persian risk

When Persian Risk exploded onto the stage giving a full on Metal performance, there was a collective "OMG WTF" from the crowd. There was a lot of anticipation in advance of this performance both from those who were curious about this recent incarnation after a long break and those who had heard good things on the grapevine. This is only the third time that this line up have played together live, but the energy and communication was so natural that no-one would have guessed.

Carl Sentance was in full on rock God mode and had clearly made an awful lot of good decisions in reforming the band, writing the songs and putting the band together. The new songs were stylistically different from the original incarnation, but this was an evolution, not a complete change in style.

Lead guitarist Howie G amazed as always, and bassist Wayne Banks and drummer Tim Brown provided real power and charisma. From Maiden-esque anthems to hard-edged melodic Metal this was a relentless set that delivered on every level. I knew that this was likely to be a great gig, having seen Carl and Howie perform the most incredible version Heaven and Hell at Legends of Rock last year as part of Towers of Stone, but I was more than pleasantly surprised at just how good the set was.

There was such a rush to the merch table afterwards that every copy of 'Once A King' sold out within five minutes of the band leaving the stage, which bodes well for the new album later this year.

After a fuel-stop for some gorgeous Thai curry, it was time for NWOBHM legends Praying Mantis. The touring line up has had some well-publicised changes recently and new vocalist Jaycee (John Cuijpers) and drummer Hans in t' Zandt impressed right at the start and injected a new shot of energy. There was everything here – gorgeous harmonies, anthems, classics. It was a privilege to be in the presence of Tino, Chris and the boys – a Metal institution who keep delivering the goods; no resting on laurels here.

For a change in pace we saw Mostly Autumn, who have not lost their standard over the years and this set was full of gorgeous melodies, but with just the right amount of edge to keep interest. The York-based band get the mix of rock, prog and folk inspiration just right, keeping the songs tight and varied. The placing in the line up between Mantis and Magmum was ideal.

magnum

And then it was time for the mighty Magnum, who got the set list completely right for the occasion, mixing the songs from the new album with a great rendition of the classics. Bob Catley was in good voice and the atmosphere built to that indescribable feel where you know you are in the presence of giants. 'How Far Jerusalem' and 'Kingdom Of Madness' were the highlights for me, and the band were in top form – I imagine they were enjoying this gig way more than the last festival gig they played recently which was on a very wet Welsh hillside!

That seemed like a fitting place to call it a day and head for home, as I didn't think The Animals could add anything to what had gone before. As with all good events it's not possible to see everything, but I felt privileged to have seen so many amazing sets. What a brilliant festival this had been – superbly organised, great facilities and a perfect mix of bands and audience. One of the most enjoyable weekends I have spent in a long time, the weather was perfect and I caught up with so many amazing people. Next year is already in the diary.


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12.8.13





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john otway JOHN OTWAY PLANNING ON BEING FIRST ARTIST SINCE THE ROLLING STONES TO RECORD IN MONTSERRAT
"Although the old Air Studios are now derelict the studio in the basement of Sir George Martin's house is sound – it just needs rebuilding..."

fates warning FATES WARNING - NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'THEORIES OF FLIGHT' ANNOUNCED, ARTWORK UNVEILED
"There's a loose theme running through a lot of the lyrics, and this developed organically and separately..."

amon amarth RAISE YOUR HORNS AND BE IN AMON AMARTH'S NEW MUSIC VIDEO
Swedish Heavy Metal goliaths Amon Amarth are inviting their fans around the globe to be a part of their forthcoming video...

sixx am SIXX:A.M. ANNOUNCE THE "#REASONTORISE" CAMPAIGN, TOUR DATES AND 'VOL.1 PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED' DETAILS
"It is our duty as citizens of this world to come together, communicate with one another and rise up to demand more of ourselves and our leaders."

armored saint ARMORED SAINT ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AND CLUB APPEARANCES
"For our first time in Spain, it's gonna be sick! And as if this wasn't enough - Saint is playing for the first time ever in Japan..."

black country communion BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION TO REFORM IN 2017
"Preparing BCC Rocket Ship Re-launch for 2017 - all systems go."

tarja TARJA PREMIERES OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO OF HER NEW SINGLE 'NO BITTER END'
'No Bitter End', the opening track of the prequel album 'The Brightest Void', is the first glimpse of Tarja's new work – her heaviest to date...

stratovarius STRATOVARIUS RELEASE LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'UNTIL THE END OF DAYS'
"To me it's a testament to the fact that paying attention to song writing and production was expensive, but so worth it..."

brian johnson EXCLUSIVE: PROMINENT AC/DC CREW MEMBER GIVES REMARKABLE INSIGHT INTO AXL ROSE APPOINTMENT
AC/DC are covering themselves in case Axl's poor reputation for unprofessionalism manifests itself...

brian johnson THE DARKEST DAY OF MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE: BRIAN JOHNSON ISSUES PERSONAL STATEMENT ON AC/DC DEPARTURE
"I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that..."

thin lizzy THIN LIZZY ANNOUNCE BASS PLAYER AND NEW DRUMMER FOR 2016/17 ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
Thin Lizzy are undisputed legends and to be a small part of their lineage is a humble honor for me...

ian gillan IAN GILLAN TO PERFORM UNIQUE SOLO SHOW OF DEEP PURPLE CLASSICS IN BULGARIA
There is a possibility that Ian will also play some material from his catalogue outside of Deep Purple...

don airey DEEP PURPLE'S DON AIREY AND FRIENDS ADDED TO CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL PLUS ATOMIC ROOSTER
Expect to hear many classics from Airey's illustrious past which includes time spent with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne as well as his current job with Deep Purple...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2016 ANNOUNCE SUNDAY NIGHT HEADLINERS AND FIVE MORE ACTS
With June creeping ever closer, Wildfire Festival's impressive main stages line-up is all but finalised...

whitesnake THE END OF WHITESNAKE: DAVID COVERDALE TO RETIRE IN 2017
Whitesnake headline the UK's Ramblin Man Festival in July in what could be their final ever UK appearance...

axl rose AXL ROSE CONFIRMED AS AC/DC SINGER FOR THE REMAINING ROCK OR BUST DATES
The worst kept secret in rock is now official...

aerosmith THE END OF AEROSMITH?: NO FAREWELL TOUR CONFIRMED AT THE MOMENT
"A farewell tour is something we've talked about doing for years, let's say roughly in the last five years..."

hrh united ALESTORM, HAMMERFALL, FINSTERFORST, NAPALM DEATH, ARMORED SAINT, VENOM INC. AND EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCED FOR HRH UNITED
HRH United 3 will be an exclusive upgraded Metal Edition taking over the entire site @ Camp HRH, Pwllheli, North Wales...

rolling stones PROUD GALLERIES PLAYING HOST TO FABULOUS ROLLING STONES PHOTO EXHIBITION: TERRY O'NEILL TO ATTEND SIGNING SESSION
It's a wonderful book by photographer Terry O'Neill of Rolling Stones images from 1963 to 1965, an era when the Stones were just "breaking through"...

between the buried and me BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN SUMMER DATES
As well as the European tour dates, BTBAM have launched a live video for 'The Ectopic Stroll' whih you can see here...

jade vine LONDON BASED ALTERNATIVE PROG ROCKERS JADE VINE ANNOUNCE ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW
Jade Vine's music has been influenced by artists such as Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Anathema and Pain Of Salvation...
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