Just under four thousand holidaymakers made for the perfect setting of jolly ole Butlins in Skegness for a quality weekend of rock and blues with a little bit of jazz thrown in good measure.
It has to said that the Great British Rock & Blues Festival is primarily a blues fest with the harder rocking bands on the smaller Reds Stage, but each stage can hold up to 2000 people meaning many acts here get the chance to play to a much wider audience than they normally would do on stages that have perfect lighting and sound.
Young upcoming artists got to prove themselves on the 'Skyline' Stage with some promising results from bands such as The Blue Horizon,Luke Doherty Band and The Texas Flood among many others.
Throw in some quality accommodation and food, these music weekends away at Butlins make for a value for money package compared with many outdoor festivals.
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Being a long haired rocker myself, I spent most of the weekend getting right down the front of the Reds Stage whilst many were enjoying some quality blues on the main Centre Stage.
Featuring former members of UFO, it was House Of X who got to let it roll first thing on Friday night with an approving show featuring exquisite fret work from Laurence Archer, especially on 'Rock Bottom'.
Flamboyant frontman Danny Peyronel best expressed his personality on their own joyful ride of 'No More Tequila'. A perfect start to the weekend.
Melodic rockers FM delighted with a professional glossy display. Kicking off with newbie 'Digging In The Dirt', FM rocked the house with a set of tuneful melodies that enthralled Skegness. The Soulful voice of Steve Overland impressed on the balled 'Closer To Heaven'.
Hardcore fans of the band were treated to a rare live airing of 'Someday (You'll Come Running)', a song that Overland said that FM had not performed since 1989. Riding out with 'Bad Luck' and the encore of 'Other Side Of Midnight' featuring keytar antics Eddie Van Halen-style from Jem Davis, FM are a breath of fresh air at any festival.
Bernie Tormé ended the evening with an ear bashing power trio set with feedback to the max with his Stratocaster, at times a little chaotic but brilliant all the same.
His punky blues can test the boundaries for some, but his own unique style leaves many spellbound with his Hendrix meets Rory Gallagher guitar licks. A bulldozing 'Wild West' opened the set that was soon followed by favourites 'Turn Out The Lights' and the commercial sounding 'Star'.
The more recent 'Stoneship' was a head-slicing epic that sounded like Nirvana on a heavy downer, brutality at its best. Covers popularised by his former band Gillan, such as 'Trouble' and 'New Orleans' were warmly greeted.
It started to full apart a bit with unrehearsed encores of 'Boney Maroney' and 'Smoke On The Water' but it really didn't matter, I was pretty much deafened by that point. Torme came and conquered. I don't think Butlins had ever heard anything quite like it before.
Saturday started early in the afternoon with former Quo drummer and almost Def Leppard member Jeff Rich and The Triple J Band who did a bluesy hard hitting set.
Manfred Mann's Earth Band were well on form with the powerful vocals of Robert Hart and the Mann himself giving it plenty on the keys.
Much improved from their previous year's appearance at the Giants Of Rock Festival where they did too much improvised do-wah-diddling, this time there was more focus on the songs with the AOR bliss of 'For You' and the crowd pleasing 'Blinded By The Light' and 'Davy's On The Road Again'.
A delightful 'Mighty Quinn' was still being sung by the crowd as the band left the stage. A complete success.
Crazy World Of Arthur Brown was totally bonkers and mesmerising, covered in face paint, Brown was hypnotically good with an enchanting version of 'Kites' with a flamenco dancer, and the Hammond euphoria of 'Fire'. Brilliant.
Hawkwind coloured the night with psychedelic ease. Leader Dave Brock for once was not hidden at the back playing a more central role. 'Orgone Accumulator' and the smoking 'Hassan I Sahba' were highlights before going more deep with 'Prometheus' and new track 'All Hail The Machine'.
Hawkwind are lost on some and it certainly helps to be out of it to be in with it, but Brock & Co were cosmic man. Nine Below Zero warmed the night with rhythm n' blues done in their own idiosyncratic style.
Sunday got off to a winning start with Babajack, full of blues intertwined with African rhythms and homemade “wine box” guitar, captivating. A colourful Courtney Pine gave blissful improvised jazz on the clarinet complimented by steel drumming.
Tygers Of Pan Tang gave a rude awakening with ear splitting Metal squeezing sixteen numbers into a tight hour set plus two more in the encore. The Tygers turned the volume to 10 as they roared into action with 'Don't Touch Me There'.
Vocalist Jacopo Meille could shatter glass with the notes he was hitting and new guitarist Micky Crystal is a fine addition to the line up providing many finesse solos. Recent material like 'She' and 'Keeping Us Alive' sit snugly amongst the old classics of 'Paris By Air' and the voice box melee of 'Slave To Freedom'.
A pulsating set rounded off with their cover of 'Love Potion No.9'. Robb Weir can be proud of his young cubs. The Tygers gave Butlins a good mauling.
Colin Blunstone was a classy choice with an outstanding set of solo and Zombies classics. The recent 'Wild Horses' and the thirst quenching 'Andorra' were most welcome whilst the haunting 'Old And Wise' can bring a tear to the eye. Rolling back the years with The Zombies 'Time Of The Season' and 'She's Not There' were both pure bliss.
Animals & Friends who still feature drummer John Steel and Ivory tinkler Mick Gallagher along with two new young guns gave a beat-booming display of rhythm and blues of the highest order.
You can't go wrong with songs like 'It's My Life', the hellbent 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place' and the pleasing 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood' before the preaching organ joy of 'House Of The Rising Sun'.
The 'House Full' sign was put up for Dr.Feelgood leaving many outside frustrated. However Martin Turner played the music of Wishbone Ash in twin harmony along with quality new material.
Turner was in jovial mood as his band expressed themselves with the double 'Argus' whammy of 'Warrior' and 'Throw Down The Sword' before the enchanting 'Pilgrim'. The bouncy 'Blowin' Free', 'Living Proof' and the hard blues of 'Jailbait' rounded off a pleasing set.