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Butlins, Skegness
22nd-24th January 2016

Photos by Sally Newhouse

mark taylor

great british rock and blues
The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown: Photo ©Keith Newhouse

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'.

great british rock and blues
House Of X: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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'.

great british rock and blues
FM: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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'.

great british rock and blues
Bernie Tormé: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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.

great british rock and blues
Jeff Rich and the Triple J Band: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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'.

great british rock and blues
Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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.

great british rock and blues
Arthur Brown: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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'.

great british rock and blues
Hawkwind: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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.

great british rock and blues
Hawkwind: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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.

great british rock and blues
Tygers of Pan Tang: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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'.

great british rock and blues
Tygers of Pan Tang: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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.

great british rock and blues
Mark Taylor enjoying the Tygers of Pan Tang: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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.

great british rock and blues
Colin Blunstone: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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.

great british rock and blues
Martin Turner: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

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.

great british rock and blues
Martin Turner: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

It was split between Paul Lamb And The King Snakes and Willie And The Bandits to the campers home happy with a diversity of blues.

An action packed value for money weekend that doesn’t just give you the blues, it rocks!

great british rock and blues
Our scribe being serenaded by Micky from Tygers Of Pan Tang: Photo ©Sally Newhouse

MetalTalk's Mark Taylor invited the Tygers Of Pan Tang around to his luxurious chalet for a special brew to chat about their performance at Skegness and their plans for the rest of the year:

beer beer beerbeerbeer




Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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