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Tina Saul: Photos by Judith Fisher
2nd August 2011

doogie white

And so comes day two of High Voltage. The nice thing about having a festival near your house is that you wake up in your own bed and can get coffee and breakfast without it costing you an arm and a leg and tasting like cardboard. However, I do miss the camaraderie of a festival campsite and almost asked my neighbour to wake me up with the obligatory shout of "SLAYYYEEEERRR".

First band of the day for me were one who've been no stranger to festivals this year, Saint Jude. I've watched this band grow over the last year or so and their High Voltage performance was a big highlight of their career so far for me.

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They've built up a solid fan base of late, and it was inevitable that they'd draw a decent crowd for their home town festival appearance. Lead singer, Lynne Jackaman, appeared on stage with a breathtaking dress, which seemed to draw the sunshine onto stage with them. And they delivered a set mixed with new songs and crowd pleasers. 'Garden of Eden', 'Soul on Fire' and 'Southern Belles' got the audience singing along and with the current line-up, Saint Jude proved why they've been nominated for 'Best New Band' in this year's Classic Rock Awards.

st jude high voltage

After a bluesy start to the day, it was time to turn it up to eleven with the arrival of Michael Schenker. So many people associated with him were spotted backstage and so the festival rumour mill was rife with who would come on with him and for what song.

The set started with 'Into The Arena' and 'Armed And Ready' which was a great way to get the crowd singing and moshing along, but as to be expected there were still sound issues.

Next up was a Scorpions cover 'Another Piece Of Meat' and then it was time to bring on the guests. First up is no stranger to any Heavy Metal fan, Doogie White, current vocalist for British Heavy Metallers Tank, who performed MSG's 'Before The Devil Knows You're Dead'.

And the next guest really got the crowd going even more, as Michael's older brother Rudolf joined him on stage to perform 'Rock You Like A Hurricane' and 'Hangin On'. Hurricane could be classed as a bit of an odd choice by music critics, but the crowd really didn't care and took it upon themselves to destroy the decibel limit as they sang along. Schenker chose to close the set with two UFO songs, the first of which 'Rock Bottom' would feature Pete Way, followed by 'Doctor Doctor' which saw Jeff Scott Soto take to the stage, along with all the others.

You can never tell what kind of set Schenker is going to pull off, and this seemed a little more like a jam session than serious festival performance, but no one cared. The fans were the ones who were enjoying this, and let's face it with the beers flowing, the sun shining and that kind of set list as their Sunday soundtrack, why wouldn't they?

And what a way to get you prepared for the next band. All day I'd noticed a distinct amount of 40-something men wandering around East London in Thunder t-shirts and as AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' started playing, they all gravitated towards the main stage.

thunder high voltage

Thunder took to the stage with the absolute classic 'Back Street Symphony' which drove the crowd nuts. At first because it's a cracking tune and everyone was delighted they were playing, but rapidly more so because of the sound issues. It cut out several times and on the third occasion the boos were so bad that Luke Morley threw his cowboy hat to the floor, but thankfully the soundman woke up!

As they played 'River Of Pain' and 'Higher Ground' Thunder put sound issues aside and just delivered a crowd pleasing show.

'Gimme Some Loving' got even the Dream Theater fans dancing and was met by the familiar "Harry" chants at the end. 'The Devil Made Me Do It', 'Love Walked In' and 'I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll' saw Danny Bowes get his snake hips back on and proved just why he's one of the UKs best rock vocalists (in my opinion).

But the absolute icing on the cake was them closing with 'Dirty Love'. True to form it was extended into a crowd sing-along, splitting out left to right, and men from women. When one man sang along when it was the girl's turn, Danny asked the man if he was a lady and asked other audience members to "cop a feel" [sic].

I've lost count of the amount of times I've seen Thunder live, but there is one thing for sure and that is I've never been disappointed. They're a band that has it all - talent, charisma and songs – and are a perfect addition to any festival line-up.

It's an absolute travesty that it was their final ever show... ever... again! Now what would be really nice is if they could see it fit to play *another* final show; sometime around Christmas would be good!

And that's it for my High Voltage coverage. The question on everyone's lips now is whether we'll get to see a third outing. The obvious issue for next year is that it's right on the 2012 Olympics doorstep and so the chances of anyone outside of London getting accommodation will be impossible (and the chance of anyone living in London actually sticking around for the world's largest party negligible as well).

There is no denying that as a format this festival works. It's a lot more intimate than Download or Sonisphere and it all feels a lot more grown up, with the addition of things like the Ace Cafe and the Beer festival. But there is no denying that the sound issue needs resolving and I get the feeling the only way that will happen is if it moves location. I guess only time will tell.

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