Legends of Rock – The Originals 2014 (LRO14) Review Posted on Thu 23rd October 2014
Brilliant classic rock event soothes the autumn blues
This was a wonderful event delivering in every department. Great music, great atmosphere, great facilities, and great friendly people … what more could you want?
Although a relatively seasoned reviewer this event was a first in a number of areas; this was our first Classic Rock Tours event, and a first taste of an indoor music weekend on a holiday park.
Let’s get the latter out of the way first – the venue was fabulous. Held at the luxurious Vauxhall Holiday Park in Great Yarmouth, the location could not have been better suited. The main auditorium was massive – you needed those six big screens to capture all the action. With tables and chairs and various stalls either side, and a large dance floor and bar facing the stage, the atmosphere was electric. Spacious but intimate too. Air Con kept things comfortable mind. The second music room was also a respectable size with good facilities. We’d wondered in advance if this kind of indoor bash would be like a ‘festival’ or a series of gigs … it’s neither but also both at the same time! It’s actually more cabaret – in a good way. You can watch class acts supping a real pint out of real glasses in a comfortable seat before calling it a day and returning to some excellent holiday home accommodation. Don’t get me wrong – the dance floor was often bouncing – but this is very civilised living!
On-site accommodation ranged from cutey Pods to grand veranda’d holiday home affairs. Units were modern and comfortable and priced to satisfy most pockets, you could even take your own tent or camper.
The Park boasts various eateries, takeaways, amusements, kids areas …oh, and a full blown Water Park. There were, incidentally, no signs of Rip-Off Britain in evidence here, good quality at good prices. With the delights of Great Yarmouth on the doorstep too, there was a wealth of non-music options for those occasionally tiring of the music. For prices kicking off at £119 you simply can’t fault this.
Classic Rock Tours staged an absolute cracker with LRO14. The ethos of this team can be summed up by the strong sense of community they instil in everyone connected with the events – punters, musicians, crew, everyone. There are no barriers here – the musicians mingle with the crowd, the security is extremely low key, friendly and spot on, the atmosphere is one of common camaraderie. It’s always a good sign of an event that’s got it right when you find the organisers in the pit dancing shoulder to shoulder with the punters!
Musically, FFA thought the organisers nailed it with the schedule. Although a classic rock legends centric event, there was more than enough variety seeded throughout the weekend to keep the mood and pace flowing whilst catering for most rockish tastes. From the hard driving rock of Black Star Riders, the Prog of Curved Air, to the leftfield Acid Country of Alabama 3 and Psy madness of Arthur Brown, there were plenty of diverse ‘rock’ music genres going down from the 45+ bands on show.
Everyone will have their own opinions on the musical highlights. Safe to say the calibre of all the acts on the bill was pretty exceptional and most acts in both rooms had at least one hour slots to fully develop the show. With live music until 2am this is a packed weekend. Here are just some of the acts that rocked our boat…
Thursday’s opening party night kicked off with a fine bevy of local acts, not least Buster James who delivered a great set to get the weekend rocking.
FFA really kick-started Friday with an accomplished polished set by British stalwart blues outfit Chicken Shack fronted by the inimitable Stan Webb, before an hour of the madness that is Arthur Brown. One of the all-time great troubadours of the scene, Brown belied the years to deliver a full-on costumed stage show complete with dancing girls. Wonderful stuff. The crowd loved it, not least when Brown, in exceptional voice, delivered some haunting masterpieces from the Kingdom Come era.
A splendid 75 minutes from Skinny Molly. With some great interplay between Skynyrd original Mike Estes and fellow axeman Jay Johnson lighting up the stage, when they sparked up Free Bird it was a little ‘rock moment’ in the place. Shivers down the spine. This is what Classic Rock is all about.
Blimey … two closing sets to die for and nicely illustrating the range of music on offer, and it was only Friday! Alabama 3 rode into town to deliver another blinding set of sleazy musical mastery. Acid Country, gospel, soulful blues and electronica all intertwined in the mayhem that is an Alabama 3 show. With Aurora Dawn in particularly fine voice, and The Reverend D in splendidly laconic form, the band, as always, simply ripped the place up. Great show, and, back to back with The Quireboys! One of the best live rock & roll bands around. Spike, as always, held the crowd from the first number, with Sex Party closing the night in raucous style with the 2am crowd howling for more.
Saturday afternoon was highlighted by the Pat McManus set. Ex of Celtus, the Irish multi-instrumentalist led a tight three piece outfit through a wealth of blues, rock, and jiggy numbers; not least bringing the house down with a superb tribute to the legendary Rory Gallagher with ‘Meeting with the G Man’ , his only acoustic song of the set.
The Blockheads were on form, with some marvellous funky jazz funk bass breaks from the legend that is Norman Watt-Roy. Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash again hit the spot with an accomplished set of twin lead rock, featuring classic ‘Argus’ tracks, and a particularly fine ‘Persephone’ before the room exploded to Snakecharmer. With a line-up reading like a who’s who of rock, and a spooky Wishbone Ash link with Laurie Wisefield, these guys are a polished, class act, and it showed. They held the stage like giants. Needless to say, given the Whitesnake pedigree of Micky Moody and Neil Murray, the whole crowd were in excellent voice for a blistering ‘Here I Go Again’.
Steve Harley, for whatever reason, rolled on 35 minutes late. We won’t lose any sleep over it but an acknowledgement of the delay from someone on stage would not have come amiss guys. That said, the slightly truncated 1am set was absolutely superb. Harley is a hard taskmaster in driving musical excellence and he surrounds himself with musicians who can indeed cut that mustard. This was particularly evident in a simply beautiful extended version of ‘Sebastian’. You could hear a pin drop as Harley and the band weaved their musical web. Another of those LRO14 little spine tingling moments.
Blimey. I still love Sonja Kristina! What a set Curved Air delighted us with on Sunday afternoon. As soon as the first swirling strains of ‘Young Mother’ fired up you just knew this was likely to be a Prog Rock masterclass … and so it proved. Kristina is still a charismatic presence and the latter day Monkman and Way (a.k.a. Robert Norton and Paul Sax ) managed the intricate interplay between rousing keyboards and inspired violin with aplomb. This is a great band of extremely talented musicians across the board, and the new material sounds excellent. Great set.
If ever a band illustrated everything about what a rock & roll band should be, and, importantly never lose that edge or the downright joy of performing, then look no further than Stray. They had the V Lounge crowd rocking. Always top drawer value, Stray let rip with a wonderful set of old and new and stalwart Del Bromham’s sheer enthusiasm and virtuoso guitar excellence was a pleasure to witness. If you’ve never seen Bromham in full flight solo with his guitar suspended from the ceiling (yes. really) then you’ve missed a treat!
Pearl Handled Revolver delivered an absolutely splendid set. This is a four piece producing a wonderfully rich soundscape of blues rock with overtones of Floydesque psychedelica and Hammond organ retro rock overlaid with great throaty vocals. The absence of a bassist leads to a pleasing degree of musical experimentation and variation. This is a great band constantly evolving and one to watch out for.
All reviews are subjective and nominations for ‘act of the festival’ are often the cause of heated debate years after the event, but for FFA, out of nowhere, came The Royal Southern Brotherhood to steal the show. New to this reviewer and very much an unknown quantity, they simply blew us away. By any standards this was an absolutely awesome set – in musical excellence, showmanship, individual virtuosity, pacing, variety, passion … it had it all. Cyril Neville’s percussion and soulful funky vocals blended perfectly with the Deep South electricity of Devon Allman’s guitar. It’s in the blood of course. In a set of pure delight the bass solo of Charlie Wooton was particularly outstanding. This is one hell of a band. Absolutely breath-taking.
It was left for Black Star Riders to close the show. Thin Lizzy helped define a rock generation and any band emulating 10% of that power and presence is on to a winner. So when a band has the legendary Lizzie axeman Scott Gorham burning up the fret board you just know it will be special. The whole room was shaking, with the crowd absolutely bouncing and punters standing on chairs to get a glimpse of a band at the top of its game. This was a Black Star Riders gig, but there was enough Lizzie material in the mix to drive on at a frantic pace. For crowd reaction this set took the biscuit for producing one almighty headbanger!
So, there you have it. A first class event we could not really fault on any level. Fantastic music, great facilities and atmosphere, cold beer in a real glass, and then back to a warm comfy bed with all mod cons. A great way to extend the festival season. As we said at the beginning – what more could you want?
Article by Barrie Dimond