Rockin’ The Bowl – Don Valley Bowl, Sheffield
Saturday 14th September 2019
Review by; Hungryasabadger
Photos by: Shady Lady Media
I have to admit that from the moment the inaugural Rockin’ The Bowl one-day festival was announced I was excited as the prospect of an actual outdoor day of Rock ‘n’ Metal being held in my hometown was not an event I intended on missing so, tickets and battle jacket at the ready, I happily made my way to the sadly underused Don Valley Bowl arena on a very warm and sunny Septembers Day.
With this being the first of hopefully many RTB events, firstly let me comment on the set up and facilities at the festival. Although the initial signage guiding persons to the event were rudimentary at best I found the security and ticketing staff were very approachable and helpful and the set out of the festival grounds was excellent with every taste and requirement seemingly catered for. From the street-food outlets and ice cream van to the many booths selling items ranging from top-end
band merchandise to stone skulls crafted locally by patrons of a local charity there was plenty to keep people occupied between bands. Speaking of bands a staggering total of 14 bands were scheduled to play across two stages throughout the day. Quite ambitious for a first attempt!
The first band I caught was Ryders Creed on the ‘Forged in Hell’ Main Stage. Ryders Creed are a five piece powerhouse who rose from the ashes of the now defunct Black Rose Cadillac and their riff driven music sounded punchy and fresh as the sun beat down upon us all. The Creed are blessed with an excellently tight rhythm section, including the massive furball of energy that is their drummer Lee Gilbert, and are rounded out by dual guitarists that are clearly in the Leppard/Lizzy mould and the very energetic Ryan Antony on vocals. The only disappointment of the Ryders Creed set was Ryan’s vocals appeared very low in the mix and got quite lost at times, which unfortunately became a bit of theme throughout the first part of the day.
Next up appearing on the ‘Big Issue’ Street Noise Stage were young local band Steal The City. My first impression was how loud the Sheffield boys were – I was honestly concerned for my right ear drum at one point! Luckily the loudness did not detract from how good the actual music sounded and I would compare it very favourably to that of Stone Broken. I initially felt a little sorry for their vocalist as he was clearly giving it his all but the aforementioned vocal mix issues continued and the
band might as well have been an instrumental group for the first two songs of their set. However, these issues were soon rectified and the group’s vocal prowess began to shine through especially with the excellent harmonies they displayed throughout the remainder of the set. One of the highlights of their set was a rousing cover of the Killers’ ‘Somebody Told Me’ that had the gathered punters singing along enthusiastically. All in all, despite the vocal mix gremlins, it was a great set
from the Sheffield natives and I look forward to hearing more from them soon.
It was then a return to the Main Stage for a 40 minute set from Cumbrian based sleaze-metal four piece Falling Red who took to the stage resplendent in horror-themed T-shirts and Sixx AM style greasepaint and proceeded to melt the faces off those gathered in the mid-afternoon sun. Favourable comparisons to Motley Crue simply have to be made but Falling Red are certainly no ripoff merchants and have an inimitable style of their own. Rozey on lead vocals had a strong enough voice to put any lingering vocal mix issues firmly to bed and reminded me of a young Sebastian Bach with his delivery. ‘Hell in my Eyes’ was the highlight of the first part of their set and their mid-tempo rocker ‘My Town, My City’ had more than a smattering of Oasis about it which was a nice change of pace before the guys got back on the sleaze wagon with a very punky sounding version of Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell’. The stand out track by Falling Red however has to be the song from which their merch T-shirt slogan was culled: ‘If You Ain’t Down With The Rock….You Can Fuck Right Off!’ is a crowd pleasing hit single in waiting in my humble opinion, although I feel any BBC censors may not fully agree with me. Falling Red’s latest album Lost Souls is out now and can be purchased via their website at https://www.falling-red.com/albums/lost-souls/
An absolute barnstorming set from a great band which should have a great future ahead of them. It would have been the set of the day had it not been for what immediately followed on the Main Stage….
There appears to be no stopping The Outlaw Orchestra at the moment. Fresh from a triumphant ascension to the main stage at this year’s HRH CROWS, where they reportedly sold more merchandise at the booth than any other artist that particular weekend, the boys from the Deep South(ampton) were back in the Steel City for further foot-stomping frolics, bad jokes and tongue in cheek tales of Rocker Dave’s apparently long-suffering other half.
From the off it was apparent that the band’s recent touring schedule has only served to make them an even tighter and more cohesive unit. Two EP’s in and the guys are definitely not running out of ideas and their unique brand of toe-tapping “Heavy Grass” never fails to raise a smile or a hip wiggle. The set list was a barn burner from ‘See You in Hell’ (with now obligatory segue into Cliff Richard’s ‘Devil Woman’), through ‘Burn the House Down’, via ‘Laughing all the Way to the Gallows’ the guys
barely paused during the sing-a-long hoe down other than to change instruments or to allow front man Dave Roux to fire off another anecdote or a joke seemingly stolen from a Poundland Christmas Cracker. An absolute storming cover of ‘Shipfaced’ by the Cadillac Three could easily have been mistaken for an Orchestra original but unfortunately before you knew it the boys’ 55 minute set was over. The Outlaw Orchestra were not the only team of lads from Southampton to steal a narrow
victory in Sheffield this sunny afternoon but in my opinion theirs was the performance of the day and I can’t wait to hear their long promised debut album and hope to see them back in the Steel City very soon.
So after all that hollering along with Falling Red and The Outlaw Orchestra it was time for some liquid refreshment. The organisers of Rockin’ The Bowl came up with a great idea to keep the queues down at the watering holes by utilising a token system rather than masses forming whilst inebriated rockers fumble for their change and it worked a treat from what I saw and there was plenty to choose from the range of real ales, lagers and wines and at no time did the bar appear to run dry. A special shout out must go to Cloven Hoof Rum and their delightful tipple which was available in cocktails throughout the day also. However, beware the ‘Over Proof’ Rum though, it’s tasty but at 66.6% it could fuel the next NASA mission!
Suitably refreshed it was time to catch the next band on my list of must sees; Aaron Buchannan & The Cult Classics who were gracing the Main Stage. Buchannan’s four piece backing band are a tight unit who complement their leader’s vocals perfectly. Although I was unfamiliar with any of the band’s body of work I thoroughly enjoyed their set and it appeared the majority of the crowd did too. The former Heaven’s Basement frontman was in good form, smartly turned out in a white shirt and braces, he is a heady mix of Scott Weiland and Thunder’s Danny Bowes with Freddie Mercury’s stage stewardship. I could not however shake the image of Barney Stinson from TV’s How I Met Your Mother every time I looked at Buchannan strutting his stuff! The set list was a mix of the band’s own music such as ‘Left Me For Dead’ and ‘Fire in the Fields of Mayhem’ with four Heaven’s
Basement anthems thrown in for good measure. It was a good mix with Buchannan honouring his past whilst not living on past glories. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Cult Classics but on this showing they have nothing to worry about.
The last band of the day to grace the second stage was local Rockabilly stalwarts Dukes of Bordello. Having accosted frontman/guitarist Andy Barrott during Steal the City’s set earlier in the day mistakenly thinking he was Ginger Wildheart I felt duty bound to check out the Dukes for the first time and I was not disappointed. It’s difficult to pigeon hole the trio’s musical approach but all I can say for certain is that they are rock and roll personified!
The Dukes’ set was a rip roaring one hour thrill ride through some of the best stripped down, catchy, down and dirty and wonderful noise I’ve ever heard. The guys reminded me of Lemmy’s mantra “We play rock n roll” as they stormed through toe-tapper after toe-tapper and, although they have some great original tunes of their own such as ‘Hellvis’ and ‘Scream if You Want to go Faster”, the set highlight was a cracking version of Kip Tyler’s ‘She’s My Witch’. A special mention must go to
upright bassist Chip Waite whose self-described “Doghouse Bass” looks like it was knocked up in an allotment shed but god-dammit he plays the hell out of the poor thing! Absolutely fantastic! If you haven’t seen them yet I implore you to check out the Dukes of Bordello as soon as possible.
With a newly purchased Dukes of Bordello CD in my hand it was back to the Main Stage once again where I caught the back end of the set by Irish rockers Trucker Diablo. Any sound gremlins had by now been banished and the Trucker boys were in a party mood as they tore through their set and got the crowd warmed up for the headliners. An absolute cracking rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Proud Mary’ had the punters singing at the top of their lungs and my personal favourite was new track ‘Rock Kids of the 80’s’ which was simply stunning and is made for being sung in arenas. Tom Harte on vocals has more than a touch of Black Stone Cherry’s Chris Robertson about him and the band clearly wear their Thin Lizzy influences on their sleeves but their brand of Celtic tinged rock is great fun and went down well with the audience.
What is there left to say about the day’s headline act that hasn’t already been said? Despite various well-documented ups and downs over their 30th years in existence there is simply no stopping The Wildhearts. Ginger and company took the stage just as the dying embers of the day’s light was fading and, with little fanfare and no standing on ceremony, launched straight into opening number ‘Everlone’ from their 1992 debut Earth vs The Wildhearts sending the gathered masses into raptures. Ginger was in fine form and appeared to be genuinely enjoying the headline slot as did the rest of the band who sounded fantastic throughout their 21 song set. All the radio hits were present with ‘Top of the World’ making an early appearance and queuing up the first sing-along of the night followed with ‘Caffeine Bomb’ well before the extended encore. Although the set leaned heavily on the debut album each of their studio albums was visited at least once during the show with two new
songs from 2019’s album ‘Renaissance Men’ given a live airing. Despite the packed set-list the lads from the ‘toon even found time to squeeze in a sneaky cover version in the guise of ‘White Lies’ by Jason and The Scorchers.
On this showing I’m sure I won’t be alone in hoping that this line-up of The Wildhearts can endure and not fall into the usual ‘make up, break up, reform’ cycle that has been an almost trademark of the band’s existence thus far as they appear to be on fire right now. Even after a seven song encore the RTB crowd were still baying for more and this can only have been music to the ears of Ginger and his cohorts as they left the Steel City. It was a great show by a well-loved band and may there
be many more to come in the future after the current tour is over.
So, there you have it. As the dust settles on the inaugural Rockin’ The Bowl event there will be no doubt constructive feedback for the organisers (lights near the toilets would be my two-penneth!) but put simply it was a fantastic day out with some great performances run by great people. Well done to everyone involved in the organisation and execution of the festival and roll on next years second instalment – tickets are on sale now!