SOS Festival, Day 2 Review

SOS Festival, Longfield Suite, Prestwich, UK

15th July 2017

Crowsaw, Core of Nation, Vice, Damaj, Sister Rose, Luke Appleton, Primitai, Die No More, Gemma Fox, Pythia, Bad Pollyanna & Blaze Bayley

Day two kicked off a little earlier and a killer line up lay ahead. I was excited for a few of the names and in terms of quality this had to be the strongest day. Saturday was a really busy day because I was in and out of the press room, doing interviews and getting into the main hall for the bands. There were too many highlights to count  for me and I discovered some great bands that I took home some of their music. There’s plenty to talk about so let’s get on with the day two review.

First things first on main stage was, Crowsaw. They were pretty decent three piece heavy metal act and played an all around entertaining set. The music had some excellent blues riffs that carried the set beautifully. The impressive part for me were the three part harmonies. All three members sung together so well and it fitted into the music so nicely. It just added something to their set. The riffs were good and meaty, they had a real groove to them and the bass locked in the drums to create a nice rhythm. I did like them but I don’t really have a lot to say they were a good band with some solid tunes. For me, Core of Nation were one of the biggest surprises of the weekend for me. They were simply stunning. Their sound was bold and atmospheric. Their songs were a doom style sound with thick riffs and a well produced tone. Every moment was packed with great songs and the outstanding musicianship. Core of Nation sparked with precision music, great riffs, well done solos and frontman, Rolf Berg’s vocals were simply breathtaking. Everything was nicely mixed and sounded great. I definitely came away from this set completely in love with their sound.

Local lads, Vice were up next on the stage. Their set was pure fire with lots of energy and tonnes of passion thrown into it. The guitar tone was crisp and the solos were coming through fast and thick. The production was clear cut and it really hit hard. Every member really brought the passion to the stage with them and the band making for a fun set that everyone was getting into. Being the hometown lads they certainly got the punters in the door and the room felt like it had that vibrant energy to it. The new album tracks went down a storm. They filled the stage and boasted an impressive stage presence. They felt so impressive and I hope they have a good future ahead. They are an excellent live and with the tunes to back it up. After a short break and turn around, we had Damaj take the stage and for the first time this weekend I was a little disappointed. OK, they’re not bad per say, but it was a little bland. The music was simply ok. From a technical standpoint they were really good. Great guitars, great flow, amazing vocals. However talent is not the same thing as quality and I just don’t think the songs were there. I’ll say this for them they had passion and were really into their songs. Yet, I just could not get into them. It all felt very generic. There wasn’t much of a bite to their sound and it left me a little cold. I’m sure there is a market for them, however, I could not get into this.

Meanwhile, on the acoustic stage. Instead of Regulus, who were unable to make it. We had Iced Earth’s, Luke Appleton performing an acoustic set. His set was beautifully put together. Luke’s vocals were really nice and he sounded great. He was very humble and his personality shone through. It made me enjoy his music even more. The sound was almost country with all the emotion in his vocals. His vocals are amazing and has a lot of power to his voice. The guitar was very simplistic but effective all of the same. A powerful set for something that was put on in such short notice. After that we were treated to the glam rock stylings of Sister Rose. I have to say the thing that caught my eye straight away was their merchandise. Bright and colourful and I think they were the only band of the weekend with something other than just t-shirts and CD’s. How was their set though? In a word… Solid. They had this fantastic glam rock sound that filled the room. The songs flowed really nicely into each other with that sleaze rock style that they make. Every tunes had this real grittiness to it, every twang of the guitar and every pulsating beat of the bass had a lot of drama in there. They definitely had a classic rock meets sleazy punk thing going on. Every second they were on stage the they just sold themselves. Somehow though, it just didn’t work for me. I don’t know, maybe because the market for this type of music has been completely oversaturated over the years and if you’re going to make this style of music you have to do something to really stand out. Unfortunately, nothing did. They were just another band. They were kind of unique for this weekend, but as for the genre in general, they’re not exactly pushing boundaries. Like I said, really good set and strong performance but I’ve just heard this type of music way too much.

 

I was slightly blown away by the technical stylings of Primitai. Every moment of their set was filled with impressive, riffs, licks, solos and powerhouse choruses. The sheer energy and intensity from them was simply brilliant. Primitai weave in and out of metal stylings like it was nothing. It was really impressive how they went from style to style like it was nothing. Every part of this performance was excellent. From the technical ability on display to their enjoyment that was blatantly apparent through their set. Again they were another one of these bands were I didn’t take notes and enjoyed the music and yeah this is great. It was amazing to watch these just show off what they can do. Songs like “Black Rider” and “Power Surge” just flowed so well out of the speakers and I loved it. Primitai were really enjoyable, just a brilliant band that have really great on stage chemistry and presence. One to check out for sure. Nothing got my blood pumping more than the heavy metal stylings of Die No More. There was so much to the set and the sound. Every song just crackled and popped with excitement and had a real power to it. They had a command of the stage and the music was tight with sharp guitar tones and a crashing beat. It was aggressive yet clean. It’s really sad that is the last show from them as I would be interested to see them again and I would recommended them. If you can, definitely check them out. They were very different from what expected and I don’t think they were explained to me quite right. They were far more heavy than I expected, which was a good thing. With a booming set of drums and well executed guitars. I really did enjoy this one. Not much to say here. Just a really fun band.

 

Over on the acoustic stage Collibus frontwoman, Gemma Fox. She played a bunch of covers from “Feels Like Making Love” by Bad Company to “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. As you can tell there quite the range of songs in the set. Gemma is known for having an amazing voice. I have heard her before with her band and I have always been blown away by her voice. Once again there was no difference here. She is absolutely stunning. Also a stripped back performance was really nice. Just and acoustic guitar and her voice and it sounded beautiful. It was simple yet effective. It was such a passionate and pure set set from Gemma. Just a nice small set from her and that was all that was needed. Up next, was a superb treat. Pythia, was incredibly impressive. It was something a little different. Having a symphonic metal band in the middle of all of the thrash, glam and NWOBHM was so refreshing for my ears. The sound was big and bold, and frontwoman, Sophie Dorman’s voice was absolutely pitch perfect. The crowd was 100% behind them and they belted out tune after tune. Songs like “Betray My Heart” were real crowd pleasers. Every element of the band just clicked and the synth and keys created this atmosphere that the metal was overlaid onto. They are a very technically gifted band and they had bundles of chemistry that you could just see click on stage. They also debuted a new song “Ancient Soul” which sounded really nice and made me excited for a new album. Pythia worked so well on this stage a I really want to see them again.


Finally on the acoustic stage today was one of my absolute favourite bands, Bad Pollyanna. I’ve heard them a few time but always in a full band. In this more stripped down acoustic performance they really stepped up to the plate. I am very familiar with there songs but usually in this loud confident style. Here these songs almost took on new meanings. This more exposed subtle sound really fitted them. Vocalist, Olivia Hyde’s voice was incredible. Such power and emotion behind her voice. The sheer passion was clear and it was matched by the harmonising vocals of Nikki Kontinen. The acoustic guitar sounded really nice and it all came together so beautifully. I loved the way they transformed their songs like “Awake Now” and “Define Me” into these deep and powerful ballads by stripping the production back. It really worked and it just made think, damn I want more Bad Pollyanna music.

 

Finishing off the day was a legend of the industry. Blaze Bayley, was so captivating. It’s clear that he’s been doing this for so long. The calm control he had on the crowd was amazing. Just the way he held himself on that stage was awesome. His voice was excellent. His band played a blinder too with Chris Appleton manning the guitar duty. He belted out riffs and solos like it was nothing. The thick tones and imposing presence,  it all felt so huge. Then you have Karl Schramm on bass and Martin McNee on drums. The two locked in together and created some amazing grooves and rhythms that got the place jamming and moving along. It was so awesome to see the connection that Blaze has to his fans and he was clearly enjoying himself as he did what he does best.

Overall it was an incredible set that blew me away. The music was great, the atmosphere was awesome and the band were relaxed and looked like they were enjoying themselves. It was a great way to end a Saturday at a festival. Bravo.

Words: Mick Birchall

Photos: Laura Piggford (LorathNahhr Photography)

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