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  • Melanie Henderson

New Wave of Classic Rock Webfest 4: Part 2

Kicking off part two of the proceedings, Newcastle quintet Fallen Mafia nearly succeed in blowing the roof off the Black Bull pub, where they’ve been filmed. They’re dark, angry and passionate, not least because of frontwoman Hannah Neil’s powertastic delivery. And they have a whole bunch of varied and accomplished songs.

And from there to the most rock n’ roll advert for quality laundry powder ever, with the lads from Devon’s Firekind sporting spotless white tees as fresh as their modern rock brand. Showcasing some of the best of epic debut album What I Have Found is Already Lost, brothers Jas (vocals and guitar) and Dan (bass) Morris prove themselves a formidable live combo, bolstered by new drummer Robin Shute (the only one sporting a V-neck but, hey, it gets sweaty back there). The outstanding melodic power of the album is only enhanced in performance: the set climaxes with the enormous Sound of Rain and you can’t help thinking that if word domination doesn’t lie round the corner for this trio then the earth is very probably flat.

The award for the most fun-filled set of the day, however, must go to Netherlands four-piece The Dirty Denims. They describe themselves as a ‘hard, happy rock band’ and they’re not wrong. Brilliantly cartoonish – singer Mirjam Sieben sports the most fantastic pink zip-up playsuit – and merrily tongue-in-cheek, they fuse hues of Joan Jett, Kiss and AC/DC – but mostly AC/DC. They might be comprised of “two rock chicks and two rock dudes” but Abba they ain’t. It’s the very best kind of bar-room rock, delivered with huge aplomb. You really just want to be in that bar.

Time, after that, for blues meets folk meets something a little more psychedelic with Wille and the Bandits, complete with circular Seventies carpet, a swirly-shirted Wille Edwards up front and enough organ, percussion, lap steel and infectious jamming to get the party going. In numbers like Victim of the Night you can almost catch hints of Sultans of Swing era Dire Straits. But elsewhere the sound is eclectic, energetic and ultimately all their own.

Wolf Jaw, from the West Country (originally Bad Flower) bring in dark and moody waters with their beefed-up, stripped-back aggression, frontman Tom Leighton not only producing huge vocals but highly impressive guitar. Sometimes, you feel there’s something missing with a trio, but far from it here. This is sultry, multi-dimensional, blues-tinged rock with serrated edges. Consider yourself eviscerated.

From there to a great set of good-time rock that seems to channel the spirit of Stevie Ray Vaughn with London’s Trident Waters. They cruise along, dialling it into angstier territory as they go. This is a professional, well-rehearsed unit that can’t fail to go down a storm.

And then, the mighty Hollowstar. Now, here’s a band that know what they’re all about. A band where everything just seems to work. And despite their already impressive clutch of songs, they don’t rest on their laurels: their work ethic shines right through. Vocalist Joe Bonson fosters love and harmony, telling us to put our arms around the people in our bubbles and offering the emotional Feel the Burn to anyone ‘stuck in their bubble on their own.’ It’s a thoroughly classy performance, highlighting the strength of material like Think of Me and Good Man Gone. And there’s even a proper light show.

King Creature’s material was filmed at a recent socially distant gig and it’s a truly strange sight. But this full-on, classic metal outfit doesn’t let the lack of bodies stop them. With a new album out now, these noise merchants are a force to be reckoned with. One day, it’ll be packed arenas instead of sparsely populated car parks.

At this point, it’s probably worth pointing out the advantages of the endurance event live stream. Just think of how wet and muddy you might have been wandering round and round a festival site, probably not getting to see the bands you actually wanted to see anyway. And you can even zip over to California, where you can find the most exquisitely played Americana – with definite offshoots of jazz – from Robert Jon and the Wreck. They’ve been around since 2011 but are yet to fully infiltrate these shores. There are delicious harmonies, mind-blowing guitar, lush keyboards, and terrific drumming. And easy, instantly likeable delivery from Robert Jon himself. It’s terrific stuff from a band that would no doubt happily jam away into the night.

And finally, to Myke Gray, with a set filmed at KK’s Steel Mill. What can you say about this man? It’s easy to forget just how many loveable rock songs he’s been responsible for from days in Skin, Jagged Edge and Red, White and Blues. Now with his own project Shades of Gray, he’s as full of creative vision as he’s ever been. This set is, frankly, your luxury model of melodic rock – a Rolls Royce affair featuring prestige components from his cachet, including Skin favourites Tower of Strength and Look But Don’t Touch. On vocals is Revival Black’s Daniel Byrne, no rock poser but a singer with more than enough range and power to carry off these big, big cuts.

If the sight of Myke cradling his white Flying Vee doesn’t give us hope, then nothing much will.

The famous (Emily Dickinson) poem calls hope a thing with feathers. But no. Hope is most definitely guitar-shaped and it sounds louder and prouder than ever.

The New Wave of Classic Rock Webfest 4 is still available to watch here

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