SOS Fest 2017 – Part 2: Prestwich, UK

Sunday

Sunday at SOSfest was for my money one of the stronger days of the weekend. Starting the day were midlands grunge band Resin. Resin have undergone an almost total line-up change since I last saw them play a couple of years ago. Most interestingly they’ve added a violinist in the form of Emma from one of my all-time favourites Cadence Noir, so I was eager to see how their sound had changed since then.

Sadly, the first thing which struck me was the feedback, it was quite pervasive throughout their early set and seemed to be keeping a lot of the audience at bay, with 3 guitarists, bass player and violin it might just have been a case of a few too many strings.Once resolved they put on a set laden with slow dirty grooves and a very full grunge sound which was given a new melancholic edge by the violin, which I have to say really worked well.

A visually static & moody performance they did give the impression of being the world’s oldest teenagers, except the bass player whom my daughter was convinced was the Gruffalo. Their sound built throughout the performance and by the end they seemed to have relaxed and were enjoying themselves more.

Next up were Faith in Glory, I recently saw these supporting Blaze Bayley at Sound Control, a performance which saw them placed immediately on the SOS bill. What was immediately apparent was the huge boost in confidence that recognition has given them. Simply put they owned the stage, and really were loving every single second of it, as evidenced by the fact they didn’t actually seem to stop grinning from ear to ear. Jack Collins vocals are certainly coming along in line with their growing confidence. Their cover of ‘Blame it on the Boom Boom’ was absolutely storming. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of reviewing, getting to see the younger bands breaking through and it certainly feels that right now there’s a lot of momentum building behind.

The next two acts were those who absolutely wore their influences on their sleeves. Belgian band Eternal Breath put on a great set which had very strong overtones of Judas Priest to their sound. Energetic performances, all round, and a heartfelt tribute to Wizz Wizzard certainly won the crowd over. Next band The Deep had that look of a proper working band who just love what they do.  Good tempo, decent riffs, the Dio influence were apparent in their set, the most notable element being singer Tony Coldham who had a genuinely tremendous voice.

Next up were Kill or Cure, a band who despite only having played a handful of gigs and not even having rehearsed as a full band in the two years since they played SOS put on a fantastic show. Somewhat famous in Russia because of the earworm legend that is their cover of ‘From Paris to Berlin’ this was band that people were looking forward to, especially when said cover was played and the crowd instantly trotted out their very best boogie. They played quite a number of new tracks which instantly whetted my appetite for a new album.

Considering their lack of rehearsal, their performance was tight as anything which highlights the level of musicianship on display. There were a number of hard-core fans in the audience, I saw one guy with their logo tattooed on his neck, which for a band who rarely play live and only have one album out is a testament to their talent. Honestly, the way they play together just makes you wish that they did so far more often. I can’t wait until they play again.

Fire Red Empress kept the audience dancing along with an act which was the complete package, a good driving beat, and a great energy, their songs were catchy as anything. The real highpoint was the soaring vocals of new singer Jennifer Diehl, who is a real find for the band. Their engaging set rumbled and roared along taking the whooping audience along for the ride, which is a bit strange as you don’t tend to hear much whooping these days.

Next up on the main stage were hard rockers Fahran, who drew a big response from the crowd. Highlights of their infectious set were the great lead guitar work and the fantastic singing voice of Vocalist Matt Black. Great stage presence, huge energy and singalong choruses, they were really very good and generated a huge atmosphere within the Longfield suite.

Closing out the acoustic stage were Chris (Absolva, Blaze Bayley) and Luke Appleton (Iced Earth, Absolva). Who had less than 24 hours ago closed the main stage playing with Blaze Bayley. Local favourites they had probably the biggest crowd the acoustic stage saw. Great guitar performances of some of Chris’s solo stuff combined with Iced Earth covers saw a very enjoyable set indeed.

Next up was for me probably the bigger story of the festival a double header with Triaxis followed by Powerquest. What made this of particular note is that this may very well be Triaxis last gig, having gone through an almost total line-up change in a very short space of time they announced they were calling it a day. This gig also marked their official handover of lead guitarist Glyndwr Williams from Triaxis to the headliners Powerquest.

It was a gig of mixed emotions, Triaxis have been a much-loved band in the UK and have released some tremendous records. However, it does seem right that they lay the name to rest. The performance was as ever quite fantastic, but the dynamic on stage has changed. They’re just not the same band anymore.

Don’t get me wrong they put on a fantastic show, the guitars as ever were brilliant, and scene legend Becky Baldwin is easily one of the best bass players gigging today. New vocalist Angel Wolff-Black has a fantastic voice, more symphonic and operatic than the earthier metal style of previous vocalist Krissy Kirby. However the overall feel of the band has changed to the point whereby the style isn’t entirely Triaxis anymore. It seems like there’s a new band in there somewhere trying to make their way out.  

Whilst I find myself sadly agreeing with their decision about this being their last gig, the problem is that their performance was just so damn good, I really want to see them again. I honestly hope that they continue performing together on stage. Maybe coming together under a new name, freeing themselves from a back catalogue, write some new stuff together and develop that fledgling new style which is peeking through in their great performance.

Following on from that we have power metal-tastic Powerquest and a second set of shredding guitar from Glyn who must have fingers which have been formed on another plane of existence from regular fingers to have played two back to back sets of mind boggling guitar gymnastics.

Their set just put a huge smile on my face, the sheer enjoyment they were obviously having on stage was infectious. Every single member played their socks off, guitar solos so fast and technical they should be considered an Olympic sport; the rhythm section driving the beat home hard, keyboards providing the atmosphere and above it all some truly phenomenal vocals. They say that the best way to end any event is to leave the audience wanting more, and beyond any shadow of a doubt Powerquest did just that tonight.

And that’s it, SOS fest wrapping up its tenth year. A certain sadness amongst the festival goers, the end of SOS for another year. There are a few festivals which feel like home and SOS is definitely one of them, and the family feel of the festival rings true again. Goodbyes are made, and hugs exchanged and we depart knowing it will be a whole year until we do this again. I can’t wait to see what next year brings when SOS fest turns it up to eleven and it becomes the highlight of 2018 for myself and my daughter.

SOS FEST 2017 REVIEW PART 1

WORDS BY RICH PRICE

PHOTOS BY RICH PRICE AND HOLLY PRICE