Saturday, June 27th, 2015
GARAGE DAYZ RE-VISITED
The Garage, London, United Kingdom
When we saw the bill of this new festival with DEEP MACHINE, JAGUAR and WITCHFYNDE, we already decided we would go. Where else can you celebrate a good NWOBHM festival other than in the capitol of England, London? We have never been in The Garage before, but this is the ultimate opportunity to check out this venue. On Friday, we had a nice evening out with BITCHES SIN / FLASHPOINT guitar player Ian Toomey, which was a good start for this NWOBHM weekend. His new solo CD “Ascension” is out now and it sounds excellent. After that night, I know all the ins and outs of the album and the recording sessions and of course we also had some nice food at a restaurant, called TIGER TIGER in the Haymarket in London. However, I think you won’t be interested in my favorite kind of food, so let’s talk about some music here....
On Saturday, we start our day with good breakfast, because we have a long day ahead of us. A bill with only winners and no fillers. DEEP MACHINE couldn’t make it, but they were being replaced by ‘the other DEEP MACHINE’, a band called THE DEEP, which is in fact a resurrection of the eighties version of DEEP MACHINE. Three out of five members were in DEEP MACHINE, when they attacked club Dynamo in 1982. JAGUAR unfortunately also had to cancel their gig today. Jamie Manton, their singer, has left the band and no replacement has been found in time. A dirty shame, but what can we do? Who can replace Jamie on such short notice, not me, I’m afraid. I could do it as last band on the bill, to get the hall cleared as quickly as possible, but I think that wasn’t the idea of it all. What’s left are seven bands on a bill, that only will exist in your wildest dreams. THE DEEP, with three original DEEP MACHINE members, TYSONDOG, SAVAGE, DESOLATION ANGELS (who I’ve never seen before!), WITCHFYNDE, TOKYO BLADE and headliners TYGERS OF PAN TANG. Need I say more? Guess not, and as a cherry on the cake the bands will be announced by THE V / BENEDICTUM front lady Veronica Freeman. If the sun doesn’t get you any hotter, Veronica will, I guess.
Let’s start at the very beginning here. It’s about an hour walk from our hotel to The Garage. We call it a short sightseeing trip, because when will you be able to see this area so detailed? Never, so we took this opportunity to enjoy this good, long walk. We arrived perfectly in time at a few minutes before twelve. We were still waiting outside, when our good friends Eddy and Christine also arrived from their hotel. Photo and press pass were arranged perfectly alright, so let’s see what the Garage has to offer us. The hall is huge and it has a nice large stage and a bar opposite the stage. A great looking hall, but bloody hot too, which is a minor detail. Hopefully, it wouldn’t bother the bands on stage that much. It’s time to collect my t-shirt, a nice souvenir from this festival. Now the only thing, that are missing are the bands on stage, so let the show begin!
THE DEEP takes the challenge and starts their set with “Premonition”. I already wrote about this band at their gig at Very ‘Eavy in Stadskanaal (NL) this year. After hearing their album a couple of times, I am still deeply impressed about what this band has got to offer, especially in a live situation. Mick Feleppa already warms up his fingers with some superb guitar licks and Tony Coldham’s voice is in perfect shape. What a marvelous sound! “Spellbound” is on next and with “The Rider”, the band takes us back to the early eighties, when this exciting track was written. Old school fans of the band sing the lyrics word for word. It sounds a bit like “Space Station No. 5” by MONTROSE, which is also a great rock song that I L-O-V-E. “All I Want” follows and for a moment my mind goes out to “Holy Diver” of DIO. “The Stalker” is next on the list and Tony takes the opportunity to introduce the band to us. I think, that the band has gained a lot of fans with this great performance. They play a killer show, that continues with “Out Of Touch”. Paul Smith does the intro of “Turn Me Loose”, and right after that, the band slows things down a bit with “When The Rains Came”. THE DEEP is having a great sound and they want to continue their set with yet another classic, but all of a sudden they get a sign that their time is up. Wow, what a shame! But this was an awesome start of a band, that can’t go wrong. Five very gifted musicians showing their skills and astonish many people with a great live set here. Luckily they didn’t give us a knock-out punch that early, but it did get very close to that. Both thumbs up for this marvelous band, of which we will definitely hear much more in the near future.
We’re still standing and ready to have a crusty bite of TYSONDOG’s sound next. Did I mention already, that it was steaming hot in the Garage? TYSONDOG is on next, another band that we saw at Very ‘Eavy, a couple of months ago. I must admit, that they sounded good that day, but somehow they didn’t really convince me. Maybe it was because the rest of the line-up was simply superior to these rockers, whom I saw a couple of times in the eighties as well. Their set of today would be focused on their new album “Cry Havoc”, which sounds very nice. Veronica Freeman was not in sight yet, so the band was being announced by Metal Priestess Dawn King. When the band opens with “Hammerhead”, they know to catch my full attention. Their no-nonsense rock and roll grabbed me by the balls this time and it was freaking hot already. But hey, that’s the way it goes sometimes. A great deal of the set is taken from the new album and “Into The Void” is the first song from that. The band mixes it very nicely with old stuff though like “Blood Money” from their 1986 album “Crimes Of Insanity”. While title track “Cry Havoc” is on next. The new album bleeds war and the band adds some special power to this song, so it convinces more. “Painted Heroes” is from the band’s debut album “Beware Of The Dog” from 1984. Their NWOBHM sound was loved by the masses these days, but this performance made you sweat too, simply because the new songs blend very well with the old ones. “Shadow Of The Beast” contains some very nice twin guitar work and with “Taste The Hate” we have arrived to the last part of this very powerful set. These dogs bite and needless to say, that they bark out loud during their show. It’s so good to see that they survived..
SAVAGE is next on the bill and this band also showed their skills at the Very ‘Eavy recently (that’s one year ago!). Back then, they played the whole “Loose ‘N’ Lethal” album and the crowd ate out of their hands. Today they would present us a few new tracks, so was being announced on their Facebook pages. That would be nice, as long as they would play the old classics as well and Andy Dawson keeps on torturing his Flying V, everything is fine with me. And he did, I can assure you that much. Dawn comes over from her desk again to announce the band. Veronica Freeman is still not in the house. Boy, she misses a lot. SAVAGE opens with “The Rage Within” from their most recent release “Sons Of Malice” from 2012. “Lock ‘N’ Load” comes directly thereafter and the first new song sounds pretty brilliant in my opinion. “I Am The Law” (no, not the ANTHRAX classic!) is another newbie and the reactions are pretty positive, I’d say. “Empire Of Hate” and “Super Spy” are two more new tracks and when the band continues with “On The Rocks” from their debut album, The Garage explodes from excitement. Despite all the positive comments I hear about the recent live shows of SAVAGE, the old songs are still the crowd’s favorite and tonight was no exception. The band seems to enjoy the reactions of the audience and with “White Hot”, the old days relive. In “The China Run”, Andy Dawson throws in some recognizable Michael Schenker poses and the ditto solos are a joy for ear and eye. He remains a killer guitar player and I am still proud to have had the privilege of doing an interview with him for Snakepit, years and years ago. “Ain’t No Fit Place” is on next and the excitement grows. The best is saved for last with a stunning version of “Let It Loose”, the song which METALLICA was allowed to cover on their “Hit The Lights” demo. I wonder what happened to these Bay Area Rockers (lol). This band rocks like hell and the new songs promise a lot for the future, although the old tracks still rule. Today we gladly received the best of both worlds.
DESOLATION ANGELS is a band, that I’ve never seen before, as far as I can recall. The new songs on the “Sweeter The Meat” album taste fine, but the cover of their debut full-length album “Desolation Angels” always remains a cult piece. It’s the Grim Reaper having a ride on Pegazus. Need I say more? The band was originally based in London and then made a move to the U.S.A. A few years after, they moved back to England and disbanded until 2012, when they decided to reform again with the two guitar players as original members. A mix of old and new stuff was on their rather short set list. When Dawn enters the stage, we know that the fire is about to burn and the Angels will arrive. But where is Veronica? I bet she took a Dutch train, because they never ride on time. The “Intro” gets the show going with the sound of “Spirit Of The Deep”, but the band opens with “Sweeter The Meat”. The mix of old and new songs also works with this band, like SAVAGE and TYSONDOG. The new tracks deserve the respect from the audience, while the oldies get the best response. “Fury” is taken from the second full-length album “While The Flame Still Burns”, which was originally released on tape only. Maybe I have to explain the word ‘cassette’ or ‘tape’ to some of the young readers here? Nah, it would be too much trouble for something that most of the visitors today will sound like music to their ears. Many fans will have loads of cassettes/tapes in their music collection, I guess. And they will know the song from the excellent compilation box “Feels Like Thunder”, I guess. If you don’t have this item in your collection, don’t read any further and purchase it immediately before reading on. “Dance Of The Demons” makes me even more sweaty, ah these good old days! With “Archangel” and “Medusa”, the band shows, that the new material is well worth checking out. “Only Time Will Tell” also comes from that second album, which didn’t really get the airplay it deserved. The songs stood the test of time for me, that’s for sure. But despite of it all, nothing can top the material from that debut album. And with that in mind the band closes their set this afternoon with “Valhalla”, which the crowd sings along to word for word (well, at least some did!). It becomes the perfect closure of a great set. The Grim Reaper and Pegazus have reached their destination, which is ‘Valhalla’. A nice way of getting to know a band, that I’d never seen before.
Right after the show of The Angels, we ran to the other side of the street, because this was the ultimate opportunity to have a quick bite and be in the hall just before they’d close the door for the public at six. After that, the security wouldn’t allow you anymore to chill outside. The chicken wrap was very tasty and when we returned, we still had a few moments before that very moment would occur, where we had all been waiting for, the gig of WITCHFYNDE!
It has been a couple of years ago, since we saw the band play at Roadburn in Tilburg. I am a true die-hard fan of this band. These guys play music and they don’t just bash loud on drums and riff the guitar as wild as they can. On the contrary, if you have a good listen to their latest release for example, you’ll get a good idea of what I mean. The music on “The Lost Tapes of 1975” shows, that these guys were progressive in their early days. Sometimes they even sounded like the good old JETHRO TULL with a thick dark occult shell around it. Guitar player Montalo is fast and technically very well educated and he’s being influenced by big names like Randy Rhoads and Ritchie Blackmore, at least in my opinion. Their dark occult image returns at their shows in a very subtle way. The black candles were lit before the show starts and to me the adrenaline starts to flow already by the sight of this. In a few moments, the band will climb on stage and perform a rock show, that will please all the attendees tonight. Occult and dark with nothing more than three black candles to create the right atmosphere. No pints of goat blood are being poured out over you and neither you will be looking at masked band members or any form of other corpse paint. Even their logo is easy to read and not a labyrinth of lines, that could mean any name you had in mind, but is simply unreadable. Subtleness and the magic touch of five gifted musicians will guide you through a full witching hour of NWOBHM tonight. Dawn, where are you, when we need you?!? Oh, there she comes, this time introducing us to……Veronica Freeman. The well voiced, good looking and charming lady from BENEDICTUM climbs on stage and gives her best introduction to WITCHFYNDE, after disappearing in only a couple of seconds again. I bet, she was frightened that Luther would turn her into a frog with one of his magic spells. Luther is in a good mood today though, in his long, warm, leather coat. It must be a very limited edition coat for it was numbered. Luther had number 666, which must have been a coincidence. (lol) Before I go into more details, I will introduce the new member first. A young Witchfinder, that goes by the name of Trace Abbot has been added to the line-up as an extra (rhythm) guitar player. Welcome to the club, Trace. This axe master comes from the NWOBHM band OVERDRIVE, in case you wondered. The kick off song is a knock-out punch already, because ask the average visitor of this festival what his or her favorite WITCHFYNDE song is and more than eighty percent will answer this question with “Give ‘Em Hell”. What a great way to start your show! Now you definitely have the attention of the whole crowd. In fact, “Gettin’ Heavy” is the description of what they’re doing next. They grind down the place for those of them, who are still standing after this first ear attack. During the introduction of “Moon Magic”, Luther looks up very surprised, when he sees drummer Gra Scoresby pass by him with a cymbal in his hand. The look upon his face is priceless. It’s like he would say: ‘Aren’t you supposed to sit after my back right now?’ Some trouble with his kit, but Gra is ready for the job, when “Moon Magic” starts off. Another highlight follows, when Luther announces that they won’t play “Leaving Nadir” tonight. Guess, which song is on next?! “Leaving Nadir” has always been a crowd’s favorite and tonight is not different. The band is at full steam by now and they dedicate “Conspiracy” to Ronnie James Dio. If someone deserves it, it’s the old RAINBOW, DIO, ELF, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN AND HELL vocalist. A big inspiration for this band too, I guess. “Stab In The Back” is on next and when I focus myself on the guitar playing of Montalo, I get the shivers running down my spine. What an awesome guitar player he is. Especially in the longer solo parts, he really freaks out and gives it some extra speed and power at the end of the solo. It’s in one word mindblowingbreathtakingskullf*ckingawesomebeyondbeliefextracoolamazingloudblastingeardestroyingoverthetopsuperduperwildneatexcitingnotofthisworldultraloudandmegagood (put this on a Scrabble board and you’re the winner!!) And the excitement grows with the title tracks of the second and the third album coming on next. In reverse follow up as they were originally on the set list, but I think that nobody gives a damn at that very moment. In “Cloak And Dagger”, Luther gets some help from the audience, who sing along to the song. Not that he needs it, but the fans are wild and excited and the atmosphere in the hall, despite the high temperatures, is just perfect. It must have been a nice birthday gift for bass player Pete ‘Thud’ Surgey, who likes to celebrate his birthday among friends, I guess. He has invited a lot of people to his party and they all sang this song for him. A very emotional moment has come, when Luther announces and dedicates “Stagefright”, one of my favorite WITCHFYNDE songs, to my lovely wife Rita, who is right in front of him in the photo pit. The song is performed in the best way imaginable with that dark touch that makes it sound so special to us. Wow, amazing!! One more time they unleash their energy with the last track of the evening “I’d Rather Go Wild”. Shivers again, I can’t do anything about it. The band takes a bow, thanks the audience and off they go, not realizing, that they have just played one of the most marvelous gigs I’ve seen from them so far. Of course they have to return for an encore. Every song would have been perfect for me, because the list already had everything, that I wanted to hear. “Crystal Gazing” off the “Cloak And Dagger” album is a very nice choice. It’s a song you don’t hear that much and a perfect salute to all the die-hard fans of the band, that came to hear something special and surprising. One more time Montalo gets a grip of his string and bends them like Beckham. Happy, happy, happy, joy, joy, joy and we can go home now, because a show like that is impossible to top. The black candle lights go out and are thrown into the hall as a trophy for those who caught them. Before the next gig takes place, Montalo comes in the hall and personally thanks us for coming over tonight and then they disappear into the night again…..like witchfinders tend to do. They gave ‘em hell and I can only bow deep for this amazing band, that put on an extraordinary show. A deep bow for you, my friends, until my back hurts!!
TOKYO BLADE is next and they also played at the Very ‘Eavy festival, in fact at this year’s edition. But first we’ll have to wait, until Veronica takes care of duties and she is ready and willing again. With a voice like that, she can change from shy and soft to brutal and growling, she announces TOKYO BLADE, a band that reincarnated several times from their former beings like WHITE DIAMOND, KILLER and GENGHIS KAHN. The tandem Boulton // Wiggins is in the NWOBHM scene mentioned next to Murray // Smith, Ramsey // Tippins and Toomey // Toomey (for the fine tasters among us!) and this evening the magical twin guitar axe masters are ready for action again. “Someone To Love” is the opener of tonight’s show. It’s good to see, that their American singer Chris Gillen is still aboard on the TOKYO BLADE ship, because he’s a killer vocalist and a very friendly guy. “Death On Main Street” gets the party going. It seems, that the show goes a bit more fluently today because at Very ‘Eavy they had a slow start. This time they play to kill with “Dead Of The Night” being next. The first twin solos come out nicely and they are divided equally, but Andy profiles himself more as the solo guitarist today. “Always” is next and with “Lightning Strikes”, the amazing debut album gets the first airplay tonight. My copy turned out grey, almost transparent, especially the opener “Power Games”, which they rarely play live, unfortunately. This is definitely one of the better NWOBHM albums. A great deal of songs tonight have been taken from the first two albums of the band, so their gig becomes a feast of recognition for yours truly. “Meanstreak” and Love Struck” are on next. The jukebox is unstoppable right now. The crowd is singing along to every song and by the smile on their faces you can see, that the band is enjoying the show as much as the audience does. Especially the interaction between the two guitarists is very special. They seem to lift each other up to a higher level. “Sunrise In Tokyo” appears in the list of highlights for me. An excellent song with the sound of IRON MAIDEN as some kind of blueprint to it and you simply can’t go wrong with a classic like that. “Night Of The Blade” is another chance to sing your lungs out. Another highlight follows with the mighty “If Heaven Is Hell”. What an amazing show! This simply calls for an encore, guys! And we get one more song after that. “Long Live Rock And Roll” is a tribute to Ronnie James Dio and tonight is the perfect occasion to crank this classic rocker out. I raise my sword to the five guys with the blade from the capitol of the land of the rising sun (I’m talking to speak in riddles after such a great performance I’m afraid and I haven’t even touched the bottle!). After this, the prices of the lottery are reached out and for me it’s time to visit the merchandise room at the entrance hall one more time. But the temperatures there are even higher than in the hall itself. One more band to go and this magnificent day of NWOBHM is over again. But not before the TYGERS have roared from out of their cage. Unleash these blood thirsty beasts and let them rip, do it now!!!
What? No Veronica on stage? This band simply doesn’t need an introduction, the TYGERS OF PAN TANG are ‘Wild Catz’ and with “Gangland”, they rip the Garage apart and lift off the roof. This has always been one of my personal faves, although it’s not from their debut album, which remains lonely at the top for me as one of the better NWOBHM releases. The raw power and great songs turn this into a classic, that every devoted metal head should have in his (or her) collection. “Love Don’t Stay” gives the fans a chance to take a deep breath. The day has been long and exciting, but the fans are wild and they want to give their best as the final band of the evening. “Rock Candy” is a track from the more recent TYGERS releases. In the set, they’ve also put in some medleys, simply because they have so many songs to choose from. You have to make choices and you can’t please every fan, but by putting two or three songs in a medley, you can add more songs to your gig. The first medley starts with a newer track called “She” from the most recent album “Ambush”, released in 2012. Soon they switch to “Paris By Air” and a good portion of “Euthanasia” is on next. More medleys will follow later on. No, let me rephrase that: they continue their show with a second medley starting with a golden oldie called “Killers”, followed by “Slave To Freedom”, which singer Jacopo already mentioned in an earlier show at Mario’s in Tilburg, Holland, that he would learn this track by heart, so they could add it to their set. The start of the resurrection of “Slave” is there. The last track in this second medley is “Rock ‘N’ Roll Man”, which gets a longer portion. The magic riffs keep coming and next on the list is “Keeping Me Alive”. The last medley is for two golden oldies from the very early days, when these full grown tigers were still young kittens. “Insanity” about the lunatics in the house tonight (count me in) and “Suzie Smiled” (and she was not the only one). And if you think that the surprises are over for tonight, you’re ever so wrong. Robb Weir empties his high hat by taking out one more trick, that nobody has expected, I guess. Veronica Freeman is asked to come on stage and she will sing a duet with Jacopo. Together they take us back to the very early days of the Tygers, when they were still innocent kittens. Veronica has passed that stage, she was a kitten once, but I’m afraid she has never been so innocent. “Don’t Touch Me There” isn’t only a great golden oldie, but also a song with a high tongue-in-cheek level. That went freaking fabulous, by the way. The question, which song the crowd wants to hear “Hellbound” or “Love Potion No 9”, the answer is unanimous: “Hellbound”! That’s what they want! One more time the amps go to eleven and the TYGERS wave us goodbye with “Hellbound”. Two of my favorite songs were left out, namely “Never Satisfied” and “Raised On Rock”. Why? On an evening like that, where seven great NWOBHM bands are on the bill, you will never get me satisfied and I am always dying for more. And why is that? I was raised on rock, just like anybody else that was here tonight. Despite the two songs missing, I really had a blast with the Tygers and what a shame, that the night was already over after this. We had a great time and after the gig, it was time for an hour walk back to the hotel. But first the organizers of this festival said goodbye to the audience and they can be proud of what they’ve achieved here today. I’m already looking forward to the bill of next year. What can we expect? VIRTUE, DERVISH, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, MENDES PREY, WHITE SPIRIT, A//Z, BUDGIE and ARAGON are high on my wants list, but any other band will do of course. As long as the atmosphere is the same as today, I’m in for everything. The garage days are back, and we were proud to be part of it. What a marvelous night. Take care Paul, Deb and Andy, thank you ever so much for your hospitality and the awesome festival. Hope to see you back next year.
P.S. In the meantime, the bill of the 2016 line-up of Garage Dayz Revisited is complete and it will be magic again with WARRIOR, TYTAN, CHARIOT, JAGUAR, BLITZKRIEG and QUARTZ. Mark your calendar and see you there. We will hopefully be standing in the first ranks again. The Garage Dayz are back, long live the Garage Dayz. \m/ \m/
*Written by: Toine van Poorten/August 2015
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten/www.metalmaidens.com