The Rock and Bike Festival take pride in creating a festival that is fun for all ages

the Rock and Bike Fest 2014 review

published: Mon 28th Jul 2014


Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th July 2014
Carnfield Hall, Alfreton, Derbyshire, DE55 2BE, England MAP
£40 for the weekend, children under 12 free (+ booking fee)
last updated: Tue 8th Jul 2014

Rock and Bike festival is one of my personal highlights during the festival season. Admittedly in comparison to the big named festivals, Rock and Bike never have any of the legendary bands that Download or Leeds can attract. However the organisers have worked so hard at ensuring that every other aspect of the festival is at such a high level that the lack of legendary names seems to become insignificant when attending.

This year’s line up as always consisted of a herculean amount of tribute acts, Poizon, Sack Sabbath, Reckless Heart, Scopyons, and Spirit Levellers, to name a few. Then there were the bands that were the main acts - Bad Manners, Girlschool, Circus of Horrors, and Snakecharmer.

Alongside the music, there was also a Western shoot out show as well as the yearly bike and trike competition. The arena also had lots of other activities such as laser tag, archery, face painting and a cinema tent to keep the children occupied.

This year the organisers had altered the layout of the arena, the main stage and second stage were in big white marquee tents which were side by side, this made it easy to walk from stage to stage to catch most of the bands.

The arena stalls had been organised in such a way that it was very compact, again this was a huge bonus in terms of not having to walk too far away from the stages to get food or drinks. Best of all, it also meant that you were able to keep an eye on your children if they decided to play in the main arena. There was a lot of variety in the stalls this year ranging from stalls selling leather biking gear, hand knitted hats, 3d pictures, and boots, as well as the usual food and drink stalls. Which were all reasonably priced for a festival.

What really makes the Rock and Bike Festival stand out is that from the moment you arrive you are treated like a person and not just some punter who is a cash cow for the weekend. Sure, I’m aware that the organisers have to make a profit to stay in business, however rather than treating ticket holders like cattle and herding them everywhere, the security do their best to show people to the appropriate car park or camping spot, and it just had a real atmosphere of friendliness unlike most other festivals.

On the opening night, the Rock and Bike Festival usually put on a small selection of bands on the second stage to gently lead us into the rest of the weekend. Sadly the Foo Fighters tribute band were unable to play, however the rest of bands (Chase The Ace, Hot Rock, and Verbal Warning) were all able to provide a good blend of original and covered rock anthems for us to saviour throughout the sunny evening.

Friday had the classic female rock band Girlschool headlining and this appeared to be a perfect choice for the Rock and Bike Festival as they packed out the main stage marquee and put on a rather energetic high octane show. They even managed to add little bits of humour to the set with their banter to the crowd in-between songs. More importantly despite their success they did not come across as egotistical in anyway shape or form, they seemed to be extremely happy to be playing and it looked like they thoroughly enjoyed every minute of being on the stage.

Saturday had a volcanic downpour of rain which made parking incredibly difficult as numerous cars were sliding around in the muddy fields. Walking around the arena was difficult and there were times when no one would brave venturing around the arena due to the amount of mud and waterlogged areas.

Some of the highlights on Saturday were Poizon who managed to do the music of Poison justice. Then an unexpected highlight came from a tribute act called Reckless Heart who perform songs by Heart, both female vocalists in Reckless Heart are able to nail all of the songs note for note, and their version of 'Alone' is certainly one of the best cover versions I’ve heard throughout all of the years I have been attending the Rock and Bike Festival. Reckless Heart delivered an outstanding performance.

Snakecharmer were also interesting to see live because the members have played in some of the biggest rock bands around. It consists of Micky Moody and Neil Murray (Ex-Whitesnake), Adam Wakeman (Ozzy Osbourne), Laurie Wisefield (Wishbone Ash), Harry James (Thunder, Magnum) and Chris Ousey (Heartland) all combine to bring 80s twin guitar based rock back to life.

To be fair, it was near impossible for a band of that calibre not to impress the crowd at the Rock and Bike Festival. It was pure unadulterated guitar porn for the masses. They certainly proved that rock isn’t dead and buried, however despite Snakecharmers music being well written and well received by the crowd, it was only when they did covers from their previous bands that the audience really took it up a gear and sang their hearts out during 'Here I Go Again'. Snakecharmer were a perfect choice to be on high up on the bill.

However it was always going to be difficult to outshine Bad Manners, who delivered a stellar set, and despite the fact that you know what to expect from their set, they play it unashamedly the same way they always play their shows. They make no excuses for being a ska band, and their opening track “This Is Ska” leaves no one in doubt as to what Bad Manners are all about. Lead singer Buster Bloodvessel is always a force to be reckoned with, and tonight was no exception, the band ploughed through hits such as ‘Lip Up Fatty’ and ‘My Girl Lollipop’ and appeared to have brought their A game to the festival. The only downside was that due to time restrictions they had to cut their set short.

To bring the festival to a close, the Circus of Horrors took to the stage, and brought an edgy freakish twist to the festival. It is a mixture of music and some of the most jaw dropping acts of freakish mutilations and self harm that you could ever witness. I really don’t want to give too much away as it is a show that you should really see live when they next appear in a town close by. However just to give you an idea of what to expect, they had a dwarf stapling cards to his penis and attaching various items to it. They had a character that was able to insert needles through his cheeks and a contortionist who was able to contort herself out of a very small birdcage structure.

If you want to see a show that will leave you speechless then Circus of Horrors will certainly do that. It was a great way to bring the festival to a close.

This year’s Rock and Bike Festival appeared to have kept the intimacy and friendliness that makes it so special and once again was one of the highlights in the festival calendar. There aren’t many family friendly festivals and this one seems to take pride in creating a festival that is fun for all ages.

review by: Luke Seagrave

photos by: Luke Seagrave

Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th July 2014
Carnfield Hall, Alfreton, Derbyshire, DE55 2BE, England MAP
£40 for the weekend, children under 12 free (+ booking fee)
last updated: Tue 8th Jul 2014

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