Once again Rock and Bike Festival returned to the wonderful site of Carnfield Hall to bring their family friendly festival to life. Over the years Rock and Bike has slowly grown and improved bit by bit, and at long last seems to have found an idyllic setting in the grounds of the stunning Carnfield Hall.
The first thing we should mention is that it is clear that in terms of big current bands then Rock and Bike Festival score very low on that front. However this festival attempts to bring more classic bands to headline and this year fans were treated to Magnum and Big Country as the main headliners and Tigertailz as an extra sprinkling of rocktastickness. The rest of the bands were all tribute bands that covered a huge array of rock bands ranging from Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Steel Panther, Foreigner, Megadeth, Aerosmith, and Foo Fighters to name a small few.
As well as the bands, they have a plethora of motorbikes on display throughout the site, and throughout the weekend the bikes are judged and given awards on the Saturday.
This year the organisers had decided to stick with the two marquees near to each other (could easily walk from one to the other within two minutes) and a bar at the side of the marquee which was a nice touch, especially as the crowds became bigger towards the headline acts. There was also a food court as soon you walked out of the marquees and a wide selection of food stalls to choose from. Depending on which type of food you were having it ranged from around £6-£7 for items such as noodles, Pizza, Curry. The portions were ample and it felt reasonably priced.
There were also a wide selection of stalls to walk around and spend your hard earned cash. There was even a Western Shoot out set which would host gun fighting shows. There were fair rides to keep the younger people happy too.
Rock and Bike excel at being family friendly, and unlike other "big" festivals, the security here seem to be keen to ensure you have a good time without being overpowering. From the moment you arrive on site, the staff who man the car park are always cheerful and happy to point you in the right direction. All the staff appear to be hell bent on ensuring that the punters who are attending have an incredible time.
Some of the musical highlights over the weekend were Tigertailz, who had a primetime slot straight after Magnum. Now Magnum put on a world class show, and so it was no easy feat to follow them, however Tigertailz brought their brand of unique rock music to the masses and belted their songs out with the obligatory 80s stereotypical rock guitarist poses throughout the set. Vocalist Rob Wylde managed to keep the audience captivated with his incredible stage presence and no nonsense performance. Like true professionals they let their music do the talking. Judging by the crowd’s reaction it was greatly appreciated.
As previously mentioned Magnum were the headliners and deservedly so. Whilst on stage the band appeared to be in good spirits and just ploughed through their set with ease whilst the crowd lapped up every song. The band opened with 'Live 'til You Die' taken from their most recent album 'Escape From the Shadow Garden'. Vocalist Bob Catley kept the high octane pace going as he bounced around the stage whilst bombarding the fans with songs such as 'Black Skies' and “Kingdom of Madness'. Despite their only being two original members (Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin) the band were tighter than a ducks arse and played with laser precision. When it comes to playing live Magnum are a force to be reckoned with.
One band that stood out amongst all of the tribute bands were Megadeth UK. They did a wonderful job of sounding similar to Megadeth and bring tracks such as 'Skin O'My Teeth' and 'Holy Wars' to life. Due to time constraints Megadeth UK had to cut their set list short, but they had managed to win the crowd over with astounding covers of 'Symphony of Destruction' and 'Peace sells… but who’s buying?' Megadeth UK are a great alternative for any fan of Megadeth who want to get their fix of Dave Mustaine’s brand of rock music.
Bon Jovi UK not only sounded like the rock legends but they attempt to look like their idols too. To be fair they manage to pull this off without looking tacky. All of the big anthems were played as you would expect from a real Bon Jovi show. Again this tribute band are certainly talented and are a good substitute for the real thing.
Big Country was the other headline act this year. This band have altered their line up so many times that it is hard to keep track of who is in the band. Their original vocalist (Stuart Adamson) passed away in 2001. So the band certainly needed to replace him. However over the years the line-up has almost morphed into a tribute band to itself with only one original member (Bruce Watson) still in the band. Their drummer Mark Brzezicki has been with the band since 1981 but was not the original drummer. Their bassist Derek Forbes left earlier this year and lead vocalist (Simon Hough) has only been with the band since 2013.
Regardless of who is currently in the band, their blend of upbeat melodic style of rock appeared to be a crowd pleaser. Big Country appeared to know which buttons to press to win the punters over. They were worthy of having a headline slot and demonstrated why they are still able to keep on going after all of these years.
Overall, the Rock and Bike Festival appear to have catered for music lovers who want to have good value for money. Just to compare the prices for Rock and Bike it is usually £40 for a full weekend ticket if brought in advance, where as a festival like Download costs £215 for a weekend ticket. Admittedly you get the legendary rock bands at Download. However if it is a weekend of good music and an enjoyable festival atmosphere at a reasonable price that you are after then Rock and Bike excels at meeting that criteria. Roll on Rock and Bike 2016…
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