The Rock and Bike Festival returned for its 14th year. With so many festivals disappearing it is quite an achievement to have made it to the fourteen-year mark. This year the Rock and Bike Festival appeared to have increased the number of bands that they had performing in comparison to previous years.
As with most festivals there are always last-minute changes and this year was no exception. Due to unforeseen circumstances or more specifically an injury to a band member from NECK caused the band to cancel their appearance at Rock and Bike Festival.
A line-up consisting of Big Country, Lindisfarne, Evil Scarecrow, Circus of Horrors as well as a host of tribute bands such as Van Halen UK, Floyd in the Flesh, Fleetwood Bac, and Women in Rock was enough to cater for most rock fans desires.
Thursday night appeared to be the night that was designed to be a gentle journey into the following two days, with only one stage being used for the bands.
The highlight of the opening evening was Van Halen UK, musically they were close to the real thing. Their stage antics and costumes made for an entertaining evening. Van Halen UK included all the classic anthems from Van Halen such as ‘Hot for Teacher’, ‘I Can’t Stop Lovin’ you”, and “Jump”. Sadly, the guitar cut out during “Jump”, but like true professionals they sorted the technical hitch and played the song from the point that it cut out again. Regardless of the technical issue, the audience appeared to have enjoyed the nostalgic trip back to the fun filled soft hair metal era.
Diary of a Madman (Ozzy Osbourne/Black Sabbath tribute) opened with “Crazy Train” and from there on in, they had the audience eating out of their hands. “Iron Man” got the audience swaying along and the lead singer had managed to emulate all of Ozzy’s mannerisms as well as some of the stage antics such as throwing buckets of water over the audience.
One of the things that make this festival stand out is the focus on being family friendly, with fair rides and various activities to cater for all ages. (I am sure I even saw a bubble blowing activity). The arena is small enough to allow children to wonder without too much concern. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff (even security) make it an enjoyable experience . There is no denying that the bands performing at this event are not quite as legendary as some of the bands playing at other rock festivals. Guns N Roses headlined Download as an example. However , where Rock and Bike lacks those “legendary” bands, it more than makes up for it in its value for money (£40 versus £150 for Download Festival) and stress free, laid back approach to people who attend. No issues with bringing your own chair into the arena either.
The food stalls were reasonably priced, no need to re-mortgage your house to pay for food and drinks here. If punters wanted to take a break from the listening to the bands there were plenty of stalls to have a look around and purchase clothing, and unique gifts or even have a tattoo.
Throughout the weekend there are other events that take place to keep people entertained, there was the custom bike show, which is an integral part of the Rock and Bike Festival, Tattoo competitions, Burlesque show and pole dancers.
With so much to do there was never a dull moment, however due to the weather being extremely warm, most people decided to stay under the shade of one of the main stage tents.
All the bands on this year’s line-up were very talented at emulating the artistes that they were paying tribute to.
Some of the bands that were impressive included Surreal Panther, who did a fantastic job of belting out the songs of Steel Panther, however it was the banter in between songs between the lead singer and audience that made this performance so memorable. (This tribute band should come with a sexually explicit warning).
Gallus Cooper were able to get the crowd singing and swaying along to some of Alice Coopers classic anthems “Poison”, “Schools Out” and even an incredible cover version of “Only Women Bleed”, the stage antics were very similar to what you would expect from a real Alice Cooper show.
Women in Rock is a female fronted band that cover some of the biggest rock songs such as “Barracuda”, “Total Eclipse of The Heart”, and “Nutbush City limits”, a great sing along rock anthem fuelled set. Fronted by two female singers. Vocalist Emily Clark, formerly of the cult musical “ Vampires Rock” was able to impress the crowd with her powerful vocals, which worked well alongside the other vocalist (Jennifer Greene) who was able to hit the notes with laser like precision.
As well as having a truck load of tribute bands, some of the bands on the bill were non-tribute bands such as Big Country who were able to invoke a sense of nostalgia with their set. “Look Away” created a wave of energy as the audience started singing and dancing along.
Evil Scarecrow were another band that were armed with their own original songs. Their brand of parody rock infused with surreal lyrics gained possibly the biggest crowd of the weekend. They appear to have a huge following. The audience participation was in full swing for “Crabulon”. The crowd put their hands up as if they were crab claws as well as walking sideways for a few steps to simulate a crab walk.
Fleetwood Bac had the honour of headlining the final night of the Rock and Bike Festival and even though some fans may have been doubting the logic of having them as headliners. By the end of the set they had won over everyone in the tent, closing their set with “Go Your Own Way”. A truly worthy headline act for this festival.
As well as the bands, the Circus of Horrors made a welcome return to the Rock and Bike festival. With their brand of music and disturbing performances of classic circus acts.
This years Rock and Bike festival was an absolute delight, after fourteen years in the making it feels like they have reached that perfect mix of just the right number of bands with enough activities to do throughout the weekend to keep punters entertained throughout. Fingers crossed that the organisers don’t alter this recipe for success too much over the next few years. A great family friendly festival with great music and superb value for money.
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