Rock and Bike Festival returned to Carnfield Hall for another weekend of bands, beer, and bikes. Firmly established on the festival calendar (started in 2004) now firmly in its teenage years ,it has blossomed into a wonderful festival.
Carnfield Hall has been their spiritual home for a few years now, so the layout had been kept almost identical to previous years which helped attendees find their way round without getting confused. This year there was an additional marquee for acoustic music. Apart from that it was the usual two huge marquees (quite simply Main Stage 1 and Stage 2) surrounded by stalls selling a range of items from the usual food and drinks to limited edition paintings of rock stars.
From the first festival all those years ago, the organisers of Rock and Bike Festival have kept their focus on providing a family friendly, value for money event and to be honest even at this year’s event it was clear that this is still their fundamental focus. This year the festival even had activities for children such as a stall with a parrot where you could get a photo if you so desired as well as face painting and fair rides which ensured that no matter what age you are there was something for everyone
This year’s line up included a whole plethora of tribute bands (Surreal Panther, Tom Jovi, Rainbow Rising, She’s PINK) as well as some bands that play their own original music (Neck, The Quireboys, The Macc Lads and Toyah Wilcox to name a small few) .
The opening night (Thursday) of the festival was headlined by Dr Feelgood, as in previous years the bands that appeared on the opening evening don’t always attract a large crowd, mainly due to punters either arriving late or setting up their tent on the campsite. Or possibly not arriving until the Friday. Whatever the reason it makes for a very relaxed journey into three days of rock music.
The second day was certainly a lot more crowded than the previous evening, as rock music fans descended onto the site in their droves. I‘m sure there were more denim on site than at the Levi factory.
Bands such as Rainbow Rising (tribute to Rainbow) attracted a huge crowd and created a highlight of the weekend when they belted out “Since you’ve Been Gone” with the fans joining in the singing duties whilst swaying from side to side.
The classic rock music didn’t stop there, T-Rex continued to take the pace to another level with their glam rock hits. Then the punters were faced with a dilemma with regards to which headliner to watch. On stage 1 there was Floyd in The Flesh (Pink Floyd tribute act) which had the incredible psychedelic sounds of Roger Waters, Nick Mason, David Gilmour and co. Or on stage 2 the pure high-octane rock anthems of AC/DC UK. Tough choice to make.
I opted to initially catch a little bit of Floyd in the Flesh, and the little bit I saw was impressive. They tried to make the set a visual assault on the senses as well as sounding like Pink Floyd. However due to being more of an AC/DC fan, it was only a matter of time before I made the short walk to the other stage to see AC/DC UK in full swing. Yes, all the classics were performed “Back in Black”, “Thunderstruck” and “Highway to Hell” all of which got the crowd moving like possessed billiard balls.
The third day had the results of the custom bike and trike show, as well as the tattoo competition. Once those competitions were finished, it was back to the music and some of the highlights from the final day included a band called Neck, they are a six-piece London-Irish Celtic punk band. (Think along the lines of The Levellers sprinkled with Ferocious Dog). Neck were able to impress the crowd that had made the effort to catch them in the early evening slot.
On stage 2 Surreal Panther (Tribute to Steel Panther) entertained the audience with their brand of witty banter and super slick cover versions of songs by Steel Panther. However, this year, they had decided to include other artistes in their set, so they covered Def Leppard, Van Halen and Ozzy Osbourne. Even though their cover versions of each artist were close to the real thing, it felt like their set had become too diluted. They could have covered more Steel Panther material.
Tom Jovi (Tom Jones and Bon Jovi tribute) certainly was the most memorable act of the weekend. Possibly due to the tongue in cheek banter between songs as well as the effort made to look like the real Tom Jones. It was amusing to hear Tom Jovi do a cover version of Rage Against the Machines “Killing in The Name”. However, the classic Tom Jones tracks such as “Delilah”, “Sex Bomb”, “It’s Not Unusual” and “Kiss” created a party atmosphere with everyone singing along.
She’s PINK (Pink tribute) brought a little sprinkling of pop and rock to the festival, all of the songs delivered with such attitude that it was an impressive tour de force from She’s PINK as she belted out hits such as “Just Like A Pill”.
Despite all the great bands that were performing, they were outshined by Toyah Wilcox. Over the years Toyah has made many appearances at the Rock and Bike Festival to do announcements, competitions, appearances. But this year she was performing and demonstrated that even after all these years she still has an incredible voice. This was certainly a nostalgia trip for most of the crowd who were probably not even born when Toyah had her first hit. “Echo Beach” appeared to transform the audience from hardened rockers to sweet melodic singers.
The Macc Lads brought their blend of irreverent sexual humorous music to the Rock and Bike Fest and from where I was stood it looked like they had managed to get the biggest crowd of the entire weekend.
The Quireboys made a welcome return to the Rock and Bike Festival and won over the crowd instantly with their catchy melodic rock. Hits such as “7 O’ Clock” will always be a crowd pleaser and sure enough this year was no exception. The Quireboys delivered a blistering performance and set the benchmark high for live music.
Once again, the Rock and Bike Festival delivered the goods of providing a family fun weekend with great rock music at a remarkably cheap price. Tickets with camping were £50 and day tickets were £35 with parking costing a mere £5.
If you want a weekend away with great music, a friendly atmosphere and a place where your children can be entertained without having to re-mortgage your house to cover the cost, then this is the festival for you.
Roll on Rock and Bike 2020...
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