A New Day Festival - Day 1
Friday 18th August 2023
Mt Ephraim Gardens, Faversham
"More than half a month’s rain could fall across the South of England on Friday, which could lead to “a few homes and businesses” being flooded, the Met Office has warned." Not great news as we prepared to drive down to Kent's beautiful Mt Ephraim Gardens, Faversham, for the first day of this year's 2022 WRC Award winning A New Day Festival, particularly as a midday thunderstorm was also predicted! As it so happened, personal circumstances dictated that we were delayed, but after an hour's drive down the M2, we arrived at this very well organised festival's car park, and despite a few initial spits and spots, the temperature was a very comfortable 72 degrees or so.
Indeed, it's a wonderful setting for this three day festival, comprising of multiple genres. A real musical pick 'n' mix, today there were eleven bands spread over the two stages, the perfect itinerary meaning that you had time to walk back and forth with enough time to grab one of the many great beers on tap, sample the array of delicious food that was available or just simply avail of a welcome comfort break.
After a warm welcome from AND organisers Frank And Dave, Les (our intrepid photographer) and I made our way down the hill to the smaller Patron Stage to see the Kent Art Rock band Disco Drug Store, where we immediately exchanged man hugs with festival stalwarts Mr. Green and Mr. Orange, who were bopping away to the band's eclectic mix of music with a Techno-Punk vibe. The introduction of new firework pyrotechnics, plus Les's favourite, the exploding bubble machine, added to the early afternoon party atmosphere, that saw the place jumpin'. Watch out for them next month when they play up the road at Tonbridge's Hop Farm.
What a great start to proceedings, although, unfortunately, we had missed festival openers, Bushfieldsmith, on the Canterbury Ales Stage, but we did hear very complimentary reports in dispatches from other festival goers during the afternoon, on this trio of outstandingly talented singer/songwriters from Banbury. Although it was time now for our first visit to the aforementioned larger stage and festival favourites, Leatherat, purveyors of hi-octane Folk-Rock.
With the sun trying to come out, we had a Phoenix Nights senior moment as the MC forgot the band's name, although by the end of the set, we hadn't, as the band formed in 2005, unapologetically delivered their original material, with fiery passion, as the six-piece act played a blend of the traditional, canvassed on a wall of Rock. Stand-outs were 'Set My Soul On Fire' with its Caravan violin vibe and Irish jig slant, the Jethro Tull influenced new song, 'Today's Past', plus a beautiful snippet of 'Over The Rainbow. In summary a delightful musical smorgasbord from real characters akin to that politically correct version of Phoenix Nights Folk band, Half A Shilling, including an amazing jam plus a Lizzy/Ash like dual guitar attack that had them dancing in the aisles, or in today's case, down the front of the stage.
Touring throughout the year to promote their brand-new forthcoming genre defining album, ‘Duende A Go Go Loco', that's due out via Earache Records on Friday 3rd November, next up on the Patron Stage were "The World's Greatest Flamenco Punk Glam Rock band Ever!", Gypsy Pistoleros! The curse of mics struck again as the MC welcomed the face-painted quartet with shouts of "turn your microphone on John!" This unique mongrel offspring from Worcester, follow in the best Rock 'n' Roll tradition, with big hooks, attitude and sleaze, plus a big helping of taco banter from frontman Lee-Mark Jones. Faster than Speedy Gonzalez, they ripped through their energetic and well received set including their recent anthemic single and 70's Glamtastic Romp, ‘What's it like to be a Girl!’, their cowboy whistling song, 'Bandido', that was like riding a horse that had bolted, plus the Pulp Fiction like, foot tapping stormer, 'Pistolero'. The Peaky Blinders inspired, 'The Ballad Of Tommy Shelby', plus innovative covers of both Livin' La Vida Loca', including some amusing crowd interaction, and their forthcoming single, 'Come On Eileen', rounded off a very enjoyable 45 minute set, placing a well deserved smile on many faces.
Nailing the eclectic nature of the Festival on The Canterbury Ales Stage were Avawaves, consisting of prolific violinist Anna Phoebe, from just up the road in Deal, and pianist/producer Aisling Brouwer from Berlin. Rooted in cinematic narratives, evoking emotional journeys of the heart and mind, and billed as an entity of turbulent imagination born from the intuition and maverick spirits of two compelling performers, they arrived on stage looking like two astronauts (minus their helmets) in matching silver and gold metallic space suits. In fact, I had to do a double take to make sure it was not Mr. Green's partner in crime, Ms. Silver on stage! Thankfully, Aisling's keys on the beautiful opener 'Chrysalis' proved this was not the case, complemented by Anna's violin. Perhaps with just the two of them better suited to the smaller stage, the innocence and cerebrality of their set was mesmeric, drawing on the collaboration of their first two albums, ‘Waves’ and 'Chrysalis', with 'Voyager' and 'Resistance' followed by the mind blowing 'Waves', beautifully complemented by a backing track of waves quietly breaking on to a shore. Cue the sun breaking through the clouds to the clockwork intro of 'In Motion' plus the poignant story behind 'Lucid Dreaming', and Anna's news that all proceeds from their merchandise store today, would go to that very same well deserving charity. As I moved away from the stage, you could clearly see that everyone was entranced by their 50 minute set, that ended with 'Into Deep Blue', 'Danu'. 'Awakening' and 'Emerging Flight'. Absolutely delightful.
We always joke that it is a reviewer's dream to cover a Prog Rock gig. Not only because of the music, but also because the length of the songs means that you might only get ten songs to review in a set! Well, The Patron Stage welcomed the return of Czech Prog outfit Cuprum after their success last year on The Canterbury Ales Stage. Indeed, earlier back stage, frontman Richard Malat recognised our photographer Les from last year, and kindly brought us over two cans of Czech lager! What a gent! Although, ultimately, no bribes were needed as this East European five-piece from Prague not only brought with them the best beer, but also the best of 60s and 70s Rock! Indeed, filed last year under the gentler side of Prog, with their flute driven ambient numbers occasionally propelled by some crunchy guitar, they opened with the loosener 'Manyrista', that immediately brought comparisons to mind of Focus. Despite all the songs being sung in Czech, shades wearing Malat (flute and occasional vocals) was suitably charismatic with his intro banter, with subjects such as a mid-life crisis on the lovely melody of 'Popel', as well paying tribute to Bert Jansch and John Martyn, as he grabbed his acoustic guitar on the amazing 'Morseovka' - Prog at its best.
Stepan Vodenka's Zep 'No Quarter' opening keys vibe on the instrumental 'Labe 02 (frag. VI)', was followed by 'Oruac', a mainly instrumental Focus influenced song about dying, although thankfully, Stepan survived swallowing one of the exploding bubbles on his keys intro! The short, but very sweet, 'Iluzionista', a Czech song about old drunk people like us, saw some further crunchy guitar work from the outstanding, Dave Gilmour like posed, Jan Drchal, with the penultimate number of the set, the aptly named Prog track, 'Canterbury', opened with another solo from the excellent Vodenka, that saw Malat poking those pesky bubbles with his flute. Their final number, 'Cider', was a well deserved opportunity to showcase the engine room of both Tomas Skrivanek (bass) and Jan Jezek (drums), although, once again Stepan's organ intro was to die for, a track that brought back fond memories of two other Dutch bands, Kayak and Earth & Fire. Having only released as far as I can see two albums, 'Musica Deposita' (2011) and ‘Brahma Visnu Siva’ (2014), if you love your Prog, then these guys are well worth checking out both live and online. The highlight of the day so far for mine.
Part one of today's Geordie invasion (South Shields to be exact) saw the welcome return and a promotion to the larger stage after 2021, of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal five-piece, Mythra. One of the most mystical British Heavy Metal bands, after mystically disappearing in 1981, their reformation in 2014 was a major event for many NWoBHM fans around the globe, given their legendary debut EP from 1979, 'The Death And Destiny', has cult status, apparently comparable to Iron Maiden's 'The Soundhouse Tapes'. Praise indeed! In fact, their hour long set was the first bit of gratuitous head-banging we had witnessed, opening with their balls to the wall salvo, 'Killer', as these men in black, comprising John Roach (guitar), Alex Perry (guitar), Maurice Bates (bass), the gargantuan Phil Davies (drums - who we had bumped into earlier) and Ray Winstone look-alike Kev Mcquire (vocals), put the pedal to the Metal, on a strong and energetic fifteen-song set, with plenty of mean guitar harmonies plus oodles of driving Rock. Other stand-outs included 'UFO' and a new track, 'Split The Veil', with its Aerosmith/Maiden vibe, that not only kept the crowd well entertained, but also kept the NWoBHM flag well and truly flying at the same time.
Nine Below Zero
Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons