Butlins Rock & Blues Festival – Skegness 2011

This must have been my seventh visit to Butlins Skegness for its Annual Festival. Split between two massive indoor arenas and a smallish nightclub the choice is essentially Rock or Blues and this year we chose almost exclusively Rock:  Excuse my indulgence but my highlights this year (in order of enjoyment) were:

Mick Box

1. Biggest and Best Uriah Heep Much better than I expected, tighter, sharper versions of all their hits with no filler. Mick Box has great stage presence and singer Bernie Shaw was just born for the stage at times prowling and a great moment where he asked the audience’s permission to rejoin them in their singing. Gypsy, Look at yourself, Easy Living, Woman in Black and a show-stopping July Morning.

Elephant Shelf

2. A great new discovery for us at least, Elephant Shelf. We literally stumbled upon them in the Jakks Bar and were instantly transfixed, great vocals, guitar and stage presence, keep an eye out for them in 2011.

Heavy Metal kids feat Nasty Nick

3. Nostalgic Back to my Teens – Heavy Metal Kids. Original members Cosmo, Boyce and Ronnie Thomas who I used to hero worship in 1974 now have John Altman as singer and he is just great. Too nervous to be too cocky but full of energy and enthusiasm.

The Pretty Things 2011

4. How old are they? – formed in 1963 The Pretty Things took the late slot in the Blues arena I somehow managed a stage-side spot despite a packed house to enjoy a real piece of nostalgia, and they played SF Sorrow.

John Coghlan's Quo

5. Old faithful friends – John Coghlan playing familier and not so familiar tracks from early Quo with his friends otherwise known as Predatur, demonstrating the wide range of styles when they were really rocking. As I tweeted at the time, a great example of a complex system, Quo songs have a far greater outcome/impact than the sum of their parts. A particularly powerful ‘Rain’ was my favourite.


6. Much better than expected – Girlschool a great advert for Loreal with their complete set of hair colouring

7. Best use of a Sunday afternoon  – Nine Below Zero. Gerry McAvoy on bass, I remember seeing at the Empire Sunderland when I had a front row ticket for Rory Gallagher. Just discovered that Mark Felton on harmonica played on one of my favourite albums, Box of Frogs.

The Monsters of British Rock

8. Monsters of British Rock – Great to see Laurie Wiseman (ex Wishbone Ash) sparring with Mick Moody who seems to have really upped his guitar skills as a result. A few too many Whitesnake numbers but given the members present (that’s the great Neil Murray on bass) I’ll let them off.

The other bands we saw included Juicy Lucy, Larry Miller, Hamsters, Lorraine Crosby, Quire Boys and Street Legal.

[all pics:  yours truly 2011]

NB: There is a lot of new Butlins rocks video footage over at Youtube here



  1. Was a great weekend I saw a band in Jaks on Friday night too the Idle Hands brilliant! a band that you should keep a look out for. Guitarist was amazin & they had brilliant stage presence.
    I’ve added their website link to check out.

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