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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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