SOS Festival is always one of the highlights of the Rock-Zone UK year. Come on, £20 for the weekend, family friendly and an amazing chance to encounter some new bands that may not have crossed our radar coupled with always impressive headliners. On paper, 2019 ‘s 12th edition looked like this was going to be no exception so all we had to do was saddle up and trek down to Prestwich for the fun to begin. The M6 is usually a pretty dull drive but the thought of the weekend activities lightened the mood and soon enough we were at the hotel. A swift freshen up and we were off.
First up was Snakewater – the first of the bands for whom tonight’s set was the first encounter for us. A thoroughly enjoyable set from the boys from Manchester. with a blues-y rock and roll of the kind the British made their own in the late 60s and 70s (think Free, et al), but the band they most brought to this mind were Thunder if only because (at times, Bobby Grant’s vocals reminded me of a certain Danny Bowes in terms of tone and phrasing (and that ain’t no bad thing for me). Exceptional band to start the festival and you should really check out their latest album “Ain’t No More Room in Hell”
One of many lovely things about SOS Festival is that there are no clashes and to assist band switch over this is done by interspersing the Dean Hocking main stage performances with appearances on the Wizz Wizard Acoustic stage and first up on here was Fallen mafia. Immediately attracting a crowd to their stripped down acoustic stage, they shed a different light on the songs that we recently saw them do in their more full on guises back in the North East. With each acoustic set straddling a main stage performance Fallen Mafia were a great start to the second stage
This first evening was truly one for lots of new bands. The Howling Tides were next on the main stage and they blew us away (Mrs Rock-Zone immediately buying their ep once the set was over). Lots of energy, great songs and fabulous stage presence. Check these guys out at the earliest opportunity – proof again that British rock n roll is not on it’s death bed, it is definitely ALIVE! Hugeriffs and amazingly well crafted songs, these lads from Staffordshire deserve to be huge.
After another acoustic Fallen Mafia session, Witch Tripper hit the stage. Thunderous riffs, a mountain of sounds and a distinct lack of shirts from Richie Barlow, these boys personified all that is ghreat about rock and roll. An absolutely immense set that caught my attention immediately and held me there for the entire set – also proving a great reason why this old hack avoids too much research as, having fallen for the music, doing a quick search on the old Book of Face I found that their own description of what they do would probably have made me make a decision that I didn’t like “that kind of thing”. Well, lovely readers, do not let descriptions fool you – sure they are what they say but way more than that. Shirt and CD purchased, Witchj Tripper were certainly in the running for my band of the weekend and we were only on day one band three!
Next to entertain us on the Wizz Acoustic stage were Sons of Liberty. Not a new name for me but this was my first opportunity to catch them live in any format. Just my kind of southern rebel – their version of acoustic even had a full (albeit cut down a bit) drum kit. Lots of fun and quite simply were just spot on for the evening. lots of fun, quality songs and they put on a show. Just my kind of thing. Awesome!
As the evening developed, so the bands we have seen before were due to hit the stage. First up the very might The King Lot. As ever a belting set, full of energy and showcasing just why the Scots are always welcome additions to any bill I have seen them on. lots of fun and extremely popular with the ever expanding crowd. Please do yourselves a favour if you haven’t seen them live, do it as soon as you can. You won’t be disappointed.
All too soon the evening would be over, but before that, of course, we would have the Friday night headliner. The wonderful people at Rocksector Records had really gone for it this year and we were in for a treat when Spike and The Quireboys hit the stage. having seen this band numerous times over the years, this was possibly the best show I have seen them do (certainly it was up with the best) – Spike throws that mic stand around like a man possessed and the songs just take me right back to seeing them touring “A Bit of What You Fancy”. Making sure that all his joints were well lubricated, the set consisted of a great cross section of songs old and new and the between song banter was archetypal Spike. Lots of fun, and a great way to round off the first night