STONEDEAF FESTIVAL REVIEW BY ENIGMA13MUSICPHOTOGRAPHY


From the ashes of the idea of the Monsters of Rock Festival, Donington, UK, the magnificent Stonedeaf Festival http://www.stonedeaffestival.co.uk/ has now been born.


 Stonedeaf Festival is a one day rock festival formed by a group of veteran rockers who loved the one day festival vibe, of MOR. For those, who miss the days of a one day, reasonably priced rock festival. The group met on-line when they joined the Facebook group ‘Donington Monsters of Rock & Download Veterans’. Once there, they reminisced about their personal experiences at the festival in the 80’s and 90’s. In the beginning, the group fantasied about what it would be like to put on their own festival one day, but due to their love of the idea, and the thoughts of ‘what if?’ this soon progressed to ‘can we really do this?’ The idea was now becoming a reality, and the group looked into Newark Showground as a venue, and met there from their homes all around the UK, for a site visit in July 2017. Most of the group were meeting for the first time. The group then moved to sit round a pub table, and the ideas then began to flow. Graham Bonnett, Massive Wagons and Chrome Molly were the first bands to be announced on social media, and tickets then started to sell overnight. This really was becoming a reality now for the Stonedeaf Team, and soon the rest of the line-up was added. From the meeting onwards, it would be a steep learning curve for those involved, and an incredibly busy year ahead, but judging from comments and reactions from those who visited, the end result was definitely worth it.


 We arrived on site and signed in with Jenny, the press and marketing manager, around 10am, Friday 24th August. From the second we arrived, everyone warmly welcomed us and introduced themselves. We had something in common with the Stonedeaf team, and that was, that this was our -Enigma13MusicPhotography’s first invitation to photograph a festival, and it was their first time organizing a whole festival.

Once signed in, it was time to battle with the tent, in Gale force winds! Not an easy task, until Stonedeaf promoter John Reid, came along and helped us out. We then returned the favour and helped a fellow camper who was fighting with her tent in the wind. The lady we helped, turned out to be the lady who announced the festival open on stage the following morning, Jenni. The Stonedeaf team, really are like a huge extended family.

At 7pm, it was time for the Friday Rock Show, at the indoor venue on-site. This was an additional event put on for those who wished to attend, with live music from bands: Unknown Refuge, New Generation Superstars & Theia. THE FRIDAY ROCK SHOW was a tribute to TOMMY VANCE and to celebrate 40 years since the first show in 1978. The bar was reasonably priced (unlike most other festivals that we have attended). We spent the evening listening to music, photographing (photos are on our website https://enigma13musicphoto.wixsite.com/e13mp) the event and speaking to staff, volunteers and other attendees. The facilities were excellent, and a good time was had by all.


Festival day, Saturday 25th August soon came around, following a peaceful nights sleep (which is also unlike most other festivals we have been to!).

Jenni Rayner, who has been attending music festivals for many, many years, opened up the proceedings, and Fallen Mafia kicked off the first ever Stonedeaf Festival.

Fallen Mafia are 5 piece, female fronted band based in the North East of the UK, and were formed in 2011. They won the right to open the first ever Stonedeaf Festival, by winning the Battle of the bands winners poll.
They bring the heavy into rock music, with their crunching guitars, and fast paced, energetic style. They looked to be enjoying themselves, as much as the crowd, and were an excellent choice to begin the festivities.

Next on stage were Chrome Molly. A 5 piece, all male band, based in Leicester, UK. They first formed in the 1980’s, before splitting in 1991. They reformed in 2009, and released a new album ‘Gunpowder Diplomacy’ in 2013. this was then followed by Hoodoo Voodoo.
The members of Chrome Molly dived onto the stage with huge energy and this energy remained for the rest of the set. The bass was extremely heavy, which is just how it should be, and the band were very lively, entertaining and clearly enjoying themselves. Their third track was called ‘Shooting me down’, and was co-written by Noddy Holder, of Slade. During this track, the vocalist, Steve Hawkins, left the stage to stand at the barriers at the front of the crowd and perform from there.

Next to entertain the Stonedeaf crowd, were Hand of Dimes. They are a 5 piece all male band, from Wales, UK. This was our first time seeing these guys. The lead guitarist Colin is recovering from an operation, so the band were joined by Bruce Dickinson (no… not that one), of Colour of Noise and Little Angels. Despite the temporary change in guitarist, the performance was outstanding. The energy levels were huge, and the vocals were totally on point. They kept the audience entertained from the very start of the set, until the very end. They have also won a place in my heart, when asked which new music inspired them, when they answered Nathan James, of Inglorious, as they completely own the stage whenever they perform.

Next to grace the Stonedeaf stage, were Massive Wagons. I would not be exaggerating, if I said that these guys kept everyone in the crowd completely focused on them for their entire set. The extremely talented front man Baz, was fascinating to watch, and clearly loved performing, as much as the crowd loved to watch. He has boundless energy, and the whole band were totally engrossed in rocking out and making sure we all had a fantastic time. The whole performance was heavy, with a bass that sounded like it was turned up to number 11! After the set, we bumped into Baz taking a wander around the arena. He didn’t get very far, very quickly, as everyone, including us, wanted a photo, but he seemed very happy to oblige.

Graham Bonnet Band were next on stage. Graham has been singing for many years, and was the vocalist for Rainbow, when they headlined the first Monsters of Rock Festival in 1980. Graham was born in Skegness in the UK, but the band are now based in Los Angeles, CA, United States. The band is a 5 piece. Graham's voice is unique, and very well suited to the heavy rock style that the band show off with ease. The entire set had the audience rocking along with them.

The next on stage were Anvil. They are a 3 piece heavy metal band, from Canada. They were formed in 1977, and were the first band on stage, at the 1982 Monsters of Rock festival. The vocalist Steve Kudlow, otherwise known as ‘Lips’, also plays guitar for the band with a flying V. The music is very heavy and the band are very energetic and entertaining. Since the documentary movie Anvil! The story of Anvil was released in 2008, the band have toured non-stop. I met many people in the crowd who were very excited to of been able to see them in a smaller festival, where you can get closer to the bands, without feeling crushed.

Wolfsbane, were up next. Another band whose heavy bass sound blew me away. They are a 4 piece band from Tamworth, Staffordshire, UK. Front man Blaze, entertained us all with ease, and has an excellent voice, perfectly suited to a heavy rock/metal band. They partied hard for us all, and we all sang along with each song. Definitely an excellent choice for this festival. The band were formed in 1984, but came to a halt in 1994, when Blaze was asked to replace Bruce Dickinson in Iron Maiden. Thankfully they are now back together again and entertaining us all at the inaugural Stonedeaf Festival.

Next up were The Quireboys. I was lucky enough to of seen this band at my first ever Festival, at Monsters of Rock, 1990. The energy the vocalist, Spike displays, throughout the whole set is mesmerising. I could not take my eyes off him for a second, and the same went for my husband who was photographing the band. Rock music at its finest springs to mind. They were definitely an excellent choice for this festival. They were pitch and note perfect, and entertained for their entire set. Not only is Spike an excellent front man, but the entire band gelled perfectly together, and put on an unforgettable performance. The only downside, is that it had to end. People will be talking about this for a long time to come.


It was now time for the headline act…….. SKID ROW!!!!
Wow, what a finish to a fantastic rocking day! The new vocalist ZP Theart fits into the band with ease. It must have been incredibly difficult to find someone to step into Sebastian Bach’s shoes, but if the audience were anything to go by, it looks like they got it spot on. ZP has a unique, yet melodic voice, which suits the Skid Row performance. The crowd went wild, and everyone (including all of the staff!) rocked along with the band. It was a truly perfect rocking end to the day. Guitar riffs a plenty, headbanging, dancing, drumming, lights flashing, energy ………. what a wild and thrilling performance.
I can’t wait to see what is in store for us at Stonedeaf Festival 2019!


After the music ended it was time to reflect on the festival as a whole ………………

I felt that the festival had a warm and friendly vibe. I didn’t meet a single grumpy face. As promised on the Stonedeaf Festival Facebook page, the walk from the campsites to the arena were an absolute doddle. The directions and maps were easy to follow, and the whole event offered a relaxed and stress free feeling. The bars and food outlets were reasonably priced, and the queues were mostly very short.
Even the weather was kind to us on the Saturday.
The portaloo’s were kept clean and well stocked with toilet rolls, which is often a novelty at festivals!
The organisation and security of the event went smoothly, and, it was a pleasure to be given press passes, and witness this amazing, friendly festival.

Disabled Access. As someone who requires assistance in this area, I was keen to mention the facilities provided at this festival. For those who need to check out the facilities before attending any event, I found the process of this very simple. There was a section with lots of information on the Stonedeaf website, and also a Facebook Stonedeaf Accessibility page, where you can ask for information, and find out how to apply for disabled access. The process itself is very easy. The site itself is very flat, with no boulders to navigate round if you are unsteady on your feet, or in a wheelchair/mobility scooter. There were even real toilets, in a brick building on the disabled campsite, rather than portaloo’s! The disabled campsite is very close to Festival HQ, which is manned 24/7 if you need assistance with anything.

If, I absolutely had to find something that will need tweaking for next year, it would just be part of the learning curve. More toilets are needed in the arena and main campsite, and more food outlets in all of the campsites, and the arena. The hour long queue for breakfast on the Saturday morning was the only downside of the festival for us. I am sure the organisers are well aware of this though, and it will be on their ‘2019 improvements’ list.

Enigma13MusicPhotography


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