Garage Dayz Revisited Festival (GDR) is essentially a celebration of British Metal. Through GDR, bands that first spread their wings in the early 1980s have an opportunity to renew their relationship with loyal fans and forge new ones too. Held at the aptly named ‘Garage’ live venue, the allure of this year’s bill was strong enough to attract quite a few non-English fans to the all-dayer. All in all, it was excellently organised with a friendly atmosphere characterising the whole event. GDR could become even more established in the festival calendar of Europe but really it’s already doing great.
Here are my own subjective observations of the festival, starting with a ‘warm-up’ gig held on the eve of the main event at ‘The Unicorn’…also in London….in fact not far off from the ‘Garage’.
The ‘warm-up’ event was in part intended to whet the general appetite for the next day’s event. In actual fact it turned out to be an excellent gig. Having a free entrance played its part in filling the venue and an enthusiastic crowd immersed itself in the friendly ambience even before the event kicked off.
– AIRFORCE (www.airforceuk.co.uk)
Strictly speaking, 3-piece band Airforce weren’t part of the NWOBHM as the band first came together towards the end of the 1980s. Interestingly one of the band’s early line-ups had ex-Iron Maiden Dough Sampson on drums.
Sporting a mohician, I thought I heard vocalist/bassist Freddy Ball make a reference to the band Ethel The Frog when introducing a song. I didn’t quite get the connection but that song sounded great. Apart from that number and a couple of interesting guitar solos, I felt Airforce were a bit boring and the performance muddled. Introducing another song, Ball solemnly stated: “This is a song Iron Maiden wrote when Steve Harris had diarrhoea”. Airforce then proceeded to play a completely reworked and laid-back cover of ‘Running Free’.
As one may have deduced, before their performance I wasn’t familiar with the band’s repertoire but very soon Airforce are releasing an album called “Judgement Day” this July….certainly an opportunity to get to know the band better. Check it out and judge for yourselves.
– THE DEEP (www.thedeepband.co.uk)
Another band that was new to me, although I was aware of its history. The Deep started out in 1982 as Deep Machine and gained a positive reputation with ever having had even one official recording. Following a reunion and change in moniker, an album called “Premonition” did eventually see the light of day in 2015.
But back to their performance….which, I have to say, was incredible and totally won me over. Lead singer Tony Coldham has a voice that I can only describe as the Galactus of Metal, i.e. having the power and immensity to destroy planets. Besides Tony, the guitar melodies, the band’s showmanship and verve, the quality of the songs delivered….all was top-class.
– DESOLATION ANGELS (http://desolationangels.co.uk/)
It was going to be hard to eclipse The Deep but Desolation Angels put on quite an enjoyable show. At first I wasn’t too impressed but almost half-way through the set they played ‘Medusa’ which got me really interested. From then onwards it was one song after another of tightly delivered hard-hitting Metal.
Desolation Angels play a style of Metal which seems to link old-school NWOBHM with more modern sensibilities. The band was recently joined by ex-Elixir vocalist Paul Taylor who seemed to fit in well with the band, even if he was a bit too static on stage. Unlike the previous two bands, Desolation Angels had an excellent sound to complement their music.
A new album is imminent from Desolation Angels – it will be called “Doomsday” and from it the band played a couple of songs tonight. ‘Archangel’ was one of them and if this song is aptly representational of the album then “Doomsday” promises to be a stunning release.
As soon as the band starts playing their last song, I’m already rushing to get my train home. I need some sleep as tomorrow the first band is on stage shortly after midday and I don’t want to miss any of the festival.
To my surprise, Sacrilege were incredibly good. The band’s set was clearly rooted in the NWOBHM and yet all the songs were intriguing. ‘In The Arena’ was a catchy old-school number while for ‘In Hell’ the band descended into traditional Doom territory….whatever they played, Sacrilege felt genuine.
It would also be amiss of me not to mention the powerful yet solid voice of Bill Beadle (who also played guitar). Beadle was part of the original line-up of Sacrilege, which had materialised in 1982. The band stopped playing for about 25 years but are now writing new material and have other live shows planned.
Those who were late for this opening act of GDR2 missed a treat.
Listen to Sacrilege guitarist Tony Vanner comment about the festival right after Sacrilege’s performance:
– SOLDIER (www.soldiernwobhm.com)
Soldier were on next and I really enjoyed their set, even though part of my mind was still reeling from the previous band. The singing of Richard Frost had a good balance of melody and power and somehow reminded me of Diamond Head’s current singer. Soldier’s set-list was widely representative of the band’s entire repertoire. Amongst which….‘Murderous Night’ (from the band’s debut full-length) and ‘I Can’t Breathe’ (from the “Dogs Of War” album of 2013) were 2 songs that I particularly liked.
In a nutshell…..good songs well performed and with passionate conviction. What’s not to like?
– TYTAN (www.facebook.com/TytanOfficial)
After Soldier’s set I had an interview to do and consequentially missed the first 2 songs of Tytan’s set. This is the 3rd or 4th time I’ve seen the band and although I felt their set needed to be polished up more, tonight I’ve come to realise how underrated the band is.
Tytan were formed after bassist Kevin Riddles left Angel Witch back in 1982. The band’s music sounds more modern and melodic than traditional NWOBHM sonorities, in part due to the presence of a keyboardist within the line-up. I could also hear an influence of Blues in the songs.
The quality of Tytan’s songwriting is top-notch and the band members are understated masters of their craft. In particular Tom Barna (lead vocals, guitar) has a phenomenal voice. Despite that, one of my favourite numbers from tonight’s set was an instrumental one called ‘Billy Who?’. According to Riddles it was inspired by the extravagance of bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr Big, Steve Vai, Niacin, The Winery Dogs).
– WARRIOR (www.warriorofficial.co.uk)
As the venue started to get noticeably fuller, Newcastle veterans Warrior hit the stage. Compared with other bands on the bill, Warrior’s Metal sounded more raw and direct. Guitarist Gwaether Bloom had a Glam-like image that was inconsistent with that of his band-mates. And while I’m in a grumpy mood, I also felt that the band’s set was short of memorable songs. So as they were about to deliver their closing number, I decided to go and have a quick bite and breathe some fresh air.
Collectors might be interested to know that Warrior were selling an EP called “For London Only” exclusively at GDR#2. And while I’m on the subject of recordings the band has a retrospective album out this August. It’s called “Resurrected” and contains 22 songs recorded in the ’80s.
– CHARIOT (www.facebook.com/Chariotrocks)
Considering that the band hails from London and has been together since 1983, it is perhaps surprising that this is only the first time I’m seeing Chariot live. Half of Chariot’s set was focused on “The Warrior” debut album with the rest of the set revisiting the band’s other releases. A well-thought out set. The band’s performance was remarkably tight and dynamic. All in all Chariot gave an enjoyable performance.
Listen to Chariot’s Pete Franklin comment about the festival and about other things Chariot:
Blitzkrieg were one of the bands I was most looking forward to see and I have to say they didn’t disappoint me. Vocalist Brian Ross was in top form and the rest of the band members just seemed like famished bloodhounds.
As expected, the band played classic numbers such as ‘Armageddon’ and ‘Pull The Trigger’ but the more recent ‘Call For The Priest’ went down well too. The climax of the show was set closer ‘Blitzkrieg’ when the band just tore the venue apart.
Listen to Blitzkrieg vocalist Brian Ross share his feelings about the festival:
Sound problems meant that Quartz had to restart their first number (‘Street Fighting Lady’). Nobody…band or audience….seemed to know what was happening and no sound tech came to their assistance. Things did not bode well.
Lead singer David Garner was so hyperactive that I couldn’t help suspecting the consumption of…..erm….hyperactivity aids. I never thought I’d ever suggest a Rock/Metal singer needed to calm down but I’ll do so here. Besides, it might have been good-humoured banter to him but Garner’s mocking tones with regards to his bandmates didn’t help to endear him in my eyes. Anyway, about the rest of the show…..
I’m glad they played ‘Zombie Resurrection’ (from their forthcoming album) – that song has a riff to die for. Classic numbers lapped up by the audience included ‘Mainline Riders’ and ‘Satan’s Serenade’. As per tradition their set ended with ‘Heaven & Hell’, another riff-laden song, co- written by ex-Quartz Geoff Nicholls when he joined Black Sabbath.
Quartz can give brilliant performances and the band can still write great material…..which is why I’m really looking forward to the new album. Tonight’s show, however, wasn’t a reflection of all this and I was a tad underwhelmed by what I saw and heard.
Text and all live photos by Chris Galea (© 2016)