White Tygër (NA) have the look and sound of Swedish exiles camped out in the gutter of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip in the late ‘80s, so it comes as something of a shock to learn that they actually hail from Dudley. Not that there is anything wrong with Dudley, you understand! They specialise in guitar histrionics and big choruses that certainly go down well with the ladies, if the clamour at the front of the stage is anything to go by. However, these guys are no mere mimics: they have the tunes to match the look and 2022’s debut album This is the Life is the real deal. Next on the Viking Stage is Blue Nation (TT), a blues-based 3-piece from Birmingham blessed with a natural frontman in singer/guitarist Neil Murdoch, whose sense of humour and easy charm has the audience eating out of his hand. Playing a mix of old and new songs including the fabulous Echoes (which has an upbeat vibe despite its serious subject matter) and the latest singles Strangers and Every Single Time, the band exudes class and professionalism. Neil’s vocals are impressive: rich, powerful, soulful, and he’s ably supported by Luke Weston (bass and backing vocals) and Nick Sharman (drums) who between them create a sound which is much greater than the sum of the parts. There’s something of a feel-good factor about both their music and their live performance which makes me want to go see them again, and soon: another band to add to my list!
In complete contrast to the bluesy vibe of Blue Nation, Belgian power metallers Thorium (NA) launch full throttle into galloping Maidenesque riffage accompanied by vocals that would give Rob Halford a run for his money. They excel at high energy NWOBHM-inspired heavy metal with a touch of Bay-area thrash thrown in for good measure. Judging by the appreciative crowd, they have a growing fan base over here in the UK. Old Glory & The Black Riviera (TT) take us back to blues-rock, but this time with a southern/country tinge and plenty of slide guitar from Jay Meehan. They’re a band I’ve seen a few times now, but this is definitely one of their best performances. Jord Davies (vocals/guitar) is in his element, making full use of the outdoor stage, engaging with the audience and gradually ratcheting up the energy level as they move through the set until it culminates in a rollicking version of Where Did I Go Wrong which gets everyone bouncing. Great fun! Singer Annabelle Zaychenko also knows how to work a crowd, and she soon has the audience in the palm of her hand as Circus 66 (NA) explode onto the stage. She has a powerful voice that can switch from seduction to full on nuclear assault in a heartbeat, so it takes some big tunes to accommodate such a big personality. Fortunately, the rest of the band are no slouches either and are more than up to the task of delivering some dirty riffs and driving rhythms. Their set passes in a blur and ends with a shower of confetti, which sums up their approach perfectly.
Time now for some heavy melodic metal with Metaprism (TT), a 6-piece band from Bournemouth, who deliver a fast paced, high intensity, riff-laden set courtesy of their twin guitar attack, a thunderous rhythm section and the powerhouse vocal harmonies of Theresa Smith and Adam Chambers who also provides most of the metal growls which are a hallmark of their sound. As it’s the 10th anniversary of the release of their debut EP, they play tracks from across their career including Lost in the Dark, Reload, Illogical Era and From the Earth, much to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd who are joined by members of today’s headline act clearly taking time out from getting ready for their own show to headbang along with everyone else.