Wildfire is not afraid to mix things up, so after an opening run of bands in the classic rock genre, there was an abrupt change of pace when InRetrospect burst onto the stage. A 5-piece metalcore band from Leeds that combines brutal metal riffs with melodic moments, over which Nathan Biddles delivers a passionate mixture of harsh and clean vocals and even elements of hip-hop. Delivered with huge amounts of energy, the stage can barely contain this monster of a band whose aural assault entices and stuns the crowd at the same time. The alt metal vibe continues with Neonfly and a burst of melodic power metal. Singer Willy Norton has a strong, clear voice that cuts through the powerhouse twin guitars, and is complemented by the harsh vocals of bassist Paul Miller. An imposing figure with waist length dreads, the bassist locks into a groove with the drummer to drive the music forward relentlessly. After a set featuring songs from their most recent album The Future, Tonight, and a rousing finish which sees Paul and Willy swap roles on vocals and bass, it’s time for a breather while the stage changes over once more.
I was particularly looking forward to seeing This House We Built live for the first time, having interviewed them for ERB magazine, and I was not disappointed! Opener Fairweather Friend begins with some Richie Sambora-esque talk box before the riff kicks in and strikes up a serious groove. The first thing that strikes is that the sound is much heavier live than on the album. Which is no bad thing at all, as Scott Wardell’s powerhouse vocals could easily fill the tent unaided. To his right stands possibly the coolest man at Wildfire, Wayne Dowkes-White on bass: seriously, anyone who can rock a mohawk and tattoos look with white plastic sunglasses deserves respect! In complete sartorial contrast, French hair metal rockers Harsh were all leopard and snakeskin-print spandex in the finest tradition of the Sunset Strip in the 80’s. Delivering some serious Eddie Van Halen-inspired fret work, these guys really know how to have a good time and soon have everyone on board for the ride. Sharing a bottle of Jack Daniels with some willing audience members at the barrier no doubt helped keep the party going too! All too soon it was time for another change of pace with the arrival of A New Tomorrow who defy being categorized. They combine elements of prog, metallic riffs, driving drums and soaring vocals in a sound that will keep you guessing. Check out new single Intuitionto experience their expansive sound for yourself.