“Rocking the Festival:

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A Sunday Review of ‘Maid of Stone'”

Review by  Mick Dyer photos Glen Parkes

On Sunday, the weather, despite assurances from the forecasters did not start well.

For a time it looked as though we were in for more of the same as yesterday

 but after a few desultory drops the Sun God smiled on us, and the clouds parted and disappeared for virtually the whole of the day. Brilliant!

Another eighteen bands were lined up to play across the three stages and in truth, not one disappointed. If I was to cover all of them, this review would not get written so I will only mention a few that resonated with me. That doesn’t mean the others aren’t worth mentioning, far from it, all of them deserve the highest praise for their work.

The opening act on the Maiden Stage, Death Ingloria, kept the audience’s interest with their unique mix of music interspersed with a commentary over anime pictures, each of their songs told its own story. Mostly concerned with the mundanity of modern life and the idea of extrapolating that into a future Earth was both clever and novel.

Another act on the Maiden stage was one I had been looking forward to seeing ever since I found out they were on the list…Häxan. Pronounced ‘Heck-sen’, it is a Swedish word meaning ‘witch’ and these ladies certainly cast a spell over the audience (sorry). With their heavy bass and drum work and lyrics, the trio certainly pulled out all the stops.

Mid-afternoon and Elles Bailey arrived on the Jeff Beck stage to a very expectant crowd. With her sultry voice that could give the Devil a bout of shivers, she carried the audience along atop her musical wave. at one point she even left the stage; walked along the Tog’s pit and then suddenly appeared at the side of the stage where she sang from the barrier before walking around into the audience, all without missing a beat. 

Following Elles was a rock band from Wales, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, bringing their Motorhead style of heavy rock to the festival which went down an absolute storm in the late afternoon sunshine.

Skindred appeared in the early evening and from the opening notes you knew exactly what you were getting. Hailing from South Wales the band went through their set list of heavy metal fused with reggae. The lead singer immediately set about getting the audience involved and at one stage, the famous -or infamous- ‘Newport Helicopter’ was enacted where the crowd twirled tee shirts, scarves or anything else for that matter around their heads. the crowd loved it and them.

In front of a double bank of Marshalls set on either side of the drums plus the usual huge base speakers in front, the headliner act, Airbourne, appeared. Cavorting around the stage through the obscuring smoke, they played to the crowd magnificently. Formed in 2001, this Australian foursome is a powerhouse in the world of heavy rock who cite almost all the greats of the genre as their influences. With beer spraying everyone in the pit and the front rows the noise was deafening.

What a festival! The comparisons between this and Ramblin Man were bound to be voiced, but in reality, there was nothing really to compare. Yes, the venue was smaller which in fact made everything easier to get to. Yes, there were no mega-huge headliners but this gave a larger number of up-and-coming or maybe there or thereabouts bands a chance to showcase their material to possibly their largest or widest audience to date.

The organising company, and everybody associated with the festival, including the seemingly tireless cleaners and security staff, that were a part of the Maid of Stone thoroughly deserve all the plaudits they can get for a show that was run and ran like clockwork. Roll on Maid of Stone 2024!

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