Winter’s End 2018 kicks off with performances from Stone Broken, Phil Campbell, Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics, The Bad Flowers and The Fallen State.
Having played the inaugural event in 2017, Walsall’s prodigal sons and daughter, Stone Broken, made the effortless leap to headliners with a rapturously received set.
In front of a sea of faithful fans (aka The Broken Army) adorning Stone Broken t-shirts, the quartet were very much in their imperious element as they combined fan favourites with new cuts from their upcoming album ‘Ain’t Always Easy’.
Stone Broken © Saskia Dugon
Clearly enjoying their moment in front of the 1,000-strong audience, singer Rich Moss said before an epic ‘Just a Memory': “It means the absolute world to us. I can’t believe how many people are in the room.
“We were here last year and we had a fantastic reaction and (Planet Rock) came back to use and said do you want to play Winter’s End again and headline on Friday night, we were like ‘hell yeah! Thank you so much for being with us.”
Alongside muscular and poised renditions of anthems like ‘Better’, 'Be There' and ‘Stay All Night’, one of the highlights came when they dispatched the sublime, heartfelt tune ‘Home’.
Rich said of the hands-in-the-air anthem: “I’m very lucky, (my partner) Robyn (Haycock, drums) is right behind me the whole way on tour – these ones have to leave their loved ones at home – which is why we’ve written a song about just that.”
Phil Campbell © Saskia Dugon
Stone Broken’s unequivocal triumph was no mean feat considering they had to follow a rip-roaring, frenetic and blistering set from Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons.
A masterclass in exhilarating pure rock and roll, Phil, his trio of sons and vocalist Neil Starr had an electric chemistry as they powered through Motörhead classics like ‘Rock Out’ and songs from their own musical arsenal including a pulsating ‘Welcome To Hell’ and a chugging ‘Dark Days’.
The set culminated with Phil telling the capacity crowd “We want to dedicate the next couple of songs to past members of Motörhead” before dispatching a cover of Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’ and an ultimate ‘Ace of Spades’.
The Fallen State © Saskia Dugon
Earlier on, The Fallen State were bestowed with the prestigious honour of kicking off proceedings and they impressed with a thunderous and relentless set.
Serving up a cacophonous din, they barely took their foot off the accelerator as they tore through riff-heavy anthems like ‘Sinner’ and ‘Burn It To Ground’ – featuring an obligatory “woah-oh-oh singalong.”
Recently re-recorded with Chris Robertson of Black Stone Cherry fame, ‘Nova’ was undoubtedly the set zenith; a driving and potent rock anthem with Ben’s impressive rock pipes taking centre stage.
The Bad Flowers © Darren Griffiths
Currently on the road with headliners Stone Broken, The Bad Flowers were a tightly honed rock beast who served up gutsy, blues-tinged rock of the highest calibre.
With tracks like the swaggering ‘Secrets’, the slow-building, impassioned ‘Let’s Misbehave’ and the Planet Rock favourite ‘Hurricane’ in their musical arsenal, the trio were rightfully met with adulation from the Winter’s End faithful.
Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics © Saskia Dugon
From another side of the rock spectrum, Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics melded searing tunes with self-deprecating humour (“Anyone with STDs? No? Just me?” and “This is a rock show not a One Direction concert”) and top-class showmanship from the sharp-suited Aaron during their all-too-short set.
Standout moments included a frenetic ‘Fire, Fire’, a brilliant rendition of ‘All The Things I’ve Said and Done’ (that even survived an aborted start), a fiery version of the Heaven’s Basement song ‘I Am Electric’ and the headstand Aaron performed in the crowd. Impressive stuff.