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Winter's End 2018: Sunday roundup

The Quireboys © Darren Griffiths

Winter’s End 2018 ends on a high with sets from King King, The Quireboys, Fragile Things, JOANovARC, Redline, The Outlaw Orchestra and more.

Scottish blues-rock bastions King King brought Winter’s End 2018 to an emphatic close with a polished, proficient and impassioned set.

Alan (wearing his obligatory kilt and boots), Lindsay, Wayne and Johnny entered the stage to the sounds of AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ and started with a series of upbeat numbers from the driving ‘(She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’ to a euphoric ‘Waking Up’, which featured an epic solo from the frontman.

King King © Darren Griffiths

Genuinely pleased to be headlining (“We’re so glad to be here and closing a festival for you”) the set took a poignant turn when Alan said before a powerful ‘You Stopped The Rain’; “I’m gonna put this one out to my dear mother who’s in hospital this weekend.”  

Such is their phenomenal musicianship, King King are the kind of band who don’t drop a note all night, however, they also like to have fun – as typified by when a smiling Alan tried to slow a sprawling jam down until it was completely inaudible and urged the audience to stay silent. He very nearly achieved it too.

The Quireboys © Saskia Dugon

Special guests The Quireboys were very much the party band of the night. Sole original member Spike sported a brace after breaking his foot (“Hey don’t you f***ing worry about this, it’s just a f***ing flesh wound”) and defied the pain – and no doubt doctors’ orders – to throw his trademark microphone-stand-throwing moves and bound around the stage like it was 1989.

Perennial crowd pleasers, the band performed essentially a greatest hits set – from ‘Misled’ to ‘There She Goes Again’ to ‘Hey You’, and, of course, ‘7 o’clock’, each song was met with a progressively louder reaction from the crowd.

The ever-entertaining Spike was full of humorous quips throughout, saying at one point: “So Dave Grohl gets a throne and I get a sh*** chair from the bar… You would have thought Axl would lend me his considering the amount of girls he’s nicked off me.”

Theia © Darren Griffiths

Boyish looking Burton-Upon-Trent trio Theia had the prestigious honour of opening the evening line-up and won the huge crowd over with their riff-heavy tunes and charm – waistcoat-wearing singer Kyle Lamley lavished the audience with praise throughout and seemed dumfounded at the rapturous response; “Every single person in this room screaming! My ego has just taken a huge hit!”

The standout moment was undoubtedly the triumphant closer ‘Woop-Dee-F***ing-Doo!’, which had the crowd singing along in unison.

Redline © Darren Griffiths

One of the loudest bands of the entire weekend, Redline took us into metal and abrasive hard rock territory with a deliciously heavy set. Clearly wearing their influences on their leather sleeves (and that’s no bad thing) – from Dio to Judas Priest to Iron Maiden and a sprinkling of Saxon – tracks like the relentless ‘Battle Cry’, the ominous and brooding ‘Dark City’ and the thrashy ‘Empires’ were nothing short of cathartic.

Fragile Things © Saskia Dugon

Despite being blighted by a broken snare and bass (“We’ve been sabotaged!,” said singer Richie Hevanz), Bristol rockers Fragile Things overcame their technical woes to deliver a brilliant performance.

With Mark Hanlon dishing out the riffage, they powered through a set of fist-pumping, highly charged rock with songs like ‘Adrenaline’ and closer ‘Broken Sun’ (with its cheeky ‘Dazed and Confused’ riff at the end). Unsurprisingly, the highlight came when they played The Rocks nominated anthem ‘Disappear’ with their friend Eloise performing backing vocals. Sublime stuff.

Jet Black 3 © Darren Griffiths

At the start of the day, Exeter trio Jet Black 3 opened the daytime bill with their dark and brooding brand of Seattle flavoured rock. After playing some songs that are so new they haven’t even been named yet, the set culminated with the first song they ever wrote ‘Reign’ and their latest single ‘The Beating Drum’.

The Outlaw Orchestra © Saskia Dugon

The Outlaw Orchestra’s set was so entertaining, we could honestly write a 2,000-word thesis on it. Playing comedy-tinged, Southern fried rock and roll, vocalist David Roux, drummer Ryan Smith and double-bassist Alex Barter in his dungarees all look the part, while, brilliantly, banjo player Stephen Welch starkly juxtaposes them in his tracksuit.

Interspersing each song with humorous patter, highlights included a foot-stomping ‘Willie Nelson’ (written after “rolling a joint the size of a digeridoo”), a nice segue into Cliff Richard’s ‘Devil Woman’ and the riotous closer ‘Laughing All The Way To The Gallows’. Judging by the size of the merchandise queue at the end, they won over the Winter’s End faithful.

Ghost Community © Saskia Dugon

Cardiff’s Ghost Community took us into intriguing and ethereal progressive rock realms playing sprawling epics like ‘Anything & Everything’ and ‘Ghost Community’ from their album ‘Cycle of Life’. Despite battling the dreaded lurgy, singer John Paul Vaughan’s voice held up and he even found time for a bit of dry humour with lines like “Can I just get a photo of you all, my mum thinks I’m round a friend’s house.”

JOANovARC © Darren Griffiths

London hard-rockers JOANovARC were nothing short of sensational and blew off any lingering cobwebs from last night’s excesses with tunes like ‘This Way’, ‘Jane’ and ‘The Girls Wanna Rock’, which saw lead guitarist Shelley Walker play some serious shreds on her knees, lying on her back (while kicking her feet in the air) and with her guitar behind her head. Dedicated to two of their late friends, the ultimate cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd swiftly built up in speed and intensity before transgressing into an explosive instrumental.

Voodoo Six © Darren Griffiths

Bringing the afternoon to an emphatic close, Voodoo Six arrived on stage all guns blazing with epic guitar solos, pounding beats and soaring vocals from Nik Taylor-Stoakes who wore arguably the best t-shirt of the entire weekend; crooner Michael Bolton is his mullet hairstyle heyday. Performing as if they were headlining, ‘Take The Blame’ and ‘Make Way For The King’ were two of the zeniths.


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