Bring on Brofest day #2! Enjoying a light breakfast at the hotel we were off to explore a little of Newcastle ahead of our planned meeting with Paul Macnamara of Salem. We toured around, locating the venue and basically learning how not to get lost after large amounts of drinking that was going to ensue today.
Paul met us at Three Bulls Heads Pub and we chatted for over 2 hours about all things music over a couple of pints. Watch for the shortened audio interview to be released soon along with Mikael‘s spotlight review of the incredible Salem gig from last night.
After a truly brilliant start with the pre-festival event yesterday we were all ready and raring for a longer day of music. Friday February 24, 2017 at Brofest #5 got under way at 6pm at the Northumbria University Students Hall. The room was a much larger space than Trillian’s Bar. The stage was higher (good for the vertically challenged such as myself) and much larger in floor space. A decently lengthy merch table greeted patrons upon entry with a bar at the back of the hall.
As we fuelled up, very happy to see the stock of Iron Maiden‘s Trooper beer which seems difficult to find in Canada, we chatted excitedly about all things music. Sparky quickly picked off a younger looking gentleman in the crowd saying positively that it was the guitarist from Ascalon. Sparky had recently reviewed the album and deems it something that would be right up my alley. I’ll have to check that out. I approached the lad and awkwardly queried about Ascalon and low and behold Sparky was 100% correct.
Toledo Steel was our first act of the day and ripped right out of the gates displaying their proper heavy metal sounding glorious riffs. Toledo Steel hail from Southampton, UK and unleashed their first EP in 2013. A second CD followed in 2015. I see when reviewing my notes that I marked down to purchase the CD, yet I seem to have forgotten that as it didn’t leave Brofest with me. I’ll have to reach out to them and hope they ship to Canada! What a great start to Brofest day 2 already!
I passed by the Mythra area of the merch table, asking the young lady if Vince was about. Vince High, vocalist for cult act Mythra, had commented on Facebook requesting me to say since I ventured from Canada for this event. Turns out to be Vince‘s wife who pointed him out. We exchanged quick greetings, promising to get a few minutes to chat quietly over the weekend.
Continuing the parade of “Unkown to me bands”, Berlyn was the next contestant. Wow. What a wake up call with these guys. They were very good featuring strong vocals and solid, catchy riffs. I gather they had a decent following back in late 1970’s or early 80’s but basically disappeared. I think they have a demo and a live recording that I will have to see about. More investigating on the horizon!
No website or Facebook available
Now it was time for Mythra who I was familiar with. I have been looking forward to their forthcoming Still Burning album since discovering Mythra fairly recently. I had done the requisite scouting upon my descision to attend Brofest. Liking what I heard I purchased Warriors of Time: The Anthology, a fantastic collection. Perhaps Mythra is not quite as melodic as some may prefer, but they have a captivation about them for fans of the traditional metal sound. The band began back in 1979 with the Death & Destiny EP and they’ve mysteriously disappeared and re-emerged. The new album, Still Burning, with all but one original member promises to carry on right where Mythra left off. Vince’s vocals were clear and shattering and the guitars were tight. Another excellent performance at Brofest!
Battleaxe is something that has been in my targets since, again late to the party, I discovered them. The name was familiar but I’d not heard any of Battleaxe‘s music until the Heavy Metal Sanctuary album arrived in 2014. It made my top ten of the year and the song “Shock and Awe” has never left the MP3 playlist since! As with every band so far the sound was clear and crisp, a tribute to not only the bands but the stage/sound crew at Brofest. The highlights for me were of course the title track to Heavy Metal Sanctuary and “Too Hot for Hell” from the same release. Unfortunately my two absolute faves “Shock and Awe” and “The Legions Unite” did not appear in the setlist. Hopefully I’ll get another shot at those two live when I see Battleaxe at Legions of Metal Festival in Chicago in May.
Closing out the first official day of Brofest #5 was Oliver/Dawson Saxon. We did have an interview planned with the boys and they agreed to contact us when they arrived on site. We never received contact so I suppose they had set up business and the like to look after. Being a huge Saxon fan (the logo is featured in my sleeve tattoo) this was exciting for me as the first time I would be witnessing original Saxon members Steve Dawson and Graham Oliver on stage. I was looking forward to tracks from the duo’s awesome 1996 release under the band name Son of a Bitch, Victim You mixed in with Saxon classics. Unfortunately, it was not to happen and the band fronted by vocalist Bri Shaugnessy delivered only Saxon material. With at least two albums (Victim You and Motorbiker) since leaving Saxon it was disappointing to not get a few of those tunes.
In any case, ODS delivered another top notch set that had the crowd singing and cheering along with them. Mikael will soon be publishing a spotlight review with a more indepth look at this closing set from ODS on Friday February 24, 2017.
Be sure to check out all the bands and buy merch if you like what you hear. Live videos from the gigs are also coming soon to the Decibel Geek YouTube channel.
Time for sleeping…..The Meister is getting old folks!