Saturday 7th June 2014
I went to the first Chester Rocks festival at the Racecourse back in 2011. The main reason for this was to see the living legend, Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop. With the Stooges, no less. Performing songs from (one of the greatest albums of all time) “Raw Power”! That was not to be missed, not when Sir Iggy and pals were playing so close to home. Also playing on the day were attractions such as Feeder and Leftfield – so a bargain of a day out right on my doorstep.
That was the “rock” (as in “Chester Rocks”) day. The previous day had seen a pop theme with McFly, The Saturdays, Sugababes and some geezer called Taio Cruz (is that how you spell it? How the flip do you say it??!). Our rock day saw glorious weather and a fun day out, and the consensus was that this event would be a great annual fixture, should we see more of the same in the future.
Alas, Chester is a city (small C) with no culture. No cinema, no theatre, few options for live music. Culture, in Chester, is thousands of drunken, vomiting Hollyoaks wannabes watching horses run round a field. And so, alas, Chester opted to jettison the “rock” for the far more lucrative teeny bopper pop market. Chasing the dollar won out, though Rocks was retained as a (somewhat inappropriate) name.
This year, I was lucky enough to be offered a couple of free tickets for the Saturday, and happily snapped them up. Although none of the bands were favourites, it was a chance to enjoy a day out and see some live music. So why not?
The featured acts – three big name bands, plus local support – were all on the big main stage on the field. Quite an impressive place for the smaller bands to play. The only negative was looking to be the weather – a thunder storm that morning with more forecast for that evening.
The first band I caught were local Chester band The Suns. I’d never seen them before, but had heard some good words in advance. I was expecting some friendly, straight forward Indie, but they were very different. Taking to the stage in black suits, with a vocalist with a massive beard, they actually sounded more like a rockabilly band. Oh wait – I get it! Sun Records – The Suns? Bloody marvellous! The rumours are true, The Suns are fantastic. Full of swagger and charm, they’re like The Hives if they’d been formed in 1956 by Elvis, Cash and Perkins. Catch them soon. Band of the day and no mistake.
Next up were The Fallows, another local band. Coincidently, I had seen this band before at my previous visit to Chester Rocks. Back in 2011, Shaun Ryder had disgraced himself with an incompetent, puked-up set of utter shit. I wandered off to see a Battle of the Bands in another area, where I found The Fallows making Ryder look like a lager chimp. Four years later and The Fallows are on this huge main stage. They’re still great. The singer has obviously been to Indie School, where he majored in Richard Ashcroft; but fair does he’s got the balls to superstar it up, way up there. There are hints of U2 and The Verve, and the rumbling bass helps make this set another success.
Purge are next. Never heard of ’em, but they had to be on soon, judging by the number of punters wearing their t-shirts. They brought the whole fan club. Hailing from Manchester, these guys are more of an early RHCP/Primus hybrid. Bring the funk! Good fun, these boys have tons of confidence and are worth keeping an eye on.
Before Purge’s set began, we had a fine example of the type of punter Chester Rocks attracts. Purge fans were waving a huge, home made blanket banner – and a group behind who had their view obscured were unhappy. So riled were they, they barged in and grabbed the banner down and made off with it, in an eruption of petulant self-righteousness. Obviously they don’t go to gigs much. Can’t see? Move. It’s a big fucking field.
The main bands of the evening were The Hoosiers, The Feeling and Razorlight. Can’t say I’m familiar with any of them. It’s light weight, inoffensive Indie pop – though it all seems to blur into one another. A couple of songs I recognised from DFS adverts. They’re all enjoyable and nice enough. I don’t really want to say a bad word about any of the bands, as despite the rain, it’s a jolly day. I won’t be buying their music, but for a free evenings entertainment I ain’t complaining.
Just think how cool it could have been though. From Iggy Pop to Hollyoaks. Where next?