9 Apr 2014

RADSTOCK at O2 Academy, Newcastle on 29th March 2014 (Day 1/2)

When a promoter arranges an event he/she takes great personal risk, albeit financially or otherwise, to organise the best event he/she can for the paying client. When the inaugural Newcastle version of Radstock was  first announced in the last quarter of 2013 it was billed as an event containing 30 bands over three stages embracing a wide and varied musical pallet from Kids In Glass Houses to Bleed From Within.

Acknowledging that for reasons “beyond their control” the event had to be massively reorganised into a two day event featuring just under half of the bands originally scheduled to play – and all on one stage – is actually forgiveable, but calling the event a festival just really can't be. Newcastle audiences are notoriously well known for “knowing what they like and liking what they know” so it's doubtful the promoters would be easily forgiven beyond a single event.

You might feel this Journalist is nitpicking, finding fault where this none before any music has even been heard, but with the Academy 2 venue having a production complete capacity of just 400 it is nowhere near full. As we enter the venue we're not given any Radstock style wristbands/passes and there's no chance to purchase any Radstock Festival specific T Shirts. No banners proudly proclaim we're actually at Radstock Festival and there's not much room to have a wander in the cramped conditions around the merchandise stand.

Perhaps this is all something that was once considered for the event and later scrapped but in my experience it's the small things that make all the difference when it comes to audience satisfaction.

Bentley Park begin the day's proceedings with a short and vibrant set. These boys are from Manchester and their d├ębut EP is awaiting it's official release in April – the song Darker Days which begins the set is the sole track of representation on Spotify. I'd recommend you look it up and give it a listen because these guys are really good. During the set the group attempt to get a 'circle pit' moving which – probably due to the absence of security on the floor – is established quite quickly. That being said, the two young men left to throw themselves at each other inside the large pit just end up looking foolish, it appears that isn't the type of audience present.

They're followed shortly thereafter by Verses from Brighton down by the sea – who spoke exclusively with NE:MM shortly after their performance – and have the spirit and enthusiasm needed to make sure they go far. Musically the sound suffers through poor acoustics but the group are having fun and making sure their future tour mates Lost Alone are given a superb welcome from the hungry crowd. Energy – and attendance – are rising at this point as the room becomes much like a well cooked sauna with steam rising from every area.

The energy and enthusiasm of the audience soon becomes clear, as Fearless Vampire Killers emerge on-stage. With vocals that sound like a cross between M Shadows and Mike Patton and musical influences ranging between Queen and the Manic Street Preachers, FVK are clearly the favourites among the assembled here tonight. Virtually every young lady within spitting distance of the stage is screaming at the top of their lungs alongside tracks such as All Hallow's Evil and Palace In Flames. It's hard to know for sure, but you'd be forgiven for thinking a lot of the same fans simply turn and walk out once they've finished their set.

Sandwiched between the two favourites – if the T Shirt's worn in attendance are any indication – Canterbury have a difficult job convincing people that they're melodic rock will win over the majority of fans awaiting the headlines. Their latest album Dark Days was released in January and reached No 84 on the UK album chart, an admirable feat for a young band but indication that almost all of today's performers are simply second stage material at best.

Finally we find Yashin proving their worth with a headline set exemplifying their talent. Opening for Black Veil Brides and Korn has gained them popularity, their set at Download has increased this and tonight they're in fine form among the faithful. Those who've stuck it out have witnessed an admirable 45 minute's from their headline band. Tomorrow we're going to see just how far things can go.

Words: Wayne Madden
Photo (Versus): Brian Nicholson

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