Review: Wildfire Festival – Day One

Divine Chaos were already well into their set. The Wildfire crowd was already lively, and the band were sweating profusely. The thrashers were going for it, no matter it was the middle of the day. This was a baptism of fire, and I was thrown into the music that would not release me for three days… I was in heaven. Thank you for your intro, guys, and your old school, super speed metal. A great way for me to start the day. Next up was part of what seemed like a small army from Ireland. It kind of reminded me of the part in Braveheart where the little Irish fella states in his broadest accent “It’s my island”. Wildfire definitely belonged to the Irish this weekend. Gasoline Outlaws had only released their debut the day before, so the fact that they had the crowd bouncing about almost immediately tells you something about their no frills, gritty brand of rock music. With very little time, they blasted through their setlist to an ever more appreciative crowd. For me, the highlights were “Nothing On Me”, ” Someday”, and the blinding set closer, “Outlaws”. They had us singing along and wanting much more. I hope to check out the CD shortly, as that was a hell of a set. Next up was Orangefall, as Chasing Dragons had to pull out, as their bassist was hospitalised (speedy recovery, Murf). The band have more of a laid-back feel, but they can kick off when they get down to it. I would class them as melodic rock, with a good slice of prog, and some excellent guitar work. They also brought along the old organ (no jokes now, please) which changed things up a bit, and with songs like “Jet Black And Gold”, and “Brand New Morning”, you get a real Yngvie Malmsteen feel. The guitar work is top notch, and you can tell these Welsh boyos have been playing for well over a decade. A great band showing the sheer diversity on offer during Wildfire. The crowd loved them, as well as the fact that we were jumping genres without a gap or a care in the world. Check these guys out. Mason Hill were the first locally known band of the day for me, and as they plug in and burst into “Your Memory” I felt the whole day had stepped up a level. The bands coming afterwards were going to have to up the ante considerably. The tent was packed for these guys, and there were plenty of Mason Hill T-shirts to be seen throughout the Wildfire site (probably due to their online competition), but everyone that was there can tell you these guys seriously rock. The way they owned that stage, and Scott Taylor worked the crowd, you could never tell they have only just dropped their debut EP. The band strutted and grooved their way through the whole debut, and played an amazing version of “Mississippi Queen”. No doubt you will all be hearing the name Mason Hill in the future, as this live performance, and the EP, shows this band are no fluke. You can tell there has been a lot of hard work and gigging going into the polished article they are now. The future is straight up that hard rock ladder! The crowd quickly switched tents (There is no clash in the two main tents at Wildfire), and packed this one out for the legendary Solitary, old School thrashers who have been on the go for more that 20 years, and their performance showed it. Although thrash is not my ‘go to’ genre, I enjoyed the hell out of these guys. They got the first mosh pit of the weekend, and the faces of the older generation, me included, smiling from ear to ear. Old thrashers don’t die, they just keep pounding away and smashing you over the head with ballsy tracks like “Architects Of Shame”. You can do nothing but bang your head and pump your fist. This band took me back to the heyday of the big four, and any lovers of that time need to check these guys out, as they have paid their dues and deserve to be recognised. See you next year, guys? The locals were evidently looking forward to The King Lot, as the cheer when they appeared testified. This band have done their fair share of gigs in Scotland, and I have never seen them play a less than a fantastic set. They had the crowd boogying, and even had the Wildfire crew swishing the kilt. I know most of you out there will not have heard of this band, and that is a downright shame, as they deserve to break through and break through in a big way. You may have seen them without knowing it, if you were at any of the Love/Hate gigs last year, as they were Jizzy Pearl’s band for the tour, and hence probably the biggest cheer of the whole day went up when the band kicked into “Blackout In The Red Room”. I saw grown men and women racing towards the tent as the opening bars of this came on, and having seen Love/Hate many times (going back to their heyday) I can tell you this was a stonking version. I was singing my head off, as were the rest of the crowd. I’m blame this (and not the drink) for my sore head the next day. If you ever get the chance, go check these guys out, please. I can promise you will not be disappointed. Good time rock with far too much of a fun attitude. I love these guys. The biggest blow to Wildfire (apart from the fact it nearly never happened) was when it was announced Tim”Ripper” Owens was refused entry into the UK. We only found out yesterday, and although I, and many others, were disappointed, I heard no complaining from the punters. Everyone was determined to have a good time, no matter what, but you knew there was an element of “you better put on a cracking show” to the band who were now thrown into the headline spot on the Incedium Stage tonight. I am sure that, like myself, a lot of the people here had never seen Demons Of Old Metal live before, and I am sure there were many more that had never even heard of the guys, so it was going to be a huge ask to fill those boots of Ripper’s. First thing first, the band had to be the hardest working bunch of guys the whole weekend, as they were out in full make up all day handing out flyers with the hand movements to one of their songs (I kid you not). They were stopped continously for photos and to scare all misbehaving children. They had time for everyone. They even took time out to strangle the poor pizza vendors. When it came to showtime, things got far more serious. The stage was bedecked in cargo nets, amputated limbs everywhere, and bloodied dolls heads rammed through their mic stands. These guys were all business when they took to the stage. These demons sent back to earth by satan himself brought forth fire and brimstone with their hellacious shock rock. The songs are fantastically well written, each telling stories of all things evil. The music is full of riffs and has plenty to keep any well-heeled metal fan rocking, pumping those fists and, more importantly, raising the horns. The band came here with a job to do, and that box was well and truly ticked. For me, they were the band, and performance, of the day, and to be honest, even if Ripper was on tonight, he would have been given one hell of a run for his money. I, and many others, gave up our souls to their alter. Who knows what they will do with them, but I am forever in thrall to them now. Last up for me tonight was Die No More, and they kept the heavy hitting vibe going. They bashed, thrashed, and bludgeoned the crowd into submission. By this time in the evening, plenty had been drunk, and this crowd were up for some good old thrashing. This band are Metallica in their prime, fast, furious, and full of venom. The crowd loved them and their on stage exuberance. A truly talented bunch with some killer songs. What a way to round off the night. One day down, and what a complete success so far Wildfire, but the night is far from over as we have a DJ set from Scotland’s own Tom Russell, so no early to bed. The bands were all roaming the venue and happy to talk to everyone. This was a time to schmooze and make friends galore… oh, and maybe a have half of shandy!! Images and Review: Ritchie Birnie [FAG id=13956]  ]]>

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