|Posted on August 16, 2013 at 2:20 PM|
It’s rare anything comes free these days, so when a weekend of incredible bands and all round fun presents itself, it’s an opportunity not to be missed. I am of course referring to Festwich, the UK’s biggest free tribute festival, which after a highly successful debut last year has come back for the second year bigger and better than ever. And with a second stage co-sponsored by Manchester Rocks and Future Perfect, there was an abundance of top bands and enjoyment to be had.
Festwich day one and the glorious weather engulfed St.Mary’s Park in Prestwich, as Enraged took to the stage and whipped the crowd into a frenzy from the get go. No exaggeration, these are one of the best tribute bands I’ve ever witnessed. Rage Against The Machine classics provoked much enthusiasm from the excitable crowd, songs such as ‘Sleep Now In The Fire’ ‘Testify’ ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Guerrilla Radio’ went down an absolute storm. Inevitably finishing with ‘Killing In The Name’ Enraged provided a highly memorable performance. Next up Higher On Maiden, who after a hard act to follow came across a little lack luster, nevertheless Maiden anthems such as ‘The Trooper’ ‘Number Of The Beast’ and ‘Run To The Hills’ were welcomed with open arms. All in all a credible performance, but re-creating Iron Maiden is inevitably one tough battle. Unlike next band Mentallica, who as always, were on top form, immediately grabbing the crowd’s attention with opener ‘Creeping Death’ and maintaining that attention until the last chord was played. It’s simple, you love Metallica, you love these guys. Playing a refreshing variety of songs from the Metallica back catalogue and engaging in some crowd participation with various James Hetfield-isms, Mentallica proved just why they are so successful as a Metallica tribute.
Over on the second stage the crowd hustled and bustled their way forward for the arrival of KnotSlip, who absolutely brought the house (well tent) down. Almost quite literally, as they proceeded to climb various scaffolding that was holding the stage up. Highlight of the set was with a doubt ‘Spit It Out’ where the crowd were coaxed into crouching down and jumping up as the song kicks in. Word of warning from personal experience if you participate in future, stand up quick or you will get left on the floor for a considerable amount of time. Closing the main stage as the heavens opened and well for no better words pissed it down was Whole Lotta DC, who successfully turned a rather soggy affair into a jovial experience to conclude what had already been a fantastic day.
Despite adverse weather conditions, day two of Festwich had plenty going on to transform our concern over the weather into a mere insignificance. Jimi Hendrix tribute Are You Experienced? lifted spirits with ‘Crosstown Traffic’ ‘Purple Haze’ ‘All Along The Watchtower’ as well as many other Hendrix songs we all know and love. Displaying incredible guitar work, including playing his instrument behind his head in true Hendrix style, and wearing spandex that left little to the imagination, Are You Experienced? really were the, ahem, full package. Guns Or Roses enthusiastically took to the stage with ‘Axl’ wearing some seriously circulation restricting lycra shorts. An exciting set from these guys, topped off in true rock star fashion with ‘Axl’ reasonably successfully crowd surfing during finale ‘Paradise City.’
Over on the Manchester Rocks stage, a barrage of 80’s sleaze was thrown our way in the form of Risin Tides, Spandex Rising and Hell to Pay. All three equally enforcing a feel good atmosphere, as people sought shelter in the fortunately covered second stage. Headlining this stage was Pearl Scam, who were a joy to watch for any Pearl Jam fan, playing a healthy mix of songs including ‘Better Man’ ‘Rearview Mirror’ and of course ‘Alive’. Their set seemed to be cut slightly short, much to the disappointment of the crowd, I was personally hoping to hear ‘Black’ or‘Jeremy’, nevertheless a solid set and a fantastic way to close the second stage festivities.
Hats off to Led Zeppelin miraculously managed to maintain the cheerful buzz, despite everyone draped in ponchos and huddled under umbrellas like refugees. Impressively accurate vocals generated solid resemblance to Led Zeppelin themselves, which made for a spine tingling set. Alas, the end is near and bringing us to a close was The Strange Doors and the energetic crowd were not prepared to deteriorate. Song and dance ensued to classics such as ’Break On Through’ and ’Light my Fire’ concluding what had really been one hell of a weekend.
Festwich is the festival that has it all, great music, fun time atmosphere, family friendly and generally well run and put together. Above all it’s bloody free!! This is only the second year of Festwich and it’s inevitably going to expand in the foreseeable future, see you next year? Yeah, I thought so.
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