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Sunday the 3rd of July 2011 saw the inauguration of a brand new outdoor music festival. Situated slap-bang in the middle of Chester Racecourse on the outskirts of the city, this new arrival strives to offer the best of both worlds in that it has enough space for twenty-thousand people to listen comfortably to great music in the open air, while offering decent facilities. So it’s no surprise that there are many families littered about the place, no doubt lured by the lovely weather and friendly atmosphere.

Chester Rocks is a two day weekend event and by all accounts the opening Saturday  was a phenomenal success, serving  up a platter of bright candyfloss pop in the form of the Saturdays, Eliza Doolittle and McFly.  However it’s Sunday’s bill that’s more interesting to the average rock fan because it boasts a collection of bands that play music that’s a little harder and a lot more heavier.     

Tommy Scott and the Red Scare - First to stroll out into the warm Chester sun is Tommy Scott and the Red Scare [Formerly known as The Drella's] who proceeded to seduce the crowd with a fine mix of ska and blues. It soon becomes apparent that Tommy was the mastermind behind nineties indie rockers Space, especially when he dusts of and airs such great tunes as ‘Neighbourhood’ and ‘Female of the Species’ which get nods of recognition and enthusiastic applause. Tommy Scott on Facebook


The Lightning Seeds -There aren’t many musicians that can claim to possess a better portfolio of great singles than Ian Broudie.  At one time Ian and his band, the Lightening Seeds had a virtual stranglehold on the charts and it seems he’s chosen to populate his set with all these gems. There’s something to be said about Brodie’s innate ability to craft ornate pop songs and each has a quality that hits the pleasure spot almost instantaneously.  But calls for Brodie’s most famous song ‘Three Lions’ is met with a casual refusal with the added explanation ‘We’re always losing’. But the only conclusion one can draw is that the Lightning play a winning set today, much to the delight of the crowd.


Feeder - From just over the border in Wales come seasoned campaigners, Feeder, who takes the music in a completely different direction.  A three-piece consisting of guitarist and singer Grant Nicholas, bassist Taka Hirose and tattoo laden Jon Lee, they coalesce into a loose limbed rock machine that bang out some wonderful balls-out big rock tunes.  Such is the reputation of this band that a lot of people have come to Chester Rocks specifically to see Feeder and they aren’t disappointed.  In fact the band looks to be enjoying the experience as much as the crowd and seem genuinely unhappy when they have to bring their set to a close.

Shaun William Ryder - Back on the main stage it’s Shaun William Ryder, looking decidedly cool in Ray- Ban Aviators and flat cap, who takes the stage to put in the first stellar performance of the festival.  Cherry-picking tunes from Happy Mondays and Black Grape, the irresistible rhythms of these classic tunes cascades over the stage and streams into the crowd.  Though it’s Ryder who oozes charisma, it’s the kinetic Julie E Gordon who steals the show by virtue of her relentless efforts to get everyone to come and join the party.

I am Kloot - It not easy to assembly a collection of bands that complement each other, but you have to hand it to the organisers of Chester Rocks, because they’ve succeeded admirably enjoyably diverse line-up. In fact it’s a masterstroke to drastically change the pace entirely from Shaun Ryder’s high energy funk to the tarnished melodies of John Bramwell’s I Am Kloot. Favourably compared to the mighty Elbow I Am Kloot’s tunes rarely rise above a canter though what they lack in forward motion they make up with a dark nuance and delicacy.     

The Australian Pink Floyd - APF play carbon copies of Pink Floyd songs.  You’d think that a covers band would at best be at the bottom of the bill if on it at all, yet this band goes about it’s business with such conviction that it’s hard not to appreciate the effort  these guys put into getting the music right. In fact there are large clusters of the crowd who find these sparkling prog- rock renditions the apogee of the day’s entertainment and it’s impossible to deny that the humongous guitar solo at the end of ‘Comfortably Numb’ is nothing less than absolutely stunning. It must have been an agonising decision to put this band on the bill, but it worked, and if the reaction of the crowd was anything to go by they could have probably headlined.

Iggy and the Stooges - Though the sun continued to beat down from a cloudless blue sky, little did anyone know that the calm weather was about to suddenly change with a hurricane roaring through the Chester Rocks festival. The name of this hurricane is Iggy Pop, and flanked by his band the Stooges he rips into his set with fierce aggression. Now sixty-four years old, Iggy Pop definitely looks weathered, but beneath beats a heart as young as any rocker. Iggy and the Stooges pull no punches and steam roll through their set which includes the obligatory stage invasion with Shake Appeal and Iggy spending time coming off the stage to embrace with his fans Cock In My Pocket and I Wanna Be Your Dog. Greeting his fans with such warmth and enthusiasm, they lapped it up by the bucket load. In essence there is no such thing as a bad Iggy and the Stooges gig, just varying degrees of greatness. Today at Chester Rocks Music Festival, Iggy and the Stooges played one of their greatest.



Raw Power
Search & Destroy
Gimme Danger
Shake Appeal
Need Somebody
Fun House
L.A Blues
Night Theme
Skull Thing
Beyond The Law
Cock In My Pocket
Open Up And Bleed
Your Pretty Face
Kill City
No Fun

Dustland - For those that wanted some respite from the sun but still want their fix of music, Chester Rocks have conveniently set up the Dawsons Alternative Stage in the Racecourse Pavilion. It’s here they showcase the younger bands who’re just starting their career in rock n’ roll, though a special mention should be made of Liverpool’s own Dustland who showed great potential. We managed to grab just a couple of songs in-between Iggy and Leftfields set.

Leftfield - All that remained, after Iggy Pop and his band finally left the stage, was for the mighty leftfield to bring this lovely day to a conclusion. It was  another wonderful change of pace because where the Stooges bulldozed their way through their set, Leftfield slink through theirs and end this glorious day in style.

Review by Phil King
Photos/videos by Mel [more here]

A Personal thanks to Lisa Southern for inviting us to review this day.

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