Winter's End: The End Of The World As We Knew It!

The Winter's End Festival is organised by Planet Rock's Jon Norman and is the first festival event in my diary every year. Little did we know at the time of this year's festival that three weeks later the UK would be placed under lockdown in light of an unprecedented pandemic. Covid-19 brought an end to live music together with almost everything else that we perhaps took for granted and enjoyed in the free world.

Winter's End, like all Planet Rock organised events, is a very well organised affair and has no trouble in attracting the Planet Rock faithful to Sandford Holiday Park in Poole, Dorset each year. Jon Norman and his colleagues run things like clockwork and each of the twenty five bands over the weekend took to the stage on time.

Planet Rock's very own Paul Anthony, who shared the MC role with Darren Reddick over the weekend, kicked things off on the Friday evening by introducing one of the best emerging bands in the country, Liverpudlians Revival Black. This is a band that is certainly spreading its wings and playing the circuit. Dan Byrne has a great vocal range and the band included a good selection from debut album Step In Line in the set list.

Please visit: https://www.revivalblack.com

Revival Black
Revival Black

(Revival Black)

Northern Irish rockers Trucker Diablo have been doing their thing for twelve years now and certainly deserve the rave reviews that always follow the band's rockin' performances. Drink Beer, Destroy goes down particularly well with the crowd.

Please visit: http://bigtruckkeepsonrolling.com

Trucker Diablo
Trucker Diablo

(Trucker Diablo)

Tequila Mockingbyrd were originally scheduled to play this year's event but had to withdraw. Geordies Edenthorn blew everyone away at Planet Rockstock in 2019 and as a consequence were probably always going to get the call from the organisers to fill the void. They did not disappoint and are a band going places with Dylan Gardner (Guitar), Faiba Gardner (Bass) along with Kyle Tague (Lead Vocals) and stand-in drummer Kyle Hughes. A well executed cover of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in The Wall went down very well.

Please visit: http://edenthorn.com

Edenthorn
Edenthorn

(Edenthorn)

All four nations within the UK were represented over the weekend and Glaswegian five piece Mason Hill were up next. Already a Planet Rock Radio favourite, they are still working on their debut album but judging from this performance it will be worth the wait when it eventually arrives later this year.

Please visit: https://www.masonhillofficial.com/

Mason Hill
Mason Hill

(Mason Hill)

Closing the first day's proceedings, Welsh wizards Those Damn Crows. It seemed that everyone in the audience was wearing a Those Damn Crows t-shirt, testifying to the band's massive popularity. Vocalist Shane Greenhall leaps about both on and off stage and creates a manic atmosphere taking the crowd with him on his dynamic journey with his magnificent vocals. This is a band that will definitely reach the next level and latest album aptly titled Point Of No Return will certainly help get them there.

Please visit: http://thosedamncrows.com

Those Damn Crows
Those Damn Crows
Those Damn Crows

(Those Damn Crows)

Londoners Glitter Machine were first up on Saturday, a band that embraces a wide range of musical genres from hard rock to psychedelia. Glitter Machine impressed with their 2019 debut album Hanging Out For Fame and they are set to release their second album To Be Heard. A great way to start the day, setting the mood for for the rest of the day.

Please visit: https://www.glittermachine.co.uk

Glitter Machine
Glitter Machine

(Glitter Machine)

The Rocket Dolls, a self deprecating three piece from Brighton, really raised the bar. Nicki Smash with great vocals complimented by a powerhouse rhythm section. They treated us to their recent single The Grip, along with some cracking tracks from their new album The Art Of Disconnection. The title track of their debut album and live favourite Deadhead was always going to feature.

Please visit: https://therocketdolls.com

The Rocket Dolls
The Rocket Dolls

(The Rocket Dolls)

Bootyard Bandits from wild West Worcester, sporting two six foot inflatable cacti and a hobby horse for each band member was destined to give us something a little different, especially when the band lists its interests as, looking awesome, riding horses, gun fights, blacksmithery, whiskey drinking, hoedowns, showdowns, fist fights and banjophony! This is a good time band that left a smile on everyones face.

Please visit: http://www.bootyardbandits.com

Bootyard Bandits
Bootyard Bandits

(Bootyard Bandits)

Gorilla Riot, a very polished outfit with three well accomplished guitarists. A dirty rock 'n' roll band from Manchester that was formed by Arjun Bhishma. Leading from the front on guitar and vocals Arjun has surrounded himself with the finest.

Please visit: http://gorillariotband.com

Gorilla Riot
Gorilla Riot

(Gorilla Riot)

Another Manchester based band, Naked Six, a very tight three piece and very loud. Seb Byford on guitar and vocals, a cross between Kelly Jones and Liam Gallagher, or as someone over my shoulder compared him to Jilted John.

Please visit: https://www.facebook.com/nakedsix/

Naked Six
Naked Six

(Naked Six)

Although Winter's End is a well organised event with just the one stage, thus avoiding clashes, you do have to take time out in which to eat. That time had come and two numbers from the hard rockers from the Midlands, Piston and we were off. A great band nonetheless.

Please visit: https://www.pistonuk.com

Piston
Piston

(Piston)

Unfortunately Gin Annie had to be sacrificed also, but having seen them at Ramblin' Man in 2019 I know they are a well oiled machine. We timed our return perfectly as we had no intention of missing Danny Bryant. Danny brought us the first blues of the weekend and is an absolute class act. He is a brilliant guitarist supported by a fabulous band including the equally brilliant Stevie Watts on keyboards. Anyone less classy than Danny Bryant would have been outshone by Stevie but Danny is a man who gives licence to his band members to take any opportunity to shine. We were treated to a great version of Little Wing silencing even the chattiest audience member.

Please visit: http://www.dannybryant.com

                      https://www.steviewatts.org

Danny Bryant
Danny Bryant

(Danny Bryant)

The Treatment, the first of two Cambridge bands appearing over the weekend served up a real treat with a powerful performance. These guys have been around since 2008 and they served up a great selection from each of their four albums. It is true to say they had a hard act to follow in Danny Bryant but they were very well received and would in fact have been worthy headliners. I Bleed Rock N’ Roll summed these guys up.

Please visit: https://www.facebook.com/TheTreatmentOfficial/

The headliners on the night were Terrorvision but we checked out early on a high in preparation for what promised to be a great Sunday.

The Treatment
The Treatment
The Treatment

(The Treatment)

For the early risers, Sunday started with a Planet Rock music quiz with quizmaster Bernard Doherty dishing out the questions. The winner will have to be patient as the prize was tickets to this year’s Download Festival.....or next year's Download Festival as it transpired. As soon as this drawn out affair concluded, Keylock treated us to a stripped back acoustic set which certainly whetted the appetite in advance of the bands electric set later in the day.

Keylock

(Keylock)

First up on the main stage Sunday lunchtime was perhaps one of the big surprises for me. I had not really discovered Northampton lads Empyre but boy can they rock with a real atmospheric vibe. Henrik Steenholdt's powerful vocal on Stepping Stone with some creative guitar work was superb as was an excellent cover of Chris Cornell's James Bond Casino Royale theme You Know My Name.

Please visit: https://www.empyre.co.uk

Empyre
Empyre

(Empyre)

Blind Haze, a three piece classic rock outfit from Leeds was up next and they gave us exactly what it stated on the tin....classic guitar riffs with a tight groove.

Please visit: https://www.facebook.com/Blindhazeband/

Blind Haze
Blind Haze

(Blind Haze)

The vibe then changed and we looked forward to five blues influenced bands, the first of which was Rebecca Downes and her five-piece band. Rebecca has been on the circuit for a while and her fan base has expanded considerably in recent times. A great cover of Led Zeppelin's Rock n' Roll and the excellent Sailing In A Pool Of Tears brought a few more fans into the fold.

Please visit: https://www.rebeccadownes.com

Rebecca Downes
Rebecca Downes

(Rebecca Downes)

I was a big fan of Voodoo Six and it is great to see Matt Pearce with his excellent band The Mutiny featuring Ollie Dixon (Drums), Joe Mac (Keys), Kelpie MacKenzie (Bass), and backing vocals from Daliah Sherrington. Matt has adopted the blues and has a great style. New album Gotta Get Home was the source of much of the set list including the excellent funky Scarecrowing, Ordinary Blues and an excellent new song Got A Thing Going On were two highlights in a great set.

Please visit: https://mattpearceandthemutiny.com

Matt Pearce And The Mutiny
Matt Pearce And The Mutiny

(Matt Pearce And The Mutiny)

After the acoustic set earlier, Keylock returned with their full Travelling Rock ‘n Roll Circus line-up. I first saw Aaron James (formerly Keylock) some nine years ago when he performed as a thirteen year old at the 2011 High Voltage Festival. He has now surrounded himself with some real quality including Jonnie Hodson of The Head Hunters Blues Band fame on vocal duty. A great soulful band that ticks just about every box.

Please visit: https://jabamusic.co.uk/artist/keylock/

Keylock
Keylock

(Keylock)

The brilliant Sweet Crisis, another class act from Cambridge, have really been getting noticed since the band's well received performance at the 2019 Ramblin' Man Fair. They hope to release their debut album later this year but an EP with Misty Haze, Black Magic and Treading In Deep Water is well worth a purchase in the meantime. Leo Robarts vocal pulls you in and coupled with Piers Mortimer's dreamy guitar you are hooked. I love this band to bits.

Please visit: https://www.sweetcrisis.net

Sweet Crisis
Sweet Crisis

(Sweet Crisis)

Due to other commitments I was going to forego the top three bands on the day, Cormac Neeson, Sweet and Diamond Head so the excellent Welsh Buck and Evans was to be my headline act bringing this fantastic weekend of quality music to a close. We had to wait a good number of years for the band's excellent debut album Write A Better Day but it is the live performance where this band really shines. Chris Buck (Guitar/Vocals) and Sally Ann Evans (Keys/Vocals) blend magically and bring in the thumping rhythm section in Dominic Hill (Bass) and Bob Richards (Drums) you have a band that sends a shiver up your spine. Slow Train fully demonstrates this magic when Chris Buck's guitar playing compliments Sally Ann's vocal to perfection. This was the only band I saw over the weekend that was brought back on stage for an encore.

Please visit: http://www.buckandevans.com

Buck & Evans
Buck & Evans
Buck & Evans

(Buck & Evans)

Winter's End was the last but one music festival to go ahead in the UK as far as I know before we experienced lockdown. Social distancing will be a major issue before it is deemed safe to re-open venues for live performance and Winter's End 2021 may well be the first festival event to be given the green light in 2021.

I leave you with my spotify playlist featuring music from each of the bands I saw at Winter's End 2020:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/33jlWIuHCqnMiS2WEQGJex?si=SaseT9HoQbW4NpRvSNq9fg


Photography and words by Phil Honley at the Planet Rock Winter's End Festival, Friday 28th February 2020 - Sunday 1st March 2020. Phil has his own photography site here where you can find many more photographs (too many perhaps) from this great festival: http://www.gigsnapz.co.uk.

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