CALL OF THE WILD FESTIVAL

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raz owner of cotw festival and his son in sweet teaze set
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This is a fabulous festival and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish

CALL OF THE WILD FESTIVAL
Lincoln: Showground – 19- 22 May 2022

I always look forward to Call Of The Wild Festival as I know the owner Raz White has an excellent eye for good bands and I always discover something great. Indeed, there’s so much on offer it tests people’s stamina, four days and sixty-nine bands on the bill (Raz, is that a hidden David Coverdale type joke?); it’s also really well organised and value for money. Two main stages side by side and alternating, so hardly any distance to walk, means you can catch every band on the top two stages (if you don’t want to eat). There is a smaller tent stage too where you can catch more up and coming talent, although that clashes with the main stage acts so you have to make more of a point of seeing anything there and realistically I only catch a minute amount of stuff on the third stage.

Thursday

Mad Haven are a three piece that look like a kind of young Skid Row with very long straight hair and there’s lots of hair tossing and some sophisticated Blues based guitar playing. Generally it’s straightforward old school Hard Rock with broad appeal. My only question is I have seen them a few times now and no one song has stuck in my head.

The City Kids do not suffer from that problem, virtually every song they have is three minutes catchy Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll that’ll have you singing immediately, even if you’ve never heard the song before. Unfortunately Berty had Covid and so Rob Lane stepped in last minute and held the fort. It’s big riffs, “whoa-oh-oh” choruses designed to start the party. It’s not haut cuisine, but it’s your favourite Rockin’ fast food designed to put you in a great mood.

Daxx & Roxanne are AC/DC Boogie crossed with Southern Rock and plenty of harmonies. They tried a new song on the crowd and it went down well, being a headbanger like a fast early Whitesnake song. They kept up the energy with shredding and one guitarist jumping over the other. A solid performance.

Revival Black also tried out new material, the new single from their new album. They have a retro, Joplin-esque, seventies Bluesy Rock ‘n’ Roll feel. It’s about the great voice and guitar combo and it’s a winner for me and the crowd.

Gin Annie are also good time Rock ‘n’ Roll, but with a more anarchic feel. The singer was wearing a t-shirt saying “Fuck What People Think” which is a shame because the crowd really liked them. The singer has a Mohican and the bassist’s electric blue sequin jacket wore his influences quite literally on his sleeve. They give the drummer a Toblerone for his birthday! They are smiley with a great vibe, a bit like Wayward Sons, and so suit this particular festival really well.

South Of Salem have a darker aesthetic and brought a bit of theatre, with two young girls dressed up in cheerleader outfits with hockey masks, instantly making horror film references with a bit of pyro for impact. I always enjoy the intelligent word puns in their lyrics, and since they have avoided the trend of death growls, sticking to more Glam-like accessible choruses and old school guitar, have broad appeal. The DJ Ashba and Jay Pepper hair among their ranks instantly explain why they fit this festival and a cover of ‘Slither’ went down well (although I thought it needed speeding up a little). Their vocalist knows how to work the crowd and got them clapping and singing. They are not afraid to tackle the subject of suicide and had the crowd swaying their phone torches in the air to ‘Demons Are Forever’. They got a boo when they announced they only have two more songs and the singer joked that he did not know if that is because that would be too much or too little. But the crowd were definitely behind this band. Despite the dark subject matter these boys are obviously good blokes and the crowd loved them. ‘Pretty Little Nightmare’ really could have been a Sunset Strip song back in the day. Finishing off with their trade mark song ‘Cold Day in Hell’, it was easy to see why this young band are high up on the bill.

The Treatment get better and better each time I see them. They brought a high energy, axe attack, crowd focussed intensity, not unlike the way Maiden engage with their audience. A big voice and incendiary guitars and encouragement such as “we wanna see your Motherfuckin’ hands in the air, we’re gonna do this together” and thank you’s to the crowd for coming out kept the audience involved. Apparently they have done eighteen headline shows in eighteen days an “it fucked us up”. Well, I guess they have stamina, as you could have told me it was the first of the shows and I would have believed you. The song ‘I Bleed Rock ‘n’ Roll’ says it all really. Antics on the barrier, great guitar solos delivered on someone’s shoulders, there’s a definite touch of the Airbourne or Skull Fist Metal tribe vibe, ending the day on a high.

Friday

Steal The City are a baby band who did well on their opening slot. Their tattooed drummer caused a flutter of interest amongst photographers with his stick spinning antics.

Capulus are young Turks with balls that reminded me of the Wildhearts at times, despite the American jock high school appearance. Their Punky version of ‘The Final Countdown’ was an instant hit with the crowd.

Twister started off with the banging of an enormous kettle drum with Timpani mallets or “bongers”, which is a very large bit of kit to bring to a festival for a minute or two’s intro, but I guess that reflects their all out, no effort spared attitude. They say that things felt a bit stale to them before the Pandemic but now they are back and up for it. They are generally quite melodic a bit like the Fortune band, but also have a trashier harder side, like their last song ’64 White Lies’ which I prefer.

The Suicide Notes are genetically descended from bands like Hanoi Rocks and Dog’s D’amour. Drummer Gav is up for it 24 hours a day and was standing on his drum stool in his leopard jacket baiting the crowd before they even start, and kissed singer Billy Tee on the mouth during the set for shock value. Singer Tee’s voice is rough and whiskey-ravaged and they swagger like the best as early as 10am. There’s no doubt that he is one of the most inventive and magnetic front men around. I can always be guaranteed some great photos even if he keeps his shirt on, which he did today, not letting the audience see his impressive tattoos. Today instead he let his moves do the talking, including getting down to the barrier and staggering around the pit with his microphone stand, and sitting on the edge of the stage swirling around his mike stand while letting his legs dangle over the edge. His parting shot is “You’ve Been a Lovely Audience” Jack Sparrow style, and indeed he has a similar loveable rogue kinda character.

I don’t really catch The Last Hounds who are a bit Beastie Boys crossed with Faith No More (a girl’s gotta eat!) but I was back in action to see the wonderful Bastette. Caroline Kenyon has a fantastic voice with a range going from husky tones like Ann Wilson to a very high register. She also looks amazing and wears unbelievable high platforms, black PVC catsuit and has amazing long red hair which gives a stunning visual. She is obviously super fit as she was able to crouch down and get back up in a second, even despite wearing all the gear, which looked amazing but could be a bit perilous if you do not have feline-like balance and poise. She did a flawless entertaining set, however, and while it would not really be possible not to comment on the visuals, it’s all about the music and that voice. She writes her own material and it’s impressive memorable stuff with a bit of an edge. One to watch.

I managed to fit in a brief visit to the small tent to catch a tiny bit of Dead Writers, not enough to really comment on the music as I only saw the crescendo and dying notes of the last song. The bassist looks like a Ramone and the singer is a pretty boy, a bit like Michael Hutchence, and looks to be a pretty good frontman, if momentary poses are anything to go by. I will definitely try to see a full set of theirs if I get a chance.

These Wicked Rivers are like a baby Lynyrd Skynyrd. I think they are young if the high kicks and jumping off risers/amps are anything to go by, but it’s pretty hard to tell under their gear and hair. They look pretty eccentric in big hats, sunglasses and beards, and a stage set including very large table lamps with Wild West-era lampshades. It’s mostly about the guitar, but I love the mouth organ like an old West train toot. Would definitely be keen to see them again.

King Creature are harder Nu-Metal and not really my thing. They obviously do what they do quite well though and have a well-oiled stage show and exhibit plenty of chops. Howlin’ Tides deliver competent melodic Hard Rock with their new more generation-Z image. Raging Speedhorn are heavy, shouty, headbanging - popular with the crowd although not really my thing.

I started to pay devoted attention again for Ricky Warwick who brought his solo show with The Fighting Hearts, featuring smiley Sam Wood of The Wayward Sons. He mixed material from his solo albums with old classics from his other bands, and after a few new ones the crowd roar and start dancing to ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’, strategically placed early on in the set. Warwick mentioned he’s fifty-six, but to me he doesn’t really look any older than he has for the past couple of decades. There’s plenty of light and shade in the set, from Folkier material like ‘When Patsy Cline Was Crazy’ to harder material like ‘Still Alive’ from the new solo record and ‘Jonestown’. Into the final straight we get ‘Celebratin’ Sinkin’’, ‘Finest Hour’ and The Almighty Classic ‘Free And Easy’, all crowd pleasers no doubt.

We were not allowed to photograph Massive Wagons due to their pyro. They always go all out for entertainment value for the crowd and there’s no doubt they are massively popular, hence the name I suppose. I am always distracted by the singer’s crazy antics and how much he reminds me of the comedian Bobby Ball in his youth. Kickin’ high while running, looking double jointed, split kicks off platforms; it’s compulsive viewing but it always distracts me from the music. They get through all their hits like ‘The Curry Song’ and the crowd passionately sing along. The new single ‘Fuck The Haters’ goes down well, as does the cover of Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’. Not sure why they don’t set me alight personally, but there you are. I don’t hate them, but I don’t love them either, just the truth.

Saturday

Fireroad are at the heavier end with a singer with a powerful voice who reminds me a bit of Skin of Skunk Anansie if she had curly, longer hair.

Tom Killner delivered Southern Rock Skynyrd style, which is also kinda Stonesy and Faces-like crossed with Country and slide guitar in a suitably big hat. He mentioned a song is about the “political classes fucking us over”. The crowd responded well.

The Raptors were heavy and loud with lots of beards.

I got back into the swing of things with Sweet Teaze featuring Raz White, the owner of the festival, which is much more up my street. They deliver Faster Pussycat style Rock ‘n’ Roll and this is their last show having trod the board for thirty two years. Singer Dean has his own particular line of banter “Even when I can’t see ya I can smell ya”. I always love their version of The Subways ‘Be My Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen’, recently re-popularised by the advert on TV. Raz had his son on stage playing guitar, who kinda looks like a younger version of the boy in Karate Kid. Lovely to see them going out on a high.

I missed the Bootyard Bandits getting some food, but get back on line mid-set with Velvet Insane whose singer who remind me a bit of Andy Warhol with long blonde hair. Fleeting impressions were that he seems like a bit of an attention seeker (show me a frontman who isn’t I suppose), courting attention on the barrier and pouring water on the hair of his lead guitarist when the latter was trying to deliver his solo. The hurt in the eyes of the guitarist told me this was not part of the script. It is all very heavily influenced by the seventies, but I did not see enough to say much more.

Shiraz Lane were their usual selves with their Skid Row style, high-energy, guitar-based Rock.

I was surprised and delighted by Mother Vulture and their absolute madness. High energy does not describe their standing on amps and launching themselves off and erratic springing about like a box of frogs. Even before the photographers had left the pit they were jumping all over the barrier, including leaning backwards into it and, as they were using old school guitar leads, they tangled up the toggers in their wake as they ran high speed all over the place like kids in a playground. I loved the big pink Gretsch guitar and matching stripy jacket. Mesmerising to watch. I realise I was so distracted with their antics I don’t remember much about the music, except I enjoyed it. Can’t wait to see them again when I will be expecting the craziness and can try to be more attentive to their sound.

I know Greggo from Wraith back from the old Rock City days and manage to catch the end of their set in the small tent. It’s straightforward, singalong, melodic old-school Rock and I would have watch the whole set if that had been possible.

She Burns Red, with the singers’ alarming what I imagine is a Pictish appearance of red warfare make up and a kilt, have an intense attitude and energy to match.

Vega had singer Nick in extremely good voice as they delivered a proficient set of strong and sweet catchy classy Hard Rock. The cover of ‘Animal’ by Def Leppard was, of course, a crowd favourite.

Kickin’ Valentina
had come all the way from the USA and were amped. Their vibe is very much GN’R and sleaze and they had the crowd eating out of their hands. They have a few albums and EPs to draw from now and rolled out all the favourites and got a chance to showcase newer songs like ‘War’. They played my favourite ‘Turn Me On’ as the finale which keeps me happy. She Burns Red invade the stage to give largely moral support. Chaos in Lincoln doesn’t sound quite the same as ‘Chaos in Copenhagen’, but was highly entertaining.

Romeo’s Daughter delivered a flawless performance of Pop Rock AOR and it’s good to see them all fit and well again. Leigh Matty was looking amazing in fabulous suspenders style patterned hosiery and black leather and that immaculate hair. Ringing the changes, they started off with ‘Heaven In The Back Seat’, usually the encore, to kick things off with a bang. Every song was delicious infectious melodies and they sounded as good as they always did. They finished with their song that was covered by Heart, ‘Wild Child’. Amazing to see them in absolute top form after all these years.

I had fun joking with Rocky Shades and his wife Julie on the barrier before CrashDiet: they were there to support their mates and indeed CrashDiet draw an impressive crowd. Unfortunately, singer Gabriel was having a few vocal issues, but like a professional he did not let it affect his game as he rushed into the pit and up and down the scaffolding of the stage. Right till the end he did not stop trying to keep the energy up in the crowd. Oli from Reckless Love came on to sing ‘In The Raw’ and Gabriel handed him the mike for the high notes. Shiraz Lane invaded the stage for the final song ‘Generation Wild’ and their singer did the honours for very high screams at the end. But a Rock ‘n’ Roll show is not all about who hits the high notes. CrashDiet came from Scandinavia to take no prisoners and deliver an awesome show, and they did.

Reckless Love were the headliners and by the time they take the stage it’s dark and they had lots of neon lights and dry ice which made photography a bit tricky, but certainly added atmosphere as the band were silhouetted against the bright lights. Kicking off with new tracks, the title track from the new album ‘TurboRider’ and ‘Eyes Of The Maniac’, they were sporting their new pastel coloured suits and sneakers, ‘Miami Vice’ look. I am sure it’s a lot more comfortable in the summer than black leather. I was very pleased that they played my favourite ‘Monster’. We got all the hip-swinging, pogoing and an epic solo from Pepe. After ‘Back To Paradise’ we got a great cover of ‘Bark At The Moon’, which is on their latest album, giving Pepe a chance to shine as Oli did huge howls spinning with his arms backwards saying “I thought we would never come back. I was wrong – so happy to be here. Kids never give up!” before jumping on the drum riser to dance with his behind to the audience. It’s great track after great track; ‘Badass’, ‘On The Radio’, ‘Night On Fire’ and finally ‘Hot’ when Oli finally took off his shirt (which was not a given as it has been pretty cold at times in this field in Lincoln).

Sunday

It’s the final day and we have lost a few of the crowd that peaked too early, but I am there bright and early and catch Dig Lazarus who remind me a bit of Stone Temple Pilots.

Hell’s Ditch by contrast are more Punky and raw reminding me a bit of nineties Pop Rock acts like Blink 182 and did a Clash cover.

Hell’s Addiction have a heavy back end with melodic choruses a bit like heavier Whitesnake, although the vocals are post nineties.

The first band to make a major impression on me were Saints Of Sin. The singer reminds me a bit of Justin Hawkins, chatty and very English whilst doing extraordinary split kicks etc like they are a walk in the park. The whole band ended up walking around the audience during the cover ‘Uptown Funk’. It’s mostly melodic Hard Rock, but last track ’21 Shots’ was more of a Whitesnake slower song showing off that the singer has a good voice (as it’s difficult to tell as much in his higher register when it’s more of a Sunset Strip thing). Like The Darkness there’s an element of comedy in their performance like the singer lying on his back like a turtle with flailing limbs while singing “I did 21 shots for you”.

Anchor Lane are more Punky and raw, although I understand they are a bass player down at the moment so maybe not fair to judge.

The Big Dirty have a huge tattooed singer looking like a wrestler in blue spandex and a leopard top hat. It’s groovy road Rock with songs about sex and again very British in a seventies sort of way.

I liked the voice of the singer of Hollowstar and they do their best to get the crowd lively again after a night of hard Saturday night partying, imploring “This is Call Of The Wild not Call of The Tame”.

New Device are melodic Hard Rock and, also being a bass player down, they relied a bit on backing tracks. They don’t do a bad job.

Sister Shotgun is Symphonic Metal fronted by a striking looking singer in a PVC/red lace outfit. It’s not really my cup of tea, but they were quite visually engaging.

LA Maybe are a little bit of AC/DC crossed with GN’R sleaze. They’re American and they got the memo that they are here to entertain, including doing snippets of famous songs from Van Halen, Def Leppard and Skynyrd etc. to revive a crowd that’s flagging a bit after four days of total partying. Being a bit Sunset Strip, there’s an epic ballad. Really enjoyable.

Doomsday Outlaw have really changed since I last saw them, with a line-up change and a bit of a different image and sound. They have turned into Southern Rock, a little bit Black Crowes. Tinkly keyboards have given them a bit more of an old time Rock ‘n’ Roll feel. The cover of ‘Crazy Horses’ was a bit of a WTF moment in a good way. I definitely prefer their new incarnation to the old one.

The New Roses are melodic Hard Rock, but other than the singer always reminds me of Charles Manson (who I suppose wasn’t that bad looking till he carved an unfortunate symbol on his forehead and did more than a few really bad things) I never walk away with any particular memories of them - my bad I am sure.

I perked up a bit for Midnite City, as do the crowd. After four days and being Sunday, the numbers are down from Saturday as you would expect, but Rob and the boys pulled out the stops and rallied the crowd with their big hooks, AOR and dashing blonde glam looks. There’s even an attempt to get the crowd partying and forget to go to work the next day. They’ve got the songs, they’ve got the talent, they drew the short straw a bit by being right at the end of a festival of almost seventy bands, but those still standing enjoyed them very much indeed, including me.


Phil Campbell was the final band of the festival and night. As you would expect it’s a mix of his great solo album and albums with his sons and Motörhead and Hawkwind songs. Singer Joel Peters makes the Motörhead songs like ‘Iron Fist’ look easy and he’s got all the Metal frontman poses down, and while the focus is still on Phil Campbell as opposed to his sons and other members of the band, it feels like more of an equal situation to me with this singer. The crowd were exhausted, but big numbers like ‘Ace Of Spades’ and ‘Silver Machine’ cranked them up to rocking out levels again. ‘Killed By Death’ was the final song and with the amount of sheer awesomeness on offer maybe it should have been killed by epic Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Overview

This is a fabulous festival and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Raz is such a true fan of Rock and Metal, I think he finds it hard to filter bands down to just two days. Four days of relentless awesomeness is a bit much for some though. I was not drinking and I was feeling the strain getting into day four, never mind those that were drinking to excess every night. Long may it continue though, there’s no other festival quite like it. It’s not big enough to have lost its Rock family friendliness, but still offers superb acts and most of them have X-Factor that Raz is very good at spotting. A place to enjoy classic bands and discover new excellent ones, an unrivalled experience.

Dawn Osborne

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