BUTLIN'S MINEHEAD 26TH-29TH JANUARY 2018
The advent of the indoor music festival is the perfect boost for the live music lover's withdrawal symptoms from a traditional summertime pastime. Butlin's have tapped into this indoor festival market with gusto hosting the Giants of Rock at Minehead for the past few years. Just as much as Glastonbury has become an annual fave for city hippies, Giants of Rock has become the go-to place for those who like their music hard, hot and heavy.
The immensely popular three-day event has a host of artists from the heady days of rock with this years line up including Slade, Nazareth and Uriah Heep.
Nazareth frontman Carl Sentance was in superb voice during Sunday's headliner slot. His background in theatre clearly has put him in good stead to take on the bristling vocals of Dan McCafferty and his renditions of classic tracks like Love Hurts and Broken Down Angel are songs that he is clearly comfortable with.
Slade drew the biggest crowd of the weekend with Dave Hill and co-running through their back catalogue with plenty of tomfoolery and elevated volume.
Deborah Bonham's slot was characteristically energetic and visually dynamic. Performing newer tracks she also slotted in some old gems like 'Religion'.
Snakecharmer a band formed from Whitesnake and Magnum member's is infused with the vitality of classic rock, but the dynamism of modern rock. Uriah Heep, Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash and FM all put on some solid performances over the weekend, which is more than can be said for Saturday's headliner Bobby Kimball.
The former Toto frontman became an entertaining highlight, but for all the wrong reasons. From the opening bars of his set, it was painfully obvious that his voice was suffering, and not because he couldn't hear, he's just lost everything from tone to pitch and should have retired years ago. Those who didn't leave early clearly stayed around for a dose of schadenfreude. Kimble's ego seemed to be totally oblivious to the dwindling crowd even when he accompanied himself on the keys (he's not a bad keyboard player, to give him some credit) for several numbers in a cringe-worthy section of the set that was like a totally self-indulgent Las Vegas slot. His apparent delusion with his own abilities drew comparisons to the rock world's version of Norma Desmond. I was half expecting him to declare 'I am big, it's Toto that got small.' Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, when the curtain finally came down on his set, he appeared through the curtains with a microphone, attempting to introduce the band.
Larry Carlton may be a slight digression to the lineup, opening Sunday on the main stage. With his smooth jazz music, the set began as a lazy musical jam, but those unfamiliar with the guitar hero were soon initiated into a masterclass of technical precision and brilliance from Carlton and his band. He might not be a headline draw, but the talent and skill were head and shoulders above anything else on offer over the weekend, it was just in a different league.
Hats off to Butlin's for shaking away the winter blues with Giants of Rock. It's a well-organised festival characterised by the good-natured people of classic rock fans who will no doubt be ditching the winter coats, wellies and swapping chalets for tents in a few months time after all a music festival is for all year round, not just for summer.