STONEDEAD FESTIVAL 2021 Newark Showground (UK) – We’re Avin’ a Giraffe!!

    Review by Alec King Additional photos of Dead Man's Whisky and Kris Barras by Adrian Hextall


    With everything that’s happened over the past 2 years, I think it’s time to pay massive tribute to organisers and the hundreds of others that have worked their socks off, volunteers & first aid staff to bring us back to a field with live music, not just at Stonedead but to all festivals that have happened across the country. Horns up to everyone.

    Having attended every Stonedeaf / Stonedead, this was my first-time camping. Arriving Friday afternoon after working all morning, with a very very slooooow drive across the country we eventually made it to Newark. As usual on arrival greeted with smiles and enthusiasm from the volunteers on the entrance, no queues at the gate in fact we met a lovely gent who goes by the name of Ozzie and we just knew it was going to be silly. What a character.

    Before the festival got this go-ahead from our friend Boris things didn’t go to plan, some bands pulling out due to logistical issues or Covid reasons. But here we were treated to amazing shows from Friday night and through Saturday. Issues that Chris and the team went through to put this show on, half the time not even knowing if it would happen. Covid rules, constant changes to guidelines, testing, vaccinations, a real headache for all of us just wanting to be in a field, but for the organizer’s, a bloody ‘nightmare.’

    The nightmare before Stonedead continued, the stage – over the years has got bigger, the lighting better, but a couple of days before, guess what? ‘NO STAGE’ They were let down, but managed to source another, unfortunately not the size anticipated, with show time less than a day away, we have to make do.

    Black Star Riders cancelled their performance , but was there panic, probably deep in the head of Mr Sumby yeah, but Uriah Heep stepped in, re-negotiating a contract to allow them to play at very short notice.  Absolva stepped in with 4 hours’ notice, Chris Sumby must have pulled out the rest of the little hair he had left. The line-up was far from what was originally planned, but well worth it.  Most problems backstage didn’t filter out to the crowd but have a read of Chris’ own nightmare before Stonedead.

    The fans maketh the festival… Without them it would be an empty field.

    So horns up to those that attended….

    There were many newbies not just to Stonedead, but to music festivals in general, so let’s take a look from a fan prospective –

    Dave from Manchester “Had an absolute ball, the only problem was with the camping, arrived just after 2 & it was virtually full, there seemed to be a free-for-all as to where to pitch up, maybe going forward pitches could be better planned, so that campers do have their own pre-booked area. Probably not – too much hassle and it’s life in a field. But the food, pie & mash, the curry pot & pizza were brilliant and all at reasonable prices. Loved it see you next year”

    Sue from Worcestershire – “Never been to a festival of this calibre before, got dragged along to what turned out to be a school reunion, meeting up with folk I’ve not seen for years. Everyone I spoke to was really friendly, chatty, I’d heard that some people had complained that nobody spoke to them, well not through my eyes. The food was great and the drink was cheaper than the local pub. Some complained about the queues for food, well yea a little but to be fair isn’t that expected, so rather than stand there for hours, why not just keep an eye on what’s happening and go when the queue is short, I managed it 3 times and all at different places. The bands were all brill, STOP STOP fantastic, Uriah Heep surprised me but OMG Terrorvision. Definitely coming back next year”

    This year, or was it last year, oh I don’t know some time in history, there was a little festival in a field in Newark, but how it’s grown, it reputation as a family fun friendly festival still exists but there are always a few moaners out there, come on guys & girls it’s all about the experience, and for some it’s not for you, but if you ever saw what went on behind the scenes, I’m sure you would look differently.
    As one quote over the weekend “is it a case of falling victim to its own success?”
    We can’t please everyone all the time, but we can dam well try.

    Please people STONEDEAD is not about being the biggest – it’s being the BEST!

    It went Giraffe mad…Hundreds of them.


    Big ones, small ones and even some human ones. Great idea, with nobody getting wet or hurt. Even a blow-up banana to feed the blow-up giraffes.

    Rob Stephens (the guilty party) “I was just seeing quite a bit of negativity on the FB page around the BSR’s being replaced with Uriah Heep so I decided to write something to promote some laughter rather than grumpiness. The basic point I was making was just that Stonedead is amazing value for the fans even if there’s a band or 2 you don’t like and because of the amazing work done by the organisers and volunteers, we basically (by my own silly maths) pay about £2.50 a band, and the best thing you can buy for £2.50 if you decide not to come is an inflatable giraffe. Then someone else commented that he was going to buy an inflatable giraffe anyway….And then it just took off”
    “It was so great to see people having fun with it all
    And I asked that people pay some Giraffe Tax at the British Legion tent”

    FridayMMH radio in between the bands, come on guys turn it up, we could hardly hear you further back. We could hear the bands fine.

    The Hot Damn:
    I’d not heard of Hot Damn before, but isn’t this why we come to festivals, to see bands we’ve never seen before. However, a couple of them looked familiar, and yes I have seen them before singer Gill Montgomery (Amorettes, at Slade rooms, Wolverhampton), and Laurie Buchannan (Aaron Buchanan at Amplified) teamed up with Drummer Josie O’Toole (Tequila mockingbird), & Lizzie Hayes (Sophie Lloyd band) to form The Hot Damn, they must have been off their rockers, (pardon the pun) to start a band during a pandemic, but oh no folks they were definitely on their rockers, having a year or so with no gigs, they got stuck in behind the scenes, rehearsing, writing new material and setting up our Friday treat at Stonedead. Their set as polished as you were ever going to find. Introduction to their new single dance around did just that.
    Looking forward to seeing more in the future from these ladies. They’ve certainly introduced themselves to a new set of fans.

    StOp sToP!
    Where do we start? Mr Kal you have a lot to answer for. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been told so much about how good Danny, Vega & Jacob are, and yep justified!  What a performance. High octane, a little introduction of “Good evening MoFo’s” Giving us an impromptu tour of the crowd, these guys were ‘Raised on Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and live and breathe it. Steel Panther? Kiss? A bit of both, a set that had us on our feet (even the ones in chairs at the back). Brilliant, reminiscent of the 70s & 80s Glam rock scene. Were they having a ‘Toilet Party or ‘Living A Lie’ neither, it was all about ‘The Big Vaccine.’
    Probably one of the busiest bands this year, greeting fans at the merch stand.

    Can’t wait to see these again.

    Cats in Space
    How do you follow StOp sToP? Calm it down a little, only a little. Classic rockers beamed down for the night, bringing us their own brand of hard rock. Having seen the cats play a few years ago, this was the first time with Damien on vocals. Very impressed, but we should be, the history of the Cats is one to be looked at, having toured with the likes of Deep Purple, the mighty Status Quo and Thunder to mention a few.
    They fell out of love with rock & roll for all of 4 minutes.

    Wayward Sons
    For all that was here in 2019, the sons graced the main stage, blew us all away. I mean literally Blew the fuse. As soon as these guys were mentioned for the Friday night it was a no brainer to dust off the tent and book the weekend. What a reception, Toby and the boys gave us a show that we have all been denied for the past 18 months. They loved being back in front of stage as much as we loved being in a field. Wouldn’t it be great if they could become the resident act.

    Saturday started a little late due to safety concerns, 30 minutes late, so from this point it was always trying to catch up to finish on time.

    Dead Man’s Whiskey
    To open any show must be nerve wracking, but you couldn’t tell. Having won the vote to play, they played with a maturity way beyond their years. Having only formed in 2016 then losing a year and half due to Covid, I raise my hat to these guys. They have a very exciting future and looking forward to seeing them again. Hopefully Cannock.
    Raising the roof with ‘War Machine’ and ‘The Fight.’ They really are ‘Live, Loud & Ready!
    Pop over to their website and have a listen to ‘Breakout’ the debut EP.

    Came in at literally the last minute to replace The Treatment. Having known the guys support Blaze Bayley for some time, it is however the first time I’ve seen them grace the stage. When I say grace, I meant take it by the scruff of the neck and pin it down like the Undertaker. Chris Appleton, brother Luke, Martin ‘The Machine’ Mcnee and Karl Schramm, influenced by Iron Maiden Thin Lizzy, brought us real hard heavy metal. Let me rephrase it was like having 4 front men, blending perfectly, hi power from all, riffs that could crack walnuts, vocals loud and proud. One of my favourites of the whole weekend. Hope to see you at Xmas bash at KKs Steelmill, Wolverhampton. Managing to catch up with Chris Appleton to get his views on Stonedead:

    “This was my first Stonedead experience and had privilege to perform not just once but twice. ‘Blaze Bayley’ who I’ve been playing with for approx. 10 years now, had been booked for quite some time to perform the Iron Maiden anniversary set. But then at very short notice (only a few hours in fact) we got the call for my band ‘Absolva’ to step in and fill the slot for ‘The Treatment’ who unfortunately had no choice but to pull out of the show due to Covid-19 positive test results” Chris Comments.

    Continues Chris “I had an amazing time performing with Blaze Bayley (also on the bill) but it was very special to perform with Absolva, as we have’nt performed that much in recent years in our home country the United Kingdom. We have been mainly focussed on touring across Europe where we have built a very strong and loyal fanbase. So, to have this fantastic opportunity to play to a field full of new listeners on home soil was incredible. We have made a lot of new fans and friends which I am very excited about.”

    Myke Gray Band
    When Myke was introduced to the stage by Stonedead’s very own Mr. Maynell, we knew we were in for a treat, backed up by the vocal power of Dan Byrne (Rival Black), they delivered a fantastic set, power driven guitars to rapturous applause from the crowd. Myke was that good the RAF Spitfire crew decided to fly over for a closer look.

    Blaze Bayley
    As we welcome back Blaze to Stonedead, this time to commemorate his 25th anniversary with Iron Maiden, no bad language, just the Gentleman that he is, but with the vocal power of the merlin engine attached to the spitfire. Joined on stage by the boys from Absolva we were treated to a range of Maiden tracks from Blaze’s albums. Very apt ‘Virus’ from the 1996 album best of the beast, ‘Sign Of The Cross’ and crowd lover ‘The Clansman,’ inspired by the film Braveheart. “Where Are You Going? I’m Going To Pick A fight.” Looking forward to attending Blaze Bayley‘s Xmas bash later in the year. Blaze in Maiden was like marmite, love it or hate it. But Stonedead we love it.

    Kris Barras
    What a debut at Stonedead. Having already toured with the likes of Bon Jovi, Blackstone Cherry, being the only artist to have played 3 consecutive Rambling Man festivals, sold out shows and played to an audience of 3 million on BBC radio 2, Kris popped in to our little field in Newark. What a voice!!! Hail Mary, rough cut and redneck looking, my view of sound of metal meets country. Loved it. Need to see more, will be looking at tour dates.


    Massive Wagons
    Got to be honest guys, missed most of this set due to the fact I was stuffing my face with a very nice chicken madras from the curry pot.
    To step in to replace H.E.A.T. to return to Stonedead we thank you.
    The applause from the crowd, and the following that these guys brought with them was loud. Vocals, loud, all in all went down a storm and loud.

    Glaswegians Gun came up next, with Covid affecting their line up, we were introduced, to just out of school, Nick Georgiou taking over the drums. Anyone would have thought he was the regular…

    A great band performing tracks such as ‘Taking on the World, ‘Welcome to the Real World’, a blinding rendition of Cameo’s ‘Word Up’  and ending a song that we all relate to coming out of the s**t storm pandemic-  The Beastie Boys’s ‘You Gotta Fight’

    A fantastic performance..

    Tequila, it makes us happy, just wow, what a performance. The lads from Bratford didn’t half kick up a storm, hands, arms, heads and feet all bouncing. Fantastic set. If you didn’t see it you would not have noticed the rather large lighting failure, but did they stop and wonder what was going on, absolutely not, grab a torch & carry on like nothing had happened, now that’s professionalism for you. The lighting outage cause by generator problems, bet it was manic backstage to fix, but front and centre it was party like it’s 1999. Quote of the day goes to Tony for “They’ve only done this coz I sed I like playin in the fukin dark” Alice what’s the matter? – absolutely nothing it was fantastic!

    Uriah Heep
    Taking the place of Black Star Riders who had to pull out was annoying. Let’s be honest guys, in the world at the moment shit happens, and it did. For Uriah Heep to step in, change a contract and come to perform we salute them. 50 years in the industry and still rocking strong. In all seriousness I didn’t for one minute expect to see gents of this generation be able to top Graham Bonnet, but yes they did. Massive surprise of the performance, albeit cut somewhat short because of tech issues earlier in the day.
    Founder member Mick Box, strumming away like he’d just started, laughing all the way through the set with Bernie. They were thoroughly enjoying themselves on stage, this ultimately bounced down into the crowd.

    Bernie’s quote at the end “It was an absolute pleasure to be at Stonedead to be asked and thanked every single member of the crowd. No Bernie it was a pleasure to see you guys!

    There were also a couple of independent vendors that caught my eye too- walking past a particular tent, we noticed some paintings- we had to be nosey …. WOW,  the ‘enclosure’ was wall to wall full of paintings done by Tracey Dykes- paintings of Lemmy, Bowie, Marilyn Manson etc.. We just had to mention the amazing world of her paintings that we just walked in on…. She even paints leather jackets too… Check out her work…!!


    What a way to end a superb weekend of fun, food, beer and music. Sunday morning, apart from the fact there was a stage, all the litter had gone and as usual the site was left in the condition we all arrived. Thank you to all the staff that waved us all goodbye, to the organizers and all the volunteers that make this possible. See you all next year!


    Stonedead is a rock festival that models itself on the traditional Monsters of Rock, Donington. A single day event with a Friday warm up evening. 10.30am gates open and let the full day of rock commence. What is particularly special about Stonedead is the people who run it. They really are all music lovers at the heart of the organisation which certainly reflects the amazing passion of this event.







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