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Rotherham Rocks 2005, Oakwood Centre, Rotherham UK, 7th May 2005

Yet another Rotherham Rocks Festival happened, and it was well attended by a near capacity crowd who witnessed six bands of varying styles of music.

Gaia

The early start meant that first band Gaia were on nearly as soon as the doors were open, so time to have a quick visit to the bar and witness the quartet from the Barnsley area. Now Gaia, which is a fairly new band, and with a fine album containing some interesting songs, performed just four songs as time was a little short with the billing. But with the time allowed, Gaia made full use of their precious minutes, and with the interesting guitar sounds from John Rose, and the powerful soaring voice of Dave Hancock who played acoustic guitar won a few fans. The set contained Southern Comfort and final number Turn The Other Way which got a generous applause all round, and everyone felt that Gaia were the perfect way to open the festival. A creditable performance.

Dead Like Harry

Next, young local group Dead Like Harry performed their set which I would describe as Indie-power-pop which was similar to U2 and Big Country, but with today's current chart scene, they might be along at the right time. Frontman Matt Taylor bounced his way through the songs, while keyboard player Sally Brown made some great sounds during their set. They are a young band, and with a performance like tonight's, they look like they will progress a long way.

Tr3nity

Next band on the stage were Tr3nity from the south of England. During their slot of forty minutes, just three songs were performed (4 if you count Happy Birthday which was sung to frontman Chris Campbell who said he felt old after the previous band Dead Like Harry) and they were Into The Dark, The Mask and the epic The Last Great Climb. Tr3nity incorporate Genesis and Pink Floyd elements, and with the amazing voice from Chris, they have a appealing sound. The guitar from Rob Davenport and the keyboards from Paul Gath work well together in a nice harmonic way, but on the whole, a nice sound all round, and so far, Chippenham's Progsfest looks good! I would say from the crowd's reaction, Tr3nity made quite a few people happy.

Arilyn

Now, German space-rockers Arilyn played their first ever show on UK soil, and judging by the excited bass player and vocalist Christian Külbs it won't be long before they return. With six songs performed tonight, opening number Chaos got the crowds attention straight away. The fine guitar work from Jürgen Kaletta, and the spacey keyboards from Jürgen Moßgraber make a nice combination, and for many people including myself this was the first time we had heard of Arilyn. The sound was on the European rock side of things, but this band has good strong songs and riffs that stand out. Title track from the soon to be released album Virtual Reality and The Time Went Backwards stood out in their set, and it had to said this was a fine performance. Arilyn departed from the stage to make way for the next act, Ashtar.

Ashtar

From Brazil, this orchestra of musicians have a unique sound. Combining the Celtic folk influences and metal input, they are a very interesting band to say the least. Front lady, Fernanda Gollo De Mesquita has a great voice, and with her range of instruments including whistles and bodhran give lots of flavour to the group. Guitarist Luiz Garcia joined Fernanda on vocals, but sometimes the more heavier grunts were involved. A violin from Oswaldo Velasco rang out many times too, and on keyboards, helping out from England, was the evergreen Rob Gould whose style of playing seemed to fit well within Ashtar's sound.

It was a pleasure to see Ashtar perform, and to hear their interesting styles at work, but the set of the four songs did go down well with the crowd. Oblivious Scars, Soaring, In Lament Cries The Night and Children Of The Mist / Ashes Are Burning were the songs, and while this band are in the U.K, it will be well worth checking them out. A enjoyable performance.

Mostly Autumn

Headline act Mostly Autumn are no strangers to Rotherham, and the 'near' home crowd waited a long time to see their heroes. The band took to the stage and performed their usual professional set, and with all the band on top form and firing well on all cylinders, the crowd knew they were in for a good night. Angela Gordon delighted the crowd on flute during the first song, while Heather Findlay looked as graceful as ever as she sang in fine voice and playing acoustic guitar. Evergreen stood out for me as the highlight, while the usual favourites Caught In a Fold and Heroes Never Die also got a good response .

Mostly Autumn release their new album shortly, and with tonight's show just underline how popular they have become.

Tonight was a great evening, most enjoyable with the six bands on offer, and a big thank-you must ring out to the organisers of The Classic Rock Society. With the calibre of bands around today, the future is looking very promising indeed. [see photo galleries below.]

Danny Mayo

[click on photos to see full size picture (click on arrows to scroll through thumbnails)]

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Gaia

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