Black Star Riders, Michael Monroe, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons Live at The Tramshed, Cardiff

BSR Tour Poster 2023

Black Star Riders, Michael Monroe, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons
The Tramshed, Cardiff
Live Review and Photograhy by Paul Hutchings

There will be few more variable yet totally entertaining bills than the one that rolled into one of the best venues in South Wales this Tuesday evening. Celebrating a decade together, Black Star Riders pulled in two very solid supports to bolster the audience on this tour. Not that they ever looked like they needed it. But more of them later. 

Just shy of seven o’clock and the Tramshed is already an expectant buzz. Twenty minutes later and there’s not an awful lot of room in the 1000 capacity venue as the first in a parade of hard rock legends enters the stage. It’s been eight years since Phil Campbell played his final gigs with Motörhead, something which still seems incredibly raw. Since then, Campbell assembled his All-Star Band before morphing it into The Bastard Sons. The band tour relentlessly, evidence that fame and notoriety and status doesn’t a) pay the bills and b) ease the creative itch. Campbell is most comfortable on the stage, peeling out those bluesy solos he’s been doing for over 40 years, since those days when he played with Persian Risk a mere stone’s throw from tonight’s venue. 

The band are a man down. Guitarist Todd is absent, still recovering from illness. This leaves the band slightly light in the axe department, although bassist Tyler appears intent on bringing the low end, such are his rumblings through the 40-minute set. He locks in tightly with drummer Dane, who is surely becoming one of the most underrated drummers in the UK. He handles everything with ease. But this is a band made to survive adversity and the four-piece don’t look like they’re bothered. Indeed, given the limited space afforded to them, it’s probably a relief for Tyler and vocalist Joel Peters to have an extra foot to move around in. 

They hit the stage hard, with their anthem ‘We’re the Bastards’. It’s a fist pumper of a track and immediately gets the crowd moving. This is home turf after all. Peters is a blur of movement, he reminds me of a lighter Ben Ward (Orange Goblin) with his constant cajoling, be it splitting the sides to get a singalong which was embarrassingly polite or getting the crowd to raise their middle fingers to shout, “fuck you, Tyler Campbell”. The band may be struggling slightly when Phil takes the solos, but overall, there is little to complain. They throw in the welcome smattering of Motörhead tracks. ‘Born to Raise Hell’, ’Going to Brazil’ and the mandatory ‘Ace of Spades’ all feature – they do the job in style and Lemmy smiles, I’m sure. 

In Peters, the band have the frontman that they were hunting for since Neil Starr left. Andrew Hunt did a fine job, but Peters is loud, obnoxious, and potty mouthed. He gives it large, and then some. Meanwhile, Phil is content to play guitar, and he can do that with such ease. He thanks the Cardiff crowd, and as ‘Ace of Spades’ fades away, we hope the band will be back to play another headline gig here soon.

If you look in the dictionary for the definition of flamboyance, you’ll find the name Michael Monroe there. Now aged 60, there cannot be many of his age who are in such fine shape. As the lights drop, Monroe and his band enter the stage to a huge ovation. There are clearly a good percentage of the audience here to see the Finn as well as the headliners. He’s everywhere, a nervous ball of wired energy, dashing across the stage, dropping onto the barrier, climbing high above the front row, sitting on the monitors. He does it all. 

One Man Gang starts the evening, and it’s a 40-minute high-octane riot that races through a combination of solo hits and some old favourites. He mixes the set slightly, throwing in ‘Hammersmith Palais’ and ‘Motorvatin’ for the first time on the tour. The songs whizz by, as Monroe thrusts, pouts, flatters his mascara coated eye lashes and generally throws shapes. He can still do the splits, which he manages with alarming frequency. I’m sure I’m not the only middle-aged dude to wince. 

Alongside Monroe, he has quite the team. Guitarist Rich Jones and Steve Conte riff it up on either side of the stage, leaping about almost as much as their frontman at times. Behind them drummer Karl Rockfist hammers out the beat, locking in with long-time bassist Sami Yaffa, whose time with Monroe dates back to those heady Hanoi Rocks days. By the time the band hit ‘Dead, Jail or Rock ‘n’ Roll’ the crowd are eating out of his hands. It’s time for a final fling, and there was never going to be anything other than ‘Up Around the Bend’ which Rocks made their own from CCR, and which gets the Tramshed bouncing. Legend number two ticked off.

Formed in 2012, The Black Star Riders has always been a supergroup of sorts. Formed by Ricky Warwick, Damon Johnson, and Scott Gorham in 2012, it’s Warwick who survives as the sole original member. The band’s latest album “Wrong Side of Paradise” was released a couple of weeks before the tour began. 

They get a good start as heavy metal comedian Don Jamieson cracks a few poor jokes but succeeds in raising some laughs as well as some emotions. Slade’s ‘Cum On, Feel the Noize’ gets the crowd singing and the band race into ‘Pay Dirt’, the first of five songs from the new album to get an airing. Warwick is centre stage, leather jacket, bandana and that familiar scowl. He’s flanked by bassist Robbie Crane, a fixture since 2014, and Wayward Sons guitarist Sam Wood, who’s the new boy in the camp. Although Zak St John played on the album, it’s Jimmy deGrasso who is laying down the rhythm for this tour. His CV is impressive and he nails the new tracks as well as those he’s a bit more familiar with. 

With five albums to choose from, it’s almost a greatest hits set. We get ‘The Killer Instinct’, ‘Bound for Glory’, ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ and ‘Another State of Grace’. The audience is singing along. Warwick rehearses his Celtic connections. It goes down well. As does the arrival of the main man, Scott Gorham, who spends 60 minutes reminding us of his skill. A bruising cover of ‘Crazy Horses’ increases the temperature. 

We get an even bigger treat when Phil Campbell joins the band for the cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Don’t Believe a Word’. It’s a massive song, and a massive moment. Michael Monroe will join the band for ‘Tonight the Moonlight’ later. It’s fabulous stuff, with the musicians in harmony, smooth and polished, whilst the crowd roar approval. 

They do what they do flippin’ well. They may be slightly formulaic, but Warwick can write an anthem. Of course, he’d kill to write something as good as Lizzy’s ‘Jailbreak’. It gets the venue jumping once more before ‘Finest Hour’ wraps things up. It’s been immense. Hard, heavy, but with heart and feeling. Smiles all round. They know how to do it right. Every time.




Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. Photography solely the property of Paul Hutchings. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Stonedeaf Festival 2019 – Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire, UK – 24/08/2019

A full review of this festival can be found here:

Stonedeaf Festival 2019 – Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire, UK – 24/08/2019

00 Stonedeaf Festival

Stonedeaf Festival 2019
Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire, UK
Review by Paul Monkhouse

Welcome to your new favourite festival. It’s quite a bold opening statement but from the moment you step on site things are different. This truly is a festival that is all about the love of the music and the community of rock and metal fans joining together in celebration. The fact that this is only the second year and the numbers have swollen so much is testament to this. Here everyone is family.
Dublin based four-piece Samarkind kicked off the day in fine style, their bluesy hard rock fitting perfectly in with the sunshine vibe of the festival. Like a tougher version of Bad Company, they dripped cool in a set that showed just why there is such a tradition of great music from the Emerald Isles. Absolute stormers like ‘Fire and Blood’ and ‘Blue Mountain’ just scream quality and when the former slips in a snatch of ‘Heaven and Hell’ you just realise how natural these guys are. They work incredibly hard at what they do but it all pays off in no uncertain terms, making you wonder how anyone can follow such a performance.

01 Samarkind

Feral street fighting Aussie brawlers Massive followed and showed how their constant touring and never stop until you’ve given 110% attitude has won over a growing legion of fans this side of the World. There truly must be something in the water that produces such tough rock and roll bands and these guys are more akin to the incendiary Rose Tattoo than Angus and Co, glorying in the rougher edge of all out gonzo tracks like opener ‘Generation Riot’. Guaranteed to wake you up, the band ripped through a set that absolutely nailed it every time and the cover of ‘If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)’ slot perfectly in as a nice tip of the hat to their fellow countrymen. It should be pointed out that they aren’t a one note band but there’s some great songwriting with light and shade as the brilliant ‘Ghost’ proved. Set closer ‘Long Time Coming’ brought back the fire and as lead singer Brad Marr drained a can of beer and poured the last few drops over his head you just knew that you’d witnessed a band giving their all for the crowd.

02 Massive

The Amorettes
Next up were The Amorettes and it was the turn for the girls to show that they can rock just as hard as the boys with a positively red-hot set that matched the rising temperature of the day. This new version of the group featuring original singer / guitarist Gill Montgomery, Tequila Mockingbird’s Jacinta Jaye and Josie O’Toole and second guitarist Laurie Buchanan (Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics) are truly firing on all cylinders. Despite one or two technical issues they powered through a set packed with great songs, melody and a snotty bubblegum rock attitude. Numbers like the pounding ‘Coming Up the Middle’ and the ridiculously catchy ‘Everything I Learned (I Learned from Rock and Roll)’ ensured that The Amorettes continue their upwards trajectory and may well be headlining festivals like this one in the future.

03 The Amorettes

Diamond Head
Very few bands can be genuinely be called ‘legendary’ but Diamond Head are rightly part of that club, founding member Brian Tatler proudly steering the band ever forward with a cracking new album in ‘The Coffin Train’ and not just happy to rest on his laurels, feeding off the past. New numbers like ‘Death by Design’, ‘Belly of the Beast’ and ‘The Messenger’ pepper the set, showing the confidence the band have with the latest material and it’s well placed. Of course, most people are waiting to hear the classics and they certainly weren’t disappointed as ‘Borrowed Time’, ‘Lightning to the Nations’, ‘In the Heat of the Night’ and ‘It’s Electric’ were greeted like old friends, this incarnation of the band brilliantly injecting new life into songs written almost forty years ago. Rasmus Bom Anderson has both the voice and stage presence to make you forget that anyone else originally sung these songs and Tatler spends the set smiling, obviously loving playing the songs whose strength brought bands like Metallica and Megadeth into being. When a World War II Dakota flew in the skies over the stage during ‘Am I Evil?’ this mix of the sight and sound of two spine tingling classics was one of the outstanding moments of the day and was one of those moments long to be remembered.

04 Diamond Head

Geoff Tate
Bringing his ‘Operation Mindcrime’ show to Stonedeaf, former Queensryche front man Geoff Tate stole the show for a lot of people as he put on a peerless show, featuring some of the greatest tracks cherry-picked from his time with the Washington rockers. The time flew by from the moment that the first notes of ‘Empire’ rang out to the final seconds of ‘Eyes of a Stranger’, each song perfectly played and a testament to just how seminal the bands output was at this time. Tate seemed relaxed and happy, a tight group of musicians behind him, his voice better than ever and bringing out every nuance in the lyrics, powerful, moving and out and out jaw-dropping. Metal to stimulate your intellect as much as your eardrums, ‘Operation Mindcrime’, ‘Jet City Woman’ and an incredible rendition of ‘Silent Lucidity’ that was arguably the highlight of the whole day, all transported the audience to their own euphoric state where the only choice was to give themselves over totally to the music. Geoff Tate was utterly thrilling and untouchable.

05 Geoff Tate

Wayward Sons
Following almost constant touring, barring a break to record their new album, the Toby Jepson fronted Wayward Sons are quickly engendering as much love and respect as his previous outfit, Little Angels. Whilst the Scarborough outfit saw their youthful hard rock take them from Yorkshire pubs to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall, Wayward Sons channel more of a spirit of classic rock and new wave bands into an instantly likeable mix that has the energy and fire of The Who and The Clash but adds some extra weight into the mix. Always a very good songwriter, Jepson has matured into a great one and the material the band have now is some of the very strongest he’s put his name too. Blistering opener ‘Alive’ hits like a prize fighter and for the whole of the eleven-song set you can hear more and more converts being made in the crowd, Jepson the consummate front man welcoming each and every one into the Wayward Sons family. Aside from their rollicking good tunes, the key ingredient in the success of the band is the feeling that the musicians themselves are having as enjoyable a time as the audience, like Massive before them they work hard but obviously love what they are doing.
Guitarist Sam Wood and bass player Nic Wastell made the most of the stage, throwing shapes and along with Jepson, drummer Phil Martini and keys players Dave Kemp exuded effortless cool, slamming into numbers like the debut album title track ‘Ghosts of Yet to Come’ and new anthem ‘Any Other Way’. ‘Crush’ featured a snippet of the Stranglers ‘No More Heroes’ and showed that the band are proud of their influences whilst another new song ‘Little White Lies’ had a real feel of The Beatles and ELO in it’s perfect grandeur. By the time that ‘Jokes on You’, ‘Something Wrong’ and ‘Until the End’ had finished the set, despite sound issues, the band had conquered Stonedeaf and are definitely set to be future headliners.

06 Wayward Sons

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons
Absolutely the only way to follow them was with the visceral thrill of Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, the long serving guitarist from the legendary Motörhead and his band truly ripping the place apart. They are without doubt the real deal and Campbell’s years with Lemmy let him shine and develop into one of the most astute musicians on the scene, never overplaying but happy to step back and make the band and the music more important than the individuals. More than any other group on the day, they captured the dangerous spirit of rock and roll, walking the fine line between euphoria, recklessness and perfect control, Campbell cool with his gold plated Gibson Flying V glinting in the sunlight whilst his three sons Todd, Tyler and Dane wreaked havoc as vocalist Neil Starr’s powerhouse voice brings everything home.
It really is a testament to the band when self-penned tracks like ‘Big Mouth’, ‘Step into the Fire’ and ‘Straight Up’ make as much of an impression as Motörhead classics like ‘Rock Out’, ‘Born to Raise Hell’ and ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S.’. Hawkwind cover ‘Silver Machine’ was a brilliant touch but it was the almost inevitable ‘Ace of Spades’ that switched the crowd into a seething mass of flying hair, lunatic dancing and mass singing. Final number ‘High Rule’ could have proven an anti-climax after that but once again showed the band to be very much their own men and a totally formidable rock machine that absolutely took no prisoners. If you’re not for them, prepare to get crushed under their wheels.

07 Phil Campbell and the Bastartd Sons

The placing of Inglorious in the special guest slot was always a bit controversial, playing after such established artists, but the up and coming classic hard rockers rose to the challenge and won over the crowd by sheer force of personality and craftsmanship. A seismic change in line-up could have shattered the band but by sheer force of will main man Nathan James brought the band through this and they came out fighting even harder; leaner, meaner and determined to defy the odds. Opening number ‘Where Are You Now’ could have been directed to the departed members of the band as a bitter riposte but was instead a monstrous slab of hard rock, full of drama and melody.
Three albums into a career, you can’t help but wonder just how huge the band is going to get as they launch into anthemic number after anthemic number, each one perfectly suited for filling stadiums. Sure, the riff in ‘High Flying Gypsy’ owes a huge debt to ‘Kashmir’ but if you’re going to have influences make them the very best you can and ‘Read All About It’ is hard rock with a real groove and edge that most bands would give their right arms for. One thing that James shouldn’t do though is to trade in the six string wonder that is Danny Dela Cruz, considering he is only just out of his teens (having just celebrated his birthday a few days previously) the guitarist is very much a future axe hero and one to watch. Long-time drummer Phil Beaver, guitarist Dan Stevens and perfectly quiffed bassist Vinnie Colla all play their part though, making their own individual mark and certainly not being pushed into the role of sidemen. A magnificent and unexpected cover of Alanis Morrisette’s towering ‘Uninvited’ caused goosebumps but it was the punishing ‘Ride to Nowhere’ and mass singalong of ‘Holy Water’ that left the most lasting impressions, showing that the future is really what they want to make of it.

08 Inglorious

Glenn Hughes
Anyone who has ever seen Glenn Hughes live will know exactly why the K.L.F. dubbed him ‘The Voice of Rock’ when they featured him on their track ‘America: What Time is Love’. The man is a giant in an industry that seldom sees talent as anything but disposable, a survivor of a decade or so of excess that would have finished off most people and someone who has never been prepared to just accept second best, always pushing forward and stretching himself. An astounding singer, brilliant bass player and songwriter, there couldn’t have been a better choice to finish of the night and his current set that focuses on Deep Purple classics. The opening salvo of ‘Stormbringer’ and ‘Might Just Take Your Life’ were thrilling and made everyone forget the technical issues that extended the wait for Hughes coming on stage in an instant and ‘You Keep on Moving’ was so scorching that it threatened to turn the already dry field into a tinderbox. Ever appreciative of those who come to see him, the singer was a true professional, talking to the audience and singing A cappella through a set plagued by equipment problems, totally free of superstar tantrums and just wanting to get on with entertaining the people. ‘Mistreated’ couldn’t have been much bigger and the pairing of DP Mk II staple ‘Smoke on the Water’ with a beautiful and heartfelt ‘Georgia on My Mind’ was an unexpected but literally show-stopping end to the main set. Whilst neither song was penned by Hughes, he very much made them both his own and the playing of guitarist Soran Anderson, keyboard player Jesper Bo Hansen and the utterly phenomenal drumming of Ash Sheenan complemented every note. For the encores, the adrenalin rush of ‘Burn’ never fails to thrill and ‘Highway Star’ closed the festival in utter triumph: a definitive classic by one of the greatest bands in rock history, sung by a true giant of the genre. Quite how the organisers will top things next year who knows, but one thing’s for certain, they’ll certainly try. Due to copyright issues the festival is having to change its name so whilst Stonedeaf may have lasted two brief but beautiful years, Stonedead will continue to grow and grow. Rock will never die.

09 Glenn Hughes

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

‘Stonedeaf Festival – Looking back and moving forward’.

Stonedeaf Logo (TOP)

‘Stonedeaf Festival – Looking back and moving forward’.
By Paul Monkhouse

It’s still Summer (despite the weather) so it’s still festival season. We have had Download and Bloodstock, Ramblin’ Man and Steelhouse amongst others are on the horizon but there are many superb smaller ones definitely worth checking out. In amongst those is one that mixes a heady nostalgia for the greatest annual rock festival of the 80’s and 90’s, an event put on by rock fans, for rock fans I give you: Stonedeaf Festival, happening on the 24th of August.
Despite only having its inaugural festival in 2018, this has become a much-anticipated fixture in the rock and metal calendar and one that has upped the ante even more from last year’s impressive debut. Put together by a collection of veteran fans of the legendary Monsters of Rock festival, this packs into one day and one stage more quality than most festivals do in a weekend (and more than Reading Festival has in the last ten years). The idea was to appeal to not only the people who used to go to MoR but anyone who loves classic hard rock music and doesn’t want to spend several days trudging from one stage to another on a massive site with overpriced food and drink. At Stonedeaf the order of the day is to make things as relaxed and easy as possible so people can get on with just enjoying several hours of fantastic music. Camping is an option and, unlike Download, you can pitch your tent within a very short walk of the arena which is a huge bonus and means you don’t have to miss any of the action. The same can be said of the one stage set-up, totally avoiding all those awkward clashes of timetabling.
Headlining this year is THE Voice of Rock, Mr Glenn Hughes who will be bringing his Classic Deep Purple live set to the venue. It can’t be overstated just how incredible this man is, not only for the voice and his phenomenal bass playing but also for being one of the true survivors of the business. The current set lets him really dig deep into his time in the legendary hard rockers but also breathes life into material that is over forty years old but rocks just as hard as it ever has, mixed with his soul and funk edge. This promises to be a must-see performance.
Not only do you get one of the greatest performers on the planet but also a stellar supporting cast featuring some of the cream of the scene. Rising superstars Inglorious bring their heady modern take on classic rock and in frontman Nathan James have a man whose voice and presence can command any audience. If you like your rock harder and dirtier, long-time Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell brings his Bastard Sons to Stonedeaf and will be playing not only selections from their own hugely acclaimed material but also throw in a song or two from the late, great Lemmy’s troupe too. Having gone down a storm to a packed tent at Download last year, constantly toured the UK with some of the best bands around and on the cusp of releasing their second album, the ex Little Angel Toby Jepson fronted Wayward Sons have got class and material to match that most groups would give their whole careers for.
The unique voice and vision of Geoff Tate is also appearing, doubtless showing just why Queensryche became so huge and true Legends of the NWOBHM, Diamond Head play too. It really cannot be overstated just how important DH are to the modern music scene and without them neither Metallica nor any of the other Big 4 would likely exist. Scotland’s brilliant The Amorettes will doubtless bring some Celtic fire to the proceedings and the bill is rounded off with the visceral rock ‘n’ roll of Australia’s Massive and the bluesy hard rockers Samarkind opening the show. With Krusher Joule MC’ing the whole event and tickets only £50 (£60 for camping) it’s a total no brainer.
Full details at
Stonedeaf Festival 2019 Poster (BOTTOM)
Disclaimer: This preview is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this preview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.