Viking Fest V – Ebbw Vale, Odin’s Rock Club - 2 June 2017 Print E-mail
Written by David O'Neill   
Sunday, 11 June 2017 04:00

This is the first time I’ve been to Odin’s Rock Club for a gig, but this was following up on the launch event at the Dollshouse (my earlier review of the ticket launch event piqued my interest). Already being committed for the Saturday at another event meant my only option was to go on the Friday. I am so glad I did! The biggest issue with the event for those of us who aren’t local (and who work) was the early start time of 4pm. This was compounded by one band pulling out last minute and Skam having a breakdown en route.


This led to a rejig of the running order which meant I missed both Reece (who I saw last month) and the indomitable Crowsaw who I try to see as regularly as I can cos they are just fantastic. So not a good start I thought. Spoke to both bands outside who were complaining bitterly about the boomy sound from the elevated stage. However, by the time I got in to see Skam the sound police (in the shape of the Dollshouse’s Nicky Hughes) had manged to sort it out.




Skam are a three-piece hardrock band from Leicester made up of Steve Hill (guitar and vocals), Matt Gilmore (bass) and Neal Hill on drums. They got Viking Fest V, as far as I was concerned, off to a damn good start with an our set of varied rock music from their repertoire of three EPs (‘Holy City’, ‘Peacemaker’ and ‘Rivers’), two studio albums (‘Peacemaker’ and ‘It’s Come To This’) and the latest offering ‘Skam Live!’ The Hill boys are related but Neal is one of the most animated drummers I’ve seen for a while (well since I saw Jon Fred Young of Black Stone Cherry in Cardiff earlier this year).


These guys have toured extensively since 2011 and after tonight they are on the bill for Ramblin’ Man Fair and Wildfire too, so we were treated to a set before the rich and shameless. The set of ‘Between The Eyes’, ‘Soldiers Of Rock’, ‘The Wire’, ‘Bring The Rain’, ‘Let's Get Rocked’, ‘Going Away’, ‘Holy City’, ‘No Lies’ and ‘Massacre’ demonstrated a degree of musicianship and stagecraft that can only come from repeated gigging. These guys are going to set a few stages rocking this summer. If you’re in the area of any of these I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to see Skam.


Little did I know, but in the words of D: Ream (sorry for that) things could only get better - and boy did they just. After a quick chill out, as the main hall was like a furnace, we were then treated to another Ramblin’ Man Rising Stage act, this time from Belfast: Screaming Eagles.


Screaming Eagles


Without knowing anything about these guys it becomes a totally unbiased view, well almost cos they’ve converted a few die hard fans in Ebbw Vale to “Screagles” fans. A little research shows that these guys have had huge exposure across America when two of their songs were used as a soundtrack of 'Justified' ('Rock N Roll Soul') and also turned up on 'Sneaky Pete'.


From the first note they had me and my mates in the palm of their hands. Chris Fry (vocals) could sing the damn phonebook - but at one point he got upstaged by a young girl who belted out the line “Hell ain’t a bad place to be” when he held the mic out for her. The hour long set of ‘Ready For The Fall’, ‘Screaming Eagles’, ‘Take My Time’, ‘All The Way’, ‘Down The River’, ‘Breakin All The Rules’, ‘Vampire’ and ‘Roadhouse Blues’ (Doors cover) really got the house jumping. ‘Hungry For More’ was followed by ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be’, which was a damn good cover, and was quickly followed by ‘Blood’ and the aforementioned ‘Rock n Roll Soul’.   If you like full on classic rock, then these guys are right up your street.


Finally, the real reason I was here was to see Bigfoot. The Wigan based quintet have been touring the UK since my first exposure to them at Steelhouse in 2016. I’ve seen them three times since then, so guess you could say I’m a bit of a fan. Every time I see these guys they impress me more and more.




The solid hard rocking drums of Tom Aspinall keeps everything as tight as a gnat’s chuff. Matt Avery knows how to keep the bassline solid and can also let rip with occasional bassline riffage and solid backing vocals. However, the trio of Mick McCullagh, (guitar) Sam Millar (guitar) and Anthony Ellis (vocals + acoustic guitar) are something else. Every member of the band is given their time to shine in turn, but the real star is the headbanging, wide eyed grinning animal that is Ellis. If ever you wanted to define frontman to an alien, all you’d have to do is show them a video of Ellis in full flow.


They open the show with ‘Stone Soldiers’, which has a bit of an early Bon Jovi feel to it. ‘In The Gutter’, ‘Tie Me Down’, and ‘Run’ follow, before slowing things down when Anthony does an acoustic song called ‘Come Down My Way’. This is followed by my friend Jon’s favourite track, ‘Bitch Killer’, a fun track called ‘Blame It On The Dog’ and my favourite, ‘The Other Side Of Paradise’.


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