Blaze Bayley/Screaming Eagles - Banbridge, Linenfields Festival - 4 August 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Marc Leach   
Saturday, 12 August 2017 04:30

“Okay, we have a massive field in the middle of nowhere. I know! Let’s put on a festival,” must be what goes through an organisers mind when they see an empty field. Last weekend in July was a pretty busy time all over the UK when it came to festivals with the likes of Ramblin’ Man Fair and Steelhouse; Northern Ireland even had the annual SunflowerFest just outside Lisburn on as well. Last weekend, however, in a small village called Lenaderg just outside Banbridge, one of Northern Ireland’s youngest festivals was being held: The Linenfields Festival with the Friday night being headlined by none other than Wolfsbane and former Iron Maiden vocalist Blaze Bayley. Blaze Bayley? In Banbridge? I know right!

 

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As the sun split the trees with not a cloud in the sky, the rock night of festival got underway with Whole Lotta Voltage, an AC/DC tribute band from the south of Ireland. Debuting their ‘Brian Johnson’ the band ploughed through all the AC/DC classics as Chris Blorphington (playing Angus Young) unleashed the power of the devilish school boy himself as he ran around like a nutter. A solid performance, of course, that took me back to my stag party two years ago.

 

With the Whole Lotta Voltage boys setting the energy for the evening’s proceedings, it was time for one of Northern Ireland’s busiest rock ’n’ roll bands: the Screaming Eagles, who had just come off their stellar performances at both Ramblin’ Man and SunflowerFest.

 

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Kicking off their set with tracks like ‘Ready For The Fall’ and ‘Screaming Eagles’ kicking off their set, the four lads led their Northern Irish family in to an all-out rock frenzy; including the obligatory worship of lead vocalist Chris Fry’s bottle of good ole “Lurgan wine” - better known as Buckfast. Oozing with confidence, the boys were there to have fun as they swapped between covers and songs off both their hit albums with their rendition of The Doors’ ‘Roadhouse Blues’ and the crowd pleasing, rock classic ‘Rock ’n’ Soul’ being some of the stand outs of their set. Although I see the ‘Screagles’ scarcely, every time I do get to they just get better and better with no sign of stopping as they continue to fly to the top of the rock mountain.

 

www.facebook.com/screamingeaglesrock/

 

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As a sea of Iron Maiden T-shirts began to flood the field it could only mean one thing, it was time for the one and only Blaze Bayley. Joined on stage by members of British metal band Absolva as his backing band, Blaze, a beastly gentleman, was ready to kick major ass as he and the boys threw themselves into ‘Endure And Survive’ and ‘Escape Velocity’, two huge tracks off his latest record, ‘Endure & Survive: Infinite Entanglement Part II.’

 

It was very humbling to hear someone who sang for one of the biggest metal bands on the planet be so appreciative of his treatment during his visit back over to Northern Ireland plus be so supportive of the festival as a whole, as Blaze took time to address the crowd. Following his appreciation he took time to tell those in attendance of his own personal history as a musician and the struggles he faced, only to still stand tall above it all; this speech then led into ‘Fight Back’ and the first Iron Maiden track of the night ‘Virus,’ a piece he told us ‘was never played live’ while he was with Maiden.

 

As the night grew darker and the volume grew louder, Blaze continued to take his audience on a journey through his musical career from other Iron Maiden songs like the lengthy ‘The Clansman’ and ‘Man On The Edge’ - but it was when Wolfsbane was mentioned the old school fans come to life as the performance went crazy for ‘Man Hunt.’ It was here where the backing band got to show off their true talents, from guitarist Chris Appleton and bassist Karl Schramm fighting for centre stage with Blaze to show off their manic yet playful guitar skills, to Martin McNee performing a short yet sweet drum solo. With one more classic Maiden classic, ‘Lord Of The Flies,’ rounding off the night, Blaze once again took time to show his thanks to the festival organisers as well as saying “I am not going back to my fancy hotel, I am going over to that tent to meet each of you until this park closes”.

 

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You know good reader, I will hold my hands up and admit that I am not much of a Blaze Bayley fan; I was never a big fan of his voice personally. However, after that performance I fell in love at how well the man was still able to perform plus at how he truly appreciates the fans for continuously supporting him throughout his career. 

 

As a whole, the night itself was a complete success thanks to an amazing collection of bands, a friendly atmosphere and a fantastic sound set up that I am sure shook many of windows within the surrounding area. Now, do we think Blaze could put on a more brutal performance than Northern Ireland’s own resident “king of country” Hugo Duncan (who was performing the second night of the festival), because I smell another mosh pit.

 

www.facebook.com/officialblazebayley/

 

PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Marc Leach/ Über Rock. View our full gallery of photographs HERE.

 

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