Winters End - Sunday

Empyre opened up the last day of the festival. There has been a bit of a buzz about these guys and we saw them a couple of years ago in a tiny venue in south Wales. They were definitely worth getting up for and their mix of atmospheric rock and heavy rock was well balanced. Included in their set was ‘You Know My Name’, which is also their current single. They had a big crowd who all seemed to enjoy the set.

Hotting up the pace next were Blind Haze. These three guys from Leeds showcased some great tracks - their Motorhead influences in evidence, and with a sound like that, they will always go down well with a rock crowd.

A Planet Rock event would not be complete without a good complement of blues. Rebecca Downes and her band bring a powerful set of soul influenced blues rock to they party, which goes down a treat. 

Following them was Matt Pearce and the Mutiny. After a successful 2019, including a debut album, the band are set to capitalise with a series of shows and a tour. Their set was fantastic, and the album - ‘Gotta Get Home’ is well worth a spin.

With Keylock next on stage the blues theme continues. Aaron is one the most talented blues guitarists around at the moment, and the band capitalised on their appearance at Winters End with some exciting blues influenced rock. 

Sweet Crisis came next, playing to a welcoming crowd. Heralded as ‘UKs best kept secret’ the 5 piece from Cambridge have a great vibe - their rock/blues sound is full of riffs and grooves and they are a band well worth catching live if you can. They have limited recorded music, having ditched their album as ‘not being good enough’. The recently released single shows they have the talent, if they have the drive, to get more of their work out there.

Continuing a run of blues, Buck and Evans were finally able to entertain us. Chris Buck has managed to get some really high profile work - demonstrating his prowess as one of the Wales’s best and most talented guitarists. They are one if the most underrated bands, but it is great to finally see them getting airplay and good live slots. Judging by the queue at their merch desk after the set, the audience agreed!

The ‘voice of the weekend’ surely had to go to Cormac Neeson. Striking out on his own, the lead singer of The Answer put on great show of his solo works. With an unassuming air and an easy style, his flawless voice, accompanied by incredibly talented musicians gave us one of the best and most talked about performances of the weekend. It was an absolute pleasure to watch.

In a slightly odd running order ( ‘The Headline act get to pick the time slot they want!) Sweet came next. They have been around for several decades, but are still pulling in huge crowds whenever they perform. They have recently gained a 5th member, with Paul Manzi joining the band on lead vocals. There is a reason why bands can stick around for that long - they are just brilliant. With a combination of talent and nostalgia, they absolutely owned the venue. The audience sang, cheered, clapped and generally had the time of their lives as they romped through their set. As they finished, it was clear to see how they had the whole place bouncing. They were a band I’d waited many years to see, and I can’t wait to see them again when they head out on tour later this year.

Although we’d had the headline band, the night wasn’t over. Diamond Head had the honour of closing the festival with the heaviest seat of the weekend. They are leading the way in the ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’ and they were a perfect choice to finish off the weekend.

As everyone drifted off, and the weekend came to a close, there were a few performances being talked about as stand outs. For us, our favourites were Those Damn Crows, The Treatment, Gin Annie and Sweet. Amongst the others, we would relish an opportunity to see them all again.

Until next year, and Winters End 2021!