Organised and promoted by local heroes DJevAL and RPM Promotions, the Wildside Festival is a continuation of the regular Wildside club night - "A night dedicated to sleaze glam and hair metal! Full of the sleaziest and most explosive music you'll hear all year", bringing together the best of the best of the UK's glam/sleaze scene, plus, of course, San Francisco legends Vain, kicking off their UK tour as headliners. Nottingham's Marcus Garvey Ballroom is littered with merchandise stands, leather-wear stands, second-hand CD and vinyl resellers, a fully stocked bar and even a burger bar where hungry metalheads can refuel between bouts of head-banging and air-guitar duelling. Make no mistake; this is a bonafide rock festival, in the heart of England's frozen north - central heating included!
As the nation's glam rock hardcore gradually descend upon this Mecca (bingo hall!) of sleaze, Rollin' Thunder take the stage with the unenviable task of getting the ball rolling at the ungodly hour of 4.30pm - you could still taste the toothpaste!!! Wearing their influences on their sleeves, Rollin' Thunder clearly live for the hard rock heyday of the late eighties - all leather jeans, open shirts and more hair than Nicky Clark's kitchen floor after a night in with the girls! What immediately sets Rollin' Thunder apart from the rest of the eighties-wannabe pack though is frontman Rik Cayton's awesome vocal performance - a more powerful voice you will not hear tonight! Playing to a small but appreciative crowd, songs like 'Don't Worry', 'Everybody Wants' and personal favourite 'Only Love' kicked things off in fine style and earned the band a few new fans along the way.
New Generation Superstars, one of Vain's support acts for the rest of the headliner's UK tour, were up next. A crafty visit to the burger bar meant I missed the start of their set, but on returning we were treated to an altogether heavier proposition. Singer A.J. brought to mind a more youthful Iggy Pop - all sinews, hair and tattoos, but his voice and the bands' music was more akin to Backyard Babies' and the Supersuckers' style of rock 'n' roll - as much about performance and entertainment as songs and musicianship. By the end of their short set, when they'd truly reached their stride, these guys left the growing audience clearly wanting more.
More came from the distinctly AC/DC flavoured Sweet Seduction. More hair, more tattoos, a John Corabi look-alike/Brian Johnson sound-alike on vocals and catchy sleaze rockers like 'Good Time Girl', 'Come Tomorrow' and 'Black Leather' helped keep the pace going and kept the ever-growing crowd happy for forty minutes or so. Good, solid stuff!
Soon to be media darlings (via a bit part in a televisual interpretation of Seb Hunter's excellent 'Hell Bent for Leather: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict') Red Star Rebels are also joining Vain for the rest of their UK tour. Rightly so too, since they offer up a truly 80's American sound, with songs such as 'The Fast Die Young & Pretty', 'The Queen of Obscene', 'Too Young to Care' and the excellent 'Breakout'. Poured into the tightest jeans, finished off with bandanas and proper 'flower-pot' topped cowboy boots (where do you get those from these days?), this is surely what it's all about!
Fresh from receiving an absolutely shocking album review in a recent issue of Classic Rock, Rattlesnake Remedy seemed a little subdued as they hit the stage. 'Main throat' Lee Stone put this down to some hard gigging wrecking his voice, but it could have been something to do with the fact that he seemed 'somewhat' pissed - he was having a great time up there, dancing around like a puppy chasing his tail! I did wonder if maybe he'd taken recent comments about his 'piercing voice' on board and decided to tone things down a little. I hope not, his voice is part of what elevates Rattlesnake Remedy above many of the other support bands on this bill, and songs like 'Black Sheep Fiddle', 'Payin' My Dues', 'Killing Time' and recent single 'Dragging You Down', together with awesome b-side 'Hangover Blues' had a growing crowd (both in numbers and enthusiasm) eating out of their hands. It was a shame then that they had to cut their set short as things were starting to run behind schedule. Still, it's always good to leave your audience wanting more.
The fact that Rattlesnake Remedy had to leave the stage early was bad enough. But to do so in order to make way for circus buffoons Kid Ego was adding insult to injury! What the hell this lot were doing this high up the bill, I could not fathom. They were everything that was bad about the eighties all wrapped up in one very untidy package! Prior to the gig, I'd checked out their album and found it to be very average indeed and had promised myself a breather at the bar for their set. I wish to God I'd stayed true to my word. Fur coats, three-foot long inflatable dicks and sub-Wrathchild cock rock/schoolboy humour is not my idea of a good rock show. Although, to be fair, the saucy female dancing girls did make it all a bit more bearable! That said, tubby, fur-coated singer aside, the band looked the epitome of cool and could all play. They were clearly doing something right too, as they drew by far the largest and most enthusiastic crowd of the evening so far - lapping up the subtleties of 'Lady Conniver', 'Heartbreak Hooker' and 'Flirtin' With Suicide'. Ditch the tacky gimmicks and take the image side of things a little more seriously, and they could just be on to something.
Veterans of the UK club circuit throughout much of the late eighties and nineties, Tigertailz returned in 2004 with a revitalised line-up and have spent much of the last two years preparing their recently released Bezerk 2.0. This, therefore, was only their fourth UK gig in over ten years! This, together with the strength of the recent album ensured that the returning glam titans were afforded a heroes welcome by the now packed Wildside crowd. Taking the stage to the thunderous riffage of the eponymous 'Bezerk', the toned down glam image was immediately apparent - only vocalist Kim Hooker and guitarist Jay Pepper retaining the long hair and make-up (albeit understated) of their youth. What was also apparent though was that this was still the same old Tigertailz - four great entertainers/one awesome rock band! Glam metal classics such as 'Livin' Without You' and 'Love Overload' were mixed with more recent numbers like 'Tear Your Fucking Heart Out', 'Dirty Needlez', future single 'Falling Down' and the first ever live rendition of 'For Hate'z Sake'. The crowd went typically mental, and were even treated to a rare outing for 'Shoot To Kill', from 1987's 'Young & Crazy' album, all topped off the set-closing standard 'Call of the Wild' - giving new drummer Matt Blakout the opportunity to show everyone just how well he has fitted into the band. An awesome performance that allowed Tigertailz the first encore of the evening. Chants of "Ty-ger-tay-ulz! Ty-ger-tay-ulz! Ty-ger-tay-ulz!" brought the band back for clearly planned, but nonetheless appreciated renditions of 'Sick Sex' and hit single 'Love Bomb Baby', leaving an exhausted, yet ecstatic crowd dazed and confused by this unexpected yet triumphant return.
Almost an hour after Tigertailz left the stage, Vain finally appeared at 11.30pm to finish the evening off with their own brand of super-cool uber-sleaze! If the venue had had a dry ice machine, Vain would have burned it out! Vain don't need any such props though as they appear on stage - all leather jeans and coats, oversized sunglasses and, in Davy Vain's case, bare feet, as ever! Just like Tigertailz, Vain have a fifteen-plus year old album to draw their biggest hits from, and the crowd were duly treated to truly awesome renditions of 'Beat the Bullet', Down for the Third Time' and 'Who's Watching You?'. Unlike any other band on tonight's bill though, they have five further albums from throughout the nineties and up to last year's 'Draw the Line' to plunder. This they do with songs like 'Love Drug', 'Resurrection' and 'Running On Empty' - Davy Vain maintaining a Jim Morrison cool that the passing of time has only enhanced. Elsewhere, Danny West pulled of a very cool Joe Perry impression, with his new, shorter hairstyle, whilst Ashley Mitchell looked startlingly like celebrity Jew David Baddiel! Very cool nonetheless. To be fair to Vain, they had a hell of a job following Tigertailz. Not because they were any better or worse, but because it was so late by the time they came on! The majority of the crowd had seen seven bands before them, and everyone was extremely tired! Davy had to really work the dwindling crowd, and his between song banter wasn't quite hitting the mark. In the end they just stuck to what they're best at - cranking out awesome glam rock. Worse was yet to come for Davy and the boys though, when the Supersuckers-patented 'fake encore' (all encores are fake!) fell completely flat - the crowd standing in almost complete silence waiting for them to come back on. They did come back though, and treated us to the expected but nonetheless fantastic 'No Respect' and 'Get Ready'. If only they hadn't left it so late to come on, they could have gone down a real storm!
Following Vain's exit, the
rock continued through the night, with what remained of a very happy/pissed
crowd finally hitting the streets of Nottingham at around 1.30am, most of them
undoubtedly looking forward to future Wildside festivals, of which, based on
the success of this first effort, there will be many!
If anybody has any photos from the Wildside gig and would like to see them in this column, drop me a line @ EMAIL