I originally wrote this review of Bedlam Breakout Psychobilly Festival for my other website, UK Psychobilly Gig Guide, and for Milkcow Vintage Magazine where it appeared in Issue 11 in May 2010. Even though it happened several years ago now, it’s kind of fun to take a trip down memory lane, and see what bands were playing then and who are still playing now.
Read on for my festival review wìth links to a feature with Tobe Wright about Bedlam Breakout past, present and future.
BEDLAM BREAKOUT 9 – 12/13th MARCH 2010
The fact that people were waiting for it to open at 7 pm spoke volumes about how many folk were looking forward to it, and just how busy it was going to be.
We went in to see the first band, Hellcats, only to find it was their last song! I really liked what I heard but was told that they’d only done a couple of tracks anyway as some of the band were held up and didn’t get there on time. That was a shame but Phil is the master of the clock and keeps the schedule bang on time. There was no room for them to do anymore.
I loved Henry & The Bleeders as always and I’m glad they’re getting out and about on the gig front again. I don’t know what time it was by now, still pretty early, but much alcohol was being downed and the place was heaving – in the hall, the bar, the merch areas and outside in smokers alley.
Pretty much everyone piled into the main room for the next band, Graveyard Johnnys, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Even though we all loved Liam’s vocals and thought he’d be a tough act to follow, people are loving the rawer edge that comes with the new Joe/Jimmy/Tom combo. Joe’s bridge broke in the first song, quickly followed by a string, but it didn’t stop them, Jimmy and Tom just kept going, and Joe joined them on the mike. True pros! Within minutes a brand new shiny bass had arrived and they knocked through the rest of the set without a hitch. I love these guys so much and would love to see a full length album from them soon. I’ve only been to 3 gigs so far this year but the Johnnys have been on the bill of all 3. I hope that’s a sign of things to come for the rest of the year. It’s great to see a newish young band gain so much support so quickly, they really have taken the psychobilly world by storm!
The Caravans were next and played an absolute blinder – even though it was a short set from them by usual standards, it’s the best I’ve seen them in a long time, and they had the crowd in the palms of their hands. Look forward to seeing them again very soon.
One of the things I really like about Bedlam is the sound quality and the fact that they have speakers in the bar, so even if you get a bit waylaid you can still hear the bands as clearly as you would in the main hall. Of course by this time I’d lost my ability to stand in one place for long, and had certainly lost the navigational skills to get myself to the front, so most of The Meteors set was heard from the bar or seen from a distance over a massive sea of heads – it was rammed. They too knocked through a fantastic set and again people were saying it was the best they’ve ever seen them.
Well, I guess a lot of people left after the bands but we all stayed on for the after show party. DJs for the weekend – Glenn (G-man) Blake and Chris Setzer – had handed over the decks for club night. For me it was a bit like being at an old scooter rally with the sounds that were being played – 2Tone, Clash, B52’s, Iggy Pop, Old 50s & 60s songs, surf, pretty much anything. We kept trying to leave, but each tune was a classic and we had to stay for “just one more”, until at 2 am we decided we’d probably done enough “dancing like yer dad” and called it a night.
What a blast! Best fun I’ve had in years!
Again, it looked like a good start, plenty of people there for opening time at 1.30pm and there were loads of people in the hall for the first band, Sons of El Roacho. Hailing from the north of England, this trio gave a very entertaining performance with a mixture of well-done covers (I’m on Fire, Rumble in Brighton, Little Red Riding Hood) and their own material full of witty lyrics ensuring that smiles didn’t leave the faces of their punters. They clearly don’t take themselves too seriously (yes he was the one in the day-glo orange suit) but were spot on musically and really good fun. A perfect opener.
Like many others, I was paying for my indulgence the night before. People were in and out getting food, sleep, a rugby fix, etc and things seemed to become a bit more subdued for a couple of hours (or maybe that was just me). The next couple of bands weren’t really my bag but seemed good at what they did and were appreciated by those watching. It filled up a bit more for Luna Vegas who were showcasing their new album “Second Shot… Cuckoo Clock” this very weekend – great timing fellas!
Next up were The Pharaohs. It was the first time of playing with the line-up of Glenn, Choppy and Lee (yes those two from The Caravans), not that it showed. They really rocked and have got to be one of my favourites from the weekend. Not letting the dust gather under their feet, the lads will be in recording a new album next month of reworked old classics and new songs. “Special guest” Stief Brett got up to sing “Cocaine Addict” with them. He was met with a mixture of excitement and puzzled faces asking each other “who’s that?” The only answer I got was “someone off Facebook” but turns out he was their old roadie back in the day and is now in a new band (The Noxious Toys) with singer Glenn. He was giving a bit of a preview of what we can expect from them when they hit the stage with their own shows.
The Hangmen have played Bedlam a couple of times now and have always gone down a treat with people singing along enthusiastically.
Things picked up again for the welcome return of Frantic Flintstones who played Bedlam last year with the Brazilian line-up. The Flintstones have always been one of my favourites but to be totally honest, I was a bit disappointed when they played last year. I know they had a few technical problems but something just wasn’t right. I was relieved and elated to find them back on fine form once again, now with Kent and Rockin Reject back in the band, along with Kandy on bass and of course the legend that is Chuck Harvey on vocals. Loads of FF classics and a Crack Pipes tune or two thrown in for good measure. Top moment was the sing-along to Drugs in the Valley – a couple of hundred psychos singing at the top of their out of tune voices –muhtastic! Someone bring them back to England again soon please.
And finally Demented are Go. I never got them back in the day and we’ve all read the stories, but in the last couple of years I’ve seen them a lot and they’ve really upped their game. Tonight’s performance followed suit with another packed out hall, big pit and loads of happy psychos.
We had to call it a night and get back for our babysitting towards the end of their set, but I guess after they finished the die-hards stayed for the second after show party, which was all set to run until about 3 am again.
It really was a fantastic weekend, great turnout, great bands and great people. Again there were punters from all over the UK, Europe and even a couple from Oz. I have to give a special mention though to one lad I met all the way from New Zealand. He was only 18 and totally in his element. He’d been working for 3 years to save up enough money to come to England and go on a 2 month UK psychobilly gigging frenzy! How’s that for dedication? He put me to shame when I said Manchester was too far for me to go to a gig, haha!
Huge thanks to Tobe, Pip, Al, Phil, Ju and all the gang who worked their butts off all weekend (and in the months before) to give us a great time. Bedlam Breakout 10 is already in the pipeline so get it put in your diaries now. Like they say “you keep coming, we’ll keep putting ‘em on”