Festival Review: Sunday at Maid of Stone 2023 (Kit)

Brave Rival (c) Kit Foster

The final day of the first year of Maid of Stone crashed into action with Death Ingloria opening up the Maiden Stage tent with their eccentric and exciting tracks – the bassist had the strongest energy on stage, interacted with both crowd and press and put on a great opener to the last day of the festival.

Before discussing the other bands that set Sunday on fire, I would like to mention the management team and congratulate them on a memorable first year of Maid of Stone from their organisation, various food stalls and 10/10 treatment of the press team. Most of the press team felt safe and welcome with the management team taking care of us with free water, a place to rest back stage and free food vouchers to keep us energised as we worked from stage to stage to capture as much content as possible for the festival.

Working my way towards the Phoenix Stage I witnessed Southern-rock band Brave Rival with their two female vocalists’ stealing the show, if it wasn’t for guitarist Ed Clarke with his bluesy solos that captured every audience member’s attention throughout each of the band’s songs. I then caught Sons of Liberty opening up the Jeff Beck Memorial Stage where the entire audience was woken up with swift riffs and the powerful voice of frontman Russ Grimmett who caught my attention with his vocals and demanding stage presence.

Florence Black (c) Kit Foster

The Outlaw Orchestra were up next with a fantastic stage presence which included a few comedic jokes from their frontman and a lot of energy from the guitarist. They ran through a few covers from various bands and played their original tracks with enthusiasm and passion, involving the crowd in anyway they could. The mighty Florence Black was up next, bolting onto the main stage like something was chasing them, their energy matched that of the crowd’s and every person in the audience cheered and tried to match their noise. They were one of the heavier bands of the festival, which I personally enjoyed and one of the most photogenic which made my job easier as a photographer.  Florence Black sent the crowd into a frenzy, warming them up for the headlining acts to follow. Bassist Jordan Evans caught my attention with his ability to encourage the crowd to join in, his skill on the bass and some impressive backing vocals to support frontman Tristan Thomas.

Before the headlining acts entered the main stage, I discovered Unknown Refuge in the Maiden Stage tent who I think deserved a slot on the Phoenix Stage instead. Their energy and happiness to be there surprised me, along with their heavier genre of music. The frontman and guitarist stood out the most, throwing their legs in the air every chance they got and played up to the camera – which is always a great element in live performance to be a showman. They seemed surprised to see somebody photographing them which gave me the insight that they are a humble band with a lot of talent that deserve a lot more in their careers.

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Elles Bailey (c) Kit Foster

Elles Bailey were up next on main stage, fully preparing us for what was to come with Maid of Stone’s well-chosen headliners. The bluesy-rock band had my attention from the start and two songs into their set, the vocalist jumped down from the stage and walked back and forth in front of the barrier – enticing the audience with her vocals and encouraging the crowd to sing the songs back to her. The band’s energy was impressive and their tracks catchy to listen to. Black Spiders were up next on the Phoenix Stage, another slightly heavier band than what I had been listening to throughout the festival. This band are full of talent and their energy on stage was hard to match. Back over onto the main stage, Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons were busy ripping the stage up with their heavier riffs and dramatic vocals.  The band has hints of both Motorhead and AC/DC creating songs that a crowd can easily involve themselves with. In nearly every song, there’s dramatic drums, powerful guitar riffs and vocals that sound as if the vocalist is yelling rather than singing – which suits this genre of music perfectly.

After the main stage antics of Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons I found myself back at the Maiden Stage witnessing The Lost Search Party who I’ve heard many good things about being from Kent myself. They were dressed sharply and matched their image to their style of music. The band looked elevated to be there and there’s nothing I personally love more than a grateful and confident band without coming off as arrogant. Their set was tight and they knew how to play the crowd perfectly. Powerhouses Haxan closed the Maiden Stage with an energetic performance made for bigger stages. Bassist Harriet Wadeson captivated the audience instantly with her energy and her talent on the bass, whilst vocalist Sam Bolderson showed off her strong vocals. Next up on the main stage was heavy rockers Skindred who possibly had the biggest crowd and, in my opinion, deserved the headline slot.

Skindred (c) Kit Foster

Skindred blew us all away with their heavy but reggae themed tracks, their whole set was effortless and lively enough to have everybody in the audience jumping up and down and shouting their songs back to them. Their music is a fusion of metal, punk and reggae which is something I hadn’t experienced before but thoroughly enjoyed. I could feel the bass in my feet which is always a great sign for a talented bassist I couldn’t wait to hear more of. Frontman Benji Webbe enforces the band’s talent and work ethic to put on a powerful and entertaining show full of great music, stage presence and crowd interaction including debuting the ‘Newport Helicopter’ at Maid of Stone festival. If it were my choice, I would have had Skindred headline the festival on stage presence alone. That’s not to say the headliners of the festival, Airbourne did a bad job as that is the complete opposite.

The band sprinted onto the stage with plenty of energy, frontman Joel O’Keeffe doesn’t seem to stop once he’s on stage. He really comes alive as soon as he opens his mouth, sprinting from one side of the stage to another. An Airbourne show is full of attitude and no filter, making the crowd’s brains buzz with excitement. Half way into the set, O’Keeffe launched his way into the crowd with a can of beer in his hand and guitar in another. At one point, he was being held up by a few crowd members and cracked open a beer all over them, leaning into the vibe of a rock festival. One song rolled into another but I didn’t find their performance as unique or as new as Skindred’s set was. Overall, Maid of Stone has kicked off to a good start and with more work on the VIP areas this festival will hopefully be here for years to come once adjustments have been made.

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Photos by Kit J Visuals

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