Sandford Holiday Park, Poole, Dorset

Winter's End 2020

Planet Rock’s Winter’s End Festival for the past three years has been the place to see the cream of upcoming and classic Rock bands. The event is put together by Planet Rock’s Jon Norman; who with his team lovingly create the three-day event, which is fast becoming the place to be for the first festival of the season. It’s held at Sandford Holiday Park just outside Poole in Dorset, people can opt to stay in luxurious park homes on-site or if you are like me and live just 10 minutes down the road you can pop home. It’s hard not to be fascinated by the line-up as there are a few names that all will recognize and many you won’t. For the past few years, it has been fantastic making new discoveries and one of them is this year’s Friday headliner Those Damn Crows, who played here in 2018 and have gone on to catapult themselves fully into the limelight.

Featuring: Revival Black, Trucker Diablo, Edenthorn, Mason Hill and Those Damn Crows
When you have that Friday feeling; you have no work until Tuesday and 25 bands to see over the weekend along with plenty of socializing, there is no better emotion. After the initial introductions by Planet Rock DJ Paul Anthony (with his new hairdo!!), it is time for the first band of the weekend and it’s Revival Black from Liverpool who gets things started in some style. The five-piece are full of hard rock riffs that more than satisfy, with frontman Dan Byrne getting the crowd warmed up with an early sing-a-long that sets the momentum for the weekend. With songs like the impressive “Wide Awake” and “No Secrets, No Lies” the band just show the crowd how they earned their place on this bill.

Revival Black
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Next up is Northern Irish hard rockers Trucker Diablo who despite the storms survived the sea crossing and are clearly fighting fit and ready to rock. Their set is full of big tunes that tell stories like the hard-hitting “Over The Wall” and new tune “Rock Kid Of The 80”. Party tune “Drink Beer, Destroy” goes down well with this crowd with its huge riffs and ruckus demeanour.

Trucker Diablo
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The third act tonight is Edenthorn, a band I have never heard of before let alone seen live. They are a four-piece from the North East of England featuring Dylan Gardner (Guitar), Faiba Gardner (Bass) along with Kyle Tague (Lead Vocals) and stand-in drummer Kyle Hughes. They deliver some most impressive, no-nonsense classic rock that features tunes from the latest album “Exist”. These include “Mine like a Minefield” and “Power” which has a totally infectious riff and a lovely atmospheric sound coming from the guitar. A cheeky reworked cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in The Wall” gets the audience’s approval.

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Mason Hill follows as the penultimate band of the evening and they are clearly very humbled by the welcome and reaction they get from tonight’s crowd. The Glasgow five-piece is a well-established band, with a good following who are certainly fairly well known by Planet Rock listeners. They certainly don’t disappoint with a set full of highlights including their great 2018 single “Hold On”‘ and a rip-roaring number “Your Memory”, which shows vocalist Scott Taylor’s impressive vocal abilities. Scott promises the long-awaited and most anticipated debut album is due out soon after some unavoidable delays.

Mason Hill
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A fair amount of tonight’s crowd are sporting the headliners T-shirts and it is fair to say that since they last played here in 2018, things have escalated quite a bit. They have released their second album “Point Of No Return” which charted in the top twenty and their fanbase has increased massively in size. After a warm-up at the Joiners in Southampton last night, they are fighting fit coming straight out of the traps with copious amounts of energy. Those Damn Crows kick off with the single “Who Did it” and all five of them have huge smiles on their faces, clearly caused by the amazing audience reaction they are getting. The set has massive momentum and frontman Shane risked his own wellbeing by venturing all over the venue. During an epic version of “Set In Stone” he climbed up on the balcony singing his vocal high above the audience. The crowd take in all the band have to give and sing along to every song. One of the many highlights was a quick burst of Prince’s “Purple Rain” before the band launched into a beautiful piano version of “Blink Of An Eye”. This band are flying so high at the moment and no one is going to be able to stop this “express from Bridgend”, they are well on their way to being huge and they deserve every accolade they get. They work hard, create great music and thoroughly appreciate the opportunity they have in front of them. Long live (the) Those Damn Crows!!


Featuring: Glitter Machine, The Rocket Dolls, Bootyard Bandits, Gorilla Riot, Naked Six, Piston, Gin Annie, Danny Bryant, The Treatment, and Terrorvision
Saturday morning arrives and the weather outside is absolutely atrocious, however, we are not worried as there is a matter of ten bands to see inside this warm hall. This year Winter’s End has totally sold out with all entry tickets and accommodation sold out well in advance. The majority of people here have been before and they have found the facilities to be fantastic and the line-ups get better each year. At just before 1pm the first band of the day to take to the stage are Glitter Machine, a four-piece band made up of seasoned musicians who between them bring a multitude of influences to create a unique sound. The guitarist puts his fender Stratocaster through an array of effects to create atmospheric tunes like “Take The Pain”, which feature pulsating rhythms along with John McKeown’s powerful vocals. Next up from Brighton are a late and very welcome addition The Rocket Dolls. This trio is gearing up for the release of their next album The Art Of Disconnection and by the sounds of the new tracks, it’s going to be a corker. Frontman Nikki (who was once mistaken for a girl by Planet Rock DJ Darren Reddick) delivers some fine guitar work and great vocals along with his near note-perfect rhythm section. We are treated to recent single “The Grip”, along with the title track of the album and an older live favourite “Deadhead”.

Glitter Machine
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The Rocket Dolls
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Two blow up six-foot cacti is brought on stage along with hobby horses and a band dressed in cowboy hats and leather chaps. It’s time for party band The Bootyard Bandits and for the next 40 minutes or so you definitely won’t spot one tumbleweed drift across the stage. These guys are a lot of fun and whip up the crowd with some tongue in cheek guitar and banjo-led tunes. These include “Shirt Potatoes”, the hilariously X-rated “Ladies Man” and closer the stomping “Hoedown Showdown”. Gorilla Riot is next and they bring us an eclectic mix of styles surrounding their Blues-coated Rock. They feature three electric guitars in their armoury and create a heady mix of melodies combined with spot-on harmonies. They certainly like a bit of experimentation and push the boundaries of the genre. Their infectious laid back nature radiates into the crowd who clearly enjoy tunes like “Still Doing Time”, which has a beautifully infectious riff and 2018 single “Bad Son”. They leave the stage after an impressive set with plans on continuing the party with plenty of liquid refreshments.

Bootyard Babies
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Gorilla Riot
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I have to say I am more than impressed with the skills of the Planet Rock crew who all work together like a well-oiled machine, with changeovers being quick and efficient. Also, the sound and lighting teams cannot be faulted and provide top-notch coverage throughout. Manchester trio Naked Six bring us their own interpretations of Rock n’ Roll next with a powerful and energetic set packed with Manchester attitude and Punk leanings. These guys are totally hyperactive and never stop moving during the whole of their set. With their debut album ‘Lost Art of Conversation’ released next week we are given a preview with its title track and a great little injection of Manc angst with “Song Of The City”.

Naked Six
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Planet Rock listeners will have heard plenty of Piston on the station with the band’s single “Rainmaker” getting plenty of airplay. They arrive on stage with a custom made intro song which mixes Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” with Led Zeppelin’s “Rock ‘n Roll” and it sounds epic. The guys have been building a momentum and by the interest in the room from this crowd, it’s clearly building. They have a darkened stage with plenty of atmosphere inducing strobe lighting and throw lots of balloons out over the crowd yelling “who is ready to party”. The next forty minutes the band show the audience what a class unit they are with Rob Angelico’s supremely executed vocals, coupled with the hard-rocking twin guitar sound and dance demanding rhythms. Their set concludes with a storming reworked cover of “Proud Mary” (Rolling on The River) which the audience clearly love and give the band a fantastic loud reception as they leave the stage….clearly headliners in the making.

Piston 123

Black Country Rockers Gin Annie is clearly up for continuing the momentum and take to the stage full of energy to bestow their brand of hard Melodic Rock on the willing crowd. With their two guitar attack they deliver tunes full of soaring riffs and infectious choruses. New drummer Carlos Marin looks perfectly at home behind the kit, while frontman David Foster whips up the crowd and also delivers a fine vocal. It’s hard not to be carried along by anthemic tunes like “Love Ain’t Here” and the epic anthem “Dying To Live Again”. Needless to say the crowd lapped up every minute and show loud appreciation as they leave the stage.

Gin Annie
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Danny Bryant is up next to give us a masterclass in Blues on his vintage fender Stratocaster. Danny takes centre stage along with his very capable band of Alex Phillips on bass and Dave Raeburn on drums changing the evening’s mood to a little mellower than the hard rock bands that preceded them. There are many highlights including a tune “Nine Lives” about Danny’s large uncompromising cat called “Albert Collins”, the tune certainly matches the feline’s apparent demeanour. The big man effortlessly entertains with some considerable guitar work that is a joy to watch and clearly a joy to play. Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” is a crowd request and the tune is beautifully reworked with plenty of loving detail.

Danny Bryant
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The penultimate band of the evening The Treatment from Cambridge have had a fair few challenges to endure during their life as a band; despite these, they are a bunch of survivors who always push forward to achieve their goals. The band are now on their third vocalist, Tom Rampton, who is clearly a great recruit as he has definitely all the correct attributes as a frontman. With four albums of material to choose from the band bring with them their best tunes and huge amounts of energy, exciting the crowd with each number they play. To be fair with big tunes like opener “Runaway Train”, “Running With The Dogs” and the monumental “I Bleed Rock N’ Roll” these guys could have easily been headliners. The high pace of their set continues throughout with the audience positively jumping during the appropriately titled “Get The Party On”. A great set, surely one of the best bands of the weekend so far.

The Treatment
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Tonight’s headliners are Bradford’s Terrorvison, a band that made their name during the 90’s with some huge singles and the notable album “How To Make Friends And Influence People”. They have played a number of large festivals and toured with a host of bands including Def Leppard and The Wildhearts. After a warm-up gig last night in Wolverhampton the band hit the Winter’s End stage with opening number “Alice What’s The Matter”; it was immediately clear that there was something wrong with singer Tony Wright’s voice, it was husky and not clear. However, as the gig went on; he was jumping around the stage energetically and nothing was said about his below-par voice. This, put together with the band seeming very unenthusiastic; filtered through to the audience and many voted with their feet leaving the hall very empty. The band carried on regardless of doing their best with the situation performing tunes like “Enteralterego” and “Day After Day”. A disappointing end to the second day but with another 10 bands tomorrow, it’s time to get a good night’s sleep and recharge.

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Featuring: Empyre, Blind Haze, Rebecca Downes Band, Matt Pearce & The Mutiny, Keylock, Sweet Crisis, Buck & Evans, Cormac Neeson, Sweet, Diamond Head
For the early risers, Planet Rock have a music quiz with the chance of winning tickets to this year’s Download Festival and also there is a bonus acoustic set from Keylock providing some fine entertainment before the main stage action starts at 12:15. The majority of the bands today have a Blues influence and out of the ten of them I have only seen one of them before, so I am looking forward to this “Blues Sunday” to be a day of discovery. The first band on is Northampton four-piece Empyre, who despite being first on have a decent-sized audience in front of them. They provide some atmospheric and creative guitar work with a tune called “Stone”, where frontman Henrik Steenholdt vocal is sounding a lot like Disturbed’s David Draiman. They also play their newly released single “You Know My Name” which is a cover of Chris Cornell’s tune he wrote for the James Bond movie “Casino Royale”. They give the song the full credit it deserves, giving an honest and heartfelt tribute to the late great singer. They end their short set with the Planet Rock played tune “New Republic”; a song with a heavy, uncompromising guitar riff and fine vocal delivery. The band say their thank you’s and leave the stage. There are calls for more but there are another 9 bands to accommodate. However, the band have a queue at the merchandise desk a few hundred yards long full of fans with cash in their hands, wanting to take something Empyre-related home with them.

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Three-piece Leeds band Blind Haze is up next wearing their musical influences clearly on their sleeves, combining a Fender Stratocaster six-string guitar with a Rickenbacker bass and dynamic drums. If Lemmy was in a band with Jack White, I think they would possibly sound something like this. Classic Rock rhythms mixed with psychedelic guitar riffs on tunes like “Snow Queen”, “Too Bad” and the groove-laden “Backstreet Boogie”. The first of the Blues acts arrives in the form of Rebecca Downes and her five-piece band.

Blind Haze
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Rebecca is a genuinely grounded musician who uses her considerable experience in music to deliver fine, well-written tunes. With Rebecca on rhythm guitar along with Steve Birkett on lead, the set is full of Blues goodness in the form of the powerful “Hurts”, a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock n’ Roll” and an awesome spine-tingling number called “Sailing In A Pool Of Tears”. A track delivered with superb vocals and executed with excellent musicianship.

Rebecca Downes
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Matt Pearce and The Mutiny
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Voodoo Six member Matt Pearce is next up with his live band The Mutiny; featuring Ollie Dixon (Drums), Joe Mac (Keys), Kelpie MacKenzie (Bass), and the delightful tones of vocalist Daliah Sherrington. Matt’s style has changed somewhat with him coming down with a serious case of the Blues. He embraces a whole host of influences to bring a confident delivery of tunes from his debut solo album “Gotta Get Home”. “Scarecrowing” brings some funky rhythms; coupled with contagious guitar, while the title track enjoys some spot-on harmonies and some expertly executed slide guitar. The band play again locally at Canvas in Bournemouth on 19th March.

After the stripped acoustic set earlier, Keylock arrives onstage with their full colourful Travelling Rock ‘n Roll Circus line-up. They feature a host of diverse musical talents creating music steeped in Rock n’ Roll history. Keys combine with guitar, infectious rhythms and sweet harmonies with a hearty injection of the Blues. You cannot help yourself by dancing to tunes like “Coming Home” and “Shine On Me” which take the audience to a real happy place by seriously entertaining and uplifting. A proper festival band that I am sure we’ll be seeing much more of in the future.

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Next from Cambridge is Sweet Crisis, a five-piece modern Blues band with an electric mix of influences from all areas of the musical spectrum. They are yet to release their debut album which is out later this year, the band have released a string of singles including the radio playlisted earworm “Black Magic”. The standard of today’s musicianship is so high and “Sweet Crisis” continue this with some great guitar work on big tunes including “Treading In Deep Water”, with a lovely intricate guitar intro before singer Leo Robarts lays over his soulful vocal. “Black Magic” has an exciting mid-song impromptu jam that the band were clearly enjoying, it could have just gone on and on.

Sweet Crisis
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Before the arrival of Buck and Evans the hall considerably fills up in anticipation for their set. I have had two copies of their debut album for a while now, the first with a plain black cover and the second with a coloured cover. While I was impressed with their recorded material, it’s not until you see them live that you fully appreciate the amazing talent that Chris Buck (Guitar/Vocals) and Sall Ann Evans (Keys/Vocals) actually have. Along with their rhythm section of Dominic Hill (Bass) and Bob Richards (Drums) the duo amaze with some astounding musical performances on tunes like “Going Home” and single “Slow Train”. Chris shows us his monumental guitar playing skills; which are clearly appreciated by the audience, as possibly one of the best guitar players seen this weekend. The pairing are just delectable and once you have seen them play you will never forget their brand of Roosty Rock Blues.

Buck And Evans
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Belfast “son” Cormac Neeson, frontman from The Answer played here at Winter’s End with his band a few years back. He is now enjoying some fresh solo adventures with a new band and a new album called White Feather. Exploring music from a more personal angle using Country Soul, Celtic Roots and Folk Rock influences he brings something along refreshingly different. With his four-piece band, he passionately delivers some great, well-written compositions including the album’s title track which was inspired by complications before the birth of his son. Cormac picks up the acoustic guitar to deliver a beautiful song called “Sweet Gentle Love” and its aura brings a respectful hush over the hall. A wonderful welcome addition to this line-up and one that will be remembered very fondly.

Cormac Neeson
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So bringing the festival to a close we have two-weekend headliners, both are legends in their own right and both have made a hefty impact within the world of Rock music. The first of these is Glam Rock legends The Sweet, featuring original member Andy Scott. The Sweet formed back in 1968 (one year before I was born!!) and continually delivered chart hits that have continued to dominate popular music to the present day. The band provide the excited audience with a celebrated journey through the band’s best-known songs including opener “Action” (famously covered by Def Leppard), “Fox On The Run” and an elaborate version of “Love Is Like Oxygen” which is coupled with Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Fanfare For The Common Man”. The band are really well-rehearsed delivering a faultless set full of great moments including the encores, where they play mega-hits “Ballroom Blitz” and “Blockbuster”; where the whole of the dancefloor was a mass of moving bodies dancing uncontrollably. Even my young Son who has never heard of The Sweet before knew some of the songs and thoroughly enjoyed their set, requesting that we go see them again on their next tour……clearly music that spans generations.

The Sweet
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The final band of the weekend are the legendary Diamond Head, one of the original Metal bands who formed in 1976 in the West Midlands. One of the band’s most famous fans was Metallica who acknowledged them as an early influence with Diamond Head tune “Am I Evil” appearing on the “Garage Days” album. Despite being 11pm (ish) on a Sunday night and this being the 25th (Yes 25th – thank you Planet Rock!!) band of the weekend, some of us still have some energy left to bounce around to the original New Wave of British Heavy Metal. It’s Metal as it should be played; two guitars, thundering hard delivered rhythms with a frontman Brian Tatler who works for the crowd tirelessly while delivering soaring vocals. We get tunes from all areas of the band’s career including “Death by Design”, the epic “Belly Of The Beast” and of course a towering version of “Am I Evil”. They leave the stage with every person in the room satisfied with a great set to end the weekend on a high.

Diamond Head
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So with each year this festival just gets better and better, it leaves you with a whole host of research to do. I must go home and trawl through each band’s Facebook and Spotify accounts to check out their music, and when I can get a chance to see many of them again. Music is indeed sometimes about nostalgia, but it’s also about making new discoveries, and this weekend I have made many. I hope all of you who attended make new personal discoveries too and I look forward to being back next year to make many more.



Winter's End 2020

For more videos from the weekend go to our Youtube page here.

Words & Media by David Chinery (Chinners)
Additional Media by Joshua Chinery
Pictures by Lynn Burt

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