Giants of Rock Butlins at Minehead 25 to 28 January 2019

This was my second trip to this event having attended last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. So what did this year bring. It runs for three days and among the giants listed were Roger Chapman and Family, Martin Barre’s Jethro Tull and Atomic Rooster amongst many others. Actually the three acts that I’ve named, despite being true giants, did not really do it for me.

Roger Chapman: Most of his set consisted of solo outings plus a couple of tracks from Family, In My Own Time and Burlesque. Now I’ve seen Roger with Family on a couple of occasions and despite having that grumpy old man persona he has been fully committed to his audience. I didn’t feel that on Friday night. It felt like he was going through the motions and that disappointed me.

Martin Barre’s Jethro Tull: 
Well they aren’t Jethro Tull. For me the thing about Tull has always been the presence of Ian Anderson….his voice, his flute and his one legged gyrations. None of those are here and are presumably part of the other Tull band Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull. Don’t get me wrong Martin Barre is a fine guitarist and this band are skilfull but they are playing Tull music in a way that is totally different to what the fans are used to. Martin himself described them as one step above a tribute band. The thing about Tull tunes is their subtlety and this band, whilst delivering Tull tunes, doesn’t deliver the subtlety that tracks like Fat Man, Back to the Family an others require. A good band but don’t expect Jethro Tull.

So what did I like? Focus were a revelation and two originals Thijs van Leer and Pierre van der Linden were joined by two much younger and skilled musicians on bass and guitar. They ran through new stuff, such as Eruption, and of course delivered the well known Sylvia, Hocus Pocus and House of the King. A delightful set that was really well received by the crowd. Following Focus I moved on to see Carl Palmers ELP Legacy, what a set. With two young musicians, one on guitar ad the other on bass and Chapman stick they moved about the repertoires of ELP, King Crimson and others with style and great skill. The age of the drum solo is not dead after a blistering 8 minutes from Carl during Fanfare for the Common Man. It’s fair to say that the crowd lifted the roof off at the end of the set.

For me though the best bits were the new bands and some that I had heard of but not listened to much by. They were Ethyrfield, Departed, Vega and Dare. I will be featuring them, along with other bands from this festival, in my next show which will be posted next week.

And so to top of the bill on Sunday night, New Jersey Rockers Skid Row. They hit the stage in a blast of white light and the music just kept rolling from there. They were superb, covering all their well known stuff, such as 18 and Life and I Remember You, in a manner that was exciting and drew freshness into tunes that now have some mileage on them. Would I see them again…..yes I would! My ears were practically bleeding at the end but I floated off to bed in the knowledge that rock’n’roll is alive and well and living in Minehead.

Photos above Vega, Skid Row, Focus, Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy

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