A few thousand rock fans made their way to Butlins in Minehead last month for the second running of their “Giants of Rock Weekend”, and your London Guitar Academy  gig reviewer, Paul Wood, was down at the front to bring you a report back on the bands present.



The first dilemma facing weekend attendees was the choice of venue. There were over 20 acts playing on the two main stages over the three days of the weekend (Friday-Sunday). Set times were such that bands were playing simultaneously in the two main venues – so the decision was not just which venue (“Centre Stage” or “Reds”) but which bands to see.

Friday evening saw The Yardbirds, Black Star Riders and The Amorettes in “Centre Stage” and The Urban Voodoo Machine, Colosseum and The Quireboys in “Reds”. A tough decision which went in the way of “Reds” given it meant a chance to catch both guitarist Dave “Clem” Clempson (ex Humble Pie as well as Colosseum) and the always hard rockin’ Quireboys on the same night.

First up though was the (new to me) The Urban Voodoo Machine who put on a very colourful show with their heady mix of bourbon soaked gypsy blues bop’n’stroll. If you’ve not seen them they are a hard act to describe – The Washington Post said:

The band veers into mariachi-influenced blues, whiskey-soaked country rags and punkabilly-style rave-ups.”

And that’s about spot on. Think two crazy drummers, a charismatic front man, a saxophone playing girl who also bangs a gong and the whole band walking on stage as if they are at some New Orleans jazz and blues funeral. They are definitely a band to catch live. Here’s a link to their officlal video for “Rather You Shot Me Down”

Check out their gig listing at:



The reformed Colosseum were next up with an almost perfect reinstatement of their classic line up of Jon Hiseman, Chris Farlowe, Clem Clempson, Dave Greenslade and Mark Clarke – with saxophonist Barbara Thompson stepping in for the (no longer with us) Dick Heckstall-Smith.

This line up had recently released their first new album for a number of years, “Time On Our Side,” and the band’s set was a popular first night draw.  The guitar of Clem Clempson was a particular highlight. At a festival with plenty of guitar axe action, Clempson produced some of the best guitar solos seen over the weekend.

Here’s a link to Youtube footage of the current band playing “Stormy Monday Blues” in 2014:

It was the turn of the Quireboys to close Friday evening. The sound quality wasn’t that great and Spike was having quite a lot of trouble with the microphone (the mike lead/fitting clearly wasn’t up to the Spike level of onstage microphone twirling!) which meant the vocals kept cutting out but the band put in a typical gritty and rockin’ electric performance to an appreciative audience.

Here’s a link to a Youtube clip from Minehead which shows the band rockin’ through “Too Much Of A Good Thing”:

The band are currently on tour with a series of acoustic rock’n’roll dates. As always with the Quireboys a funtime is always guaranteed. Check out the dates at:

Saturday evening saw The Enid, Focus and Magnum on in “Reds” so your LGA reviewer found himself in “Centre Stage” to see Hundred Seventy Split (featuring Leo Lyons of Ten Years After), Family and the Mick Ralphs Band.

It was a relatively rare UK gig for Leo Lyons (the bass player previously associated with Ten Years After – his current band principally spend their time gigging around Europe. Leo was clearly pleased to be back in the UK and his band produced a set of blues/rock including a number of tracks previously played live by Ten Years After (“Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”, “Going Home” etc).

Family took the stage with the familiar face of Roger Chapman on vocals with Jim Cregan on guitar and various members of Roger Chapman and the Shortlist (who were also playing a separate set on Sunday). The songs played covered a wide range of material from the classic Family back catalogue.

The closing slot for Saturday night was filled by the Mick Ralphs Band – it’s sometimes easy to forget how many classic 70s rck tunes that were written or part written by Mick Ralphs. He took a fairly back stage role in onstage proceedings – leaving all of the talking to lead singer Adam Barron, until it came to the rock guitar riffs for which he is so famous – including material from his “Bad Company” back catalogue.

Sunday night was an easy decision – it was Bernie Marsden, Manfred Mann’s Earthband and John Verity in “Reds” but your LGA reviwer was up in “Centre Stage” for the triple bill of Deborah Bonham, Slade and Eddie & the Hot Rods.

Deborah Bonham always impresses on vocals and clearly had a loyal fan base at the Festival.

Slade (featuring original members Dave Hill and Don Powell)  were a big draw for the evening and produced a slot that consisted entirely of hit singles – as the band slams through the back catalogue it reminds you of how many hits the band did have in its heyday (and how big a band they were in the UK).  Dave Hill on guitar is still the Black Country showman and the crowd roars its approval as they blast through Gudbuy T’Jane, Cum On Feel The Noize, and Mama Weer All Crazy Now.

A hard act to follow but fortunately the Sunday closing session honours go to Eddie & the Hot Rods with original front man Barry Masters prowling the stage as though it was still 1976. With a set based on the 70s classic Hot Rods albums, it’s a livewire performance that goes down a treat.

If you want to catch the original 1977 line up they’ve got a date scheduled for 18 June at The Square in Harlow. For details see:

And to close our review, here’s a TV clip from 1977 of the Hot Rods playing “Do Anything You Wanna Do”.


Overall, a great weekend and a good selection of acts for any fans of 70s rock. Keep an eye out for the announced bands for the 2016 Festival – you can start booking now!