Crazy Cowboy 8 Festival – The Facebar, Reading, 22 October 2022
Once again, as promised in their interview with us recently, the Crazy Cowboy gang brought a lot of rock n roll with a touch of madness to Reading. It’s astonishing how in the current economic climate and poor state of rock n roll in this country that they manage to create such a great feast of music.
The honour of opening the festival was given to Zac and the New Men, a band who approached their set with all the vigour you’d expect from a young band. It was a tremendously strong start to the day as they knocked out a set that had a psychedelic blues feel to it. They had a powerful sound that was matched by the excellent voice of their lead singer. They had a classic rock sound which kind of reminded us of when The Electric Boys went all ‘Zep’ on their freewheeling album. They then guaranteed the support of the crowd with a blistering cover of Sabbath’s “War Pigs”. (Also big credit to the band for staying for nearly the entire day and making sure they gave their support by being front and central for many of the following acts).
Sonic Gypsy as the name implies are what we would call a proper rock n roll band. They immediately grabbed our attention with the opening song which seemed to share a melody with the classic ‘Spirit in the Sky’. They had a raucous sound that you’d probably more associate with a spit and sawdust dive bar in Texas than a night club on the Reading ring road! They had some dirty blues songs that were akin to the sound that the Doors achieved on their diversion into blues rock on LA Woman.
For some reason we always have a sense of joy when we see a band with a double bass. The Dukes of Bordello make full use of that great instrument to brilliant effect and if you ever fancy seeing a band that’s like Motorhead covering rockabilly songs then this is the band for you! “Devil In The Gutter” is a great name for a song and is a pretty good indicator of the scuzzy rock n roll that the band delivered. After that raucous rock n roll, Vambo seemed like quite a ‘serious’ band. They were definitely on the ‘hard’ side of hard rock and were clearly a very tight and professional outfit. The vocalist certainly had some pipes on him and had an almost operatic style that reminded us of Sebastian Bach. Indeed, if Vambo could just add a bit more of Skid Row’s sleaze and recklessness into the mix they could be on to a good thing.
New Generation Superstars were actually one of the few bands we had seen previously and it certainly seemed like a large part of the crowd were already fans of the band. They certainly brought us back down to the gutter (which is where we prefer it!) with their sleazy rock n roll. Like all our favourite bands they kept their guitars slung low and the riffs coming fast. Their set was a great bunch of fast and furious, in your face rock n roll with just enough melody to hold it all together. There’s a touch of The YoYos to their sound (always a good thing) and were definitely contenders for band of the day.
However, Silverjet were certainly also up for that accolade as well. They also delivered high octane rock n roll but with perhaps more of a punk rock edge. Although they immediately endeared themselves to thesoulofaclown by making sure they threw a bit of cowbell into a number of songs (we’re a sucker for a cowbell!). They managed to perfectly nail the line between aggression and melody to produce rock songs with a punk kick. On tracks like “Nice Guy (?)” they reminded us of bands from the past like The Star Spangles or Black Haloes.
The Royal Beggars immediately have an advantage over most bands as they come from Sweden. It’s a real mystery to us how that country has managed to produce so many great sleaze rock bands. The Beggars certainly appear to be another band to add to that list as they also have a collection of great sleazy, good time rock n roll songs. They manage to get the entire crowd fully into party mode and created an atmosphere which felt more like the middle of the night than mid afternoon. They’re a band who back in the day would have been at home at the infamous Cathouse and would’ve been fighting off A&R men guaranteeing heavy videos spins on MTV. You can certainly see the Royal Beggars as being headliners at future events like this.
Having opened the last festival Ransom were rewarded with a higher slot this time – something their vocalist certainly described as he spent the entire day also introducing all the bands. We recall last time that they had only started writing original songs during lockdown having previously been a covers band only. It’s definitely been a good move for the band, and delivering a classic rock sound alongside an obvious love of playing, made them really popular with the now very lubricated crowd. When we saw the name Daxx & Roxanne we got the image of a girl pop duo! But they are certainly not that! Fitting in perfectly with the bill they deliver a set of in your face rock songs that make sure that everyone in the crowd is paying attention. It’s a similar case with Airforce who seem intent on taking the audience back into a time machine to the days of the new wave of heavy metal. It’s all fast paced riffs matched with high octane vocals. They were possibly a bit too ‘heavy’ for us light weight sleazy rock n roll fans but went down a storm with those in the audience who enjoy the sound of Maiden and Priest.
One of the bands we were really looking forward to seeing again was The Suicide Notes. They blew us away with their set at the last festival both in terms of the dirty rock n roll sound but also their showmanship. Thankfully, they didn’t disappoint with their set this time over. Clearly heavily influenced by the brilliant Dog’s D’amour this is all about low slung guitars playing songs about women and whisky. They bring the required sense of debauchery that the crowd is crying out for by this stage in the proceedings. It’s all very loose and they are always on the edge of tottering into madness and collapse…just like a real rock n roll set should be. It all comes to a gloriously messy end with various other band members joining them on stage for a throwaway version of Dead Flowers… a great set!
Securing Spike to headline really is quite an achievement for the Crazy Cowboys when many of us will recall him regaling us from our tv screens on Top of the Pops back in the day. The occasion is made even more special by a quite unique double set. The first sees the legendary rock n roller serving up some great covers. And as always you can’t help but be amazed by ‘that voice’. Somehow he can make that whisky and cigarettes sound both rough and yet soulfully smooth at the same time. The songs are punctuated by some wonderful stories that cover his band’s early days of playing The Marquee and encounters with legends like Rod Stewart, Ronnie Woods and Bonnie Tyler (who apparently could drink Guns N Roses under the table). That’s even before we get into a story about getting drunk with Bono’s mum! Although that’s all put into the shade by the wonderful image he leaves us with of walking in on his mum washing the back of Tyla the legendary singer of the Dog’s D’amour. That tale leads us to one of the highlights of the day as he leads the crowd on a sing along version of the brilliant Satellite Kid by the Dog’s. That’s all then followed by some brilliant versions of Quireboys hits like “Roses and Rings” and “There She Goes Again”. But the highlight of the festival for us was the brilliant “She Don’t Love Me Anymore” a song that matches any of those written by the legends he mentioned during his set.
Hats off then to The Crazy Cowboys who delivered the madness and rock n roll that they promised. It takes a special dedication to deliver an event like this and it is to their credit that they manage to discover so many bands to perform. It’s something that everyone in attendance will certainly appreciate.