Monsters Of Rock 2006

Monsters Of Rock 2006

Photographer: Bob Rose02 June 2006

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The sun is shining and after a 10 year break the Monsters Of Rock festival is back as a major fixture on the UK festival scene. In the intervening years other festivals have made their mark and Monsters itself has been usurped from its traditional home at Donington by the mighty Download.

The hallowed ground of Donington Park was always a fitting venue for the best in rock and metal during the Eighties, due in large part to the fact that a large number of rockers were bikers, so the centre of a race circuit made for a natural base of operations. Now however, it is ten years on and the venue, line-up and patrons have matured. The wild rockers have settled down, had families and brought them along to see what all the fuss was about.

The honour of getting the 21st Century Monsters going falls to Roadstar (formerly known as Hurricane Party). Bounding onto the stage and looking like they would have been right at home in the Donington days they open with 'We’re Here To Blow You Away' and immediately lift the crowd with their Bon Jovi-esque bouncy old school riffs. “The sun is shining, beer is flowing, beautiful women are all around – What a way to welcome back Monsters Of Rock” beams frontman Richie Hevans. Maybe the beer hasn’t flowed enough to get the crowd joining in with the “Woah yeahs” yet, though everyone is clapping along by the end of their set. A worthy start to the day.

Next up, Motorcity Madman Ted Nugent brings his infectious brand of Detroit city rock and blues onto the stage in a standout performance. A giant stars and stripes flag adorns the back of the stage, amps are covered in camouflage webbing and the intro tape of “America, Fuck Yeah!” sets the scene for his over the top patriotism. Whatever you think of his politics, you can’t fail to be entertained by this consummate showman. “Give me some attitude!” he drawls and the crowd respond in kind. “We’re the Monsters Of Rhythm And Blues!” he chuckles as his band blisters though another infectious boogie. There’s a glint in “The Nuge's” eye when he declares “We’re gonna do a country song. A love song. KLSTRFK!”. Yeah, it’s country and western Detroit style. Everyone is rocking by the end, but unfortunately his time is short. “What you got Monsters Of Rock?” He bellows, “Cat Scratch Fever!” comes the response. It’s enough to turn the most liberal person into a redneck - quite literally, thanks to the weather!

I pity the band that has to follow The Nuge, and that misfortune falls to Queensryche. 'Operation Mindcrime' established them as the thinking man's metal and with their set consisting entirely of a cut down version of the full Mindcrime show it’s a bit disjointed. The opener 'Revolution Calling' gets the crowd's attention, but this is a performance missing a full stage show. The dramatic elements slow the pace in an environment that needs a full onslaught to make an impact and even the appearance of 'Sister Mary' (the tragic heroine of the Mindcrime story) does little to bring the show to everybody’s full attention. Things look up as they close their set with their biggest hit 'Eyes Of A Stranger', but without the full production it all feels a bit flat.

Thunder bring the party mood back with a bang. From their 'Magnificent Seven' intro it's obvious that these Monsters Of Rock veterans, making their third appearance, are flying high at the moment. Dry ice machines herald the first hint of a lightshow despite the bright sunshine and when vocalist Danny Bowes shouts “Everybody scream for me!” he is answered all the way to the back of the bowl. This is good old bluesy rock delivered with soulful vocals. The audience is raised to another level of ecstasy with the announcement that England managed to thrash Jamaica six nil and join in with great gusto on 'I Love You More Than Rock & Roll'. Everyone is partying like mad and joining in when set closer 'Dirty Love' wraps things up and a brace of footballs are thrown out into the crowd for good measure.

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