On a balmy Wednesday night, in the intimate venue that is the Back Room Bar of the Hard Rock Café in London, four bands created a tempting atmosphere for what is to come in a mere few weeks time at the Isle of Wight Festival on the Hard Rock Stage. This will be the fourth year for the Hard Rock Stage at the festival which will be a special event in and of itself as the legendary festival is celebrating its 50th year. From the 21st-24th June, The Hard Rock Stage will host some of the best new and celebrated artists for all festival attendees to find truly stellar talent.
The night got started with the young and supremely talented Joe Slater taking stage first. At just 21, he held the stage alone, his melodic yet raspy voice set to his guitar. His first song, ‘Lost In Time’ was soulful and charismatic with a seamless flow to it. You could really start to see Joe stretch his legs a bit and you begin to process how gifted he is at not only vocal control but just raw technique and authenticity.
My favourite in the set was ‘Slow It Down’, as for me, it just resonates with current life and times. But moreover, the liquid nature of the song and with lyrics like, ‘Don’t tell me what colour is good’ just demonstrated him hitting his groove here so obviously. His style is uncomplicated and unforced and makes it easy to tune into his energy.
He finished up with ‘Rainbow’ which had a beautiful, simple structure anchored by his incredible vocal widescreen poignancy. The sharp and passionate points of the song knitted together with a gorgeous, delicate hold on the final note raised a huge cheer to end his set on. Joe is easy to fall for as his luminous and emotive music fills the room with his big, open sound. He is clearly on an upward trajectory and a pleasure to see live.
Next up was the Australian sibling duo, Belle Roscoe. Their first song, ‘Gun To My Head’ despite the titular severity, created a gorgeous harmony that loosely and easily flowed with the beaty guitar baseline. They lovingly attended to the top notes which were so delicately executed in near hushed, breathy tones, you were really sucked in and wrapped up with the vocals.
Their ability to craft such sounds while managing guitar, single drum, tambourine and slight synth/keyboard was overwhelmingly impressive given its just the two of them creating such a full-bodied set of songs. Julia and Matt imprint a sort of magical aura to their set by being so phenomenally flexible in their seamless talents.
There is such a clear and yet slightly husky sound in the back of their voices that takes the music out of the balladry range and into something edgier akin to Fleetwood Mac. It’s a similar thread that runs throughout. They create a sort of golden, yet punchy sound without being ambient that has interchanging echoes of blues and folk.
Their final song, ‘I Left Behind’, inspired by a desperate Christmas they had while living in Paris, was so gorgeously pared back and mellow, you just sort of sank into it. The open and fresh guitarwork with the layered vocals made it my favourite in the set. They are an altogether clever and talented couple of artists and should not be missed on the Hard Rock Stage of the festival.
Following on from there, the edgier and rockier band, KilliT, was a very different vibe from the previous two acts. With a strong blast of sound, the five-strong band created a sort of southern rock vibe with a nod to 70’s and 80’s bands of old and presented as true rockers.
Lead singer, Gaz Twist, fronted up to the audience atop his barstool with a charismatic confidence and plenty of high-energy vocals and delivered on each of the songs. The stand out song for me was ‘Draw The Line’ as it ably displayed their guitar prowess and rock overtone structures while still being accessible. The stratified harmonies teamed with the back beat and plenty of hooks opened the song up and verged on being something more epic.
The band has a clear and devout following which is evidence of their full force in drawing a crowd and ones to definitely be seen live so be sure to catch them at the festival!
BAD DAYS BLUES BAND
Last up but certainly not least by any stretch, the Bad Day Blues Band. With an easy-going, laid back and unassuming demeanour, but not lacking on any of the requisite dark, bluesy flavour, I immediately fell a little in love with the sound of this band.
A highly skilled set of four, these guys capture the sinewy nuances of blues and wear them like a gorgeously worn and long-loved cosy leather jacket. With a few covers in their set that they wholly showed ownership of, the favourite for me was their own song ‘Late Night Sister’. They crafted and delivered the song so cleverly and it came across like a gorgeous mix of sweet and sour. The slightly wicked, southern rock nature of it is just what you would expect it to be.
With outstanding harmonica, simply cool guitarwork, liquid vocals and slamming backing drums, it’s no wonder there is a buzz about this band. They also just released an EP ‘The Abbey Road Session’ on the 1st June which I highly recommend you check out. They master at creating a lovely, loud live show and should never be missed if the opportunity presents itself. So, get yourself over to the Hard Rock stage at the festival and be front and centre for them!
There are a heavenly amount of bands to heard on the Hard Rock stage at the festival so make haste and get over there, it will not be possible to be disappointed with what is on offer over the four day weekend. They have put together an overwhelmingly talented set of artists for the festival’s 50th anniversary so miss it, and you will be sure to regret it!
Get tickets to the festival here!
And, see a full list of the line on the Hard Rock Stage here!