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Live Review: Stone Music Festival

22 April 2013 | 2:25 pm | James Dawson

With Eddie Van Halen’s dive bombing guitar solos and David Lee Roth’s, at times, strained vocals, the band were in amazing form and put on an amazing spectacle that definitively wrapped up day one of what will hopefully be a recurring festival.

The promoters of Stone Music Festival could definitely learn a thing or two from the monstrous success that is Soundwave when it comes to dealing with punters and the public with due diligence, who respond to queries that arise. Stone Music Festival by contrast would not even reply to simple ticketing questions from the public, which were posted to the festival's Facebook page. That aside, the actual running of the day was executed quite well, with most of the seated areas being under cover and shielded, which came in handy throughout the morning rain. There was a lot of confusion however as to what areas certain tickets granted access to, with most people being left in the stands, which made for some very sparse crowds at the front of the stage.

The Superjesus launched the main stage amidst a downpour of rain and one of the sparsest crowds this reviewer has ever witnessed at any festival. The good news was there was no lining up outside the venue and entry was instantaneous. Credit goes to the newly re-formed rock band in not only getting the day underway, but also being the first band to ever play Stone Music Festival. The band garnered material mainly from their debut album Sumo, which was greedily accepted by the growing crowd. With only one main stage, there were some lengthy gaps in between the acts' sets, however early on in the day credit goes to the stage crew who delivered bands on time. Richie Ramone undoubtedly has some rock & roll credentials in his CV, but his set was undecipherable and stagnant with a negative undercurrent prevalent on his face as he was obviously pissed at being second on stage and playing to a very small and unreceptive crowd. Out on the indie stage, Melbourne band Ten Thousand performed a set of solid rock-infused glam metal to a healthy crowd that was seeking shelter from the rain bucketing down.

Buckcherry by nature are a flamboyant bunch and true professionals, they came onto the stage, owned it and belted out tracks like Lit Up and Crazy Bitch amongst a smattering of other tunes. Whereas Ramone was pissed about the small crowd, Buckcherry seemed more confused with the situation, their faces asking, Where the fuck are all the people? Up until this stage there was an air of laziness running through the crowd, people didn't really know the bands or the music and with most of the crowd looking like first time festivalgoers, they were unsure of what to do. This all changed however once Noiseworks hit the stage. It was fortunate for Jon Stevens and co, as the sun made a fleeting appearance a few songs into their set and this, combined with the band's extensive and upbeat catalogue (Take Me Back, Touch) that the audience knew, meant the day finally found its festival spirit.

From here on in, things got infinitely better, with the rain holding off, and The Living End launched straight into Second Solution and ripped through Prisoner Of Society and Roll On. The Aussie bands today really embraced the spirit of the festival, even Jimmy Barnes performed an uplifting set including classics Khe Sanh, Flame Trees and ending his set with Working Class Man. Meanwhile Sydney-based band The Dead Love were truly remarkable and performed an amazingly tight set of post-grunge mayhem. Look out for those guys.

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Kings Of Chaos comprised of rock icons Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses), Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) plus more and, put simply, their set was amazing. Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) was in sensational form, as was Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) on guitar. Tracks included great takes on Welcome To The Jungle, Paradise City, Rebel Yell and Pour Some Sugar On Me. Now there was some controversy surrounding Aerosmith's late inclusion on the bill, however once the band hit the stage frontman Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry stalked the stage with the crowd, young and old, lapping up every Tyler hair flick. The band were in top form and Tyler's vocals hit the high notes on Dude (Looks Like A Lady), Walk This Way and Dream On. Classic rock & roll from an inspirational band.

There were rumours doing the rounds in the online community after Van Halen cancelled its Soundwave Revolution appearance in 2011 that the band would pull out last minute again. But no, they arrived, albeit almost an hour late. There was a brief collective sigh of relief lasting mere moments before the band launched into Unchained, Runnin With The Devil and leaving the big guns of Panama and Hot For Teacher until somewhere towards the end of the set. With Eddie Van Halen's dive bombing guitar solos and David Lee Roth's, at times, strained vocals, the band were in amazing form and put on an amazing spectacle that definitively wrapped up day one of what will hopefully be a recurring festival. Well done to the organisers for bringing this stellar line-up of great musicians to Sydney.