We made our way into the arena for the main event which had already started when we arrived. We were seated in a different area, but the first thing that struck me was the arena floor. On Saturday night, it had been a sea of people dancing, singing and joining in with the musicians on the stage. By Sunday night, it was full of people again, but this time they were appreciating the progressive rock programme from the comfort and restraint of a fully seated arena.
There would be no repeat of the crowd surfing antics of last night!
Steve Hackett had already been on stage for a little while when we got in - we had heard him performing a Genesis track as we entered. Steve is a talented guitarist we had seen a few months ago in Cardiff on his 'Acolyte to Wolflight' tour, and he performed a few of the same tracks, some of which were his new music, others from his previous life as a member of Genesis. As always, we were impressed by the complexity that seems to be fairly standard in ProgRock and the set closed with 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway'.
Steve left the stage to a rapturous applause - the audience having clearly enjoyed and appreciated his set.
After a brief interval, we were looking forward to Marillion. As the lights went down they began their set with 'The Invisible Man', moving through other classics including 'Kayleigh', 'Lavender' and finally finishing with 'Neverland'.
They had to cut the set short, as it was going to take some time to prepare the stage for the grand finale of the weekend. Again, the audience let them leave the stage with cheering and applause ringing in their ears.
Steve Hogarth (Vocals, Guitar, Percussion)
Steve Rotary (Electric & Acoustic Guitars)
Ian Mosely (Drums, Percussion)
Pete Trewavas (Bass Guitars, Backing Vocals, Additional Guitars, Samples and Effects)
Mark Kelly (Keyboards, Samples and Effects, Backing Vocals, Programming)
Stone Free Festival 2016
Sunday 19 June 2016
The 'Main Event' was now preparing to take the stage. Rick Wakeman released his concept album 'The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table' in 1974 and has always dreamed of re-recording and performing an extended version. With the new album on the verge of being released, this was the first live performance and the realisation of a long held ambition. We'd met Rick earlier in the afternoon, and he'd certainly seemed to be looking forward to the performance. He was on great form entertaining those who were lucky enough to meet him.
With Ian Lavender narrating, myths unfolded as the orchestra and choir brought the music to life. Rick had centre stage dressed in a regal cloak and he played his intricate music on a bank of keyboards. Taking us through births, marriages quests and deaths, the tempo changed from melodic and choral to fast and funfilled expressing the different chapters of the legend.
Rick finished and the crowd rose for a well deserved standing ovation.
After a restful night in our hotel, we returned to the O2 on Sunday morning. There were a few bands we wanted to see who were appearing on the 'Fireball Stage' which was sited in the main foyer, just inside the entrance.
Its position meant that bands would be seen, not only by Stone Free ticket holders, but also by members of the public who were at the O2 for any other reason.
First up were Broken Witt Rebels - a Birmingham based band with a blues rock sound. They are predicted to have a bright future, and if their performance at Stone Free is anything to go by, that is a prediction they are worthy of. They took a couple of tracks to settle down, but it wasn't long before Danny started to enjoy himself and he built a rapport with the crowd that had formed.
The whole band were appreciative of the audience - many of whom had just stopped by to watch and listen as they delivered their original music with growing confidence.
By the time they were finished, the cheers and claps confirmed their successful appearance.
In a brief chat afterwards, Danny said he had enjoyed playing and was looking forward to their appearance at Rockstock in December.
Broken Witt Rebels
Danny Core (Vocals, Rhythm Guitar)
Luke Dans (Vocals, Bass)
James Tranter (Lead Guitar, Vocals)
James Dudley (Drums)
The next band we were keen to see, also on the Fireball stage was Colour of Noise. This is a superb band who we first had the pleasure of seeing at Steelhouse Festival in July 2015, and have seen them several times since.
They have a great sound, with their influences in traditional rock and roll showing through. We were lucky enough to meet up with the guys later on for a chat. You can read about it here.
Matt Mitchell has a great presence on stage and really draws in the audience. They began the set with 'You Only Call Me When You Want Something' and followed it with perfect renditions of some of the great tracks from their debut album, including their single 'Can You Hear Me' and my personal favourite 'Heavy' to finish with.
The small stage seemed cramped for them, as Bruce moved in to fill the spaces that Matt created as he shimmied his way round his small area.
Colour of Noise do not 'do' ballads. When they play, it is difficult, if not impossible, to resist the temptation to join in and dance.
As always, they were a pleasure to watch.
Colour of Noise
Matt Mitchell (Vocals)
Bruce John Dickinson (Lead Guitar)
Ben Daniel (Bass)
Dan Electro (Rhythm Guitar)
Randy Nixon (Drums)
Gig Pigs Wales