Westfest 2015

We sent two reviewers & two photographers to Westfest on Tuesday night to cover as much of the action as we could!  Check out reviews by Clare McCabe and Wal Reid below, with photos by Megan Moss and Lou Mitchell.

Date / Venue:  Tuesday March 3rd, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

Westfest '15 Concert Review:  By Clare McCabe 

Ah the joys of a festival with loads of your favourites playing all in one place on the same day. Good times people. And perfect weather for it as well.

Welcome to Westfest 2015. New venue from last year and changed into a one-day festival with three stages. And that new BIG main stage was well worth the wait.

This was to be one heavy day and we were ready. Coming through security was easy although I did see one poor lad have his selfie-stick confiscated - love what is banned these days.

We sifted around the venue for a quick glimpse of where everything was laid out - then settled in for Lamb Of God. Oh yes. The crowd were already pretty excited to see Randy on stage and the sound was great from where I was standing. Oh and there were screens (you know how much I love the big screens). John was well into it on his bass, throwing that long grey hair around and Randy jumped up and down and owned that stage throughout the set. These guys were super energetic for so early in the day. It might have been 4.30 in the afternoon and full sunshine, but LoG played as if they were the Headliners of the evening. We got Walk With Me In Hell, Hourglass and Randy even dedicated one of the songs to Mr Rob Halford, the Metal God. As you do. The Lamb of God chant was ringing in our ears as we popped over to the beer tent between sets. The mighty Judas Priest were up next and we did not want to miss a second of it.

Must say loving the new layout here - beer queues up top were manageable, there was plenty of room in the "drinking" area and you could still hear the main stage, even though you couldn't see it. A quick sneak down to the back stage (almost deserted) and a beer stop at the Ding Dong Lounge stage for a glimpse of Devil Wears Prada, who were rocking a good crowd.

Then back we went to the main stage for Rob and pals. Judas Priest are in the house. To be honest I was glad it wasn't a sold-out event yesterday as this meant there was way more room to move round and you could get closer to the band - literally we were basically side-stage for the Priest. And that was a good place to be. Here's Rob in his full leathers - studs everywhere and creeping around stage with his cane. Richie stands to one side playing that great Flying V and loving the interaction with the crowd - looking like a young David Lee Roth, only with guitar. "Look at these heavy metal maniacs here tonight", says Rob after a song or two. Indeed. Most of this crowd have never had a chance to see these boys live and they are enjoying every second of it. They speed through all the ones we want to hear: Devil's Child, Metal Gods and Breaking the Law(my fave). There is guitar dueling and costume changes galore. What a treat.

And then there was Mike Patton. The boys take the stage all in white with flowers everywhere. Roddy punches away on keyboards to the left and Mike hammers those drums. They kick off with Motherfucker, one of their new tunes, and Mike is off on his own little tangent. Fingers clicking and megaphone in play. Evidenceis there. The fabulous Epic. Midlife Crisis gets an airing... It's getting older and so are you... Mike still looks grumpy a lot of the time but surely that just means he's enjoying himself? The contrast of the super angryGentle Art of Making Enemies swinging into the swoon of Easy just makes us want more. Mike throws himself around the stage and screams the place down on Cuckoo for Caca with plenty of megaphone-action. So glad these guys are chums and making music together again (new album out soon). The 90s are alive and well and playing on stage tonight. "Lovely job with the flowers" says Roddy as they head into a couple more fabulous tunes and then they end on a beautiful note with I Started a Joke. Thanks guys. Your set was absolutely the highlight of the evening. Come. Back. Soon.

A quick roundup of the other stages and with 8-Foot Sativa ringing in our ears (l.o.u.d.), we head back up to the main stage for Soundgarden. (Apologies if my review is slightly 90s biased, but someone is giving us Patton and Cornell in one evening...)

Soundgarden take the main stage and you can tell they are on form. Chris has all of his usual swagger, playing guitar on some tunes and letting Kim T take the lead on others. Been Away Too Long gets an airing. Spoonman, My Wave, Fell on Black Days all follow. These guys are cruising through this. Outshined is a highlight and everyone sings along. It is hard to believe these guys are in their 50s now when you see them up on stage together belting out old and new tunes. Chris is not so keen on loads of crowd banter but has a few stories to tell and sneaks in a tune, Birth Ritual, from the Singles movie soundtrack. Nice work. To be honest the crowd are pretty mellow this late in the evening and a lot are happy to sit and enjoy the fab tunes. Black Hole Sunhits a high note and then after a few slower, moody tracks, a rowdy Rusty Cage rounded up the set. A great way to end a huge day of music.

A big thanks to ODR Productions for bringing all these guys to NZ. The new venue and layout was a success. See you next year with a whole new set of bands.

Westfest 2015 Concert Review:  By Wal Reid

It was like Auckland's ‘black day' as metal heads, bogans, punks & rockers made the pilgrimage to Westfest 2015 at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium. Take your pick - ‘Breaking The Law' with Judas Priest, Lamb Of God,Spoon Man Chris Cornell & Soundgarden or the Last Resort of Papa Roach, there was literally everything here for the avid music fan, even a good showing of local talent like 8 Foot Sativa (Step Up Step UP for sativaaa) & Wellington faves Depths.

‘The Monster Energy Westfest' mecca it seemed of heavy music and tattooed bodies all ready to soak up the musical dirge of the festival, that by all accounts looked well attended, I mean it was pretty close to full house at Main stage and everywhere you went there were throngs of people pouring out of food stalls, and the Ding Dong Lounge stage which to do on a Tuesday night anywhere in the country is no mean feat.

The thing that struck me was the crowd behaviour creating a laid back atmosphere in the place, I mean it wasn't festive by any stretch of the imagination, god forbid that would happen, however it was plain to see people of all walks and life enjoying themselves. A noticeable low Police presence testament to the festival punters that added to the overall vibe of Westfest.

Ok, first up time to check out the Papa Roach boys at Ding Dong Lounge stage who by now had the crowd eating out of their hands, singer Jacoby Shaddix is an absolute crazy man on stage, his heavily tattooed appearance is almost as famous as the band. They ripped through their short but energetic set that had the crowd raising their horns and singing along P-Roach karaoke styles.

Their eponymous hit Last Resort hit stage rage, while crowd were encouraged to get a mosh circle going before dishing up hits Between Angels & Insects, Scars & new tune Broken As Me off their new album F.E.A.R. After Shaddix asked the crowd to raise their hands if it was their first time seeing the band they left warning the crowd they'd be back for more and a promise of a return.

Finding a flat white was like looking for a needle in a haystack, however I was successful this trip so ventured to check out the closing set of Faith No More, of course one of the biggest selling bands in the world at one time. My mind goes back to when I saw them play at the Town Hall in 1990 when Mike Patton had just taken over vocal duties on Epic. Now that was then and this is now. I mean have to say I was kind of let down by the mismatch of my youth sentiment. The band just didn't fire for me, I don't think the band had changed but I have to admit their cover of the Commodores hit song Easy is one of the best versions around and for me, one of the festival highlights. Oh that and Soundgarden taming the audience with Spoon Man was enough to give any rock fan a wee Tuesday night thrill and way cheaper than buying a hot tub time machine. Roll on Westfest 2016.