After some Thursday night thrills courtesy of Daxx & Roxane and The Treatment, Call Of The Wild showcased a full bill on festival Friday. Rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth caught the best of the action.

Cheap as chips taxi fare from the city centre. Check. Super friendly guy on the gate. Check. Pints of proper beer for less than a fiver. Check.

Long before the tunes kicked in, it was immediately clear that Call Of The Wild Festival had Rushonrock’s name written all over it.

In a great big, ‘fuck off’ Motörhead font.

But two years late (even Axl Rose wasn’t that tardy) was this Lincolnshire shindig really worth the wait?

Sure, first impressions count for a lot.

But let’s be honest…eating, drinking and shopping for obscure 80s hair metal patches wasn’t really the point.

Listening to kick ass rock was the primary reason for this first taste of festival action for Rushonrock since Ramblin’ Man Fair 2019.

And the quality of the bands would determine the strength of the COTW brand.

With the local police dog training unit a stone’s throw from the main stage, Last Hounds looked right at home barking out a series of hardcore belters in the early afternoon sun.

Delivering an abrasive fusion of the Beasties, Faith No More and Misfits, it was hats off to a band best known for brutal crowd pleaser Balaclava.

In fact, Bastette had it all to do matching the Brummie noise botherers’ energy and aggression.

But frontwoman Caroline Eve Kenyon is no shy retiring type and on new tune Psycho there was no escaping the singer’s crazily addictive stagecraft.

Flanked by The Hot Damn’s Laurie Buchanan — making her second appearance in Bastette colours following a shock summer loan move — one of the most engaging faces of the NWOCR scene treated COTW to a Rollercoaster ride of raw emotion and unrelenting power.

Empyre were always going to dial things down notch or two as the retro-fuelled heavy rockers hit the main stage during a rare downpour.

But a set soaked in rich authenticity underlined the band’s reputation for crafting emotionally intense anthems of the highest order.

Only Way Out is the perfect way in to a compelling quartet and COTW was treated to a visceral version of Empyre’s greatest song.

Black skies gave way to Florence Black and the arresting pipes of titanic frontman Tristan Thomas forced any mid-afternoon waverers to sit up and take notice.

A bludgeoning cover of Budgie’s Breadfan just about pipped The Deep End and set closer Sun And Moon as the Merthyr Tydfil trio’s standout blast.

Florence Black couldn’t be more different to the throwback, Black Crowes-inspired classic rock championed by the wonderfully rhythmic These Wicked Rivers.

But different is good.

And the hirsute John Hartwell led his merry men through a thrill-a-minute blues-soaked masterclass — peaking with the soaraway Testify

With the pace quickening and the expectations rising there was a whole heap of pressure on the shoulders of fast-emerging Midlanders The Howling Tides.

COTW demanded the best from the NWOCR’s new kids on the block…and one of the bands of the weekend didn’t disappoint. 

Frontman Rob Baynes is a heady mix of Nathan James and Chris Robertson but the Tides flow from the fretboard of sublime guitarist Hayden Kirk.

Channelling his inner Paul Kossoff, the slick six stringer wowed on new tune White Crow and comfortably conquered the masses with his classy take on Crack My Soul.

Ricky Warwick has long been a champion of The Howling Tides.

But it was his job to eclipse the young pretenders and put the pedal to the metal before Friday night headliners Massive Wagons rolled in to close out day two.

When the call went out for Call Of The Wild, Warwick always looked like a likely contender.

And the former Almighty man was right at home racing through a back catalogue of solo favourites and crowd-pleasing covers from a career at the forefront of classic rock.

Ultimately it was a toss-up between Free N Easy and Finest Hour for song of the night — the former sparking an impromptu party down the front.

Massive Wagons had been building towards their biggest headline show for more than a decade.

But even the band’s most blinkered devotees couldn’t have expected anything quite like this colossal COTW performance.

New tune Triggered popped up like a punk version of Poison’s Unskinny Bop before Adam Thistlethwaite ripped through Matter Of Time like Slash on steroids.

Baz Mills bounced his way through a fabulous 14-song set with typical zeal — even calling for a pair of new eyebrows after one blast of properly rock and roll pyro.

Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It made for the perfect filling in between two furious slices of Nails.

And has there ever been a more apt set closer than In It Together?

We were. The fans, the bands, the promoters and the rest. 

In it together. And in it for the long haul. 

Images courtesy of Mark Ellis Photography.

Catch up with all of the Day Three action here.