After Massive Wagons closed day two in triumphant style it was time for a full-on Scandi invasion at Call Of The Wild. Rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth enjoyed some big hair and even bigger choruses.
There was a time when the people of Lincolnshire were constantly looking over their shoulders for fear of long-haired Scandinavians invading their lands and laying waste to their towns.
But after a two year wait for Call Of The Wild, expectant locals couldn’t wait to welcome with open arms hordes of screaming, axe-wielding warriors from across the North Sea.
Bands like Shiraz Lane, Crashdïet and Reckless Love were only too quick to accept an invitation to rock hard and take no prisoners.
And with the weather taking a brighter turn for the better, day three of Call Of The Wild could have taught the PM a thing or two about how to party….legally and loudly.
One of the early highlights came in the shape of eclectic Finns Velvet Insane.
The glam metal devotees owed more than a respectful nod to peak Hanoi Rocks and the sexy sax evoked memories of Michael Monroe at his alluring best.
Looking and sounding like your favourite guilty pleasure, Velvet Insane fitted COTW like a glove and proved the perfect antidote to main stage rockers Bootyard Bandits.
An acquired taste — replete with blow-up cacti — the country metallers can’t escape from the fact that they look and sound like the bastard sons of Steel Panther and Dolly Parton.
Purveyors of daft puns and risible plays on words, their brand of hillbilly silliness isn’t everyone’s cup of bourbon.
But as mindless mid-afternoon fun goes, it’s pretty harmless stuff.
Shiraz Lane are a far more serious outfit despite their obsession with 80s hair metal posturing and Malmsteen-meets-Vai shredding.
Latest single Scream lent itself to some classic crowd participation and frontman Hannes Kett held a rapt crowd in the palm of his hand (not least during a brief snippet of Whitesnake during the band’s soundcheck).
On this evidence Shiraz Lane are on the highway to hell — where their red hot riffs and molten rhythms surely belong.
Just how The Middlenight Men all fit on stage is anyone’s guess.
The mysterious collective is a sight to behold with their blacked-out eyes and stomping stagecraft but how do they sound?
If jaunty pop punk with a rocking underbelly is your thing then dive right in.
VEGA have matured into one of the most slick and dependable melodic rock bands on the planet.
But the timely addition of ex-Inglorious/Deever axe slinger Wil Taylor has added extra bite to a band still chasing the big time.
Cock-a-hoop after boyhood heroes Sunderland clinched promotion to the Championship, the red-and-white striped guitarist was in his element working off the irrepressible Marcus Thurston.
And VEGA capped one of the sets of the day with a crisp nod to Def Leppard’s career-defining hair metal anthem Animal.
That Kickin’ Valentina’s no frills hard rock was juxtaposed with the dreamy AOR of melodic rock vets Romeo’s Daughter hardly helped either band.
But fans of both stuck around long enough to suggest COTW’s core audience remains open to new experiences and a taste of the unexpected.
Singers D.K. Revelle and Leigh Matty operate at polar opposite scales — both vocally and characteristically — but the latter will always have a special place in Rushonrock’s heart.
And kicking off with the classy Heaven In The Backseat should have persuaded the most sceptical of Kickin’ Valentina fans to give Romeo’s Daughter a chance.
Over in the tent and Edenthorn, hailing from the hard rock hotbed of North East England, had it all to do in a bid to drag folk in from the sun-soaked field of riff-fuelled dreams.
But within half a set it was mission accomplished for one of the UK’s most exciting emerging acts as fans flooded in to see what all the fuss was about.
Was there a better retro anthem all weekend that the magnificent 1993?
We don’t think so.
Back to the outdoor stages and not for the first time those canny COTW bosses had saved the best until last with a Scandi combination guaranteed to deliver day three’s decisive sucker punch.
Sleazemaster generals Crashdïet have pure entertainment coursing through their veins and it’s impossible to ignore the raw energy pacing these preposterous Swedes.
With ‘new’ singer (yes, another one) Gabriel Keyes in pulsating form and stand-in drummer Lacu looking back to his Hanoi Rocks best, a relentless set rarely faltered.
And the appearance of special guest (and former Crashdïet frontman) Olli Herman — just minutes before Reckless Love’s headline set — added extra star quality to a set showcasing the superb Martin Sweet’s six-string prowess.
New album Automaton has given Sweet and co. another shot at sleaze rock’s top table but keeping Keyes could hold the key.
Herman and co. had it all to do in a bid to eclipse Crashdïet’s colossally overblown set.
But the Turboriders strapped in and maxed out as Reckless Love’s 80s nostalgia fest took COTW by storm.
Paying homage to US cop show Miami Vice and Van Halen’s synth-led classics, a set as rich in style as it was in substance announced the triumphant return of pop rock’s greatest showmen.
Herman and sidekick Pepe Reckless boast an intuitive partnership bolstered by two decades of dialled in songwriting experience.
And a perfectly pitched COTW set proved the pair’s tried and trusted collaboration shows no sign of waning.
New tracks Eyes Of A Maniac, Kids Of The Arcade, Outrun and Turborider’s turbocharged title track fitted seamlessly into a set punctuated by bona fide crowd favourites.
But none quite match the raw magnetism of On The Radio or soaring set closer Hot from 2011’s Animal Attraction.
A decade down the line and that standout album still stands tall as the serious antidote to Steel Panther’s spoofed up hair metal.
And Call Of The Wild couldn’t have picked a sexier Saturday night headliner…unless Sweet Teaze had sensationally agreed to rip off their denim and leather for a Full Monty-style show to end all shows.
Images courtesy of Mark Ellis Photography
Catch up with all of the Day Two action here.