The expertly curated Call Of The Wild Festival reached its reassuringly raucous conclusion as bands including Those Damn Crows, Black Spiders and The Outlaw Orchestra set the seal on three days of riotous fun. Rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth was there.

When you’re wearing a gold lamé jacket then the potential for glare demands at least two pairs of sunglasses.

Sweet Electric’s Aussie frontman Brad Marr came prepared for day three of Call Of The Wild following reports of wall-to-wall sunshine and baking temperatures.

But the banks of thick cloud and a chilly breeze were more Manchester than Melbourne on day three and it was down to the Cologne-based party rockers to turn up the heat.

The Sweet Electric fire did its job as bangers Leading The Blind, Monster and Hard Times radiated warmth and humour.

When Marr roars ‘hard times come/hard work follows’, one of the busiest blokes in rock is speaking from experience. And we love him for it.

This House We Built weld elements of Def Leppard and Little Angels to their staple heavy rock foundation to create a heady mix of riff-fuelled gems.

One of the most dynamic sets of a deliciously unpredictable weekend saw vocalists/guitarists Scott Wardell and Andy Jackson engage in some seriously dangerous on-stage duelling.

New single Walk The Line roused a few early afternoon nappers with its compelling hook and we can’t wait to see where this fast-rising crew goes next.

Tailgunner brought the NWOBHM steel to the Lincolnshire Showground with a sensational set straight out of the Maiden playbook.

Having somehow misplaced a guitarist just days before their COTW debut, things could have gone horribly wrong for the hotly-tipped Fireflash Records signing.

Step forward Rhea Thompson.

In just three days Tailgunner’s newest recruit learnt a set screaming trad metal potential.

If the demonic White Death and Crashdive are anything to go by then debut album Guns For Hire can’t come soon enough.

It was bloody freezing by the time Fury bounded onto the Kilmister Stage on a mission to warm the cockles of the COTW masses.

Just how the ferocioius Julian Jenkins isn’t a household name by now is beyond us but Fury’s irrepressible frontman has never delivered a below-par show (we suspect).

The newish line-up — completed by Becky Baldwin (bass), Tom Fenn (drums) on drums, Jake Elwell (lead guitar) and Nyah Ifill (backing vocals) is finally starting to hit its stride.

Embrace The Demons and Casino Soleil captured the raw appeal of a swaggering heavy rock beast that, by rights, should be dominating the UK’s festival scene.

The Karma Effect appear to have come out of nowhere to establish themselves as the great new hope of British bar room rock.

Think classic Quireboys, vintage Dogs D’Amour and a smattering of The Small Faces fused with Black Crowes, early Aerosmith and Bad Touch.

The sensational See You Again teased the band’s forthcoming album while trusty set closer Testify capped flawless display.

And did keysman Seb Emmins steal the show? Too fucking right.

Over on the Trailblazer Stage (the place to be as a chilly wind picked up pace) and Wild Fire introduced a touch of On Through The Night-era Leppard to a fast-paced metal masterclass.

Watched by various members of Tailgunner, theirs was a set rooted in the early 80s but bursting with fret-melting potential.

Next up were Southern-fried, country-tinged, wise-cracking Hampshire trio The Outlaw Orchestra.

Contenders for band of the weekend? They were right up there, pitching for a podium place.

A wicked brew of tasty songs, brilliant banter and mind-bending musicianship had a dizzy crowd drunk with joy.

The ‘so full of shit and you can’t shut him up’ glovebox joke briefly transformed the Trailblazer Stage into a comedy tent.

And the inspired set-closing medley featuring The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) had a raucous crowd bouncing.

A future main stage slot and more beckons for these Rushonrock faves.

Black Spiders have never sounded so good and this 15th anniversary show reminded the masses why the best band out of Sheffield since the Lepps should be a firm fixture of the festival season.

Unbridled energy, cracking tunes tailor-made for crowd participation and Pete Spiby’s consummate showmanship meant the Spiders were a no-brainer for COTW bosses.

Rat Is A Rat, Hot Wheels and Fly In The Soup sit neatly alongside deeper cuts Kiss Tried To Kill Me, Balls and What Good’s A Rock Without A Roll.

And it seems this autumn’s tour alongside The Hot Damn! is fast becoming a must-see double header.

Those Damn Crows rolled into Lincolnshire fresh from confirming support slots with LA supergroup Hollywood Vampires.

And the Welsh dragons are fast becoming one of British rock’s most bankable assets.

Huge, arena-sized hooks and Shane Greenhall’s sumptuous vocals have started to grab the attention of the global market.

And Call Of The Wild bosses pulled off something of a coup securing the services of Swansea’s finest.

When Greenhall bellowed ‘it was a bastard heatwave yesterday and now it’s like the Arctic’ he wasn’t wrong.

But a towering set warmed the hearts of a partisan crowd who’ve seen these hard working hard rockers maintain momentum and up their game since the release of 2020’s Point Of No Return.

In 2023 Those Damn Crows have reached a career crossroads. The only direction is up.

Main images courtesy of Mark Ellis

Check out our Call Of The Wild Day Two coverage here

Check out our Call Of The Wild Day One coverage here

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