Taking place over 3 days, the festival started off on Friday evening with festival Compere Nigel Humphreys introducing the first band onto the stage,
The John Angus Blues Band. Playing a high energy set of blues/rock along with a fair bit of Rory G songs added for good value, and at times sounding a bit like Skynyrd! John and the band got the festival off to a great start!
Next up on stage was festival favourite
The Jim Kirkpatrick Band. Showcasing his latest album “Dead Man Walking”, Jim had the crowd jumping from start to finish and received a rousing response to his acoustic set of Rory G songs which included “Wheels Within Wheels” and “Out on the Western Plane”.
The day before the festival started, Bernie Marsden (ex Whitesnake) passed away. Jim and Bernie were great friends and Bernie was also a fan of Rory Gallagher releasing his own tribute in 2009 “Bernie Plays Rory - A Celebration of the music of Rory Gallagher”. Bernie was also a big favourite at Ballyshannon where he played as part of The Rory Gallagher International Festival, in fact I’ve been told Bernie’s last live performance was at Ballyshannon in 2022!
So, needless to say Jim paid tribute to Bernie, playing “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”, using a guitar which Bernie had given him! An emotional performance which moved everyone in the hall, some to tears! RIP Bernie Marsden!
Day 2 of the festival was high octane from start to finish with some blistering performances, not to mention some great Rory G songs!
First on was Cloak & Dagger, all the way from Southampton, and as their name might suggest, pure Rory all the way!
The Zac Schulze Band were next, without doubt the youngest band at the festival over the whole weekend, playing a mixture of classic Rory songs, some original material and some covers, including a nod to Lynyrd Skynyrd, finishing on a high with “Freebird”. Just brilliant!
Next up was Rory Gallagher tribute - a project of the Innes Sibun trio, with Innes on top form giving it everything as I’ve come to expect from him - totally outstanding performance!
Bringing the day to a close saw DEUCE hit the stage who continued on with some more Rory classics that we have all come to expect! An added bonus was the guest appearance of Stephen Whoriskey, all the way from Gweedore in County Donegal, on guitar and vocals for the closing number.
Great second day - think there must have been something in the water (or Guinness) judging by the amount of energy that was spent by all 4 bands!!
For the final day of the festival, SandraiseR had the job of waking everyone up and they certainly did that! Playing a set that included Rory G and Hendrix classic’s, it wasn’t long before people were on their feet, even with an early afternoon start! One of the highlights from their performance was a 15 minute version of the Rory classic “ Bad Penny” which for me anyhow, was just outstanding!
Next up was Gwynn Ashton (ex Band of Friends) with his tribute to Rory - “Pickin’ on Rory”, which saw him play, as he described it, Rory songs in a different key and on a different guitar to give it a real different feel, and he certainly achieved that!
Starting off the evening session saw the Jed Thomas Band hit the stage, playing quite a unique style of blues/rock original numbers along with some great versions of Rory songs, it was easy to see why Jed and his band are one of the most respected bands on the Rory festival circuit!
Bringing this year's festival to an end was the mighty Aiden Pryor Band, and going by the number of people that had APB tees on in the crowd, one of the Nantwich festival’s favourite sons! Playing all of the Rory classic’s, going walkabout in the crowd and throwing in a few original numbers for good measure, it was easy to see why Aiden and his band struggled to get off stage at the end with the crowd, rightly, giving him a standing ovation!
A great weekend with special thanks to Nigel Humphries and Steve Rory Web for putting on a great festival! Special mention has to go to the bar staff and security staff at Nantwich Civic Hall who helped make it great!