While the more hardy members of TeamCB had been indulging in the Thursday festivities (a good time had by all) the rest of the gang didn’t make it back to the UK until Thursday night, so missed out on what was apparently a cracking evening. The last time TeamCB caught up with the Hard Rock Hell juggernaut we were basking in the sunshine of the party island. Ibiza is a long way away from Wales, but one thing was for sure, we were expecting “more of the same” HRH good times, good people and good old fashioned rock and roll.
And we’ll get the inevitable mention of the weather out the way early, it was pishing down, cold and generally miserable. Well Wales in November, what were you expecting.
First band of the day is Highway To Hell winners, Bigfoot. Slightly bleary eyed we stumble in with Starbucks in hand to see the second stage arena very busy for this ungodly hour to be heavy metalling. And everyone seems to be loving it too. We catch on pretty quick to the fact that Bigfoot are a bit good and one hell of a way to start day 2 of HRH.
Next up it’s the battle of the cowboy hats.
Thirteen Stars are from deep south… Cumbria. They look like they’ve been plucked from a ranch out of deep south USA however and appropriately, they are purveyors of some fine southern bluesy rock. Sweeping deserts and dry old river banks spring to mind before we cross the bleak and wet 20 yard passage to the other stage…
Over one stage 2, The Dukes Of Bordello are upping the stakes. Another cowboy hat, but this time we’re talking punk rock cowboys with some real get up and go. On first inspection, we’re a bit dubious. A frontman who looks like Ginger Wildheart’s alter ego Howling Willie, a stand up bass and a drummer who could pass for any gutter-shaking doom band. We’re almost instantly surprised by just how good The Dukes Of Bordello are however. Spritely punk anthems played with some mega attitude and we’re underway discovering some new bands courtesy of HRH, yet again.
Stags rock just as hard as The Dukes’ but with a more alt-nature. Mixing up some fuzzy riffs, Clutch aggression with maybe a sprinkle of grunge on top: they give it their all as demonstrated by front man Chris’s rosy red cheeks as he belts out the Vedder/Weiland bluesy grunge vocals. The sun is pouring through the glass roof panels for a brief appearance. Alessio has come prepared as he dons the shades and stonewash denim look to fool us into thinking we’re in a warmer place than we actually are.
Well, call us unprofessional but we’ve never heard of Riot Horse. A quick sweep around the folk stood near us and, well… one bloke knows who they are. Smart arse. He assures us that they’re “Awesome!”
As usual at HRH, it’s the bands that you’re not familiar with that make the best impression. Always great to discover a new band that you previously had no idea even existed, and now we do indeed know all about Riot Horse.
There’s not whole lot of stand out uniqueness in what they do; it’s just that Riot Horse are simply damn good at what they do. ‘Bluesy classic rock’ is a tag that could be slapped on a few dozen bands this weekend but few would outshine Riot Horse at this game. They are thoroughly entertaining from our position. They look the part and sound the part.
A bunch of Scandinavians who know how to rock hard. Who would have thought, eh?
*Applies CackBlabbath Stamp of Approval*
Some people never venture over to the second stage, you know. That’s just crazy when there’s a wealth of new stuff to discover on regular rotation like this. Like The Dukes Of Bordello. Like More. And Stags… the list goes on!
Things are bubbling along nicely on the second stage but we’re curious as to what is happening over in the main stage arena. Federal Charm have the next slot and while they’ve pulled in a decent crowd, their particular brand of bluesy rock doesn’t quite hit the same heights for us. That’d be Riot Horse’s fault for being so good!
Given the tastes of the HRH faithful there’s often a lot of similar-ish bands on, so if the sub-sabbath proceedings on the second stage aren’t to your liking, then Crobot over on the main stage probably won’t be either.
Crobot were certainly our choice, they edged it by having slightly more bounce and (apparently) better hair. The crowd was was still a bit sparse, probably something to do with the previous evening’s excesses but in caravans and chalets across the site warpaint was being applied, unwise cocktails knocked back and preparations made for what promised to be another unforgettable (alcohol permitting) night in HRH’s back-of-beyond heartland.
If the start to the day’s proceedings had been a bit subdued, the inevitable air raid siren intro tape heralded the onset of the proverbial “kicking up a gear” over on the second stage. Hard Rock Hell signalled the end of Dead City Ruins jaunt into the northern hemisphere and the place was starting to come alive. No wonder as it was hard not to get sucked in and swept along by the immediately likable Aussies
Over on the main stage motorcycling legend James Toseland and his chums were doing their thing, but we only stuck our heads in for a minute before heading back to the second stage to stay with the Dead City Ruins boys on their last UK date (for now, we hope they’ll be back).
The only problem, well that’s probably smell of fresh pizza that envelops the second stage arena from the fast food place there, difficult to watch without starting to feel a bit peckish. So, great band or fresh pizza ??
Either way.. Win
Got to hand it to Dead City Ruins too, the drum solo was a bit ambitious for stage 2 at half six. The band have been on the road for 9 months and really appreciated the big send off
And with one last ear splitting scream they were gone.
HRH is full of “new bands on us”, and one of the picks of the Friday line up was definitely Stone Kings, got to love the irony of one of the heaviest tracks being called Weightless.
Back in arena one next for some more old-school worship, with a bonus point for sound checking with the bass riff from Pink Floyd’s Money. Sound checking allows us mere mortals a peek into the highly complex and technical process of setting up for a gig, and you learn all the technical terms. “Can I get fucktons of bass? Are you the monitor guy? Am I talking to the right dude??”
With the requested fucktons of bass dialled in Scorpion Child proceeded to shake the ancient bedrock of North Wales. Once again tuning into the retro channel, Scorpion Child have a few more bells and whistles than your average band on the main stage today. It helps them stand out from the crowd, but they still have all the right ingredients to get out feet tapping and eventually our heads banging.
The colossal sing-along of “I live on the mountain…” from ‘Polygon Eyes’ is a more animated moment from our day as we belt it out with pints aloft. So someone told us anyway…
Two things about Nine Miles South struck us immediately as they took to the second stage for their date with HRH destiny. The first was frontman Seb’s beautiful silver Gretsch electromatic guitar and the second was the fine array of facial hair the band exhibited, from the twisty little moustache to the “full hipster” beard.
Nine Miles South struck us as being a bit different to most of the other bands we’d seen thus far. They had a polished, modern sound that made them a refreshing change from the out-and-out old school worship on the bill, and we were particularly impressed by the riffy, southern-rock-tinged Fingernails.
So far in the head to head the second stage was just edging it for us, but the battle was about to hot up as we approached the business end of the evening.
From a couple of new-to-us bands to some old friends. We last caught Hellion Rising at Wildfire Festival in the summer and it was great to catch them again here. This is one of those bands that seem to divide opinion, you either like them or REALLY like them, and anyone who slips a bit of Disconnect by the Rollins Band into proceedings is fine by us.
Hellion Rising are one of those bands that you just can’t pigeon hole, switching from heavy doom to energetic punked-up metal with consumate ease.
While Hellion Rising were giving the second stage a much needed kick up the arse, back in the main arena it was time for one of the most anticipated bands of the weekend, for just about everyone judging by the rammed to capacity crowd.
As the Walls Of Jericho intro tape rings out the anticipation built to fever pitch and from the moment the irrepressible Andi Derris bounces onto stage the main arena becomes party central. Eagle Fly Free kicks things off, and it turns out to be a proper old fashioned crowd pleaser of a set. Of course the old favourites are there, but there’s a helping of new stuff to keep everything fresh and up to date.
It may have been horrible outside, I think Andi already knew the answer to “Is it always this cold ?” but It’s My God Given Right kept the bounce going and ensured whatever the temperature outside was doing, inside it was getting a wee bit warm down on the floor.
Lost in America provoked about the biggest sing-along of the set thus far, it’s a power metal masterpiece with a bloody chorus that a certain member of TeamCB couldn’t stop singing for days afterwards.
Well that was the biggest of the sing alongs until the encores. The band left stage but there was no way we were going to let them away that easily and after what seemed an age they met our demands for an encore in the best way possible with Future World then, of course, I Want Out bringing things to a triumphant, unfollowable close.
Over on stage 2, the Wild Lies all the way from London were another “quite like to see”. If the setlist we were treated to here is any indication then the band are clearly destined for big things, with the new stuff sounding killer, especially the face melting Shape Shifter that woke the place up.
After the main stage highs of Helloween, we knew that UFO were going to have to be on top of their game to come anywhere near the level of energy and excitement generated by the Germans. As it turned out, well, they weren’t. Probably not helped by the fact that a certain member of the band had clearly been hitting the rider pretty hard.
After a flaky start things picked up towards the end where, as you’d expect, the big hits were given an airing.
Still, at east we had the awesome Hellbound Hearts to enjoy over on stage 2. Last time we saw ex-terrorvision bloke Danny it was in a tiny pub in Nottingham so it was great to see the band make the step up from there to a prestigious HRH top end of the bill slot.
Our night was brought to a close by another band we know and love, Black State Highway. It was great to see the guys enjoying themselves playing to a moderately sized crowd, and then be faced with a full house as UFO finished and the main stage rockers headed over to keep the party going.
And so HRH 9’s Friday drew to a close. OK, so we may have been a bit light on killer performances (Helloween, Crobot and Dead City Ruins apart) but it had still been a whole lot of fun, and the best thing ??
Tomorrow we get to do it all over again.