Hard Rock Hell 9 Saturday Review

Right, who nicked our hangovers ?? TeamCB awoke bright eyed and (comparatively) bushy tailed for day 3 of 2015’s HRH shenanigans. After the traditional trip to Starbucks for a bucket of coffee we headed into the second stage arena for opening time, and we were looking forward to the first band on a lot. After catching them last time out we were all front and center for the return of More to HRH. Another band who first appeared back in what old folk call “the day”, More are a welcome return to the UK live scene. The band are probably best known for having legendary producer Chris Tsangarides (think Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Gary Moore and a million others) on guitar.

More-CackBlabbath-11Considering the early hour on day 3 the second stage arena has a decent crowd, and the party is soon in full swing. The highlight of the set was a stunning cover of a Judas Priest song, which Tsangarides co-wrote, but Touch Of Evil doesn’t get off to the best of starts…

“We’ve got a technical issue”… which was met with a very polite “oh bugger”.

Fortunately the technical issue (with the intro tape) doesn’t last long and we’re soon full steam ahead through an undisputed heavy metal classic. More are promising a new album too, and a couple of tracks we’re looking forward to hearing on vinyl are a 1999 track that may make it on the new album called Scream along with some killer new material the band have been working on. Inbetween producing albums for the likes of Girlschool, The Amorettes and host of others Chris has found time to write some new tracks including the coursing Spirits Of War which bodes well for the future.

The set finished with their “hit” single (albeit from 35 years ago), Atomic Rock which left the HRH faithful well and truly set up for the day ahead.

After another trip to Starbucks anyway.

PigIron-CackBlabbath-1The main stage opening band are a regular feature at Hard Rock Hell events, and Pig Iron are forging a formidable reputation in the world of heavy blues-rock. They did throw in a curve-ball at the start of their set though, with the band all standing round the mic for an acapella barbershop quartet intro to kick things off.

As is often the case for the main stage openers, the band started off to a fairly empty venue, but the crowd grew throughout the set and by the time the band hit top speed the place had filled up nicely.

We did wonder where everyone was, and the answer was that most of the people who’d dragged themselves out of bed were at stage 2 where Chariot were playing a blinder.

After some faffing about playing which lead goes where… Chariot erupt into action with a splendid display of the heavy metal we’re craving. If the opening two bands of the day (More and Chariot) are anything to go by, Saturday is going to be a monumental day. Even if it is pissing down with rain in a relentless manner.

Chariot 10As the Hafan Y Mor staff bring in the outside bar out of the torrent of wind and rain; Chariot produce their own little storm up on the second stage. They get our heads banging from the off, which is quite an achievement considering certain team members feel like their heads are about to fall off.

‘Demons and Angels’ and some other NWOBHM shaped pounders may not be the most recognisable tunes to our ears this weekend but that doesn’t stop them going down a treat. As the extended outro to the set allows Pete to rush around into the crowd for a few high fives; we’re left impressed and very much awake after all that.

As per usual, the merchandise stalls and vendors where a welcome sight. And it wasn’t just women that enjoyed the retail therapy. Plenty was on offer, from vinyl to vintage t-shirts, from custom made items of clothing to New Rock boots and the much sought after patches, badges and back-pieces.

Oh, and new this year, a wooly hat stall, take your pick from Chewbacca, Animal, Shaun the sheep and a load more.

Cue drunk rock fans in silly hats.

Nuff said!

GunAcoustic-CackBlabbath-2The Mash and barrel pub/restaurant offered the chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the main stages, with a more intimate and relaxing selection of exclusive unplugged sets. These are mainly for members of HRH’s inner sanctum, the Dark Circle but we usually manage to sneak in under the radar, and bloody good it always is too. It was refreshing to hear Gun’s acoustic set, and later in the day, see them really going for it over on main stage.

And that was the first time we heard mention of the awful events in France, with Hold Your Head Up being dedicated to the atrocities in Paris”.

Definitely one of those “do you remember where you were the first time you heard the news” moments.

Gun wrap up their brief set with, what else?, Steal Your Fire which only served to whet our appetite for their full-electric show later in the afternoon.

Trespass-CackBlabbath-6Back on the second stage, another veteran (old, ancient) NWOBHM band are, as is the habit of these bands, showing the young ‘uns how it’s done. We get back just in time to see Trespass blast through new track Footprints In The Rock and are left wondering how on earth these bands who were never that big first time around can come back after three decades and be quite this bloody good.

So, old New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands never die, they just go away and come back better than ever. Usually with at least one member who looks about half the age of everyone else.

Right, we’re not going to bang on about the weather, so let’s move swiftly on to events on stage 1.

KingOfTheNorth-CackBlabbath-1King Of The North, another band who make more noise than any two piece have a right to, especially when the drummer had his appendix out two weeks a go. Their slow ones are doom tinted rock n roll, the faster ones are riff heavy roller coasters that get the crowd bopping, but that name.. King Of The North ??

The North??, Finland?, Sweden?, Latvia?

Nope, Australia.

Hard Rock Hell was the band’s last show of what turned out to be a 35 date tour, which should have been 40 were it not for the aforementioned appendix situation.

Supercharger-CackBlabbath-14Back over on the second stage, all this running about keeps us fit, it was time for Denmark’s finest noise-mongers Supercharger to up the ante. It’s a long way from Copenhagen to North Wales but the raucous reaction that the Danes received must have made the trip worthwhile. Bu this time more news of Paris was starting to filter through, and it as certainly adding a somber overtones to proceedings.

We did pop our heads briefly into the main stage arena for a bit to check out No Hot Ashes, but after a general shrug of the shoulders from all of TeamCB we headed back over the road for another band from our “to see” list, Sky Valley Mistress.

SkyValleyMistress-CackBlabbath-10

As usual when there’s a lady-person on stage the photo pit was mobbed when Kayley and her chums arrived onstage. After the packed crowd for Supercharger the place was noticeably quieter for the Darwen 4-piece.

If you want a band that will fill out your main stage hall in the middle of the afternoon come rain or shine, then look no further than Black Spiders. They’ve done it before and by god they’ve done it again. Black Spiders are a big draw; the place is packed tighter than it was for UFO headlining the night before.

“We’re here to see Gun, Rock Goddess, Faster Pussycat Saxon, but fuck that shit you’re here to watch Black Spiders… We’re a band who live in the now”.

We’ve not seen these guys since Winter Rocks almost one year ago, but we all know how the show goes by now…

black spiders 11They hit their stride early on, with the band lumbering around the stage like disorientated wilder beasts but sounding on the ball. Or on the ‘Balls’. Boom Tish!

Seriously though, for a band that has only played a handful of shows this year, they look like they’ve been touring Jimmy Carr’s schedule. They’re smashing out the tunes in fine form. We’ve rarely seen these guys so tight.

If you’d have any complaint about the show it would have to be that we’ve seen it before. Not that there’s anything wrong seeing Black Spiders belt out their vast array of tunes in a splendid manner. Nothing at all. We get the “Fuck You Black spiders” bit and all is well and good. We do crave a new album from these boys, but on the other hand know that it’s easier said than done these days. We live in hope for 2016!

The ten legged beer fuelled monster that is the Black Spiders roll out the hits and things get especially tasty around the one-two suckerpunch of ‘Balls’ and ‘Trouble’. The riffs are coming thick and fast and we’re well and truly back in the swing of things this afternoon.

“A lot of shitty things have happened this week” Now we’re not sure that the death of Phil Taylor was the worst thing that happened but we get ‘Teenage Knife Gang’ in tribute to Philthy himself to finish off a massive treble of ‘Just Like A Woman/Kiss/Knife Gang’

Now we know that Gun are one of those bands lumbered with a cover version as their best known song, but judging by the crowd that had assembled in the main stage arena the HRH faithful know there is a lot more to the Scottish outfit than their 20 year old Cameo homage. The band have had some ups and downs over the years but they’re back on track now and definitely getting back to where they belong and they can look forward to Better Days ahead.

TheColourOfNoise-CackBlabbath-1A familiar face awaited us on the second stage next, wandering past we noticed the bloke singing with Colour Of Noise looked awfully like our old mate Matt Mitchell from Furyon, and on closer attention it was. We’re big fans of Mr. Mitchell’s work and hearing him belting out CoN blistering classic rockers like Drive It Like You Stole It was one of the highlights of the weekend.

He’s come a long ways ince headlining our first Twitrfest at Eddies in Birmingham !!

It goes without saying that the weather didn’t play nice for HRH. But the arse end of the storm wasn’t really the thing that dampened our spirits. As news unfolded over the weekend about the Paris atrocities, Team CB found it a challenge to shake off the feeling of sadness. After all, we were at a music festival, just another gig, you just couldn’t imagine what those people, our fellow music fans, people like us had gone through. Given the close knit nature of the rock scene many of the bands that where performing mentioned either knowing someone personally involved, or passed heartfelt words of condolences. Faster Pussycat’s frontman summed it up entirely, with a non scripted, simple, “feel sick to my stomach….. don’t know what to say”.

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Still, by the time we were into Best Cathouse In Town Faster Pussycat had helped lift everyone’s spirits. This was the moment when the main stage arena finally burst into life as the sleaze demi-gods threatened to blow the roof off the place. We kind of suspected there was a “band of the day” performance in the pussy’s armoury and so it proves to be. HRH 9 had had a load of great bands but had been short on stone cold killer sets, well until Taime Downe and co. reminded us exactly what good time rock’n’roll is all about.

2015 was another bloody good year at HRH, but alas it was heavily tainted by the devastating attacks in France. Even as this is being typed…. I’m reminded of peoples faces as news spread. It was a sickening feeling of hopelessness, that unfortunately we couldn’t escape from.

As Saxon brought HRH 9 to a close with a 2 hour set (no sign of them slowing down with age) we reflected that once again we’d all had a damn good time in North Wales. Bands, Booze, Shopping and great company, there’s really nowhere quite like it. There may have been a feeling that the lineup wasn’t *quite* what it has been in previous years in terms of absolutely stunning “big name” performances but it was still an unmissable, unforgettable experience.

Jonni and the HRH team have promised us something special for the 10th anniversary weekend, so we really can’t bloody well wait for the big celebrations next year.