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Rahul Profile
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Registered: 09-2003
Posts: 6180
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Hard Rock Hell IV


An excellent weekend at Prestatyn in North Wales! Three stages of heavy rock spread over two/three days (depending on when you arrived)

Haven't got the time to go into all of the details, but here are a few notes from the the two days I was there.

Friday

Stage 3 - Young bands
Stage 2 - Fender Stage
Stage 1 - Hard Rock Heaven

Arrived a bit late due to the snow and getting lost near Conwys. If it hadn't been for the incredibly helpful Bobby at the Gateway to Wales hotel, I'd probably still be circling around Wrexham somewhere. Cheers Bobby!

First of all, the accommodation was pretty horrible. No shower, hot water that didn't kick in until the following morning, peculiar stains on the bedsheets, and twin beds that were so close together, I'd have been spooning with my mate, if I hadn't chosen to sleep on the sofa instead. It was therefore a good time to forget our woes, grab a beer, and rock!

Saw a bunch of bands on Stages 1 and 2 for the opening few hours before grabbing front row views for the excellent Diamond Head. The band represent very little from their glory days other than guitarist Brian Tatler but they've kept their vibrancy thanks to a younger vocalist in Nick Tart. He prances around the stage using umpteen rock singer cliches, but he's got a fantastic pair of lungs and did a superb job on the older Head material. The weekend had started!

FM are a band I know next to nothing about, but they were excellent and kept my interest up. Their melodic sound may have been slightly out of place at a heavy metal festival, but they went down well with the crowd.

UFO were killer. Phil Mogg barely looks like he can belt out a tune these days, but he was electric. Doctor Doctor was the highlight of the weekend so far. Didn’t recognise all the material as I only have the one album, but thoroughly impressed with their set.

Uriah Heep set the bar even further, with some excellent renditions of Heep classics, including July Morning, Gypsy (my fave of the set), Sunrise, Look At Yourself and of course Easy Living. I’m a big fan of early Heep, but kinda lose interest post-Firefly, though this is the first time I’ve seen them live and Bernie Shaw was much better than I realised. They did some newer tracks that fitted in well, with Wake the Sleeper proving a dynamic opener. Special mention goes to Mick Box whose guitar playing was stunning throughout.

Airborne were next, and deserved to be headliners with their rip-roaring set. Can’t say I’ve heard their records, but AC/DC would be the obvious comparison. They whipped the crowd into a frenzy with their unadulterated rock n roll riffage and stage antics. The beer was flying everywhere. The crowd went wild. Couldn’t really see Skid Row topping them, and so it proved. At this point I got a bit bored and moved to Stage Two, just in time to catch the end of Hardcore Superstar’s set. I liked what I saw and wish I’d caught more of it. The lead singer proclaiming ‘this microphone is !@#$ destroyed’ before throwing it to the ground and walking off stage was the weekend’s best, and most random, one-liner. They were followed by the excellent Jett Black who were pretty damn good and were the last band of the day I enjoyed.


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You can't deny the Creedence
7/12/2010, 22:37 Link to this post Send Email to Rahul   Send PM to Rahul
 
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Re: Hard Rock Hell IV


Saturday

Stage 3 - NWOBHM
Stage 2 – Glam, Sleaze n Trash
Stage 1 - Hard Rock Hell

What a treat to be able to wake up on a Saturday morning, put a Dio t-shirt on, and watch live rock music from 12pm just 200 yards away.

Marseille kicked things off on Stage 2 with a marvellous performance that was full of energy despite the early start. They drew a big crowd, possibly because of having a former children’s TV presenter on lead guitar. But Neil Buchanan was excellent, even if he’s now sporting a haircut his previous employers would have banned.

I prefer the NWOBHM scene to the USA Glam stuff, so I moved to stage 1 to check out the fantastic Jaguar and Elixir who both put on great performances. Stage 1 was in a pub that bordered onto Stage 2, so the small setting really did justice to their bombastic performances.

I flitted into Stage 2 to check out the opposition but Enuff ‘Z’ Nuff and LA Guns were a bit boring and compromised too much raw energy for bourbon swagger. For fans of that scene, it was probably hot stuff.

However, after walking out of LA Guns’ set, I was in time to catch my favourite (and completely unexpected) performance of the weekend. Saracen are a band I had never heard of before, yet within seconds of their opening chords, I got a surge of excitement rip through my spine, and I couldn’t help crack a smile. Simply sensational. I knew Heep would be good. I knew UFO would be good. But when you see a band you don’t know perform a set that thrills your senses, there are not many better feelings in music. It’s that feeling you get when you first discover your favourite bands. Nothing prepares you when you hear a good song for that first time. The singer had an extraordinary set of pipes on him, while their early metal sounds coupled with progressive sensibilities provided the soundtrack to my weekend. I haven’t been able to get ‘Follow the Piper’ out of my head. I’ve already ordered a couple of their albums, so I hope their studio output lives up to their live set. By the end of the set the pub was heaving, with many browsing metalheads stopping to watch them, and even more people leaving LA Guns to check them out.

Paul Di’anno was also one of the best gigs of the weekend. The only act over the two days to almost cause a mini riot down at the front due to the moshing. He’s a huge hulk of a man covered in tattoos, who continually makes fun of his band mates and insults the audience, yet his Jack the lad demeanour makes him get away with it and still have the crowd eating out the palm of his hand. There was a rumour going around that he would perform the first two Maiden albums in their entirety, but this wasn’t the case. However, he still mixed in a great selection of Maiden numbers with a few solo tunes. I don’t care for Maiden much after the Di’anno years, so watching him perform Phantom of the Opera, Strange World, Wratchchild, Murders in the Rue Morgue and Charlotte the Harlot was incredible. It’s the second time I’ve seen him live and he was probably better this time.

I missed most of Helloween due to getting into some fantastic conversations in the bar with fellow fans but I made the effort to see MSG. Gary Barden’s vocals were a bit lost in the mix, but Michael Schenker’s guitar playing was on the money. Sadly I had to miss Stratovarius as a result, but you can’t see everything!

Saxon were the ultimate professionals with their headline set. They’ve been doing it so long that they rarely put a foot wrong and know exactly how to excite a crowd. Blaze Bailey played the after hours set and while I don’t know much of his stuff, and I was dying on my feet by this point, his performance was full of energy and great vocals, that he commanded my attention.

So overall, a fantastic two days. Saw a few other bands along the way, but these were the things that stick in the memory. Special mention to UFO who were staying in similar accommodation to ours, and also to Skid Row’s Scotti Hill who was taken to hospital after falling off stage. Also, it was a shame Tank pulled out, as I was looking forward to seeing Doogie and the boys.


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You can't deny the Creedence
7/12/2010, 22:43 Link to this post Send Email to Rahul   Send PM to Rahul
 
Rezi Profile
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Registered: 04-2004
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Re: Hard Rock Hell IV


Thanks Rahul, a great review!
8/12/2010, 7:41 Link to this post Send Email to Rezi   Send PM to Rezi
 


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