HRH8

Saturday 15th November 2014.

So Saturday’s events are already upon us, my doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun mad if this statement is true, then today will be over in a flash, as today’s line up is incredible! Today was most certainly my favourite day of the weekend, what with Blues Pills, Diamond Head, Michael Schenker, Blue Oyster Cult, Girlschool, The Vintage Caravan and Theia UK to name but a few!

On Stage one, Oldman Lizard kicked off proceedings and the bands name was a dead give away to their playing style. Like three old men, they strum out some sludgy, doomy, southern rock sounds. Musically I really enjoyed them, but visually, they didn’t excite me all that much. Speaking of old men, More were opening up the 2nd stage today, dubbed the Doom and MetalStage, in honour of the bands that would be playing on it. I mean no disrespect by calling these guys old, its just a fact, but its great to see the older generation giving the younger bands a run for their money. Some were lacking in the mobility department, but they sure know how to rock out and the crowd loved it. One member of the band is lucky to be alive, in all honesty, as it was non other than legendary music producer Chris Tsangarides, playing guitar, who was recently hospitalised with Legionnaires disease, mental, thankfully he’s pulled through and was here with us, playing today, which everyone showed him the love and respect he quite rightly deserved. I love metal heads!

Black State Highway were a band that captured my imagination, both musically and visually, as their vocalist and front woman, Liva Steinberga, is beautiful in both the looks and voice department and jeez, what a voice, she belts out those vocals with some real passion! We got to speak to both Olie (guitar) and Gordon (bass) so check out that interview on our YouTube channel.

Gordon Duncan

Due to interview commitments, the next band I refused to miss were the fabulous Blues Pills, who have taken the world by storm these past twelve months or so. Signed to Nuclear Blast, these guys haven’t stopped touring the world, so it was a great pleasure to see them here in Wales. Picture the scene, its 2pm, main stage, which is usually pretty quiet as people are still nursing hang overs from the day before, but not for these guys, oh no! Before they started, the crowd wasn’t even half filling the room, but as that first note rung out, the room had filled to near full capacity, which was fantastic to see. I can clearly remember loosing my shit come the second song, I can’t for the life of me remember which track it was, I think it was “Aint No Change” but don’t quote me on it, all I do remember is watching superstar guitarist Dorian Sorriaux, who’s a legend in the making, giving us a somewhat subdued guitar solo, which he built up the intensity, until he’d built up so much tension, by the time he dropped the awe inspiring solo and let it rip, I almost screamed out as if I’d climaxed myself, believe me, it was beautiful, I nearly cried! The other superstar and future legend in the making is vocalist Elin Larsson, who’s an absolute stunner and what a voice, incredible. Sadly the drummer and bassist seem to become somewhat over shadowed by the brightness of Dorian and Elin, but it takes all four to create the beautiful sounds that is Blues Pills!

Dorian Sorriaux

Speaking of Legends, it was the turn of non other than Diamond Head, and yes, “Am I Evil” is that fantastic song written by these guys, that Metallica covered! I first saw that track, performed live, when I attended the big 4 tour, where all the bands let it rip on stage, I’m talking 10 lead guitars, it was insane! It’s worth mentioning, new vocalist, Nick Tart is a fantastic replacement and his energy on stage seems to have rejuvenated the energies of the rest of the band. Although a legend, Brian Tatler was humbled by the crowds reaction, who were cheering his name, out of respect!

Brian Tatler

Yet another guitar legend next, Michael Schenker, who is better known for helping the likes of the Scorpions and UFO to become the much loved bands they are today. People had mixed reviews of the set tonight, but in all honesty, there was a problem with Schenkers monitor, so he couldn’t hear what he was playing, thankfully, the HRH stage crew managed to resolve the issue quickly so the show could go on in fantastic fashion. All the hits were played tonight, which the crowd loved, as did I, and it was like one big sing a long session as everyone knew the words to every song played!

Michael Schenker

Blue Oyster Cult were the surprise band of the weekend for me, as before tonight, I only knew that one song, that everyone else knows “Don’t Fear The Reaper” but after tonight, I have a new found respect for this band, as they were awesome live, the riffs rang out a plenty!

Thiea UK, from Burton managed to get to this years HRH and quite rightly so, as they are a fantastic young rock band, with a very mature sound and work ethic. They even managed to get a guest appearance from Fleur, which was the first time I’d seen her all weekend. Kyle did try to get her up on stage, but she wasn’t having any of it, so the next best thing was Emma, who belted out the words “whoop Dee Fucking Doo” which is the bands most successful track to date, in my opinion!

Kyle Lamley

A band I’ve fallen in love with are Thunder Mother, five young ladies from Sweden AND Ireland, these ladies are a female version of AC/DC, who are much better looking and less likely to take out a contract on your ass!

Girlschool was an absolute pleasure to see tonight, as I know my dad loves these ladies. Although they’ve been touring longer than I’ve been alive and despite the technical issues these ladies had, they soldiered on with true professionalism. It was also a pleasure to here these ladies perform Race with the Devil, live, as it’s my favourite track, thankfully they had enough time to play it! I actually got to speak to Jackie (The blonde one) and Kim (the Brunette one) in the Mash and Barrel the next day, which was also an honour. Frank says thanks, by the way.

Girlschool

Closing stage 2, we had those cheeky chaps from London, The Broken Chords, who I love, although I find it odd that bassist, Aiden plays bear foot, when on stage.

Closing stage 1, we had the awesome The Vintage Caravan, from Iceland, who I felt a little sorry for, as they closed stage 2 last year, yet these guys are good and deserve a better time slot, in my opinion. However, the die hards and the non sleepers who hadn’t yet had enough and weren’t ready to go to bed just yet, certainly enjoyed these guys too!

To conclude, I feel this year has been the best all round really. The HRH team seem to have got to grips with the new venue at Pwhelli and is now working like a well oiled machine. I’m glad to say, it was great to see more seating in and around the stages and by the outside bar area, which meant people were less likely to hide away in their caravans, which meant each and every band got a healthy crowd, which is why we’re all here is it not, to see some great live music!

I for one can’t wait for next year as I’m gonna take my dad with me, who is a big fan of the type of music HRH proudly feature. I’ve already bought our tickets and booked my place at next years event, yet no-one has been announced, I’m just that confident next year will be equally as awesome, if not better!

Until next time, music fans, Peace out.

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

HRH8

Friday 14th November 2014.

Today was a bit of a split for me, as I had lots of interviews to do, whilst trying to capture and absorb the bands that featured also, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to write a review, as I missed quite a few bands, but I’ll try and give you a general feel for the day.

First up on stage 2, dubbed the riffage stage, were Piston, who are a local Midlands based band. Formed a mere 2 years ago, these guys were making some serious waves in the music world with their rock riffage assault. I was really enjoying these guys, until their vocalist, Steve Nunn announced this would be his last as the bands front man, as throat issues are preventing him from continuing, which is a real shame and we’d like to wish him all the best in the future and hope the band manage to fund a suitable replacement.

Piston

Next up, another Midlands based band, SKAM, who I had to see again as they’d made a lasting impression on me when I saw them at Rock City in Nottingham, supporting the mighty Electric Mary. For saying this band are a trio, they sure do make a lot of noise, with facial expressions to entertain even the hardest faced rock fans! These guys are great, really nice people too, as we got to interview both Steve, vocals/guitars and Matt on bass. This band is also signed to Off Yer Rocka!

Kicking off the main stage today, were Texas Flood who are the third out of four bands to feature at this years festival, to be signed to Off Yer Rocka Recordings, which is great to see. The fourth and final band were Bonafide, but more on them in a bit. As for Texas Flood, I thoroughly enjoyed watching and shaking my ass with these young, South Welsh lads. Again, got to interview these guys later on, which was a real privilege to be honest, what a great chatty bunch -just don’t ask them to do any Oasis covers!

Tom Sawyer

A new addition to this years line up was the introduction of a 3rd stage, the blues stage, which featured three unique blues artists, Vargas Blues Band, Aaron Keylock and Mitch Laddie, which proved to be very popular amongst the HRH faithful, as each act had a healthy crowd in attendance. Be sure to check out Hammerfest, or HRH United as its now called, in March 2015, as there will be five stages, each of which will feature five different genres of music, which looks to be an awesome event in deedy!

I had just enough time to nip back over to stage 1 to see what all the fuss is about with Santa Cruz. At first glance, I thought I was back in the late 80’s, early 90’s when hair metal was rife. These guys had terribly tight denim jeans on, tucked into there reebok pumps and sporting various vest tops all harping back to the early days of the likes of Guns and Roses, Poison and Motley Crue……please, please, please don’t spurn a full on glam revival, what ever you do! These guys are from Finland, so we can forgive them for their fashion sense, but they did provide us with what they promised, pure adrenaline fuelled metal show!

One The first of two Australian bands on this years bill, up next, the mighty Electric Mary and what a power house of a rock band these guys are. Having played HRH two years ago, they actually got asked back, even with lead singer, rusty, seemingly acting like a sex pest on stage. I love these guys and what a cracking bunch of lads they are too. They mingled with the crowd after their set and even caused mayhem during their fellow countryman’s “Massive” set! Sad reality is these guys ain’t all that well known here in the UK, but back home, these guys sell out venue a plenty, so get to know them as they are the shiz!

Pete Robinson

Now off to interview some bands I go. We had a new venue in which to conduct our interviews this year, which seemed a god send at first, that was until the reality kicked in and it was concluded that it was still too noisy, I must invest in some better microphones, but what a name! Imagine my delight in arranging my interviews, with the relative band representatives, stating we shall meet at Bonga Wonga, what fun I had with that name, I can assure you.

My next band were non other that Y&T, who took their name from a Beatles track, Yesterday and Today…..I’ve always wondered what the Y& T stood for and now I know! Considered as one of the best live Rock & Roll bands, to have ever graced the stage, these guys are a show stopper! Many this weekend muttered under their lukewarm beers, that these guys should have headlined today, personally I agree with them, especially after that performance.

Brad Lang

The next band I was really looking forward to seeing were the female fronted (what a front) Spiders. Personally, I have a bit of a soft spot for rock/metal bands that feature good looking woman, what with this genre primarily being men, It’s a welcome change to see a good looking woman strutting her stuff on stage. Ann-Sofie (who is married, like me) featured all the above, whilst also playing her harmonica or slapping her tambourine about the stage, whilst belting out some powerful vocals! These guys and girl are from Sweden, who are one of many Nordic speaking bands to feature this weekend, which is no surprise, considering Seven means Simon in Nordic language! lol

Ann-Sofie

Closing the day and 2nd stage were those Australian’s Massive, who are a great bunch of guys and a really cool rock and roll band, who f’in deliver the goods in the entertainment department! Today, everyone kept asking me why are the band called Massive, when 50% of the band are quite short folk (no offence, just stating a genetic fact) So after their set, by which point I had some of that dutch courage in me, I thought it only right I ask Brad that burning question “why are you called Massive”? To which his reply was, would you like me to show you……..no thanks gringo, I’ll take your word for it!

Massive

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Bigelf

The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton, 18th November 2014.

Bigelf started life in 1991 and have dipped in and out of the music scene ever since. Their latest offering of their fourth studio album ‘Into the Malestrom’ is a fine example of their well stylized classic rock and metal-inspired psychedelic songs that pay homage to the likes of Black Sabbath with a dash of Deep Purple thrown in. Bigelf describe themselves as playing Wonka Metal. Well there was no chocolate or umpa lumpas seen at tonight’s gig, only oodles and oodles of psychedelic, tripaholic, progressive mayhem.

Duffy Snowhill

The whirlwind odyssey of musical delights from LA’s finest prog rockers Bigelf was dominated by the stage presence of lead guy Damon Fox. Flanked by an impressive array of vintage prog keyboards that included the Mini Moog, the Hammond Organ and the Mellotron, Fox dominated the crowd’s attention with a full theatrical lead performance.

Damon Fox.

Squeezed in around Fox on the Slade Rooms wide but narrow stage were bassist Duffy Snowhill, drummer Baron Fox and guest guitarist, the hugely talented John Wesley from Porcupine Tree fame.

John Wesley

Opening their set with the hypnotic ‘The Evils of Rock and Roll’, Bigelf effortlessly travelled through their 70’s esque set that was loaded with fast progressive rock tunes that included ‘Madhatter’, ‘Hypersleep’ and ‘Counting Sheep’ whilst zig zagging through heavy powered different styles, perfectly summing up why Bigelf are such an enthralling musical proposition for anyone willing to let the music do the talking. To finish the night Bigelf returned to a crowd fuelled roar to complete an encore that included the heavily Beatle influenced ‘Incredible Time Machine’.

Damon Fox

In the main support slot were Bend Sinister who hail from Vancouver, Canada. Their vintage moog keyboard was in full effect with Bend Sinister surprising most in the room with their charming antics and contagious feel good vibes. But their prog values were superbly mixed in with killer riffs and dynamic drumming.

Bend Sinister

Opening the night were New Yorkers, Jolly. With energetic time changes and raw bellowing vocals, Jolly set a great tempo for the night with their set that was laced with thunderous rock guitars and catchy melodies resulting in an ambient progressive soundscape, producing an impressive and beautiful atmosphere.

Jolly

More pictures from the night can be seen here.

Review and Photography by Stephen Turner.