Hard Rock Hell 9

Hafan y Mor Pwllheli – Stage 1 Saturday 14.11.15.

Sadly, due to interviewing commitments, the first band of the day on Stage 1 for me were King of the North, who come from Australia and you can’t get much more south than that if you tried! This band of two are ace, with Andrew taking up vocal duties, along with playing the guitar (very well) and Danny playing the drums with thunderous conviction! I really enjoyed this bands style, they rocked!

Danny Leo - King Of The North

No Hot Ashes were probably the most progressive band playing this weekend. They were originally active in the 80’s and formed part of Belfast’s epic rock scene back in the day. These guys held their own, looked and sounded good on stage and they were even happy to pose for the photographers.

Black Spiders always put on a good show and were one of the bands that I told my dad he must watch today. Thankfully, they didn’t let me, or themselves down. Watch out Saxon as one day, this band will be where you are, mark my words, as they are fantastic to watch live, both for their visual efforts and for their musical ability!

Si Atkinson - Black Spiders

GUN were another of the more established bands on the HRH 9 bill today, with many fans turning out in force to support and cheer them on! I’m aware that these guys are from Glasgow and have also recently supported the up and coming blues artist King King, which helps to categorize this band well as they primarily play rock, but fit into other categories well.

GUN

I’d had high expectations of seeing Rock Goddess today but poor lighting really was a bit of a let down and for me, it took the edge off my enjoyment of their set. There’s no doubt about it tho, these gals certainly do play their instruments well and the crowd clearly were happy to have them up there on the stage.

Faster Pussycat were the surprise band for me this weekend. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised with how these guys came across and the crowd lapped it up. These guys represent everything that is good with Sleeze Metal and you may even say they were one of the first to coin the genre? Originally formed back in 1985 and hailing from Hollywood CA, the band reached peak commercial success in 2006. Sadly, I’d never heard of them, but I can safely say they won me over this weekend and I’m now a fan! Make sure you also check out Toni Reed’s interview with the band aswell.

Taime Downe - Faster Pussycat

For those inclined towards something heavier, Dendera were definitley a good band to see. I’ve known of this band for sometime now but for various reasons, I’ve always just managed to miss them. Thankfully, this weekend, that was not going to be the case as I nipped over to stage two and by jove, I’m glad I did. Earlier I’d spoken with the band, so had an idea of what the guys were like off stage, but on stage they were a completely different experience. As stated, these guys were one of the heaviest metal acts on the bill so I could also see them doing very well at the likes of Bloodstock, Download and other heavy festivals. For those that made the effort to watch these guys and there were a fair amount, they absolutely loved it and the horns were held high for these guys! The band had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands and they absolutely smashed it. I’m so glad I caught up with Dendera finally as these guys were one of my top bands from the weekend!

Ashley Edison - Dendera

Closing stage 1 at this years HRH9, were the weekends main attraction, Saxon. Again, this is band who I saw earlier this year at one of their re-scheduled shows, following the full recovery of Nigel Glocker who suffered a brain aneurysm last year. Thankfully, he’s now on the mend and doing well. My old man is a massive Saxon fan and has followed these guys since the beginning, so for him, the fact Saxon played all their new stuff for the first hour of their set, kind of put him off but personally, I like the new material! Thankfully though, Saxon returned to their undisputable crowd pleasers for the final forty five minutes of their set and brought this epic roller coaster ride of a weekend to a close, well on the main stage anyway!

Bill Byford - Saxon

So looking back over these past few days, this weekend has featured some of the best bands around today and delivered the strongest lineup I’ve seen HRH produce yet. That said, next year is HRH’s 10th anniversary, so I’m expecting the line up to be better even that this years amazing event, which is certainly going to be very hard to beat. The biggest compliment I can give is and like I keep saying, I took my folks along with me this year as I had a feeling they would love what HRH have to offer and I was right, they loved it so much they’ve already booked their places for next years chapter – and the beer was pretty reasonable this year too, so thumbs up all round!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK). Interviews by Toni Reed and Jay Hawkins.

Hard Rock hell 9

Hafan y Mor Pwllheli – Stage 1 Friday 13.11.15.

With day two of HRH9 to look forward to, Thirteen Stars started proceedings off on the main stage and were a great find for me and a great band to help pick people up off the floor who were nursing a hang over from Thursday night. This quartet from Cumbria, play some of the best Southern rock I’ve recently heard, with hints of country and blues. These guys were great on stage, playing up to the cameras and interacting with the crowd – a great band to see live and one which is now firmly fixed on my radar!

Matt Hoss Thompson - Thirteen Stars

Sadly Pat Travers, who was due to perform next, had to pull out of this weekend, which my dad was really upset about but thankfully Federal Charm were on call and stepped up to the plate to perform in Pat’s time slot. These guys are from Manchester and play good old Rock and Roll, and I enjoyed their swagger and groove immensely!

Danny Rigg - Federal Charm

Crobot next and since I saw them supporting Black Label Society earlier this year, I’ve been in love with these guys from Pottsville, PA, USA and their album “Something Supernatural” has been a permanent contender in my playlists! Apart from the massive amount of smoke on stage and the lack of stage lighting, (the reasoning of which I’ll never understood as it just makes the task for photographers that much harder) these guys we’re faultless and for me, Crobot gave one of the best performances of the weekend!

Much to many’s surprise, the next band Toseland included non other than James Toseland himself, who has already had massive success in his former career as a British Superbike racer. Toseland was the 2007 World Superbike Champion on a Ten Kate Honda and also won the 2004 Superbike World Championship on a Ducati and he is one of only two men, the other being Troy Corser, to have won the World Superbike Championship for two different manufacturers. If I’m totally honest, the band were fantastic and played some great traditional rock and roll music – the crowd seemed to love it, I loved it and I’m sure you will do too! See Toni Reed’s interview with the man himself here.

James Toseland - Toseland

Another great band that I’d been looking forward to seeing play again were up next – Scorpion Child. These guys have been touring the UK with Crobot and are now off out into Europe. Currently signed to Nuclear Blast, it’s great to see this band has found a stable bunch of guys who fit the band well. It’s well documented that this band have had a rocky start, but they have so much potential and are possibly the next Deep Purple/Led Zeppelin, either way they are destined for great things. I’m very much looking forward to hearing the bands forthcoming second album to see if they’ve managed to retain the magic of the first self titled one and I will hold them to signing the album, as promised in our interview with bassist Alec Pardon.

Aryn Black and Chris Cowart - Scorpion Child

Helloween we’re on the lips of most in attendance and a band I know most people were looking forward to seeing live. As us press folk are great lovers of music, which is why we do what we do, I know certain people arranged interviews with this band just so they could speak to one of their idols. As I am only a youngster, I never grew up with this band unlike so many others around me, but from what I could gather and from tonight’s set, these guys are like the German version of Iron Maiden! We too got the chance to speak with the band and discuss amongst other topics, the 30th Anniversary book that’s just been released. I sat and watched most of this bands set and I can honestly say, are they metal, hell yeah they are!

Andi Deris - Helloween

Tonight’s headliners we’re non other than British heavy metal/hard rock titans UFO. When I saw these guys last, they were opening up the main stage on a Saturday at Download and I remember thinking then, these guys have still got it! Tonight though, sadly, they seemed off form, although their biggest tracks ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Rock Bottom’ sounded great and I loved hearing them being played live. Even if Michael Schenker isn’t on the guitar, Vinnie Moore is a fantastic guitar player and a great replacement for the man himself – and I also got to meet the guy who took the photo that features on Vinnie’s new solo album!

Phil Mogg - UFO

As Music224 were out in full support of HRH9 this weekend, whilst I was covering Stage 1, Neil and Toni Reed were covering stage 2 and also getting in a few interviewing aswell. So rock horns up to these guys too for all the hard work they put in this weekend and you can find all their interviews and reviews also up on Music224’s website aswell.

Review and photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK) and interviews by Jay Hawkins and Toni Reed.

Hard Rock Hell 9

Hafan y Mor Pwllheli – Thursday 12.11.15.

Christmas has come early or so it would seem, looking at the line up for HRH9! Thursday is usually a day for travelling up to Pwllheli, Gwynedd, North Wales and thankfully the weather wasn’t as bad as first thought. Once the usual sign-in was completed, it’s time to hit the beer as the music doesn’t usually start until the evening, which gives people plenty of time to get settled in and meet up with friends. For those who have signed up to the Dark Circle, which is HRH’s fan club of sorts, the party starts early in the Mash and Barrel Bar, where they have set aside a room specifically for these guys. I saw what was going on and went in with my camera, not sure if I was allowed to, but HRH tends to employ a lot of the same crew, so we’re almost like family. Thankfully, the security guy recognised me from previous years and almost seemed pleased to see me and let me in! Once inside I could see the beer was already flowing and to help the party start with a bang, we had the mighty Trucker Diablo playing, who have recently joined the fold of “Off Yer Rocka” Recordings.

Just so we’re clear, Chic PR runs the HRH brand and all their associated events. They also run the record label, “Off Yer Rocka” Recordings, which now see’s some of the best bands that the rock industry has to offer signed to it and when you have so many great bands signed to your label, why not feature them on your festival? Current signings are, The Qureboys / Bonafide / Pig Iron / Screaming Eagles / Massive Wagons / Attica Rage / SKAM / The Texas Flood / Arthemis / Afterlife / Vargas Blues Band / Trucker Diablo and the new arrivals Chase the Ace, from Israel!

Thursday’s entertainment, which usually takes place on the 2nd stage, had this year been set up to take place on the main stage, which, in my opinion worked much better and of the five bands billed for tonight, four were in fact Off Yer Rocka signings, with the exception of the mighty Black Label Society, who I was most looking forward to seeing play again, here at HRH 9, what a booking, well done HRH!

Irish lads, Screaming Eagles started tonight off in fabulous style. This year I’d brought my parents along, as I knew they would love this festival and thankfully they did, so much so, that they’ve already bought a room for HRH X. Next year promises to be this festivals best year yet, as it will be celebrating ten years in the game, but I’m getting ahead of myself a little!

Screaming Eagles were my folks favourite band of the evening, so much so, that my old man rushed off to buy their latest album from the merch area! Although their set featured many of their own tracks, for those that may not be familiar with the band, they dropped in two covers into the set so people could relate with the band, one was a Led Zeppelin cover and the other was an ACDC cover. A quality act in deed!

Chris Fry - Screaming Eagles

Next up and fresh from their performance to the Dark Circle masses were Trucker Diablo. This was in fact the first (second) time I’ve had the pleasure seeing them play live, however I am very much aware of who they are and had been looking forward to seeing them play at HRH and my patience clearly paid off, as I got to see them play twice in one night! It seemed tonight was a night for cover versions, as Trucker did a track, ‘Seek and Destroy’, by Metallica, but here’s the twist – they changed the words to “drink beer, destroy” and it worked well and got the crowd singing along with them!

Tom Harte - Trucker Diablo

HRH’s house band, Attica Rage were next up and these guys always deliver and I’m glad they featured the best cover version of ‘Crazy Horses’ that I’ve ever heard (probably the only cover version) in tonight’s set, but it always goes down well with the HRH faithful. After speaking with the band, apparently, this track, by the “The Osmonds” no less, the least rock band ever, is the riff that the guys in Attica Rage wished they’d wrote themselves!

Stevie Bell - Attica Rage

You don’t usually encounter diva’s at HRH, but if anyone was going to be a diva, it was going to be Zakk Wylde, well he wasn’t really a diva, but he was twenty minutes late, which had the crowd cheering for his ass to hurry up onto the stage. To be fair, I was pretty excited about seeing him again, as the last time I saw him he was brilliant! That knowledge made me wise to the fact that during the first song would tag a massive mouthful of water and spit it out towards the crowd and I’ve never seen photographers move so fast!

Zak Wylde - Black Label Society

Simply put, Black Label Society are one of those must see bands, for any lover of any music featuring a guitar! He loves a solo and we love him for it!

Black Label Society

Full Set list consisted of: 1.The Beginning 2.Funeral Bell 3.Bleed For Me 4.Heart Of Darkness 5.Suicide Messiah 6.My Dying Time 7.Damn The Flood -guitar solo- 8.Godspeed 9.Angel of Mercy 10.In This River 11.Blessed Hellride 12.Concrete Jungle 13.Stillborn

As Black Label Society were the headline act for tonight, HRH always close with an act after for all of those who wish to continue on and party, and as it was the first night, most people stayed to enjoy Massive Wagon’s set. As I know this band quite well, in my interview with Carl and Adam, I had asked them how it felt to have Zakk Wylde support them? (not really – but it sounded good) and you can see that interview here.

Massive Wagons have a great following and very loyal fan base, and you just need to look at the bands pledge page to see that these guys are loved by many. However, someone in the crowd thought it would be funny to throw beer over lead vocalist Barry, who took it well, saying “best shot ever that” and to be fair, it was a great shot and was pretty funny the first time, but then some idiot tried to do it again, and that wasn’t called for.

Bowz Bouskill - Massive Wagons

These guys earned their beer this weekend as they played three times over the course of the weekend and that is quite an achievement in it’s self!

Review by Jay Hawkins with photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK) and Neil Reed Photography.