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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.