O2 Academy Sheffield 30th September – 1st October 2017.
Wow, this was over a week ago already, yet I’m still buzzing from my experience at this great event. As we all know, the HRH brand is ever evolving. What started as an annual rock meeting, we look at the brand now and they have multiple events going on throughout the year, including HRH, Hammerfest, AOR, PROG, Metal, Sci-fi weekender and this weekends event Doom v Stoner, which is now into it’s second year.
Not only do they put on some great live events, they now also have a dedicated radio station, where not only do they champion many of the artists they’ve already featured at their live music shows but they also feature up and coming stars, who aspire to play at a one of HRH’s live events in the future. They now also have a full length magazine, which covers all manner of interesting topics, all geared around the fans that attend these events. It’s not a bad read, to be honest, some of the live event shots are a little ropey, they should ask decent photographer to take pictures……only joking Simon, keep up the good work!
On arrival, I was greeted by my favourite HRH face and press liaison, Claire. We always have a good natter and a catch up before any event starts. I’d like to think my cheerful personality helps to lift her somewhat tattered spirits, by this point, what with all the stress she goes through, leading up to the event.
I also got to speak with main man Johnny, uninterrupted, for a change! It’s always a pleasure speaking to the HRH event organiser. I got to ask him his opinion on all things music industry related and it’s always interesting to get his views on an array of specific topics. First and foremost, Johnny is a business man, who also happens to love his music. He always has time to talk to the music fans that attend his events and he strives to put on one hell of a show, which ever genre it may be.
HRH have managed to secure the use of the excellently equipped O2 arenas, in both Birmingham (Metal) and Sheffield (Doom v Stoner and NWOBHM), for their weekend events, which is great for us music goers because they a purpose built. Here’s an interesting fact, I discovered the venue use to be called ‘Roxy Lounge” back in the day and you can still see a neon sign saying as such, in the upstairs bar area! Saying that, we never seem to be lucky with the lighting at HRH events though which is a shame, as with all those lights at the Engineer’s disposal, he always seems to only manage to find the red light switch! In his defense, the first two bands on the main stage, only asked for red lighting?? Seriously, if you want good shots to accompany our reviews, please, please, PLEASE be a little more creative with your lighting choices, as no photographers I know are likely to give a band a good review, if they have to shoot them in red lighting, FACT – I don’t care what your mates in other bands have told you, red lighting sucks!
Kicking off Saturday, up in room 2, we had Regulus performing an acoustic set, which now seems a little odd as I saw them perform a proper live set later in the day on the main stage and they seriously kick ass! These guys lean more on the stoner side of the dual, although they don’t produce a true stoner sound, as they have some heavy metal elements in there aswell. From what I can gather, since the bands formation, they’ve managed to release two EP’s, the first being ‘The End’ in 2013 and ‘Titan Moon’ in 2014. They have also managed to release their debut LP, titled ‘The Quadralith’ recently, which is available on double 12″ vinyl. These guys are from Sheffield, so today must have felt like a home town show, only on a really big stage! We look forward to catching these guys on the road again soon.
The next band to catch my eye were Red Spektor, who are yet another great three piece who hail from Stoke on Trent and are championed, by none other than Mr. Dunkerley himself. These guys were never originally billed to perform this weekend from what I can gather, but due to a cancellation, they got drafted in at short notice and stepped up to the mark, which stands them in good stead for future performances, at HRH events. The crowd appeared to love them and we did too.
Boss Keliod are a band we’ve known of for some time now, I was even convinced I’d seen them play before, turns out they played Uprising Festival, this year, which we sadly missed, so as soon as they took to the stage and started performing, I knew straight away I hadn’t yet had the pleasure, na, the privilege of seeing them perform up until now – what a unique act, indeed. From Wigan, these guys are signed to Black Bow Records and they produce a magnificent blend of stoner rock with effects, courtesy of Alex, via his pedal, which his mic runs through and I could tell he enjoyed creating some crazy ass sounds, through this contraption! Not a band who takes themselves too seriously, which was evident during today’s performance, as someone in the crowd would demonstrate. All I’ll say is, Alex used the hecklers cries to his advantage and the crowd took his side and played along with the jokes. All the big press know who these guys are and love them as much as us. ‘We can’t wait to see these guys perform again, given the opportunity’!
The next band on stage 2, was PIST and by this point in the day, most people were, so aptly named! These guys have elements of DOWN as their musical influences but on the day, I got a more traditional metal feel from these guys. The crowd was packed to the rafters for their set and it would appear many of which, have seen this band perform before considering the banter between them, which made for great photos but you had to be quick, as they weren’t hanging about! According to their social media page, they have recently announced a new tour, for 2018, with Battalions and thankfully, they have a date in Nottingham, so we’re going to try our hardest to be there, if they will have us, as ‘we loved this bands energy and sound’!
St. Vitus are a band who need no introduction, as they’ve been dooming stages since 1979! It would appear HRH love these guys, as they appear quite frequently on various bills, whether that be for Hard Rock Hell, in November, Hammerfest in March, or Doom v Stoner, in September – these guys are that versatile, they fit in with almost anything and everything. This is not a complaint either, we love this band! I last saw St.Vitus perform at Hammerfest V back in 2013, which is much longer than I thought, as it only seems like yesterday! Back then, they had Wino Weinrich on vocals but this time around they had their original singer Scott Reagers, however according to the bands social media page, the two have shared vocal duties over the years, for what ever reason, so it was nice to have seen both vocalists perform with this band. Both singers have very different styles and stage presence, which helps to give the band a completely different feel both times I’ve seen them! Personally, I couldn’t care less who sings for the band as it’s all about Dave Chandler anyway, the bands guitarist, who’s been a permanent fixture in the band since their inception. ‘What a guitarist’ – I could watch and photograph him all day long and I was mesmerised throughout most of their set tonight, amazing!
Saturdays headliners, were none other than Orange Goblin, which I was most excited about as weirdly, I’ve never photographed this band before, until now that is. I say weirdly, because I love this bands music and have enjoyed seeing them perform, many times over the years. I’ve even spoken with Ben, the bands lead singer several times when I’ve seen him at festivals and that time when he was touring with the band Scorpion Child, a few years back! I was getting well into their set tonight, so much so I didn’t even mind having water thrown over me, as I got caught in the cross fire when Ben threw water into the crowd. It’s safe to say these guys are as tight as ever and as they are currently writing and recording a new album, they’ve had plenty of time to practice together in preparation for tonight’s headline show, which was nothing short of magnificent! What an honour to see such a great set, up close and personal! The band head off to Ireland at the end of this month for three shows, so if you haven’t already, go and see these guys perform live, you will not be disappointed.
Sadly, I couldn’t attend the Sunday due to family commitments, which I’m most upset about as I missed some great performances by all accounts, courtesy of the likes of Witch Tripper, King Goat, Ten Foot Wizard, Slabdragger, Truck Fighters (a band I’m desperate to see play live) and Kadavar, who got moved to the headline slot due to My Dying Bride having to cancel their appearance and we hope everything’s ok with them and their camp! Incidentally, Kadavar are supporting Metallica at the end of the month, so I’ll be seeing them then, CAN NOT WAIT!
It also means I’ve got to write less! I hate writing these reviews, coz I’m shit at writing but it’s a stipulation for getting accreditation, so thanks for putting up with my gibberish.
By the looks of this weekends strong attendance, we can only assume this fixture will go ahead next year, so we’re looking forward to that already! What a great day, shared with some amazing people. Thank you.
Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)