In the words of a rather famous band “Welcome, I bid you welcome…..” This spectacle, HRH XII in beautiful Pwllheli, North Wales, though is no electric circus, it’s the real deal but with a real undertone of the weird and macabre cabaret part of the circus as the opening ceremony has everyone mesmerized. The troupe of incredibly talented women set the tone beautifully – enjoy all that rock has to offer, dip into a weird wild fantasy world that Freddy Mercury would tip his hat to, and don’t be a dick.
HRHXII is already kicking ass!!
The Opening Night of the HRH XII , if somewhat wet, is greeted with the arrival of opening act Eden’s Curse, who might have been forgiven for being overwhelmed due to the huge crowd in attendance. But after a short circus themed intro tape they hit the ground running with “Masquerades Ball” – these guys knew the score! – then without drawing breath “Break The Silence” rattles out the speakers. As the sound now balances itself out “The Great Pretender” maintains the momentum with the keyboards and backing vocals adding more layers to the traditional “Edens Curse” sound.
“Unbreakable” with full audience participation with the encouragement of vocalist Nikola Migic got the place rockin’ and is hands down the set highlight, with full use of the large single screen at the back of the stage projecting the group with wonderful coloured computer imagery enhances the performance even more. “Evil and Divine “ followed closely by “Angels and Demons” rounded off a very strong 7 song 40 minute set highlighting the best of what this amazing 5 piece can offer.
With the intro music of Queens “We Will Rock You” blasting out the speakers we get a shredding short instrumental from Myke Gray that kickstarts the set as “Stand Up For Rock n Roll” hits you between the eyes and BOOM this tiny little woman who I’ve never seen or heard before enters the stage going bat-shit crazy and working the crowd with ease. The woman in question is Kymberley Anne Jennett and what a voice and what a star in the making before the opening number has finished she is in the photo pit but climbs out and back on stage for “House of Love” which I have to admit at first is a bit strange to not hear Neville McDonald singing this classic track, But weird as it sounds it just does not matter as the female human dynamo just nails it!! If you plugged her into the national grid she would easily light up the whole of North Wales. Skin classics are peeled off one after another with “Love Like Suicide” and “Take Me Down To The River” with the dual guitars working to good affect.
Myke Gray smiling his usual happy self must have been amazed with the reaction especially on “Look But Don’t Touch” which saw the contented crowd peeling back the years to their youth with much singing and clapping and a little bit of dad dancing for good measure. The set was rounded off with a frantic version of “Shine your Light” with Kymberley losing the plot again and exiting the stage lost in the photo pit and I think she may have ended pretty much in the crowd such was her enthusiasm. I hope from a personal point that Myke can involve her in some future project either in the studio or live, with the musical chops that Myke Gray has in his arsenal and with his talented band that back him so well the only way is up.
Rock Goddess – the name that strikes fear into many a band!! This ferocious 3 piece pack a punch that Tyson would have been proud of in his heyday. Fronted by the simply amazing Jody Turner, who has steered the ship through thick and thin. With a guitar sound sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel we are treated to both old and, very impressive, new material “Gonna Let Your Hair Down” showcases Jody’s lung power and, wow!!, what a voice. “To Be Betrayed” with its doom laden slow riffage and thunderous drums hasn’t aged in its 30 years existence and is still such a relevant track in 2018.
“Why Do We Never Learn”, a new track from the as yet unreleased new album, is huge and what I just witnessed was enough to make your fillings rattle and your arse shake. “Start Running” takes everyone back to the 80s and is still such a creepy song and new girl “Jenny Lane” delivers a solid bass line that underpins the track. If you ever need to understand the importance of a bass guitar then look no further because “Start running” needs that groove for Jodie Turner to weave her magic.
New single “Are You Ready” steam hammers along at breakneck speed with a crystal clear sound stunning light show, old songs, new songs “Rock Goddess” have me and hundreds more transfixed, the new material is just so strong and slots in perfectly with the classic songs we all grew up with. Versions of “Back To You” and “Heavy Metal Rock n Roll” could strip the paint of your walls without you having to leave the comfort of your sofa with your paint thinner and scraper!!
Now here’s the thing – I’m very fortunate to attend many hundreds of gigs and see many amazing acts but the performance the band offered is one of the best shows I’ve ever witnessed and I’m talking about 35 years!!
PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS
Guitar legend and HRH award winner 2018, Phil Campbell, has the punters filling the venues nooks and crannies and the place is rammed to the gills, “Big Mouth” sets the stall out in aggressive fashion followed by “Freakshow” which is one of the highlights from the debut album and thankfully comes over even better live, even going as far as to creating a very small but, never the less, impressive mosh pit.
Serious twiddling from Mr Campbell is met with gratitude from the onlookers and, backed by his talented sons, the band is like a runaway train gathering momentum all the time. First of the “Motorhead” covers duly arrives with “Born To Raise Hell” reminding us all of the great sadly missed Lemmy, then up steps Phil who peels off a solo that merits his well-deserved award the previous evening. “Get On Your Knees” with its nod and a wink to old school metal is bolstered big time with the dual guitars and on command everyone obliges the request to raise their middle fingers in the air!!
A quick blast through R.A.M.O.N.E.S gets the mosh pit stirring just a little bit more then its straight into album opener “Ring Leader” and once again takes over a life of its own in the live arena. Wrapping the set-up is the triple whammy of “Silver Machine”, “Ace Of Spades” and a spine snapping version of “Bomber”. Talk about spoilt rotten and slightly emotional in a rock n roll way. Cracking stuff from a true down n dirty, rock n roll band.
Closing the first night proper is the unbelievably gifted Michael Schenker and his festival of former lead singers, this has to be one of the most chaotic and arse about face shows I’ve seen in a long while! It goes against the grain of what most bands try and achieve in a live setting. But fear not because it works!!
First example the intro music is AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” so the crowd are pumped. Schenker walks onstage and what do we get? “Blackout”? or possibly “Another Piece Of Meat”? Oh no. No. No No. We get an acoustic soothing version of The Scorpions “Holiday” then he addresses the crowd regarding his long and impressive career then its straight into what everyone presumed would be the encore song “Doctor, Doctor” where various singers all appear on stage these include Graham Bonnet, Dougie White, McCauley, by which time they were only 2 songs in.
“Vigilante Man” gets Dougie White up on his own singing the track with his usual enthusiasm. New track “The Church” is another chance for the stage to be filled with no less than 4 singers. In-between many of the songs Schenker chats away to the crowd all about his time in various groups and how old he was when certain tracks were written and personally I found this set up really refreshing. The songs on the other hand need no introduction, with the following just an example “Natural Thing”, “Shoot Shoot”, “Armed and Ready”, and “Only You Can Rock Me” with instrumentals from his “Scorpions” days thrown in the mix for good measure.
The great man can’t go wrong.
Then the moment everyone was waiting for “Rock Bottom”. Were we going to get a 10 minute version or a 15 minute version? I never timed it but take my word for it, the man isn’t human!! With solid bass and drums keeping everything in time, Schenker just cast his magic over his fretboard he explored it like a kid would explore a sweetshop, then just to take the piss he picks up a camcorder starts filming the crowd whilst still creating a mind blowing solo. “Lights out” finished the set and basically everyone went home gob-smacked, inebriated and happy after a brilliant first night of booze great company and 5 great bands.
Review by Steve Bruty
Photos by Edyta Krzesak