Of the many events that I attended in 2018 HRH SLEAZE 2 was by far the most enjoyable, so fast forward 12 months and when I got the news that metalplanetmusic wanted me to review the 3rd edition of this indoor SLEAZE fest I jumped at the chance.With the difficult task of trying to cover both stages with many band times overlapping it was impossible to be in 2 places at once, but the challenge was there .
On arrival at the venue and the chance to catch up with some familiar friendly faces it was a matter of dropping the bags off in the press area and straight over to stage 2 to witness the acoustic set performed by “DAXX @ ROXANNE which was an exclusive event for VIP holders and the gathered press.
With a basic 3 stool set up and a small drum kit the band were in their element with the stripped back feel and plenty of harmonica to give the songs that added relaxed feel. The band originally from Switzerland have now settled in the UK and have certainly stamped their mark on the vibrant rock scene.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHZmhsz8des&w=560&h=315]
The funniest thing about watching the group trying to play is the difficulty they have staying seated on their stools !! By the time we get to the toe tapping version of the AC/DC classic “Hell Aint A Bad Place To Be” 3 members of the group were up shaking their stuff and genuinely having a great time along with the lucky few who was watching.
Another great cover was ROSE TATTOOS “Rock n Roll Outlaw” that kept the feel good factor set to maximum. With the tempo lowered we get a soothing harmonica and a introduction to “Living For Tomorrow” sang with feeling from CEDRIC PFISTER who along with this band are stars in waiting.
Proof of this is with the single “Someone To Love” which just oozes quality. Even the young teenage bar staff who no doubt have a liking for dance music and hip hop were all collectively dancing away enjoying themselves which just proves that good music is just good music, no matter what your age is, a great way to start a mammoth 2 days
The relaxed atmosphere soon took a nose dive when the banshee wail of JONNY SPARKS erupted from the speakers when this Brummie 5 outfit tore the place a 2nd arse hole. The high octain group goes by the name of “LOVE BITE” and if you think of classic MOTLEY CRUE, years before “Dr Feelgood” more in the realms of “Shout At The Devil” then you will have a good idea of what there all about.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTFiYlMkv5Y&w=560&h=315]
From the opening barrage of guitar and drums its a rollicking take no prisoners “Cant Fight Your Love” with the lads looking everyone in the eye and covering every inch of stage and simply enjoying themselves. This is just vintage classic sleaze with MIKEY TOYE just demolishing his kit with every hit.
Hook after Hook just slamming you in the face with “Lock N load” one of the highlights from the album comes into its own with JONNY about to blow the lighting rig with those high notes. A quick blast through BON JOVI’S Runaway is covered note perfect. Although many of the songs being played I had never heard of before, I managed to recognise the song “Striptease” and for a band that have not performed in such a long time it makes the mind boggle as to just how good they could be with some gigs under their belts ? What a brilliant set.
A quick hop skip and a jump it was over to the main stage to catch the first band. “SAINTS OF SIN” another up and coming UK band and yet another group that is working its way to becoming another regular outfit on the live circuit. I really have no idea what is being put into the UKs drinking water at the moment but whatever all these bands are drinking seems to be doing the trick because the scene is so vibrant and full to the brim of new classy bands.
In a nutshell “SAINTS OF SIN” were very very impressive with all the boxes ticked from great melodies and hooks, catchy songs, good musicianship, and some impressive synchronised dancing that HALEN / ANTHONY would have been proud off back in the day.
With grins from the guys a mile wide and a reviewer not having the foggiest idea what the set list is all I could do was watch and admire. I was sure one of the songs was called “HIGHER FOREVER” which was stacked up in the gills with those harmonised vocals that give the song that extra special shot in the arm.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFiXOaUr1d0&w=560&h=315]
Apparently the group has managed to pick up a bit of airplay from BBC radio with the song “HEART ATTACK” which the crowd was familiar with. A nice cover of “UPTOWN FUNK” reminded me very much of a very early Ugly Kid Joe with the delivery and capped a hugely successful one hour show. “ THE CRUEL INTENTIONS” was the next outfit that I wanted to see and again they showed the swagger and the class that I have heard so much about.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYP7JvXtCLE&w=560&h=315]
With Robin Nilsson’s guitar having this lovely dirty tone its a short sharp one/two of “WEEKEND SUFFERING” and “ACCIDENTALLY INTOXICATED” that kick starts proceeding before the dirty sleazy tones of “THE RECKONING” with its punky overtones that “LIZZY DEVINE” just belts out in true LA GUNS style. When I was witnessing the group I thought to myself “ who needs the Whiskey A Go Go when Sheffield will do” A large fan base had gathered and The Cruel Intentions” were gathering momentum all the time.
CHAOS IN A BOMBSHELL” and the over the top “GO FUCK YOURSELF” with the stomping chorus and gang vocals were just heaven to my ears. Two “VAINS OF JENNA” covers were added to the set “ENEMY IN ME” and the enjoyable “GET IT ON” proving that “LIZZY DEVINE” is proud of his musical heritage.
The man with the highly admired fuck you attitude is next up on stage, a man that in his hey day took so much flack from the UK press he just chose to ignore it and produce such loveable well remembered songs that many a pint has been gulped down too in many a rock bar/club. When it comes to all out bollocks and sticking to your guns no one does it better than “ROCKY SHADES WRATCHCHILD” to witness this man after my last meeting 9 years ago I was buzzing.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4W5sORAZnA&w=560&h=315]
First thing that grabbed my attention was the dreadful bass heavy sound coming from the stage which we had to endure for the first couple of songs before the sound man thankfully got his act together. Commanding the stage with his cowboy hat and posing for the photographers in the pit is a effort for most boring musicians but trying to do it with a 5 foot bazooka on your shoulder and thats what your dealing with here “ROCKY” was born to be a performer.
This was a greatest hits set covering ( I believe) 14 songs with the triple wammy of “STALKK ATTACK” “TOO WILD TOO TAME” and a highly ironic “THE BIZ SUXX” with OZ Paul shredding the hell out of these songs its minor miracle that Rocky can hear himself think. Its obvious that the band came to Sleaze with one intention to announce that their back and on “TRASH QUEEN” we get 2 bikini clad dancers gyrating to the song looking extremely naff and quiet a sad sight but does the band care ? not in the slightest.
We obviously get “NUKCLEAR ROKKET” with huge sing along and a raucous version of PRETTY VACANT by the “Sex Pistols. A highly entertaining performance from a band written off many years ago which proves Rocky was right all along !!
Having to leave the venue due to needing some food I only caught part of the bands set and from what I witnessed this could have easily been some peoples highlight of the weekend.With Gabriel Keys hitting the high notes with his usual ease and swirling like a DAVE LEE ROTH clone this was a band on top of their game.
Up Next Crash Diet, Opening up with a frantic “TIKKET” it was difficult to concentrate and take everything in due to the blur of all 4 members giving it large. “GABRIEL” was on / off stage and in the pit with high fives to the fans as much as he could.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fE1wPv7eNA&w=560&h=315]
New number “REPTILE” has a menacing riff and energetic with some insane stratospheric vocals.”COCAINE COWBOYS” is all underpinned perfectly by Peter London’s bass and Eric Young’s drums.
The place is so rammed upstairs and downstairs that I can understand fully why the sold out signs are on display outside the venue.
Headlining the main stage on this the first night is “VAIN” a band I desperately needed to tick off my bucket list. With an artist with such a legacy of songs under his belt it was a matter of trying to please everyone which was a almost impossible due to some songs having to be omitted as VAIN could not play a 5 hour set !! The anticipated gathering were treated to a mouth watering “SECRETS” followed by a colossal sounding “LOVE DRUG” with DAVY VAIN spinning and twirling centre stage with his trademark bare feet, the man is a human dynamo.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bv3VbsKaJI&w=560&h=315]
Special mention to the band members who refused to hide in the background making this just the front man’s show, with all members contributing the riffs and the rhythm to to these great songs.
First highlight for me was a jaw dropping “ICY” that took my breath away and a track I have loved since I first heard it. Big surprise for me was a DAVY VAIN solo song “ PUSH ME OVER” which for whatever reason I just wasn’t expecting. Another top moment was the breathtaking “NO RESPECT” and the crowd pleasing “BEAT THE BULLET” which the vast majority of bands playing this weekend would have been influenced at some point in their careers a timeless song if ever I heard one.
The way that DAVY VAIN interacted with everyone and the way in which the songs were performed is a memory I will keep for a very long time. So with the final act of the day safely back in their dressing room and the stage empty it was time for the hardy warriors to enjoy the metal disco whilst yours truly headed in a cab back to the sanity of the Ibis hotel Sheffield.
Review by Steve Bruty for metalplanetmusic
Photography by Darren Smith for metalplanetmusic