Now that the final day was upon us, I had to make a decision of where I was going to place myself for the day. Most people had made a choice between stage one or stage two and I decided the former. Basically, I had to find a spot and stick to it all day for fear of losing it if I moved over to stage two.
In the arena the HRH crew had obviously been making some changes from yesterday with fewer seats and some crush barriers added, so although it was going to be a struggle to keep my vantage point my excitement for the day ahead was building.
Before I got over to the main stage I did manage to pop my head into the smaller venue and grab a dose of “BOOTYARD BANDITS” a group brimming with life and brimming with humour, with the band members all having fun names like , Bamm Bamm, Two Puds, Big Mac, and Joey Bones, it was up to Massive vocalist Brad Marr to weave his magic and get the crowd onside, which was achieved with suitable ease. Sadly, I had to get myself over to the other stage and had to leave the entertainment that was being played out to a rapidly filling room.
I Recently reviewed an album by an Australian band called “ABLAZE” the album was superb and I was interested to see how it came over in the live setting.
This band had first formed way back in 2010 and have spent the years treading the boards religiously so stage craft should be at a premium, Consisting of members…. Danny Slaverio / Vocals
Ben Anderson / Lead Guitar
Matt Dynon / Rhythm Guitar
Dan Mangano / Drums
Dave Knight / Bass
Talk about a meat and potatoes rock n roll band, brash in your face hard rock with maximum riffs from guitarist Ben Anderson who’s sound, and tone is central to the in your face outfit. Vocalist Danny Slaverio has the Axl Rose hip shuffle done and dusted and a vocal like he has swallowed a few razor blades. Songs such as “This Bitch Bites” is slower but oozes a Bon Scott delivery.
What Australian rock band can exist without having a song about drinking? “Where’s My Drink” is their homage to the demon alcohol with it traditional sounding Jig and fun lyrics, then with the opening of a bottle of Whiskey the band gets introduced while each member guzzling from the bottle, before being kindly passed to a few brave members of the front row who bravely took part as well. Songs such as “Easy Greed” and the very catchy “Bad Tattoo” all pass in the blink of an eye, a great set from a band that on this performance are destined for greater things.
“HAND OF DIMES” Such a welcome addition to the HRH festival and so many smiles on the faces of the crowd for the return of one of the most amazing vocalists of the last 30 years. Regardless of genre of music you will be hard pushed to find a UK singer of the calibre of Neville MacDonald. From the opening “Looking At You” to set closer “Sail On” this superb band left everyone surprised by their powerful blues / rock.
Jacobs Ladder being a prime example of the emotion these guys can elevate to. Keyboardist, Neil Garland has a friendship with Neville going back to 1986 when they were both in KOOGA together and that chemistry is on show this evening for all to see. “Pinstriped Arrogance” with Guitarist, Colin Edwards peeling of some nice fretwork is another highlight from this eleven-song set.
Then it’s time for a crowd pleaser with the “SKIN” classic “House Of Love” that proved a great opportunity for a mass sing along from the many “SKIN” fans in attendance who had hoped to hear a song or two. Songs such as “Moonlight Mile” and “Guilty” are as good as anything I have heard all weekend. This was without a doubt a master class in both vocal and musical ability, which is more than I can say for the next act.
“Zodiac Mindwarp” oh dear what the hell was that shambles? I have no desire to slag off what took place on the stage mainly because I am writing this review a few days after the event and guitarist “Cobalt” has said that “A medical condition had affected a member of the band and all live shows have been put on hold while they focus on a new release in 2020 “ what I will say is the remaining 3 band members kept the ship afloat and with lyrics being forgotten and cues being missed it was up to a fantastic Cobalt guitar heavy version of Thin Lizzy’s” The Rocker that closed the set and at least gave the fans some music to pan out the hour long set.
Such a shame but let’s hope that everything gets sorted and full health returns to those affected.
“DIAMOND HEAD” that’s a name to warm the cockles of your heart. Many cult bands exist on this lump of rock in the middle of the North sea but none more worthy of that title than this brilliant outfit, that has been kept afloat by guitarist “Brian Tatler” and with a settled vocalist in “Rasmus Born Anderson” the stability is there for all to see.
Some great intro music which sounds like something from a Star Trek film its head first into a rollicking “Bones” and Tatler’s trademark flying V guitar before going way back in time to “Lightning to the Nations” a track I have never tired of listening to after all these years and to watch Tatler’s superb finger tapping technique on the big screen is simply a joy. Only two songs in and it was clear that vocalist Rasmus was not a fan of the VIP seated area getting everyone that could stand up to get off their arses and join in.
Long-time drummer Karl Wilcox is a solid back bone to the group and the driving force behind the thrash sounding “Belly Of The Beast” from the new album “Coffin Train” has to be a contender for heaviest song of the weekend with a tempo that is unrelenting and a vocal that is terrifying it has to be said it goes down a storm with the packed audience. Another great song from the new album “The Messenger” is underpinned by Abbz on second guitar to give it some extra crunch and what a sound it makes with special mention to the sound engineer for doing the band justice with the colossal racket filling up every one’s ear drums.
When it comes to the movement which was the N.W.O.B.H.M way back in time it’s up to DIAMOND HEAD to perform three classics “It’s Electric”, “Helpless” and a ball crushing set closer “Am I Evil ?” a song so important to British heavy metal that its legacy will never die. All in all, a great live show from a classic band.
So, the metal queen is back! The one and only Doro, the woman with the tiny frame but huge voice and one of the humblest charming and down to earth people you could ever meet. Three days previous Doro had won the category of “Angel Of Rock” at the awards ceremony and well deserved it is with a career going way back to the early days with Warlock this was indeed one award that on one could argue with.
Earthshaker Rock” is the perfect set opener with Doro just working the crowd up and singing directly into people’s faces and making eye contact with everyone. With Johnny Dee pounding out a double bass drum sound which to me sounds like cannons exploding “Earthshaker Rock” is a little taster of what to expect in the next 80 Minutes.
I Rule The Ruins” from the Warlock days is a real blast from the past with fine back-up vocals / growls and plenty of hey hey hey’s from the queen. With the stage bathed in bright orange light we get a storming version of “Raise Your Fist” which from where I was seated was just what the fans did.
This set was great in the fact the whole career was covered including material from the new album with “Bastardos” showing that Doro has lost none of her writing ability. I noticed two sets of keyboards on stage and the first use of them came with “Night Of The Warlock” adding texture and feel.
Deep Inside My Heart” gets the tempo lowered with both sets of keyboards in full use and the added sound of the deep simple drum sound a focal point to the whole set. The band did a good job of digging out some old school classics including, “Burning The Witches”,” Hellbound”, and a Judas Priest classic in “Breaking The Law” that started off at a slower pace before speeding up to its normal tempo.
The great woman was well and truly shocked when she was presented on stage with her award from the other evening and for once she was lost for words as everyone gave her a huge cheer. Not content with leaving the stage she asked the crowd what they would like to hear played, so with the requests fired back it was “East Meets West” that brought this superb live performance to an end.
So, with it left for “Michael Monroe” to wrap up proceedings on the main stage I can honestly say the place was bulging. The man is a human dynamo never standing still for a moment, in the crowd, on the crowd, with his twirling mike stand and its draped scarf this man has it all, “Last Train To Tokyo” has him on his knees with his mouth organ and glowing festival stick he really is the ultimate in showman, With a nice cover of Nazareth’s “Not Faking It” its high kicks aplenty and he even has a fold out fan that he uses to cool himself down ! I don’t confess to knowing a great deal about the man but what I do know is he produces a sailor’s hat and a red hat then a saxophone it’s a never-ending party on the stage.
The songs that I did recognise were “Old Kent Road” a wonderful take on “Up Around The Bend” by Creedence Clearwater Revival that was note perfect. No show would be complete without a paint stripping version of his old band Hanoi Rocks “Dead Jail or Rock N Roll” a version so punky it just spat venom.
So as the set was drawing to a close I had decided that I need to take more of an interest in Mike Monroe’s studio output because I had just seen a set comprising of all different styles with top notch songs and a awe inspiring performer with a quality band behind him. So, with the day now at a close it was time to find some coffee and reflect on a fantastic few days at HRH XIII.
This is the first year at this venue and of course there was a few hitches along the way but next year I will be there in a flash, mainly because of the friendly gig goers and the helpful HRH staff. with a special shout out to the security guys who were all really nice chaps and not a bunch of gorillas that can be found at other events. Thank you, HRH, for once again spoiling us all rotten with some fine bands and here’s to the next one.
Review by Steve Bruty
Photography by Darren Smith