HRH AOR 6 – Day 3 – 10-03-2018
Hafan Y Mor, Pwllheli
Review: Stephen Brophy (SB), Peter Scallan (PS)
Photography: Stephen Brophy
It’s always amazing just how damn quickly the AOR weekends pass by, the days seem long while you passing through, but in a blink of an eye it’s all done.
The Radio Sun (Acoustic) (SB)
Having not only played the Festival 3 years running, but also playing all 3 days this year, with the AfterParty on Thursday, Full Electric show on Friday and rounding things off with another great and very funny Acoustic Set today it has been another massively successful trip for the guys. Gill and Ant have slotted into the band perfectly and seemed to be having a great time over the weekend.
The songs they pick for these acoustic sets always work perfectly and there is always an added bit of on the spot improv that adds to the fun. The set feels like you are in your sitting room with a bunch of friends and someone breaks out a guitar for a sing song, it’s the intimate and if you get the chance go to the next one they do,terrific way to ease us into the day ahead.
Blood Red Saints (PS)
First band of the day for me was the first act on the main stage. Like yesterday, Blood Red Saints drew a great crowd for being the opening act and fully justified it. In Pete Godfrey they have a vocalist who can give Steve Overland a run for his money.
However, what they also have is the most disarmingly charm front man on the planet and someone who maybe even talks as much as me! I am not sure how much of their slot was spent with him talking but the loud ripples of laughter that rang round the hall ensured it was an integral part of the act.
Despite a few technical issues with guitars, the set was an absolute triumph in terms of the quality of songs. Drawing from both albums, the two-guitar line-up works a treat. There was even an impromptu version of Take That’s Back for Good while the guitar issues were sorted. The music brought the smiles, the chat brought the laughs. Game over I thought, glad I am not following them! My only question would be why these guys were on first before Joanovarc, especially if Daylight Robbery could be third on the main stage the previous day.
At any Festival there are always a band or two that just don’t grab you, for whatever reason, and today this happened with me and JoanOvArc, the four piece female heavy rock band just didn’t do anything for me on the day I’m afraid, and like my colleague Peter I was surprised they were a slot up on the bill ahead of Blood Red Saints.
There were definitely putting everything into the set, it just wasn’t gelling for me, but that’s not to say there weren’t people up the front that weren’t really enjoying the set, for me perhaps next time it will all click into place.
Hand Of Dimes (PS)
Never Heard Hand of Dimes but I did know of Neville Mc Donald’s vocal prowess from his time in Skin. I convinced some of my fellow entourage to go along and nobody was disappointed. This band can rock alright but there is also a lot more besides in terms of the blues and soul influences.
Nev McDonald should be a household name with a voice like his. The hall was absolutely rammed for the middle of the day which in some part was due to Nev being Welsh, but mostly to do with his awesome voice and superb band.
Guitarist Colin Edward’s provided a master class in old school playing which was a joy to behold and former sparring partner from Skin, Andy Robbins didn’t look any different to the last time I saw him play bass with Skin years ago. The band went down a storm and solidified that with the last song being Skin’s House of Love. Su-perb!
Chasing Dragons (SB)
Of all the bands on this weekend, and having seen them before at other Festivals, Chasing Dragons were perhaps the most out of place, not that I wasn’t really looking forward to seeing them again, as I really was, but musically they definitely have the ability to play on a completely different level of heaviness to everyone else.
Naturally the guys just grabbed the assembled crowd by the throat and dragged them into the set, it’s a great skill to be able to draw a crowd into what you do, especially when that crowd does not necessarily believe they want to go there. Powerful set, in Tank one of the best frontwomen in the business at the moment and a lot of interaction with the crowd all adds up one of the highlights on the 2nd Stage. A touch of sadness as it is guitarist Mitch’s last show with the band after 7 years, but this was a great send off and as Tank joins the crowd on the barrier you feel the intimate surroundings become even more so, great set.
Little Caesar (SB)
A band that I’ve wanted to see live for a number of years, but just not been able to get to see, Little Caesar play Rock ‘n’ Roll, no apologies, no bullshit, and in Ron Young have a great front-man who commands the stage. The appreciation that the band show towards the crowd throughout the set is great to see, truly honoured to be appearing at the festival and clearly delighted with the reaction they are getting, it warms the heart.
The bands set seems to race by, which is both an indication of how enjoyable it is and sad as it goes by too quickly, but there is great energy coming from the stage, not necessarily because the band are jumping all over the place, although Loren rarely stands still, they just put the crowd at ease. Buzzsaw guitars from Loren and Mark and hard edged vocals from Ron are the order of the day and it really suits this bands delivery, they are so tight and a pleasure to watch, “Real Rock Drive” from the Redemption album is probably my highlight, nice visuals on screen too, and the band also introduce some new music from their brand new album Eight, a very successful set.
Midnite City (PS)
I caught the first few songs of Little Caeser’s set before heading over to the second stage to see Midnite City. Only heard a couple of songs from the album but they are another band clearly doing something right as this was the busiest I had seen the second hall all weekend. The guys have a neat line in big hooks and lightweight rock. The crowd were clearly into it and even singing along to some of the songs.
The band was pretty slick musically but with the glam image they maybe need to be showboating a little more. I enjoyed what I heard and did wonder why these guys weren’t on the main stage, possibly opening up proceedings. Having said, it was a bit lightweight for my taste and I headed back over to catch the end of Little Caeser’s set.
Enuff Z’nuff (SB)
Always knew this was going to be a bit of a Marmite set for people at HRH AOR, the band are certainly much more in the Sleaze side of the street, but it worked for me. Containing only one original member these days in Chip Z’nuff (who has now taken over vocal duties too) the band push through a set made up of their greatest hits.
Some of the between song banter would certainly not be to everyone’s taste, and I could understand it putting off some in the crowd, but when they hit songs like “Fly High Michelle” it’s just brilliant, and Chip’s delivery works pretty damn well, ok he’s not Donnie, but he can deliver the songs as they were meant to be, and backed with an excellent band including former Ultravox man Tony Fenelle, it may not have worked for everyone and personally I think better suited to the Sleaze event, but very enjoyable set for me.
Last Great Dreamers & SIN (SB)
Managed to catch part of both sets and actually enjoyed what I heard from both, Last Great Dreamers returning from last year and filling a slot from a band that pulled out had a very decent sized crowd on the 2nd Stage as did SIN, who I only managed to catch the last couple of songs of. Will look forward to hopefully catching both again full sets on another occasion, you can’t catch full sets from everyone at Festivals unfortunately.
My last band of the weekend was Dare. They mix Celtic influenced rock and AOR drawing a quite substantial back catalogue and always put a good show. The Thin Lizzy references always get a good cheer but the early songs always get the biggest roar.
As stated previously, I have never been a huge fan of Dare but have grown to like them over the years with Darren’s mellow voice and Vinny Burn’s fine guitar playing. The performance is always polished and slick but tonight it just didn’t do it for me, which is wholly due to the fact this is the third time I have seen in five months, having already saw them at Rockingham and Winterstorm. Having said that, it won’t put me off going to see them with FM on the up and coming tour! Bring it on!
The Quireboys (SB)
There had been a lot of talk before the Festival about who was going to step into this particular spot on the Main Stage, but as usual The Quireboys put on yet another really entertaining set, the band do what they do, Spike managed to be very mobile considering his left foot was still in a boot cast, and although at times it wasn’t all that easy to understand the between song banter they nailed it.
Whenever this band breaks out tracks like “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, “Tramps And Thieves” and the “7 O’Clock” it’s just going to be a damn fun set, the latter being one of the ultimate party songs of the weekend, for me any band that steps up to fill a Festival slot last minute deserves a lot of respect, the band are as always top notch, always love watching Paul and Guy playing, Keith’s keyboards tie everything together and Spike is an enigmatic frontman, he always looks the part and always manages to pump out the songs people want to hear. Fun set as always and seemed to be once again really well received by the crowd.
Silent Victory (SB)
Not a band I know much about, but managed to catch some of their set on the 2nd Stage, which wasn’t empty, but they were always going to struggle going up against Skid Row. Still I, along with the other in attendance were enjoying what they were playing and would have liked to have heard more from them, perhaps next time.
Skid Row (SB)
Having been a few years since I had last seen Skid Row it was going to be very interesting to see how the guys sounded and were holding up. Last time I saw them live was coincidentally at HRH AOR 1 in the Magna Center, and to be honest it just wasn’t working for me, the vocals were too harsh for the music, now we have former Dragonforce front-man ZP Theart taking up what has been a bit of a poison chalice over the years, and for me he did a really good job, there were some times towards the end of the set that he seemed to be stretched a little, but overall the delivery was really good, and he certainly puts a tonne of energy into the performance.
The dominant figure for me is still Rachel Bolan, poweful and in your face bass player, he always stands out in the crowd, but ZP gives him a run for his money with great energy. This time around the songs sound much more like they should and the crowd is in agreement as the hall is packed and the reaction is at times just wonderful to be a part of.
The setlist is definitely a Greatest Hits and more affair, kicking off with “Slave To The Grind” and “Piece Of Me” in the first three slots is a great move and has the crowd buzzing, it’s sounding how they should and proving why they deserve the slot they have, powering through “Makin’ A Mess”, “Monkey Business” and a few of the newer tracks, once they hit the last few tracks they already own the venue, “I Remember You” sounds slightly strained, but still works and when it comes time to end the set and they launch into a killer version of “Youth Gone Wild” the place is hoping and the crowd singing along is brilliant to hear.
Whatever this band does there’s always going to be calls from certain quarters to have Bach return to the fold, but people his voice isn’t what it once was, that’s the past and go check them out now, ZP does a really good job, Sabo, Bolan and Hill are still the spine of this band and will continue to be, for those of us living in the now it’s a really good performance and a fun way to finish what’s been another great Festival, roll on HRH AOR 7 which I’m certain will be another great weekend with top notch Rock ‘n’ Roll bands.