Review: HRH Sleaze II – Day 1 – 01-09-2018
O2 Academy, Sheffield
Review : Stephen Brophy
Photography : Stephen Brophy
The Idol Dead (Acoustic)
HRH Festivals generally have some special Acoustic Sets on for VIP/Royalty Ticket holders, and Sleaze II is no exception. These sets are short and fun, and The Idol Dead work this perfectly, it’s a touch of genius to get the crowd to whisper responses rather than sing them at the top of their lungs, crowd love them and it’s very hard not to, really made me look forward to the full electric set to come.
Don’t know why but this acoustic set just didn’t do much for me at all, but even with that I was already sure that the full set was going to be a much different animal. Sometimes bands with slightly more aggressive vocal delivery and acoustic sets just don’t mix and for these ears it wasn’t happening this time around.
The Idol Dead
The room was already close to full when the guys returned to the stage and they were up to speed from the first note, this band is just full of energy, more than your fair share of smiles and an attitude that is infectious. They’ve got the crowd eating out of their hand from the first track, the upbeat punky delivery is great, but the songs stick with you from first listen, and that’s a great thing for any band.
Then you have the band themselves, damn they work hard, whether it’s Polly hanging out of the ceiling, or the guys getting each side of the room to sing off against the other, they are engaging, fun, a bloody cracking band, the songs are not only catchy but strong, opening Stage2 at a Festival seems like a bit of a waste of their talents, lets home next time out they are over on the larger one, would love to see this band with the space and larger crowd to work with, the enjoyment would only be amplified, having said that it was awesome to see these guys in a smaller setting just killing it. Follow that.
One of the bands on the bill this weekend that I hadn’t managed to see before, but had seen listed on Festival lineups before, in fact they played last years Sleaze Festival on the same stage.
Definitely a big difference for me between their acoustic and plugged in sets, they let loose a bit more, there’s quite a few mixed styles here, they are heavy with screaming solos, but a punk element in there, add in a slight Gothy feel to the delivery too, there’s certainly enough heads moving in the middle of the crowd, and the Leeds outfit are going down well in this early afternoon slot. Certainly different to most of what’s on offer this weekend.
Italian Rockers Speed Stroke came out and attacked Stage 2, no messing around, just there to power their way through the set, and it was terrific. Perhaps taking a number of those in attendance a little by surprise, this opening with ‘Sick Of You‘ this band is not only musically excellent, they have a tonne of power, there’s a nice speed to it all that gets your head moving straight away, and in Jack (Giacomo) they have a great frontman and singer, the backing vocals throughout are also very impressive, but the songs just seem to fly by in this 9 song set, that’s how good it is, if people hadn’t seen them before I am sure they walked away from the stage impressed and ready check out the guys online when they get home.
Honestly I don’t think the stage was big enough for these guys, they looks like they were a little confined and would not have been out of place at all on the main stage. There’s a brashness to their music, whether you call it hard rock, sleaze, metal or glam is irrelevant these guys are terrific, if you get the chance to see them do, they don’t disappoint, Michael and Bassa’s furios twin guitar attack is great and all backed up by the power of Gabriele and Andrea on Bass and Drums respectively, you can tell these guys have learned their craft well and that little bit of added punch.
This is a band that have rapidly built up a strong following and reputation, isn’t not surprising when you consider the main protagonists here are Roby Wylde (Tigertailz) and Pete Newdeck (Newman, Tainted Nation, Eden’s Curse) and also that they released one of the strongest Melodic Rock albums of the year last year, they show no signs of slowing down this juggernaut. The set is made up mainly from songs off that excellent debut album and sprinkled with some new tracks from the soon to be released, and excellent, ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood‘ album.
What’s most engaging about this band live is that the songs pick you up and carry you along with them and you can see the joy in the faces of the band as they play. Tracks like ‘We Belong‘ and ‘Summer Of Our Lives‘ have become impossible for me not to sing along to in a very short period of time, a melodic soundtrack for sure, and then the new single hits you ‘Give Me Love‘, the track has been spinning around the head for weeks but now I’ve heard it live that’s it, addicted, love that song already.
For the first band on the main stage today the crowd is very big, and very responsive, but how could they not be, another terrific set and a hell of a way to kick off the main stage. These guys are going places, and it’s brilliant to be along this trip for the ride, Midnite City will no doubt be higher up the bill in the future.
The Senton Bombs
When you have a Drummer that literally takes the roof off on his own then you already have a massive step up for a starting point. Missed the start of the set with shooting the band on the main stage but managed to get in and catch some of the energy these guys emit.
Really enjoyed what I heard from the and they also really got the crowd going which is great to see on the smaller stage, another band that don’t conform to the standard formula.
Last Great Dreamers
Next up on Stage 1 were Last Great Dreamers who have now become a regular fixture on the HRH Festival scene, and they always put in a really good set. For me the band has gotten stronger over the last few years and they are really tight now and that showed in the sizeable crowd in front of the stage.
From the mix of Rock ‘N’ Roll with a kind of Indie feel to some of the songs, it has certainly gives them an original sound that still sounds fresh today. The set is made up of tracks from the beginning through to the releases since their reincarnation, the guys always put on a great show.
Coyote Mad Seeds
This 3 piece were absolutely new to me and to be honest they were one of the bands that just didn’t seem to fit this Festival. Not that there was anything wrong with how or what they played, it just didn’t seem to work, certainly to these old ears.
Personally I like the kind of stuff they played, I just don’t think it went down so well at this particular Festival. Definitely added to my radar though and will hopefully catch them again.
WOW, is that enough to say for this 5 piece Hard Rock band ? Belgium’s Wildheart absolutely nailed it from the start to the end of the set and included possibly the best Whitesnake cover I have heard to date, and it all looked so effortless. Frontman Farty really is a class act and the band are so bloody tight, it’s proper Hard Rock, high pitched vocal delivery and I love it. Had really been looking forward to seeing this band and they were just class, and from the reaction of the crowd, which built as the set progressed they would be a welcome return to these shores anytime.
From the excellent ‘Lovehunter‘ through ‘Get Up (Fight Back)‘ and ‘Never Let Go‘ this band mixes their own energetic music with the influences that I loved, Crue, Dokken, Whitesnake, they sounded big, have a party vibe and that puts a smile on your face when watching them, add to that the excellent twin guitar attack of Wouter and Thomas, as I looked around the venue there were lots of smiling faces, and that’s never a bad sign. Not always a fan of bands doing covers during Festival Sets, but if you are going to do it you better do it well, and damn do the do it well, ‘Still Of The Night‘ is far too recognisable to make a mess of, but they do a brilliant job, it’s the vocal that grabs me so much, there’s a confidence in the delivery that puts you at ease. Great set, cracking band.
To mark this band off my Bucketlist was one thing, but for them to play an absolutely killer set and be up there loving every minute of it, well that’s god be enough for everyone. Add to that the fact that the tracks off their soon to be released new album are so damn strong, having heard the new single ‘Born To Fly‘ quite a bit in recent weeks it was going to be interesting to hear how it came across live, and bloody hell it was so damn good, that was enough in itself to have me excited to hear the rest of the album.
Of course for a lot of people, me included tonight, what they want to hear is material from early albums ‘Feel The Shake‘ and ‘Damned Nation‘ with the balance tonight coming from the latter, and they deliver in spades. The set has a really good balance, and although I think the majority of the packed venue are really interested to see the band by the end of the set they could easily have played for longer, it’s kinda crazy to think this is the bands first visit to the UK, but they are welcome visitors.
‘Evil‘ has always been one of my favourite tracks, and it’s just brilliant, a sultry track that is perhaps a little less brash than a lot of their other output, but it fits in tonight so well, there’s so much attitude on that stage, particularly from frontman Mickey Finn and guitarist Ferne Rod and the calm is brought by Billy Rowe, it’s brilliant to watch, Mickey simply owns the stage, there’s a snarl there that makes it all the better, but something I will take away from this set more than anything is the humble demeanor he brings when addressing the audience on how happy and thankful they are to be here. The band are so tight, they have obviously been working really hard and this for me is one of those sets you are just so happy to have seen, they need to come back again as this was just a taster, more I needed, definitely one of the bands of the weekend.
Last time I caught the LA Guns live was at HRH AOR last year, and something on the day just didn’t grab me, and I was definitely in the minority, but tonight well that certainly wasn’t the case, they blew me away. What a cracking setlist for a start, really strong and then there’s the band, Tracii was on fire, and loving every minute of it, which is a joy to watch. But the real proof of the pudding is always in the crowd reaction to a set, and that’s why, at least for part of any of these sets I tend to move to the side of the venue to check out how the crowd are reacting to what’s happening on stage, and for LA Guns from the front to the back of the venue there is singing, fist pumping and just a general feeling of joy.
There was no doubt that tonight the crowd would have stayed for as long as the band played. Phil and Tracii are making a lot of fans really happy and long may they continue to do so. There are a tonne of highlights tonight, Tracii’s guitar tone being one, he just sounds majestic, but the band are such a solid unit these days and it’s great to see Adam Hamilton back in the band playing guitar. When you have a large back catalog to choose from picking the set for a Festival Headline slot is not all that easy, especially when you want to showcase some of the newer material, but that’s fine for this band as last years ‘The Missing Piece‘ was excellent and really well received, so the inclusion of 3 tracks is no surprise the highlight being the brooding ‘The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain‘.
It’s quite obvious from looking around that a lot of people are here for the headliners, and this is most definitely a worth Headline slot, they could play anything tonight everything has just slotted into place nicely. Take your pick from a list of classics, they are just sounding great tonight, but standing out are ‘I Wanna Be Your Man‘, ‘One More Reason‘ and a crunching version of ‘Malaria‘. Closing out the set with the wonderful ballads ‘Crystal Eyes‘ which is so haunting and ‘The Ballad Of Jayne‘ plus classic rocker ‘Rip And Tear‘ has the crowd screaming for more, a packed house and a great performance, what more can you ask for.
The Devil Made Me Do It
Over The Edge
Kiss My Love Goodbye
The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain
I Wanna Be Your Man
One More Reason
The Ballad Of Jayne
Rip And Tear
What a brilliant way to finish the opening night of a Sleaze Rock Festival, the Guns on top form first note to last, every band not only putting in 100% while on stage but loving it and plenty of interaction with the audience both while on stage and when around the venue. Roll on Day 2, but we already know this is going to be a great weekend.