HRH have announced the storming second wave of bands who’ll play at the Glorious Twelfth Hard Rock Hell, rocking Camp HRH in Pwllheli, between Thursday 8th and Sunday 11th November 2018.
HRH are particularly proud to announce Thursday’s headliners: Michael Schenker Fest.
Michael Schenker has mesmerised the rock community since the ‘70s with his distinctive guitar playing style and solidified his place in music history. His playing has proven to be inimitable and hugely influential for several generations of guitar players. Last year, his amazing achievements were acknowledged and celebrated by the HRH community, whose votes earned Schenker the HRH Axeman Award at the premiere HRH Awards.
As lead guitarist of UFO, Michael Schenker wrote hits like ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Rock Bottom’, whilst with the Scorpions he composed classics like ‘Lovedrive’, ‘Coast To Coast’ and ‘Holiday’. Not content with being a key player in these iconic groups, back in ‘79 Michael decided to forge his own path, which led him to found the legendary Michael Schenker Group (aka M.S.G.).
Recently, Michael has been recording with his band Michael Schenker Fest, who as we go to press, are preparing for the release of their forthcoming studio album ‘Resurrection’ (to be released on 2nd March). Michael Schenker Fest will be fielding a line-up of legends: original M.S.G musicians Ted Mckenna (drums, keys), Chris Glen (bass) and Steve Mann (guitar), also M.S.G. singers Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley, as well as Doogie White (of Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock).
In addition to MSF, HRH are also delighted to announce more bands joining the already impressive line-up: Rock Goddess, Vintage Caravan, Blitzkrieg, Hawklords, Demon, Witchfynde, The Wild!, The Dust Coda, VA ROCKS, Smoking Martha, Voodoo Blood, Anchor Lane, City of Thieves, The Bad Flowers, Blind River, deVience, Riders to Ruin, SINSIDE, Red Hawk Rising, Stand Amongst Giants, and Walkway!
These join an already impressive line-up of rock, including headliners Saxon and The Dead Daisies. Other bands already announced include Femme Fatale, Girlschool, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, Tygers of Pan Tang, Thunderstick, The Rising Souls, The Dukes of Bordello, Renegade Twelve, Ryders Creed and there is still more to come later on in the year.
“If you didn’t book early, you’re going to miss out on some amazing acts, as well as the usual HRH fun and fellowship,” says HRH’s CEO Jonni Davis, “We’ve been totally sold out since last November. What else would you expect? We’re Europe’s leading residential festival provider! And with a line-up like this? If you’re not already on board, check the website, call the hotline and join the waiting list. You might get lucky. Failing that, you’ll need a miracle.”
For further details and ongoing updates, check out www.hardrockhell.com or ring Fleur on 0203 2876684
HRH C.R.O.W.S. SPREADS ITS WINGS AS HRH EXTENDS INTO COUNTRY ROCK, OUTLAW, WESTERN & SOUTHERN ROCK
Introducing HRW C.R.O.W.S: Country Rock, Outlaw, Western & Southern Rock.
HRH has always been shaped by its community, but when the fans approached us and asked us to extend the HRH experience into Country, well, we were wary. But when we went deeper and found out what they yearned for was a broad base of cool Country Rock, Outlaw, Western & Southern Rock bands, then all reservations disappeared. Head honcho Jonni Davis and his rebel posse put together HRH C.R.O.W.S. – Country, the HRH way: a dazzling spectrum of carefully-selected bands (as voted for & curated by the fans); delivered with all the know-how, energy and excellence you’d expect from Europe’s leading residential festival provider.
HRH C.R.O.W.S. will see its inaugural weekend at our award-winning city venue, the O2 Academy in Sheffield, where other stormingly successful HRH events have been showcased in the past. The event will hit town on the 8th & 9th September 2018.
This adds another new chapter to the ever-unfolding and widening HRH portfolio: one we’ve spent the last 18 months researching and putting together. As with all HRH experiences, it’ll feature quality accommodation: 4 HRH Hotels on the venue’s doorstep, with one designated as Royalty (a package that includes passes to the upstairs balcony with private lounge, bar, toilets, security and seating).
This ain’t no penny ante, line dance, folks! This is HRH C.R.O.W.S. – FOUR living, breathing, roof-raising strands of country-influenced Rock n Roll, chosen by fans and woven together with all the usual HRH expertise ‘n’ shenanigans!
Headlining is Devon Allman, son of the legendary Greg Allman. Despite being the son of one of the legendary Allman Brothers, Devon is very much his own man, and has found his own sound from the music in his blood.
Also confirmed: Dan Baird & Homemade Sin. Best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist from Eighties chart-topping rockers The Georgia Satellites, Dan left the band in 1990 to pursue a solo career. He’s a leading light and pioneer in cowpunk and alt-country music, bringing together a heady brew of rock, country, outlaw, and punk.
Wisconsin-born, Los Angeles-based singer, writer and guitarist Jared James Nichols will also be joining the bill. Music Radar named Jared as one of the Top Upcoming Guitar Players in the World. He’ll be bringing plenty of gusto, raw and raucous rock ‘n’ roll to the CROWS stage next year.
Described by The Mail On Sunday as a “cracking rootsy blues singer well-known to festival audiences”, award-winning Jo Harman will be showing the talent that won her “Female Vocalist of the Year” with timeless, crafted songs, which will easily blow your mind away.
Also blowing your mind will be Brum-based Broken Witt Rebels, who’ll be bringing some retro 70s rock to the C.R.O.W.S. party, with their twin guitar attack Danny Core’s grit-raw voice and wall of sound.
Elles Bailey, meanwhile, is a super-smoky-voiced singer-songwriter with a rare talent for crafting blues, country, and soulful rock with a contemporary edge. Elles recorded her debut album, ‘Wildfire’ in Nashville and hasn’t looked back since, having recently been nominated for the prestigious European Music Award, in the Best Female Vocalist category and voted the Number 1 album in the IBBA radio charts.
Also announced for the initial line-up are Zack Logan, Federal Charm, Willie and the Bandits, Scarlette Fever, Buffalo Summer, Western Sand, Thirteen Stars, The Outlaw Orchestra, Dawson Smith and the Dissenters, Cellar Door Moon Crow and The Nile Deltas
Saddle up, Compadres! This will be one helluva ride. Follow the C.R.O.W.S!
I have regularly attended the HRH AOR events since they started, but this was my first time at the main HRH event of the year. Personally speaking, the bill for this event was actually more appealing than the last HRH AOR event in March and the forthcoming event and I was very much looking forward to it!
Day 1 – Thursday 9 November 2017
The first day isn’t a full day but did consist of six bands. However, with travel and getting settled into the accommodation, I only managed to catch four of the bands. The first of these was Killcode, a five-piece hailing from New York. They have been described as southern-infused rock/metal with a modern vocal twist. I found them more grunge than anything else but musically very good at what they did. Vocally, I found Tom Morrissey’s voice limited in terms of range and feeling but he was an excellent frontman. While they didn’t really do it for me, they did get a reasonable reaction from the crowd. They were quickly followed by Back Aces. These guys are another AC/DC-inspired Aussie band. Based on the evidence of this performance I would say they are more of an original tribute act. They even covered Rock’n’Roll Damnation in their set. They also covered The Rolling Stones song Happy and didn’t really do it justice. They were totally uninspiring for me and not main stage material in my opinion, but seemed to go down reasonably well.
Next up was Wayward Sons, Toby Jepson’s new band. I was never a fan of Little Angels or even that keen on him during his stint in Gun, so it was going to be interesting to see him with his new band. Drawing from their debut album, they are quite a different prospect live from Little Angels. They were tight but at the same time raunchy and very loud! Extremely good at what they do, some of the songs sounded like Jepson was drawing on his Gun experience with Gun-like riffs in some of the songs. The band delivered a great set, despite Jepson’s amp blowing and getting what appeared to be a bit of strop, launching his guitar at his guitar tech. Ironically it was a Flying V – or maybe he was just being rock’n’roll! These guys went down a storm with the crowd, but did little to change my mind about Toby Jepson.
Headlining on the Thursday night was Dee Snider. Using George Thorogood’s Bad to the Bone as an intro when Dee hit the stage he looked lean, mean and keen to get right on with it and that is exactly what he did! Quite amazing as he told the crowd his elderly mother had been involved in an accident and was seriously ill back in the US. With his four piece band he rattled through a mix of his solo material from his latest album and classic Twisted Sister numbers and brought the day to an energetic close. This is more than can be said for myself as I had been on the go for 18 hours straight – I would like to tap into some of his energy!
Day 2 – Friday 10 November 2017
The second day was off to a sluggish start as I caught up from the previous long day. In the main arena the first band I caught up with was Syteria. Got to say I was a bit at a loss as to how this mainly female-fronted band managed to get on to the main stage. I found them poor vocally and musically, although they did look the part with their glam/sleaze image. Quite possibly I am doing them a disservice as maybe they were on the wrong bill and may be better suited HRH Sleaze or Glam. Next up was a band I had never heard of in The Gravel Tones. There can’t be many festivals that can go from a band like Syteria to one like The Gravel Tones as they were so different in both style and content. The band consists of a duo with Jimmy O on guitar and vocals and Mikey Sorbello on drums. This initially filled me full of dread but when these guys struck up they made one helluva rock’n’roll racket! Not only that, they generated enough energy on the stage between them to light a small town. Sorbello in particular was impressive with his strangely-angled drum kit, so much so, you hardly noticed the lack of bass player. These guys play a mix of rock with blues, rock’n’roll and bit of R’n’B thrown in for good measure. Very impressive and definitely a find for me. These guys have got some good shit going on!
And as if to further reinforce the variety of rock on display at HRH, next up was Tyketto. My admiration for Danny Vaughn as a singer and songwriter has been well documented over the last four or five years. The release of the latest studio album only reinforced this admiration as it is in my books the best album they have recorded. This was the first time seeing the band since that release and they didn’t disappoint. Opening with the title track from that album, what we got was a masterclass in melodic rock. Danny’s vocals and showmanship were second to none; Chris Green’s guitar playing was exquisite; Ged Ryland’s keyboards and vocals added extra texture and colour and the rhythm section just nailed it, even with deputising a bass player. They gave us a set that perfectly balanced the old and new and were just superb!
And just when you think, that can’t be topped, along come Y & T. Back in the day I was never a huge fan, resulting in much abuse from my mates, but over the last four years or so I have wondered why these guys didn’t click with me previously. With only Dave Menketti still in the land of the living from the original line-up, it matters not a jot. These guys deliver every time. Running through a set consisting of songs mainly from the first five albums, they have set of classic rock songs second to absolutely none. If Tyketto provided a masterclass, this was paying homage to a living legend! Dave Menketti’s vocals and playing were just sublime. And how many bands can close a set with songs like Rescue Me and Forever? My conversion to Y & T fan was completed with this performance tonight!
And the poor buggers to follow the preceding two sets were headliners Airbourne. I do have a soft-spot for these guys and have a few of their albums in my collection, so I was looking forward to them. They were tight and ferocious and they just didn’t let up at all! However, they fact that didn’t let up at all, was probably the downfall of this set in my humble opinion. It just started merging into one big blur and a little bit of light and shade would have been good. After about six songs, I remarked to the love of my life that there had been a lot of songs with the obligatory woahs. Her reply kind of summed it up as she said she thought it was still the first song! Regardless of what this pair of old gits thought, they band ran through a great mix of songs from the new album and previous albums, battering the crowd into submission. The place was absolutely rammed like I have never seen before, and they just lapped it up. Fair play, to Airbourne as they certainly know their audience and gave them exactly what they wanted!
Day 3 – Saturday 11 November 2017
So far, covering the whole weekend on my own I hadn’t managed to get across to the second arena. However, I was determined to do so today. This was only made even more difficult by the stellar bill that was on the main stage. I also caught most of the documentary about the HRH journey which was very informative and well put together – well done HRH!
The opening band was Buffalo Summers. These guys are as close to a local band as you will get at HRH hailing from South Wales. With two albums under their belt, they drew from these for their set and also played a new song from a new album due out next year. They delivered a set of groove-laden blues rock and got a pretty great reception for an opening band. I thought they delivered a solid set. My only criticism would be of singer Andrew Hunt. His vocals lacked a little in dynamics considering the groove going on. The annoying thing was, that he clearly could stretch out a little as he did in a few songs, so he needs to do it more to match up with the groove the band are laying down.
Good opening set though! Toseland were next on the main stage. I saw these guys some time ago supporting Reef and was impressed that night and liked the debut album too. I haven’t heard the second album, but was looking forward to seeing them. However, this time round I found them rather disappointing. The vocal sound was very tinny and made James Toseland sound rather nasally, and I just struggled to get into their set. The band is clearly a well-oiled live act and certainly covered every inch of the stage, but their enthusiasm just didn’t rub off on me.
This made it all the easier to make my first visit to the second arena to catch Burnt Out Wreck. Fronted by former Heavy Pettin’ drummer Gary Moat, these guys ply a raunchy, groove-laden melodic rock sound. While the single Swallow drew the obvious AC/DC comparison’s, there is more to the band than that with elements of the likes of Def Leppard and Dokken thrown in for good measure. Listening to the set it is also obvious how influential Moat was in writing the Heavy Pettin’ material, which makes it all the more surprising that he isn’t involved in the reformed band! Drawing on the recently released debut album, Moat demonstrated why these guys merit a shot on the bigger stage with his superb voice, more so than a few of the bands who had already graced it so far.
I returned to the main stage to catch the already started Von Hertzen Brothers, whom I knew very little about. My second find of the weekend, these guys play a hard edged progressive style with a modern alternative rock twist with some glorious harmony vocals which is very difficult to categorise! I didn’t know any of their material but it was delivered with precision, power and passion. Front-man Mikko Von Hertzen can also work a crowd and has humorous line in banter. Despite being very different from the previous acts, they got a great reception. They are also playing HRH Prog and they will certainly go down a storm there. I definitely need to get to grips with these guys back catalogue! And to continue with the theme of each band being different from the previous,
Gun followed the Von Hertzen Brothers. Gun are riding the crest of a wave at the moment with the critical and commercial success of their new album Favourite Pleasures. The opening song of the set was She Knows from that opus and set the tone for a serious kick-ass set from the Glaswegians. This was band completely on fire with Dante Gizzi sounding the best I have ever heard him. Added to that was the rising star Tommy Gentry with his swagger and stellar playing; the obvious fact that Jools Gizzi has seriously upped his own lead playing and a rhythm section of Andy Carr and Paul McManus who were tighter than a duck’s arse! The band drew on their considerable heritage of material including playing the obvious classics from their first few albums and finished on a role with Steal Your Fire, Shame On You and their version of Fight For Your Right with the front of the audience pogoing like mad! On the evidence of this set Gun should have been much higher up the bill and were easily band of the day and definitely my set of the weekend.
The unfortunate band to follow Gun was Lynch Mob. I was a huge fan of George Lynch in his Dokken days, but I haven’t heard any of the Lynch Mob albums. However, I was looking forward to seeing the band. What I did hear of the Lynch Mob material sounded good and the band were superb. However, with extended solos and endings it was all a little too self-indulgent. It was no coincidence that the biggest cheers of the set were for the Dokken songs which included Heaven Sent, Into the Fire and the closer Mr Scary. The band appeared to make the assumption that the crowd would know their set and quite possibly this was the wrong festival for them and they might be better on the HRH AOR bill. They may well have thought they were on another bill as the singer kept thanking the ‘Hellfest’ crowd!
To keep on the theme of variety, Reef was next up on the main arena. Like Gun, these guys have got a great pedigree. Consisting of three original members the band proceeded to bring the crowd back up again drawing predominantly on the Glow album and their hits. Bass player Jack Beassant cut a striking figure as he moved his huge frame across the stage and provided a huge bass sound simultaneously. In fact, so much so that during the song Higher Vibration the whole venue appeared to be vibrating with bass! A highlight for me and one of my Reef favourites was Consideration. A new song from the long-awaited fifth album was also played called Precious Metal, which sounded great too. I for one am delighted these guys are back recording and gigging and look forward to the new album.
As soon this set ended I jumped over to the second arena to catch some of the Black Whisky set. I was pleased to see they had a good crowd and held most of it beyond the start of the Black Star Riders set, including me for a short time, before heading back over. These guys have an infectious brand of classic rock which draws on real classic rock influences such as UFO and Zeppelin without sounding like clones. They delivered a set of tight, well played songs and appeared to be going down well and I look forward to seeing the full set some time soon.
Saturday night headliners Black Star Riders have had a pretty meteoric rise since their debut album in 2013. They have released two further albums since then culminating in their latest album being in the Top 10 in the UK. I liked the first album very much, but if I am being honest I have not been too keen on the subsequent output. Regardless of my opinion, the band put on a superb show and it was lapped up by the HRH crowd. Playing a chunk of the new album and songs from the previous two albums, the Scott Gorham/Thin Lizzy influence is clear for all to hear. The set also included the Lizzy number Jailbreak. Harking back to a time when the song was king it is great that a classic rock band is getting the success that Black Star Riders are having and hopefully this can pave the way for new younger bands to do likewise. It also included a drum solo, which for me added very little to set as I would rather hear another song. Finally, the biggest cheer of the set was saved for the last song of the evening which was Whiskey in the Jar. The band milked every last drop from it and quite right too!
So was HRH XI the rip-roaring success it looked like on paper? Regardless of my opinion on individual bands, it was a stupendous event. So much so, that I think I might switch from attending the HRH AOR event to HRH as the bills for this are far superior and provide greater variety of acts. The Saturday main stage line-up couldn’t have presented seven more different more bands representing the spectrum of rock.
In an age when everybody sounds like everybody else, HRH as an organisation should be commended for putting on a schedule with such diverse bands. Obvious highlights for me were the sets from Tyketto and Y & T from the Friday. However, for me Gun completely stole the show with their absolutely stunning set on Saturday afternoon and surely at some point must be a headline contender for HRH? In terms of finding new music, I will be exploring the back catalogue of the Von Hertzen Brothers and The Gravel Tones. Finally, my only regret was not getting over to the second arena more often. For me Burnt Out Wreck have got to be contenders for getting a slot on the main stage as they were easily more suited to that than a few of the acts who were on it!
Having loudly and proudly recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, HRH still refuses to rest on its laurels and continues to expand and evolve. One major leap forward is the introduction of the HRH Awards, the first of which will be held at the main arena, camp HRH, Pwllheli, Wednesday 8th November 2017.
The HRH Awards follow the classic HRH model in that the awards and event are community-led and custom-built by the fans, reflecting the tastes and appreciation of the HRH Loyal, the Dark Circle and community. HRH as a whole, and all its branches, will be honouring the artists, the industry figures and people who matter in this business.
HRH Mag and Hard Rock Hell Radio will also be actively involved. The event is sponsored by Marshall, Eden, Natal, JHS, Vintage, HRH Mag, and Hard Rock Hell Radio.
“Awards are a big part of the industry,” says HRH’s CEO Jonni Davis, “So we felt it was time that the HRH community made its own voice heard, showing appreciation for the music they love and the people who make it. It’s going to be a Hard Rock Hell of an evening!”
Award categories will be voted by fans, along with a couple of industry-voted awards. Categories include HRH Legend, HRH Axeman, HRH Rising Stars etc. More categories will be added and voted on.
The event itself will be a lavish, red carpet affair, presented with the flair and attention to detail that Europe’s leading residential festival provider applies to all events. Here, think of sit-down tables, presentation rich in glitz and pizazz, a roomful of fans, industry, artists, agents, and media, all dressed to impress. There will also be a select few live performances at the event.
The Awards will be a ground-breaking innovation for HRH. Tickets are very, very limited in numbers: only 500 will be able to attend, so please book early. Red Carpet Passes can be booked on www.hardrockhell.com or by ringing Sam on 0207 193 1307. Priced at 40 GBP, this includes 1 night’s accommodation.
Time for another Trip to Sheffield for another cauldron of Doom n Stoner infused gems.
Rock n Metal Overlords, HRH are proud to announce the first wave of acts which will perform at HRH Doom Vs HRH Stoner Chapter II (at the O2 Academy Sheffield, between Saturday 30th September and Sunday 1st October 2017).
Bands confirmed include pioneering English doom metal band My Dying Bride; heavy metal heroes and HRH favourites Orange Goblin (purveyors of “some of the finest beer-soaked blue-collar heavy metal music ever produced upon these fair isles,” so say Virtual Festivals); German psychedelic, stoner infused Rock Trio Kadavar, who’s retro sound will sit nicely with the HRH Horde; Slabdragger, whose monstrously huge sound is legend, and heavy blues band Ten Foot Wizard.
Other class acts include: Black Moth, Boss Keloid, Regulus, Serpent Venom, Blind Haze, Bast, Kurokuma, Hogslayer, Pist, Barbarian Hermit, Gurt, King Goat, and Witch Tripper.
Quite a line-up you’ll agree! With still a few main frame to come early December
HRH Doom Vs HRH Stoner extends the model of indoor, weatherproof, residential festivals pioneered by Hard Rock Hell in North Wales to the Steel City itself.
Following HRH Doom Vs HRH Stoner’s thunderous debut in October 2016, HRH DVS 2 ( as knighted by the fans) will build on its success, presenting heavy, heavy bands which champion and bestride the Doom and Stoner genres like colossuses of metal and rock.
As Sonic Abuse described the inaugural HRH Doom Vs HRH Stoner: “Put simply, HRH Doom vs HRH Stoner was one of the most community-spirited, friendly, exciting, well-organised festivals that I’ve ever attended… All festivals should look like this. No, really. ALL of them.”
Until that day, when the rest have played catch-up, accept no substitutes: go for the original and best: HRH Doom Vs HRH Stoner Chapter II.
Tickets can be booked online @ www.hrhdoom.com or ring Rebecca on 0207 193 9564
Even as Hard Rock Hell‘s triumphant flagship celebration of their first decade comes to a close, HRH looks to the future with next year’s festival.
It’s no surprise that HRH have partied loud and hard in 2016, celebrating the landmark first 10 years of Hard Rock Hell on Earth. The fans’ ears are still ringing, hearts pounding, and the awesome buzz and energy of the festival is still in the air as the fans head home, but head honcho Jonni and his team are already loading up for the eleventh Hard Rock Hell.
HRH are proud to announce another kickass, fan-picked line-up for 2017: Australian powerhouse rockers Airbourne and classic 70s American hard rock/heavy metal band Y&T (originally formed as Yesterday & Today, and known as “one of the hardest-working blue-collar bands in hard rock history.”) From the U.K. come Glaswegian hard rockers GUN; also Syteria: the dynamic, female-fronted rock band from South Yorkshire. Then, adding European flavour to the proceedings, are The New Roses: Germany’s most exciting, successful new rock act.
HRH XI will take place between Thursday 9th and Sunday 12th Nov 2017, amidst the beautiful landscape of North Wales, at Camp HRH in Pwllheli. Once again the HRH community and family will come together for the ultimate mash-up of loud, live music and malarkey that makes up an HRH event, along with the quality accommodation you’d expect from Europe’s leading residential festivals.
“We’re not resting on our laurels or anything else: 2017 is going to be the biggest adventure yet!” promises CEO Jonni Davis, with trademark passion, “We’re taking the HRH experience out to Australia, NZ and Singapore; meanwhile some fresh new branches are growing from the HRH tree here in the U.K. – new genres and niches of rock and metal that our community want us to add into the mix. It’s going to be a Hell of a year, and of course we’ll still be delivering our core events. HRH XI is going to be the best yet! Bring it on!”
All hail the Eleventh Coming! All hail Hard Rock Hell 2017!
Further details, ongoing updates, and bookings can be found at:
It’s hard to believe that Hard Rock Hell is now in its tenth cycle, but as you’d expect a mighty pulse of Rock runs deep through HRH’s heart and veins for the forthcoming celebration of its first decade.
“This weekend isn’t about one particular band or another,” explains HRH CEO Jonni Davis, “This is what we’ve done: visit every corner of our past and present, and mash it up into one amazing experience. We’re bringing in bands from every corner of the globe (even 5 from Australia!) to make this a weekend to remember. The stage is set and we can’t wait to share it with the HRH faithful.”
Looking right back to HRH’s beginnings, Jonni recalls, “I still remember clearly what happened when we announced our intentions at HRH 1. Industry were unsure, fans loved it, but it was the bands who really endorsed it, from Cthonic opening the show until Tesla closed it. It was a dream rollercoaster that became reality. Even Twisted Sister didn’t know what to expect until they encountered the HRH Roar firsthand. As Dee Snider asked at the time, “Where the f**k is Minehead??? Near Stonehenge, brother? Ahh, got it!”
Unsurprisingly, HRH 1 went on to win “Event of the Year” at the Metal Hammer awards in Spring 2008, which was picked up by Biff Byford from Saxon. His reproof to all the naysayers and disbelievers was crystal clear: “You missed out! It was a great gig, and this just proves it. In their first year FFS!”
Since HRH launched in 2007, the brand and its affiliates are now involved in over 200 shows a year worldwide. They boast an active international community of over 600K and HRH runs its own label, Off Yer Rocka Recordings, and the TV channel HRH TV on the side, with more new experiences and media developments to follow early in 2017.
Although we’re 10 years down the line, it feels like we only started our rock ‘n roll shenanigans yesterday. Chapter 2 in the evolution of HRH starts now, with a full year of special, one-off celebrations during 2017 to mark this momentous landmark in the Road of Rock.
Over the next few months, HRH will be filming a full-length documentary covering the whole story: the ups and downs, and the sheer pumping heart of HRH: our beloved fans and community – The HRH Veterans and Dark Circle.
One sign of Hard Rock Hell’s success and popularity is that HRH X has been sold out since last November, with 1600 on the waiting list, trying to get in since January this year.
“We could have run two weekends this year,” explained HRH Live Director, Fleur Elliott, “and we could have made it bigger, but since Day One we have always said that our community would stay one size. This is what we’ve done: keeping it the way the fans want it. I really, really can’t wait to share this 10th adventure with everyone. I want them to sing their hearts out and leave totally voiceless!”
Hard Rock Hell X takes place at Camp HRH, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, North Wales, 10-13 November 2016.
Hard Rock Hell AOR has grown as an event since its launch in 2013 at the Magna Centre in Rotherham. I thought this venue was excellent but it caused a lot of logistical problems for organisers Chic Talent. Therefore, last year they moved it to the spiritual home of HRH at Hafan Y Mor in Pwllheli, North Wales. While maybe not quite having the quirkiness of the Magna, the venue delivers an excellent experience. The festival is in essence a two day festival and day 0 is a party night on the Thursday evening. Unfortunately due to a combination of travelling and some very fine single malt whisky, I only managed to see the last two bands.
I caught Angels or Kings (AOK) set and the guys were running through songs from the debut album Kings of Nowhere. For me what really sets AOK apart from the competition is vocalist Barrie Jackson’s rasping but melodic vocals. The sound out front was poor but the band rocked along and certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves, and deservingly got a good reception.
Headline act for the party night were Serpentine who also played at the inaugural 2013 event. However, they seem to have undergone some lineup changes since then. They now sport vocalist Adam Payne in the place of Matt Black. These guys also suffered a poor out front sound but new singer Payne is certainly impressive and carries some of the mediocre songs. Admittedly I am not overly familiar with Serpentine’s back catalogue but the song quality was a little inconsistent but the performance sound and gain they deserved the reception they got on the night. Both bands I would think will have done themselves little harm with their respective shows.
And so to the festival proper! Due a late breakfast shared with the wonderful Ashcrofts and a brisk walk on the beach being required to shake off the single malt after effects, I didn’t get to the main stage until just before Kingdragon from Greece hit the stage. They certainly came across as polished musically sounding a little progressive in places. They had some decent songs, the best of which for me was ‘Dreams are Broken’ (if my sketchy notes are right).
These guys were followed by Night by Night who had lost their vocalist and seem to be making an unfortunate habit of this! They need to be more careful. New Device vocalist Daniel Leight stepped into the breach and I don’t know how much preparation he had, but I thought he did a sterling job. He proved to not only have a great voice, but also to be a great frontman. The guys ran through a set of great British melodic rock with some great individual guitar contributions and some great harmony guitar work. Not being familiar with the material, most of it was grabbing me on the first listen and I need to check these guys out more.
Although looking forward to Vega, by this time hunger and thirst pangs had got the better of me and I missed these guys (much to my annoyance) and The Poodles, whom I have managed to live without my entire life so far with little impact.
I returned to the main area to catch Starz, more out of AOR curiosity I must admit, as the owner of their 1979 effort Coliseum Rock. More novelty value than anything else, the guys looked like they were having an absolute blast running through material older than some of the audience. They certainly brought something different to the day and live renditions of their material only served to remind more of the Kiss influence! More for AOR geeks, I don’t think they quite fitted the audience and/or event.
Next up were Dare, whom I must confess I have never been a huge fan of. However, the mix Celtic influenced rock and AOR on the night really worked for me with Darren Wharton gently wooing the audience and Vinny Burns smacking them round the head with his guitar playing and even playing the second half of the set with a Flying V. It did get a little too Celtic in the middle but they kicked up a gear with songs from the first album including the awesome Abandon, Into The Fire, The Raindance, and King Of Spades in quick succession. A superb set and lead us quite nicely the next act.
Who were of course Swedish rockers H.E.A.T Having seen these guys three times in the last two years they have got to be one of the most consistent acts on the circuit and you just know what you are getting. These guys just rock and opened with Point of No Return and drew predominantly on the set for the Live in London album. This included mostly songs from albums Address The Nation and Tearing Down The Walls as well as some earlier songs. The sheer energy from these guys is phenomenal, especially singer Erik Gronwall who bounces about like Tigger on acid and never misses a beat or a note in his performance. They provided an accomplished and energetic set and it makes me wonder why these guys aren’t even bigger than they are. My only complaint on the evening was it seemed incredibly loud and distorted, but maybe I am just getting too old for this stuff! Certainly set us up nicely for the Saturday!
By the time this old guy got his act together and got down to the AOR hall, Australian act White Widdow were hitting the stage. Jules Mills seemed to be struggling a little vocally, but when he hit his stride he was good. In addition, I thought he was a pretty awesome frontman and showing some real flashes of humour, especially his comment about the Poodles talking about traveling so far which went along the lines of ‘try coming from Australia’! Guitarist Enzo Almanzi proved to be no slouch either. Add to that for me these guys were the first genuine AOR band I had seen all weekend, I thought they were great. Drawing from their three albums, with some new songs from the Caught in the Crossfire album I thoroughly enjoyed the set and look forward to seeing these guys again the next time the hot these shores.
Next up were hot melodic hard rock sensations Eclipse. Now I totally get just how talented Eric Martenson is in terms of vocals, guitars, songwriting and production, but it just doesn’t work for me I am afraid. Excellently executed by superb musicians, it just leaves me cold and sounds a little fabricated. I know that will make me the odd man out, but music is subjective and not objective and I left after four songs to grab some food.
I returned to catch Houston’s set which I was looking forward to. The band has undergone a line-up shuffle and Hank Erix has come in for some criticism for his live performances. For me the only disappointing aspect was the size of the crowd! These guys were the bona fide AOR band of the weekend and played a superb selection of polished songs from both their original and cover albums. Favourite for me by far was Return My Heart but the guys have superb cache of original songs. They maybe played more covers in the set but the standout cover for me was Carrie from Michael Bolton’s first solo album. It truly showed how accomplished Hank is as a vocalist and the new single Standing on the Moon bodes very well for the next album – just hurry up and get it out Hank!
I ducked out of Romeo’s Daughter to suitably refresh myself before returning for the mighty FM. Having just realised what I consider to be their best album since Indiscreet I was looking forward to this immensely. Like H.E.A.T these guys always deliver and you know what you are getting. However, as if it were even possible, they have got even better live. Steve Overland who is most definitely ‘the Man’ seems to have accepted he is the band frontman and has started putting down his guitar to great effect. Really engaging with the crowd has taken FM’s live performances to another level. I also happen to think that Jim Kirkpatrick presence in the band is now really being felt live. He brings an edgy, blusier feel to live sound and really adds something to the mix. Perhaps the Man’s confidence in his ability is one of the reasons he feels comfortable after all these years being the Man at the front. Absolutely, gob-smackingly marvellous they were! Rumour even has it that Night Ranger closed down the back stage area so they could watch FM!
And as for Night Ranger themselves, well I witnessed possibly the best display from any band at HRH AOR since its inception. Considering how long these guys have been about, the energy from them was amazing. Jack Blades was all over the place and Brad Gillis had such a manic smile on his face he could be the Joker in a Batman movie – and what an awesome player! The band has recently been joined by Keri Kelli from Alice Coopers touring band and he fits in perfectly both musically and personality-wise. And he is no slouch either, giving Brad as good as he got! Kelly Keagy steps from behind the drums to sing a couple of songs and his voice seems to be even better than it was in 80s/90s. Playing mainly songs from the first 4/5 albums and of course the new album, the guys threw in a couple of curve balls covering their other projects including Damn Yankees and Alice Cooper’s Schools Out and Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train. While some might question throwing these in, it all just added to the absolutely awesome party atmosphere the guys created and they give the kind of professional kick-ass display you would expect of a band with 35 years plus experience. And of course, closing with You Can Still Rock in America – how can you fail to be impressed! Superlatives fail me! Night Ranger were indeed fitting closing act for another great HRH AOR weekend.
Well done Chic Talent and I look forward to next year already!
Hard Rock Hell, aptly titled ‘House of Horrors’, which is now in its 9th cycle are pleased to welcome Heavy Metal Titans, Saxon back into their realm of mayhem by popular demand from the HRH Fans. It will be 5 years since their last visit and this year’s set will be a 2 hour jaw dropper. With a mammoth back catalogue that stretches back to 1976, even with 2 hours it will be difficult to fit enough in.
Joining Saxon will be 80’s all-female NWOBHM Vets, Rock Goddess, who have recently enjoyed a positive resurgence and are looking forward to grace the stage in front of the HRH Loyal. Another band which have been ordered in by popular HRH fan demand, are the unstoppable Black Spiders, who just seem to be hitting every part of the globe with their Hard Rock sound.
HRH are renowned for plucking some gems out of far flung territories and the first one to be announced this year with a huge injection of Psychedelia are Swedish Heroes Skanska Mord.
Keeping things Swedish, we are also pleased to welcome Swedish rockers Riot Horse to the proceedings. Check out their track Medicine Man below.
Completing the first announcement are Outlaw Biker Rockers, Pig Iron who have just signed to sister label, Off Yer Rocka Recordings.
HRH 9 will be held at its base Camp HRH, Pwhelli, Gwynedd , North Wales 12th / 15th November 2015
Hard Rock Hell 9 officially goes on sale today with 82% of its packages already sold out on pre sale. HRH 9 which takes place next November 2015, brings to life its latest production, “HRH House of Horrors” which promises to be a deep and dark experience laced with over 50 bands from around the globe performing throughout the weekend at this annual residential event.
HRH CEO Jonni Davis commented; “HRH 8 sold out 11 months in advance and we had a lot of pre bookings lined up for next year who missed out on this years experience. That being said, the response to HRH 9 has been unprecedented with a big surge from European customers on top, which has resulted in us releasing the last rooms now rather than after this year’s event.”
HRH continues to be the European leader in residential live experiences.