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Month: March 2019
The End Machine – ‘ST’ Album review
HRH AOR VII – Presthaven Sands, Prestatyn, Saturday 16th March 2019
HRH VII – Presthaven Sands, Prestatyn. Saturday 16th March
After the Friday shows, I think we acclimatised to Saturday much better. There seemed fewer people around, I didn’t witness queuing, but that bloke who smelt of wee was still following me around!
Saturday or as I prefer to call it, MSM (military style metal) as its an endurance in standing, and is like a cult meeting/conversion all rolled into one. You come out the end of it a new person’ and with feet like a ballet dancer !
Those who decided to stay away, or were hungover, or waiting Wales win the Grand Slam (Get in!), they missed some belters…..
Psycho Kiss were on the bill back in ’15, and left me a bit underwhelmed back then.
This time though they got their act together and were not going to let a second chance on the big stage go begging. In this PC world I’m not sure I can say if Helen Ceri Clark had a set of lungs on her, but hey, I’m 52 and not going to change any day soon. She commanded the stage with a lot of energy (she had to as the others up front were as active as mannequins) and her raspy wail was a huge bonus. They started off well, and just got a better response after each and every song, and even got a loud ‘awwww’ when they announced their last song. A definite improvement on their last showing. Highlights were ‘No Good Pretending’, ‘Grieve For You’ and ‘Home’. And a few songs about drinking! Great start.
I had seen some clips of Saints Of Sin and was expecting something good. What I wasn’t expecting was how fucking good they actually were. They completely shattered my expectations. In a world of cheap imitations, they were the real deal in fact. They were immediately accepted by the big crowd; they had the looks, energy, were polished and even well choreographed. SoS therefore were not going to take any prisoners. Vocalist Rui Brito could be Gary Cherone visually, but he was his own singer. Confident, with a great voice and even greater stage presence, this guy fucking rocked, as did all of Saints Of Sin. The twin guitar attack of Sophie Burrell and Marcus Sparxx Jenkins was a joy to watch. With bassist Ashley Jenkins adding in harmonies with Burrell and the other Jenkins I was completely sold. Kudos as well to Josh Rose to keep everything hammering along. Oh, and the songs were fab! These guys deserve to go far. My only doubt is they very few bands make any money out of being a hair metal band, but hey, these guys are heroes in my mind for pushing this brand. Closer ’21 Shots’ is a belting new track that could catapult them. ‘Heart Attack’, ‘Feed The Fire’, it was blam, blam blam! Those who were still hungover missed the band of the day for me ( didn’t need to see anyone else Sat to confirm this), as they levelled Stage 1. What. A. Band.
Daylight Robbery announced that they were a singer short in Tony Nicholl for HRH,
and just posted a pic of a four piece only last week leading up to HRH. We were speculating who was going to sing. Mr Fluffy had his money on the bassist (Colin Murdoch), me the guitarist (Mark Carleton). We were both right (yay) and also pleasantly surprised as they both alternated lines and shared vocals. To say they were a Poundland Coverdale/Hughes would be rude, but no pair can match these two, so I’ll settle on John Lewis instead. In fact with these two in charge, they upped their game and the songs were fresh and strong. The new dynamic made for a stronger set, even though it was probably similar to the last time. Any band that has harmonies, uses his whammy bar and has a Hammond organ sound gets my vote!! ‘Digital Preacher’ made me prick up my ears, due to the surprise of vocals from both fellas, and the usual suspect of ‘Samara Never Sleeps’ gets the biggest cheer.
Kane’d are now seasoned professionals at HRH and the crowd had built in anticipation
for them. I don’t know why there was a lot of blokes in the audience – Im guessing they are fans of triple vocals/harmonies. Someone else stated perverts! The first time I saw Kane’d I was blown away, the second, not so much. However, three times the charm is the saying I’m searching for, because in Kane sisters Steph, Chez and Stacy, they are three strong, powerful women who can pretty much sing anything! They have been hard at it on the road the past few years and its now showing in their confident performance. With the recent new album, they now have additional material that adds to an already good set of songs. I only caught part of their set, but the likes of lively opener ‘Show Me Your Skeleton’, the fab ‘Guilty Of Nothin’’, and the infectious ‘La Di Da’ they went down a storm. Da Iawn.
I ambled over to catch Blood Red Saints, also known as ‘TBA’ to see a masterclass in both stand up comedy and 80s rock! Thankfully Pete McIntyre didn’t go on about his ‘man drawer’ and settled in belting out some cracking tunes. ‘Freak’ is a Nickleback sound for BRS, new song ‘Cross To Bare’ from their critically slammed album is a belter. I like the heavier stuff! Godfrey went into the crowd and used the 80s ego ramp (fuck know what it is actually there for!) and dedicated ‘Unbreakable’ to a friend a lot of us know who had some bad news dealt on Friday. This moment would make him and his friends very proud. They did a Steel Panther for ‘Message to God’ where Godfrey shouts out a number and the band play that note, first ‘5 times’ and then ’23’ and was nailed to the incredulity of the crowd and Godfrey! With songs like ‘Dangerous’, I’m Your Devil’, and closer ‘Better Days’ BRS are one of the few actual AOR bands to play HRH AOR. Considering they were a late announcement, their set was bloody brilliant. I’m just glad they weren’t The Quireboys! Next year give them a higher slot as they thoroughly deserve it.
In any other era, but most likely the 1980s, Rob Wylde would have been a rock god. A couple of years back, his Teenage Casket Company had one the sets of the weekend, and in Midnite City they were not going to let an opportunity like this slip either. In Josh Williams, Shawn Charvette, and Pete Newdeck, the combination of harmonies and backing vocals are off the scale! With Miles Meakin that have a guitarist who can play anything. Rob prances around with intent, but not too far away from his stage fan (A Harmony hairspray endorsement is on it way!) and shows he is a consummate front man. It’s very easy to look the part, but Midnite City actually sound the part, and like Vega, their songs are perfect for a festival crowd and are both anthemic and powerful. I get the impression that everything is planned, from the outfits, the hair, and more importantly their stellar performances. There is nothing wrong with planning, as it pays dividends when you want to stand out above all others, and they certainly did so today. ‘Here Comes The Party’ is a cracking opener, and with huge songs like ‘One Step Away’, ‘Summer Of Our Lives’, ‘Life Aint Like This On The Radio’ and ‘Give Me Love’, Midnite City gave one of the performances of the day. These guys should be huge I tell ya, HUGE!
The Electric Boys were the Ronseal band of the day, as in, you know exactly what it
says on the tin, lots of groove laden songs, and in Conny Bloom, a singer who is a rock star from head to toe. Some thirty odd years down the line, he still sounds (and looks), great. If you didn’t think they had enough groove for ‘Groovus Maximus,’ they actually dialled up the groove for Electrified. Their RSD song ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ was more straight down the line rock, and was a great song. More like this please to liven up the set. The highlight for me was the obvious ‘All Hips and Lips’ a true classic and was the song that most wanted, and expected as a closer. They were good, but it was all very similar.
I arrived half way into the set for Pretty Boy Floyd and I was wondering what the noise was. A wail that can only be described as Jizzy Pearl on helium, whilst being kicked in the nuts at the same time welcomed me, and it was downhill from there for me. Mr Fluffy thought they were awesome, but I thought the polar opposite. Steve ‘Sex’ Summers (yeah) talked way too much for my liking, and drew a few comments from around me to ‘get on with it you twat). I suppose this is a plus point, as it meant less singing (screaming) for me. He stated that ‘ we are trying to keep sleaze metal alive’. I thought he is going a long way to killing it off altogether.
The term ‘legend’ is used way too frequently, but in Ted ‘call me Ted’ Poley, the ‘legend’ term is justified. His credentials are second to none, he engages with the crowd, a lot to be honest, to the point where he just wants to be with his people and it makes for a great gig. By ‘Out Of Control’, Ted was on fire, and it wasn’t just his piss that was burning!! Thankfully his stone passed the day before and made for a nice bit of medical history and a good laugh. Little Ted is now fully operational! With Degreed as his band, they were great, and with songs from his solo career, Tokyo Motor Fist and Danger Danger, all basses were covered. For me, it was the Danger Danger songs that were the best – ‘Bang Bang’, ‘Under The Gun’, ‘Crazy Nites’, ‘Monkey Business’, and the awesome singalong encore of ‘I Still Think About You’. The guy is absolutely genuine in his love for his audience, and that love is paid back ten-fold. Ted is King! Please don’t retire in three years time while you still have so much to give!
Heavy Pettin’ were on stage 2 to close out the festival. HRH need kicking in the wotsits
for putting them on there as they are a bonafide nailed down certainty for the main stage. In my eyes, they should have been in place of Pretty Boy Floyd as they have a set of songs that deserve a packed audience. It’s only Hamie and Bonnar from the 80s, but the new guys (especially Dave Aitken) add some punch to an already great band. I never saw them back in the 80s but was a big fan, and after tonight’s performance even more so. The stage is a bit crowded for the five of them but that leads to numerous opportunities for the guys to jump off the stage and milk the crowd for its worth. ‘Love Times Love’, In And Out Of Love’, ‘Break It Down’ and ‘Rock Me’ are massive, and you somewhat forget how great a set of songs Heavy Pettin’ have to fall on. The inclusion of ‘Soul Survivor’ was as big for me as UFO playing ‘Making Moves’ so I was extremely happy. Hamie does not has his ‘yip’ at the end of his lines anymore, but if anything, he is all the better for it. I am just glad that Heavy Pettin’ are back! If you enjoyed Burnt Out Wrecks version of ‘Rock Aint Dead’, Hamie, Bonnar et al showed how it should really be done. If you didn’t catch them, you missed a huge performance. What a way to finish the Saturday…….
HRH AOR VII – Presthaven Sands, Prestatyn, Friday 15th March 2019
HRH AOR moved to a one-off temporary home at Prestatyn, prior to its new 2020 home in Great Yarmouth. Talking with friends and punters the feeling of the venue was not a great one. The main stage room being smaller, and the poor bastards who had forked out for VIP and Royalty tickets were on the side of a flat venue meaning those who wanted to sit, had to stand, and some were positioned stage right and had a lovely view of the PA!
The main stage room was smaller than Pwllheli, and I couldn’t quite work out if there was a bloke following me all day who smelt of piss, or the venue, or possibly me. Asking my colleague I received a reassuring nod that the room was the culprit. Phew
Gripes aside, the event seemed well run, better than usual. With security and staff in abundance to assist.
However, a bit of a faff getting to the right place for check-in caused us to miss the first 2 songs of EPIC. These guys deserved a shot at the main room from their debut in front of a much smaller crowd a couple of years back. Arriving to ‘Save A Little Love’, Epic were in full swing. The reception was good, and that made me good as I’ve been routing for these guys for a couple of years now. Tanya Rizkala announced a song that we would all know, Whitesnakes ‘Here I Go Again’, a classic rock song that would ask questions of any singer. Rizkala nailed the last Coverdale note and I knew then that they would be accepted and the resulting cheer confirmed this. Epic added Josh Williams of Midnite City and I noticed an immediate improvement from 2 yrs ago. Josh’s BVs lift Epic considerably, and having a foil like this is something that is missed when not there. Just ask Van Halen! Epic’s classic rock vibe continued with a new track ‘Face The Storm’ which was a rousing power ballad, before their dirty, sexy ‘Na Na Na’. The mix of Rizkala raspy, sultry vocals fits well with hubby Mario Agostine’s accomplished guitar. They finished high on another cover, this time AC/DCs Highway To Hell. Epic’s classic rock style is undoubted, but they have good enough songs and don’t really need to include other bands covers. Just sayin’.
Ive been wanting to hear Gary Moat’s Burnt Out Wreck. Heavy Pettin’ were (are) a band I love so was wanting to hear their songs played live. Immediately you could hear that they were a tight band with lots of hours behind them, and ‘Medusa’ was a cracking opener. Moat has a voice that’s like a mixed up Jizzy Pearl and Bon Scott, so he’s in good company. The dual guitars of Dunn and Goodman were a welcome addition and experience obviously shows. “Swallow’ and ‘Flames’ are the cream of the set, but ‘Pulling It Out’ was a bit drawn out and laborious. The final rendition of HPs ‘Rock Aint Dead’ made for a very pleasing closer.
Vega are made for HRH, or any festival. When they have a limited set of an hour, they put together a set of songs that few others can muster, and its like being bombarded with anthems for an hour. It works. Their phasers are set to ‘stun’ and from the opening ntro of English Country Garden and a mash up of AC/DC and Joan Jett, they don’t look back. Opening with ‘Explode’ its meaning is the definition of Vega. It is further ‘boom’ moments with ‘Every Little Monster’ and ‘Stereo Messiah’. Marcus Thurston just tears the place up, and when backed with the rhythm section and all round Dolby 5 part harmonies (Need Some Love Tonight), it makes for the performance of the day. Whatever the Martin bros are putting in Nick Workman’s tea is working a treat, as his performances are just getting better and better. I had to bow out after ‘White Flag’ but even after 8 or so songs I knew that they were going to kill it.
I wanted to see V0id (now Scarlet Rebels) especially in front of what could be a decent crowd (even if they did clash a little with Vega). Whoever I’ve spoken to after witnessing these Welsh lads has always been mightily impressed. The new songs such as ‘Part Of Me’ and ‘the excellent ‘Heal’ are a cut above what is already a very strong set of songs. In adding Josh Townshend and Chris Jones, they have taken their performances up a few notches as the BVs and guitar work was something else. Gary Doyle batters holy hell out of his kit and brother Wayne at the front and centre is the nucleus of the band. Staples (and should be household names) ‘Say My Name’ and ‘Not The One’ get the applause they deserve. I don’t say this lightly, but Scarlet Rebels are one of the best bands you have yet to listen to. A brilliant performance. Adderchog!
Rob was covering my fave band (probably of all time), Romeo’s Daughter. I arrived a couple of songs in, for ‘Attracted To The Animal’ and was immediately covered in my security blanket of Craig Joiners guitar, and Leigh Matty’s vocals. I’ve been watching these guys since nineteen eighty mumble mumble, and after what must be a couple of three dozen of gigs seeing them, they have NEVER put in an average performance. Most of the 80s bands that play HRH play it safe and stick to the early stuff. Not Romeos Daughter, whose last two albums (dare I say it) are as good as, if not better than the first two. The set is a mix of everything, from ‘Radio’, ‘Bittersweet’ and ‘Enemy’ to the stalwarts of ‘Heaven In The Back Seat’, ‘I Cry Myself To Sleep’ ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Wild Child’. In replacing Ed Poole they have discovered a gem in ‘Rhino’ Edwards (LOL) who fits with RD like a well worn glove. It was an absolute pleasure to watch this as it so very nearly may not have happened last year when Craig Joiner was seriously ill. This was simply wonderful and the highlight of my day.
Love Hate, or Jizzy Pearl’s Love/Hate to be precise, were a band to watch on the Friday. Two years ago at a much bigger Pwllheli the room was rammed and uncomfortable. Today was no different, in fact it was probably the biggest draw of the day. JPLH are as close to AOR are Slayer are to classical music, but that doesn’t stop them at all. I was never a huge fan back in the day, but watching this set from afar made me sit up and take notice. Jizzy Pearl sounds pretty much like he did in 1990 which is no mean feat. He commented that ‘Blackout..’ Is 30 next year…..! I think 30 yrs ago is 1970!! Jizzy Pearl, prances, and cajoled like he was in his 20s in 1988. Unless you had a DeLorean it was the closest thing to being at the Whisky A Go Go in 1989, only in Prestatyn. Having to queue to get in was a pisser, as I missed the first 15 mins as it was a straight ‘one out, one in’ policy. The crowd went nuts for songs like ‘Tranquilizer’, ‘Mary Jane’, and ‘Don’t Fuck With Me’. The last two were the destroyers of his career, ‘Wasted in America’ and the explosive ‘Black Out In The Red Room’. I went in as a non-believer and came out converted. It was damn good.
Toby Jepson’s Wayward Sons were up next, and the big crowd stayed. High up on the bill, I was expecting good things, and they didn’t let me down. Live, Jepson is as good as he was back in the day fronting Little Angels, full of charm, good looks and a voice that matches the one he had in his 20’s! Arriving to Johnny Cash’s ‘Fulsom Prison’ they broke into the rousing ‘Don’t Wanna Go’ and never looked back. ‘Alive’ has both feet firmly planted in the 1980s, and in Sam Wood they have a guitarist who reminds me of Scott Gorham, in that he is a cracking guitarist and plays without any flash or OTT histrionics. ‘Crush’ segues into Blondie’s ‘Union City Blues’ and new song ‘Jokes On You’ whets the appetite for album no. 2 later this year. ‘Small Talk’ is energetic before becoming ‘No More Heroes’ by The Stranglers. Little Angels ‘Young Gods’ took the excitement levels up to 11, finishing up with the excellent ‘Until The End’. They gave blood, sweat and tears over the course of an hour. I’d have added some wee to that had they played ‘Kickin’ Up Dust’!
I can’t believe that I’ve never ever seen UFO. My first album into them was 81’s ‘The Wild, The Willing, and The Innocent’ and contains some absolute gems. I’d read previously that songs from this album were poorly received in the past, so I wasn’t entering with high hopes. One thing UFO have above any other band is experience by the tanker load. Phil Mogg has been ever present since their inception in 1968, and incredible 51 years. No wonder he wants to retire while he still has his health at 71. Add the mercurial Paul Raymond, and Andy Parker, and you have a nucleus of one of the most iconic rock and roll bands ever formed. I was transfixed watching Phil Mogg and Paul Raymond, Mogg is a waif of a man, and still holds his mic like I first saw in Sounds in about 1979. He is a man of few words but when he does speak, its’ usually a gem of a comment. Immaculately turned out, he still has a great voice and grew into the set. UFO have so many albums and even more songs to pick a set from. As a 52 year old man I can really appreciate the need for comfortable clothing, and bassist Rob DeLuca’s crushed velvet flares looked a festival necessity for my future comfort! Raymond chose his moments for moving around the stage. And so would I, especially as a swift move could put a hip out!
It was the likes of rock classics such as ‘Lights Out’, ’Too Hot To Handle’ and the imperial ‘Rock Bottom’ that stole my heart. Biggest of all what the utterly fantastic ‘Love To Love’ – a monster of a tune. As a fan of 81’s ’TWTWATI’ I was as happy as could be when ‘Making Moves’ came up, a thunderous song that is built around Andy Parker’s huge drum sound. I was a damp rag as this point. The encore of ’Doctor, Doctor’ and ’Shoot, Shoot’ proved that UFO only do encores with songs where the same word is repeated!! A masterful performance.
Boxes were ticked today, seeing 3 legends in one band (probably 4 with Vinnie Moore) and a lifelong song I never thought I’d ever see played live. I’d seen Michael Schenker’s Temple and Fest line-ups perform most of these classics, but it was a different thing entirely seeing them performed by UFO. Considering their ages, (over 300 combined!) it was a masterful performance, one that the younger generations need to watch and learn from.
So on to Saturday…..