Pick Your Rock and Metal

Monday, November 14, 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Hard Rock Hell X Day Two serves up tremendous blasts from the past and new fan favourites

THERE is nothing better than nostalgia...and, in terms of music nostalgia can sometimes blot out the reality of what happened "back in the day".

However, when it came to Hard Rock Hell X on Friday (11th November) what was served up were happy memories, once more re-created in living breathing blasts from the past that revealed there is still fire in the bellies of fans and bands alike.

And, as it was HRH there was also a feast of new and rising acts, aspiring to reach the same heady heights.

It was such a smorgasbord of rock served up in North Wales that fans were having to move swiftly back and forth between the two venues to catch snatches of the acts - thankfully they were only yards apart.

From headliners like Vixen and Ugly Kid Joe through to eclectic acts like Vordun and Bright Curse there was a sense of purpose throughout the day every time an act took to the stage. Stagecraft and stage presence were a given.

For many the newer acts playing on Arena Two provided attendees with the chance to see bands they would not be able to catch in many other environments. Departed immediately impressed as the trickle from caravans and chalets became a flood.

Two of the acts that stood out were the bluesy sound of Welcome Back Delta and the punkish hard rock of JoanOvArc.

Indeed across the two arenas it is almost unfair to try and pick out one act as a stand-out. Chase the Ace were as energetic and fun-filled on stage as always, and even treated HRH to a new track from their forthcoming third album.

Warrior Soul have the snarl of aggro politics coupled with the tunes to get the place moving, and Kory Clarke still has the cojones to challenge the audience and engage them at the same time.

German's Bonfire brought down their own version of melodic metal with Hans Ziller's crew creating merry mayhem, with 'Under Blue Skies' amongst the many songs being sang along to by the audience.

When it comes to crowd favourites there is no doubt that Ricky Warwick is up there - and when he arrived with his Fighting Hearts there was a sense of friends enjoined on and off stage. Familiar tunes from The Almighty era were given the same welcome as newer tracks such as 'Damascus Street' and 'When Patsy Cline was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Played the Blues)'.

In terms of recognisable songs The Graham Bonnet Band have them by the bucketful. Mr Bonnet arrived on stage looking relaxed in a white shirt and pencil thin tie to acclaim that is reserved for the man who was part of Rainbow, MSG, Alcatraz and his own packed track list.

Whether it was 'God Blessed Video', 'All Night Long' or 'Lost In Holywood' - well you know the tracks and everyone there was enthralled. But make no mistake that this is a band not stuck in the past, but moving forward.

Whitfield Crane is as mad as a bag of squirrels on speed - and that's why he is so beloved. When he and his compatriots in Ugly Kid Joe arrived 'No One Survives' the mischievousness, the mayhem and the merriment.

'Jesus Rode A Harley' on to the stage to find out about 'The Cat's In The Cradle' and learn that Whit was declaring 'I'm Alright'. Sense of humour? Yes. Pure funked out rock 'n' roll? Yes.

Isla Vista, California came to North Wales and enjoyed the hell out of the place.

Equally the California glory days of Minnesota's Vixen rolled up to HRH X to a warm reception. Hell, it wasn't just warm, it was a roasting, roaring welcome as Janet Gardener emerged grinning to stage front, flanked by an equally delighted Gina Stile and Share Pederson as Roxy Petrucci saluted Wales with raised sticks.

And, from the off they 'Rev It Up' with smooth melodies, and energy that was infectious. The 1980s? Nah, it was another moment in time that saw rock history brought up to date, with tracks such as 'I Want You To Rock Me' sound as fresh now as they ever did.

'Rockin' In The Free World' was a crowd pleasing powerhouse cover, but 'Wrecking Ball' and 'Edge Of A Broken Heart' even managed to draw fans away from the bar - and amidst a crowd of thousands of drinkers that was a momentous achievement.

HRH X - Day Two. A day that brought forward so many memories, created new memories from the likes of Theia and Mason Hill, but most of all was a continuing celebration of what rock can do as a community.

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