I am sure that everyone is aware of the Hard Rock Hell franchise which includes the Hard Rock Hell festival, Hammerfest and Hard Rock Hell AOR/ Prog/ Blues weekends. On top of these events for the last five years Chic, who promote the shows, have also held an annual competition for unsigned bands with the last few, eighteen this year, making it through to the finals in Glasgow. The prize at stake is a slot at one of the festivals and a recording contract with Off Yer Rocka, rich pickings indeed.
Held over two days in the Classic Grand, all bands get a 20 minute slot in which to shine, the crowd are then asked to vote by phone for the band they think deserves the rewards, think of it as a rocking X Factor if you will without Simon Cowell’s annoying grin. I was hoping to cover the whole weekend but work commitments meant I only got along for the closing bands and to get a taster of the weekend.
First band I caught were Texas Flood, a Welsh trio who went at it wholeheartedly from the word go. The threesome threw everything at the performance with some tasty blues laden rock. Guitarist and singer, Tom Sawyer, gave his all, pulling every clichéd rock move in the book, sometimes in partnership with bassist Ben Govier. They looked like they were having fun on stage and the audience appreciated their efforts.
Next were glam rockers Bad Behaviour from Preston. With stack heels and glitter aplenty they did look the part, although I suspect they spend a lot of time in charity shops looking for stage gear.
With three guitarists on stage I expected a big sound but it didn’t really work. The music was basic and nothing new and the show wasn’t that entertaining. They also did a cover version of Man Behind The Mask by Alice Cooper, good song but a bit of a leftfield choice, perhaps that was the point?
With the last band of the night posted missing and, therefore, disqualified it was left to local heroes, Afterlife, to fill the void whilst the weekend votes were counted. Afterlife turned in a solid set, their second of the day as they had played a festival along the coast in Troon earlier in the day.
The set was beset with technical hitches though which did affect the band’s momentum a bit. If looks could kill then the sound engineer would now be resting on a slab with the looks he was getting from bassist Steve Reilly, he wasn’t a happy chap!
With all votes in the winner was announced and it turned out to be none other than Texas Flood, a deserved victory. With that another year of Highway To Hell drew to a close. This is a great event and a great opportunity for up-coming bands to gain exposure and hopefully get that elusive recording contract which is hard to come by these days. Hats off to the good folks from Chic for hosting such an event and supporting new talent, next stop is Hard Rock Hell to see how Texas Flood fare on the bigger stage, good luck guys.
Review and Photos by David Wilson
The Hard Rock Hell Festival will take place at Hayfan Y Mor, Pwllheli from the 13th to 16th Nov 2014
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