Gig review: HARD ROCK HELL AOR – Pwllheli, Wales, 12 March 2016 (Quiet Riot, Dan Reed Network)

Quiet Riot - HARD ROCK HELL AOR - Pwllheli, Wales, 12 March 2016

My first experience of any of the Hard Rock Hell festivals was HRH AOR in March last year, enjoying it so much I bought my own accommodation for this year’s event before any bands were announced.  You cannot imagine how excited a 46 year old rock fan could get when Quiet Riot were announced as one of the headline acts, more of which a little later.

After such strong sets from some of Friday’s bands, we were in a positive mood for the same again today, and we were not disappointed.

Radio Sun - HARD ROCK HELL AOR - Pwllheli, Wales, 12 March 2016

Aussie rockers The Radio Sun featured stunning guitaring from Steve Janevski, whether straddling the monitors in classic pose or bouncing around the stage like a tazmanian devil, aided by  the unique voice of Jason Old who also adds  further  muscle  with rhythm  guitar, they display all the hallmarks of a great band.

‘Heaven Or Heartbreak’ and ‘Tell Me What You Want’ were the pick of their set.  A bit of an unknown quantity in the UK before today but I feel they will be visiting these shores far more frequently after their first UK/ European appearance went down so well.

The Burning Crows - HARD ROCK HELL AOR - Pwllheli, Wales, 12 March 2016

If high energy rock n roll with attitude is your thing, you wont go far wrong catching The Burning Crows live. Whippz leads the ballsy rockers upfront on guitar and vocals with a swagger more becoming of well established rock stars.

For nearly an hour the stage belongs to The Burning Crows and song after song they gain more applause as the late starters enter the arena and take in the hook laden riffs and singalong choruses.

Newman - HARD ROCK HELL AOR - Pwllheli, Wales, 12 March 2016

If you are a purveyor of all things fluffy and lush in the AOR world, then you look for no further than the likes of Toto/Journey. etc…they are perfection and the torchbearers for the genre.

However once in a while along comes a band which doesn’t get the recognition they deserve for the quality of the albums released.  Newman are one of those bands, always under the radar  unless you are an avid fan, you wouldn’t have seen much about them in the monthly magazines that frequently regurgitate old interviews.

Their recent release The Elegance Machine is perfection personified and today they open up with the title track which sounds much bigger in a live surrounding, with punchy guitar and keyboards courtesy of Shaun Bessant and Paul Boyle.

Newman - HARD ROCK HELL AOR - Pwllheli, Wales, 12 March 2016

The tempo of the set is carried through the next three songs ‘Every Moment’, ‘Feel Her Again’ and ‘Stay With Me’, and the set structure and song choice is exemplary and covers the Newman catalogue nicely. In my eyes the band have always trod the fine line between AOR and prog in a similar vein as Asia with John Payne, especially during ‘Stay With Me’ where the similarities between Steve Newman and John Payne are uncanny.

A brief burst of ‘Panama’ (Van Halen)  has Steve Newman slightly off guard, so I am not entirely sure whether he knew the band were going to spring that on him but like a true professional he sang the first verse before it melted in to ‘Primitive Soul’.

Dan Reed Network - HARD ROCK HELL AOR - Pwllheli, Wales, 12 March 2016

Like Tyketto the night before, Dan Reed Network stole all the plaudits today for putting on a set that will be talked about for years to come at this event.

The crowd had packed themselves in tightly, obviously aware of what they were about to witness and with the atmospheric and almost spiritual Resurrect kicking things off Dan Reed – with an infectious stage presence – sparring off on his old sidekicks Brion James (guitar) and Melvin Brannon (bass).

Dan Reed Network - HARD ROCK HELL AOR - Pwllheli, Wales, 12 March 2016

The opening song set the pace for a rock/funk filled frenzy of the highest calibre with Brion James reeling off blistering solos effortlessly underneath his trademark blonde dreadlocks. Watching the rest of the set from the back of the room gave me a great view of all five members  at the top of their game and made me feel so stupid for not seeing this band before tonight.  Dan Reed Network were simply mesmerising.

Quiet Riot - HARD ROCK HELL AOR - Pwllheli, Wales, 12 March 2016

32 years ago to the week – as a fourteen year old rock fan – I went to my very first gig at Cardiff St Davids Hall: Quiet Riot on their Metal Health tour, and I have been a fan ever since.

Obviously with the sudden passing of Kevin Dubrow a few years ago, I was never going to witness the classic Quiet Riot again but this would be the next best thing.  ‘Run For Cover’ started things off before favourite of ‘Slick Black Cadilac’, with Jizzy Pearl  instantly doing justice to the songs vocally.

Original member/drummer Franki Banali displayed one of the biggest smiles of the weekend and rightly so if you have seen the hardships he faced in the recent band documentary.  Along with long time bass player Chuck Wright and Alex Grossi on guitar this seems one of the most stable line ups in years.

Quiet Riot - HARD ROCK HELL AOR - Pwllheli, Wales, 12 March 2016

With the song choices mainly taken from the albums Metal Health and Condition Critical I wasn’t expecting there to be as many fans singing along  considering QR never really broke over here but by the time of ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’ and ‘Party All Night’  most of the crowd were clapping along and singing.

‘Wild And The Young’, an MTV favourite back in the heyday, and ‘Let’s Get Crazy’ set up the finale for the somewhat shorter hour long set than what I was expecting before the two songs that QR are most associated with, ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ and ‘Metal Health (Bang Your Head)’ sent everyone into party mode, house lights turned on to illuminate a sea of clapping hands.

Tonight I felt like that 14 year old kid again who was just discovering metal music for the first time, and to relive it with Quiet Riot is something to cherish.

Once again HRH AOR was an outstanding success, the organisers have got the running of the event like clockwork, and they deliver great line ups year in year out.  It is testament to this great team that next years event was almost sold out before the Saturday evening, a year before it is due to take place and before any bands have been announced.

Review and photos by Darren Griffiths

Thursday/Friday



On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)

BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)

Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)



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