Day one proper of the HRH festivities found a change to the set up in the main arena following the awards ceremony. A VIP section had been placed directly in front of the main stage pushing back the main public barrier. This meant the vibe definitely changed from the previous day from one of frivolity and excitement to one of reserve and surprise. Hopefully it wouldn’t spoil things for people but it was certainly going to change things for punters and bands.
The opening ceremony saw the dancing girls return emerging from smoke and red light to swing on hoops and strut their stuff before the music kicked up and HRH began fully.
LIBERTY LIEShad performed at the awards and I was looking forward to seeing them open up the main stage, Shaun Richards voice is amazing, no two ways about it. A power-house of melody and richness which can be subtle and full of blues tones before the power pipes really do open up and floor you.
The band are tight and a pleasure to watch as they flood out the place with riffs and awesome tunes. I was impressed by the Black Country band yesterday and even more so today. One standout song for me was ‘Letters’ which saw Shaun taking to the acoustic guitar.
KILLCODE had also played the awards night so I expected a similar set which is was. The New Yorkers really know how to play to the crowd and it was such a shame that the layout with the seating area directly in front of the stage really did kill the atmosphere and engagement with the fans. A seated crowd with the main punters being so far back really did make everything flat – not sure how many people could actually see anything on the main stage live but there were two screens which allowed people to watch the action. Unfortunately, these were way out of sync from the action itself. A big shame for the bands.
Despite this the band delivered massively, all of them especially Tom Morrissey working even harder than their usual rate and you cannot fault their hard and heavy sound. Rumbling basslines and snarling guitars are the core to their sound and it works.
The very first female fronted band of the weekend TEQUILA MOCKINGBYRD with the lovely Gill Montgomery on vocals and guitar, Josie on drums, Laurie on lead guitar and guest bass player Marty Trail took the catchy tunes up a notch as they brought the party mood. The band always look like they are enjoying themselves and this did spill over to the crowd as they also sung along.
I couldn’t for the life of me remember CLOVEN HOOF. The name just conjures up the brand of spiced rum alcohol and memories of a burning throat and bad head from a few years ago. But when Cloven Hoof the band hit the stage, it all came flooding back. A wall of sound, a band who have been around since before iron Maiden were formed but whose sound is very similar splintered the wood from the floor and shook the condensation off the walls as they completely blew everyone away with their hard and heavy melodic rock.
This band know how to shake off the negativity from around the arena with the layout and get everyone bouncing. Despite being 30 feet away, the barrier was crammed with enthusiastic fans, fists in the air, heads nodding along.to songs such as ‘The Gates of Gehenma’ and ‘Crack The Whip’ with their big rhythms and soaring intricate riffs. That’s more like it! With a raft of a back catalogue to go at and George Call as their phenomenal frontman their set was always going to be good and it was.
ELECTRIC MARY were a revelation to me, Rusty and the boys had everyone on their feet and the energy from Cloven Hoof continued as they opened with Let Me Out. A song described by Rusty as a song about the opposition ‘Woman’ showed the sheer class of this Australian band of hugely talented musicians and ‘My Best Friend’ with its stunning duel guitar harmonies and blistering pace and clarity of the riffs was an outstanding track to close with.
A band with a big following here at HRH who were not left disappointed. The energy on stage and cohesiveness of their sound was a pleasure to watch and hear. ‘Sorry Baby’ is a track which is getting a lot of traffic on YouTube and rightly so now I’ve heard it played live. They Describe their sound as “Rock ‘n’ Roll the way it used to be” which is bang on. The perfect way to lead into headliners REEF
REEF Featuring Andy Taylor are always welcomed at HRH events and as the small pit was moved and the VIP’s moved against the stage, the atmosphere in the arena really did change to one of expectation and way more energy.
Beginning with ‘Stone For Your Love’, ‘Naked’ and ‘I Would Have Left You’, tonight was going to be about getting the fans involved and singing along. It worked. The hardened Reef fans loved it. Gary and Jack particularly seemed more than happy and this rubbed off especially when they performed ‘Revelation’ and ‘Place Your Hands’. Such good songs which always sound immense live.
The end of a great day of good music saw the weary heading back to their caravans to grab a few hours sleep and let their ears recover ready for Fridays frivolities which, judging by the line-up where going to be pretty damn good.
Review and photos by Lindsay Smith
Day 2 (8 November 2019)
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