Gig review: HARD ROCK HELL AOR – Pwllheli, 21-22 March 2014

Bonafide - Hard Rock Hell AOR, 21 March 2014

Friday 21 March

Hailing from Stoke on Trent, I was eager to see how Lawless were to be received by the HRH family, playing live on the Friday as part of their Mad March Tour, which already had seen a show at the Legends of Rock Festival in Gt. Yarmouth and an awesome warm up show at the Sugarmill in Stoke.

Having recently released their stunning debut CD ‘Rock Savage’, Lawless, if you didn’t know, have somewhat of a pedigree, with members Paul Hume and Neil Ogden of legends Demon, Howie G from Persian Risk and Tabbie from HeadrusH, there is no mistaking, that these guys know just how to rock!

Producing catchy melodies, crunchy guitar and bass, classy hooks along with audience participation for songs like ‘Step In’, and the more traditional, ‘Metal Time’ and ‘Heavy Metal Heaven’ they blew out all the cobwebs from the partying the night before!! Despite their early slot on the bill the slowly growing crowd witnessed a fantastic set. If Lawless are on in a town near you, go check them out! A great band, not to be missed!

Newman, if I may say, sits firmly in my ‘should be much bigger than what they are’ category, consistently over achieving at every live performance and never leaving any disappointments.

I feel this was the best set I have seen from them, mixing old and new tracks from the newest CD ‘Siren’.  A fantastic UK band who, I feel, gained many new fans from their performance.

I had been waiting a long time to finally see Summers play live, and I can say they were most definitely worth the wait; I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Think 80s stadium rock with a new fresh, energetic and catchy modern edge.

Hailing from the south coast of England, they rolled into HRH on Friday as part of the Tyketto – 25 years Forever Young tour with Bonfire, superb sound and stage show, catchy melodic tracks with perfect harmonies, had everyone’s attention in an instant.

Tigertailz - Hard Rock Hell AOR, 21 March 2014

There was something of an expectant buzz going round the main room before Tigertailz came onstage, the room yet again filled nicely for their mid afternoon set. Welsh Sleaze rockers, veterans of the UK scene, still hold a hardcore and crazy fan base who adore seeing the boys play live.

Fronted by Jules Mills (White Widdow) with Jay Pepper still ruling the shredding department, Rob Wylde on Bass and Matt Blakout on Drums, this line up is tighter than a dolphin’s butt and slams out tunes from across the catalogue, with a great reception on the new tracks from ‘Knives’

They whipped the crowd into a mid-afternoon frenzy, finishing with the classic  ‘Love Bomb Baby’ always a crowd pleaser.

Sadly, due to illness in the Chasing Violet camp, they were unable to play their show, however, fear not, they were they replaced within 8 hours of showtime by heroes in the form of UK band Bad Touch.  Definitely a band to watch your local venues for and kudos for the very late step in lads!!

A decent crowd were now in attendance for the German Pink Cream 69.  Crunchy guitar riffs and catchy hooks, blasting through tracks with their powerful sound, the hugely talented David Readman vocally excelling himself, they certainly delivered a solid set of both old and new tracks.

The crowd were in my opinion a little quiet at times, however I had to remind myself that not everyone else had seen them play before, judging by the amount of merchandise sported after the show, they certainly made some new fans!!

I know that Bonfire need little introduction into the general rock crowd, having been treading the boards since the early 80s and here as part of the Tyketto – 25 Years Forever Young tour, ongoing in the UK, stopping off for the Friday for the HRH show.

With a large expectant crowd now filling the main room, the Bonfire boys, blew out a truly stonking set, which didn’t disappoint. A real treat for all, tracks including ‘Sweet Obsession’, ‘Bang Down The Door’ and ‘American Nights’ leaving everyone wanting a longer set from the German rockers.

House Of Lords - Hard Rock Hell AOR, 21 March 2014

Like a number of other bands, House Of Lords stopped off at HRH as part of a European tour promoting the ‘Precious Metal’ album and were primed to deliver an excellent set, despite several technical glitches.

James Christian’s vocals perfectly complemented by guitarist Jimi Bell, Chris McCarvill bringing up the power on bass and all held perfectly together with BJ Zampa on drums.

I think I can safely say, without getting shot down, Tyketto should have been the headliner for the Friday. An absolutely phenomenal show, appearing as part of their 25 Years Forever Young Tour, the boys came in, rocked out and blew the roof off the place!

This was a fully loaded – all you can eat set, where we were treated to all the Tyketto classic tracks as well as a few new songs, which fit well into the mix.

Danny Vaughn, Michael Clayton and Jimi Kennedy joined on this tour by Ged Rylands (Ten) for some additional keyboards, and standing in for Brooke St James was top UK guitar shredder Chris Green of Rubicon Cross/Furyon/Pride.

Bonafide - Hard Rock Hell AOR, 21 March 2014

I returned to the main room to welcome the final band for the day, Swedish rockers Bonafide to the stage.  A blistering set, beer flowed, dancing ensued, solid rock riffs and catchy hooks, boy these guys know how to party.

I was impressed with vocalist Pontus Snibb, and his ability to still be note perfect and rocking out at this time, having played an earlier set on the blues stage himself.

The set itself seemed over very quickly as we partied along with tracks like ‘Can’t Get Through’, ending with a roof raising crowd participation for ‘Fill Your Head With Rock’, something of an anthem for the Bonafide boys, a truly awesome set and rounding out a fantastic day of top quality bands.  All that was left to do now was to stagger back and find the caravan…

Saturday 22 March

Hailing from St. Petersburg in Russia Reds’ Cool are a hard rock blend – with essence of Gotthard, Pretty Maids and Shakra – these guys kicked out a fantastic set immediately commanding attention of everyone, myself included in the room.

Playing tracks from their CD ‘Bad Story’ they have been treading the boards on the Euro tour with UFO and getting a very positive response, and I can definitely see why! Judging by the small stampede to the Merch area, these guys sold a lot of CDs after their show.

I had been looking forward to seeing Swedish Rockers Dynazty, since I heard their debut CD.

Playing tracks from all four albums gave a great idea of how the band had progressed over time, and it was good to hear some of the earlier tracks like ‘Sail Away’ and ‘Throne of China’, although I think people were waiting to hear tracks from CD ‘Sultans of Sin’ which has been a massively popular release and really broke them to a wider audience in 2012.

The new CD ‘Retanus’ has recently been released, a slightly different, heavier, more progressive path for the band, we were treated to two tracks from this latest release.

A stunning band live, very tight onstage, it certainly came across that they were very happy to be playing on the festival, shame they were not higher in the running order.  My only slight gripe (not band related) was the soundman, not giving the best sound possible from his desk for the beginning of the show, although rectified by mid-set.

Next up, making the trip from Glasgow were Scottish rockers Logan.  They have a predominantly melodic rock based sound, with catchy riffs and in some places quite a chunky undertow.

One thing that struck me immediately was they had a rather large contingent of Scottish rockers who had made the effort to come out to support them too, which I found heartening.  I actually really enjoyed their set and look forward to hearing a new CD release from them later in the year.

As a big Europe fan back in the day as a young teen, I was eager to see how Kee Marcello had progressed since he left Europe. I have heard his solo releases over the years; I did wonder how this came across live at HRH.

There was a fairly sizeable crowd present to witness Kee’s set and I was a little surprised at the slightly muted response from the crowd.  He covered all aspects of his solo career to date which, as you may expect, included a few popular Europe tracks for good measure. There was also a guest appearance from Vinny Burns.

Judging by the massive influx of fans (almost reaching stampede level) Love Hate were one of the bands everyone wanted to see at HRH.  Jizzy Pearl and the boys never failed at delivering a high energy performance and a truly blistering set to an expectant and hungry crowd.

A great mix of songs from across the Love/Hate discography had the crowd going wild, singing and bouncing along, at many points of the show. A totally flawless performance, fuelled by a very interactive crowd, made this one of the shows of the weekend for me.  A slightly longer set was played, however it seemed to be over very quickly!

Coldspell - Hard Rock Hell AOR, 21 March 2014

Despite the crowd thinning out a little after Love/Hate left the stage, there were still a large number of people here to see the eagerly awaited appearance of Swedish 5 piece melodic rockers ColdSpell.

Personally, I was looking forward to seeing these guys more than any other band of the weekend, having missed a single UK appearance a few years back and this was the first time they had been back to UK soil for some time.

Having released their third CD ‘Frozen Paradise’ in September 2013, HRH is the first show for ColdSpell as part of a week long UK tour with Lawless. They delivered a tight set of catchy, riff-laden melodic tracks, delivered  with a clean crisp sound, bringing full scale atmosphere with keyboards throughout the set.

ColdSpell have developed a strong and fast-growing following here in the UK; many who had never seen them before remarked on their pleasure in seeing them live at the festival and I’m sure some made the additional gigs after HRH.

UFO - Hard Rock Hell AOR, 21 March 2014

Who better to close the proceedings than veteran rockers UFO.  They have always struck me as one of those bands whose reputation for delivering a first class show precedes them. Having been on the circuit for 40 years they know how to deliver a perfect set and I was struck with just how easily they flowed from song to song and how effortlessly it was delivered perfectly to the waiting crowd.

Although stage times were running behind at this point there was no rush or urgency for the show to finish by the organisers and UFO did please the crowd no end with a great mix of old and new tracks, finishing of course with ‘Rock Bottom’, encored with ‘Doctor, Doctor’ and ‘Shoot Shoot’.

Review by Sharon Cooke
Photos by Simon Dunkerley

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