Gig review: HARD ROCK HELL 8 – Pwllheli, 13-14 November 2014

HARD ROCK HELL - Pwllheli, 13-14 November 2014

Simon Dunkerley writes: The time has come to rally the HRH tribe for the last time this year to yet another sold out celebration of all things rock with a lineup that has so many great names both old and new alike.

The only major change to the early announcements was WASP being replaced by Queensryche which did annoy quite a number of people but a worthy replacement nevertheless.

Also on the bill this year were a number for bands that had secured their place here at the annual event in Glasgow, Highway to Hell, where a select core of HRH fans vote at a 2 day extravaganza.  The overall winner  – The Texas Flood – are a personal favourite of mine.

HARD ROCK HELL - Pwllheli, 13-14 November 2014

Thursday 13 November – Stage 2

The Thursday fancy dress theme was Helloween, it’s a pity the band by the same name aren’t on the bill.

Earls of Mars definitely split the crowd and gave the pure metal guys something to think about.  Although classed as rock they are also a heady mix of 70′s prog and 60′s psychedelia which sees vocalist and keys player Harry Armstrong hanging off the keyboard as he wrings out the notes.

Formed back in 2012 by guitarist Dan Hardingham they have a debut album under their belt they could quite easily go down well at a Prog festival. With hints of a rockier Arthur Brown I really enjoyed them and so did the crowd.

HARD ROCK HELL - Pwllheli, 13-14 November 2014
We’ve seen Massive Wagons on a number of occasions and really like their style of balls out dirty rock; no frills just huge riffs, catchy rhythms and knockout lyrics.

Singer Baz as always tries his hardest be bend himself double as he kicks out his vocals and they dive a full on show. Most of the setlist from their album ‘Fight The System’ apart from a couple of well-chosen covers which really show the type of band they are Deep Purple – ‘Highway Star’ and ‘Down Down’ – Quo.

‘Heavy Metal Man’ is really their signature tune and it gives the huge crowd chance to chant back at them, showing them crowd that you don’t have be a stage 1 headliner to be a great rock band.  Awesome.

HARD ROCK HELL - Pwllheli, 13-14 November 2014

Time now for the theatrical shock factor, touring the ’30 years of American metal’ tour Lizzy Borden Band are out to shock, Indeed as they break into the first track ‘Master of Disguise’ vocalist Lizzy Borden comes onstage sporting a bizarrely grotesque three-faced mask and throughout the set various props are used to enhance the whole set and by the time they played ‘There Will Be Blood tonight’ Lizzy appeared with a bowl of blood and smeared it on the crowd on the barrier: a gruesome end to a great set.

Last chance to mosh out tonight and boy was it a great band, Godsized hit it hard and heavy with a sound akin to Clutch. With most of the set coming from their self-titled album ‘Godsized’ with a few from the newer album ‘Time’ the crowd lapped it up and moshed away to the early hours.

Friday 14 November

David Wilson writes: By the time we arrived Buffalo Summer were in full swing on the main stage. I have seen the band a few times this year and they have impressed on each occasion.

Musically the guys’ brand of Southern rock is a fairly tried and tested formula but Buffalo Summer stamp their own identity on it. Andrew Hunt has a strong, soulful voice which suits the music well whilst bass player Darren King provides a focal point stage right as he bounces his way through the set.

The band’s allotted slot was rounded off in fine style with ‘Down To The River’ and ‘Into Your Head’ which was quite apt as that’s where the two songs buried themselves for the rest of the night, a job well done.

The Mercy House on the second stage put on an energetic if uninspiring show including bassist Mick sacrificing his guitar at the end of the set; not sure if he regretted that move come Saturday morning!

The guys’ last number was entitled ‘With A Kiss’ and contains the refrain ‘Fuck Off’ in the chorus which was along the lines of what I was thinking by that point.

One band that never fails to entertain are Y&T … the band were tighter than Scrooge during the month of December.

Power blues trio The Brew drew quite a crowd back in the main hall who they gradually won over with a strong set. Coming across like a modern day Cream they put their 50 minutes to good use.

As the set progressed, the crowd increased as did the appreciation for the band. I was less convinced by the performance however as I felt the guys were trying a bit too hard and that they were just rehashing old blues rock tunes, in other words I felt as if I had heard it all before. I was in the minority though and they band left the stage to a rousing cheer from the now healthy crowd.

Western Sand were rocking the second stage as we switched once more. The guys play a fairly straight forward heavy rock which was refreshing to hear after a diet of southern blues. Sounding a bit like Nickelback at times Western Sand kept the crowd happy with entertaining hard rock, what’s not to like. The band have just been announced as support on the Michael Schenker tour in December, they should go down a storm on that bill.

One band that never fails to entertain are Y&T and tonight their polished performance was one of the sets of the weekend. Opening with ‘Hurricane’ the band were tighter than Scrooge during the month of December. Dave Meniketti was in good voice, standing centre stage with his familiar Les Paul he plays the ageing rock star role to a T.

The setlist was littered with Y&T classics including ‘Black Tiger’, ‘Mean Streak’ and ‘Midnight In Tokyo’ which went down a storm with the capacity crowd.

Meniketti mentioned that 2014 marked the band’s 40th year which is quite a career but when the guys can still deliver the goods with this level of polish it’s no surprise that they still command the crowds when playing live.

‘Rescue Me’ and the epic ‘I Believe In You’ rounded off the set, I think ‘Summertime Girls’ should have been in there as well but the band ran out of time which was a shame. No matter though as Y&T had played a blinder and no one was left disappointed or feeling short changed.

HARD ROCK HELL - Pwllheli, 13-14 November 2014

On the second stage again, Swedish rockers Horisont like their rock in the classic mould and reminded me of UFO and Thin Lizzy with some great dual guitar work from Tom and Charles. Frontman Axel took a couple of songs to warm up but once up to speed he proved to be up to the task. Another entertaining set then from a band taking their cues from the past but bringing the sound bang up to date.

Krokus were up next on the main stage and are a band I know little about and after witnessing part of the band’s set tonight I am happy to keep things that way. The band were never huge back in the day and although they do have a few good tunes and play well they just weren’t that great to be honest, perhaps it was partly as they were following a great set from Y&T that they came across as second rate. Still they did attract a large crowd and they were entertaining so I suppose they filled the brief, not for me though.

Tonight’s headliners should have been WASP but the band pulled out at the eleventh hour and were replaced by Queensryche which met with mixed reactions. I have never been a huge fan but I went across to catch the set anyway, however the queue trying to get into the main hall was at gridlock and we were left standing in the rain, I took that as an omen and decided to call it a night as there was still another day of rocking to come.

Reporting: Simon Dunkerley and David Wilson
Photos: Simon Dunkerley

HRH8, 15 November (Day 3 and Gallery)
Overview (HRH8, 15 November)
Band review (The Texas Flood, HRH8, 14 November)
Band review (Vardis, HRH8, 15 November)

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