Review by Alan Savill, photos by Lisa Billingham
There were some sore heads evident on day two. Denim wearing zombies looking slightly the worse for wear still managed to get to the early midday start showing just how dedicated the HRH crowd always is. I chose to go to the main stage and thoroughly enjoyed Screaming Eagles. With influences from both The Stones and The Answer these guys were relishing the job of opening on the main stage. Well-crafted songs warmed the crowd up. The winners of the national HRH competition did the organisers and themselves proud.
Meanwhile on the smaller Jagermeister stage I caught the last few songs from Jameson Raid. I was disappointed to see a band with a lot of experience and technical ability not really offering anything original. Alunah came next a female fronted band with very heavy Sabbath like riffs. Alas this overtook the singing which seemed a little weak.
The Tygers of Pan Tang however triumphed over the way. Now with a new singer the band seemed rejuvenated and played their hits from the 80’s as well as newer material from their album Ambush to a receptive crowd. The old John Sykes solos were given a new lease of life throughout giving the right mix of nostalgia and modern playing.
The fuzzed up heavy blues rock sound of Stubb was a welcome change from some very samey bands. With their obvious influences from Hendrix, Free, Sabbath and Cream they delivered a good set, which went down well.
Crucified Barbara always draws a big crowd. If you look past the four great looking leather clad girls and dissect their music you will find some great fun heavy rock harking back to the days of Joan Jett, Crue and even a little Motorhead. Throwaway good time lyrics and some excellent playing made for another well received set. These girls call themselves Sweden’s toughest female rockers and I wouldn’t challenge that. The Midnight Chase album was heavily featured and is one to purchase in the future.
This year the unplugged area had been moved from a tiny coffee shop to a less intimate area a little way away. This allowed the acoustic stage to be better amplified and attended. Mia Klose started the weekends acoustic sets off. This petite blonde, who met her band whilst at a prestigious music college in London had to battle against a power failure but bravely carried on and produced some eighties inspired rock. The crowd amounted to around 300 fans at the end of the brief twenty minute set. The amount of Mia Klose T shirts on view afterwards is a testament to how well she went down with the crowd, now slowly sobering up and anxious to party.
I watched the crowd migrate towards Kyrbgrinder from the circus acts outside and out of curiosity went to have a look. This band are destined, all going well, for big things. Led by Johanne James (voted best drummer by Classic Rock Society four times) they are a trio. The drummer sings with soul and boy does he hit hard. The drums literally fell apart stopping the flow of the set. But he handled it with professionalism and humour. With an amazing guitarist in Tommy Caris and the funk bass style of Alberto Flaibani on bass this band need to be seen. Hints of Kings X, Living Colour come to mind and that is a major compliment. The best surprise of the weekend. SEE THIS BAND
I only caught the last few songs of Enuff Z Nuff. Any band who can mash up Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball with The Proclaimers 500 Miles and get away with it are doing ok in my book. They had the expected American swagger. They had a very good clear sound and songs such as ‘The Love Train’, ‘Baby Loves You’, and ‘Jet’, a cover from Wings, ensured a good reception.
From here on in, the main stage was the place to be. Phil Campbell’s All-stars took the place of Vain who had visa issues. With Campbell being Welsh and the fact that Motorhead haven’t been seen over here for a while, he was greeted like a lost son. Starting off with Sabbath’s ‘Children of the Grave’ and then straight into ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ he had the crowd eating out his hand. A blistering ‘Iron Fist’ came next. The covers played showed off Campbell’s guitar skills, often, I feel, overlooked in Motorhead. He was enjoying himself and finished off with ‘Killed by Death’ and ‘Ace of Spades’. ‘Communication Breakdown’ was more of a case of Equipment Breakdown with Campbell’s guitar refusing to work. I felt sorry for him and his singer trying to rectify the situation as the stage hands seemed not to know what to do. This lost a little momentum at the end.
Black Star Riders were simply awesome. Gaining easily the biggest crowd of the weekend so far they came on and walked off 90 minutes later as heroes. Interspersing the old and new, starting off with ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ and then ‘Are You Ready’ they were on top of their game. With almost telepathic ease the band were the tightest I’ve seen with a feeling that having loosened themselves from the Lizzy name they were more relaxed. The biggest cheers were for the old Lizzy songs understandably. Warwick does sound like Lynott, but not in a karaoke fashion. Mendoza was his normal cool self on bass, yet Scott Gorham played out of his skin. The last six songs caused the place to erupt. ‘Emerald’, ‘Bound for Glory’ (which does sound like it is an old Lizzy song) slotting in perfectly, ‘Cowboy Song’, ‘Boys Are Back in Town’, ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ and then ‘Rosalie’. One of the highlights of the weekend by far.
Having never seen Skindred live before I was very impressed. With their fusion of metal, heavy dub reggae and punk they took the fight to BSR and nearly pulled it off. Benji Webbe sang really well and his band was so tight, rhythms reverberated around the hall getting the crowd to dance. Highlights were ‘Bruises’, ‘State of Emergency’ and ‘Pressur’e. I loved their version of Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’. This band challenged the audience to listen to something a little different and won some new fans by the encore of The Prodigy’s ‘Breathe and Warning’.
I crashed out exhausted but really happy to have witnessed so many bands at the top of their game.
See more of Lisa’s photos here;