Judging by the look of some of the attendees in the Queen Vic pub this morning, the zombie theme from last night’s party could well be applied to today, albeit for more alcohol- and no sleep- related reasons. The venue was surprisingly full considering the sun was barely over the yard-arm, but then it is Liberty Lies who are opening the stage, so well worth dragging yourself out of bed for.
Once again the Black Country 5-piece had had to do this the hard way, winning a spot on the bill via the Highway To Hell competition. When you think of some of the bands playing this weekend it does seem slightly unjust that they have to go down that route when the packed pub is testament to the fact that they could easily play on the bigger stage.
Liberty Lies have improved almost beyond measure in the past year or so. It may be down to the lineup changes today they are heavier, tighter and just better, putting so much energy into every track of their all too brief set. The sincere, heartfelt emotion in Shaun Richards’ voice one new track The Difference Between Hope And Faith s something a bit special. Goodbye decent-but-fairly- average blues rock band, and a huge hello to the new look Liberty Lies. Hopefully see them on the second stage next year.
Another of the weekend’s Northern Irish contingent Sweet Taste have the unenviable task of following Liberty Lies onto the Queen Vic stage before the Gentlemen Of Distorted Sound showcase just exactly why they are one of the most hotly tipped new bands in the UK.
From the new blood, it is strictly old-school on the Acoustic stage set up in the restaurant as, for the second time in jut over 12 hours, Praying Mantis proceed to show just exactly why the classic rock fraternity should be rejoicing at their return.
Pity they have to battle against the sound checks happening on the main stage next door though, that won’t help their hangovers
So far the second day of Hard Rock Hell is more than living up to expectations, and things are just beginning.
The Second stage was the next port of call, where Brighton all-girl rockers Vier are getting things underway. But first, an apology.. The phrase all-girl band has been, and is about to be, used. It’s a statement of fact and nothing more. They are.. Right, back to the review….
Being an all girl-band will certainly get your foot in the door with at least half of the Classic Rock audience, but to hold their attention the music has to deliver. Well Vier certainly manage that, displaying bigger Rock’n'Roll balls than many of the other bands playing here.
A plan to go and check out Velvet Star on the third stage at this point is stymied by the fact that the Queen Vic is absolutely rammed, this is the busiest it has been all weekend, and shows just how popular these guys are. If they’re back next year it certainly wont be on the small stage. Still, Kobra and the Lotus on the second stage were not a bad alternative.
Anyone who was anywhere other than the second stage next is going to miss out, as the mad-as-a-box-of-frogs Obsessive Compulsive send the room everso slightly mental. Seriously, who ever said music was supposed to be this much fun…
After ObCom it’s time to head to the main stage for a long overdue appointment with CackBlabbath favorites Airrace. This is another recently(ish) reactivated band from “back in the day” who very much prove that they can still deliver. Unfortunately this is also the one insurmountable schedule clash of the weekend, as the awesome Million Dollar reload are playing on the second stage….
Yet another top-notch band to emerge from the ever-expanding Northern Irish music scene, M$R looked destined for great things before their record label Powerage folded. With a new album in the bag it’s surely only a matter of time before someone snaps them up, because on the evidence of today’s performance they just keep on getting better and better.
Right, back to the main stage now, this is going to be good…..
The announcement that Blaze, Jase and co were going to be playing HRH caused quite a bit of excitement. After far too long apart the band have gone from strength to strength since reforming, and if you need proof of that, just check out the new album.
Today Wolfsbane are absolutely on fire. Guitarist Jase stands there grinning throughout the whole set, while delivering riff after riff while Blaze does what he has always done, he gets right in the faces of the audience and, well, entertains.
Wolfsbane, like all of the other bands on this weekend, are the antithesis of the X-Factor manufactured bilge that infects the charts and squeezes the life out of the grass-roots music scene. But there is a solution, there is a way to fight back, Mr. Bayley has the solution to the subject of Simon Cowell, telling the crowd that “Every one in this room can beat him, and you can start by buying a Wolfsbane Saves The World cd”, before the band launch into, obviously, Did It For The Money.
Awesome. Set of the day.
After the highs of Wolfsbane, things did fall a little flat next on the main stage where Ginger Wildheart plays a set that is predominantly for his loyal following and not, with a couple of notable exceptions, one which clicked with the less partisan festival crowd. But then Ginger has never really gone down the greatest hits route, although telling the audience he was bored with playing live did seem to turn a few people off pretty quickly.
Today’s headliners were, nominally, Magnum who are never the most exciting of bands. Although it was impressive use of a wind machine to get Bob Catley’s hair flowing nicely and it’s always nice to see a tambourine on stage, a much underrated instrument.
Anyway, if melodic rock is your thing you should really have been at the second stage where Vega were showing how it should be done.
As this is Hard Rock Hell, the music doesn’t finish with the headline performance and there were still some great bands to look forward to. After a day of rock and metal, what better way to wind down than some epic Prog courtesy of Pallas? This is another band who have been around forever and although it is great to see the new material in the set being so well received it was when they go going back to their 1984 début for Arrive Alive and Eyes In The Night that they elicit a late night sing along from the crowd.
A quick dash back to the main stage shows that Therapy? are still in awesome form, but how could they possibly fail with a nigh-on perfect festival set list which includes a couple of more obscure tracks but more than enough songs-you-will-know to keep the crowd bouncing.
Another awesome day at Hard Rock Hell was finished off by a suitably over the top performance from veteran shock rockers Lizzy Borden who throw absolutely everything into their show. Costume changes, pyro, fire-breathing girls, what’s not to like ?
And that was that, time for a few hours sleep before getting up and doing it all again tomorrow…..