Sunday 17 March 2019

HRH AOR VII - Presthaven Sands, Prestatyn, Friday 15th March 2019

HRH VII - Presthaven Sands, Prestatyn - Friday 15th March

HRH AOR moved to a one-off temporary home at Prestatyn, prior to its new 2020 home in Great Yarmouth. Talking with friends and punters the feeling of the venue was not a great one. The main stage room being smaller, and the poor bastards who had forked out for VIP and Royalty tickets were on the side of a flat venue meaning those who wanted to sit, had to stand, and some were positioned stage right and had a lovely view of the PA!

The main stage room was smaller than Pwllheli, and I couldn’t quite work out if there was a bloke following me all day who smelt of piss, or the venue, or possibly me. Asking my colleague I received a reassuring nod that the room was the culprit. Phew

Gripes aside, the event seemed well run, better than usual. With security and staff in abundance to assist.

However, a bit of a faff getting to the right place for check-in caused us to miss the first 2 songs of EPIC. These guys deserved a shot at the main room from their debut in front of a much smaller crowd a couple of years back. Arriving to ‘Save A Little Love’, Epic were in full swing. The reception was good, and that made me good as I've been routing for these guys for a couple of years now. Tanya Rizkala announced a song that we would all know, Whitesnakes ‘Here I Go Again’, a classic rock song that would ask questions of any singer. Rizkala nailed the last Coverdale note and I knew then that they would be accepted and the resulting cheer confirmed this. Epic added Josh Williams of Midnite City and I noticed an immediate improvement from 2 yrs ago. Josh’s BVs lift Epic considerably, and having a foil like this is something that is missed when not there. Just ask Van Halen! Epic's classic rock vibe continued with a new track ‘Face The Storm’ which was a rousing power ballad, before their dirty, sexy ‘Na Na Na’. The mix of Rizkala raspy, sultry vocals fits well with hubby Mario Agostine's accomplished guitar. They finished high on another cover, this time AC/DCs Highway To Hell. Epic’s classic rock style is undoubted, but they have good enough songs and don't really need to include other bands covers. Just sayin'.

Ive been wanting to hear Gary Moat’s Burnt Out Wreck. Heavy Pettin’ were (are) a band I love so was wanting to hear their songs played live. Immediately you could hear that they were a tight band with lots of hours behind them, and ‘Medusa’ was a cracking opener. Moat has a voice that’s like a mixed up Jizzy Pearl and Bon Scott, so he’s in good company. The dual guitars of Dunn and Goodman were a welcome addition and experience obviously shows. “Swallow’ and ‘Flames’ are the cream of the set, but ‘Pulling It Out' was a bit drawn out and laborious. The final rendition of HPs ‘Rock Aint Dead’ made for a very pleasing closer.

The Radio Sun are old hands now at HRH, and this their 4th appearance on a row shows with the numbers attending. There's always a bit of fun to be had with Jase Old and you’re never sure if its all a ruse or he really has early onset Alzheimers!! Not naming a single album or song in the set. Thankfully, being a fan, I'm not left want or asking! Now five albums in they have a lot of material to draw upon, and just to make sure they could pacify everything, threw in a medley (why don’t bore bands do this when a set is limited?).  TRS guys obviously enjoy playing HRH and its why they have repeat appearances. ‘Tonight's The Night’, ‘One In A Million’, ‘Outside Looking In’ and ‘Tell Me What You Want’ stand out (along with Jasons bants), but is ‘I Might Lie’ a cover they have made their own that’s always a killer. Catch them this week with BRS and Saints of Sin for one of the best packages this side of 1987!

Vega are made for HRH, or any festival. When they have a limited set of an hour, they put together a set of songs that few others can muster, and its like being bombarded with anthems for an hour. It works. Their phasers are set to ‘stun’ and from the opening ntro of English Country Garden and a mash up of AC/DC and Joan Jett, they don’t look back. Opening with ‘Explode’ its meaning is the definition of Vega. It is further ‘boom’ moments with ‘Every Little Monster’ and ‘Stereo Messiah’. Marcus Thurston just tears the place up, and when backed with the rhythm section and all round Dolby 5 part harmonies (Need Some Love Tonight), it makes for the performance of the day. Whatever the Martin bros are putting in Nick Workman’s tea is working a treat, as his performances are just getting better and better. I had to bow out after ‘White Flag’ but even after 8 or so songs I knew that they were going to kill it.

I wanted to see V0id (now Scarlet Rebels) especially in front of what could be a decent crowd (even if they did clash a little with Vega). Whoever I've spoken to after witnessing these Welsh lads has always been mightily impressed. The new songs such as ‘Part Of Me’ and ‘the excellent ‘Heal’ are a cut above what is already a very strong set of songs. In adding Josh Townshend and Chris Jones, they have taken their performances up a few notches as the BVs and guitar work was something else. Gary Doyle batters holy hell out of his kit and brother Wayne at the front and centre is the nucleus of the band. Staples (and should be household names)  ‘Say My Name’ and ‘Not The One’ get the applause they deserve. I don’t say this lightly, but Scarlet Rebels are one of the best bands you have yet to listen to. A brilliant performance. Adderchog!

Rob was covering my fave band (probably of all time), Romeo’s Daughter. I arrived a couple of songs in, for ‘Attracted To The Animal’ and was immediately covered in my security blanket of Craig Joiners guitar, and Leigh Matty’s vocals. I've been watching these guys since nineteen eighty mumble mumble, and after what must be a couple of three dozen of gigs seeing them, they have NEVER put in an average performance. Most of the 80s bands that play HRH play it safe and stick to the early stuff. Not Romeos Daughter, whose last two albums (dare I say it) are as good as, if not better than the first two. The set is a mix of everything, from ‘Radio’, ‘Bittersweet’ and ‘Enemy’ to the stalwarts of ‘Heaven In The Back Seat’, ‘I Cry Myself To Sleep’ ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Wild Child’. In replacing Ed Poole they have discovered a gem in ‘Rhino’ Edwards (LOL) who fits with RD like a well worn glove. It was an absolute pleasure to watch this as it so very nearly may not have happened last year when Craig Joiner was seriously ill. This was simply wonderful and the highlight of my day.

Love Hate, or Jizzy Pearl’s Love/Hate to be precise, were a band to watch on the Friday. Two years ago at a much bigger Pwllheli the room was rammed and uncomfortable. Today was no different, in fact it was probably the biggest draw of the day. JPLH are as close to AOR are Slayer are to classical music, but that doesn’t stop them at all. I was never a huge fan back in the day, but watching this set from afar made me sit up and take notice. Jizzy Pearl sounds pretty much like he did in 1990 which is no mean feat. He commented that ‘Blackout..’ Is 30 next year…..! I think 30 yrs ago is 1970!! Jizzy Pearl, prances, and cajoled like he was in his 20s in 1988. Unless you had a DeLorean it was the closest thing to being at the Whisky A Go Go in 1989, only in Prestatyn. Having to queue to get in was a pisser, as I missed the first 15 mins as it was a straight ‘one out, one in’ policy. The crowd went nuts for songs like ‘Tranquilizer’, ‘Mary Jane’, and ‘Don’t Fuck With Me’. The last two were the destroyers of his career, ‘Wasted in America’ and the explosive ‘Black Out In The Red Room’. I went in as a non-believer and came out converted. It was damn good.

Toby Jepson’s Wayward Sons were up next, and the big crowd stayed. High up on the bill, I was expecting good things, and they didn’t let me down. Live, Jepson is as good as he was back in the day fronting Little Angels, full of charm, good looks and a voice that matches the one he had in his 20’s! Arriving to Johnny Cash’s ‘Fulsom Prison’ they broke into the rousing ‘Don’t Wanna Go’ and never looked back. ‘Alive’ has both feet firmly planted in the 1980s, and in Sam Wood they have a guitarist who reminds me of Scott Gorham, in that he is a cracking guitarist and plays without any flash or OTT histrionics. ‘Crush’ segues into Blondie’s ‘Union City Blues’ and new song ‘Jokes On You’ whets the appetite for album no. 2 later this year. ‘Small Talk’ is energetic before becoming ‘No More Heroes’ by The Stranglers. Little Angels ‘Young Gods’ took the excitement levels up to 11, finishing up with the excellent ‘Until The End’. They gave blood, sweat and tears over the course of an hour. I'd have added some wee to that had they played ‘Kickin’ Up Dust’!

I can’t believe that I've never ever seen UFO. My first album into them was 81’s ‘The Wild, The Willing, and The Innocent’ and contains some absolute gems. I'd read previously that songs from this album were poorly received in the past, so I wasn’t entering with high hopes. One thing UFO have above any other band is experience by the tanker load. Phil Mogg has been ever present since their inception in 1968, and incredible 51 years. No wonder he wants to retire while he still has his health at 71. Add the mercurial Paul Raymond, and Andy Parker, and you have a nucleus of one of the most iconic rock and roll bands ever formed. I was transfixed watching Phil Mogg and Paul Raymond, Mogg is a waif of a man, and still holds his mic like I first saw in Sounds in about 1979. He is a man of few words but when he does speak, its’ usually a gem of a comment. Immaculately turned out, he still has a great voice and grew into the set. UFO have so many albums and even more songs to pick a set from. As a 52 year old man I can really appreciate the need for comfortable clothing, and bassist Rob DeLuca’s crushed velvet flares looked a festival necessity for my future comfort! Raymond chose his moments for moving around the stage. And so would I, especially as a swift move could put a hip out!

It was the likes of rock classics such as ‘Lights Out’, ’Too Hot To Handle’ and the imperial ‘Rock Bottom’ that stole my heart. Biggest of all what the utterly fantastic 'Love To Love' - a monster of a tune. As a fan of 81’s ’TWTWATI’ I was as happy as could be when ‘Making Moves’ came up, a thunderous song that is built around Andy Parker's huge drum sound. I was a damp rag as this point. The encore of ’Doctor, Doctor’ and ’Shoot, Shoot’ proved that UFO only do encores with songs where the same word is repeated!! A masterful performance.

Boxes were ticked today, seeing 3 legends in one band (probably 4 with Vinnie Moore) and a lifelong song I never thought I'd ever see played live. I’d seen Michael Schenker's Temple and Fest line-ups perform most of these classics, but it was a different thing entirely seeing them performed by UFO. Considering their ages, (over 300 combined!) it was a masterful performance, one that the younger generations need to watch and learn from.

So on to Saturday…..

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