Live Review : Shane Bradley
Photo Credit Shane Bradley (Facebook)
So as the weekend draws closer and the excitement begins to build, because its that time of year again, that’s right Hard Rock Hell AOR is finally upon us.
For those that do not know HRH AOR is a rock festival covering 3 days and a plethora of top rock/metal/sleaze bands and even room for some newbies. It is held on a summer camp site believe it or not and yes, Hafan Y Mor could be more suited to family trips with face painting and summer games at the top of the to do list, so as this was my first time I was initially sceptical about what to expect and what the experience might be like. I was also a little intrigued into how they could turn this massive holiday park into a rock arena, with all that said and the excitement building it was baggage check and let the road trip begin.
Thurs Day 1, whilst officially known as the AOR pre-party, a kind of rock show before the rock show, with the majority starting to arrive that day and the bands starting mid afternoon it was going to be pretty hectic. Upon arrival you were greeted with a smiling security guard who was more than pleasant as he ushered you in the right direction before proceeding to wish you a great weekend. As you moved toward the main reception area you could not only see but also sense the anticipation from the gathering crowds as they prepared for the weekend to come.
The area was split into 3 venues the Boardwalk, which was home to The Sleaze/Doom shared stage, The Cove which had the AOR stage and down the road and over the bridge next to the aptly named Mash And Barrel, was the Hammerfest stage.
First up was one of the bands of the weekend that were new to me, Scottish rock outfit The Toi well I have to say where have I been? These guys rocked. From the first riff it was evident these guys were here to make a statement and they did just that with their very own style and charisma a cracking start and a promise of things to come.
Next up was Swansea based rockers Beautiful Strangers. The ever increasing crowd were treated to a mix of The Treatment and a splash of Thin Lizzy, bluesy sleaze rock at its best and the boys looked like they were having fun and it showed with their crisp delivery and punchy style.
As you can probably imagine catching all the acts at these festivals is a bit of a impossibility with all the people to meet arrangements to make and a little time for refreshments so the next act up and one I had been looking forward to on opening day were headliners The Quireboys. Well, when it comes to putting on a show, Spike and The Quireboys certainly know how to do it with style. Spike appeared donned in white suit and compulsory bandanna and explained, ‘I’ve just come from a wedding’ and (a little tongue in cheek) ‘No, I haven’t been drinking, it’s coke only to explain a little later its actually diet coke (do any of us actually believe that) as we rocked through the hits ‘There she goes again’, ‘Misled’, ‘Too much of a good thing’. By the time we got to ‘This Is Rock And Roll’ the place was jumping. Spike and the boys were in top form milking the crowd and there was still much more to come the hits kept coming; ‘Tramps And Thieves’, ‘Hey You’, ‘Sweet Mary Ann’. By the time it was ‘7 o’clock’ it was actually midnight and still time for an encore which included ‘I don’t love you anymore’ and finished up with ‘Don’t bite the hand’. A superb set from Thurs headliners The Quireboys.
Now normally when the headliners are through its head for the doors its bedtime but today was slightly different as we had more acts on which included Veronica ‘The V’ Freeman a kind of aftershow to the preshow ,those not familiar with ‘The V‘ she is vocalist for American metalers Benedictum and is also married to former Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson with her debut solo album ‘Now Or Never being released since July.
Lastly, as we were heading into the small hours much of the crowd had dispersed after the headliners The Quireboys but those that stayed were treated to some sleazy ballsy rock ‘The V‘ being a cross between 80’s rock divas Taylor Dayne and Lee Aaron. The songs came thick and fast and were helped on by Nigel Bailey (Lifeline, Bailey, Three Lions) on bass and backing vocals but by the time we were treated to the cover of Sabbath’s ‘Heaven and Hell’, the crowd had somewhat diminished as they all headed toward the cold night air to prepare for another day of metal mayhem that awaits them in just a few hours time.