A holiday camp, in Wales, in December, i must be mad.
I’m not the only one though, as 4000 rock fans descend on Pontins in Prestatyn for the 4th annual Hard Rock Hell festival. 60 bands, over 3 stages, over 3 days.
Thursday kicks it all off with a fancy dress party based on this years theme, which was Pirates.
Highlight’s where the Virgin Marys, 9xDead, and the ever popular Tigertailz, we where then treated to Attica Rage, who performed a covers set with a surprise singer !, Jonni Davis, the power behind HRH, got up on stage and sang a medley of Ronnie james Dio tracks in memory of one of rock’s greatest vocalist. Krusher the legendary Kerrang writer and dj closed the night in his usual wacky style, then it was all back to the on-site chalet’s for more beer and partying until the early hours.
Friday for me kicked off at midday on the 3rd stage, all the bands playing where finalist’s from the Hard Rock Hell’s search for a band competition, which had its final in Glasgow back in October. However the curse of the weather which had already caused a couple of bands to cancel, struck again, as the opening act, The Black Lights where still stuck in snow. All the remaining acts played a blinder though, with 15xDead being the stand out act.
A quick trip to the bar, again, and then decision time, stage 2 or the main stage 1, stage 2 held delights such as Enforcer, Evil Scarecrow, Fury on, Raising sand, Kobra and the Lotus, and Hardcore Superstar, who where playing against stage 1 headliners Airbourne, decisions, decisions.
Stage 1 it was then, as i convinced myself i can see the stage 2 bands next time they tour. Stage 1 kicked of with Diamond Head, who’s signature song “Am i evil” is an all time rock classic.
FM, the melodic masters quickly followed, a few tracks from their latest release, and then the crowd favourites including” That Girl” and a sing a long version of “ i heard it through the grapvine”.
UFO, a band i have never seen in all my years of reviewing gig’s took to the stage next to thunderous applause, a quick run through of their back catalogue, and it was over to soon, another old school band “Uriah Heep” followed with a blinding set, and then that was it, next up where the headlining band, Airbourne.
If you have never seen Airbourne live, then you are missing something special, i was due to take some pictures from the raised vip seating area, but in the end, i put the camera down and joined everybody else in shouting, cheering, clapping, and dancing along to every song, even the promoter, Jonni Davis left the side of stage area and joined us, all thoughts of leaving half way through to catch Hardcore Superstar quickly disappeared as Joel O'Keeffe did a walkthrough of the crowd while playing his solo, which he continued while climbing the lighting rig, magic.
Skid row where on next, and even though Seb Bach is no longer the singer, they managed to pull it off, with a crowd pleasing version of 18 and life, Fatal smile closed the night at around 2am, but by that time i had gone over to stage 2 to watch Pythia who where staying in a chalet 3 doors away.
I should have gone back to the chalet myself then, but suddenly found myself in a chalet with the lads from 9xdead drinking until the sun came up.
Saturday kicked off at midday with a cracking set from Manchester rockss favourite Marseille, i saw Nigel a few times that day and he was just grinning from ear to ear.Then straight to stage 3 to catch the young band headrush who I caught up with after their energetic performance(review and interview to follow).A 3 hour glam rock fest then followed, with performance’s from Pretty Boy Floyd, Enuff z Nuff and a storming performance from LA Guns who played all their hiits and finished with the old Love and Hate classic, Black out in the red room.The only downside was Lizzy Borden who where due to play next where still stuck at customs after travelling for 18 hours from Belgium. A little rearrangement of slot times meant Elysion played next, with the Lizzy Bordon slot pushed back, in case they made it.
Another quick drink and off we went to stage 1, Attica Rage had already played and Paul D’annio was already halfway through his set by the time i got there. Saturdays headliners where Helloween, and i had no problems getting to within twenty foot of the stage, another storming set finishing with Futureworld, then an encore of the classic Dr Stein. I had barely time to get another drink before one of my hero’s Michael Schenker took to the stage, he seems to have finally put his drink problems behind him, he looked good, he played even better, opening up with Cry for the nations and Armed and Ready seemed a brave move, as the last time i saw him, he played that as an encore. However i needn’t have worried, as the set was drawing to as close, the opening bars to” Lights out” brought the house down, followed by another UFO classic “ Rock Bottom”, Michael may have indeed been rock bottom, but not anymore, he’s on fine form.
Saxon took to the stage later, but as i’d seem them five times in the last three years, i went to see what was happening on stage 2 and found a tasty treat.
Lizzy Borden had finally turned up, but where not allowed to play due to work permit issue’s, so instead an exceedingly drunk Virgin Marys took to the stage in front of about 20 people, i have no idea what the frontman, Ally Dickaty was saying, but when they started to play, they where on the ball. within 20 minutes the whole of stage 2 was packed out, a brilliant end to a brilliant weekend of pure rock n roll.
Same time next year then.