It's finally come round once again, that time of they year where people all over wake up with smiles planted firmly on their faces in anticipation of the joy ahead of them. Catching up with family whom they see but once a year, recounting stories of years gone by and over-indulging in food, booze and general merriment. And don't think I'm talking about Christmas - that would just be stupid - I am of course talking about HARD ROCK HELL.
It was time once again for my annual trip to Wales and for days before my Facebook feed was awash with people talking about the jaunt ahead of them, with the event being moved from the beloved Pontin's in Prestatyn, further down the coast to Hafan y Môr Holiday Park in Pwllheli. It's not as easy to get to, but the extra journey was certainly worth the extra quality.
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We won't talk about the press and band accommodation 12 miles away as I never actually made it there, thanks to some friends who gave me their sofa for the weekend, but the caravans on site were a much welcome upgrade to the grotty chalets we'd become used to. However, there were big differences in quality and especially warmth according to reports. But I'm not going to dwell on that kind of stuff, let's talk about the festival itself.
Thursday isn't for general admission and reserved for DC members, VIPs, friends and family of HRH, so only one of the stages was open tonight, which at least meant no clashes and as a second stage goes it wasn't too bad. It was hosting the Gunslingers Ball, so plenty of people were dressed in wild-west outfits, and it seemed that as early as 5.00pm, when the first band got everything underway, the party was well and truly in swing.
I missed the first two bands, but got there just in time to get a drink in and find a spot to watch Toadstool, a hard rock band hailing from the Forest Of Dean. Their music is definitely inspired from the classic rock of the late seventies and they do it well. Their energy was infectious, and really helped fuel the crowd and they were the perfect way for me to get my weekend started.
The next couple of hours were spent on a futile trip to the press accommodation, so I didn't get a chance to see much of Sons Of Icarus and completely missed Persian Risk, but I did make it back in time for Hard Rock Hell veterans, Tigertailz. They should be no strangers to this festival, but they have seen so many line-up changes over the years, that there's only Jay Pepper who has played before. And with a whole new line up for 2012, it was interesting to see how they would go down. They played Tigertailz songs, but something just wasn't right and it didn't cut it for me, although 'Love Bomb Baby' did make me get up and dance.
TNT up next and I watched this show from the side of Stage 2, where there was a bar most people didn't make it too, so needless to say the drinks were flowing freely by now. To be honest I needed a stick of dynamite to sober me up enough to remember their set, but that's the beauty of Hard Rock Hell. It's as much about the good times as it is the bands and there were certainly some good times had that night. And long into the night they continued...