||MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
HARD ROCK HELL AOR/PROG/BLUES 2
Hafan y Mor, Pwllheli
Photos by Noel Buckley
The Hard Rock Hell format gets split into three different genres of rock to please lovers of AOR melodic rock, prog and the blues, all represented by their own stage although it's highly debatable under what genre some bands fall under and some of the big names clash with each other much to the annoyance of those who like a bit of everything.
However the name of the game was fun, friendship beer, all of which were here in abundance.
Thursday kicked off with a pre-party with notable displays from rising rockers Tax The Heat, melodic veterans United Nations and current Schenker singer Doogie White reunited with his first band, La Paz, who gave it some masterful tight hard hitting melodic clout, a winning performance of independence from the Scots.
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The AOR Stage was the most appealing on the Friday with Lawless, Newman and young guns Summers all providing plenty of future promise.
The revolving line up of local glamsters Tigertailz are like a car crash that you can't look away from yet remain amusingly entertaining and can still write a decent tune, for example new track 'One Life'.
A double whammy from Germany followed with the so-so Pink Cream 69 and the much better Bonfire reliving many great tracks from the classic 'Fireworks' album.
House Of Lords followed with pre-recorded keyboard sounds but were good enough to impress with the smooth 'I Wanna Be Loved' and the majestic 'Pleasure Palace'.
Firm favourites Tyketto won the band of the day award with a passionate showing with their anthem 'Forever Young' hitting the mark.
On her debut UK visit and still looking hot, Robin Beck was in good humour and had a songbook many would die for with gems such as 'Hide Your Heart', 'Don't Lose Any Sleep' and her 1988 number one hit 'The First Time'.
There was still plenty of fizz long into the night with Bonafide who gave an energetic bout of AC/DC blues mixed with a dash of Dr Feelgood bliss.
Curran and Dynazty entertained the masses on the main AOR stage early on the Saturday whilst over on the Blues stage a sturdy set from The Idle Hands set things up warmly for former Mama's Boys Pat McManus who packed the room out with his Celtic rock.
FM's Jim Kirkpatrick was hitting the blues with a crunch in Heavy Weather while former Europe guitarist Kee Marcello rocked the night off to a fine start.
Love/Hate were the heaviest band of the weekend in what is said to be their final bow and Coldspell had the cool looks and stylish hooks.
We progged out with the Hawklords on a carnage trip to 'Damnation Alley' and the unique ethereal sounds of the quintessentially Enid were a major highlight with the operatic voice of the dainty new singer Joe Payne taking the band onto an all time higher plain.
Fish was as charismatic as ever, as was an erratic Graham Bonnet who belted out hits from his Rainbow past including the Dio era tracks he originally performed live with the band. Threatening to get his todger out once more and not being able to resist a little dig at Mr Blackmore by saying: "I loved that band (Rainbow), I miss Ritchie Blackmore very much, maybe we'll work together one day... Anyone heard what he's doing lately? I was going to see him recently live about 15 miles from me. I heard it was a very good pub." Ouch!
Bonnet was the talking point of the night.
With beer in hand Phil Mogg led his boys in UFO to a grand finale knees up with side splitting anecdotes and a much welcomed change of set list including the Chapman era 'Makin' Moves'.
Phil Mogg, UFO
With an open cache of rock's finest moments to chose from UFO could do no wrong. The perfect way to end a great friendly festival where nobody left feeling like strangers in the night.