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Hafan y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli
Thursday 13th November 2014

Johnny Main

johnny main

hard rock hell

The three day music festival that is Hard Rock Hell was once again held at its base outside the Welsh town of Pwllheli, at the Hafan y Môr Holiday Park.

The park has been home to Hard Rock Hell since 2011 and has a range of different accommodation choices from static caravans, to two and three bedroom apartments. Onsite facilities at the park include two spacious venues housing each stage as well as numerous bars, a restaurant, numerous supermarkets, a fish and chip shop and burger joint so nothing is ever too far away and it suits the needs of the HRH audience well.

This year's event theme is Helloween, which had been sold out for several months prior to the actual event, and it kicked off in fine style on Thursday 13th November. The opening ceremony had a trio of girls who demonstrated their fire dancing and angle grinding skills (basically using a metal plate on the arm while operating an angle grinders to create eclectic sparks) before HRH Festival organiser, Jonni Davis, took to the stage for the official welcome.

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Davis said that he welcomed everyone to the eighth cycle of HRH adding that the venue had no restrictions on noise and no bar restrictions either, so everyone could have as much fun as they could. Judging by the reception he got as he left the stage, it's safe to say that everyone was looking forward to a weekend with top quality bands, and no-one went home disappointed.

Hellion Rising

The first band I caught were Hellion Rising from Newcastle Upon Tyne. 'Heavy With A Groove' had vocalist Matt Adamson hanging off the microphone during the extended instrumental before he let out a blood curdling scream at the end which shows how well he fills in the role of front man.

'Goat Charmer', for which the band have recently shot a video for as Adamson told the crowd, went down well with the audience too. Guitarist Giovanni Camillo and bass player Kieran Cant seemed to be having the time of their lives as they jumped up and down to the delight of those wedged against the crowd barrier. It didn't take long for Adamson to encourage the audience to get their hands in the air before Camillo took centre stage which gets a great reaction from the crowd.

hard rock hell

New track 'Bastardisation' is a slower paced number compared to some of the bands other songs, but it still got a warm reception from the audience. As the band's short set came to a close, though, Adamson announced which caravan they were staying at and that's where the post-gig party was to be held, so you just hope that he didn't give out the wrong caravan number!

The song itself, 'Just For Tonight', has Camillo getting the audience involved with some hand waving before the twin guitar sound of his and Davey Reay melt together as the track picks its tempo up in a final flourish for the band before they leave the stage to thunderous applause. It's a great end to a solid set from the band and you can't help but think that the band will undoubtedly be asked to return next year judging by the audience's reaction.

Hellion Rising Set List:
Heavy With A Groove
1940 Scream
The Beas
Bereavement Of The Chimes
Goat Charmer
Just For Tonight

hard rock hell

Hellion Rising are:
Matt Adamson - Vocals
Davey Reay - Guitars
Giovanni Camillo - Guitars
Kieran Cant - Bass Guitar
Adam Telford - Drums

Hellion Rising Online:

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Feral Sun

London based Feral Sun are a band that I hadn't caught before but I'm glad that I managed to see their set.

'Alone' is a slow paced number with some lyrical guitar from front man Mick Burns before the lead guitar of Marco Lo Coco adds to the sound. Lo Coco really keeps himself to himself at the back of the stage, but this doesn't really affect the performance as the song is a good, entertaining track.

This was the band's first time at HRH, but there were no sign of nerves as they worked their way through their set. Drummer Jay Stephenson built up the intro to 'Evacuate' before the groove settled down. It does have a good sound to it, but the rhythm guitar track from Burns seems slightly at odds with the drum beat giving it a peculiar sound during the quieter mid section whilst the heavier louder bits gel the band together much better.

hard rock hell

Burns makes sure he mentions the band's upcoming tour supporting Skindred before they continue on with 'People Are Dying' which is a much slower number giving him a chance to show off his vocal skills before Lo Coco steps up again with a fast and intricate solo before Stephenson brings the track to a well rehearsed stop.

'Take This Away' picks up the pace slightly as Burns puts on his angriest vocal performance while Stephenson pounds away so hard on the drums that I'm sure even those at the back of the hall could feel the drum beat in the pit of their stomach. The band wind up their set with 'Breakout' which sees them rocking out one last time.

For the first time seeing the band, there's a lot to like about them and if you have a Skindred ticket already, it's worth turning up a bit earlier to see these guys in action.

Feral Sun Set List:
Find A Way
One More Day
People Are Dying
Into Pieces
Long Road
Take This Away

hard rock hell

Feral Sons are:
Mick Burns - Vocals/Guitar
Marco Lo Coco - Lead Guitar
Alex Nikitin - Bass Guitar
Jay Stephenson - Drums

Feral Sun Online:

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Massive Wagons

Before Massive Wagons even hit the stage, a chant of "Wagons Wagons Wagons" filled the air and, as the band finally walk on stage, they are greeted with a huge ovation.

Kicking off their sixty minute set with 'Rising Tide', the band are as animated as the crowd from the get go. Vocalist Baz Mills head bangs furiously as guitarist, Adam Thistlethwaite takes centre stage with his solo grinning from ear to ear as he acknowledges most of the front row with either a nod of the head or a wink.

'Truth' has the beer glasses in the audience raised in salute as Mills stands beside guitarist Carl Cochrane as they head bang in unison while Thistlethwaite pulls out another incredible solo. In breaks between songs, the "Wagons Wagons" chant goes up again before Mills introduces 'Buck' from their debut album, 'Fire It Up'. A slower paced number, it still manages to get the audience waving their hands in the air without being prompted, to the delight of the band. Bass player Adam Bouskill really comes into his own here with some solid playing and great backing vocals.

hard rock hell

It wouldn't be a Massive Wagons set without the addition of 'Heavy Metal Man' which is dedicated to the late Ronnie James Dio and has the headbangers out in force all over the venue. The audience are surprised and delighted by the addition of a rollicking cover of Deep Purples' 'Highway Star'. It's always dangerous to cover an all time classic track, but Massive Wagons nailed it tonight with Thistlethwaite covering himself in all sorts of glory with an absolutely faultless solo.

The band debut a new song, 'Jodie' which is a great bluesy number giving the band a well deserved break after the intensity of their performance up to that point, but that's not to say that this song is a slouch because it still rattles along at a fair pace. The band's latest single, 'Red Dress', brings their set towards its conclusion and I can't think of a better way to end as the band give everything one more time as the audience have their fists thrust skywards.

It's just classic British rock and roll and a great way to end their set except that the band manage to squeeze in one more number – a barn storming cover of Status Quos' 'Down Down' that had everyone singing and head banging along and bringing the final curtain down on a great performance.

This band will go far, so expect to see a lot more of them in 2015 and beyond.

Massive Wagons Set List:
Rising Tides
Dirty Little Secrets
Heavy Metal Man
Black Witch
Highway Star
Fight The System
Look Around
Red Dress
Down Down

hard rock hell

Massive Wagons are:
Baz Mills – Vocals
Adam Thistlethwaite – Guitar
Carl Cochrane – Guitar
Adam Bouskill – Bass Guitar
Alex Thistlethwaite – Drums

Massive Wagons Online:

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Lizzy Borden

With no introduction the band wander onstage and strike up with 'Master Of Disguise' with vocalist Lizzy Borden adorned in a Halloween mask through which he sings the first couple of numbers.

As the set continues, Borden brandishes a baseball bat in the crowd's direction whilst bass player Marten Andersson poses on the left hand side of the stage before guitarist Ira Black takes centre stage with his fast but slightly scrappy solo as Borden's mask finally comes off as he grimaces at the audience.

The crowd are enthused with some chanting as drummer Joey Scott counts in to 'Notorious'. It's a fast paced number that has Black and Andersson swapping sides of the stage before Black's guitar solo, which is unfortunately lost in the mix. Scott stands atop his drum kit enthusing the audience between numbers again and it's clear that the band have a big following judging by the noise the audience were making.

hard rock hell

This band still do theatrics and they do them very well, whilst each member of the band takes their turn to have a solo spot with Black coming off best with his blistering guitar solos during several numbers. Andersson manages an entertaining bass guitar solo too when it's his turn in the spotlight before a cover of Rainbow's 'Long Live Rock N' Roll' has the crowd cheering and singing along once again. Looking at some of the audience during the latter song, I suspect there were some sore necks the next day!

The slightly slower 'Under Your Skin' still has the audience with their hands in the air as Black toys them at the end with some chords from the classic 'Whiskey In The Jar'. "Do you want blood?" asks Borden before he announces 'There Will Be Blood Tonight' as the song bursts into life as the band are bathed in the glow of red lights (what else?). Black takes centre stage for his showcase solo whilst Borden takes the time to press the flesh with some of those down the front.

Scott kicks off final number 'Me Against The World' and it has those down the front punching the air during the chorus as Borden commandingly paces up and down the stage as he encourages one last piece of audience participation before the band leave the stage for the final time.

Having never seen the band before, it was a delight to finally catch the band live and it was a great way to spend my first day in the world of Hard Rock Hell VIII.

hard rock hell

Lizzy Borden are:
Lizzy Borden - Vocals
Ira Black - Guitars
Marten Andersson - Bass Guitar
Joey Scott - Drums

Lizzy Borden Online:

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