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  HARD ROCK HELL VIII DAY TWO: WITH SANTA CRUZ INTERVIEW
Hafan y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli
Friday 14th November 2014


Johnny Main

johnny main



hard rock hell

Texas Flood

Day two started with an early lunch at the Mash & Barrel before heading down to the main stage to see the first act of the day, Texas Flood, who were awarded the prize of opening the main stage as part of their prize for winning the 2014 Highway To Hell competition, an overview of which can be read here.

'A Little More Time' has the audience down the front dancing away as does 'Rock n' Roll Queen' as drummer Tom Williams and bass player Ben Govier set up the rhythm before front man Tom Sawyer throws his guitar into the mix.

Govier makes the most of the large stage as he paced up and down head banging furiously while Williams holds his own during the mid section as he pounds out the solid beat.

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'Gambling Man' is a solid slab of rock and has Sawyer and Govier engaging in some onstage banter. There's no hanging about wasting time during songs as they continue straight into 'Honey' which had Sawyer and Govier at close quarters during the intro before they break off to their respective microphones.

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Williams sets off the intro to 'Let The Wind Blow' as Sawyer advises the packed audience that a bit of participation will be required shortly which is given a loud cheer from the audience before they join in with some backing vocals.

The band's set closes with 'Bulletproof' and 'Worth The Whiskey' and have the band giving it everything one more time especially on the latter song where Sawyer plays the guitar solo like his life depended on it.

A quick thank you to the audience from Sawyer before he departs the stage and judging by the reception, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have been paying for many drinks.

Texas Flood Set List:
Cards
A Little More (Frog Song)
Rock N' Roll Queen
Gambling Man
Honey
Long Time
Let The Wind Blow
Bulletproof
Worth The Whiskey

Texas Flood are:
Tom Sawyer - Guitar/Vocals
Ben Govier - Bass Guitar
Tom Williams - Drums

Texas Flood Online:
http://www.thetexasflood.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Texas-Flood/131451313547553

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Santa Cruz

Having only seen Santa Cruz on a small-scale stage is Glasgow, I was looking forward to see how they performed on a bigger stage, and I have to say that they're better on a bigger stage!

As the dry ice wafted through the darkness towards the stage, Santa Cruz hit the stage to a glorious response from the audience and for the next fifty minutes they showed the very best of what they have to offer.

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'Relentless Renegades' had bass player Mitja 'Middy' Toivonen launches himself off the drum riser while front man Arttu 'Archie' Kuosmanen and guitarist Joonas 'Johnny' Parkkonen ramp up the riffs at the front of the stage. The band's only real problem was during 'Anthem For The Young N' Restless' which had the vocals being slightly overpowering, but the soundman is quickly on the job and brings the guitars up in the mix. Apart from that it was a flawless set from the Finnish four piece.

The band treated us to a rousing rendition of their new single 'Wasted N' Wounded' which has a solid beat from drummer Tapani "Taz" Fagerström whilst Parkkonen pulls out some phased guitar work which works really well as the vocals from Kuosmanen cut in. With an easy to remember chorus is not long before the audience are happily singing along ensuring this song will be remain in their set for some time to come.

A brand new song in the shape of 'Velvet Rope' is next up. Taken from the band's forthcoming album, which is due out sometime in 2015, it may have been unfamiliar to the audience but they don't let facts like that get in the way of them having a good time! It's a great song, though, and if this is an indication of the material on album number two, then it's bound to be a winner for the band. There's a bit of fun during the guitar solo as Kuosmanen and Parkkonen take turns trying to outdo each other, much to the delight of those fans down the front.

We were also treated to the live debut of 'Remedy' (another brand new song) which has Fagerström punching out a solid beat whilst Toivonen and Parkkonen shout the chorus in a bid to get the audience joining in, in what turns out to be a successful exercise.

'Nothing Compares to You' has Kuosmanen playing the intricate solo on his own with centre stage all to himself before Fagerström lays down the beat which gets the crowd clapping along. It's a slower paced number is certainly shows a different side to the band although Kuosmanen takes the chance to jump off stage to get up close and personal with the front row of the audience.

The band race through the title track of their debut album, 'Screaming For Adrenaline' and 'Let Me (Lay My Love On You)' before and ending on a high with 'Aiming High' bringing the curtain down on a great set from a fun band, and judging by the noise from the audience, it's been another success for the band.

With the new album ready to go, it looks like the band's next UK tour will see them playing to bigger crowds and I, for one, wish them every success.

You can see MetalTalk's Aggy G Chatting with Santa Cruz straight after they came off stage into The MetalTalk Lounge!



Santa Cruz Set List:
Relentless Renegades
Anthem for the Young N' Restless
Wasted N' Wounded
Velvet Rope
Remedy
Nothing Compares To You
Screaming for Adrenaline
Let Me (Lay My Love On You)
Aiming High

Santa Cruz are:
Arttu 'Archie' Kuosmanen – Vocals/Guitar
Joonas 'Johnny' Parkkonen – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Mitja 'Middy' Toivonen – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Tapani "Taz" Fagerström – Drums

Santa Cruz Online:
http://www.santacruz.fi
http://www.facebook.com/SantaCruzband

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Persian Risk

Persian Risk are a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal era band formed back in Cardiff around 1979, and their inclusion on this bill was obvious judging by the large crowd that turned up to see them.

Being veterans (a phrase I hope they don't object to!), they knew exactly what they were doing and got straight down to business.

'Ridin' High' had the air guitars out early doors as guitarist Howie Jarrett (aka Howie G) played a great guitar solo to the cheers of the crowd. A quick welcome from vocalist Carl Sentance who plugs the new album, 'Who Am I' ( which is available now!), while 'Soul Deceiver' from the band's 2012 opus, 'Once A King' ensures the party in the audience continues.

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'Spirit In My Dreams' continues the frantic pace as Jarrett and Sentance play off each other whilst bass player Wayne Banks is a relentless ball of enthusiasm as he head bangs his way through the set. After teasing the audience earlier about the new album the band treat the audience to a great live rendition of the title track giving Sentance a chance to showcase his powerful voice.

'Coming For You' (which former member Phil Campbell from Motorhead played on the studio version, fact fans) is next up before the band turn back the clock to the through the band's extensive back catalogue as they showcase the very best tracks they have to offer. Headbangers jostle with those down the front who have their mobile phones hoisted stagewards showing how popular the track is while Sentance interacts with those at the front encouraging them to sing along.

"This used to be a song where everyone used to sing along but you young bastards don't remember that do you?" jokes Sentance during the introduction to 'Women And Rock', which also gets a great reception as the audience do their very best to sing along as loudly as they can while a couple of younger members of the audience get their air guitars out much to the amusement of their mates.

After some brief band introductions is time for the last number in their set, 'Battlecry', which really ends their performance on a high. Judging by Sentance's enthusiasm, he'd be happy to play on stage for another half hour at least but with such a collection of great bands still to perform this obviously wasn't possible but here's hoping the band are planning a UK tour, because I'd certainly like the opportunity to see them live again.

Persian Risk Set List:
Don't Look Back
Dark Tower
Ridin High
Soul Deceiver
Spirit In My Dreams
Who Am I
Calling For You
Rise Up
Women In Rock
Battlecry

Persian Risk are:
Carl Sentance - Vocals
Howie Jarrett - Guitar
Wayne Banks - Bass Guitar
Tim Brown - Drums

Persian Risk Online:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Persian-Risk/291892036435


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The Amorettes

Who doesn't like a bit of Slade? Not many folk I know anyway, and what better intro music for The Amorettes than the Slade classic 'We'll Bring The House Down' because over the next forty five minutes, that's pretty much what this West Lothian based band did.

'Rock Me, Roll Me' has this young trio firing on all cylinders from the first beat of the drum to the last strum of the guitar chord. Vocalist Gillian Montgomery is looking serious beneath her floppy hat while she throws out the solid guitar riffs while bass player Heather McKay is a headbanging mass as she stalks the stage.

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While Montgomery dispenses with her hat, it's up to drummer Hannah McKay to count in the beat to 'Too Much Is Never Enough' as Heather McKay enthuses the audience as pockets of them begin to nod along, until the guitar solo when the head bangers finally begin down the front.

The band are about to start recording of their second album and as such, their set is made up of a good handful of new tracks. 'Get What's Coming' slows the pace slightly, but that doesn't mean that Hannah McKay hits her drums with any less power. 'Bull By The Horns' had the audience clapping along as there is a sudden surge of people towards the front of the stage. Likewise, 'Heartbreaker', keeps the frantic pace up with Montgomery playing one of the best solos of their set and for a song that not many of the audience haven't heard before, it gets a rousing reception.

Of course, the band are still quite happy to play some of their older tracks and I was happy to see 'Whoot Woo' (a personal favourite of mine from their debut album) is back in the set. Delivered with skill, it's greeted by the audience like an old friend so it appears that it's not only me who's a fan of the song.

As the band's stage time draws to a close, the audience are treated to 'Boxticker', kicked off by a count in from Hannah McKay, which has Heather McKay grinning from ear to ear as she looks out over the packed crowd. "You guys are awesome", Montgomery tells the crowd before some choice cuts from their first album close their set.

'Son Of A Gun' has Montgomery skillfully holding a sustained guitar note to the delight of the crowd before the track really gets going. Closing off their set with 'Hot N' Heavy' is the last chance for the audience to sing along and they're not shy as the band bring to an end a fun filled, high volume, enthusiastic performance of which the band should be proud of.

I've been following this band since 2011, and they consistently put in high octane, quality live performances and with the band bagging the support slot for the Europe/Black Star Riders UK tour in early 2015 and the prospect of their new album following that, it looks like 2015 could be the year of The Amorettes.

The Amorettes Set List:
Rock Me, Roll Me
Too Much Is Never Enough
Get What's Coming
Bull By The Horns
Heartbreaker
Whoot Woo
Shoot From The Hip
Boxticker
Son of A Gun
Take Cover
Hot N' Heavy

The Amorettes are:
Gillian Montgomery – Guitar/Vocals
Heather McKay – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Hannah McKay – Drums/Backing Vocals

The Amorettes Online:
http://www.theamorettes.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/theamorettes


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The Brew

Watching The Brew is always fun and more so when you're stood beside a bunch of, how shall we put this, "well refreshed" Welsh fans who are obviously huge fans of the band.

The band did pull a big crowd overall though and the band kept the audience entertained throughout their set. The bulk of their set was made up from tracks form their latest album, 'Control', kicking off with 'Repeat'. The song really demonstrates the skills of front man Jason Barwick both on vocals and guitar.

Barwick moves to a more bluesy sound on 'Pause' whilst drummer Kurtis Smith made the most of his drum kit using every drum and cymbal available to him. I'm guessing that he takes a great deal of inspiration from the legendary Neil Peart, but regardless, he put in a fine performance.

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'Kam' is mostly a structured guitar jam, and shows off Barwicks skills as he takes the audience through a number of movements with the ever steady drums and bass guitar keeping a solid rhythm underneath the lead guitar. Some of the guitar licks are spell binding and you get the feeling that he's thoroughly enjoying himself as he paces the stage.

Barwicks has clearly been influenced by Led Zeppelin so much so that he even completes one song with a violin bow to help achieve the guitar sound before he enthusiastically jumped around the stage as the track finally broke free into an inspired piece of showmanship on his part.

Smith gets a show-stopping drum solo that garners generous applause as he throws the drumsticks into the crowd near the finale before continuing the drum solo without any sticks at all. At the drum solo reaches its conclusion, Barwick and bass player Tim Smith rejoin the stage for one last refrain.

A very technical performance from a trio of gifted individuals, it made some interesting listening and I'm sure that the band gained some new fans during their performance.

The Brew Set List:
Repeat
Mute
Pause
Skip
Shuffle
Kam
Every Gig Has A Neighbour
Booing

The Brew are:
Jason Barwick - Guitar/Vocals
Tim Smith - Bass Guitar/Vocals
Kurtis Smith - Drums

The Brew Online:
http://www.the-brew.net
http://www.facebook.com/thebrewofficial


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Y&T

The venue was packed long before Y&T hit the stage and when the lights go down and the band finally appear on stage, the reception is huge.

As some of the previous bands went over time, things are a little rushed on stage and so the band blast straight into 'Hurricane' as those down in front of the stage jostle for position while a steady stream of latecomers enter the venue and try to grab any kind of view they can.

'Black Tiger' has vocalist Dave Meniketti teasing the audience with the opening chords as drummer Mike Vanderhule slowly builds up the beat. Meniketti is in fine voice and looks like he's delighted to be here, as well he should be after all the band have just finished a hugely successful tour of the UK and this gig would be their last UK gig for sometime.

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"We're Y&T in case you don't know!" jokes Meniketti before 'Mean Streak' which has Vanderhule swamped by a wall of dry ice making him all but invisible at the back but the crowd are happy to sing along to the chorus without any encouragement needed from the band.

When not singing, the audience are happy enough to play their air guitars except for those who are wedged hard against the crowd barrier trying to get as close as they can to their idols. Bass player Brad Lang and rhythm guitarist John Nymann pull shapes in the centre of the stage during Menikettis guitar solo, unbeknownst to him.

The pace slows slightly with 'Dirty Girl' which affords Lang a short solo as Meniketti takes a back seat, but it's not long until he's back in the spotlight with his own solo, though not literally as the lighting man seems to miss him so it's all done in the atmospheric half light, before Nymann again steps up with another solo. It's a great moment in the set which proves how well matched these guitarists as they compliment each others playing as opposed to making it overly competitive.

The classic 'Midnight In Tokyo' (written in 1982 during the bands first headlining tour of Japan) is given a simple intro of voice and guitar and lots of audience participation before the bass and drums kick in and the songs tempo picks up. The three guitarists assemble at the front of the stage in a bit of choreography which had those with mobile phone handy the chance to get some great pictures.

hard rock hell

With half the stage time gone and time running out, the band carry on with little conversation between songs which includes 'I'm Coming Home' and 'Rescue Me' which has become one of the bands signature tunes. The audience certainly don't need any encouragement to sing along much to the delight of the Meniketti who has some fun with the audience as they trade vocals but the reception for the song at the end is one of the loudest of the night.

'I Believe In You' brings the pace right down as Meniketti once again shows off his great guitar skills in this bluesy number culminating in quite a solo which rightfully is his pièce de résistance and a high point of the gig. Unfortunately, the band's set is cut short at this point despite the protestations of the band and loud boos from the audience.

Meniketti quickly introduces the rest of the band before they leave to loud cheers from the audience with a somewhat sad end to a great UK tour, I have no doubt that the band are all ready planning to return to these shores sooner rather than later.

Y&T Set List:
Hurricane
Black Tiger
L.A. Rocks
Mean Streak
Dirty Girl
Midnight In Tokyo
Cold Day In Hell
I'm Coming Home
Rescue Me
I Want Your Money
I Believe in You

Y&T are:
Dave Meniketti - Vocals/Lead Guitar
John Nymann - Rhythm Guitar/Backing Vocals
Brad Lang - Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Mike Vanderhule - Drums/Backing Vocals

Y&T Online:
http://www.yandtrocks.com
http://www.facebook.com/YandTRocks


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Krokus

With Y&T having their set cut short due to time constraints, there was no messing about as Krokus' crew set up their gear in double quick time and with everything set on stage, the lights went down and the Krokus stepped out on stage to huge applause. With time against them, Krokus simply grabbed the opportunity to give the audience the very best they had to offer and, for a band who very rarely tour the UK, they had a captive audience ready to rock.

Set opener 'Long Stick Goes Boom' has a solid groove to it with vocalist Marc Storace obviously loving being on stage as he points at different sections of the crowd to wild applause before encouraging everyone to get their hands in the air. As the track segues into The Who's 'Pinball Wizard' briefly, the place goes wild once again.

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'American Woman' (a cover of the song by The Guess Who) is up next after Storace enquires if the audience are "..ready for some crazy Rock n Roll?" which is answered with a loud roar. Guitarist Fernando Von Arb steps up to the plate here with a great solo which is encouraged by Storace before the pair of them burst into a fit of giggles.

"It's been too long Britain" says Storace before adding "but you're still Great!" to loud cheers but there's no hanging about as they carry on through their set. With Krokus, you just can't get away from the fact that the Storace looks not unlike AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson (compete with baseball cap), yet sounds more like Bon Scott. I was pleasantly surprised with the bands' sound, attitude and set list.

“We'd like to take you to Hell” says Storace with a smile on his face as the band launch into 'Hellraiser', which has bass player Chris Von Rohr leading the way. A wall of dry ice wafts across the stage as the sound of thunder signals the start of 'Screaming In The Night' which is a slower tempo track with bags of atmosphere to it and proves the band are capable of playing much more than just fast, hard rocking numbers.

Mandy Meyer has his moment in the spotlight during 'Fire' while Storace stalks the stage encouraging the crowd to sing during the chorus before he orchestrates some hands waving to which the audience are more than happy to do. Meyer unleashes a Dave Gilmour-esque guitar solo, which was a real high point in the bands set for me.

'Bedside (fucking) Radio' (as it's introduced by Storace) is a twelve bar rocker that keeps the party going and has Von Arb, Meyer and third guitarist, Mark Kohler, all assembled at one side of the stage to the delight of those in front of them as camera phones are hoisted stage wards to capture the moment.

'Headstrokes' is heralded by the sound of a helicopter as the spotlights track over the crowd as they when the intro starts, indeed The Amorettes, who were to my left, let out almighty screams as they realised which song it was before proceeding to sing and clap their way through the number like a majority of the audience.

As the band are advised their set time is coming to an end and the band prepare to leave the stage, Von Rohr launches into The White Stripes number, 'Seven Nation Army' to which the some of the band appear back on stage and join in. "It's great but too short", shouts Von Rohr into the microphone leaving the stage, but it's not long before the band come back on for 'Live for the Action'.

Not wanting to leave the stage at its conclusion, the band burst into their parting shot – 'Quinn Tthe Eskimo (Mighty Quinn)' which seems to delight everyone it seems, before they finally wrap up their set promising to return next year.

A great end to a great set, and for those audience members who, like me, hadn't seen them live before, it was a first class performance and a band I'll definitely be checking out again.

Krokus Set List:
Long Stick Goes Boom
American Woman
Hellraiser
Screaming In The Night
Fire
Bedside Radio
Heatstrokes
Easy Rocker Live for the Action
Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)

Krokus are:
Marc Storace - Vocals
Fernando Von Arb - Lead Guitar
Mark Kohler - Rhythm Guitar
Mandy Meyer - Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Chris Von Rohr - Bass Guitar
Flavio Mezzodi - Drums

Krokus Online:
http://krokusonline.seven49.net
https://www.facebook.com/KROKUSonline


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Queensrÿche

Just before 11:10pm (later than their allotted stage time of 10:10pm) and enveloped in a fog of dry ice, headliners Queensrÿche finally took to the stage. Let's be honest here, I've been a fan of the band since 1989 but have only been lucky enough to have seen them live five times before – and never, so far, with new vocalist Todd La Torre, so I was expecting a great show.

With this not being a Queensrÿche audience, of course, I wasn't expecting too many cuts from their latest album (titled simply 'Queensrÿche') but fully expected a more greatest hits orientated set. What the band delivered, though, was something right in the middle – some new tracks, some big hitters and classic album tracks added in for good measure.

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In the eventuality, only two tracks from their new album were included in the set – 'X2' and 'Where Dreams Go To Die'. The former is a long build up with lots of sound effects and voices as the drums of Scott Rockenfield kick but it segues into the latter, where the drums are joined by a solid guitar riffs from Parker Lundgren and Michael Wilton who headbang their way through the intro until the track settles down. Both tracks seemed to go across well enough with those fans unfamiliar with the new album, though, judging by the audience reaction to them.

As far as their huge back catalogue is concerned, there were always going to be choice cuts from the classic 'Operation Mindcrime' included, but I was surprised that only four tracks from it were peppered throughout the set. 'Breaking The Silence' was up first which got a loud cheer as a group of headbangers near the front of the stage who jostled with those who were just trying to get a better view.

Later in the set, 'The Needle Lies' provided a great demonstration of the powerhouse drumming from Rockenfield before the medley of 'My Empty Room' and 'Eyes Of A Stranger' had a majority of the crowd clapping and singing along.

There were also two cuts from the follow up album, 1990s 'Empire' with the title track and 'Jet City Woman' both being received warmly. The title track has always been a powerful song and loses nothing in its delivery now. Where there were previously voice samples in the mid-section, this is now the point in the set where La Torre has a chance to introduce the rest of the band before Wilton steps up to play a note perfect guitar solo.

'Jet City Woman' is a showcase for bass guitarist Eddie Jackson who plays the intro centre stage whilst those in front of him clap enthusiastically before the air guitars come out down the front for the guitar riff.

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'The Warning' album from 1984 was also well represented with four tracks from arguably the band's most Heavy Metal sounding album and it's refreshing to hear the title track performed with such enthusiasm having been added to the set list over the past couple of years having been absent from the set list for some twenty five years.

Beer glasses are raised in the audience during the chorus while Wilton has the solo all to himself and makes the most of it. 'En Force' too, keeps the pace going with La Torre and Wilton engaging in some onstage fun but still managing to get the job done.

Old favourite 'Walk In The Shadows' has the audience singing "loud and proud" as requested by La Torre with Lundgren exchanging smiles with the front row before joining Wilton centre stage for a shared guitar solo.

For me, though, the highlight of the band's set was undoubtedly the triple whammy of three absolutely classic Queensrÿche tracks. 'The Lady Wore Black', which was the first ever song the group wrote as a band back in 1982, still sounds s good now as it did then. It's a majestic track that really stretches vocal talents of La Torre whilst the guitar sound from Wilton still has a haunting quality to it.

'Queen Of The Reich' is another classic track that shouldn't be overlooked, and as the audience goes wild during the opening chords it seems that I'm not the only one who's a fan of it. The band's set closer is the classic 'Take Hold Of The Flame' which to me is a perfect end to the set. Another great guitar passage from Wilton with La Torre who gives absolutely everything to his vocal performance one last time, and by the time to chorus comes along, it seems like everyone in the venue is singing along.

This band have been through a lot in the past couple of years but they have come out on the other side stronger and better than before and this is reflected not only in the new material, which is a long overdue return to form, but also in the material from their back catalogue that they now play at live gigs that they didn't before.

Don't get me wrong, though, Queensrÿche are far from a nostalgia act living on past glories and I look forward to the next chapter in the band's story.

Queensrÿche Set List:
Nightrider
Breaking The Silence
Walk In The Shadows
The Whisper
En Force
Warning
X2
Where Dreams Go To Die
The Needle Lies
NM 156
The Lady Wore Black
My Empty Room
Eyes Of A Stranger
Empire
Queen Of The Reich
Jet City Woman
Take Hold Of The Flame

Queensrÿche are:
Todd La Torre - Vocals
Michael Wilton - Guitar
Parker Lundgren - Guitar
Eddie Jackson - Bass Guitar
Scott Rockenfield - Drums

Queensrÿche Online:
http://Queensrÿcheofficial.com
http://www.facebook.com/Queensrÿcheofficial


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28.11.2014









 


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