||THIS IS ROCK'N'ROLL AS THE QUIREBOYS CLOSE DAY ONE OF HARD ROCK HELL AOR
Hard Rock Hell AOR V: Hafan y Môr Holiday Park, Pwllheli
Words: Johnny Main, Pictures: Carlan Braid
The three-day music festival that is Hard Rock Hell AOR was celebrating its fifth year, and was once again at its base outside the Welsh town of Pwllheli, at the Hafan y Môr Holiday Park.
With a range of bands split over the three days the festival really has a 'something for everyone' feel about it, and the fact it's sold out once again is testament to not only the bands who are booked but also to the organisation of the event and the on-site facilities.
The Hafan y Môr Park, which has been home to all the events under the Hard Rock Hell banner (including Hammerfest, HRH Prog and, of course, the original Hard Rock Hell event) since 2011, has a range of different accommodation choices from static caravans, to two and three bedroom apartments, which saves anyone from having to spend the weekend in a tent – a bonus if the weather is inclement.
Onsite facilities include two spacious indoor venues housing each of the stages which are surrounded by numerous bars, a restaurant, a couple of small supermarkets, a fish and chip shop, burger joint and pizza shop, so nothing is ever too far away and it suits the needs of the HRH audience well.
The organisers, Chic Festivals, put on an incredible line-up year after year and HRH AOR 2017 is no exception, bringing together some well known names from the UK alongside acts from across the globe, including some of whom haven’t played live in the UK for a very long time.
With events kicking off, the MetalTalk team converged on the site and having settled down in our accommodation after the seven-hour drive (which surprisingly didn’t include getting lost this year!), we headed off to the Mash And Barrel for a chat with some of the Hard Rock Hell faithful before heading down to catch the onstage action.
As is normal with the first day, only one stage was operational and as we entered the arena, Australian rockers Tequila Mockingbyrd were midway through their set. Having caught up with them at the same venue last year, it was good to see them again, albeit on a bigger stage.
Currently on tour with Bonafide, the band put on a solid enough show and seemed to get a good response from the audience too. One addition to the band since I last saw them was the temporary inclusion of Syteria bass player Keira Kenworthy, who was filling in for regular member Jess Riley, who's having to sit out the current tour.
Highlights of the bands set were 'Jager Bombs' (surely an ode to the bands favourite drink that's bound to get them a few free bottles!), 'Never Go Home' and set closer 'I Smell Rock N' Roll'. This was a far superior performance to their set last November at Hard Rock Hell, and if you haven't seen the band live yet, then they come highly recommended.
Last Great Dreamers
Shropshire melodic rockers Dante Fox were supposed to be up next but at the last minute, it seemed, Last Great Dreamers were substituted in their place, but what a show they put on.
I'd heard good things about Last Great Dreamers, but this was my first chance to see them live onstage and I went away from it more than impressed.
Sure, the bass guitar was higher in the mix than I would have liked at times, but the band put on an energetic show. Amongst the highlights of their set were tracks from their latest album, 'Transmissions From Oblivion, including 'Oblivion Kids' and 'The Way We Collide', as well as 'Ashtray Eyes', 'Last Great Dreamers' and 'Dope School' which rounded off their set.
Last Great Dreamers did a fine job here at very short notice.
Next up were Sweden's finest, Bonafide, who are just finishing off a UK tour so the band were understandably tight and professional throughout their set, but unaware of how loud the sound was out front.
The result of that was that it was incredibly difficult to make out what frontman Pontus Snibb was saying at times, but the music was exactly what was needed to get the HRH party going.
Snibb and bass player Martin Ekelund seemed to having the time of their lives onstage and that enthusiasm translated into the audience who loved every minute of their set.
Tracks from their latest album, 'Flames', which has only been out a couple of weeks, including 'Smoke And Fire' and 'Power Down' sat well alongside older tracks like 'Hard Livin' Man' and 'Dirt Bound' whilst the ubiquitous 'Fill Your Head With Rock' not only closed the show but also got the biggest reception of the night.
If you're looking for a good night of good old fashioned rock music, then Bonafide is a band who deliver that time and time again – and they're on tour throughout the UK and Europe right now, so you've got no excuse not to see them.
The task of closing the evening was left to The Quireboys and the room was packed as the lights went down, and the band slinked onstage.
Now, I’ve seen The Quireboys a number of times over the years and I don't think I've ever seen frontman Spike sober at any of them and this was no exception.
Of course, his sobriety isn't a yardstick of how his performance goes as he (mostly) gets through things without a hitch – as was the case here except when it came to taking his jacket off it seems.
And he had the audience in the palm of his hand from the first note to the last. The band have recently released their ninth studio album, 'Twisted Love' and yet again it's a polished record and the songs translate really well to the live environment.
Kicking off with the title track, other new songs were 'Gracie B, Pt. 2' and 'Breaking Rocks', all which slipped seamlessly into the set. The biggest response was given to 'There She Goes Again', 'Hey You', 'Sex Party' and '7 O'Clock' from the debut album while the rest of the set was a journey through their illustrious career.
They may be coming to their thirty-fifth anniversary but The Quireboys show no signs of throwing in the towel, which is never a bad thing, especially when they're as entertaining as this lot.