Gaz E's Headbangin' Doppelgangin' Hard Rock Hell 4 Blog!!! Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Monday, 13 December 2010 05:00

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"We're not here for a fucking holiday, we're here to fucking rock!!!"

 

Snow. Looks great on a Christmas card and on Hoth but when it is covering your street and its surrounding areas like a cock rock blocking blanket of shit, things ain't so prettyplaque240. Snow bound, just like a Russian winter, as a very handsome man called Nadir D'Priest once told me.....

 

....but a little crystalline water ice isn't gonna stop the ÜR massive fulfilling its annual pilgrimage to metal at the Hard Rock Hell festival in Prestatyn, North Wales. Über-scribes Ian Bell and Rob Watkins drive up my icy street like they were filming Cool Runnings and, with a couple of recently deceased tauntauns ready to be dissected for warmth, we hit the road like Mel Gibson hits his missus.

 

With a Watkins patented disc full of what seems to be every dodgy Canadian AOR band EVER entertaining us for the duration of the trip, the journey flies by without a hitch which, given the inclement weather and my memories of last year's Trainspotting toilet misadventure, seems quite remarkable. We even have time to stop off for a three course Costa Coffee bonanza which I'm sure isn't mentioned on Johnny H's laminated itinerary.....well, he doesn't mention it in any of his fifty phone calls asking where we are....

 

We get to Prestatyn and meet up with the other five heaving rock monsters who will be the cogs of the sixteen-legged Über Röck 'n' Röll Machine for the next four days; the aforementioned Johnny H, Dom Daley, Fraser Munro, and, our two fluffers, Dan and Bog. We enter the scrawling rocktropolis that is Pontins, Prestatyn Sands, giving the Holiday On The Buses plaque a hearty salute. A quicufo240k game of car park footy later, we are checked in and armed with a legion of shelf-warming rock albums that, quite possibly, no-one in the world would want.

 

We have two VIP chalets, one above the other, but, with the naked antics of a certain button-mushroomed Über Röcker a year earlier still fresh in administrative memories, we have been cast asunder on the road-facing side of the site. We get our epic new sign (made in fine style by former guitar virtuoso Christopher Greaves) up in the window, splash on a bit of Hai Karate, and head over to the Ice Breaker stage situated in the Queen Vic pub venue of the site.

 

Rumours of band cancellations due to the weather abound and, happily, the one about the no-show of Gypsy Pistoleros is true. Dumpy's Rusty Nuts have also failed to start their hogs, this due to an unwell bassist though. Shame, as last year's Dumpy vs Hayward face-off was one of the festival's highlights. The Thursday night of Hard Rock Hell IV is, again, a kind of pre-party for the rock die-hards and, although the venues are hardly full for this day of the event, it is a decent deal-breaker.....in theory.

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We see The Virginmarys first, obviously invited to play due to their massive gong and ability to play a legion of sets in a few days - more later. Cool band, I like 'em. Things move to Stage Two, The Pirate's Ball, and I watch 9xDead who, it seems, have a different band line-up every other week. I hope the guys are taking hundreds of photographs of these gigs garnered due to their HRH connections because, with their plodding pub rock, this is as good as it is ever gonna get for them.

 

Tigertailz are up next and this is the first time that I have seen the band since my brother from a different mother Matt Blakout's services were no longer required. The Tailz played the main stage on the Saturday night at HRH2, this stage on Saturday afternoon last year, and now find themselves playing the Thursday warm-up night to a limited audience. I would jest that the band will next year find themselves playing to the cleaners on the Wednesday if the recent exposé by the BBC's Watchdog programme hadn't informed us that very little cleaning goes on here at Pontins. New drummer Robin Guy, pepperuseveteran of the warm-up show after playing the same slot with GMT last year, appears to be combating the cold with a natty pair of earmuffs....at least I hope that they're earmuffs, because if they are headphones then they aren't working properly, as a slew of....err...timing issues haunts the band's set. Guy is a spectacular drummer but all the tricks in the world are no substitute to playing in time. Kinda reminds me of the soccer skills freestylers, full of tricks but you never see them play well in a team. The Tailz setlist is inspired though, full of heavy-duty parts of their back catalogujacketusee, and I'm surprised to hear so many negative comments from people afterwards. Great to see the guys again too.

 

The night is threatening to be flatter than Gwen Stefani's chest. One phone call to Scutty HQ quickly rectifies the startling lack of atmosphere in the venue. We hook up with DE45's greatest living export and suddenly the laughs flow like unadulterated child piss. Drummer Joe Day is wearing a Stryper 'To Hell With The Devil' shirt and is easily the best-dressed person in the town tonight. Scutty Neighbours are polluting the venue with classy flyers and posters, featuring classic Jaws and Raiders Of The Lost Ark themed artwork, whoring their soon-to-be-classic set on the Young Blood stage the following afternoon. They offer me a band shirt that I can only have if I cut the sleeves off and wear it when they are playing the next day so, with the Charles Manson-esque frontman of Gentleman's Pistols making a real fist of their performance behind us, us Über Röckers head back to the (dis)comfort of our chalet because, frankly, the night has been the first time that Hard Rock Hell has bored us....

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After a health and safety troubling piece of shirt sleeve cutting off with a holiday camp bread knife, four Welsh ne'er-do-wells liven up a poor evening with a touch of furniture rearrangement in the room above where three sleeping idiots have left their door unlocked. Sofa in kitchen - check. Chairs and table piled up in bedroom doorway in order to fall in on unsuspecting early riser - check. Text message sent from charging iPhone of a Kiss fanatic to one of his $immons-loving chums reading "I have finally realised that Kiss are shite. I now love Winger" - check. Ironing board wedged into shower that will prove to be the finest, and most surprising, of the childish antics come the morning - check. Pathetic and juvenile, the laddish behaviour is forced upon us given the poor quality of day one. Fucking funny at the time though.

 

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I don't know if it is as a result of the BBC programme or if I have just become desensitized to the whole place, but I don't find the chalet to be that bad this year. I sleep like a log and wake up to find Johnny H, Ian and Rob indulging in a game of Spunk On The Biscuit. Okay, I made that last bit up - it was a slenforcer240ice of toast. We head over to the location of 1973's finest comedy film and indulge in a spot of breakfast, seeing Mike Peters of The Alarm on the way. Rumours that he is here to see Uriah Heep have yet to be confirmed.

 

The Young Blood stage is up and running and, although the first band are a no-show, I have to say that all of the remaining bands are decent at worst. Belligerence throw me a t-shirt that is on sale in the official merchandise outlet for £20 and, good guy that I am, I give it away. Cool band though. Also, a shout-out to Liberty Lies whose vocalist will be the first of my many look-alikes this weekend....or at least so I'm told. Every two minutes. The guy has a great voice, reminiscent of the fella from Black Stone Cherry, but he is of a chunky variety and is wearing a white t-shirt - the tubby guy 9/11. Then I remember that I am wearing a white Scutty Neighbours shirt. With the sleeves gnawed off. In December. In fucking Pontins.

 

Opening with 'Beardy Mother Fucker' and closing with 'Lemmy, I Wish You Were My Dad', Scutty Neighbours fill the space between these two future rock classics with a performance that is typically, and ludicrously, awesome. Covered in their trademark sports memorabilia metal outfits, the band leave everyone in the venue grinning. Reality television sensation Rusty Chaos is all over the venue like a dirty rock rash and even lets off a sneaky flash of banned pyro. They play a piece of 'Soldiers Under Command', so majestic that even the mould in the chastarseeduselet cupboards turns yellow and black, and, as Chaos passes me the mic, I let out a metal scream that Michael Sweet could only dream about. Finally, a band to kick some life into the event.

 

Over on Stage Two, now dubbed the HRH Blackstar Stage, I don't really see enough of Die So Fluid to pass fair comment, though I can certainly see why Johnny H was so keen to interview frontwoman Grog....dirty bastard. The Plight are, sadly, another of the bands to pull their appearance. After checking out Diamond Head as they open the main stage I quickly realise that their poor performance when I saw them support Europe (you'll keep that quiet, won't you?!) earlier this year wasn't a fluke. Very poor, average metal. I make my excuses and leave, catching South African grunge exports Starseed on Stage Two. Okay, it's all very reminiscent of Ed Kowalczyk and Live but it is pretty cool and way more agreeable than the gumby metal in the next room.

 

Let's not beat around the bush; Johnny H fucking loves FM. He has a tattoo of Didge Digital on one arm and that stupid bird logo from the 'Tough It Out' cover on the other. He has dined for free many times due to his uncanny resemblance to drummer Pete Jupp, the only difference nowadays being that H-Bomb has done the decent thing and shaved his head while Jupp appears to be cultivating a future Colin Crompton whip-over. There seems to be a slight FM resurgence in these modern times and there are many past-their-best faces waiting to greet them for their performance on the main stage. The set is typically professional, aided by a legion of sampled backing vocals, but a little too one-paced for this Über Röcker. Page Sevfm240en Fella Steve Overland still has a fantastic voice though.

 

The beauty of Hard Rock Hell is that walking from room to room is like flicking through the pages of a vintage rock magazine. I leave the 80s AOR of FM and suddenly find myself faced with Swedish metal throwbacks Enforcer who look like a road traffic accident between the Accept tour bus and a prison bus full of sex pests. They are followed by Evil Scarecrow who pretty much have everyone in attendance chuckling at their dark metal parody. Wholly entertaining, if ridiculously silly. Back on the main stage, UFO are making middle-aged men in embroidered denim cut-offs relive their youth. I would happily look like Phil Mogg when I get to his age, although I'm not sure I'd want guitar hero Vinnie Moore alongside me.

 

Myself, Dom and Ian retire to the darkest corner of the pub venue for a quick catch-up, but before long our extreme animal magnetism has attracted all manner of people to our sides, the coolest being Neil Buchanan of Marseille and that TV show that no-one can mention his name without saying...except me. He tells us how great the site is and we feel special. Still can't get my head around him swearing though....

 

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There are good bands to watch at every juncture today, but still no real spark to this year's event. Then Airbourne hit the main stage. In all honesty, I've never really fallen for the Australians, mainly due to the fact that, over the years, I have done both the AC/DC and AC/DC rip-off bands thing to death. But this event needed a real show-stopper and Airbourne have just provided it. Now we're at a rock show! Great stuff, but I have to leave! Hardcore Superstar are due to appear on Stage Two and I have to be there....

 

Hardcore Superstar are another of those bands who seem to betray me at every available opportunity. Loved the debut, loved the self-titled album, but felt that they never really kicked on. Like a few other bands - stand up Buckcherry - they now seem happy to tread water,skidrow240 almost drowning in a sea of cheesy and dated cock rock lyrics. Of course, they hit the stage and proceed to tear me a new arsehole! Live, this band are unstoppable. I squint my ears at some of the most cornball lyrics but cannot deny that tonight's performance is great. Band of the weekend by some stretch.

 

Straight back to the main stage for Skid Row....or The Abomination as Scutty Neighbours have tagged them. Yes, the recruitment of vocalist Johnny Solinger still upsets the purists. Nothing much wrong with Solinger as a vocalist of course but, y'know, he's no Seb Bach. And I really struggle to get my head around his constant reference to the band being a bunch of rednecks - the band were from New Jersey last time I checked. Scotti Hill has a fall that no-one sees that means that he is, supposedly, going to the hospital, meaning that the band finish the set as a four-piece. The ever-cool Rachel Bolan takes the mic for a cover of 'Psycho Therapy' and provides the best vocal performance of the set. The band's reception tells me that a Skid Row reunion proper would be probably the biggest draw of any reunited 80s band - GNR excepted, of course.

 

I catch a few songs of UK hair metal throwbacks Jettblack on Stage Two and, seriously, cannot for the life of me see any kind of attraction here. Cock bore rock by numbers. And the same goes for Fatal Smile, the Swedish band who remind me of vintage nobodies Every Mother's Nightmare - waddya mean "Who?" They have the full run of the main stage and, impressive as their set of scrAirbourne240eens and backdrop looks, they have a song called 'Hip Motherfucker' which forces my hand into facing the sub-zero temperatures and calling it a night.

 

We head over to breakfast early on Saturday morning and almost don't recognise Jizzy Pearl, fitting into the budget holiday camp nicely in his tracksuit bottoms and trainers. But who's that sitting next to him in a ridiculous hooded fur coat? Only the coolest mofo that is Danny Nordahl of Faster Pussycat and Motochrist and, of course, formerly of The Throbs and New York Loose. I grab a quick chat and find out that he is helping out on bass for LA Guns on their batch of UK dates. I commend him on his drinking of lager for breakfast and laugh when he asks what time of day it is. Events later in the day point to the fact that this may not be a joke.

 

Interview and photo opportunities are in abundance for us today, meaning that I sadly miss Marseille's set. As I walk to the venue I pass the chalet where The Virginmarys are playing as part of a competition prize. I look through the window behind the drummer and can see right through the rooms to the punters watching outside. It would make a great photo but it is raining and I can't be arsed to get my camera out of its bag - Kevin Carter I am not.

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I get to Stage Two in time to see Pretty Boy Floyd. Steve "Sex" Summers has now been rejoined by Kristy "Krash" Majors and they are immediately better than the previous times when I have seen them when they were Beyond "Fucking" Awful. Sure, it's turn-your-brain-off bubblegum glam but it is pretty entertaining. In fact, we all stand around at the end of their set, embarrassed, like a group of doggers meeting for the first time, sheepishly agreeing that the band were decent. Also, they have the best shirt on sale in the merch store, a cool skull 'n' stripes number, and the other shirt says "Glam As Fuck" which deserves kudos for its utter ridiculousness. Drummer Chad Stewart guests on drums as part of his cock rock retainer which means that he has to play in every reunited US hair metal band at least once a year, and becomes the latest in a long line of Gaz E-alikes.

 

Stewart also occupied the drum stool the last time I saw Enuff Z' Nuff. Randi Scott had neglected to tour the UK that time with the band for financial reasons but, thankfully, he has saved up and graced us with his most awesome of presences. Donnie Vie is back in great form and the EZN performance is one of the festival's real highlights. Great set. Guitarist Tory Stoffregen is apparently another of my lookalikes and, at one point, as Chad Stewart watches the band from the side of the stage, an acute triangle of extreme handsomeness forms around us meaning that any female caught within its sides begins to ovulate immediately.

 

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Say what you like about the versions of LA Guns doing the touring rounds of this rock 'n' roll world, but a band consisting of Jizzy Pearl and Tracii Guns, backed with the rhythm section of Motochrist, just has to be worth watching. Opening with 'Electric Gypsy', the band offer so much yet fail to fully deliver with a set whose first half is littered with similarly mid-paced rockers. It takes a storming version of Love/Hate's 'Blackout In The Red Room' to really kick the performance, and crowd, into life. Good, but not great.

 

The Über Röck writing team have been disappearing at various junctures of the weekend in order to interview bands for future inclusion on the website to excite, and I am scheduled to interview Lizzy Borden after their performance on Stage Two. I'll need some ass-kicking pics of the legendary metal frontman to accompany the interview so, with pit pass firmly in hand, I find myself front and centre waiting for the band to appear...but they don't. Greek gothic rockers Elysion appear instead and I am left wondering what the fuck is going on. I take a few elysion240photographs of the frontwoman - for research purposes - and go looking for someone who knows what is happening with Lizzy Borden. I hear that they are delayed and are now set to appear at 11:50 pm. With the legendary Krusher Joule on site, would it have been so difficult to get the fella up on stage to let people know of these changes and band no-shows? Instead of getting up and saying the same gag in increasingly wrecked fashion as he introduced selective bands, perhaps he could have been engaged to inform people what was actually going on.....

 

And now to my guilty pleasure...and the owner of the classic quote that opened this article. I find myself at the NWOBHM stage watching Battleaxe. The respectably sized crowd are given a right seeing to by these veteran metal muthas and 'Chopper Attack' has to be one of the best songs played at this year's event. Singer Dave King might look like he just walked onstage straight off his allotment but he performs with a huge smile on his face and wins over any doubters...including me.

 

I have seen Attica Rage, over the past few years, more times than I have seen members of my family. Tonight they are on the main stage and put on a suitably metallicious show. The inclusion of bands like Attica Rage and other returning acts, coupled with a legion of wholly uninspiring 'new' bands added to the festival's line-up over the preceding months has, to be brutally honest, hardly injected any level of excitement into my rock 'n' roll heart. One of the fewscutty240 announcements that did make the flatline quiver was that of the appearance of Paul Di'Anno. If you grew up loving metal three decades ago then you have a soft spot for the first two classic albums from Iron Maiden. Fact. This rare UK appearance from their original frontman, again, offered so much......yet really failed to deliver. Di'Anno, with his banter about the Spice Girls and "gay heavy metal", is a man pretty much walled into another time and, although it may be of the same time as some of the junkie juice stinking punters loving this, at times, cringe inducing performance, it ain't for me. The high spot of the set will be the...err...'audience participation' of a certain member of one of the bands who had, a day before, rocked the Young Blood stage. Wearing an attractive Über Röck trucker hat as he proved to be a complete menace to the security society, this young rock warrior would not be just thrown out of the venue, but the entire site - legend.

 

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Ian, Dom and myself can take no more so we decide to retire to the Queen Vic. We bump into a lost Danny Nordahl who, after a comfort break, says he's gonna join us in the pub, which he does and, just like DE45's finest a day earlier, his high comedy value pretty much saves the day for us. Entertaining us with scandalous stories of pretty much everyone in every band ever - totally off the record, of course - Danny tells us that he appears to be in the LA Guns bad books which, seeing as he was helping the band out by playing with them, does seem a little harsh. Chad Stewart, playing drums for LA Guns as part of his earlier-mentioned cock rock retainer, plays with Nordahl in both Faster Pussycat and Motochrist so you'd think he would know what they were getting....

 

Just like the previous day in the very same venue, the ÜR trio are collecting friends like flies on a shitty stick. Randi and Tory from Enuff Z' Nuff - and, of course, the awesome Black Mollys - join us, as does Criss 6, bass player with Pretty Boy Floyd, who finds my comment that he should have covered his (hardly 'Glam As Fuck') Machine Head tattoo with a Warrant sticker particularly amusing. All is good in this little pocket of the rock 'n' roll world. Danny writes aGaz_N_Dom comment on the back of Dom's VIP pass of such bad taste, and therefore utterly hilarious, that even John Waters would have been proud of it. Totally unrepeatable, you have to understand. Tory is having a Bonnie Tyler moment which leads to us testing him on how many Welsh people he can name. Tom Jones is his first name, pretty standard, and his second is "the drummer from Tigertailz." Yes, the second most famous Welsh name in the Tory Stoffregen memory banks is Matt Blakout, who he remembers from a Black Mollys gig promoted by Dave Prince - can things get any more bizarre? Ian leaves to watch Helloween, who he has interviewed earlier, and his timing seems perfect as Chad Stewart and his little posse appear and things get a little heavy with Nordahl. Criss 6 sees this as the perfect opportunity to leave and Randi invites Dom outside for a timely smoke, leaving Tory and myself sat at the table with Danny who is getting shouted at like a naughty schoolboy....."so, Bonnie Tyler huh?!"

 

Things are uncomfortable, more than a little embarrassing, but I have to feel some sympathy for Danny Nordahl - he is certainly one of the good guys. So I find myself witnessing a total meltdown, with a digital recorder burning a hole in my pocket. Metal Sludge and TMZ turn away now - Über Röck is above you. Danny is escorted away and our fun is over. Boo. All this has meant that we have missed MSG though, so it is not all bad. I saw MSG recently and, until Michael recruits a good singer, I don't think I can really stomach it again.  

 

The Lizzy Borden rescheduled timeslot proves to be another no-goer so, upon the advice of a handwritten note on the toilet door, we watch their midnight slot on Stage Two get taken by The Virginmarys. Lizzy Borden's non-appearance is apparently down to an issue with work visas and the band has promised to appear at HRH V next year. Like a bunch of girls, Dom, a newly-acquired Rob Watkins and myself watch The Virginmarys - the singer's voice is shot after three performances and more than a few sherberts but they are a good band - from the comfy seats to the left of the stage. Seats so comfy that those stage lights penetrating my slightly closed eyes are not stage lights at all but Watkins's camera flash as he takes photos of megazasleep sleeping. In the middle of a gig. The shame.

 

Suddenly, in a rare moment this weekend, the entire sixteen-legged Über Röck machine is together again in one place. We almost call it a night but, c'mon, we have to watch ourselves a bit of Saxon! With that done, the night, for us, is over......

 

Walking to get some breakfast on a Sunday morning alongside Chip Z' Nuff in a dated British holiday camp pretty much sums up the Hard Rock Hell event. It is bizarre and, for us at least, pretty much all about the chuckles. Maybe, just maybe, the organisers can add a few more bands that haven't been found frozen in ice for a few decades, or at least a couple that show at least some vital signs for future events because, honestly, we are total music whores who have attended a music festival yet have little in the way of excitement to say about the music. However, next year's event pretty much selling out before one band has been named tells me that things are unlikely to change. They will for us though, because a couple of the ÜR massive have already bailed on attending next year - how long until that number grows?

 

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