Gaz E's High Octane Hard Rock Hell 3 Blog!!! Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Thursday, 10 December 2009 20:35

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Metal Xmas - that's what the Hard Rock Hell festival is like for us Über Röckers. The eve of our righteous rocking road trip is as exciting as any Christmas Eve ever was, with suitcases and man-bags being crammed full of badass t-shirts covering every shade of black. If any of us even attempt to sleep on the night before HRH all we see when we close our eyes is Devil Horns - that's how metal it is.....

 

1day1I'm all ready and looking like a pop star when I get a call from Ian Maiden telling me that he and Über-scribe Rob Watkins are arriving to pick me up ahead of schedule - more time to rawk, I like it. We stop off at the Post Office to collect the contents of PO Box 666 on the way to pick up Johnny H and Fraser Munro and it is a bumper crop - this really is like Xmas morning!

 

H-Bomb and Munro are running late, probably as they rehearse rock star-abusing dialogue that will see them in good stead during the course of the weekend......much more later. The three of us who are prompt, prepared and handsome retire to The Coffee Bean where we relax with some tasty glam rock gossip. The other two jokers are finally ready so we pick them up, cram their bags into the back of a car fit to bursting with Über Röck promo shit and give John a moment to add the coffee shop stop to his itinerary.....

 

.....and we're off! First song on the stereo is 'Duma' by Tredegar - last year we took great pleasure in chanting this metal mantra at Cloven Hoof vocalist Russ North and, with HRH being his final appearance with the band, we look forward to doing it a million times louder over the weekend. The excitement seems to have gotten the better of me as I turn Grinch green and have to make an itinerary-busting stop off in Builth Wells to correct a potentially runny rear end. The toilet is worse than the fucker in Trainspotting and I feel dirtier than a ginger groupie as I squat over this bacteria-laden dirty bomb of a diseased dumpster. The bathroom wall - there's a shout out to all the glam boyz! - is covered in hand written adverts for willy kissing so I have to add a Sharpied Über Röck logo to the décor, secure in the knowledge that within hours the 'R' will be replaced with a 'C' and much laughter will ensue between the chugging.

 

Back in the car and Johnny H is serenading us all with the jingle that he recorded in the Nineties for Coventry Jewellery Centre - this guy should have been a contender. The journey positively flies by and we soon end up in Prestatyn, meeting the sixth member of our putrid party Dan Hayes, known to some of his extremely touchy friends as Danzai. Soon, we are in the inner sanctum of Pontins, checking in to the prison complex that will be our heavy metal haven for the next four days. It takes all of five minutes for blood to be spilled in our luxurious VIP apartment - Danzai having a limited skirmish with a cupboard door and coming off looking like a pound shop Mikhail Gorbachev. A quick change of shirt - vintage Frehley's Comet for this cool kid - and we're off to the rock show.

 

Raw Glory are the first band that we see in the pub venue of the site. They feature Mick Underwood of Gillan on drums and he is hounded by Uber-nerds Johnny and Fraser before he can get near the stage. The classic rock singer has a great voice and he makes the predictable 'Whole Lotta Love' cover more than bearable. Seen one band, seen one drum solo - that's how ROCK this festival is.

 

The legendary Krusher is the proud owner of a sexy silver Über Röck badge almostrobin_guy immediately and Robin Guy of GMT is cornered by us nerds who suddenly resemble a hoard of the undead. We have a chat about me being in the support band when he played Zoot's favourite venue - Maesteg 7777's - during his time with severe Welsh glamsters Ragdolls and we agree to catch up with the cool fella after the show later tonight.

 

We head over to Stage 2 of the event which will house the remainder of the bands on this VIP-only opening night of the festival where I provide my very own faux pas by asking what band are on as they chant "Att-i-ca, Att-i-ca" - my excuse is that the singer has different colour hair than last year. Marshall Law are a band that I first saw in Cardiff Bogiez in the Eighties when, to the amusement of us teenage terrors, the singer bounded onstage a full four feet shorter than every other band member. He has not grown much in two decades but the band turn in a decent full-on metal performance that goes down like a bag of pyramid studs on an icy hill.

 

Beholder take to the stage and blow everyone else off it. Huge riffs and a great frontman who looks the audience right in the eye as he does his shit mean that, tonight, Beholder are massive. GMT arrive onstage with wild eyebrows and possibly the greatest drummer in the country at this moment. We watch Robin Guy throw out every trick in the book and make it all look effortless, while McCoy and Torme have fun out front. 'New Orleans' is great, 'Mr Crowley' (for Ozzy's birthday) is cool and 'Smoke On The Water' - complete with McCoy's smoke-billowing bass guitar from the Mammoth days - is more than bearable. By this point Fraser has been struck by some drunken lightning bolt as he has transformed from normal guy to a character from Rab C Nesbitt in a matter of seconds. Final band of the night are Weapon who feature a frontman with freshly-rinsed Alice Cooper hair and a Misfits Dragonfly shirt that you just know he bought off eBay because it had a skull on it. We don't last the entire set.

 

Back to the Penthouse Pontins suite to find Fraser in a severe laidback state so we help him out by defacing a Kiss Euro Tour 2010 poster and sticking it up next to him so that it is the first thing this Kiss-geek sees when he wakes up. Eric Singer's 'Ken' tattoo makes me giggle like a schoolgirl. Hard rock chatter follows and we retire to our grime-fighting sleeping bags at something after 3am - quite sensible in the circumstances.......

                            

 

buckle2The alarm on my phone goes off at 7:30 am but it is kind of ignored. Fraser is the first to shower and discover that we don't have a shower curtain - the floor is wetter than the front row of a Bon Jovi concert, though not as smelly. We all make ourselves look beautiful and head off to the breakfast queue where we find Krusher still wearing his Über badge - good man! The first band we see in the pub are Arthemis who have a song called 'Mr Evil' which is easily the most metal song that I have heard all day. Voodoo Johnson are up next and turn in a good performance that goes on just a few songs too long. The guitarist looks like a Hyper Value Hayward and the bassist is dressed like a security guard which confuses things when he plays the last song stood in front of the stage.

 

Tigertailz drummer Matt Blakout appears and we catch up with our Über brutha from a voodoodifferent mutha before watching Remedy whose female vocalist is a friend of the ÜR massive. Pound Shop Pete Jupp tells everyone that she sounds like Pat Benatar many times. 9 X Dead start bringing their gear in ready for their performance and the guitarist has the same t-shirt on as the last time I saw him. Stinker. We retire to our chalet as Attica Rage are playing a gig in one of the rooms by us. We place our ghetto blaster in front of our open patio doors and blast out 'Soldiers Under Command' by Stryper to the crowd of people waiting for the Rage. We guess that no-one can hear it except for us, but who cares - we're rocking the yellow and black and times are good.

 

Me and Johnny H have a few interviews set up so we head off to the media centre catching a man dressed as a gimp making a fool of himself onstage on the way. A quick horns up to Zion and Vikki of Spit Like This who are getting interviewed and then our teenage past comes back remedyto haunt us as our professional faces go out the window as soon as we see the members of Ratt! Grins abound until it is the turn of Über Röck to interview Toby Jepson and Joolz of Gun. The interview goes fantastically well and ends with Johnny and Joolz reminiscing over a tour of Germany where H-Bomb's band The Wild Family supported Gun. The hilarious tale of a member of the support band and a transsexual blow job gets laughs aplenty.....off the record, of course.

 

I'm interviewing Marya Roxx and guitarist Paul Crook next, except Paul isn't there. Half of my prepped questions are fucked before we start and Marya doesn't really wanna talk about her Eurovision past so I bluff it and kinda pull it off. Perhaps not the finest choice of words given mymaryaint attractive company......Marya is great though and I look forward to seeing her perform on the main stage tomorrow. We're straight into an interview with The Glitterati who are some of the nicest guys we've ever met. Another great interview. Matt Blakout turns up in the media centre to see what it would be like if anybody ever wanted to talk to him and then we're off to get a good spot to see Gun on the main stage......

 

I'm not gonna lie to you good people - I have had zero interest in the Gun reunion without Mark Rankin. I was a fan of the band and just wasn't prepared to get my head around the fact that Toby was now the singer. How wrong was I?! From start to finish, the Gun set is awesome; we tobyget the singles, two songs from the great new mini-album 'Popkiller', a 'So Lonely' seque on 'Inside Out' and an incredible stab at 'Something Worthwhile' with Dante on vocals and Jepson on bass. Everyone that mentions Gun over the weekend says how good they were and I have to heartily agree as they turn in, arguably, the performance of the weekend.

 

I suggest a quick trip to Stage 2 where we are greeted by the metal mothers of Hysterica. I am immediately accused of timing this jaunt purely to look at the tight leather-covered toilet areas of these ladies but it is an honest coincidence! I bump into the legendary Rusty Chaos from Scutty Neighbours who is looking handsome in his Skid Row belt buckle and Judas Priest shirt. We catch up and his opinion that he is burdened with the song 'Indie Cunts' just as Jani Lane ishysterica burdened with 'Cherry Pie' is both amusing and very sweet! Straight back to the main stage and me and Rob get prime positions for Ratt. The sound isn't great but, seeing as we all grew up on ratt 'n' roll, it is hard not to be taken by the classic cock rock setlist. The one-two of 'Lay It Down' and 'You're In Love' does it for me. I do feel slightly underwhelmed by it all but the set is littered with great tunes from my youth - and 'Way Cool Jnr' - so I find it hard to pick holes. The performance of Ratt will cause the greatest debate between Über Röckers this weekend, with some claiming they were awesome and others claiming they were total shit. I sit on the fence.

 

Terrorvision turn the main stage into a party zone with a million hit singles and a fantastic, high energy performance - guitars are too low in the mix though. My only gripe is that they remind me of that shitty time in the Nineties when decent music was at a premium. The attitude of the rattcrowd shifts too and the suddenly twattish behaviour from some of the fans forces memories of those Nineties gigs full of fucking students to my mind. Still, I saw Tony Wright's other band Laika Dog earlier this year and they were one of the worst musical combos that I have ever seen so tonight's performance goes some way towards exorcising that memory.

 

The free bar for us VIP and media types is calling and we hang around there with all the other arrogant bastards - we feel at home! Matt Blakout has quaffed a few Albrights and finds himself in the company of a stripper which all sounds very rock 'n' roll until you realise that his good lady is a few feet away. I somehow get talking to the young stripper lady who is easily one of the most horrible people that I have ever met. You expect bullshit in these kinda places but this girl is worryingly full of it and herself. Only a master of the English language could put her in her place and he appears in the guise of an Über Röcker who looks remarkably like me. I offer to manage her stripping career but only if she dyes her hair ginger, adopts a karate themed routine and changes her name to Chick Norris - she leaves the bar. Being happy about driving strippers away from my person was not something I envisaged when I was that teenage Ratt fan......

 

We head out of the bar to catch Monster Magnet on the main stage. The frontman appears to be a council estate imposter who has eaten Dave Wyndorf but he has the chops so we forgive him. His severely underused guitar appears to be onstage as merely a stomach hiding device but I challenge anyone to stand there listening to 'Space Lord' without adopting the classic air guitarmagnet stance. Back in the bar and a certain member of the ÜR massive has lovingly christened the guitarist from one of the bands who has recently played the main stage a cunt and it all gets a little silly in an argument over Kiss - which looks even stupider in black and white.....but still kinda funny! I excuse myself from the silliness and check out Tribal Law on Stage 2 - they are decent in a Black Stone Cherry kinda way but I leave before the now infamous collapse/fall of the frontman at the end of their set. What was it about that stage and people falling? The next day could offer up some answers......The guy is ok though and that is all that matters. I watch some of Sonata Arctica on the main stage and have to chuckle at the ludicrous purple keytar thing that is strapped to a band member who actually thinks that this is a cool look....

 

The night ends with us in the VIP area again and, as I look over at Quiet Riot's Carlos Cavazo - now in Ratt - I find myself talking to Will, an old friend from the Cardiff Bogiez days, about our rival bands sharing stages with the likes of Gunfire Dance, Kill City Dragons and Red Dogs two full decades ago. This might not be the accepted way to spend your time in these kinda places but it is certainly the nicest. We have a laugh at the old days and promise to catch up again. I do not offer to manage his stripping career......

 

buckle3It is Saturday and there is a lot going on today. Grown men cry as they find out that Russ North has done the dirty on his Cloven Hoof bandmates and will not be appearing. Über Röckers cry as they cannot shout "DUMA" at the top of their voices at the AWOL anus. The legend that is Dom Daley turns up looking otherworldly and the ÜR massive is complete. The Glitterati are the first band we see on Stage 2 and they are great - 2010 is gonna be a big year for the second coming of this cool band. Vocalist Paul Gautry has a cool LAMF tattoo that should maybe be changed to MILF as Girlschool are next up, gifting us with a truly fantastic performance that is one of the weekend's highlights. I head off to the Queen Vic venue to catch the start of Marseille featuring, of course, the greatest icon to be gracing HRH with his presence this year - Neil Buchanan of Art Attack. I stand right at theneilart front and the great man poses for possibly the greatest photograph that I will ever take.

 

Back to Stage 2 and a fleet of paper aeroplanes fashioned out of Über Röck flyers are raining down on the stage as we ready ourselves for the appearance of friends of Über Röck, Tigertailz. I might be biased but the guys pull a fucking awesome performance out of the bag, playing classic album 'Bezerk' in its entirety. Kim and Jackie from Girlschool join the Tailz onstage for a storming set closing cover of 'Ace Of Spades' and you think that nothing could possibly top the moment......that is until drummer Matt Blakout makes his way to the front of the stage and promptly falls off it! Easily the funniest thing I have ever seen - I love the guy like glitteratia brother and when his AOR-loving ass hit ground zero I loved him a little bit more. The ladies in the audience offer up a firework display-esque "Ooooooooh" when he takes his tumble, making it even funnier. Let this comedy moment not take away from the fact that Tigertailz ruled.

 

I get Sky Sports Football Score Centre up on the iPhone and find that the mighty Villa are two-up at home to Hull - good times, GT's. I spot another friend of ÜR, Craggy from Trashtown Thrillers and go and have a trash 'n' roll catch-up as we wait for The Quireboys to appear. Appear they do and the vocals have gone AWOL - they are probably shacked up somewhere with Russ North and his demonic red eyes and Carl Sentance sounding vocals...ahem. Rumours of the ass-less chaps of a tumbling Tigertailzman damaging a lead remain unconfirmed at this point.....

 

The other girls head off back to the room leaving me to throw the horns on my li'l ol' lonesome.roxx I catch some of Witchfynde before getting myself over to the main stage for the appearance of Marya Roxx. Being the first band on the main stage is tough as there is zero fanfare and, apart from the die-hards and the clued-in cool kids, it takes some time for people to realise that the stage is actually open for business. Luckily, business is good and I am suitably impressed by Marya and her band - Paul Crook turns up this time. This band are some cool between song stage patter away from being really friggin' good. I get a text from an unnamed musician claiming that Rhydian is on guitar. His next text claims that Rogue Male are the worst band that he has ever seen but I have since read that the band were cursed with severe technical issues so they get the Über benefit of the doubt.

 

Technical issues and W.A.S.P. seem to go hand in hand when talking about their current UK tour. Rumours abound that the issues that have forced dates to be cancelled on the tour - including a disgusting 11th hour cancellation in Swansea - are not in the slightest bit technical. Blackie and his band of Kens turn in an effortlessly impressive performance, but then how much effort is needed to play along to more tapes than you would find in an Eighties record store? The Britney Spears miming to new song 'Crazy' has us all shaking our heads in disbelief but Blackie gets away with it as around 90% of his audience tonight have never heard the song before. Scream until you lip sync......

 

The ÜR massive are about to dish out a bazillion of our flyers when we bump into Jay Pepper of Tigertailz who wants to hang out with the cool kids. He ends up handing out a load of flyers himself, yelling "Üp The Übers" for good measure! My voice is almost gone due, as I think at the time, to my full on metal singing! I get offered the chance to do a filmed interview about Über Röck but I have to pass on it due to my croaky vox, putting H-Bomb on the spot and making him do it! I get talking - which ain't easy at this point - to an old friend from the heady days of the Tuesday rock night at Newport Metros way back in the day, days when our teenage selves used to get drunk on a few quid and, it is rumoured, kiss girls. Danzai is doing a guerinbloggreat job giving out loads more flyers than everyone else and when he gives some to the bass player from Rogue Male and Dumpy, owner of some rusty nuts, things get interesting. Dumpy chases after Dan asking who is in charge of Über Röck. I stand on the outside looking in - chuckling - as the old fella gives Johnny H a load of hassle about an interview with him that was planned but we allegedly didn't show up for. H-Bomb was in contact about an interview but the Dumpster never replied - he claims that he did. An over zealous spam filter is blamed.

 

We watch some of Queensryche's set from afar - they are beyond awful - and retire to the surroundings of the VIP bar for another bout of free drinks and ligging. A couple of female ne'er-do-wells have been planting pegs on unsuspecting punters over the course of the event andartattack Spike finds himself victim to this most nefarious of wood-based deeds. He is so covered that Fraser claims he looks like a bandana'd hedgehog. It is his fellow Quireboy Paul Guerin who I get talking to, and he remembers me from when my old band supported Red Dogs. He tells me and Fraser the great story behind the awesome song 'Sweet Little Ruby' before Johnny H comes along and upsets him with his ideas for making the Quireboys set better. H-Bomb is well intentioned as we all love the Quireboys but, as funny as we find it, the conversation doesn't go down that well. We get a photo with the legendary Neil Buchanan who, despite all the piss taking he must be getting, is a very welcoming gentleman.

 

It is time for New York Dolls and the crowd awaiting their appearance has greatly diminished. Did we really expect men dressed as Vikings to understand this greatest of rock 'n' roll bands? We don't care as we are about to watch one of the coolest bands on the planet. They don't disappoint. David Johansen calls the festival "Death Metal Hell" and you get the feeling that the band are equally bemused as to why they have been asked to play. Looking around I see nydmembers of The Glitterati, Spit Like This, Tigertailz and some former members of City Kidds and Rankelson - we know the cool shit....kudos to you all. No 'Personality Crisis' though, probably the victim of a strict curfew.....

 

Watching this most legendary of bands means that we miss our friend Jeff playing on Stage 2 with Onslaught. I offer my trash-fuelled excuse to the good man and manage to watch me some Toxic Holocaust. I laugh to myself thinking about how mad Zoot would be going if that mental bastard was here right now, especially as the frontman is wearing a Virus t-shirt. Lauren Harris is murdering 'Steal Your Fire' on the main stage and it just reminds me of how good Gun were the day before. Me,toxic the Love Dom Baby and the legend that is Eddie Kelly crash out in the VIP area before two of us get our shit together in order to watch Spit Like This close the event on the main stage.....

 

.....and fuck me, if they don't close it in hugely impressive style. Big stage, great sound, awesome light show - the stage, literally, was set for the performance of a lifetime from these guys and gal. Some new songs rub shoulders with the highlights of the SLT back catalogue and Zion owns the stage...well, part of it at least as Vikki Spit couldn't look cooler and the guys watching from her side of the stage lose the ability to blink. Their set is over way too quickly but couldn't really have gone any better. If there were any doubters in attendance then they surely would have been silenced. Awesome.

 

zionWe head back to the ÜR Pontins HQ with Dom Daley in tow as we have some awful hair metal discs with us for him to review. What follows is a lawsuit-inducing depraved debacle that I couldn't possibly describe here in full detail. At one point I look out of the bedroom window to find that the majority of the patrons of the surrounding rooms have their eyes fixed on our room just to see what we're gonna do next. One of our troupe - best described as "being a bit mental around the edges" - loses his head like Sol Campbell. Credit to that line that gets me coughing up bits of lung goes to Rob Watkins. What follows is an exercise in male nudity, compact disc flinging, chair throwing, table falling throughing and projectile vomiting that will no doubt offer up embarrassing memories for some, but for me will always be the time that I laughed so deeply that I coughed up toenails.....

 

............Sunday morning and it is all over. It is not just me that has come down with the fucked up voice fever. It appears that several of us have come down with rock 'n' roll pneumonia and the boogie woogie 'flu. A small price to pay for a kickass time at the coolest of UK festivals. Same time next year - you with us?