HRH NWOBHM II: The Xmas Rocka – Sheffield, O2 Academy – 3 December 2017 Print E-mail
Written by DJ Astrocreep   
Saturday, 16 December 2017 04:40

On to day two of the festival now, and with a bit more sleep under my belt than the previous day, it was time to head back into central Sheffield.

 

I arrive to find out that Airrace, due to open stage one, have had to pull out due to a bereavement - we here at Über Rock want to take this opportunity to offer our sincere condolences to the band and hope we get to see them on stage soon. Some things just are more important.

 

HRH NWOBHM Seventh Son

 

First for stage two are Seventh Son, a band that spans between the NWOBHM scene and classic rock. The room is a third full, which is pretty good going for an early Sunday afternoon. Those that have dragged themselves in early are up for everything, and there is plenty of crowd reaction from those there. As the set progresses, the room continues to fill, until by the end the room is almost full, with the same appreciation still being shown towards Seventh Son. A good start to proceedings!

 

Next up are Tysondog on stage two. With a leaning perhaps more towards thrash or hardcore than to NWOBHM, they're possibly among the heavier bands across the weekend, so I'm interested to see how this will go down with a busy crowd. From the outset, there is plenty of crowd reaction again, be that in headbanging, sometimes singing along or the applause between songs. They work well for me personally, too, providing another enjoyable performance.

 

Terry Dark's Jameson Raid, meanwhile have been down on stage one, so I head across at various times during Tyson Dog's set. There is a small audience down there, affected possibly by the arrivals having gone upstairs when no band was on before them. It's a bit of a pity, as this is to be one of the bands last gigs, and going out with a bang would have been more in their minds, I think. It's not an awful performance, but also not one of the best either. The music is likeable, but there seems to be something just not quite feeling right about it, which is a shame.

 

 HRH NWOBHM Lionheart 1

 

On to Lionheart now, still on stage one. It's a good set, which is well received by the much busier crowd. It's quite clear how much Lionheart have influenced later bands, when the second song in the set, Hot Tonight, sounds very similar in terms of tone and chord progression of a well known The Darkness track. They have time for favourites such as Angels with Dirty Faces and a Chris De Burgh cover in Don't Pay The Ferryman, before finishing, a couple of tracks later with the self-titled Lionheart. A strong contender for the band of the day.

 

Meanwhile, back to stage two, and a half-full room are headbanging along to Spartan Warrior. The Sunderland five-piece are another that have been going since 1980 and quickly show their ability with some pretty good guitar playing. Their sound works well and they act like the stage is theirs, which adds a bit extra to the performance. The reaction to them is deserved, and they complete their set with aplomb.

 

HRH NWOBHM Spartan Warrior

 

Rekeium are down on stage one now, to a very quiet room. They don't seem to have much of a social media presence, which made trying to find much about them in advance quite hard. The addition of a keyboard adds a touch more theatrics to the sound, than some of the other artists, but they don't really grab my attention, and I fairly quickly find myself checking times and moving back to stage two. I check in a couple of more times with them, but the audience does not seem to grow much, and it's honestly not without reason. Not an awful performance from the band, but the most forgettable of the weekend.

 

It's time for Gaskin on stage two now. I had been speaking with the vocalist not long before their set, with him looking around my patch jacket and cheekily enquiring as to why I didn't have one of theirs. This sense of humour was a good marker point for their set, as the bits of dialogue with people between songs goes down well. The room is heaving for them and the crowd reacts well to their music and repartee. There is something about them that makes you enjoy their music, that certain something that far too few modern bands seem to have. A good set.

 

HRH NWOBHM Glory Road 1

 

Now it's time for Mick Underwood's Glory Road, and despite the fact that this day had already seen a former Iron Maiden member, among many other talented people, but Mick himself is a true rock and metal icon. Their set is a testament to Mick's works throughout the years as a member of various bands, including Quatermass, Gillan, Peace and many others, as well as a few more songs that fit the bill, in their own words. They are probably the lightest band of the weekend, with their songs comprising some more blues-derived tracks than most of the other bands. They contrive, though, to have one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, and within the first song, it is easy to see why. Other members of the five-piece include Jeff and Gary Summers, who were also in Weapon UK and New Image respectively, meaning that the whole band has music in their blood and have proven themselves before. Their set goes down extremely well, with the audience paying full attention, unlike multiple occasions with other bands, where many are on mobile phones or chatting instead of giving their undivided attention. While the songs are all covers in a sense, as only Mick was involved in their writing, the crowd do not seem fazed by this, and their reaction throughout the set is a clear indication of how high a level they perform at. Another contender for the band of the weekend.

 

Desolation Angels are on now to close off stage two for the weekend now, so I reluctantly wander off a bit early from Glory Road to catch the start of their set. The room is sadly only half full now, due, in no doubt, to Mick Underwood playing the main stage. This does not seem to dishearten the band though, and they play with gusto, providing a performance worthy of closing the stage. The crowd that have stayed to watch them respond well to their set and show their appreciation with plenty of headbanging, singing and applause.

 

HRH NWOBHM Desolation Angels

 

Rogue Male are next on stage one, bringing their high octane rock and roll show to the festival. They are a good fit to continue from where Glory Road left off, with a busy arena welcoming them to the stage, as although they did form during the era of NWOBHM, their sound is a lot more classic rock in its intonation, in my opinion, with a bit more added oomph, quite in the style of Motorhead. This bit of difference helps to set them apart from a lot of the other acts, which maybe helps the crowd's reaction stay as positive as it is, with plenty of movement again. Another very good performance.

 

There are only two bands left to play now and it's time for the only band to have played the previous year to take to the stage, in Grim Reaper. I had been a bit worried beforehand as to quite how able Steve Grimmett was to perform, following the partial amputation of his right leg after a serious infection on tour earlier in the year. Being fortunate enough to have interviewed Steve prior to the set, my fears had been allayed somewhat, but I was still quite interested in how he would be on stage, alongside his band, two of whom had flown in from Paris, being in the middle of a European tour in their own modern rock band Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics.

 

HRH NWOBHM Grim Reaper 2

 

The room is busy and buzzing as Grim Reaper take to the stage and straight away the crowd are loving it. Steve is as charismatic as ever, with fan favourite tracks Rock You To Hell, Fear No Evil, and Rock Me 'Til I Die interspersed with other well performed tracks. It's left to See You In Hell to close the set, to some very loud appreciation from the crowd, providing another highlight of the weekend, with Steve taking the opportunity to prod guitarist Ian Nash from behind with his crutch in his usual effervescent manner. A top performance from a very good band.

 

HRH NWOBHM Satan

 

Lastly, some would say aptly, given their name, it is left to Satan to close the festival. A lot have stayed for their performance and get straight into it as Satan kick off with 'Trial By Fire' and 'Blades of Steel'. Singer Brian Ross can still hit the high notes, which is somewhat unexpected, being almost 40 years in the business now and all the musical harmonies of yesteryear are still there. another four tracks later, and it's time for a second recorded intro as the band take a few seconds to catch their collective breaths, before launching into 'Siege Mentality' and 'Incantations'. The main set draws to a close with 'Fall of Persephone', with an unrelenting crowd demanding more. They retake the stage to perform 'Time To Die' and 'Kiss Of Death', finishing their set to loud applause and lots of love from the crowd. A fitting end to another festival.

 

Band of the weekend: a hard one to pick this time. While Diamond Head were the standout band from the Saturday, Grim Reaper, Lionheart and Satan were all excellent on Sunday. Just about edging it, though, are Mick Underwood's Glory Road, who despite being one of the lighter bands on the bill were an indication of quite how much life is left yet in the true old school. Sublime performance.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: All photographs © Simon Dunkerley.

 

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