|Hard Rock Hell 3 The Vikings Ball – Prestatyn, Pontins – 3rd December 2009|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Wednesday, 09 December 2009 19:41|
When Brian Potter unfurled his dream of 'sunshine indoors" to Hoss Cartwright in (UK sitcom) Phoenix Nights he could never in a million years have dreamt that that simple concept of 'everything under one roof' would be giving pleasure to thousands of the UK's rock faithful every year in early December.
But that's exactly what Jonni and his Hard Rock Hell crew of people have been doing for the last two years. Metal on your chalet doorstep; spread over three venues (a theatre, a club and a bar), and this year over three days. What more could your discerning rock fan want for Christmas?
I might be blending fantasy with reality here, but I'm sat here in surprisingly dry Prestatyn and wasn't that a Viking warrior that just passed me?
As Hard Rock Hell veterans (well 3 vets, a second timer and 2 newbies) we set out on the usual four hour plus cross country trip only to be faced with the same old tractor and midweek driving obstructions you always get when you want to get somewhere fast. As a result by the time we actually get to Prestatyn and check in for the Viking Ball night we have missed Riot: Noise and New Device who had just played the Queen Vic bar....Bollocks.
At least we made it in time for a swift ale before Raw Glory opened up our year with a rendition of the Heavy Metal Kids classic 'Hanging On'. What a perfect way to get the ball rolling. Raw Glory's set was a refreshing blast of bluesy rock that will never go out of favour with the more (shall we say) mature audience here tonight, and fuck me if that isn't Mick Underwood from Gillan and Episode Six on the drums. Sadly it was only on the Friday morning when speaking with the weekend's host Krusher (who incidentally was seen sporting an Uber Rock badge all weekend) that I realised I had missed my chance of meeting Cosmo from The Heavy Metal Kids who was playing guitar in Raw Glory.... Double Bollocks.
As proceedings moved to the Club venue for the full on Viking Ball, we were greeted by our first comedy moment of the weekend, when Gaz asked, "who's this?" Just as the crowd started up an 'Attica Attica' chant heralding the first of three sets over the weekend from Glasgow's finest purveyors of grinding metal Attica Rage. 2009 has been a great year for the lads in the Rage and I can only see things continuing to grow for them with what they have planned for 2010.
With the arrival of Marshall Law I'm immediately drawn back to a time when I'd see them nearly every month as they relentlessly toured the UK championing their brand of Power (games) Metal, and damn it if main man Andy Pyke doesn't look a day older than he did back in 1990. Pulling together a set from their entire back catalogue they finished up with 'Leviathan' from the aforementioned 'Power Games' to much delight of the now burgeoning Viking population around us. Marshall Law will never be Judas Priest but they are a true British Heavy Metal band who have never sold out and for that they deserve nothing but credit.
The humongous sound that is Beholder continued the night apace engulfing you and attacking your senses as each track ripped its way out of the speakers. I have to admit this band are a complete revelation to us at Uber Rock, not unlike our friends back home Lifer and Fell on Black Days meeting head on. Beholder simply are stars in the waiting, and in singer Simon Hall they have a frontman to rival Paul Di'anno at his Maiden peak. It was difficult to pick out a highlight but 'KMA' certainly stuck a chord with me and left me bobbing my head up and down like some frenzied Kerry King. You have to marvel at just how much potential Beholder have within their epic brand metal for the years ahead.
So to G.M.T who were one of the surprise packages of the inaugural HRH in Minehead. How could they possibly better that performance with no Dee Snider as a secret glam metal weapon this time around? Well let's get one thing straight they certainly gave it a fucking good go and who needs Dee when you have Guy, McCoy and Torme right? The opening thunder of 'Cannonball' had me thinking of Bernie Torme's hilarious recent comment that it takes him and John weeks to recover an energetic performance these days, (a bit like us after every HRH then) so when G.M.T also steamed full on into the riotous racket that is 'Punko Rocco' I just had visions of the guys being laid up for months, priceless energy from the fantastic power rock trio. Bernie joined the spirit of things with a sort of Viking hat (well it had horns anyway), for a timely tribute to Randy Rhoads in the shape of a searing 'Mr Crowley' this was quickly followed with a run through 'New Orleans' before it was all over in a smoke bomb with John McCoy's mammoth bass riffage on 'Smoke On The Water'. A victory for the GMT'ers then and it has to be said "what a fucking drummer Robin Guys is"...Jeez, if only he hadn't left Rag Dolls.
This would have been a fantastic way to end the night if it weren't for the fact that NWOBHM'ers Weapon had been added as special guests leading up the weekend. As possibly the only member of our entourage who had actually owned anything by Weapon I hung around for a few songs as Mr Sandman started to play tricks on my sanity, but it was great to hear 'Set The Stage Alight' live, I'd just need a few barrels of amyl nitrate to keep me from my slumber at that moment...Got to pace yourself, we got a rocking business to run.
Thursday highlights? Well all of it really, a fan-fucking-tastic opening night, how could it get any better?
To be continued...