|Hard Rock Hell 3 The Vikings Ball – Prestatyn, Pontins – 5th December 2009|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Sunday, 13 December 2009 11:47|
On paper this final day of the third annual Hard Rock Hell Festival was always the strongest looking line up wise, the fact that nearly all day you had a potentially headlining name band playing somewhere in the facility was credit indeed to the strength in depth of this year's bill. It was also the best opportunity for us to spread the Über Röck word with the car boot full of flyers and badges we had brought up with us...but just where do we start?
Rising to the usual taste of sleeping bag and dust in my throat the bottled water I'd taken along had long since been exhausted, so at around 9am my first drink of the day was a half drank can of flat Strongbow from the night before, now this is not big or clever but it certainly brings out the shine in your teeth.....Ooooooo Cider Freshness.
The usual pre gig ritual of grease, gripe and groom ensued and when you multiply this by six it means a good three hours of ....well nothing really. But this in turn meant that by the time we tried to squeeze our way into the Queen Vic Pub for some Old Skool NWOBHM in the shape of Dumpy's Rusty Nuts, (Attica Rage having already played their third set of the weekend replacing a Russ North-less Cloven Hoof) you couldn't have gotten a Rizla paper through the doors never mind the frames of six Uber Rockers now joined by Mr And Mrs Dom Daley for the days adventures. So, we shrewdly admitted defeat and instead took up stage front positions and waited for The Glitterati to hit the Club venue (today named the Metal Aid Stage) full in face with their brand of scuzzy Brit Rock. Playing this early on in the day to such a healthy crowd must have been encouraging to vocalist Paul Gautrey and his gang back for a second bite of the (buck) cherry The resulting set of largely new songs like 'Fucks Me Up', 'Fight, Fight, Fight', 'Overnight Superstar' and 'Keeping Me Down' sat very comfortably alongside the more established old faves 'Betterman' and the set closing 'Heartbreaker' the latter seeing the cool as fuck frontman pointing to his L.A.M.F. tattoo every time the chorus kicked in. There's no better way to start your Rock 'n' Roll day than the Glitterati way.
Next up on the Club Stage were Girlschool, who I have to admit played a bit of a blinder, and who following the recent Motorhead tour also alarmingly looked about twenty years younger, and that's without my usual cider visor on. As the Club venue started to get rammed I had to make an early exit to get back into the Queen Vic Pub for Marseille, a band I'd liked first time around but was never lucky enough to actually see live. Of course you have the added attraction to the younger fan of Neil Buchanan from TV's Art Attack being on guitar and he has rather oddly morphed into a clean living version of Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones lookalike. The real attraction for me however was to finally hear tracks from the band's back catalogue like 'Can. Can' and 'Rock You Tonight' live. OK, It wasn't exactly the life changing experience I had hoped for, but the newer songs like 'Are You Ready' certainly had more than a little of the old charm about them. Let's see what 2010 brings eh.
At this point I had to make a bit of tough call did I hang around for a little bit of Saracen (another band I'd never seen live) or did I go back to the Club venue for my umpteenth fix of Tigertailz in 2009? Well, with the 'Sick Sex' intro tape bellowing through the pubs doors it was a no brainer, and I was on the barrier as fast as a glam rock rat up a drainpipe trouser leg watching possibly the band's best performance of the year. Storming through their 'BeZerk' album in track order as they had done recently at the Borderline show, the band seemed relaxed and genuinely blown away by the crowd reaction. The dynamic duo of Kim and Jay maybe the mouth and brains of Tigertailz but it's Matt and Nailz who gets the heart pumping into glam overload, the four together are simply unstoppable. 'Heaven' was once again dedicated to the memory of Pepsi Tate and once again I'd guess he'd be chuffed as fuck with what his band mates were doing here today. The set was rounded off with a candid two tissue fantasy moment from Kim Hooker, when the guys were joined by Kim and Jackie from Girlschool for a no nonsense version of Motorhead's 'Ace of Spades'. Not content with simply entertaining us musically Tigertailz also managed to provide two priceless pieces of comedy in their hour on stage, in the shape of Jay Pepper's "Please head bang in an orderly manner instructional tape" prior to the "Tigerschool" number and a classic Matt Blakout faux pas when he managed to fall off the edge of the stage at their set's stunning conclusion.... Classic.
Staying with the Metal Aid stage the next band up had a very special anniversary show to bring us, and boy were we up for a celebration. That's because the Quireboys were the soundtrack to our rebellious years, and in fact their Yngwie Malmsteen support slot was where we first met Mr Dom Daley all those years ago.... 'A Bit Of What We Fancied' indeed. So when the PA then blared out the 'It Ain't Half Hot Mum' theme tune you couldn't help but think they must either be psychic or taking the piss as the club was absolutely dripping sweat when 'Bite The Hand' and 'Tramps And Thieves' were delivered to much aplomb albeit without Spike for most of the first track as his mic was not turned on. Building on this momentum the band then progressed to playing most if not their entire debut album in their usual imitable form along with a few newer numbers like the quite beautiful 'Mona Lisa Smiled'. But I have to admit to having to leave just before the end as it was too damn hot in the venue and two nights of very little sleep and the resulting dehydration was starting to take it's toll on me (why did the venues insist on turning the heating on? It was like a fucking sauna at times). I'd also developed a constant sore throat at this point (which a few of my chalet buddies also had) that also meant that the quaffing of ale today had been restricted to that early morning flat cider experience and what the fuck was I doing drinking Hydro Active watching the Quireboys...Fuck this, I needed a lie down.
At this point we headed back to the chalet for some much-needed RNR, that's rest and relaxation for once, and left Gaz to catch up with Marya Roxx. (You can read his review of Marya here)
Back at base the rest of our gang took in some Dad's Army whilst for me it was a chance to close my eyes and follow it up with a couple of Nurofen. Getting my arse back in gear with just enough time for a quick stomp back to the venue for the return of Rogue Male on the main stage.
Hmmm, As 'Cold Blooded Man' sort of limped its way out of the PA you could tell there was something not quite right about the band's performance. 'Dressed Incognito' still sounded like a superb song but Jim and his merry men were far from merry and about four songs in it became very obvious that the guys were not playing with a full deck of musical cards, having seemingly been fucked over by some other band equipment wise. At this point I started giving out flyers and one of the first people I happened upon was Geoff Barton (Classic Rock), whose writing through the years was one of the reasons I got into loads of cool bands, so I hung around for a while bumping into quite a few old friends and finished off the rest of Rogue Male's set. Remember 'Take No Shit' Jim Lyttle and get back on the road soon.
Talking of shit, that's what I've always thought of W.A.S.P. Back in the early Eighties I bought into the whole 'Animal' buzz but was never convinced by any of the subsequent albums, and by the time Blackie was cavorting around with rubber Ghoulies and 'Screaming Till He Liked It' I had long thought of the band as nothing but a joke. But I suppose the joke was on me tonight as I have to admit that W.A.S.P were actually very good albeit with the help of many sampled vocals, or people who sounded like Blackie when he wasn't anywhere near a mic (I think we'll go with the former eh). Opening with a spirited 'On Your Knees/The Real Me' coupling that had the venue immediately eating out of their hands the performance was infectious and enthusiastic, certainly a far cry from the last time I'd seen them. So the newer tracks like 'Crazy' were about as live as your classic Top Of The Pops performance but it was on tracks like 'Blind In Texas' and 'Chainsaw Charlie' where we first saw the truly united appreciation of a band by those in attendance. Almost live in the not so raw...then, but still a very good show.
If you've never flyered anywhere before then you're certainly missing out on an experience and a half. Quite why we decided to pick the gap between the two possibly biggest bands of the day sets I'll never know, but having Tigertailz guitarist Jay Pepper working with us certainly helped our market penetration...so to speak, and a big thank you from the Übers for this Jay, your enthusiasm and energy is endless.
It also meant that with an empty man bag, for the first time in the day I could finally relax and enjoy myself, just in time for my least favourite band of the weekend Queensryche. Every time I've seen Queensryche they never fail to disappoint me. From their horrid Dio support way back when to their snore fest at Donington '91 this band would have to be spitting flames and running on full for them to get my full attention, Well, let's just say that after a few technical issues they once again didn't fail to not deliver and I made my way to the bar along with a load of die hard Queensryche fans (who seemed to be heading from the Club stage where Metal on Metal was unfolding) in readiness for THE band I'd wanted to see more than any other this weekend the New York Dolls.
It's hard to sum up in just a few words just how awesome New York Dolls are these days, but I'll certainly give it a go. From Steve Conte to Sami Yaffa to the original duo of David and Sylvain everyone on the stage was beaming from ear to ear when they launched into the timeless 'Babylon'. I guess they were smiling because those of us left in the sadly now half full hall were mainly diehards and musicians up for a great end to their weekends, and the Dolls were not about to disappoint us. Classics like 'Pills' were rammed home with the bands usual ramshackle efficiency, along with newer soon to be classics like 'Dance Like A Monkey' and 'Cause I Sez So', that had the front few rows going genuinely barmy. Finishing with a lightning fast 'Trash', Death Metal Hell (c/o David Johansen) was over way toO quickly for the New York Dolls, they could have played all night and it simply wouldn't have been long enough.
Well how do you follow that? Well you can't full stop. So as Gaz and the rest of the guys caught up with the Metal On Metal stage I decided to stick around with one or two of the Glitterati guys and catch some Lauren Harris, hmmmm, same shit different day then Lauren. Sorry I just don't get this.
By the time SPiT LiKE THiS hit the stage it was stupid o'clock and I'd now had far too much to drink thanks to Mr Dom Daley plying us with double doubles and my throat felt like Hades itself, so sadly it was difficult for me to join in on the usual scat jazz intro of 'Sleaze Sells...But Who's Buying' in fact I was starting to think it was difficult for me to stand as Lord Zion was very quick to pick up regarding most of those of us who had made it to the bitter sweet end of Hard Rock Hell 3. I look forward to seeing Lord Zed and his troops sometime soon when hopefully I'll be a little more compus mentus
So with our hearts heavy as the last notes of Hard Rock Hell 3 rang out from Cyndi Rott's guitar we made our way back to our chalet for our usual 4am shenanigans and looked back at what had yet been another fantastic weekend of music and meeting some of the best people you'll ever bump into at a gig. And you know that's what makes Hard Rock Hell so special...the people who attend it, OK most of them are pissed out of their heads (myself included on the last night) but it's like one big happy family looking out for one another, no trouble, no bullshit and no egos, people are just there to enjoy the bands and themselves. And kudos also to Jonni and his gang at Hard Rock Hell for once again capturing that spirit and vibe, even if the surroundings at Prestatyn have still got Reg Varney's paintwork in them.
I can only see this Hard Rock Hell franchise and its associated brands getting bigger and better from here on, with 2010's second Hammerfest and June 2010's planned Road Trip to Ibiza. The latter turning Brian Potter's vision of 'everything under one roof' totally on its arse for 'sunshine outdoors'. So long may this continue, because this is easily the best festival franchise in the UK right now, hands down, no fucking contest.... I'm sure you will all agree with me on this at least
Saturday Highlights? New York Dolls, The Glitterati and Tigertailz (for me); add in Quireboys (for the rest of the guys)
Weekend Highlights? As I said on Thursday, the whole bloody thing from start to finish...Priceless stuff.
To be continued in 2010...watch this space.