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HRH AOR 2 - Saturday 22nd March

posted 10 Apr 2014, 13:28 by Paul Woodward

Review by Woody

I have to say some of the sound issues that affected the Friday bands were totally dealt with and every band I saw on the Saturday benefitted from an excellent sound. It’s almost as if someone heard me moaning! Festivals can be a bit patchy with sound given the limited sound check times and of course varying styles and needs of all the bands. But it was great to see every band today with a great sound mix.

Having been waylaid on my way to the venue I don’t get into the venue until Black Country pop rockers East Of Eden are well into their set. Yesterday all the bands I saw gathered a decent crowd but unfortunately for the bands playing this afternoon they played to a small group of fans and for these first couple of bands there was barely a handful watching. Which was a shame for these Dudley based rockers who have a really enjoyable sound it’s obvious they have a love for pop music as well as rock as that’s what they do they blend a rockier guitar edge to an ultra melodic pop sensibility. It should not surprise anyone who saw them that they will be supporting McBusted – if you don’t know who they are I doubt you’ll want to know. But it is a very big opportunity for these youngsters to spread their name to a wider audience.

I enjoyed their set but would like to see them on home turf or on a smaller stage as they seemed a little nervous and unsure on stage – they let the music do the talking here, but I do think they need to build their stage craft. Now these guys are obviously kids and are probably blissfully unaware of the underground melodic rock community and how precious us AOR anoraks can be but I feared for their safety as I heard the guitar riff to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. Now in AOR circles ‘Grunge’ and ‘Nirvana’ are usually met with raging bouts of violent fit's of abuse – so this could have got nasty! Thankfully this wasn’t straight cover and was actually a quite inventive mash up with wacko jacko’s ‘Billie Jean’ so was quite melodious. Playing grunge at a melodic rock festival is a bit like having Satan pop out of Jesus’s Birthday cake – it’s not going to go down well and may involve someone getting bitch slapped.

They aren’t AOR in the slightest but if like me you can appreciate some pop rock they are well worth giving a listen too.

Russians Reds’cool was a late addition to the HRH AOR line-up but I wasn’t shocked to see them added as they were touring with UFO across Europe. I was looking forward to the chance to check these guys out after enjoying their album Bad Bad Story. It was a shame the crowd wasn’t bigger for when they hit the stage as they are the real deal a solid and tight live outfit that perform like they were born to It. As a new band, at least to me, I had presumed their performance may have been more timid or reserved especially as the hall wasn’t full for them. They really brought the rock and the crowd responded exceedingly positively to their brand of ultra melodic classic rock. Based on this performance I could see these guys really breaking through and hopefully the UFO support will allow them get onto the average rock fans radar.

They seemed even more smooth and melodious than they do on their album, something I really relished and this drew me even more to the band. I do fear a language barrier could hinder the bands progress in the UK which is a real shame given what a solid live unit they are. Amongst their set we heard ‘Brand New Start’, ‘Hey You’, ‘Forget You’ and ‘Bad Bad Story’. Well worth checking out!

Scandinavian’s Dynazty who I’ve been following for a while play a very melodic brand of sleaze stereotypical of what their homeland produces. Or at least they did, these guys have had a massive sound change and to be honest it’s not for everyone. They have a new album coming called Renatus and it see’s the band move firmly into a power metal territory, fast guitars and an even faster rhythm section – think Dragonforce and your sort of onto the style they have drifted into. Personally it’s not for me and songs like ‘Run Amok’ just scared the bejesus out of me and fitting in some older numbers felt awkward and it really disjointed the flow of the show and you could sense the band were very keen to stick the metallic edge of their newer material.

The crowd seemed very appreciative but I found myself checking my watching and been totally gobsmacked at such a drastic change in the band’s sound. I’m not a fan of their changes but I do sense the change in direction could help push them towards a wider audience.

After indulging in an afternoon siesta cocooned in a blanket hugging a hot water bottle in front of a roaring fire and watching Arnie classic ‘Kindergarten Cop’, yes I know I’m so rock n roll! I decided it was time to head back to the main arena even though I had originally planned to miss Love/Hate I decided to head back over to make sure I got a good spot for tonight’s entertainment. I was a little shocked at what I returned too, the crowd gathered was the biggest any band got over the entire weekend and the bouncy crowd gave the loudest response to any band I witnessed. Now I may not be a fan but according to the HRH AOR gathering I am most certainly totally alone in my dislike of the band.

Jizzy Pearl and Co certainly know how to bring it and you’d think I was watching tonight’s headliners. My opinion of the band has greatly changed – now don’t get me wrong I’m still not a fan of their music but I have a lot of respect for them as live performers and how they work a crowd. If you were a Love/Hate fan you would have loved every minute of this set as everyone around me seemed to be. The crowd quickly thinned after they left the stage and even though a few more came back in later in the evening the room was never anywhere near as full again as it was for Love/Hate. I wouldn’t be shocked if many state they were their band of the weekend.

Coldspell are one of those bands I’m desperate to love but I just can’t seem to get into them. It’s hard to explain because they have so many elements that appeal to me in music, they are hugely melodic, have full frontal keyboards, lots of vocal harmonies and a strong singer, but I just can’t connect with them and I don’t know what that missing part is. They have built up a strong and loyal fan base and you can see clearly from the fans reactions they are hitting all the right notes with the melodic rock community – in fact I don’t know anyone into this genre of music who doesn’t love these guys – I really do feel like the odd man out. It’s like I’m in a room full of people and someone has just told a joke and everyone is busting a gut laughing except for me.

There is no denying what a solid live unit Coldspell are and it’s easy to hear and see how they have won such a loyal fan base. They are an extremely hard working band and those efforts are picked up by and appreciated by their fans. But my detachment from their music makes it very hard for me to cheer and appreciate them more, I have a lot of respect for them as musicians and the hard work they put into their music. Maybe one day it’ll click and I’ll finally hear what everyone else is! I do own all their albums and recognised most their set so here’s what we heard and those down the front danced and sang along too, ‘Heroes’, ‘Angel Of The World’, ‘Six Feet Under’, ‘ Paradise’ , ‘When Night Falls’, ‘ One In A Million’, ‘On The Run’, ‘Eye Of The Storm’, ‘Soldiers’ and ‘Time’.

Given Graham Bonnet’s truly abysmal performance at The Robin a few days prior to this performance, I wasn’t sure he would show tonight and even if I wanted to be here if he did. Talking to a few people about what happened at that gig the gossip is Bonnet did indeed seek medical attention the following morning – which would make sense as it wasn’t a bad a show in he was messing it up he literally lost his voice.

Tonight vocally he was a million times better although that wasn’t hard to achieve and there was obviously some medical reason why his performance in Bilston was so bad. That said it wasn’t a stellar performance, his voice did frequently crack and float out of tune, what I did notice is Bonnet acknowledge these flaws and make sure he didn’t stretch himself to the point where his performance would overly suffer. The set was OK at best but the mid set lull did have me drifting asleep, it had been a long weekend for me! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! But it did mean I didn’t fully appreciate the end of the set as I found myself wishing for my bed!

They played ‘Eyes Of The World’, ‘Love’s No Friend Of Mine’, ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, ‘Bad Girl’, ‘Making Love’, ‘Stargazer’, ‘ Catch The Rainbow’, ‘ All Night Long’, ‘Lost In Hollywood’ , ‘Long Live Rock N Roll’.

His backing band were faultless and well practiced – you can’t say enough superlatives to describe how well these guys recreated all those Rainbow classics and Bonnet couldn’t have asked for a better backing band which included Shy drummer Bob Richards. Bonnet himself though seemed to divide audience reaction many die hard's fully loving every second but the other half finding his onstage antics and banter annoying and in some cases disrespectful. Personally I felt he was trying too hard to entertain and maintain his reputation for bad behaviour and unpredictability. It was clear from the onset he would struggle to win the whole of the crowd.

Overall I had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed the Festival as a whole and of course it was great to see so many awesome bands all in one place. Although Hafan Y Mor is a real beast of a journey to get too and I think most people have a moan about it I think the set up there is great so it sort of makes up for it. Both the arena’s I saw were great and far larger than I was expecting and I loved the convenience of everything been so close. You literally check in and relax and as everything is onsite you don’t have to deal with a busy city around you. I know Caravan’s aren’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but I actually prefer the homeliness of a caravan than the sterile nature of a hotel room. I avoid Hotel’s like the plague and find it easier to chill and relax in a caravan. The only downside to the Caravan for me was the cold unfortunately the temperatures dipped to below freezing this weekend and it made it very uncomfortable especially at night. Thankfully I had the foresight to take an extra warm blanket and a hot water bottle me, although it was still bitterly cold and I don’t like cold! I’m definitely hoping to be back next year as I had a great time and hopefully the HRH AOR peeps will be able to assemble another tasty line-up with the added bonus of a Sleaze stage which sounds very promising.