HARD ROCK HELL 15 - Day 2

HARD ROCK HELL 15 – Day 2

HRH: Hard Rock Hell 15 began a little slowly for some in my caravan. The after-effects of the night before still in full force. A couple of the boys took to work preparing a wonderful breakfast and much-needed coffees all around. Top job guys! Even though breakfast did not take place “early”, the drinks were not far behind! And not just normal stuff, but due to a joke backfiring, the caravan’s signature drink was concocted. Though only 2 out of 7 would have any part of it! Frankly, it looked gross! If you ever get offered a Big Dollop….decline🤣.

The caravan and also the ones filled with friends on either side of ours decided to head into a local brewery. While I would have enjoyed going along, I stayed behind to photograph as many bands as I could.

Ransom/The Kut/Outlaw Orchestra

Ransom launched stage 2 at 14:50. Never heard of these guys before and they weren’t mind-blowing. But they had a certain charm and charisma that just drew you in. Not to mention some great riffs too. I followed their socials and will see about getting some tracks into CGCM Rock Radio rotation. Unfortunately, it was only a quick 3 songs in the pit and all I heard of Ransom before hurrying over to Main Stage.

Today was a day with overlaps galore. Which is to be expected now that a second stage has come into play today. The Kut started at 15:10 and I’d looked into them before. Strikes me they were also slated on one of the covid cancelled Call of the Wilds. Three young ladies and a punk-tinged sound loaded with energy made a great set. I did miss a couple of songs in the middle as I was back to stage 2 to try BlockC. I quickly learned that wasn’t for me and returned to finish up The Kut.

The Outlaw Orchestra took to Main Stage at 16:30. While they played well and it was neat seeing some different than-the-norm instruments that they incorporated……way to “country” for my tastes.

Cassidy Paris

But that’s ok as in just 20 minutes on stage 2 was Cassidy Paris. Cassidy is the daughter of Wicked Smile guitarist Steve Janevski and this was one of my biggest targets this weekend. Unfortunately, and these things happen, there were some sound issues and techs scrambled around the stage trying to suss it out. By the time they were sorted, it was about 15, maybe 20 minutes late starting.

Before we even got that far Steve took the mic and asked folks to try to move further into the smaller room and use all the space. Apparently, the door was blocked and nobody could really get in or out! But holy monkeys did they come out with a force that left everyone reeling and immediately set the tone for the show. Cassidy really displayed a “take no prisoners” aura as she literally owned the stage. She captivated the audience as well in one of the most engaging sets of the weekend.

Behind young Cassidy is of course her father Steve and basically the rest of Wicked Smile. Vocalist Danny Cecati even joined the stage for a duet on “Stronger” (Wicked Smile cover). After photoing, I adjourned to the side stage and just enjoyed the gig. Along with her own tunes, Cassidy also tore Joan Jett‘s “I Hate Myself For Loving You” a new one in all the best ways possible. Wrapping up the set was as expected, her latest single “Wannabe“. This was definitely a main-stage quality act and an error by HRH for not putting them there. Great show, her first in the UK.

Good thing I opted out of the brewery or I would have missed Cassidy Paris. Those fools got waylaid and didn’t actually get back to the grounds before 7pm!

Gypsy Pistoleros

Bouncing on air after witnessing that display, it was back to Main Stage for Gypsy Pistoleros in less than 10 minutes. I’ve been aware of them for some time and I caught them at HRH Sleaze in Sheffield back in August. I’m not totally sure I get what they’re doing, described as “Flamenco, Sleaze, Glam” it just seems like a random mash-up of genre styles to me. That all changed on the HRH stage today. Gypsy Pistoleros came to lay waste and they did. A well-honed band and loaded with energy and stage presence.

Kabuki-type face paint also heightens the visual. A ton of fun to photograph as well, I’ll be listening to the album once I get back home. The only song I really knew was “The Mescalito Vampires (Welcome to the Hotel de la Muerta)” from my radio show a re-working of “Hotel California“. It served as the closing song tonight and a great wrap-up.

It’s about here that the day began to get away from me. While watching the full Gypsy Pistoleros show I missed Slackrr on stage 2. And followed suit with the next two bands Steal The City and The Blitz. I made up for Slackrr by catching them at the after-party later on though.

Dobermann

Another band I was excited about and had never seen previously were Italians Dobermann. Having been alerted to this trio some time back, I started with their Pure Breed album from 2017, the newest at the time. Great stuff, I love finding new bands. Then last year came Shaken To The Core. The title song saw some airplay a few times in my radio show and is still in the CGCM Rock Radio station library as well. But never did I expect to witness them live on stage, thanks HRH!

From the photo pit, I waited with an excitement. And on came Dobermann. I was a bit surprised, for some reason I equated them to be much younger twenty-somethings than they actually appeared to be! The Italian trio launched with “Shaken To The Core” and kept up from that album in the exact running order for “Staring At The Black Road” and “Stiff Upper Lip“. During the exit from the photo area, it was back to 2017’s Pure Breed for both “I Need A Holiday” and “Stuck In Traffic“.

Things slowed down then, which in my book is in no way ever a selling point. I personally hate ballads. After “Talk To The Dust“, the bassist/vocalist’s banter stated “we didn’t come here to play ballads, we came 1,000 miles for one reason and that’s to rock!” Uh, so then why did you play a ballad and destroy the momentum of such an awesome set?

A further set killer for me came shortly after in a drum solo. Beer time. Thankfully Dobermann picked things back up and finished strong with a selection off Pure Breed and Shaken To The Core. The final song was a great cover of Van Halen‘s “Hot For Teacher“. While I was happy to see Dobermann and enjoyed most of the set, I feel they would have fared much better with a 45-50 minute set time and drop the ballad and drum solo.

Girlschool

With the NWOBHM sound as my top-preferred style of tunes, Girlschool was high on my list of bands to see. I had seen them before on Monsters Of Rock Cruise and also at Sweden Rock Festival and expected no less of a blistering show here at HRH. And I was right! The ladies blasted off with the lead track from 1980’s Demolition album and “Demolition Boys“. Then it was a three-pack selected from the second album release, Hit And Run. in “C’mon Let’s Go“, “The Hunter” and my personal fave song, “Hit And Run“. I was quite pleased with the Girlschool setlist overall even including the title track from 1982’s third album Screaming Blue Murder and “Action” taken from 1988’s Take A Bite. A couple from the 2015 Guilty As Sin also found their way into the setlist tonight.

Overall though, most selections were culled from the debut and Hit And Run albums. Being so closely tied to Motorhead, I would have found it odd if they hadn’t squeezed in a Motorhead cover and “Bomber” was a prime selection. The set wrapped up with, as one might also have expected, “Emergency“.

At some point during Girlschool, I slipped over to stage two to get a look at Mad Haven who I’d seen before. Two songs in the photo pit, the second of which was “Get Lost“, my absolute favourite, saw me back to Girlschool.

Skid Row

The evening’s headliner was of course Skid Row. All the buzz is about the “new” Skid Row of late and frankly rightly so. When Skid Row‘s first two albums came out, they were staples of my youth. I’ve never really gelled with anything of theirs since then. I’ve seen Skid Row a number of times post-Bach and did enjoy the current frontmen at those times, just didn’t love the records. Now as a long-time fan of H.E.A.T, I was rather excited to see Erik Gronwall at the helm. The new album harkens back to the era and sounds of those first two. I’d seen Erik with H.E.A.T over ten times, but I still felt a little trepidatious and wondered how he would be with Skid Row. This was also the first time I’d see him live since his illness.

Starting out with “Slave To The Grind” quickly flashed any and all doubts from my mind. The band was on fire. They appeared to be having so much fun up there. It’s fair, as many have said, to state that Erik has re-vitalized Skid Row. Even with a guitar tech standing in for a positive Covid result that prevented DaveSnakeSabo‘s presence, this was the Skid Row show I’ve wanted all these years. Almost completely comprised of those iconic first two Skid Row albums, the setlist was near perfect. There were only two songs from the new record, which fit the vein of the setlist so very well. And the cover of The Ramones‘ “Psychotherapy“, which I frankly could have done without quite happily.

In some ways, it felt a little like karaoke with Erik Gronwall overall, but he sounds great on the classic material. The two new songs, as I mentioned, “Gang’s All Here” and “Time Bomb” were seemless in amongst the classics and I would have been happy to hear more. I can’t wait for the next Skid Row album, hopefully with Erik Gronwall having a hand in the writing to truly make the songs his own. I’m finally excited about Skid Row once again and Erik‘s smile throughout the entire show displayed his agreement.

The After Business

Time now for the after-party for VIPs. Amazingly I was still standing and feeling great. Must be the adrenaline of Skid Row keeping my “old man ailments” away from me tonight.

Slackrr were up first and I grabbed a few shots from the photo pit as I watched. A young band with a decent sound and I wouldn’t mind hearing some of the recorded songs.

The Mercury Riots would close out the evening’s festivities. The band seem to play every day here at HRH and nothing wrong with that! I had a few beers with some friends and enjoyed their short live set before wandering back home for the night.

…and so ended day two on-site at HRH 15 for me. There may or may not have been some drinking in the “van” before bedtime rolled around….lol. Day three coming soon to CGCM Rock Radio.

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Cheers,

The Meister

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