It’s the first time I have attended an event arranged by the fellows at Hard Rock Hell!! and congratulations to them, they really know how to put on a good show. This weekends HRH venue was the O2 Academy in Leicester which is located on the University of Leicester’s campus and is next door to the famed ‘De Montfort Hall’ which has, in the past, hosted performances from the likes of Bob Dylan, Marillion, Iron Maiden and would you believe it superstar rockers KISS!!
In terms of value for money the HRH team have got you covered on that one, hosting 25 bands across 2 stages with tickets costing less than a couple of pizzas from Dominoes!! Who could possible grumble at that!!
For those who ventured upstairs to see the bands on the second stage, they were entertained by performances on Saturday from Old Glory and the Black Riviera, Dig Lazarus, These Wicked rivers, The City Kids and False Hearts. Sunday saw Fires of Freya, Darker My Horizon, Blind River, Lonely Dakota and finishing up were Molly Karloff. Noticeably for me, Blind Rivers set was great to see with the energy they brought to the stage. I also enjoyed Molly Karloff and their mask wearing crowd participants. It would make a great band/crowd photo.
On Saturday the main stage saw Caroline Eve Keyon with her band Bastette and their modern alternative rock sound. White Raven Down performing Salvation, Take Me and Roll of the Dice. DeVience, Gorilla Riot, Ryders Ceed all putting on strong performances. Florence Black, the three piece band from South Wales performed Breadfan as a trbute to fellow Welshman Burke Shelly of Budgie. Bad Touch were well received by the crowd with front man Stevie Westwood performing 99%, I Get High and a cover of Alanis Morissette’s Hand In My Pocket. All this whilst Stevie was wearing his Christmas party sequin jacket!! What could be more ‘Rock n Roll’ than that!!
Saturday night came to an end with headliners Wayward Sons performing their hits Even Up The Score, Land of The Blind and ending their set with Until The End. Sam Wood was excellent on Guitar even after loosing his footing early in the bands performance that saw him come crashing down into the amps. Nic Wastell was making great use of the stage space. Phil Martini dressed for the occasion smashing the drums in his shirt and tie. And Toby Jepson kept informing the crowd of the wrong notes he was playing, honestly though who can really tell?. This band gets better every time we see them, catch them on tour in March. Get tickets here from Gigantic
Sundays kicked off with a set from Cumbrian southern rock influenced Thirteen Stars. Fronted by Hoss Thompson they performed a 9 song set. Trident Waters were up next playing some of their tracks off their Opus Armada and Seven Albums. Liberty Lies entertained the crowd with their popular song United Nothing and of course Are You Listening, who wouldn’t be to this rock band from the West Midlands. I became a new fan of Twister tonight with video screen amps and Frontman Stevie Stoker looking like he’s just stepped out of an 80’s glam rock band. They let loose with their guitars and rocked the O2. They head out on tour soon check them out if they are at a venue near you. Up next were Hells addiction. According to their Spotify profile they are ‘A 5piece balls-out rock band from Leicester’ and with the popularity in the crowd you could tell!! Much of the setlist was new material with Running Away and We’re on Fire being from previously released EP’s. The Band were great and knew how to put on a rocking show. The other local Leicester band at the venue tonight was SKAM. With a 1000 gigs under their belt the trio, Steve, Matt and Neal know how to put on a show. I don’t think I have ever seen a bass player before who can pull faces quite like Matt Gilmore. Drawing on 10 years of performing they played Take It Or Leave It, Iron Cross, No Lies and their cover of Sabbaths ‘War Pigs’. The Final act needed to be good with the quality of the 24 bands that had gone before them over the weekend. Que Massive Wagons!! The band from Lancaster stormed onto the stage and performed their 16 track set for the next 90 minutes. For the first 3 songs Baz looked liked he’d just been released from a Jack in The Box as he bounced all over the stage. With plenty of head banging and hair flailing his energy was overflowing out into the crowd. Next up was Billy Balloon head, a favorite of mine and one of their most listened to songs on Spotify. Then it was Banging On The Radio, off the Wagons House of Noise album, with a slight twist as they mixed it with The Clashes ‘I Fought The Law’ and Cheep Trick’s ‘Surrender’. A few tracks later they were playing China Plates, a fast paced mick taking of the Facebook world we live in. As the song neared the ending Baz took to his roadies shoulders and took a ride round the crowd grasping peoples hands as he sung the lines from the song. Its great when a band interacts with the crowd, its memory making for those who attend. A few more songs including Ratio and Tokyo got the crowd singing along with the band. Then it was time, as Baz put it, that the band had to pretend to leave the stage and then come back again. The final three songs were Fight The System, which the Wagons played previously at a HRH gig in 2012 when they started getting some traction in the industry. The easy to sing along to Fee Fi Fo Fum and the final song of the weekend was the charity and tribute song to Quo’s Rick Parfitt Back To The Stack. A brilliant song to end the weekend with the crowd singing and dancing along to the song whilst raising hands and glasses to the band. I wont lie I really enjoy seeing the Massive Wagons and look forward to the next time they pass by.
All in all the Hard Rock Hell weekend was a brilliant success. A great thanks to the HRH team for their organising and scheduling of the event. The tech team who put on a flawless show with no issues that I recall and of course your selection of the bands that entertained us all for the weekend. See you again next time.