Due to timings this was sadly the only Acoustic set that I managed to attend, but what a set to catch. The Radio Sun were excellent at last year’s Festival and having released another great album since then they were one of the most anticipated bands for the weekend. As luck would have it as the guys were backing band for Paul Laine they both decided to just make a longer session without a break. Tracks like “One In A Million” and “Maybe” sounded great in the acoustic setting and as always the harmonies within the band make it more special. When Paul Laine joined in the songs may have changed, but the jovial atmosphere remains with some great banter, and how could you not enjoy hearing Danger Danger classics like “Don’t Walk Away” and “Goin’ All The Way” with the additional backing of Jason, Steve and Rob, one of those glad to have been there sets.
One of the bands that were new to me were Walkway, a four piece from Norfolk, who put on an excellent set and grabbed their chance on the Main Stage on the 2nd day of HRH AOR V with both hands, the opening slot of the day is notoriously difficult, with some sore heads around and some people yet to arrive on site, but it was also refreshing to see the arena filling up quickly as they started their set, and they made sure they made a good impression. Loved hearing powerful drums mixed in with great hard rock, great energy and a showman lead guitarist along with a different sound. Tracks like really stood in the memory after the set were the ones with a little kick in them, “Running Back To You”, the excellent “All I Want” that really drives along and “Rise”. Vocally I think Chris along with his own sound has a little bit of a mix of Scorpions Klaus Meine and the best bits of Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil, it’s an interesting and slightly different style. The band clearly works very hard on what they do and hopefully the next album will expose them to a wider audience and we get to see them again soon.
Another band returning to the Main stage at Hafan Y Mor were Welsh rockers Kane’d. The Welsh songstresses are once again very impressive and really get the crowd going.
After a very successful set the previous year Welsh rockers Kane’d once again played a cracking set for the large crowd in attendance. When you have 3 really good quality female singers in a band the trick is figuring out how to get the balance right, and it’s not just about the girls there’s a really good sounding band behind them, their particular brand of Rock works so well in a Festival environment. This is a band that work really hard on how their set looks on stage, synchronising movements, trading vocals, stepping in and out of the spotlight, it all adds to the show the band put on, and it’s definitely something that endears the them to the crowd. Highlights today have to be the wonderful “Beautiful But Tragic” and crowd pleasers “I See Ya” and the excellent closer “La Di Da” which always seems to get people moving. The mix of styles and flexibility that they get from having 3 vocalists along with hard work sees this band come back again – same time next year.
Romeo’s Daughter are a band that has just been getting better and better over the last few years, seriously they are absolutely on fire at the moment. Leigh’s voice is as wonderful as it always has been, Craig, Ed and Andy are such a tight-knit unit and best of all there are so many smiles (sounding like a broken record I know, but watching bands loving what they do is infectious) while they play, it must make it so much easier to get out and play every show. There’s an affection reflected from the crowd that must be getting picked up by the band, and whether it’s their own show or a Festival Appearance like this they always give 100%. It’s now been two years since the release of the album Spin and the new songs blend in so well with the classics, there’s a great balance to this set and the band look and sound amazing. Alongside “Heaven In The Backseat”, “Bittersweet” which never fails to get you going, “I Cry Myself To Sleep At Night” and “Wild Child” we now see newer tracks like “Radio” and “Enemy” getting similar reactions and being sung along to from more people every time they are played. Please get out and support this band, Romeo’s Daughter are one you should get to see as often as you can, as they mature their class is visibly pouring out of them.
Taking to the same stage as he did a year earlier, but this time with his own band Love/Hate, Jizzy Pearl still maintains the swagger that you want and should expect from a frontman of his stature. Hitting the stage with a bang and sporting an interesting looking cross of beer cans there’s no messing around in this set, straight for the jugular with “Wasted In America” and “Spit”, the energy levels are high and the band are right there with Jizzy, naturally enough the majority of the tracks in this early evening set are taken from the Wasted In America album on its 25th Anniversary. Perhaps better suited to the Sleaze stage/festival the band is still a big draw whenever they play. Towards the middle of the set while the band were still powering on some fuel was required by this reviewer, another great thing about the venue at HRH is that you can go grab some food and still actually be in the venue and hear/see the music. It does make a massive difference as a pundit to not have to miss out on bands. The solos are screaming right the way through, and a prowling Jizzy the band end their set with another classic “Blackout In The Red Room” which is just a killer track and leaves the crowd wanting more. Long may his visits to the UK continue.
Having never managed to catch Bang Tango back, it is always interesting to see not only how they sounded but would they have that same punch that they once did, especially with only one original member in the band, the enigmatic Joe Lesté (Lead Vocals). Ably backed up by Lance Eric (Bass), former Dio guitarist Rowan Robertson and Timmy Russell pounding on the skins. Very solid band and although the vocals were very low in the mix at times during their set Lesté’s approach and banter worked well. But there was still something missing, that bit of punch, which would have been there with a second guitarist, it would have made a massive difference. The songs were all there from “Dancin’ On Coals”, “Breaking Up A Heart Of Stone” and probably the track of the set “Someone Like You”.
Three years since their last visit to the UK Autograph bounced onto the stage and just nailed it right from the start. Randy (Bass) is still an imposing character, Steve (Guitar) is still one hell of a player, and Simon and Marc have brought new passion to the fold, what a super unit they have become. The energy levels were so high, the band are so tight and damn look at them onstage, they look like family, they are loving playing and having fun. Kicking things off with a supercharged version of “Deep End” the guys run through a list of greatest hits and a couple of tracks off last year’s Louder EP, they really have people pumped up, scanning the crowd there’s a palpable excitement running around the arena. When Autograph got back together and announced a new singer there was of course a lot of trepidation, but it was obvious three years ago that Simon would fit in perfectly. The set just builds up to a crescendo and with “All I’m Gonna Take” and “Send Her My Love”, and when they move from a Steve Lynch solo right into “Turn Up The Radio” being blasted out at 100% the crowd wanted more, and they got it – a stand out performance these guys were awesome, lots of people stood out of their seats at the end to applaud one of the bands of the weekend.
UK AOR Legends FM always put on a masterclass when they play these Festivals, and this evening is no exception. Tracks like “Someday (You’ll Come Running)”, which I still think is a massively underrated song, “That Girl” and “Other Side Of Midnight” are more than just great songs, they really are classics, and they are timeless, we all know that Mr. Overland could sing the phone book and make it sound great, but at this stage as part of the AOR Scene we really need to treasure this band, they don’t play bad shows and they still seem to be very humbled that they are still in demand. Still a bit confused by the “pyro” at the start of the set, just not sure it added anything to the song of the set, but that’s a personal thing. It’s still always a pleasure to hear these songs, and hear a band that really do produce every time they hit the stage, as with a number of other bands this weekend their more recent songs have now integrated really well into their set and just work, a little different to the older tracks, but the differences create a nice balance in the set. Another HRH AOR performance from FM and another great set.
In Lita Ford the HRH guys have added an absolute legend for the Headliner slot on the 2nd Day of HRH AOR 5. It had been an unbelievable 29 years since I last saw Lita play live, when she supported Bon Jovi on the New Jersey Tour, and unlike most of us the years have been very kind to Lita, who looks great and most importantly, looks happy with the band she’s working with, and they are excellent. The set really ebbs and flows a bit, particularly through the first half, but contains a good mix of tracks throughout Lita’s career. The sound is great for the band, and the importance of Patrick Kennison not only as a guitarist but also on vocals is huge, excellent guitarist and his vocal on “Close Your Eyes Forever” taking on Ozzy’s vocals is outstanding. With Lita inviting a fan and Ozzy lookalike on the stage after a little banter with the crowd was funny. The set highlights were definitely the closing tracks and this was exactly as things should be, finishing up with the timeless “Kiss Me Deadly”, it was a great big bombastic ending, the best tracks with the most power and it sounded great. Perhaps not the best set the guys have ever played, but it all got pulled back with the finish.
Overall a really cracking day’s music with a lot of variation, as always, wish the energy levels hadn’t dropped a bit during the Love/Hate & Bang Tango sets but sometimes even as a fan you just need to take a few minutes out and refuel and recharge for the rest of the day and night.
Words & pictures by Stephen Brophy