Hard Rock Hell IV - Prestatyn, Wales, 4th December 2010
|Event:||Hard Rock Hell Festival IV|
|Written by:||Baz Anderson|
Hard Rock Hell IV - Prestatyn, Wales, 4th December 2010 by Baz Anderson (61)
It is that time of year again. The Christmas decorations are coming out, the days are short, and already this year the temperatures have plummeted below freezing. It is once again time for the Hard Rock Hell festival in North Wales, thankfully still hosted indoors at the Pontins holiday resort. This year the festival was brought forward a day, with the main two days being the Friday and Saturday. Appearing as successful as always, the festival hosted a plethora of fantastic hard rock and metal bands over the two days. The atmosphere was once again great, and with bands such as Uriah Heep, Diamond Head and UFO on the first day, it is no wonder the mood was so good for the second day.
With the main stage not open yet, there was a surplus of people wandering around the venue. Over on the second stage, proceedings had been going on for a while, but the Greeks of Elysion failed to entice much an audience for their show. The small audience, although polite, were not particularly interested in the band's dreary music. The highlight of the set came with a seemingly out-of-the-blue cover of Guns N' Roses' "You Could Be Mine", the rest was background music.
With the main stage now open, introducing Paul Di'Anno on stage as a "legend" might be going a little far, but with a set almost entirely composed of songs from the first two Iron Maiden albums, people weren't going to complain. Paul himself seemed quite smug and unnecessarily kept reminding the audience he lived in Brazil and spoke Spanish, but songs such as "Phantom Of The Opera" and "Iron Maiden" from those early albums did sound great. Although there were smiles all-round, the whole set did feel a little shameful and a little cheap.
The first of the day's big cheeses, Helloween found themselves on much earlier than originally scheduled, but with a slightly longer set. The main hall became very busy, and enjoyed an opening duo of "Are You Metal?" and "Eagle Fly Free", before the band delved into a particularly bizarre set of songs. From the new album, only the previously mentioned song and "Where The Sinners Go" was played, and the rest of the set, bar one song, could have been found in 1988. The odd song out was a completely random performance of "Handful Of Pain", but we also got great performances of "I'm Alive" and "March Of Time" that don't usually see the light of day. Apart from a galloping, but even more bizarre version of "Ride The Sky", the rest of the set was all the usual "Keeper..." era songs.
The band sounded great and the audience were certainly enjoying it, but once again the band dragged "I Want Out" and especially "Future World" out way too long to be enjoyable. From over the years Helloween have so many albums to draw great songs from, but still feel the obligation to fill the set with these old songs regardless to the fact that they are included in every single tour and have been played to death. Andi needs to stop speaking to the audience like they are dim and realise they don't want to sing the same line from "Future World" for ten minutes. Aside from this, Helloween once again put on a superb show and gave us one of the highlights of the day.
Over on the second stage, Stratovarius were having a sorry time with a small audience that started to grow a little after the Helloween set. The band didn't seem overly thrilled with the lack of interest, even with songs like "The Kiss Of Judas" there just didn't seem to be much interest in the band. The band were somewhat entertaining with some good music, but the lack of excitement from both sides didn't make this show special.
Michael Schenker Group
Former UFO guitarist Michael Schenker found himself on the main stage next with his Michael Schenker Group, complete with Gary Barden back on vocals. We were drawing towards the last end of the last day of the festival, so with MSG it was a case of only the more dedicated followers appreciating the show at the front, while the majority stood back or sat down to appreciate the show. The German guitarists followers seemed to think the show was near perfect, and Gary's stage presence and singing only helped matters. For the majority though, this was an opportunity to take a breather.
Back at Prestatyn since their show at Hammerfest last year, Saxon were back to perform their last show of the year. Kicking off their set with "Heavy Metal Thunder", the band were going to perform somewhat of a similar set to Helloween previously in the day. The band played the first three songs from their Into The Labyrinth album, a random performance of "Dogs Of War", and the rest of the set consisted of songs that could have been found in the year 1983. Saxon's earlier albums are the band's golden era, but it seems the band feel such an obligation to play their early songs to death over mixing the setlist up a bit with some different songs.
The only surprise of the set was the seldom played "The Eagle Has Landed", but regardless of everything else, all the old favourites such as "Princess Of The Night" and "Motorcycle Man" still definitely do the job well. Closing with "Wheels Of Steel" and for Ronnie James Dio; "Denim And Leather", the band who are in the studio writing and recording another new album right now certainly put on the highlight and best set of the day. This legendary band still oozes with quality, and looking at the way they are going, they won't be slowing down any time soon. Fantastic stuff.
Closing the festival, Blaze Bayley found himself on the main stage much later than originally scheduled. After Saxon had finished, there was somewhat of a mass exodus of the main hall as the tired and worn out people left to either grab another drink or go to sleep. As Blaze kicked off his set with the pacey and crushingly heavy "The Man Who Would Not Die", the hall once again became respectably populated.
This man is a real fighter and seems to have been through it all from his Iron Maiden days, to establishing himself as a solo artist, and the unfortunate passing of his wife a couple of years ago. His music sounded surprisingly great, and this guy definitely deserves more credit than he gets, but the late hour was unfortunately just too much for many.
Hard Rock Hell in its fourth year was once again a resounding success. The Pontins venue is a fantastic place for this kind of event with two main stages that have plenty of space for the audience to stand or sit and watch. The bars are extensive, and there is fast food served by the venue itself. In between bands if you're not purchasing your next beverage, there is the option to play in the arcade or have a look through the stalls that are set up. Having a bed to sleep in at the venue itself makes these Hard Rock Hell and Hammerfest festivals something quite unique. A really comfortable and certainly enjoyable experience for all ages. Once again, this festival has shown us that these events are going strong with extremely strong support from the people who come year after year. These festivals are definitely events to put in your calendar every year.
For an interview with Markus of Helloween recorded during this day, click here.
Thanks to Jon and all at Hard Rock Hell for the accreditation.
Written by Barry Anderson.
Photos by Barry Anderson.
||Written on 06.12.2010 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
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