The community spirit on site is thriving. Newcomers are welcomed by all, and plenty of familiar faces can be seen as well. Camp HRH is partying, and once again totally sold out. I arrived on site Friday lunchtime (although officially it started Thursday evening) and you could tell it was going to be a couple of highly memorable days (and for some, perhaps, daze). With everything needed to keep you going throughout the weekend perfectly provided on site – not to mention reasonable bar prices! – it’s time to dive right into the party, just as if it were the 80’s all over again!
Kane’d kick off their set to a decent sized crowd in the main arena. Forty-five minutes of melodious rhythms and booming choruses saw them get a great response throughout. It’s accessible rock and the vocal diversity of this female trio works well to enhance the sound, making them definitely one to watch.
It was supposed to be all over for Love/Hate, but thankfully something urged their charismatic frontman to re-start the engine. Jizzy Pearl’s Love/Hate came here to party and that’s exactly what they did; banging out tune after tune and sprawling about the stage as if he belonged nowhere else. The classics kept on coming, the audience swelled in size and their enduring popularity was confirmed. Blackout in the Red Room, Wasted in America, and Spinning Wheel certainly whipped the place into a frenzy; if you shut your eyes it was like taking a trip back in time. Hopefully this will not be the last we hear of them.
Bang Tango were going to have their work cut out now, as maintaining the atmosphere that had been created before they came on was going to be a sizeable job. The band had the looks and the attitude, but maybe in part because Bang Tango didn’t quite have the same commercial success (and hence local fan base) as their predecessors here in the UK, they didn’t quite manage to keep the venue at capacity; but that doesn’t take away from what was an hour of wholesome teenage nostalgia, and a great opportunity to see them here on UK soil.
FM’s commercial pop rock pulled back a very large audience (they seemed particularly popular with female fans) and the general consensus from all around was they didn’t disappoint.
But for most people this weekend was all about Lita Ford. Still looking like a million dollars, and sounding as if she had never stopped playing, Lita’s rammed to capacity performance was backed by a band who stood up to the musicianship required. Along with the abundant stage presence – those who had never witnessed one of rock’s most impressive performers were getting a top-notch show. The hits kept on coming, the crowd was able to sing along to the booming choruses, and the in-between song banter bought smiles to many faces. This was Lita Ford at her prime tonight, in a great setting and delivering in every aspect. Cranking out a couple of Runaways tunes seemed like a smart move, and they were lapped up as eagerly as Kiss Me Deadly and Gotta Let Go. One and a half hours of pure heavy rock, let’s just hope it’s not so long until Lita Ford graces our shores again.
And so to Day two. The welcome food at the local on-site haunt The Mash & Barrel pub lined the stomach well and set me up for the pleasant walk across site to the main arena. Vega let rip with forty minutes of accessible rock, setting the ambience for today’s atmosphere, with a good sound and responsive crowd participation, it’s completely understandable why this band has such a dedicated following.
It was just as Mike Tramp’s performance neared stage time that the arena really started to shudder with excitement. The quality of Mike Tramp’s music stands head and shoulders above all, as he mixes his solo songs with classic White Lion tunes performed with his own unique twist. More than the voice and his undeniable talents on the guitar, he can hold an audience in his thrall, a command of the stage both gained from –and no doubt a big part of the reason for – the longevity of his career. With a fantastic stage sound, and an aura of 80’s arena rock Mike Tramp gave one of the most memorable performances this year at HRH AOR. Universally enjoyed.
A sudden change of tone after such a sophisticated, gentlemanly, and precise performance, but the dirty street sleaze of LA Guns is what many had come to see today. The re-united Phil Lewis, and Tracii Guns arguably should have happened way before this, but all those years of waiting created such an energetic stance that the atmosphere was explosive. With only an hour to deliver it was no surprise they decided to cherry pick the classics (it was what we all wanted to see and hear anyway) and the on stage camaraderie between the two rockers was positively pleasing… “It’s okay we’re mates again now!” Phil Lewis seemed more than pleased to announce. Electric Gypsy, Sex Action, One More Reason, Rip and Tear, and The Ballad of Jayne, all executed perfectly and made for the stand out performance of the entire weekend for me. Let’s just hope this partnership is the start to a new era of LA Guns and they can re-capture everything lost over the years.
Mike Monroe followed, performing like a true legend. The former Hanoi Rocks frontman has successfully made a name for himself as a solo artist and held the responsive audience exactly where you would expect. Leaving the stage continuously to climb poles, barriers, and eventually the crowd there was no holding back on energy from the Finish vocalist. With Sammy Yaffa on bass (ex-Hanoi Rocks) and one guitar player down (for personal reasons) Michael Monroe did what he had too, and more, confirming to everyone why he is doing what he does. He is a rocker, and a performer, and whether it be one of the desired Hanoi tunes, or one of his succulent solo offerings he does not disappoint.
And so to close proceedings Slaughter had an hour and a half to bring everything into place. Mark Slaughter delivered a solid set, but it’s the continuous onstage antics of the drummer which really catch the eye – arms and legs everywhere yet keeping solid rhythms along the way. The surprise omission of Shout It Out (from the Bill & Ted film) disappointed some, but when they finished with Up All Night all was forgiven as this was exactly what the full house came here to devour.
HRH AOR V has been a complete success once again, encompassing some fantastic bands in an ideal setting. Rekindling old flames for fans like me, and introducing plenty of innovative avenues for newcomers. See you next year! Mark Freebase