This year’s HARD ROCK HELL 7 – billed as the “Cirque du Rock” became a series of exciting discoveries and largely unexpected unearthings – especially for those thrill-seekers (like me) who enjoy the adventure of experimenting with new sounds and discovering new sensations.
So, for example, newcomers the ‘Screaming Eagles’ gained tremendous recognition for their hootering great “Rock N Roll Soul” number.
And everyone was talking about the fat-haired songsmith Barry from ‘Massive Wagons’ yodelling his heart out in a show that bit deep into our calloused veins and lingered long afterwards in our tortured hearts.
Sinister ‘Fatal Smile’ entertained us with their Cooper-rock schlock horror-show … and they had been on everyone’s ‘to do’ list since day one.
As were those darkly infamous ‘Cross Eyed Mary’ folks and their powerful eruptions.
Festival revellers also gloried in the heavyweight drooging rhythms of ‘Wildside Riot’ and the reefer-based rock ‘n’ roll stone-out anthems from ‘Groan’ … these caused dangerous palpitations and tremors of emotion right across the North Wales site.
As usual, ‘Arthemis’ overwhelmed the audience in an explosion of starlight fire and shining audio alchemy. And that groaning cupid’s grief doom from ‘Alunah’ brought us all into another level of dark existence.
The furious classic party rock from ‘Stormzone’ kept us spinning and banging like crazy banshees in a whirlwind of hell fire … and the barrelling somersaulting antics of of ‘Kyrbgrinder’ kept us all bemused and genuinely hypnotised with their excessive prog-metal grandiosity. (Their “Defiance” was a howl in the night!)
All this was great – but it was the old guys who really stood out at Hafn y Mor … those bold pioneers from rock ‘n’ roll history who have already spent a crazy lifetime on the road … lumbering, heaving and toiling just for us. Those guys laid down the true direction of heavy metal … so at least now the eager new guys know which way to take go. The old guys dreamt up the horizon. And the new guys are gonna take us there.
So we had Arthur Brown himself (with his Crazy World) … Zim – Zam – Zimming all around the stage and creating a toxic vortex that still shocks. He is, even now, inventing imaginative new ways to ‘ transmit’ music – and that’s after at least 45 years at ‘the sharp end’.
Or take the high-velocity 50+ year old bullet that is ‘Michael Monroe’ – he exuded blood, spit and poison on Stage One … it was like witnessing a tortured peroxide-headed coral snake with a hyperactivity disorder. Then we had the truly gentle – yet officially lupine – Blaze Bayley who is still doing it all with grace, dignity and impunity. He brought us a barrel of white-hot of sounds. The man is a living furnace. And an inspiration to us all.
But best of all was the “Unknown band” (at least, that’s what everyone was saying) called ‘Snakecharmer’. These guys have really paid their collective dues over the years. But they did a show at HRH that was so good it got the audience throwing themselves forward in a raging mass of tippy-toed excitement. The music was so consummate and magnificent that it made the muscles in our limbs contract, it made our tear ducts loosen, and it made the remaining strands of our hair stand on end.
‘Snakecharmer’ consists of Laurie Wisefield (guitars) with Micky Moody (also guitars), Chris Ousey (vocals) Neil Murray (bass) and Harry James (drums.) I may be the only living person to even have a copy of ‘The Alchemist’ from “Home” (1973) – recorded with AC / DC bassist Cliff Williams – but more importantly (for me) – the album had Laurie Wisefield on guitar. That’s because Laurie is best known for his contributions to Wishbone Ash during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Following Wishbone Ash, he continued to perform with Tina Turner, Joe Cocker and Roger Chapman.
Guitarist Micky Moody formed a band in 1960 called the ‘Roadrunners’ with some local lad whose name was Paul Rodgers. But he is most famous for being a member of David Coverdale’s ‘White Snake Band ‘ with Neil Murray on bass. He played with Whitesnake from 1979-84.
And those in the ‘Snakecharmer’ crowd who thought that they might have spied a mysterious Wakeman shape lurking in the background near the eloquent keys were not quite right … in fact it was Mark Stanway from Magnum! Now that’s my idea of a supergroup !
As usual, our thanks go to all the staff and helpers who put on this amazing big top show at Pwllheli. It takes a huge commitment and immense hard work to make this all happen. And, boy, did they do good this time.
But I must also gratefully thank all my colleagues, neighbours, friends, boozers, schmoozers and “Hard Rock Hellers”… you all made the weekend so wonderfully inspiring and so thoroughly innovating.
It was truly a weekend of revelations in rock.
– © Neil_Mach December 2013 –
Main image: The Jokers at Hard Rock Hell © Neil Mach