Hard Rock Hell 2 @ Pontins, Prestatyn (UK) 5th-7th December 2008

Part One Friday 5th - Saturday 6th AM

It's been a mere thirteen months since the inaugural "Twisted Sister" headlined Hard Rock Hell lay waste to the sleepy West Country town of Minehead, leaving behind it a trail of music industry awards and (rumoured) trashed out chalets.

So this year's event saw the whole thing move northwards to the desolate wasteland known as Pontins Prestatyn and take up the moniker of The Dragons Ball (oh to see the typos that will no doubt cause across the worldwide media).
Prior to arrival the fact that the "Holiday on the Buses" movie had been filmed at this venue had us bouncing around like pre pubescent idiots. However on closer inspection of our facilities for the weekend, the fact I've still got Olive Rudge's pubes in my bed sheets blew my boyish semi solid out the window on a strong gust of Irish Sea air.

But fuck complaining about the chalets, we were here to rock and at the ungodly hour of 4pm we found ourselves rammed into the onsite bar venue known as The Queen Vic watching "Heavens Basement (HHHH)". Throughout their previous incarnations ("Hurricane Party" and "Roadstar") I've always had a soft spot for these lads, and with the captive audience along with a clutch of excellent new songs (Executioners Day being the one that stuck with me) they really did get things off to a bang.
Then just as fast as the action started and the beers started to flow we had an immediate lull in our weekends live itinerary to partake in some meet and greets with metal goddess "Doro" and Welsh Glam legends "Tigertailz".
Now if there is one area that Hard Rock Hell really exceeds itself, is most if not all of the bands will mingle with the audience throughout the weekend and the whole "community" feel throughout the crowd is something long lost on the corporate whore fests that plague our UK Festival circuits.
It was soon back to the main stage for some old school metal from "Benedictum (HH)" and "Budgie (HH)" who despite having obvious Unique Selling Points (I'll let you figure them out) both failed to stoke the fires of my Hard Rock Hell.
Moving quickly over to the Second or Radio One Stage (for Friday) we managed to catch up with "Blackhole (HHH)" who seemed to be rehearsing to an audience of their mates, which is no fault of theirs on this misplaced line up of bands, and it does leave you wondering if this stage was a good idea, but more of that in a minute.
"Thin Lizzy (HHHH)" on the other hand should have everyone with a sense of musical integrity wondering how the hell this band can still exist in 2008. But exist they do, and damn it if they are not a mighty fine tribute to the legacy of "Mr Philip Parris Lynott". All the classics were dusted off and delivered with pinpoint accuracy, whilst encore "Cold Sweat" saw my first full on indulgence of my long underused (yet trusty) air guitar. John Sykes may be a bit Vim Fuego in his vocals in places but that aside the set was my first definite surprise of the weekend.
The midnight hour heralded the arrival of Canada's "Cancer Bats (HHHHH)" on the Second Stage, and if you wanted one band to have been given a chance to rip the trad metallers eyes wide open to what is great about metal in 2008 it would be these guys. With a choice set from their two albums all honed true as steel, Liam and da Bats were simply jaw droppingly awesome. The privileged few that managed to drag themselves away from the much-anticipated "Doro" set could sleep easy in the knowledge that they hailed Hard Rock Hell weekend's first true destroyers.

So, at 2AM on the morning of Saturday 6th December the beers had been flowing for a little over twelve hours and it was with a startled spraying of our collective pints that "Tigertailz (HHHHH)" took to the stage to amongst other things: flames, a harem of circus performers, and some scantily clad ladies with various toyz. Well, we were talking "Sick Sex" after all now guys and gals.
Throughout their sixty-minute glam slam of a set, the "Tailz Bastardz" (as they now like to be affectionately called), managed to delight fans of old school (Love Bomb Baby) whilst seemingly converting the New Flesh with tracks from the superb "Thrill Pistol" album. So, its full respect to the Tailz who ended the evening with a riotous "Creeping Death" and have the crowd baying for more whilst the security enforced a strict curfew ushering everyone back to their cells for some well deserved shuteye.

Yeah right, now if only we can find our chalet.

To be continued or will the (celtic) frost get to us first?

by Johnny H.