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

Part Two Saturday 6th - Sunday 7th AM

Rising to a seagull caterwaul louder than any event P.A. (did I even close my eyes last night?) we drag our battle scared carcasses over to the resorts Restaurant for some greasy fuel, and sit amongst a host of Fridays stars all seemingly startled into this early rise by the unexpected Hithcockian events of the early morning.
Well at least this gives us no excuse to be late for "Spit Like This (HHH)" who had to suffer the 12 PM opening slot on Stage 2 (titled Born Again for the Saturday). Yet thanks to their tireless self-promotion the guys and gal manage to pull a tremendous number of people out of their slumber palaces all seemingly looking for some sleazy fun and games. "Lord Zion" never fails to make me smile and in set closer "Sex Drugs and Heavy Metal" they have the whole place bouncing.
So to the weekend's second surprise and again it was "Thin Lizzy" related, well loosely anyway. Canada's "Pride Tiger (HHHH)" were next up on the Born Again stage and managed to combine the sound of "Wolfmother" with the aforementioned "Lizzy" or maybe even "Danko Jones" with an extraordinarily energetic singing drummer who goes by the names of "Matt Wood". Matt was not only recovering from the previous nights "Bangover" he got from watching "Budgie" and "Thin Lizzy" but was celebrating his birthday with a few mid gig ales, good man with a great sounding band.
With the great 1-2 band combo start to our day, we thought we'd check out yet another new band and try for a hat trick by giving Irish upstarts "Million$Reload (HHHHH)" a go over at the Queen Vic "Clive Aid" Stage. And I'm so glad we did. Not unlike a harder version of "Tesla" at their prime, "Million$Reload" were head and shoulders the best of the new breed I got to see over the weekend. The enigmatic "Phil" on lead vocals led his troops through a frenetic set of sleazy gutter rock shit that not unlike the previous days set from "Heavens Basement" was perfect for the humbler surroundings. Stand out tracks are hard to pinpoint when you don't really know any songs, but single "Living In The City" had the whole place rammed and bouncing as one sweaty mass. "Million$Reload" should go out as support to "G'N'R" when they finally return to the UK next year and remind the ginger fucker that pure rock 'n' roll can still sound breathtaking when its played with this type of passion.
Things had to take a momentary dip I guess, and sadly it was my old faves "Tygers Of Pan Tang (HH)" over on the Born Again Stage who had to provide it. I loved this band back in NWOBHM days of the early eighties, so to see them basically now as a pub rock band in support of only remaining original member "Rob Weir" leaves me feeling all dewy eyed. That is not to say this version of the band doesn't have its merits, in fact the recent "Animal Instinct" is a pretty decent rock album. It's just that singer "Jacopo Meille" is so much more "Sean Harris" than "Jess Cox" so on old school head banging stalwarts like "Suzie Smiled" and "Slave To Freedom" it was more pomp than punk, and it all felt so workmanlike. Sorry guys.
As the afternoons football scores started to come in it was a rather surreal feeling to be stood centre stage waiting for "Waysted (HHHHH)" to emerge. The superb "Harsh Reality" had seen the rebirth of my fave UK Sleazy bastards and this was to be gifted guitarist "Chris George's" last show with the band. Do I rejoice or weep? Well, with so many cans of Dry Blackthorn in my system I can do but one thing and that is spin round the old air guitar ("Graham Oliver" style) and rock out to a sweaty sixty minutes of rock n roll bliss. The entire Fin-led "Waysted" back catalogue from "Toy With The Passion" through to "Long Time Dead" is pillaged, and turned some of our party into demented idiots for the rest of the afternoon. "Dead on our Legs" indeed. This was the performance of the weekend for me, and not least because "Waysted" continue to triumph in the face of adversity, but what next guys?
Due to the "Clive Aid" stage running late, we all still got a chance to riot on with the "Kory Clarke's " all new version of "Warrior Soul (HHHHH)". After shoehorning our way into a Health and Safety Inspectors worst nightmare, we duly immersed ourselves in the wall of sound that made this band so essential back in the early nineties. "Punk and Belligerent" indeed Mr Clarke.
The addition of NWOBHM stalwarts "Chariot (HHH)" to the "Clive Aid" stage had been an inspired way to wrap up the afternoons proceedings. But when you're following an energy sapping performance from one of the true innovators of Heavy Metal there really isn't going to be much emotion left in a venue for some trad boogie metal. So even though When the Moon Shines" still sounded like a great way to let off some steam and indulge in some late afternoon shenanigans, the musical hangover that faced "Chariot" left most of the Queen Vic audience with an air of pure indifference.
As the evening set in, and the alcohol really started to take grip, we all decided that a much need breather back at the "Glitzine" ranch would do us the world of good. By that what we really meant was a quick Texan shower (Lynx Dry - Dark Temptation) and yet more Dry Blackthorn…Jeez kidney failure surely is just a few minutes away. So, before you could blink an ever-bleary eye we were back in the main arena for "Clutch (HH)" who had seemingly forgotten to pace their nights set and proceeded to play sixty minutes of plodding boogie rock that had fans like myself wondering where had all the "Pure Rock Fury" disappeared.
The main stage headliners "Black Label Society (H)" were obviously the band most had come to see at HRH 2 as the vast amounts of back patches and cut offs on display paid testament to, and also had my Lumix set on melt down (I collect snaps of HM cut offs with the hope to one day publish a book on the subject, but the elusive "Thor" themed jacket I need for the cover art has yet to materialise). The freshly ironed jackets that lined up ready for "Zak Wylde's" arrival might have started to fear for the worst when four intro tapes in the southern guitar master still hadn't arrived. When he did eventually arrive we were subjected to possibly the most boring gig I've seen this year, chock full of macho posturing, guitar solos, and fake angst, with very little in the way of songs or entertainment. Next time Zak, leave the film themes CD you used for your intros on, as it was far more interesting than what followed it.
Thank fuck then for "The Wildhearts (HHHHH)" who took the stage thanking "BLS" for supporting them and promptly giving said band a lesson in how to really work a festival crowd, even at 1am on a bitterly cold Sunday in December.
Full credit to "Ginger" and co for getting the set list just right ("Everlone" and "Sick Of Drugs" anyone?) and playing with the conviction you expect for you entrance money. Looking fit and well, the band really appeared to be having a (Dragons) ball and newest member "Scott Sorry" even got to treat fellow Glitziner "Gaz E" to a rendition of "Carmelita" before we had to wrap things up for the night and all head back to Shitsville (otherwise know as Club Class Pontins Prestatyn).

So as the last chords of HRH2 rang out on a frosty early Sunday morning (Viking Skull were perhaps a band too far for us) talk was already starting of who we'd like to see at HRH 3 ("Anvil", "The Rods" and "Slave Raider" being high on our lists), but lets not forget about HRH2 here eh!
This year was a fantastic line up of bands for yer money (with some real surprises for me) and that's in spite of what some may have you think.
OK, the holiday camp accommodation wasn't the best, but when you see so many great bands, and have all your metal brothers and sisters from round the world with you who really cares?

Here's to HRH 3 and that "Manowar" headline slot eh????

by Johnny H.