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ConcertsHRH AOR 2 @ Pwllheli, North Wales 03/21 & 03/22 2014

Posted on Friday, April 11 2014 @ 07:19:05 CDT by Dean Pedley
Heavy Metal Hard Rock Hell, the leading indoor festival operation across Europe, brought a feast of AOR / Melodic Rock artists to the North Welsh coastal destination of Pwllheli. Amongst the headline attractions were Tyketto, marking the twenty fifth anniversary of 'Forever Young', one-time Rainbow vocalist Graham Bonnet and veteran rockers and perennial crowd favourites UFO.

Newman are on the heavier side of melodic rock and vocalist Steve Newman has no problem whatsoever in getting the crowd on side with their hook filled mid-tempo rockers. Newman have been making solid albums for the best part of two decades and Under Southern Skies from 2011 and Siren from 2013 are arguably their finest so far. With plenty of friends amongst the tightly knit melodic rock scene they provoke a strong response from the audience and by the end of their set the festival is well and truly underway.

Another band with a long track record are Tigertailz with the Welsh rockers being an integral part of the Glam scene that emerged at the end of the 80's. The 'Tailz have seen more than their fair share of members come and go across the years but the current line-up certainly seem as enthusiastic and tight as any that have gone before and they blaze through a good natured yet hard hitting display.

Scottish hard rockers Logan are often compared to the post-grunge rock acts from across the Atlantic and on the face of it seem unlikely candidates for an AOR festival. Nevertheless Logan create a real buzz with their chunky wall of sound of pumped up guitars and frontman Kenny Collins voice booming around the four corners of the arena. There is no such luck for reformed old school Irish rockers No Hot Ashes who play at a time when at least 90% of the crowd are seemingly otherwise engaged either back at their caravans or at the eateries. A band that came out of the NWOBHM they were more deserving of a decent reception.

Pink Cream 69 have built their reputation on the song writing talents of the seemingly always in demand Dennis Ward and the distinctive voice of David Readman and both are very much in evidence across their hour long set. PC69 are a band that has seemed to get better with age and their expansive anthems are tailor made for a festival such as this. German rockers Bonfire have been around long enough to deserve the status "legendary" even if global success has eluded them. They don't disappoint with a raw and powerful set that feeds off the energy coming back from the crowd. By comparison James Christians House Of Lords come over as largely pedestrian and it is very much a hit and miss performance that never seems to truly ignite.

When energy levels start to flag a bunch of kick-ass, frazzled, spit and sawdust rock and rollers is just what every great festival needs and Swedish rockers Bonafide are very much the band for the occasion. Almost the house band here in Pwllheli given their management and label links with the organisers they offer a no frills, feel good set that sees singer, songwriter and producer Pontus Snibb lead the band through 'Fill Your Head With Rock' and several tracks from current album Bombo.

Another Swedish act that gets a great response is Coldspell with their dominant sound being full enough to reach the back of any arena. Heavy duty rockers with insistent melodies the dazzling guitar workouts of Michael Larsson vie for the crowd's attention with the Coverdale-esque tones of Niklas Swedentorp. Leading up to HRH Graham Bonnet had played a couple of gigs around the UK and was only able to complete half a set at one of them, leading to much speculation that he was past his sell by date and trading on former glories. The show is centred around his one-album tenure with Rainbow and starts promisingly enough with 'Eyes of the World' and a passable 'Since You've Been Gone' but things start to go downhill with lengthy solos and a torturous 'Stargazer' (complete with Bonnet reading the words) and never recover. Why he chose to bad mouth Blackmore from the stage beggars' belief and there was an air of desperation about the entire thing.

There are no such problems for Tyketto, one of the events two genuine headliners and unquestionably the stand out attraction of the entire weekend. Marking the twenty fifth anniversary of 'Forever Young' Tyketto are hailed as the conquering heroes by a crowd that simply can't get enough of them. Blending old favourites such as the opening 'Burning Down Inside' and 'Standing Alone' together with more recent numbers 'Dig In Deep' and 'Sound Off' their seventy five minute set is a shining example of how to headline a festival. In Danny Vaughn they have one of the outstanding vocalists of his generation and with the rest of the band in superb form this was a not to be missed performance.

UFO have been on the road in support of Seven Deadly for a couple of years now and with this handful of current shows they take the opportunity to freshen things up a little with 'Makin' Moves' and 'Pushed to the Limit' making an appearance. Of course no UFO show is ever complete without barn burners such as 'Lights Out', 'Rock Bottom' and 'Doctor Doctor' and with Phil Mogg in fine voice and Vinnie Moore very much a part of the UFO furniture they remain a compelling live draw.

HRH AOR 2 had a little bit for every fan of the genre with a good mix of old and new and enough variety in the line-up to ensure it never felt complacent. AOR 3 has already been confirmed for March 2015 with tickets and other information to be found over at https://www.hrhaor.com/

Check back soon for our review of HRH Prog 2.

Words by Dean Pedley
Images by Rob Nankivell of Shoot Plymouth - http://shootplymouth.co.uk/
For more of Rob's images from the festival check out https://www.facebook.com/ShootPlymouth
Thanks as always to Claire, Jenny and all of the team at Chic PR.


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