The curtain has come down on HRH XI and attention is already turning to HRH Prog in five days’ time! But here’s our recap of a fantastic finale to a fabulous four days that started with Dee Snider lifting the big prize at our inaugural Awards night and ended with the winners of HRH Mag’s 2017 Album Of The Year, Black Star Riders, bringing the house down.
We tipped them as ones to watch and Swansea’s finest didn’t disappoint as Buffalo Summer warned up the main stage in some style. A 12-song set featured cool new tune Untouchable – from 2018’s forthcoming long player – and a raft of classics including the brilliant Heartbreakin’ Floor Shakin’ and iconic Down To The River. True to form, bass player Darren King frequently forgot this was a musical performance as he engaged in his own personal gurning competition and Jonny Williams appeared blinded by the lights (or maybe he just couldn’t bear to look at King) as he played large parts of the set with his eyes shut! Had he opened them he would have noticed a fast-filling floor bouncing along to the very best of Buffalo’s back catalogue and seen the Hunt brothers enjoying the time of their lives back at Camp HRH. Vocalist Andrew has rarely sounded better and drummer Gareth remains one of the unsung heroes of British rock and roll. This was a full-on Buffalo stampede.
Had it not been for a chance meeting with HRH Mag on Friday night it’s quite likely Beth Blade and her Beautiful Disasters would still be wandering around a holiday camp in North Wales wondering where on earth they needed to be. Fortunately, we pointed them in the right direction and 12 hours later the Cardiff melodic rockers were strutting their stuff on the second stage looking like seasoned veterans of the arena scene. Blade’s visceral vocals cut through the bleary-eyed masses like a knife through butter and any hopes of nursing a hangover were toast if you happened to step through the doors of Camp HRH’s smaller venue. Screaming (pitch perfect and powerfully) potential and with a striking image to match their affecting sound, the Beautiful Disasters are pretty much perfect.
Gun Have A Blast
Saturday’s main stage was heaving with proven talent. Von Hertzen Brothers kept in the family. Reef were red hot. George Lynch rolled back the years. And Black Star Riders bossed it. But one band hit the target more than most. Gun might have shot down the critics with latest album Favourite Pleasures but it’s the fact that their back catalogue has more than stood the test of time that makes the Scots rockers everyone’s favourite guilty pleasures. This was a set based on all killer and no filler with Shame On You, Steal Your Fire and the anthemic Better Days bringing the house down. And talking of better days, Dante Gizzi just gets better and better as Gun’s frontman – suddenly the decision to ditch the bass for the mic looks like the most obvious move in the world. Seven years ago Gun were staring down the barrel. Gizzi has given one of British rock’s best-loved bands a fresh shot at glory.
Riders Are Front Runners
Black Star Riders didn’t win the HRH Mag 2017 Album Of The Year by chance. Heavy Fire is a blast. And so there were no complaints from the HRH team when Ricky Warwick and co. rolled out no fewer than six killer cuts from their third long player. There was, however, the odd moan and groan that Scott Gorham didn’t lean more heavily on his Thin Lizzy past and it’s fair comment. A festival set playing to a wider audience – rather than the band’s die-hard fans – might well be the place to throw in something more than Jailbreak and Whiskey In The Jar. But we’re with the band. In a short space of time Black Star Riders have built a back catalogue brimming with confidence and demanding to be played. On November 11 there was a strong emphasis on conflict and Warwick’s moving tribute to troops perfectly complemented Soldierstown and Before The War. Not for the first time, Damon Johnson stole the show with a dazzling display of fretwork that came to the boil on the beautiful Blindsided. That song alone justified the emphasis on original material. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.