After the opening night shenanigans, HRH AOR VI welcomed more of melodic rock’s big guns to North Wales. Here’s the best of the action from a sizzling second day.
Wizards Of Oz
Not for the first time there was a strong presence from Down Under at the latest HRH event and after Jac Dalton’s explosive Powderkeg-inspired set it was down to fellow countrymen The Radio Sun to pick up where they’d left off less than 24 hours earlier. Swapping the intimate Bonga Wonga club for the glittering main stage, Jason Old, Steve Janevski and co. proved typically Unstoppable. Indeed, a third successive stint at AOR suggests Tyketto’s long reign as the festival’s de facto ‘house’ band could be under serious threat and when The Radio Sun rolled out their cover of Andy Taylor’s I Might Lie, from 1987’s cult classic Thunder, a wrapt crowd went wild. With the big anthems to rival their 80s idols and the classic banter to send Steel Panther scrambling for a new script writer, the Melbourne quartet are surely on the cusp of a major career breakthrough.
Buch The Trend
So Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics aren’t your average HRH AOR band. In fact they’re not your average band. They’re so much better than that. Such is the energy, passion and sheer devilment at the heart of one of Britain’s most exciting new acts that it matters very little that the majority of the Classic’s classics are rooted in feisty hard rock rather than West Coast warmth. From the outset main man Buchanan shook the main arena to its core and his unabashed admission that being in a band is as much about the lifestyle as it is about the music struck an obvious chord with fans schooled on 80s excess. Of course, it just so happens that the former Heaven’s Basement man has the music to match the image and bookending his set with Left Me For Dead and Morals proved the point. Oh, and when was the last time your favourite frontman dived headlong into the crowd to perform a ‘crowd surf handstand’. Yep, that would be never.
Boys To Men
Incredibly it’s 30 years since Marq Torien decided to jump aboard the hair metal rollercoaster and make his own mark on an era of bold MTV anthems and brazen backstage debauchery. For a brief period the rabble rousing BulletBoys looked like they could give the Gunners a run for their money but the band was all but shot by the time 1995’s Acid Monkey marked the end of the beginning. Three decades down the line – and with new album From Out Of The Skies released this month – Torien is making up for lost time. The title track of the band’s latest album slotted seamlessly into a set that screamed urgency from start to finish. Torien was relentless and set opener Hard As A Rock hit the nail on the head. An extended version of breakthrough single Smooth Up In Ya brought a brash and brilliant set to a suitably explosive end. BulletBoys were a blast.
Sentimental Street is where just about every Night Ranger fan – new and old – belonged as one of the most legendary names in HRH AOR history hit the main arena for the second time in three years. There was barely a dry eye in the house as Jack Blades bounded onto stage to resume the long-distance love affair that’s finally going places after decades spent drifting along. Flanked by the irrepressible Brad Gillis and fellow founder Kelly Keagy, the beaming frontman could barely contain his delight at making good on his promise to reprise Night Ranger’s iconic 2015 set and what followed was another classic performance. Sister Christian and (You Can Still) Rock In America sent the masses home happy but yet again it was the decision to dip into Blades’ Damn Yankees back catalogue that drew some of the warmest applause of the night: an incendiary version of Coming Of Age preceded the Come Again/High Enough mashup. This might have been a set rich in nostalgia but set opener Somehow Someway, from the HRH Mag-approved Don’t Let Up served as a timely reminder that Night Ranger are in no mood to rest on their laurels just yet. Sentimental Street is not all that it seems.
Exclusive Images By HRH Festivals Photographer Simon Dunkerley