It’s that time of year again, where fans of melodic rock congregate in a holiday camp in Wales for 3 days of music heaven. It’s Hard Rock Hell’s AOR festival and there is one hell of a line up to be had. Night one kicks off with The New Breed, and despite the slight delay they certainly came to start the party. The crowd seemed to take to the band and there was a fair amount of people out early to catch them. As they took over the stage, you could see the band themselves had such a passion for their music and that in itself was infectious. With some crowd interaction thrown into the mix, the night was clearly off to a great start!
Up next were Knock Out Kaine who were definitely here for a good time. From start to finish, they brought the fun element to the stage and the crowd here loved every minute. With bundles of energy they stormed through their set, taking the time to interact with their fans old and new. With plenty of call backs and some just straight up joking, there was no denying this is a band who appreciates the connections that can be made at a live show. Nothing shows this more than the bassist jumping into the crowd for his last show with the band, bass guitar and all! It’s these moments that make live shows, all for that chance of a moment of being close to your hero. The set tonight saw Knock Out Kaine playing a mixture of greatest hits going back to their first album, it was clear to see that there was plenty of fan favourites in there. If the room wasn’t already alive, it certainly was now!
As we headed further into the night towards our headliners, the arena started to fill up. It was time for the one and only Dave Bickler, the former front man for Survivor. The crowds had pushed forward in anticipation waiting to hear the iconic voice and the man behind it. Once on stage, Bickler played a collection of well known tracks from his career including his own solo material with his latest single “Hope”. The crowd continued the high energy vibes and kept the party going. The band supporting Bickler played exceptionally well, while keeping the main man center stage. But the moment that everyone was waiting for could only be the last song of the set. This had to be the classic “Eye Of The Tiger”, which saw the room explode with song as every member of the crowd joined in! By this point, the evening was in full swing and the crowd were relaxed and happy to be home.
The final act of the night, were AOR fan favourites, Tyketto. On tour for the celebration of 25 years since the release of their second album Strength In Numbers, they made a stop for the festival. Throughout the night, there was a clear following for the band, as many a t-shirt could be spotted, from the originals to the new. This was a band the crowd were excited for. As the stereos played, the atmosphere was highly charged awaiting the band to take to the stage. When the band hit, the crowd showed their support but it was Danny Vaughn’s entrance that got the loudest cheer! As the band hit things off with tracks from the album in celebration, the crowd sang and danced along and not once did they stop for the entire set. Tyketto played the full Strength In Numbers album but also threw in some fan favourites from their first and most recent album to fill the 100 minute set. There was also a surprise in the mix as part of the album celebration. From the release of “The End Of Summer Days” single was a B-Side track which the band had decided to play as part of the tour, “Wait Forever”. For those die hard Tyketto fans in the audience this was a treat. However, as expected the largest response was for the classic “Forever Young”, where the crowd really sang their hearts out, Danny brought out a surprise guest in the guise of Nick Workman( Vega). The night was ended with a band who know their fans but also know how to put on a performance.
As far as first nights go, this had been one hell of a start to the festival. As fans headed off, to either continue the party or to their beds, one thing’s for sure – this will be a great weekend of music!
Review : Emmie Ellis
Photography : Mark Ellis