The first full day has arrived at the seventh annual Hard Rock Hell AOR festival. With a day packed full of some of the top names in melodic rock, it was sure to be one filled with music and friends coming together in harmony.
In Arena 1, the day was kickstarted by our first act of the day, Epic. The great thing about this festival is that fans turn out early to catch all the acts, rather than waiting just for the headliners. Epic made sure to bring the party from the get go, with special guest Josh Tabbie Williamson the bass from Midnite City. Although the highlight of this set had to be the cover of “Highway To Hell” which was just exceptional. Burnt Out Wreck kept the day going and by this point the crowd was getting warmed up and were joining in for the crowd participation. However the arena really filled out for AOR festival favourites The Radio Sun. Having played the festival for 4 years, there was an air of expectation for these guys, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Having seen their set, it’s clear to see why the fans, want this band back year after year as they put on a performance, but also have a great connection with the fans, and speak to the crowd like friends and family. However this does appear to be the last time, to see this line up, as frontman Jase Old announced his departure from the band at the end of this next tour.
In Arena 2, opening the stage were Silent Jack who despite the smaller crowd were not going to let them get away with not showing the same spirit as in arena 1. They were also able to pull out a great cover, if a little unexpected, with the well known hit from School Of Rock. Taking over next and here to keep things going were Kiss The Gun. The second female fronted band of the weekend, and they kept the girl power going strong with an incredible stage presence and performance. Keeping with the theme, up next were girl band Haxan. The girls proved the point that women in rock have a place and can do it just as hard and as well as the men. The crowd were certainly behind them, as they kept the spirits high in the smaller room. Finishing off the first half of the day were the lesser known Scarlet Rebels. The band managed to hold quite a crowd, despite the bigger bands taking over the first arena, proving that the festival’s fans are here to hear everyone playing.
Taking over the main stage next were the mighty Vega and by this point the arena was really starting to fill up. The band took it all in their stride as they put on an energetic show as expected. Bouncing around the stage, they grabbed the crowd’s attention and never lost it. With Romeo’s Daughter next, the crowd remained strong for another classic AOR band. This was the first show for these guys in a while, however they stormed the arena just as strong as ever. Leigh Matty’s voice was outstanding as she captured the crowd with it and didn’t let them go for one second. If the room seemed full before, it only filled more in anticipation of Jizzy Pearl’s Love/Hate. Jizzy continued with the great vibes as his charisma stole the show as he commanded not only the stage but the crowd as they pushed forward to see the showman in his element.
Over in the second arena the bands continued strongly with the more aggressive sounds of Farhan. Despite their heavier sound, and being up at the same time as Romeo’s Daughter, they still pulled in quite a crowd. With bundles of energy, they certainly raised the roof. Taking over next was Corvus, and despite the much smaller crowd, they held their ground and performed as though the room was packed out. With the impressive 6 piece filling the
smaller stage, they still put on a great show. Another great band was yet to take the stage and that was Tomorrow Is Lost. For their debut appearance, they pulled off an incredible performance with another female lead. The band certainly made an impression on the crowd here tonight despite playing against Wayward Sons. Closing the night was The Brink and Black Star Bullet who both played with great energy and made sure to entertain the fans who came to see them perform.
Back in Arena 1, the fans were gearing up for their headlining acts. Up first was Wayward Sons, who appear to be taking over the world, with shows and festivals lined up throughout the year. The night was in full swing, with the beer flowing, and the energy in the room high. The band made sure to keep that energy, as fans could be seen dancing around to the band and the highest amount of interaction with hands in the air all across the arena. It was also a very special show, as the band announced they are heading back into to studio so this will be the last time to hear this exact set. This is a band who have gone from strength to strength, and definitely didn’t disappoint tonight, as they put on one hell of a performance. However, it had reached the point in the night, where it could only mean one thing – it was time for UFO! Despite the delay, the fans remained strong and waited in anticipation for the band. Once the guys did hit the stage, the crowd happily welcomed them, ready to hear what was to offer. For many fans in the audience this is what they had been waiting for all day, and they showed their excitement to see the band at last. With the huge Marshall speakers sharing the stage, the band did what they do best and put on a show. Opening with “Mother Mary”, this was just the start of the set that saw many a fan favourite to be played including “Lights Out” and “Rock Bottom”. However there had to only be one way to close the night and that was with “Doctor Doctor” and “Shoot Shoot”. It was a great end for the second night and first full day, that left promises of what greatness tomorrow could bring.
Review: Emmie Ellis
Photography: Mark Ellis