HRH AOR Day 2 - Hafan Y Mor, Wales 09.11.18




As the seagulls acted as alarm clocks, sleepy heads emerged around the arenas. Clasping bacon butties and steaming hot brews, Day 2 of HRH AOR kicked into action with The King Lot opening the main stage.

Jason Sweeney on vocal and bass has a voice made for rock, all blues fuelled with a gravelly edge, while Chris Gillon on drums wakes you up with some pretty rampant rhythm, top that off with Jay Moir ripping up the riffage and yep!, not a bad start to the day at all!

Passionate and melodic, the band threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the day’s performers. It was the first time I had seen the band live and I was mightily impressed. What struck me was just how many people were already in the arena to show their support, I’ve been to many festivals where the first band on play to an almost empty room but that certainly wasn’t the case this time. Perhaps it was their music that had drawn people in, their album has been a constant player for me since its release, however, whatever drew the crowds, they were not disappointed.


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Scandinavian rockers Cruzh walloped the stage with their brand of classic rock. With audible influences of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and other classic bands who are standing the test of time, Philip Lindstrand has a huge range allowing the melody to flow and hitting those big notes cleanly and easily.

A hugely charismatic band who appeared to be laughing and joking between themselves and bantering with the crowd, Dennis Butabi Borg, complete with fur collar and eyeliner, makes for a memorable character but the music really does speak for itself. An awesome set with Tony Andersson tinkling the keys, Anton Joensson on guitar, Matt Silver on drums, filling the main arena with some damn catchy songs.


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OP UK are well known around the circuit with success in the Far East and Europe ensuring they had a voluminous crowd gathered in the room. Dale Radcliffe is hugely charismatic with an equally huge voice. Toe tapping melodies and soaring riffs coupled with catchy lyrics ensure that this band hold the attention of any audience and those in the stage 2 arena were enthralled. The face pulling and gesturing from Keyboard player Henning Wanner add to the enjoyment with his personality shining through the smoke and lights of the set.

A traditional sounding AOR band, the key changes and ear worming melodies have you humming in your head long after the music stops. With the line-changing over the next few weeks, the band are reverting to their original name of Crimes Of Passion but will be continuing with the great music.


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Another midlands-based band, Daylight Robbery were busy entertaining the audience on stage one. It’s a big stage and a big room and the band were matched perfectly to their surroundings. Perfect melodies and another band with a heavy rock side. The experience of the band showed as their flawless set ensued and storming songs saw heads nodding in appreciation.


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Iconic Eye followed Liverpool band Fugitive onto stage two.  An established AOR band, this was the first time with Janey Gould as ‘Frontlass’ at HRH and a marvellous job she did too – the new material from the band has a heavier feel since Janey joined the ranks and she sings above it loud and clear. The band seemed settled and at ease entertaining the crowd with their set including songs from their album ‘Into the Light’. The perfect set to get them ready for their support tour with Magnum.

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Jac Dalton brought contemporary Australian rock to the house, lighting up the main stage with personality and musicality. His band seemed as charismatic as he was himself which, although I was not familiar with his music, pulled me in with the classic feeling tunes; AOR with a thumping heartbeat. I found myself transported back to the ‘80s sounds of Lord Coverdale and Bon Jovi, which was not a bad place to be.


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Out of the smoke and gloom of stage two, Midlands band Empyre rumbled their way into their set with darkness and intensity. These are hard rockers having tones of grunge and blues fused together with a more metal edge. The highlight of their set was ‘Something Remains’ but it was a set I was glad to have caught.

Henrik, Did, Grant and Jack have live appearances announced for late March, April and May, check them out if you can.


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Following a mammoth 30 hour journey from Oz to Wales, The Radio Sun took to the main stage. These guys always delight the crowd with not just their music but their banter as well. A new line-up this year, but Jason and Steve as the constant show their chemistry on stage.  Melodic Hard Rock with clear influences from their friend and production buddy Paul Laine showcasing that this is what AOR is all about!

Performing tracks from their albums including their latest release ‘Unstoppable’, the guys high energy, upbeat performance of their songs including ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ had the crowd cheering for more. These are hardworking guys and over the festival performed 2 other sets as well as their electric main stage appearance. Let’s hope they are back again soon.


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The second stage was so smoky it was hard to make out people on the stage until the music started and wow! It was like being smacked in the chest!

Hard rocking Welshmen Fireroad disseminated their melodic hard rock on the coastline of North Wales.  Growing up with members of the Stereophonics, the music was sure to have similar influences and the songs were belters. Richard Jones has a tone to his vocal which distinguished them immediately, the welsh lilt audible and lyrical.  Formed in 2012, the band have recorded a new album and I for one will be buying it.  Gavin Davies on guitar produces intricate aggressive riffs, Anthony Evans and Matthew Whitney hold up the bottom end to give you that thud in the chest.  Impressive and enjoyable.


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Within 30 seconds of Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics rampaging onto the main stage, I was hooked. Charismatic, loud, airing on the heavier side with a vocal style which echoes of Freddie Mercury, Muse and classic rock, I was absolutely captivated. The cheering was deafening as Mr B launched himself into the crowd for a quick surf and headstand. This is a showman folks! His vocal never faltering as he ran around the stage, the band are amazing and just as charismatic as Aaron, Laurie Buchanan on guitar continuing the visuality through her arm swirling riffs and foot on the monitor stance.

I wasn’t sure who to watch at times, the music was epic and when things calmed a little for ‘Man with the Stars on His Knees’ the crowd became even more enthralled but with his voice not his flamboyance. Thanking Cloven Hoof for their support Aaron rewarded the crowd with a bottle to pass around. A band with a big future if the crowd reaction was anything to go by.


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BulletBoys are loud and heavy blasting onto the stage amidst blue lights and smoke. Despite the darkness they are an incredibly visual band, gestures, opened mouthed moments, movement lost in riffs and a barrage of big and bold songs. Opening with ‘Hard as a Rock’ this high energy band cannot help but to energise and enthral the crowd. The guys have been together since 1988 and have so many albums tucked away to dig through, this was an impressive set list. Currently on tour in the UK, Marq, Nick, Chad and Anthony deliver a hard and heavy rocking show.


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The room was heaving, the air heavy with expectation. Night Ranger was the band I was looking forward to seeing and hearing. I remember the songs and the energetic performances from yesteryear and I was excited to see what they would bring to the Headline spot at AOR.

Supreme class is what they brought. Flying around the stage like teenagers and pulling out the big riffs and big songs, this was perfection for me. Starting with ‘Somehow Someway’, playing the songs and playing the audience, this was a lesson in how to still be a big band after many albums and 35 years. Brad Gillis’ guitar looks like it has been around as long as they have with its battle scars and scratches but that appears to be the only old thing in the band. They must be stuck in some sort of time capsule, holding them in a state of musical ability and performance. Loved it, loved the songs, highlights were ‘Coming of Age’ and ‘Sister Christian’. I could rave about this band, not because I’m a devoted fan, but I am appreciative of longevity and good music, both brought to AOR by Night Ranger.


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As Night Ranger were holding the majority of the crowd in the main arena, more Midlands melodic magic in the shape of Lawless graced stage 2 with expertise and experience. Paul is a strong melodic singer with an ease to each vocal performance. The band were tight with some blistering riffage smashing through the PA system. Despite the popularity of the main arena, the crowd had swelled in size and were obviously enjoying the set unfurling before them. Their first album Rock Savage and new album R.I.S.E have some great classic rock influenced tracks on them and it was good to hear some of these live.


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Degreed were on stage two and they were the find of the weekend for me. Hard and heavy with an explosive energy and aggression to their performance, their stonking set of big tunes culminating with a superb cover of ‘Bark at the Moon’ left the amassed music lovers cheering and wanting more. A very excellent way to close an exhausting second day of rock in its variety of forms.

Despite the majestic marvellousness of Night Ranger and other big names on tonight’s bill, there was a lot of talk about just how Degreed had stolen the day and it was a close call between them and Aaron Buchanan as the new boys in AOR town.


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