HRH AOR Day 1 - Hafan Y Mor, Wales 08.03.18
PHOTO CREDITS: LINDZRS MEDIA PHOTOGRAPHY
The trials and tribulations of March weather did nothing to dissuade a sold-out crowd from battling the elements to reach the beautiful Welsh coastline for what has become, for many, an annual break.
Great people, plenty of food, buckets full of booze and an enormity of marvellous music can only lead to a few days of enjoyment and it did.
Thursday began with a late afternoon slot for the festival’s openers, Dante Fox. Opening with ‘Young Hearts’ from their album, Breathless, the band performed an enjoyable set of a mix of their songs from albums old and new including the fan favourite live track ‘Under the City Lights’ and finishing with ‘Remember My Name’. Lead vocalist Sue Willets was voted 19 in the top 50 female vocalists of all time in Classic Rock Magazine and her voice is still full of melody, honed from years performing live on the road. The set went down very well with the expectant crowd.
Next on were another great British melodic Rock band, Newman. The band were on top form, strong musically and Steve Newman delivered yet again on a big stage. Introducing their new drummer Harry Young who, at 19 years of age was not born when the band got together, was a reminder of the longevity of this bands career and confirmation in why a pretty full arena had come to see their heroes. Hearing Aerial from the album of the same name was a highlight for me and I find myself dialling up their back catalogue to have another listen as I write this review. A great live band who continued to turn the heat up in the hall ready for the next band Eclipse.
The expectation in the room climbed ever higher as bar runs were completed and the crowd surged forward as Swedish band ‘Eclipse’ smashed onto the stage. Erik Mårtensson is the epitome of a frontman. A huge presence with an equally huge talent. He is dynamic and born to perform live! This band was in my top three of the weekend and I find words fail me as to how they completely blew me away. The audience were rapturous, revelling in the spectacle of powerful melodic rock with a thumping heartbeat from Magnus Ulfstedt on bass and Philip Crusner on drums and razor-sharp riff ridden rampage from lead guitarist Magnus Henriksson. Stunningly epic are the two most appropriate words I can find. ‘Battlegrounds’ and ‘Black Rain’ were just brilliant!
Thursday night’s headliner was former Rainbow and Deep Purple frontman Joe Lynn Turner who had stolen the show back in 2016 when he headlined his first ever UK rock show at AOR.
Despite the late hour and the exhaustion kicking in with some of the crowd from the travelling and early beers and the enormity that was Eclipse, the mood continued as JLT began at a blistering pace with ‘Death Alley Driver’. I’m not exactly sure how you would even begin to put a set list together for this guy – he has a hugely extensive solo back catalogue apart from his albums with Rainbow, Deep Purple and well-known affiliation with Yngwie Malmsteen but that was what we got. A bit of everything – ‘I Surrender’ was the catalyst for a sing a long, smiles evident in the audience and the solo ballad ‘Endlessly’ had the crowd swaying along.
A curve ball track ‘Dark Days’ from his 2001 solo album, Slam, was thrown in and many more hits followed including ‘Drinking with the Devil’, Stranded, ‘Stone Cold’. The night was completed with the Rainbow classic ‘Long Live Rock and Roll’; fists in the air, the appreciative crowd showed their fondness for the American. At 66 his voice is still in top form and his band were ably up to supporting him with Jorge Salan on guitar, Ken Sandin on bass, Darby Todd thrashing the drums and Samuel Olsson on keyboards. A wonderful way to finish the first day.
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