HRH AOR VII DAY 3 - Presthaven Beach Resort, Prestatyn 16.03.19



As the wind howled, sleepy revellers pulled on their beanies and pulled up their hoodies to keep out the torrential rain as it whipped around in all directions. It was a miserable walk up to the stages and people did seem to be dragging their feet and not very enthusiastic. I’m sure many thought nothing of pulling the duvet up and resting their festival worn bones for another couple of hours however, with such an early start, it was time to leap into those skinny jeans and band shirt, grab some caffeine and assemble in Stage 2 for the first of the day’s acoustic sessions.

KANE’D had the honour of the early start, the band currently touring with TYKETTO must have felt their time zone had shifted as in the dull red of the stage, the girls warmed up their voices on some songs now becoming familiar to those against the barrier. It was a warm reception for the band who quickly got into their stride and had the room singing and clapping along, making the most of such a polished performance from the band.

Swiftly following onto the stage were another HRH favourite, LAST GREAT DREAMERS. The opportunity to hear them sing so clearly was not lost on the now growing crowd. Only a short set full of well-played songs and some easy chatter and one that would entice many back to see them perform their plugged in set later in the evening.

SYKKO DOLLZ look like they should be playing with Alice as they dramatically began the main part of the day with a real in your face performance.  These guys definitely brought the drama, hard rock, punk edged, playing to the crowd and to the cameras. Main man Gaz holds the whole thing together with ease and these are seasoned musicians with a talent for the catchy melodies and runs of riffs. Great job!

The main stage has a good number of people waiting for PSYCHO KISS to take to the stage.  The band from Swansea are a tirade of energy that whips out of the speakers and punches you around the head. Helen Ceri Clarke is a great frontwoman and engages the crowd. Their music is a deluge of riffs and runs blended with the powerful delivery of solid melodies.

It’s a quick sprint round to the second stage to catch the end of HEARTBREAK REMEDY’s set. This is a band driven on blues-inspired, groove-ridden rock and an array of hooks to rifle through while blasting it out with the grooves rumbling low and heavy. I couldn’t catch much of their set but they definitely had the crowd on side.

Back on the main stage SAINTS OF SIN are rocking out, such a great visual band, they have the coordinated moves, an enigmatic singer and the tunes to match. I’m really taken with this band, not one I’d seen before but one I will definitely go and catch on tour. Guitarist Sophie Burrell is captivating, you are drawn to her, this tiny figure smouldering and glowering as she plays. Rui Brito is a throwback to the heady days of Hair Metal, delivering the vocals like he was staring down the camera of an MTV vid (remember when MTV was a music station? Good times). A delight for the ear drums, good solid melodic rock performed well by a very together band, they looked like they were having a ball!

THE WICKED JACKALS I have seen before several times and every time they give a power packed performance. They are more hard rock than AOR but still draw a good crowd this afternoon.    They describe themselves as loud, mean and mighty unclean. They are certainly loud, mean – nah…they look like they are having fun, taking the songs seriously but enjoying being on stage and unclean… not checked, don’t wish to know so I’ll leave that well alone! The Watford based band gained a good few fans with a cover version of ‘Nutbush City Limits’ thrown in to get the crowd participation going.  An excellent job, I like this band.

Midland rockers DAYLIGHT ROBBERY are another band who have played AOR before and are given a warm reception. The departure of their former lead singer has seen Mark and Colin take on the vocal duties and it sounds good. They have a traditional AOR sound and this works well with the crowd. I’m not 100% convinced that since the departure of their former vocalist Tony that the others should have picked up the vocal reigns, but I didn’t catch enough of their set to give a really honest view. Main thing was they sounded good, the music sounded splendid and the crowd were enjoying it.

Over on Stage 2 NEW GENERATION SUPERSTARS are banging out their punk edged rock and roll to a busy room. These guys are great, the riffs sound dirty, bass lines huge and the vocal is just full of attitude. Its hard sleazy rock and roll and we all love it!. Their experience shows, they sound really good, the heavy smoke obscuring them at times but this added to the whole vibe of their music. I’m sorry to have to dart back to the main stage, but needs must.  

The main stage arena is really buzzing as KANE’D fill the stage not just with the band (there’s 7 of them) but will their wall of sound. 3 female vocalists, 3-part harmonies, each singing lead its full on power with an angelic edge. Harry Scott Elliott on lead guitar throws riffs around so adeptly around the melodies and the rhythm from Jack Davis with George Elliott and Josh Raw provide the tempo. This is a band that have a cohesiveness and not just from the siblings. The girls connect with the crowd, many pressed against the barrier wearing KANE’D t-shirts. A solid set of varied tempo songs from across their 3 albums. I’m always happy to hear ‘Show Me Your Skeleton’ with its huge melodic catchy chorus with harmonies being as tight as tight can be, and ‘La Di Da’ which eats its way into your brain and stays there way after their set has finished. Again, a band that has played AOR before but one that has also drawn some of their own fans to attend today.

The second stage was also very busy as BLOOD RED SAINTS had begun their afternoon slot. Late and very welcome additions to the day, these guys are the AOR masters. Their new album tracks sound really good live and there are tracks from their previous albums all of which are delivered superbly by Pete Godfrey on vocals, Lee Revill on lead guitar, Rob Naylor on bass, Neil Hibbs on rhythm guitar and Andy Chemney on drums.  However, this wouldn’t be BLOOD RED SAINTS without the comedy. One minute you are singing along the next minute crying laughing. I can’t think of anyone else who does this on stage. It isn’t a comedy routine, its just the personalities of the band, especially Godfrey, that flow out in buckets along with the music. I was so sorry I couldn’t catch more than a couple of songs, this is a band that is the epitome of AOR and one of the best live bands on the circuit.

With an explosion of light and sound MIDNITE CITY begin their late afternoon set. Looking more like a hair metal band, these guys are, however, not from the 80’s. They have a modern AOR sound, they have the songs, the melodies, the soaring riffs, the keyboards from Shawn Charvette to fill out the sound and it is just wonderful. I feel like I’m in my teens again, captivated by the songs and the performance. Rob Wylde is the perfect frontman.  His charisma and talent flows off the stage and ebbs into the crowd. This is by far the fullest the main stage arena has been today. Smiling faces, shuffling feet, some full-on dancing, a band that can write and perform songs at the highest level and it is a privilege to catch most of their set. Go and catch them on their ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’ tour in June.

How can you follow such a strong band? With one of Sweden’s finest rock acts of the last 30 years, THE ELECTRIC BOYS that’s how!

Taking the bull by the horns THE ELECTRIC BOYS open the set with the song ‘Hangover In Hanover’ which is a great introduction to the show from their new album. With its breakneck speed and fuelled up attitude, vocalist Conny Bloom works hard to get the crowd singing along to the simple but catchy chorus. The group soon settle down into familiar territory with one of their breakthrough hits, ‘Groovus Maximus’, a song that is met with a huge roar and an even bigger crowd response with the packed arena singing away and knowing every word.  

The acoustic strum of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’ soon morphs into the psychedelic ‘Mary In The Mystery World’ with plenty of frantic drum work. With so many different styles the band is willing to try, from the swagger of ‘Electrified’ to the hard and heavy ‘Knee Deep In You’, to the ballad that is ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’, there was something for everyone in the setlist. 

Rounding things off perfectly is the sure-fire crowd pleaser ‘All Lips And Hips’ that has not dated since its release in 1989. This was a band that lit up the room and delivered a really good set.

Wine bottle clutched firmly in hand by singer Andy, TRENCH DOGS delighted and entertained the crowd with their heavy sleaze, glam rock sound and pounding rhythms, this Swedish band are obviously delighted to be playing and their buoyancy is contagious. I’m instantly drawn to the persona of vocalist Andy who seems drunk, nervous, high on adrenaline, whatever, I’m drawn to him and to his vocals. It’s like Hanoi Rocks/ Tigertailz, Dogs D’Armour all wrapped up and deposited on a stage but with added swagger.  Powerful, emotional, full of character and melody.  The guy can sing! Add that to the musicianship of the band, which is tight and flamboyant all at the same time. I don’t want to leave but have too. I will catch this band again when I can and definitely for more than a few songs. I find myself trawling music apps to find their music. A definite find for me. Thank you HRH AOR!

PRETTY BOY FLOYD do not give a shit and they had decided they were going to make a splash in Prestatyn and a splash they certainly made. Led from the front by Steve Summers who not only is a class singer but appears to also be a bit of a comedian. After forming in 1987 and having a somewhat topsy-turvy career, the band have retained a strong UK fan base and it was nice to see them here on the stage in Prestatyn.

From the off its fair to say that Summers had been partaking of Welsh hospitality a little which continued onto the stage. Well it is Rock n Roll!  Opening the set with a one/two punch of ‘Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz’ and the huge ‘Rock N Roll Outlaws’, Summers’ band mates all keeping a close eye on him and his antics, controlling a stage in a hugely professional manner with guitarist ‘D J Ashes’ deserving special mention for peeling off riff after riff without missing a note. The set list made me realise just how much killer material this outfit has released over the years with tracks such as ‘48 Hrs’ and the impressive ‘Feel The Heat’ coming to life in a live setting. When it comes to MTV rock ballads ‘I Wanna Be With You’ takes some beating and drink or no drink the vocals on the stage was just top drawer. ‘Rock N Roll Is Gonna Set The World On Fire’ got the arena moving and jumping with its sleazy attitude and crunching pace with it looking like chaos on stage. There was some heckling from the crowd at Summers’ non-stop talking between songs and his ramblings about how all the original LA glam bands just don’t do it anymore. Some people found it funny others offensive. Finishing the set off in typical frantic style was an insane cover of MOTLEY CRUES ‘Live Wire’. It was certainly entertaining if not sometimes a little uncomfortable.

One band I really didn’t want to miss on Stage 2 was the LAST GREAT DREAMERS especially after such a good unplugged set earlier in the day. This fun-filled four-piece sure know how to put on a live show and once again they never disappointed the few hundred people gathered in front of the stage. With all four members decked out in matching fancy bowler hats, and with a sound that replicates 1970s Marc Bolan mixed with a bit of Green Day, it was a set that had a little bit of everything including a brilliant guitar battle with just the drums and bass keeping the whole thing ticking over while vocalist /guitarist Marc Valentine and guitarist Slyder messed about seemingly making it up as they went along!!

‘White Light’ with its punky attitude has the various band members twirling and swirling all over the stage and made for compulsive viewing. ‘Miles Away’ from the last album was another nice addition to the set and once again showed why the LAST GREAT DREAMERS are building up a large following.

Main stage headliner TED POLEY had drawn a large crowd for his greatly anticipated set. He was one of the acts that I had really been looking forward to seeing. I love the guys voice from his days with DANGER DANGER or TOKYO MOTOR FIST and his fine body of solo work, so he deserved this spot as the Saturday night headliner. 

Oh no!…from the opening chords of ‘Let’s Start Something’, I found the whole thing, despite his playing up to the cameras in dramatic style, just felt flat. Whether it was because just 25 minutes earlier PRETTY BOY FLOYD had tore the place to shreds I just don’t know. POLEY was pulling out all the big numbers such as ‘Crazy Nites’, ‘Under The Gun’, ‘Bang Bang’, ‘Monkey Business’ and the brilliant ‘I Still Think About You’. With his trademark blonde hair and his infectious smile, he was doing what he does best, not just playing the crowd but spending most of the show in the crowd. He still hasn’t lost his great sense of humour as he got the group to do a quick blast of death metal which was actually very good. He also announced his planned retirement in 3 years-time from the stage plus he got MIDNIGHT CITY up on stage to help out with the previously mentioned ‘Monkey Business’.  

But despite all this I was not alone in feeling a little disappointed. Please don’t get me wrong, there were many, many people thoroughly enjoying the show but there were also a large number of people streaming out of the door before his set was finished.

I felt deflated and hoping that DAMN DICE would be able to lift my spirits back to where they should be. And? Yes, they did!. This is a band that is heavy AOR, the guitar riffs rock, the bass lines boom, the singing is consistent, emotional, hard, everything that is needed by a good well fronted rock band. Tonight was guitarist Diego’s last gig with the band as he pursues other avenues and he certainly gave his all. All of the band did. It was fun, emotional, frenetic at times and thoroughly enjoyable. This was a special night and you could see it and hear it. I wish I’d been in the room for the full set. The sweat rolling off them all as the room had now filled up massively.

The melodic rock legends that are HEAVY PETTIN’ closed the 2nd stage out with a fabulous set. I was actually blown away by their sound, probably the best of the day, it sounded so balanced. The experience up on the stage showed as a flawless vocal from Stephen Hayman transported me back to the 80’s. The band, who have been around since 1981, have the songs and the talent to just make everything seamless. I have their debut 1983 album ‘Lettin Loose’ still in my somewhat battered record collection so tonight was always going to be a bit special as I had never seen them live, even in their heyday. I was not disappointed, I was blown away.  I cannot believe these guys didn’t make it back in the day – they should have been on a parallel path to that of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, but it wasn’t to be. I’m glad they are back, I’m glad they are touring and I will be going – pressed against the barrier singing my head off and grinning from ear to ear. An awesome way to close the weekend off.

Apologies go to BAI BANG and WRAITH who I didn’t manage to catch at all but friends who did were very positive in their comments.

A quick weekend round up of top acts. Top has to go to UFO, how could it not? Sheer class. 

WAYWARD SONS, who just took the roof off, came a close second. I have to also mention DAMN DICE, they have an incredible sound but with the departure of the enigmatic frontman Diego, I’m not sure if this will have an impact on their cohesiveness. All 3 of these bands are more Hard Rock than AOR though.

Top of the more AOR bands for the weekend has to go to TYKETTO, closely followed by VEGA and MIDNITE CITY. The legend that is DAVE BICKLER brought back the memories as did HEAVY PETTIN’. It was fabulous to see ROMEOS DAUGHTER back too, and of course the highly entertaining BLOOD RED SAINTS. 

A great weekend!