Day 2 started very nicely, to be honest A good rest followed by a spot of breakfast was just what we needed to get in shape for today. Interviews galore were planned, numeropus bands to cover and, unforunately, one or two set clashes for me but all would be well in the end and between the gang we were able to cover most, if not all, bases for the day.
Kicking it off on te main Stage were The King Lot. Having had the pleasure of witnessing this gang of Scottish invaders a couple of times in the last year I knoew what the crowd could expect. Once again, The King Lot did not disappoint. Having released a covert of Tyketto’s “Wings” their AOR influences are clear to see but here are a band that would sit well in any rock festival line up. Bringing joy, energy and enthusiasm there is absolutely no doubt that those in the crowd who were already on their side came away with joy filled hearts but more importantly, they had without a doubt won over some more friends and fans
Three pm saw the first potential clash. Stage 1 openers Fugitive brought their brand of biker fuelled melody to the crowd for whom Cruzh may have been a bit too 80s? As they said in their Rok-Zone interview, Fugitive had the honour of soundschecking stage 1 so cheated by running through a version of a Def Leppard song. As anyone who knows me would testify, they hooked me with that one and thoroughly enjoyed the portion of the set that I witnesssed. Again illustratiing what I love about this festival and rock music in general – loud guitars, melody and a band having fun work everytime. TOp effort boys and looking forward to seeing you again soon
As I mentioned, Main stage were being graced by Scandinavians – Cruzh. A great blend of 80s rock (Davey was always going to love a band for whom that golden period of 1987 to, well, 1987 were huge influences). Quite why the Scandinavians have managed to corner the market in melodic rock I’m not sure but as long as they keep doing it like this all will be well in the world. Apparently, the Cruzh boys put this down to the importance placed on music in the Swedish education system … they could very well be correct. Whatever it is, I reckon something in the water, Cruzh showed an impressive set and the crowd seemed to lap it up.
Then another clash, bugger! Two long term friends of Rock-Zone playing at te same time. One had to win and this time it was C.O.P. UK (Crimes of Passion). Having become truly hooled by 2016’s “No Place for Heaven” it was never in doubt that they would play a blinder and win over more friends. This band should be MASSIVE and, if there is any justice in the music industry, their hard work will pay off. Frontman Dale knows the way to draw the crowd in and within seconds had the packed Stage 1 crowd in his palm. A great set which for me (like with Eclipse the night before) could/should have been twice as long, took all the elements that made me fall in love with them and showcased it to the HRH faithful. Having heard some of the work in progress for the new album I can’t wait for the finsighed article and I know that for lovers of really great hard rock with melody and an edge, you’re going to love it too.
At the same time on the Main Stage, Daylight Robbery were putting in their third appearance at HRH AOR. Really proving their position on the main staghe, the crowd reaction was amazing to hea. Having known Tony, Mark and Colin for 6 years it was fabulous to hear the crowd saying how blown away by the set they had been.Album number 3 approaches and I am sure we can expect more melody to go along with the darker themes promised
Next for me was Iconic Eye on Satge 1. Having been a fan of the first album from first listen and having always wanted them to be able to translate the undoubted passion of main man Greg Dean to the live stage I was really excited to see what the new line up would bring for their second visit to HRH AOR. What I had heard on the initial EP when new vocalist Jane Gould joined prompted me to say they had moved the band to the next level. What I couldn’t have expected was the immense difference the new line up wouold produce live. With passion, energy and excitment it was clear for all to see that Iconic Eye are now the full package and are having a great time delivering it live. Not many bands wcould pull off a song that had the hardest of rockers dabbing away tears (not me, obviously, I just had a spot of contact lens trouble … my story and I’m sticking to it!) but they did. Robin Mitchard’s guitar solos ripping through the crowd gave the sound an edge that sets them apart from many female fronted “AOR” bands. I feel it is this edginess that means they will go from strength to strength now and I can’t wait to see them again very soon on their UK tour. Bloody marvellous folks, I was so pleased to have been able to see it happen.
I only managed to catch a short glimpse of Jac Dalton due to interviews being booked but what I saw made my planned visit to see them later in the week in Newcastle a priority. Something about the creative Australian environment brought some rather groovy sounds to these old ears. and I couldn’t wait to hear the band in full effect a few days later.
What can I say about The Radio Sun that hasn’t already been said? Well third year in a row at HRH AOR and their star continues to ascend. Four albums of sunshine filled melodic rock combined with people clearly loving every minute of their time on stage proves that Australia could be running Scandinavia a close race for the Melodic rock crown. Playing songs from all four albums (and an Andy Taylor cover), they fill your heart with joy and have clearly been taken to the hearts of the Camp HRH faithful (I mean, they’ve just been announced for HRH AOR 7, meaning four in a row – even the Quireboys haven’t managed that … yet). A couple of line up changes since their last visit have done nothing to change the on stage party. Jason Old seems to be trying to take over from Pete Godfrey as Camp Comic and the boys give it their all. You have one life, live it … and The Radio Sun are clearly grasping these opportunities with every one of their hands.
Let’s just say that the next band to hit Main Stage, Aaron Buchanon and the Cult Classics, certainly win the prize for most talked about band of the weekend. New to me, they are another band for whom there aren’t enough superlatives to describe what they achieved today. Crowd handstands (no surfing for Mr Buchanon), being likened to one Freddie Mercury, awesome tunes Aand many many comments about “WHAT A SHOW”. I really need to catch thes fine folks as soon as possible to see them take on the world at their own show.
The Rock-Zone plan was then to get some food but, as ever that didn’t really happen. Instead a brief catch up with friends meant that I ended uptaking in quite a large portion of the Bulletboys set which really wasn’t planned. What can I say? They really impressed with the show (although some comments later about shortness and solos were not echoed by me). A great set whihc meant that I managed to be turned on to a band that has passed me by previously, so winner for me
Headliner time and making a very welcome return visit for 2018 were Night Ranger. They say wisdom and experience beats youth and vigour everytime and based on tonight’s show I have to agree. Lots of hits mixed in with songs from the most recent two albums, Jack, Brad, Kelly Keri and Eric have this headlining stuff down to a fine art. Showmanship, enjoyment, set structure – you name it, they’ve got it. “A Touch of Madness” saw the lunacy infect Mr Gillis to the point that he nearly took my eye out with the headstock of his guitar – for a fan like me, this is as close to being IN Night Ranger that you can imagine. Unbelievably great – it would be great if they could do a tour next time (although, to be honest, I’m happy if they just come to HRH AOR so there!)
Nearly time to hit the sack, but before that I did need to catch up with some more friends who were doing their thang on Stage 1. Having been a fan of Lawless since AOR 2(!) it was great to hear them announce that it was, once again “Metal Time”. Sogs from the first couple of albums were great but best news to me? That album number three is ready for release … thank goodness for that it’s been too long. Awesome stuff with lots of melody and harmonies galore. Old school shape throwing … how could you not love Lawless?
Photography Copyright: Darren Thompson and David Wilson 2018