A Updated
Skid row -2
Gypsy pistoleros hrh
CHip Znuff HRH
Darkness HRH

HRH are an irreplaceable, family-style medium size series of festivals and it’s great to see them knock another one out of the park

Great Yarmouth: Vauxhall Holiday Camp – Nov 3-5, 2022

HRH Awards – Wednesday

The HRH Awards is always a great way to start off proceedings for the Hard Rock Hell main event. MC Jonny Davis and DJ Glamrat awarded prizes to Best British Band – Gun, Best Blues Rock -Troy Redfern, Best International Act – Pretty Boy Floyd “for blowing everyone else off stage earlier in the year”, for the Industry Individual Achievement Award – Ricky Warwick, and to the Hawkins Brothers from The Darkness who got the Living Legends award, among others too numerous to mention in prose.

It is always the highlight of the evening to see who turns up in person and the presence of The Darkness added a huge amount of glitz and glamour. Indeed, pretty much everybody turned up (except Ricky Warwick and Pretty Boy Floyd who were in the States and sent video messages of thanks and appreciation).

Adding to the sense of occasion is the red carpet with its gaggle of Heavy Music press photographers and the dancers who were strikingly dressed as Aztec warriors with huge skull headdresses and did a couple of numbers as KISS with oversized mannequin heads (God knows how they did Pans People style dance formations without being able to see properly, but they did!)

The Mercury Riots, Gorilla Riot, The Kut and Black Aces played a few songs each, teasers for their full sets covered in full below. As usual it was pretty wild with full bottles of Jaegermeister on every table. Indeed, by about two thirds of the way through the evening I see Glamrat running across the ballroom in her silver shimmery dress barefoot, picking up her knees like a sprite, dispensing Jaeger to bands. By the time of the final award to The Darkness she is nowhere to be found to hand over the award so Davis operates solo despite calling her name in vain. It’s a great moment with The Darkness exhibiting the right mix of gratitude, modesty and celebration. As I left after the live set from The Black Aces I see the Darkness chilling out in the smoking area, mixing and mingling with other smokers and chewing the fat. They didn’t look like they were looking to leave!


White Raven Down opened the main stage on the first day, having won the Young Blood award the night before. Heavy riffs, powerful bass, strong guitar solos sat side by side with plenty of big smiles and a mixture of high Sabbath style wails and deeper, shoutier Rock vocals. They have a self-assured stage presence and despite the award they got, it clearly was not their first rodeo. They have old school Hard Rock roots, but have the fresh, still hungry approach of a new band.

Twister have developed quite an elaborate stage show with a wall of traditional square box-style televisions running videos which really gave a more expensive look to their stage set. To me, they always have much more of an edge live than on record and tonight was no exception. They haven’t lost any of their energy or enthusiasm. I am not convinced by all of their songs, and I much prefer to hear them do their original songs than covers, but when they do their better songs like ‘64 White Lies’ they do excel.

Gorilla Riot were a lot Bluesier this time around than I remember them being before the Pandemic, with Paul Rodgers-style vocals and more than a dash of Southern Rock, they were really enjoyable. To underline this, when they announce their final song the audience make it clear they don’t want them to get offstage. They capitalised with a dramatic big finish with vocalist kneeling down and leaning back, axes aloft and their drummer standing up engaging the crowd.

Black Aces are an Australian AC/DC style band. With searing guitar solos and competent Hard Rock with underlying Boogie, what they have is a very Airbourne like manic energy, running up and down the stage to an excessive extent, headbanging and working together with axes in shooting pose. They tell typically un-PC Australian humorous stories between songs about waking up with strangers and hangovers. They pointed out where songs were new and so they didn’t know the words, but reasoned that since the crowd have never heard them before it did not matter. Their bassist has the weirdest haircut; mostly bald, but with a huge sprout of hair out of the back of his head, and the singer joshes “This haircut, in Australia, has won awards”. They are down to earth, with a song about being born in a dead-end town called ‘Anywhere But Here’ giving a self-deprecating touch. Above all, they are relentless and a great party band which is why they were chosen to headline the awards the night before, no doubt. They finish with a great cover version of ‘Nutbush City Limits’; they are total live wires and know how to ramp up the atmosphere…

…A perfect intro for the ultimate party band The Darkness who opened with title track of latest album ‘Motorheart’ and then classics ‘Black Shuck’ and ‘Growing On Me’. The photographers have not yet left the pit when Justin bounced onto the barrier to commune with the faithful. Big riffs and solos, falsetto and split kicks - we knew the drill, but can’t get enough. New songs like ‘Welcome Tae Glasgae’ and ‘It’s Love Jim’ sit side by side with golden older tracks ‘One Way Ticket’ and ‘Love Is Only A Feeling’. Justin always has a new gimmick to amuse and this time it was taking the phones from the audience and putting them down his trousers. Mercifully it looked like none of them were cracked (pun intended!) Rather more dangerously, he invited the crowd to move the barriers forward to be closer to the band. Luckily this audience are mostly in their fifties and have too much common sense… or too little muscles to try… thank God!

It was amazing to watch Justin doing high knees to the side jumps and the upside down handstand jumping jacks on the drum riser during ‘Get Your Hand Off My Woman’, as he has cracked ribs incurred on the Australian tour (I know as he explained that when I had unknowingly hugged him the night before. I had given them a squeeze and even though he did not squeal he told me that it had hurt much to my surprise). I imagine he must have been on very strong painkillers.

One of the crowd kept shouting ‘The Christmas Song’ all through the set and, after the umpteenth time, Justin does promise they will, but not right that moment, shouting the expletive “Twat!” for comic effect, but clearly in good humour. During ‘Solid Gold’ he stole the doodle boppers of someone from the crowd with the best intentions, but with such energetic stage moves they wouldn’t stay on and he had to concede defeat.

For the encore he came on in a white catsuit. He kidded the crowd that now they have the HRH Lifetime Achievement award they were going to retire and he would concentrate on his “blossoming You Tube” career, before admitting that in fact they are “gonna keep going till the end of time”. He tells the crowd to “Bounce” or “Fuck Off” all in jest and the crowd oblige and start to sing without being asked. He played the guitar behind his back, what part of “you have broken ribs you probably shouldn’t overdo it” do you think he did not understand? They did, indeed, finish with the Christmas Song, complete with Santa hats and bells on sticks. The Darkness always know how to put on a show and tonight Justin did it with broken ribs. The man is quite simply unstoppable.


The Kut remind me a little bit of the Bangles, but way more dystopian with much harder guitar and if they had a much harder life! There’s also a hint of something much more uncontrollable like The Clits, Hole or L7. Crazy with song titles like ‘I Want You Maniac’ and infectious Punk Pop melodies. Their singer has a clear, clarion-like soaring voice and that bravery that you need as a front person for an opening band to get a crowd to react, put on phone lights etc and she does not give up till the last second. After I have seen them I feel like I have seen a snapshot of the whole female psyche, good and bad.

The Outlaw Orchestra were more chicken-shack style American Country Blues Rock, a touch of Aerosmith although a little more home made with banjo and slide guitar. Wonky and shambolic, but ultimately a good time band that were just about keeping it together at the seams. They were aware of the humour of doing such a thing in the UK and threw out lines like “Anyone feel like kissing their cousin?”.

The Gypsy Pistoleros are way better than the last time I saw them, but to be fair they have had much more time to get in sync with each other and were a very new line up the first time I saw them. Their show would be nothing without the swagger of frontman Gypsy Lee Pistolero. With his confidence, style and seasoned stage craft the audience feels instantly in good hands. “Any serial killers in the audience? This one’s for you” has to be the best line of this whole Festival. I wasn’t sure about the new line up last time I saw them. This time I am a believer (again!).

Dobermann are American style Classic Rock, but hail from Italy. “Poppy Ballads are not the reason we came here. We came here to Rock!” tells you everything you need to know really, other than the band look great with huge curly style long barnets that had the girls swooning. Stick twirling and eighties lightning fast guitar solos, Van Halen covers - there’s nothing original here - but for those that love this genre it is an all too rare and precious reminder of their youth.

Girlschool were totally on form, sounding and looking great, playing all the classics, making it look effortless. Despite a twelve hour journey that day, Tracey Lamb does a string of sideways French can-can moves that I did not know were even possible for the most youngest and nubile! Jackie Chambers can strike a pose and always does exactly that, beautifully on top of the heavyweight axe work. Kim and Denise are the much-loved original members still Rocking our socks off after all these years. Not everything goes seamlessly; Kim breaks a string, Denise need a few men to help her with a technical hitch and someone who shall remain nameless may have come in too early on ‘Race With The Devil’, but McAuliffe is such a professional she made it seem like part of the show and hugely entertaining. The crowd didn’t care a bit and roared in appreciation of such much loved songs. ‘Take It Like A Band’, about being on tour with Lemmy, is a reminder if we needed it of the stature and place in history of this band. To underline this they do a great version of ‘It’s a Bomber’ to end.

Skid Row are reinvigorated with the addition of Eric Grönwall… I will always miss Sebastian Bach as a performer, I cannot lie, but they did great version of all the classics, ‘Slave To The Grind’, ‘Big Guns’ and ’18 And Life’, despite their guitar tech standing in for Snake Sabo who had tested positive for Covid. Grönwall really nailed ‘I Remember You’ which was epic, and ‘Youth Gone Wild’ reminded me of days gone by in a good way. One thing for sure is that the new material from ‘The Gang’s All Here’ is strong and over time as the quantity of new material grows in the set, I think Grönwall will ultimately claim the band as his own without the shadows of the past.


I caught a little bit of Wicked Smile who played to a packed out crowd on the second stage as they went on a little while before the main stage acts began. It’s old school Metal. The singer has a great voice and a striking appearance with real hair down to the floor. They were blown away to have such a large audience.

But it’s not long before the main stage was calling. Starting proceedings today are Thieves Of Liberty with a vocalist with another corker of a voice. They also have a stunning blonde drummer, Hattie Steel, by name and nature as she almost stole the show and looks like she was having a ball. It’s therefore a shame therefore that the rest of the band look like they could be waiting for a bus, but they have good songs and a world class sound at their strongest. The singer also did his best to get the crowd reacting, but first thing on a Sunday was always going to be a challenge. Ones to watch!

Original member Felipe Rodrige of The Mercury Riots (put together by former members of Bullets and Octane) put real effort put into putting on a show, with their strong offering of stomping Blues Rock. They had been here for days since their performance at the awards which I think was tighter. It’s a new line up and whether it’s because they are still finding their feet, or three days of partying has caught up with the vocalist, or he’s still learning the songs, the set did not seem as together and the vocals did not seem as good as they could be. They seemed to rally and get better by the end of the set and ‘Save Me A Drink From The Bottle’. I want to reserve judgement and see them again when they are fresher and the new line up is bedded in.

Gin Annie are always good value and definitely had their shit together, delivering their Melodic Hard Rock with a dash of charisma and good audience handling skills. One great thing is they always look like they are thoroughly enjoying themselves, which also goes a long way with the crowd. To me they are like Skin genre wise and they do not relax for a moment on stage, always straining every nerve to get the audience to fever pitch.

Then we had a little bit of a diversion from the main agenda with Hawklords who are not really my cup of tea, with the funny noises of Prog Rock not being high up on my wish list. Nevertheless, a dash of something different does no harm in moderation and I found the Doctor Who-style analogue wires, seventies style scientific noise experiment interesting enough to keep my attention. Together with stories about Lemmy and ‘Silver Machine’, I stayed the course no problem.

I was glad when Enuff Z’Nuff arrived, however, as I am super familiar with their material and love their songs. Having done a Beatles cover record recently they started off with ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and do a decent cover of ‘Eleanor Rigby’, although I am of the opinion that they have enough great original songs to fill a Festival set and are sufficiently well known in this audience not to need to include covers. One OMG moment was when the over six-foot Chip Z’Nuff grabbed onto a ceiling pipe and pulled his legs up horizontally level with his torso and wiggled his leg like some sort of wild insect. Luckily the pipe held and it made for great photos. Never one to hide his light under a bushel, Chip ran through stories of the history of the band and their chart successes. I am thinking that this crowd probably didn’t need such a reminder, although it did no harm. The main story is that they delivered a musically faultless set with Uber harmonies, lilting Poppy melodies and epic groove Blues Rock. Their version of ‘Fly High Michelle’ seems a bit slower than the record to me and I am not sure why. Slower or not, it’s a big hit with the audience, as is last track ‘New Thing’.

I get a few minutes to see a bit of Kim Jennet fronting Revival Black. I get less than one song, before I have to go back to the main arena, but I see her on the barrier whipping up the crowd which seems to be a slightly more Metal version of the band with her capable scream like vocals.

Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe, used to stadiums and bigger venues, simply did not accept that he could not see the back of the crowd with a lower stage and ceiling. The photographers have not even left the pit before he rebuilt the stage, turning monitors on their side to make a mini higher stage closer to the audience, elevating him so he can see the back of the room. The venue was packed out. He asked the crowd if they are tired, warning them that the band have come to bring the “thunder” - “Does that sound Metal enough for you”. They are more nineties than a lot of bands on this bill and heavier, but there were big riffs with eighties solos over the top and plenty of AC/DC style Boogie. The softer ‘Cats In The Cradle’ got the whole crowd singing in unison, as did the cover of ‘Lola’. Areas of the crowd were headbanging central. There’s no doubt that the crowd loved them and when Crane asked if the crowd want one more song or two, the crowd were not letting them away with less than the maximum they could get. So following a rousing version of Motörhead’s ‘Ace Of Spades’ we got ‘I Hate Everything About You’ and the crowd went mental on cue. It was a highlight of the weekend and therefore a fitting end to another great three days.

HRH always make an effort to get a bit of diversity on the bill at their main event, but always manage to get bands with broad appeal to keep people in the room and not outside smoking.
Another great three-day festival showing HRH are back on form, having struggled like all major Rock events through the Pandemic. To me they are an irreplaceable, family-style medium size series of festivals and it’s great to see them knock another one out of the park.

Dawn Osborne

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