Hair Metal Heaven 2017

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Hair Metal Heaven 2017

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 - City Hall / The Welly, Hull (UK) - 25-27 August 2017

Friday 25 Aug – The Welly

Kicking proceedings off are Fragile Things, led by ex-Heaven's Basement/Hurricane Party/Roadstar vocalist Richie Hevanz. While his former bands were arguably Hair Metal, in its current incarnation with man buns and beards it is an incongruous start. However, they are a decent enough Rock band with good guitar, groovy bass and are a lively and pretty noisy start. Hevanz has good crowd engagement skills and they introduce two pretty good sounding singles 'Better Than This' and 'Broken'.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Fragile Things

Mason Hill, by contrast, are definitely a more hairy and Classic Rock-like offering, and more towards the festival description. With a driving big bass sound, this recent signing by Frontiers will probably need to do more to stand out amongst the many young hopefuls out there. While the bassist has an eye for the audience, at times their much quieter lead guitarist looks reluctant to shred. This could, of course, just be immature stagecraft as they are very young. The singer has a good voice and finally towards the end they start to Rock out showing a little passion and epic quality with a hint at their Scottish roots.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Mason Hill

Bigfoot are much more engaging and memorable. Large and heavy – in every sense of the word – vocalist Ant Ellis is going for it from the first. They come across as a biker band, and while some material is definitely post Bay Area Thrash and nineties-like, they also have the melodies to keep Classic Rock fans interested. Following a grand funk opus bass solo in 'Blame It On The Dog', the last track 'Other Side Of Paradise' is Deep Purple-esque with big riffs and some Ian Gillan-like screams as well as bluesy vocal work.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Bigfoot

The first truly Hair Metal band on offer are Nite Rain with a style reminiscent of Mötley Crüe. They have the attitude that the ticket price has paid for and 'Romeo' shows that the singer has a good voice. The material is your basic Cock Rock. We get the guitarist jerking his guitar forward with his crotch and guitars held aloft to the sky for the solo in 'Dirty', and then plenty of crowd engagement from the vocalist who gets the crowd going with the Beastie Boys cover 'Fight For Your Right'. Finishing with a jumping split kick we are finally on the journey to Hair Metal Heaven.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Nite Rain

Up next are Crazy Lixx. Unfortunately, they have severe technical problems affecting the guitar sound. Due to this, the performance is sadly not as enjoyable as their recent performance at Nambucca in London. There are rumours of flight problems and they seem slightly less flamboyant tonight than at the London gig. However, they show up and turn in a professional show doing their best in the circumstances. They have a slew of great songs and the audience seem familiar with their work and enthusiastic despite the difficulties.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Crazy Lixx

Babylon A.D. fare better sound-wise, although there are some delays while they are resolving issues before the show. They are aggressive, go getting and singer Derek Davis does everything he can to engage and reach out to the crowd like a freight train, including an attempt at crowd surfing during 'Kid Goes Wild' which is short lived as a lot of the crowd under him are girls. However, the vibe does get out to the audience and despite being courageous enough to try several new songs, they give the audience classics like 'Bang Goes The Bells' and 'Maryanne', and they get the all-out old-school Heavy Metal atmosphere flying.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Babylon AD

There was a long delay before Eclipse, but when they do arrive, they don't disappoint. They take the torch from Babylon A.D. and hammer big sounding single 'Vertigo' to the crowd in a smart move to pitch a big popular song first. Although they also mention technical problems at festivals, the crowd barely notices any issue and their reaction is huge, the audience being a seeming sea of Eclipse t-shirts they are clearly a popular draw. Vocalist Erik Martensson has no problem taking a rest while the crowd does the singing for him, but he is no slouch and spinning like a top he puts in all his energy to proceedings, and is clearly delighted at the audience reaction despite their hour long wait. 'Jaded' provides a change of pace and an acoustic version of 'Battlegrounds' showcases Martensson's voice and its Scottish sounding melodies. They act like, and would have been, a worthy headliner.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Eclipse

As far as the rest of the night went Treat and Hardline are up against it as the show runs later and later and the crowd begins to get tired in a venue where the air conditioning could have been better. Energies never quite get back to Eclipse levels and it seems as though a lot of the crowd left after they played. Still, Treat singer Robert Emlund is indefatigable in his efforts to get the crowd going with super amounts of eye contact and encouragement he gets them singing along.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Treat

There are enough Treat diehards at the front singing all the lyrics to give the gig a special atmosphere. The backing vocals are strong, leading some to speculate regarding backing tapes, but with star quality and showmanship coming from other seasoned members of the band, like über polished drummer Jamie Borger, the audience that stays are not disappointed.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Hardline

When it comes to Hardline things are really rolling into the small hours and a lot of the audience leaves. There are also comments about the strange choice of slower tracks on the set-list and there being few original members left. Nevertheless, singer Johnny Gioeli turns in a professional show, and though energy seems to dip in the middle around the drum solo, they leave on a high at least.

Saturday 26 Aug – Hull City Hall

Opener Black Cat Bones' singer has stolen everything he knows from Axl Rose style wise, however, they are not particularly Guns N' Roses sounding with more of a seventies vibe at times. They go down well with lots of talk in the crowd of purchasing of their CDs, so for an opener did a good job.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Black Cat Bones

Shiraz Lane are all Falsetto, hair and flash grandstanding with guitars. To me, it was more style than substance and I thought they could do with a few more epic songs, but it was not a boring show and they made lots of noise!

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Shiraz Lane

Killcode have a cool Zombie-like guitarist with theatrical make up and top hat, and their singer has a nice rounded voice like Bob Catley in his prime. They are heavier with a loud, raucous nineties sound with some shredding, but alongside more Nu Metal and Thrash influences. They do a Twisted Sister cover and end in a slightly Motörhead style version of it. They would appeal to a biker audience, but sadly the hall is not yet full of punters.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Killcode

The Poodles are a straight road to striking blonde hair and sing-along Melodic Rock with lots of Falsetto with pure and clear vocals. This is bounce-along, anthemic Metal with Pop sensibilities. Singer Jakob Samuel leans back with his microphone almost to the floor showing off his powerful biceps. Screaming loudly in an exquisite Scandinavian accent, delivering Scorpions-inspired material with lots of crowd pointing and two-handed kisses, he leaves the stage knowing they nailed it.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live The Poodles

Spread Eagle are darker and more of a nineties and Alternative sound again, but there's lots of Falsetto vocals and they do deliver some AOR as well as their heavier digga-digga sound. I could have sworn vocalist Ray West called the crowd London though... erm...

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Spread Eagle

Much anticipated Junkyard announce from the off they are here to play Rock 'n' Roll. Playing a mix of old favourites like 'Hollywood' and 'Blooze', they nevertheless show faith in their new material with a number of new tracks such as 'Faded'. In general, the delivery is less Southern Rock and more rocked up and rough, although we do get some great Lynyrd Skynyrd style guitar as well in 'Simple Man'. The Drummer's t-shirt 'Punkyard' is an indication of the attitude and drive. With faster versions of usually slower tracks such as 'Misery Loves Company' they don't let up the pace. David Roach's distinctive voice sounds just like it used to and we get a whisky-soaked soulful version of 'Hands Off'. They get the crowd nice and warmed up just as it should be.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Junkyard

Next up, there's a roar as Davy Vain and his band Vain take the stage. Still with long hair and red leather pants with cut out large metal rings up the side, the crowd recognise that when it comes to Hair Metal, he has the credentials and he gets due respect. They do great versions of 'Secrets' and 'Icy', and he sounds wonderfully like the old days. They risk a bit of new material with 'Dark City' and the crowd stay with him, but by 'Who's Watching You' and '1000 Degrees' we are cooking, and the festival has delivered what is said on the tin. For 'No Respect', he sounds big and powerful showing he absolutely can deliver live. Riding the crest of the wave, he goes into one of his stories about "all kinds of pussy" including the crazy kind before launching into 'Beat The Bullet' when the audience spontaneously breaks into the chorus. The audience goes wild and Davy Vain proves he is a star.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Vain

Danger Danger take over on a high and in Hull Ted Poley looks the business. They go big with 'Boys Will Be Boys' and we are reminded how many crowd pleasers they have other than 'Naughty, Naughty' which is the encore of choice. Poley engages the crowd with plenty of eye contact on his knees and there's plenty of the right sort of guitar squealing from Steve Brown of Trixter on the six-string. Poley tells the crowd the band fly home tomorrow and got to Hull at 4am but that it is worth it as they deliver a cracking version of 'I Still Think About You'. They get the people dancing up in the balconies and proudly declare "We are Danger Fuckin' Danger" before they sweep away off the stage.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Danger Danger

TNT were beset by delays, lost a section of the crowd (not aware that the VIP performance from Michael Monroe was not going to happen and left to get to that) and their set was cut short from the ninety minutes promised on the programme. They rise above it, however, and Tony Harnell is truly excellent in his performance of the challenging high notes of their material. Unsurprisingly, they focus on 'Tell No Tales'. It's mostly melodic and ballads, but they do some later harder material too. Closer '10,000 Lovers' gets the crowd trying to follow Harnell into the stratospheric high notes and the difficulties of the day did not spoil the atmosphere or enjoyment.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live TNT

Sunday 27 Aug – Hull City Hall

Not that many make it out early after late night revels for the first few bands the next day. It is a shame to see local opener Hell's Addiction who are a good solid Rock band with a biker look, noisy in-your-face and loads of Falsetto sound but not much in the way of song hooks. Princess Pang (having come all the way from the USA) play to a mostly empty hall, although Jeni Foster nails it, she looks and sounds amazing in micro leather shorts, a slightly gypsy looking ruffled tailed jacket, studded cowboy boots and immaculate hair; she looks like Danny Vaughan's younger sister. She admits she has never played a show at 2pm before, and though she must be disappointed at turnout, she whirls like a tornado through the set like a consummate professional, and it's as if she has been doing this non-stop since 1989 and not coming back after such a long break! The band sound great as well as being most of the original Swedish line-up and this group needs to be booked again repeatedly so more people can get to see how fantastic they are!

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Hells Addiction

Next up is Diemonds, their singer Priya Panda looks fantastic and while she has the moves, the style and is great on some of the high notes, there's some dodgy singing too and the band is not the tightest of the weekend.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Diamonds

Leatherwolf are more Metal than Hair Metal with some definite heavier undertones, but they have great harmonised guitar work and deliver some epic chunky riffs and Falsetto. Sadly, none of their songs are that memorable for me, but the performance was slick and professional.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Leatherwolf

Alex Kane adds a bit of stardust to the Shark Island line-up, but while Richard Black still has the slick spinning moves with his microphone that inspired Axl Rose, he no longer has a Glam or Rockstar look. The crowd are ecstatic to see this rarely seen band, despite the fact that he is the only original member, and they go down extremely well, being the first band to inspire dancing in the aisles that day.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Shark Island

D.A.D. put on a spectacular show with the costume and guitar changes we have come to expect from them, and since the sets are running late again and this is the third day of partying, the crowd need something special to keep them going. Stig Pedersen is spectacularly eccentric in his First World War era fighter pilot suit and, at times strange posturing with his transparent neon 2 string, bi-plane and Iron Cross bass guitars. However, the band are also extremely good musically, we hear some great guitar and vocals too, but sometimes I feel the theatricality overshadows this. We get a mad screaming question and answer style singing session between vocalist Jesper Binzer and crowd. His brother, guitarist Jacob Binzer, takes a laid-back approach to the visual competition from the other side of the stage, striking a horizontal artful dodger style pose on his back in cheeky black top hat with crossed legs as he plays a diverse set of guitar solos from almost Thrash to Bert Wheedon style to Rock 'n' Roll! 'Bad Craziness' and 'Sleeping My Day Away' are the big-ticket songs and they appear on cue at the end of the set much to the crowd's pleasure.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live D-A-D

There's another long delay before Loudness and while they go down a storm and there's no denying the guitar fitness of Akira Takasaki, for me, they never really have that memorable song.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Loudness

Reckless Love are also delayed, but when they do hit the stage it is with a huge look and sound that easily stands up to D.A.D. without the theatrics. Like Vain, they truly are the real Hair Metal deal and proud of it. They roll out hit after hit of Pop Rock impact. As they run around the stage, energy levels are high and the crowd begins to forget the long wait. We receive plenty of punching the air, guitars aloft, ammunition guitar pointing and all the stuff people love to trash but the crowd are gagging for. The male beauty, hip swivelling, the microphone down pants poking out and the sexy side of Hair Metal doesn't go amiss either. The crowd sings loudly and passionately, and get on down in response to songs about sex, love and girls. Given the name of the festival, in that respect, maybe Reckless Love were the most fitting band on the bill.

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live Reckless Love

The final band of the festival was an All Stars line-up of Sebastian Bach, George Lynch and Vinnie Appice. Bach sounds great on the Dokken and Skid Row numbers, not so much on the Black Sabbath numbers, but that's a tall order for anyone and they did sound check in the early hours the previous morning – due to TNT having run so late. Naturally, he's best at his own songs and he does great clear versions of '18 And Life', 'I Remember You' and 'Youth Gone Wild'. Lynch puts in some great guitar and still has all the moves, and while he doesn't look that impressed when the crowd invades the stage at the end, it is a fitting Rock 'n' Roll shambolic close to a festival that was, in the end, unique and special because it was out of control. They finish with covers of 'Crazy Nights' and 'Highway To Hull'. With special guests Tawasaki from Loudness and Panda from Diemonds, it was a great way to end!

Hair Metal Heaven 2017 Live All Stars
Review and photos by Dawn Osborne

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