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HRH N.W.O.B.H.M Sheffield 3/12/17


HRH N.W.O.B.H.M Sheffield 3/12/17

Day two.

Started off in stage one to a bit of a downer, the band Airrace should have been on, but we heard that one of the member’s sister had passed away and they were therefore not playing. So everyone was upstairs for stage two veterans Seventh Son. Formed in 1980 by brothers Kev, and Oliver Dawson’s Saxon frontman Bri Shaughnessey, now in their 37th year they have been a big part of the NWOBHM scene and still play with as much enthusiasm as ever. Kev emigrated to Australia in 1988, but Bri’s passion for performing keeps the band alive and after going through a number of changes the band of Bri, Gregory, Dave Fox and Kev Lee on drums are continuing to play consistently and building a new horde of fans. Bri’s personality and humour on stage shines through. With his broad Yorkshire accent he talks to the crowd: tells jokes and has everyone in the palm of his hands before the first song. I have hung out with this man a few times and I don’t only consider him a brilliant frontman and vocalist, I’d like to call him a friend. If you ever see him at a gig, don’t be afraid to go up and shake his hand and say hi, he will never turn you away. Great guy and a great band to start the day off with.

The first band on stage one was Jamieson Raid, who are hard to categorise. Fronted by the charismatic Terry Dark and OD Saxon’s Gavin Coulson guesting on guitar, they play a mix of metal, prog and psychedelic 70s music touring mostly in Europe, but have graced the Download festival and occasionally play in the UK.

Up to stage two to catch some of Tyson Dog, another band hailing from Newcastle, formed in 1982 they play a mix of power metal with a splash of punk for good measure, not a massive crowd for them. This is one of the bands that people thought were going on to bigger things but it never really happened for them.

Going back down to stage one, it was starting to really fill and the reason was Lionheart, formed in late 1980’s with an impressive line up: Dennis Stratton (Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis), Steve Mann (Liar, Michael Schenker Group). The crowd were ready for a little bit of AOR and with Lee Small’s powerful vocals they were not going to be disapointed. Lionheart are currently on tour with Airrace and made an announcement saying that due to the circumstances the tour may not carry on and this could be the last one they do for a while, this was received with rapturous applause.

Caught the last few songs of Spartan Warrior, in stage two. Formed in 1980, another Tyneside band: after reuniting in 2006 after a split they reissued a digitally remastered version of their self titled album, which in the day had critical and commercial success.

Next band up Rekuiem (originally requiem). I don’t know if this band thought by spelling the name differently it would get them a bigger following, but tonight they were definitely wrong. The arena was the emptiest I had seen it all weekend: if anyone has read any of my previous reviews you will know I call it as I see it, they had no stage presence, couldn’t interact with the crowd and the singing was off. The only positive was Diamond Head’s Karl Wilcox filling in on drums for them, sorry guys but it wasn’t good.

After that I wanted some ol school again and that is what I got in stage two with Gaskin, I entered to behold Paul Gaskin wearing some tall flowerpot hat complete with wig but with the heat of the smallish room that only lasted for one song. “Christ On A Bike” says Paul detaching the hat revealing a shiny hairless head, “how did I manage that in the day” he continued to loud laughter. Then he showed why they are still so popular with the fans: with his harmonic vocals and mix of Bad Company and NWOBHM sound.

Next up on stage one: Mick Underwood’s Glory Road. Michael John Underwood has a huge pedigree, playing drums for the likes of Jet Harris, Peter Frampton, Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan and many more; he also did session work for the legendary Joe Meek. But now to the present and in 2012 he formed Glory Road, which concentrates on songs of the Gillan era, and lead vocalist, Luka Ravase has the chops and personality to handle this perfectly, along with Jeff Summers on guitar, Gary Summers on bass and backing vocals, and Roy Shipston on keys they entertained the huge crowd with a back catalogue of Gillan songs and original work too.

Upstairs to stage two to see a bit of Desolation Angels: on to the stage comes the grim reaper, head bowed down he stands there waiting for the band to appear, they come on to a loud cheer from the crowd. Sounding like a cross between Sabbath and Eddie and the Hot Rods their punk metal sound gets the crowd jumping. Formed in 1981, they relocated to Los Angeles in 1987, eventually returning to Engand only to split in 1994. They reformed in 2012.

Couldn’t see all of the Angels as a band I loved in my youth and always wanted to see was on stage one next, Rogue Male, the brainchild of Northern Ireland singer/guitarist Jim Lyttle who had previously been in Irish punk bands but in 1983 decided he wanted to incorporate the aggression of punk with the metal sound of the NWOBHM bands he was enjoying listening to. He got into a legal battle with recording companies and in late 87 the band split. Their two albums First visit and Animal Man were rereleased on the Polish label Metal Mind records in 2007, and in an interview in 2009 Lyttle said he had written and produced a new album for Rogue Male and Nail It was released and the Rogues took to the road again. I had waited a long time to see these guys perform but it was worth the wait.

Grim Reaper, who played last year’s NWOBHM fest were voted by the fans to return this year, but backtrack to January this year and vocalist Steve Grimmett while on tour in Equador caught an infection which would lead to part of his right leg having to be amputated. Most people would have called it a day after that tragedy, but here he was with his band performing whilst leaning on a stick and part of the time in a wheelchair. All the Reaper favourites, Fear no Evil, Rock You to Hell, and when he sang his homage to Mr R.J. Dio’s Holy Diver everyone in the crowd went wild singing their hearts out. Bravo Steve: a fantastic performance and the hero of the event.

Final band Satan, and another from Newcastle. Formed in 1979 they are influential in playing an early form of highly advanced thrash speed metal that became synonymous in the 80s: changing their name to Blind Fury and even Pariah: at one time releasing two albums under that name and eventually split in the early nineties. They played a one- off gig at the German Wacken Open Air in 2004 as Satan and finally reunited in 2011. They have appeared at several European festivals: still keeping the NWOBHM sound alive in the 21st century.

There you have it: what a brilliant two days of music. It is called a British heavy metal festival but fans had travelled from all over, Germans, Swedish, Italians and I even spoke to a bunch of fans from Mexico: all enjoying and loving the sights and sounds of NWOBHM. I relived a bit of my youth this weekend, as did lots of others!

Unfortunately this is the last of the NWOBHM fests due to the lack of bands available, but fear not good people the hard working crew of HRH are already planning the next big event for 2018.

Review Dave Martin

& Photos by Carol Henson aka Lady Gigger


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