Monday, December 03, 2012
A large part of Sunday was recovery time for me. I emerged briefly late morning to get a large coffee from Starbucks and have a wander round the 'Metal Market' then retreated to the apartment for lunch, and most importantly more sleep.
So, late start meant that my first act of the day was the ever impressive Kobra and the Lotus. This was their third year at Hard Rock Hell, although I only saw them for the first time last year. With a general dearth of women on stage (aside from the ones playing with fire), it was a real pleasure to see and hear Kobra Paige. She really is phenomenal, with a powerful voice for metal that could give Bruce Dickinson a run for his money. And the rest of the band are none too shabby either. The guitars are spectacularly good.
Next up were Red White and Blues, formed from the ashes of Skin (Myke Gray) and Jagged Edge (Gray and Matti Alfonzetti). They are heavier and dirtier than Skin but retain the feel of celebration so it was a really fun time and great for the HRH Christmas Party. Blues-edged hard rock of quality, it was an excellent set.
A search for food meant I missed most of The Union, although what I did hear sounded fantastic, and certainly the audience reaction was extremely positive. Then it was time for Dr Feelgood, still going strong and giving a brilliant performance. Their music is just so familiar, and yet so fresh in live performance. The blues number If My Baby Quits Me, classic Milk and Alcohol, Back in the Night, the ever popular Who Do You Love? among others, all rounded off with a stirring rendition of Down at the Doctors, complete with whole-hearted audience participation.
The changeover after Dr Feelgood took a turn for the surreal when Johnny Davis, Hard Rock Hell organiser, came on stage to thank everyone for coming to the Christmas party. He then insisted that everyone in the venue sit down - mainly on the floor, but those in VIP seating had it a bit better - just so he could say "Congregation rise" and get everyone to sing All Things Bright and Beautiful. Short-lived singalong, but bonkers.
And then Fozzy exploded on to the stage. It was utterly brilliant, a no-holds barred, high octane demonstration of the glory that is metal. Frontman Chris Jericho alarmed the stage crew slightly by climbing one of the speakers several times in the set, but apart from a minor wobble it held firm. Fozzy certainly whipped up the crowd into something of a frenzy. They went down a storm and were clearly one of the highlights of the day.
For my money, Soil were a mistake. Given what had gone before, it lacked the right kind of sparkle for the party. For me anyway, although from where I was standing, the audience reaction seemed that little bit muted. I'm not dissing their performance at all, Soil were on fine form. But right at that moment it wasn't quite what I was after.
Buckcherry. What can I say? I loved this performance. Having only seen them in person once before, in a small club that held probably no more than 300 at capacity, it was great seeing them on a bigger stage and holding a large crowd in the palm of their hand. Josh Todd seduced this audience, very sensual and very sexy in his crowd interactions, and this is a man who clearly doesn't like wearing clothes for long. Coming on buttoned up to the neck in black, by the third track (Broken Glass if I remember rightly) the shirt had gone and those fabulous tattoos were revealed in all their glory. Thank goodness he has the body for it! They belted out the likes of Next 2 U, Sorry, Everything, and of course the hugely popular Crazy Bitch. After their single song encore they departed, with the crowd still baying for more.
So that's it. Hard Rock Hell draws to a close for another year, and hundreds of very weary but very happy rockers and metalheads will be wending their way home and wishing they didn't have to go to work tomorrow. Thanks to Johnny, Fleur and the team for once more putting on an amazing weekend.