Hard Rock Hell IX


We are here once again! Or should I say ‘there’? Since our base is thousands of miles away! This festival is a basic source, a result of a superb cooperation for Rockpages.gr. We are talking about a three-day event full of music as well as meetings with the elite of the international music industry.  Apart from the performance presentations of great, acknowledged- old and forgotten- as well as new upcoming bands, some very interesting interviews with some of them will follow.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Under the shadow of Phil Taylor’s loss the previous day, the first warm-up day of HRH IV begins with Screaming Eagles, a very intriguing band from Northern Ireland which made a great impression with its stoner-heavy touch and with two great performances on “It’s A Long Way ToThe Top” and “Immigrant Song”.

Coming up next were Attica Rage who, being quite familiar with the festival’s audience, managed to stir up the crowd and justify their regular presence at the event despite the people’s anticipation for the headliners.


Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society ‘rewarded’ people’s waiting patience. With a captivating presence and an exceptional performance on stage from the very first notes of “The beginning…..At Last”, Zak Wylde gave the signal of a merciless attack! That’s the feeling I got at that moment… little did I know what was going to happen later that night. Before that, we enjoyed a very original introduction, a simultaneous mix of “Whole Lotta Love” and “War Pigs”.

Setlist:  The Beginning…At Last, Funeral Bell, Bleed For Me, Heart Of Darkness,Suicide Messiah, My Dying Time, Damn The Flood, guitar solo, Godspeed Hell Bound, Angel Of Mercy, In This River, The Blessed Hellride, Concrete Jungle, Stillborn


The day came to its closure with Massive Wagons whose latest work “Fight The System” we have recently presented…..but we have got a lot more to say….The band graced us with an exceptional performance, full of vigor and promises with the main theme “Fight The System”.

Friday, 13 November 2015

It’s been a peculiar day from its rainy beginning to the end. The day’s progression turned into a combination of the homonymous film as well as Halloween and not only due to Helloween’s performance.

In a small hall within the Hafan Y Mor’s facilities Baz Mills and Adam Thistlethwaite of Massive Wagons treated us to a very beautiful and interesting break with a twenty-minute acoustic set early at noon.


Due to other commitments that day, I totally skipped the second small stage of the festival and I also did not get a chance to go to the big stage where Toseland, the band of James Toseland, an ace at motorcycle races, performed. I really wanted to see them since they are a great band. We did not leave empty-handed though as far as Toseland is concerned. A very interesting interview follows up…..and it feels like a crash test between music and motorcycles. Just be a little patient…

Listening to the people of the press, there was great anticipation among them for Scorpion Child, an upcoming band from Austin, Texas. Paying close attention to them, although they do not belong to my old music tastes, their playing was good and their songs pretty decent. However, the voice of the singer did nothing for me as I found it quite rough. Nevertheless, people seemed to be satisfied with that.


The hall vibrates with people yelling “Happy Happy Helloween” and it gets louder through the speakers. Dani Loble, Markus Grosskopf, Sascha Gernster, Michael Weikath and Andi Deris in the end, take their position on stage for a ninety-minute set, one of the best I have ever seen Helloween playing!

They kicked-off with “Eagle Fly Free” and “Dr. Stein” as well as an extensive deliverance of “My God-Given Right” which was all the crowd needed to go crazy, while what followed up was excellently chosen by the band. “Steel Tormentor”, “Waiting For The Thunder”, “If I Could Fly” and many more were thoroughly enjoyed by all of us. On top of that, finishing up with “Future World” and “I Want Out” carried a heavy signature for the best, maybe, performance of the three-day event.    

Setlist: Intro/Eagle Fly Free, Dr. Stein, My God-Given Right, Steel Tormentor”, Waiting For The Thunder, Straight Out Of Hell, drum solo, Where The Rain Grows, Lost In America, If I Could Fly, Power, medley: Halloween / Sole Survivor / I Can / Are You Metal?/Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Future World, I Want Out


The night is still young and, hence, not finished quite yet. UFO had taken on that role and, as always, they brought out the best of themselves. The legendary band for eighty minutes on was as we have experienced it before. Bare, serious and rock ‘n’ roll at the same time. A timeless band which touched our souls with “Rock Bottom”, Doctor Doctor”, “Love To Love”, “Only You Can Rock Me” and many more diamonds. It was a truly unique performance and an ideal finale to the second day of the festival.


Saturday, 14 November 2015

..and Sky News was on the agenda on our morning wake up call. We were being bombarded with the constant news flow and to be honest my appetite for a live was not the greatest I had had. I made my way towards the stages, with the hope that my mood would change a little. Most people at the festival were ‘drenched’ with similar feelings.

Late in the afternoon, I found myself in front of the small stage watching Supercharger, a completely unknown band to me, which managed to absorb me with their songs and great performing. The Danish band are ‘top notch’ performers and if you come across them make sure you do not miss them! You will listen to a very powerful, modern Scandinavian Heavy/rock ‘n’ roll!


The performance of Gun at the same festival in Prestatyn in 2009 has been a memorable experience and has put the standards quite high, for me at least. Gun were not bad….but they just did not manage to reach the glory of that performance. They were good, but nothing more than that. Hence, I was not in a position to draw a positive or negative conclusion. The best moment of their performance was with “Steal Your Fire”, just before they finish their set.

Setlist: Let It Shine, Don’t Stay It’s Over, Better Days, Something To Believe In, One Wrong Turn, Seems Like I’m Losing You, Welcome To The Real World, Hold Your Head Up, Money (Everybody Loves Her), Labour Of Life, Inside Out / So Lonely (The Police cover),  Word Up (Cameo cover), Steal Your Fire, Shame On You


What came next was just like good old wine. Rock Goddess made a come-back to record-making as well as the live stages, after almost thirty years! An hour full of female gritty rock ‘n’ roll with the three… Goddesses spreading incredible freshness and energy. “Heartache”, “You’ve Got Fire” and “Heavy Metal Rock ‘n’ Roll” brought back memories while people became part of a mad rock ‘n’ roll party!

Setlist: Satisfied Then Crucified, God Be With You, Heartache, Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right, You’ve Got Fire, Make My Night, Doom And Gloom, unknown song, Drive Me Away, This Is The Day, Back To You, Heavy Metal Rock n’ Roll, Bite You To Death


Minutes before Faster Pussycat came on stage, a representative of the festival’s production team asked everyone to keep a minute’s silence to honor the innocent victims from the attacks of the previous night in Paris. The emotional breakdown as well as the anger was evident on people’s faces.

Taime Downe has got the whole package, as the rest of the Faster Pussycat, no matter how many years have passed. It was a very ‘sleazey’ as well as professional (in a good sense) at the same time performance, maintaining the appropriate stage appearance and energy. These guys from California showed us that we can count on them and made us think that a new album would be all it takes for their name to be re-established. However, the four cover versions could have been halved.

Setlist: Where There’s A Whip There’s A Way, Cathouse, Slip Of The Tongue, Number 1 With A Bullet, Sex Drugs And Rock n Roll, Don’t Change (INXS), Don’t Change That Song, House Of Pain, You’re So Vain (Carly Simon), Bathroom Wall, Pretty Fucked Up (Supersuckers), Bathroom Wall -reprise, Shut Up And Fuck (Betty Blowtorch), Babylon


The time for the headliners of the night has finally come and it was a ‘heavy’ name indeed, especially for Great Britain. Saxon, with their brand-new “Battering Ram” under their belt, were about to give a hell of a show, another hell of a show to be precise, since having seen them more than ten times I cannot remember even one performance of theirs that lacked in power and vigor. For more than two hours, they were rocking the stage, delivering with exceptional passion, energy and pomposity all this invaluable older work as well as their excellent new material.


Biff dedicated “Broken Heroes” to the victims of the attacks in Paris, noting that Saxon had played many times at the fatal club. We listened to five songs from “Battering Ram”, an evident move of support for their new work while only few of the songs we have loved so much all these years were not included in their setlist. Maybe from now on they should begin and finish with “Dogs Of War”, a title that should righteously be given to these five musicians! I will repeat myself and say again…..what a great show!

Setlist: Battering Ram, Motorcycle Man, Sacrifice, Power And The Glory, Destroyer, Heavy Metal Thunder, Eye Of The Storm, And The Bands Played On, Queen Of Hearts, Battalions Of Steel, Never Surrender, Broken Heroes, 20.000 ft, The Devil’s Footprint, 747 (Strangers In The Night), Crusader, Princess Of The Night, Wheels Of Steel, Strong Arm Of The Law, Denim And Leather



HRH IX had not finished yet. It was just about to reach its conclusion with Chase The Ace playing on the small stage opposite. It is a great band from Israel which thrives in sleeze/glam metal and I truly consider as one of this festival’s revelations. A true hope for the ‘harder’ sound. The leader, singer and guitarist Roi Vito Peleg, was literally unstoppable, incredibly communicative without saying that the rest of the band were anything less. It was an hour of limitless vigor by a band who just had their second album released with the title “Hell Yeah!” and gave an ideal closing to the festival. Many congratulations to these guys!

It was time to leave Pwllheli with the best of impressions once again. I think I will never get tired of thanking these amazing production people for their superb cooperation and professional attitude they always demonstrate. I would also like to thank the colleagues of the British Media who are always there- about twenty of them- and always support and help each other….something that here, unfortunately, would be taken as a joke.

Another encounter has come to its end and I don’t want to hide my anticipation for Hard Rock Hell X, in a year from now. From what I understood it will have an anniversary character. We will be there to report everything…and at some point before that in March…
Dimitris Kazantzis