Monday, 17 November 2014

Highway To (Hard Rock) Hell VIII

Yes, it's November, and so once again it was time to follow the Highway Star westwards on the Highway To Hell (well, the A55) for Pwllheli and more Crazy, Crazy Nights at Hard Rock Hell.  Yes, it's the rock event's 8th year running, and as last year, lots of fantastic music and entertainment were promised from Thursday through to Sunday morning.

It was certainly a promising start.  A now-customary visit to the OK Diner just west of Chester for a late breakfast meant once again bumping into a few groups of rockers on their way to Hard Rock Hell, and I remembered a few of them from meeting them here last year.

This year's journey didn't take us via the scenic route to Anglesey, thank heavens, so we made the Hafan Y Mor Holiday Village on the Llyn peninsula in good time this year.  We all checked in and I was really pleased to find that my VIP Pass meant that I was in a very lovely chalet very close to the main car-park, which meant unloading the car was a lot easier than last year.

Thursday night is the opening night, and for many this is the night to dress-up in the 'theme' of the weekend.  This year the theme was Helloween, so it was time to slip into my red latex catsuit from Cathouse Clothing, add some latex devil horns, and head off to the event's opening ceremony and have a devil of a good time.

As I entered the main hall and removed my coat (it was a bit chilly on Thursday night) I could suddenly feel people staring.  I was a little apprehensive and wondered if the outfit was a bit OTT for a rock night.  "Oh well," I though, "fuck it."  I'd brazen it out.

 Oddly, it wasn't long before a group of older gentlemen dressed in a variety of Hellish costumes came over and started chatting, and they were all very charming and complimentary.  As there were bands playing on stage it meant conversation was quite hard to follow, so you had to get your ear very close to whoever you were chatting to.  I did wonder if the guys were missing out on seeing the band, but as one gent put his head down so I could speak into his ear, I realised they weren't missing a bloody thing...

However, I didn't mind as they were brilliant fun, and behaved impeccably.  Soon, the group of five friends that I had travelled with rolled up (who says it's women who take the longest to get ready???) and I could see from their faces (they were all guys, of course) that they were a little dumbstruck by the outfit.  Soon, lots of photos followed, which, well opened the floodgates, so to speak.  While I was chatting to a friend,  I felt a tap on my shoulder.  "Excuse me, love, you look bloody amazing... can I have a photograph taken with you?" came a gentle Scottish voice.  Of course, so I posed with him while his friend took a the picture.  I gave him a peck on the cheek and had barely turned back to my friends when I got another request for a photo.... then another, then another then, well, you probably get the idea.  I think there must be at least 60 photographs of me circulating on various social media sites as I type.

It was a great outfit for breaking the ice, and I met a couple of lovely girls too thanks to the outfit, as they also wanted photos.  One in particular, a gorgeously foxy redhead, I was determined to bump into again over the course of the weekend.

I didn't catch many of the bands of course, but made sure I saw a bit of Massive Wagons and happily they played their brilliant song 'Red Dress'.  Sadly, the sexy girls from the video never made it on stage with them, 
but it was still a fantastic end to the night.

It was after midnight when I finally headed back to my warm and cosy chalet - a brilliant first night.

Friday dawned, and the promised clear skies hadn't materialised.  Cloud and rain meant a dull start to the day, but as all the entertainment is under cover it didn't spoil things too much.  The bands are split into two venues at Hard Rock Hell, and at 2.00pm the main hall opened, which would be featuring the big headlining bands of the weekend.  A great band called Texas Flood started the show with some superb blues-rock styled songs.  My VIP Pass again gave me a better view than last year, and a seat too!

Dexi Delite -The Texas Flood @ Hard Rock Hell 8

There were quite a few people who recognised me from Thursday night - the usual comment was "You were the girl in that red outfit - WOW!" which was lovely to hear.  I watched a couple of other bands before heading back to the chalet to change yet again for the coming night's entertainment. 

I obviously couldn't repeat the success of the catsuit, but in truth I didn't want to try.  Skin-tight latex is great for doing many things in, but sat watching bands for seven hours isn't one of them.  I decided to wear my leather corset, thigh boots and tight leggings.

The first band to really catch my attention were The Brew, who played a brilliant and energetic set, and they weren't afraid to slow the pace and play some heavy blues, including some slide guitar.  The guitarist even brought out a violin bow, ala Jimmy Page, for a wild solo.  Fantastic.  I'd thoroughly recommend seeing these guys again.

Dexi Delite - The Brew @ Hard Rock Hell 8

Next up were Y&T, who have been recording and touring for 40 years!  Their experience showed in a very polished set, sadly which had to be cut short due to all of the previous bands over-running.  Not quite my style of rock, but I could see how well they played and was disappointed that they couldn't do a deserved encore - as were the crowd, who gave the band a standing ovation.

Dexi Delite - Y&T @ Hard Rock Hell 8
Swedish AC/DC-style rockers Krokus followed Y&T with a more straight-forward rock set, but I was rather distracted by three gorgeous girls on stilts who were wandering the arena.  I'd met them the previous night, and took the opportunity to say hello again - partly because they were lovely and very sexy, and partly because their gorgeous arses and crotches were just about face-height.  Mmmmmmm.....

Queensryche finished the night's entertainment, again a band whose music didn't really grab me, and I thought they had an awful sound too, with the vocals being lost in the mix.  I was in a minority though, as it appeared that they were the favourite of many of the fans there.  As Queensryche left the stage I found that the foxy redhead had come to find me, and we had a long and interesting chat about music and the fetish scene (she'd met me while I was wearing the catsuit, of course).  We had stepped into the foyer in order to talk more easily when a couple of gents appeared and began talking to us.  They complemented me on my outfit, and asked if we'd seen Y&T onstage.  I replied that we had, and they revealed themselves to be the group's drummer and rhythm guitarist, so I was a little embarrassed that I hadn't recognised them.  They were brilliant to chat with though, and clearly didn't take themselves too seriously at all.  What a great end to the night.  I trotted off back to my chalet a very happy girl.

The sun arrived in all it's splendour on the Saturday morning, and it was bright and warm when I stepped outside.  I decided to head for the second stage initially, and I'm very glad that I did.  The second band on that morning turned out to be Black State Highway, who as well as having a very sexy lead singer were also bloody brilliant.

Dexi Delite - Black State Highway @ Hard Rock Hell 8
They played some great thundering rock, and even though at times the singer's voice became lost in the sound she still sounded superb - husky and sexy.  I intended only to stay for a song or two, but ended up watching the whole set and then heading straight off to the merchandise stall to buy their CD.

Dexi Delite - Black State Highway @ Hard Rock Hell 8
Oh, and she had a fantastic arse too, I noticed.

I headed over to the main arena next, as I'd heard good things about the first band on the main stage - Blues Pills.  I wasn't disappointed.  With a heavy blues-based sound straight from the late 60's (think early Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, etc) they were utterly fantastic.  Devil Man, in particular, blew me away.  Outstanding sound, outstanding arrangements, and an amazing singer.  If you get a chance to either see or hear this band, then they really are another Dexi-recommendation, and definitely one of the best bands of the whole weekend.

Dexi Delite - Blues Pills @ Hard Rock Hell 8
 Once again I headed back to change in readiness for the night - this time I chose a silver jumper (just long enough to be a dress and my thigh boots again), and set off back for the main arena.

Dexi Delite - Hard Rock Hell 8
There was a bit of pure psychedelic rock theatre next, courtesy of Big Elf.  'Bizarre' would only start the description, and after the first two songs (both about seven minutes long) I headed off to find drinks and refreshments.  I will, however, mention that their guitarist for the set was John Wesley, from Porcupine Tree, for the benefit of D who reads the blog!

Next up came hard rockers Diamond Head, whose heavy riffs banished the lingering fairy dust (or whatever it was) of Big Elf.  They got the crowd moving again, who had stood in a bit of a trance while Big Elf played, and their encore was a ripping version of "Am I Evil", a song covered by Metallica and Rob Zombie among others.

Dexi Delite - Diamond Head @ Hard Rock Hell 8
Normality restored.  Thank heavens.

Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock band followed.  For those who don't know, Michael Schenker began his career with German rock band Scorpions, before leaving to join UFO, then returning to Scorpions for a brief time, eventually going his own way with the Michael Schenker Band and Temple Of Rock.  They hit the stage running, ripping through UFO's Doctor Doctor, an immediate crowd-winner.  I was very surprised to see the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on drums, but found later in the band introduction that it was in fact Herman Rarebell from Scorpions!  Separated at birth, I assume.  The biggest cheers of the set came for some of the old Scorpions tracks Lovedrive and the sublime yet pounding instrumental Coast To Coast.  A great set, and quite amazing considering that the band had flown in from Paris on the morning and were heading straight back to France the following day.

Dexi Delite - Michael Schenker @ Hard Rock Hell 8
The main headlinders were on next - Blue Oyster Cult.  The legendary American band have been treading the boards for a few decades now, and played a well-constructed set, culminating, of course, with the seminal Don't Fear The Reaper.  It was a blistering end to the set, and they left the stage to a standing ovation - well earned indeed.

Dexi Delite - Blue Oyster Cult @ Hard Rock Hell 8
Girlschool had a tough act to follow, and I'm sad to say that I didn't stay to see all of their set as I was in desperate need of food.  I stepped outside the arena and found the clear skies that had blessed the day had remained - unfortunately, with no cloud cover, it meant it was bloody freezing!!!  I grabbed a pizza and headed back to my chalet.  Satisfied?  Totally.

Dexi Delite - Girlschool @ Hard Rock Hell 8
Sunday arrived all too soon, and it was time to pack, pick up the boys from their shambolic caravan, and head back away from North Wales.  Once again, a wonderful weekend with brilliant bands, fabulous friends (old and new), and I've already booked for next year.  Roll on Hard Rock Hell 9!

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