Once the hangover was forced into retreat and sufficient quantities of caffeine consumed to power tired limbs into action and of course a little Jaeger livener, it's time to take the short walk up to the main arena and check out some bands.
For me that meant Little Caesar, a group of aging gents intent on proving they still have what it takes to rock out beyond exceptional musical competence. The music was crisp and focussed and an exciting mix of grown up Dad rock. I didn't notice a single mistake, wayward note or poor decision but after three or four tracks I wasn't inspired. It was a good start to the day though and perfect backing track for my first beer.
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Electric Boys were electric! I won't say their youth made a difference but they did put on a more lively show. Their style is a more modern with their unique funk Metal style. The show looked good from what I could see and the music was tight. I watched from my favoured vantage points at the top of some steps leading to the lowest viewing tier. The drums and bass seemed to be mixed too high, a recurring issue in Stage One, and were detracting from the songs.
As I slipped out of the venue to find a friend, walking across the room revealed just how much the acoustics vary, ranging from overpowering drums to dry cutting vocals. The bass dropped out altogether and for a change it appeared to be down to the amp on stage. I only wish the lights and smoke machine were co-ordinated in such a way that I could get to see a little more than a brightly coloured crowd. Mind you, there's no surprise why, as we caught the lighting guy on Facebook when bands were on stage. Face hidden to protect his identity.
Swedish rockers Bonafide were the first act to really show how things should be done. It's impossible to put your finger on what transforms a tight competent performance into an electric one but Bonafide were stirring up the crowd. The songs generally have a catchy tune which was nice for people like me who were watching them for the first time. I enjoyed hearing how good the performance was from the bands fans and having enjoyed it so much myself, I really have no reason to doubt them. Bonafide are a band to see. Once again the only real complaint was with the sound which seemed to develop sudden loud bursts of guitar, crackles and dropouts.
We had a look on YouTube for a clip of Bonafide playing Hard Rock Hell and found this, which may not be the band but does sum up the atmosphere of this festival. Where else would you see Alan Partridge rocking out in a Motley Crue t-shirt?
Stage 2 is sized somewhere between the second and third stages at the old Prestatyn venue and the shape and layout meant that sound and lighting was consistently better. The queue at the bar was always smaller too, even though I never had to wait more than a minute at either. I caught the end of the Dominica set and didn't feel like I'd missed out, although I did get to watch Tina and pals undertake in some weird and wonderful dancing.
Taking advantage of open floor space to the left of stage we all sat down and waited to lose my Lionsex virginity. The sound wasn't as good as it could be thanks to my position next to the stage so I moved front of house, pushed in a pair of ear plugs and enjoyed being entertained.
Lionsex is a deceptively good name, especially for this group of disparate, thin, unusual looking young men with a mix of big hair and fashion styles. Despite that they still look like a band and each has a personality big enough to come through in their performance. The music is light hearted feelgood modern rock with a touch of sleaze. It's not significantly heavier than Bon Jovi but it's not pop. The vocals are also notable in being a much lower and raspier effort than the usual high pitched suffering cat wail of Motley Clones. Lionsex is definitely worth a try so if you see a gig near you, check them out.
Of the remaining bands, Ugly Kid Joe stood out for special mention. UGLY KID JOE were an absolute revelation putting on a great show with good honest mature rock and a couple of hits that everyone knew. I'm almost ashamed I let the band slip from my sight for so long and will continue to let Tina remind me of this for the remainder of my days – yep, I have to face defeat and admit she was right. Should really have listened to her at Download now. They may have been a stand in but I'm glad they did because it was a better show than I can imagine Ace putting on.
Biggest disappointment was Testament, but not because of the band, but because they had more sound issues of the cracking and popping kind. When they were eventually solved, the show got under way with a light show even a blind man on a galloping horse could see was poor (see photo above for potential reason why).
They practically disappeared in a fog of dry ice while Chuck's vocals lacked the usual veneer of massive FX. Although a lot of the non-Metal fans enjoyed them, I don't think they were given the best performance to make them switch over to the Metal side.
And so comes the end to the third day of Hard Rock Hell. The Saturday night party was still in full swing across site when the bands came to an end, but probably not as much as on previous nights, certainly not in our caravan.