don't get much better than this. The sharp contrast between the sun
kissed festival site and the army of black clad rock fans was never more
sharply realised than on a glorious summer's afternoon more suited to a
picnic in Hackney's Victoria Park, than 8 hours of rock overdrive.
was a very special day full of great music, enthusiastic rock fans of a
certain age and a vibe best encapsulated by one of the food stall chalk
boards; 'For those about to drink tea, we salute you'!
With the excellent weather, a well laid out site, 3 high quality sound
stages and a strong bill, the closing day of HV2011 was well set to be a
And so it
proved as a well programmed day of rock, prog and metal took us back to
a time when geezer rock ruled the land (Saint Jude, Mostly Autumn and
Curved Air provided the only female performers of note) and the X factor
was still a laughable prototype being presided over by Hughie Green.
HV2011 had something for everyone with the only the problem being how
fans could get the best out of the three stages. Pete
by Andy Nathan
Additional reporting: Pete Feenstra, Joe Geesin, Mark Taylor
On a day
with significantly fewer punters, Day 2's main stage action began with
Heavens Basement, who have yet another and hopefully permanent
new singer in Aaron Buchanan. I was apprehensive, having heard they had
gone in a new direction, and they certainly have a more modern rock feel
than in their days as 'Roadstar', and yet I was impressed with their on
stage energy and aggressive, though not unmelodic, approach. The songs
that had impressed me last year, 'Reign On My Parade' and 'Executioners
Day', finished a better than expected set.
Heavens Basement worked hard then over on the Metal stage the twin
guitar attack and unfettered bluster of The Treatment certainly made its
to a crowd ranging from two to three times their age, this young
Cambridge hard rock outfit gave their all. The Treatment shook and
stirred a sweltering lazy Sunday afternoon crowd with their fiery,
propulsive, hi energy rock. They may be a band to watch out for.
their early days as Hurricane Party, HB had been assembled by Airrace
guitarist Laurie Mansworth, so coincidentally I made my sole trip to the
metal stage to witness his new prodigies The Treatment.
that be progenies, as his son Dhani pounds the drums. Young, brash, and
with the image to match, these youngsters play without fear and come
across at times - check out 'The Doctor' and 'Shake the Mountain' - as a
supercharged version of Bon Scott-era AC/DC with a bit of Aerosmith and
Montrose mixed in.
razor sharp riffery there are also some surprising moments such as
semi-ballad 'Just Tell Me Why', and 'Nothing to lose But Our Minds',
which had a seventies glam feel to the extent Bowie's 'All You Pretty
Things' was buzzing in my head. With the crowd joining in more than you
would expect from an early afternoon side stage appearance, this set
confirmed my view that The Treatment really have it in them to do
relatively new band risng rockers Saint Jude were shifted up the
bill and rightly so. Their brand of rock 'n soul was perfect for this
mid-afternoon slot. Singer Lynne Jackaman was the only female this
weekend on the main stage and certainly showed alot of the guys how to
front a band.
Jackaman was a shining star with her dress glittering in the sunshine.
'Little Queen', 'Soul On Fire' and 'Southern Belles' were crowd pleasers
met with great applause and two new numbers in the set bode well for the
future. Saint Jude were one of the bands this weekend where in years to
come people will say "I was there..." Mark Taylor
clashes meant I only caught the last five minutes of rising retro soul
rockers Saint Jude, fronted by the delectable Lynne Jackaman, but
I made sure I was towards the front for a very special Michael
mercurial German guitarist was on good form, but our old friends the
sound team certainly were not. The bass was ear-splittingly loud and the
star of the show's guitar runs barely audible during opener 'Into the
Arena', and singer Michael Voss was equally low down during 'Armed and
former Scorpions drummer Herman 'ze German' Rarebell pounding the skins,
it was fitting that Michael played 'Another Piece of Meat' from his
brief 1979 return to the band, although my thought was that no-one can
really sing those songs like Klaus Meine.
omnipresent Doogie White then guested on an impressive new song, 'Before
the Devil Knows You're Dead,' which reminded me of Dio-era Rainbow.
primal band/crowd connection and the sheer power enveloped you like a
monumental tidal wave of sledgehammer rock, as the drummer led 'call and
response' echoed across the festival grounds. By then MSG were already
heading towards the home straight and Schenker had the air of a guitar
hero reclaiming his place in the sun.
cheers though greeted 'der alter' Schenker, Rudolf, as he came on during
'Rock You Like a Hurricane', to which people were going crazy -
interestingly it was Michael Voss who in between singing took on the
another promising new song in 'Hanging On', on wandered the legendary,
red stripy stride wearing Pete Way, looking rather disorientated as he
helped out with the UFO classic 'Rock Bottom', before a cast of
thousands, including all the aforementioned guests and Jeff Scott Soto,
came on for a ragged, if fun and well-intentioned, version of 'Doctor
Over to the Prog stage with its startling semi circled
canopy towering over a stage of great depth. Curved Air
featuring Sonja Kristina was the perfect band for the
hottest time of the afternoon.
They provided the perfect mix of post psychedelic virtuosity
while subtly acting as a kind of musical sunshade on a
Looking round at the Tull, Dream Theater, Hackett and
Genesis T shirts this was a band who clearly understands its
The opening instrumental featured the mesmerising Paul Sax
on electric violin, a new generation Darryl Way but with
more fire and adventure.
Curved Air immersed us in a set of swirling, whirling solos
that emphasized moods, nuances and floating waves of sound
that acted as a counterpoint to Sonja dramatic sense of
The perfectly preserved elfin child was dressed in funereal
black and brought her enduring vocal range and flighty dance
steps to bear on big hitters like 'It Happened Today', the
startling time signatures of 'Young Mother' and the
beautiful acoustic 'Melinda (More or Less)', which magically
quieted the distant booming metal stage. 'Back Street Love'
was surprisingly funky and best of all was the immediacy of
'Stretch' from 'Air Conditioning', before Paul Sax rounded
things off with a vivacious instrumental 'Vivaldi'.
Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson looked in good shape, even
if he did provide a rolling commentary about the passing of
the years, making mention of his and guitarist Martin
Barre's collective age of 127 and the fact that J.S. Bach
wrote the beautifully played 'Bouree' some 300 years ago.
He dipped into 'Thick As A Brick', redrew the boundaries of
the acoustic 'Mother Goose' from 'Aqualung' and snapped into
'Farm on the Freeway'.
But while Tull were as musically impeccable as ever, Ian
seemed to labour under the big question of which parts of
his back catalogue to play.
He resurrected 'Hymn 43' with a revamped Celtic folk opening
section while 'My God' retained its prescient sentiment and
was well received.
Anderson's sharpened wit also took the piss out of an era
that produced 'prog noodling' while cleverly finding a
context for Tull's own musical efforts.
Just like the fellow heavyweights on the bill, Jethro Tull
continue to produce enduring rock for a discernible crowd,
which just about neatly summarises what Sunday at the High
Voltage Festival was really all about.
Nathan writes:I had to dip out of the latter part of BCC's set as
Jethro Tull were headlining the prog stage, and though
at best a casual fan, I felt I had to catch this enduring
British institution as they may be gradually winding down
their live commitments.
surprisingly, as Ian Anderson skipped in from the left side of the
stage, playing his flute, they opened with their best known song 'Living
in the Past'. His voice is a bit thinner, at times almost fey, these
days but his dry wit is as sharp as ever: after an excerpt from 'Thick
as a Brick', he roll called all the great prog bands from 1972 but said
'we have removed our heads from our asses since then!'
stage was blessed, unlike my main stage experience, with a perfect sound
and I could hear each instrument clearly, providing the space to enjoy
their subtle musicianship.
times the set pattered along a little too politely, while the lengthy
'Budapest' outstayed its welcome. It was therefore a relief when
understated guitarist Martin Barre – whose little hat and grey beard
make him look more like a French painter or would be North African
dictator than a rock musician - stepped forward to play the opening riff
to a lively 'Aqualung' to finish the set.
night before with Priest, those who disappeared at the end of the set
missed a treat for the encore - Joe Bonamassa coming on to jam with
Martin to another classic, 'Locomotive Breath', as Ian twinkled across
the stage, playing his flute to the gallery.
Joe Geesin writes:Pallas
sounded good, the new vocalist fitting in well. Given the short time
they concentrated on their excellent new album, but the oldie 'Arrive
Alive' was good. I think (and sincerely hope) they gained a lot of new
fans. Solid riffs, swirling keyboards here, intricate keys there, and
the new track 'Monster' memorable.
Mark Taylor writes:The Enid
played an all too short set for this very undervalued band. Robert John
Godfrey led his young band through the title track to 'Something Wicked
This Way Comes' followed by 'Shiva' from the more recent 'Journey's
End'. But then something glorious came with the theme from the
'Dambusters' complete with a brass section and a return to 'Land Of Hope
Of Glory' with some fans down the front proudly waving their Union
Jacks' - totally bombastic and proudly British. The Enid cast their
spell yet again.
crowd at the front for Schenker was overwhelmingly male and 45 plus, a
much broader demographic crammed in for the (one off?) return of
Thunder, two years after the perky Londoners called it a day for the
whole of the 90's and much of the past decade, they seemed to be on the
undercard at nearly every festival or stadium show I went to, and the
old magic has not gone away.
Overlooking the fact he dances like the proverbial uncle at a wedding
(accentuated by his suit jacket), Danny Bowes is both one of the UK's
best and most precise rock voices, and a consummate ringleader.
took no chances as it was sing-a-longa Danny on the likes of opener
'Back Street Symphony', 'River of Pain', 'Higher Ground' and 'Gimme Some
Lovin'. 'Love Walked In' was as epic as ever with a great solo from Luke
Morley, but more recent output also got a look-in with the 'Devil Made
Me Do It' and the Stones-esque 'I Love You More than Rock n Roll'.
closed with the inevitable participation to 'Dirty Love' - Danny
inverting usual tradition by asking people to sing as quietly as
possible, then berating a fan at the front who got muddled up during the
'ladies only' section.
yet again may not be a trick they can pull too many more times, but for
50 minutes Thunder had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand
and provided the perfect accompaniment to one of the summer's first
Feenstra writes: If MSG had earlier kick started a rumbling heavy
metal thunder, then Thunder the band seized the moment.
Charismatic vocalist Danny Bowes channelled the band and the crowd's
collective energy and injected it with sense of fun as they tore through
classics like 'Back Street Symphony', 'Higher Ground' and 'I Love You
More Than Rock 'n' Roll' which sat alongside the ball busting, fist
pumping rendition of 'Gimme Some Lovin'.
duly called for drummer 'Harry' (James) and by the time they finished,
the main stage arena hit fever pitch, and it left you wondering just
what HV had left to deliver.
Country Communion provide a different dynamic. The supergroup are
brilliant musicians, but you sense that they know this all too well, and
they had no intention of trying to emulate Thunder's sense of fun.
off with the now classic debut album openers 'Black Country' and 'One
Last Soul', it is great to hear Glenn Hughes rocking out in this way
after his detours into funk and soul.
'Crossfire', and 'Save Me', the latter coming over at times like
'Immigrant Song' with added keyboards, kept the momentum going then Joe
Bonamassa not only provided a guitar tour de force but sang most of the
lead vocals on the epic 'Song of Yesterday'. But I was contemplating how
incongruous it was that this Guitar God looked more like a hotel shuttle
driver in his peak cap and tan trousers!
Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa have put me off when they've done their
more whimsical solo stuff, but here they proved that when they really
want to, they can play some excellent ballsy heads down hard rock'n'roll
that retains their technical highlights with aplomb. Joe Geesin
Feenstra writes: Perhaps only the one man rock & roll explosion
that is Glen Hughes could wrench a potentially difficult situation and
rebuild the crowd's adrenalin. For make no mistake Black Country
Communion had it all to do, and it took them some while to click into
focus is on Glenn as the rest of the band remained for the most part
static figures. Joe Bonamassa occasionally stretched his legs for a
fluent solo while keyboard Derek Sherinian made the most of his limited
opportunities to move behind his Hammond and upside down keyboards as
Bonham Jnr. thundered away purposefully behind his kit.
But it was
left to Hughes to pull the rabbit out the hat. You can't fault his
bristling showmanship, his 'in the moment' shapes and his falsetto wail.
He was every bit 'the voice of rock', as he extended an arm to exclaim
the line 'I am a messenger; this is my prophecy' 'from 'Black Country'.
his socks off on the metal riff and searing vocal of 'One Last Soul',
but the band hadn't quite kicked in yet.
Schenker clubbed you with his meaty choruses and Thunder made you part
of the 'call and response' sequence, BCC smouldered rather than fired.
certainly rocked hard enough but they needed a flick of the switch to
make things happen. 'Crossfire' came close but 'Save Me' somehow lost
its Zeppelin feel in its big stage setting and it wasn't until Bonamassa
belatedly took the mic on the contrastingly mellow feel of a duet with
Glenn on 'Song of Yesterday' that they finally hit home.
dramatic histrionics on 'The Outsider' also hit base before BCC finally
hit a vein on the muscular rock/blues of JB's 'John Henry' and the
inevitable gloriously riffed finale of 'Burn'.
Geesin writes:Dream Theater headlined the Sunday and opened
with an operatically orchestral backing tape before kicking off with
some solid keyboards and guitars. A lengthy instrumental intro with
anthemic leanings I found rather enjoyable, but when they went prog
metal they REALLY went prog metal.
good at what they do and the (by then diminished) crowd were lapping up
every note, every extra fill and paradiddle. This I struggled with and
when they got to the drum solo (only 40 minutes in), I got the feeling
things would go on too long (or at least sound like it). They had a
surprisingly good sound quality given the problems of the day before.
excellent festival. A definite thumbs up.
Personal highlights - Michael Monroe, Judas Priest Michael Schenker;
impromptu meeting with Steve Davis, James May, Jeff Scott Soto.
Main review by Andy Nathan
Photographs by Lee Millward
Interviews by Joe Geesin and Mark Taylor