impression on arriving at the venue, early, was the slightly different
layout. From the press point of view it was definitely a lot easier to
get in, and all the gubbins inside had been sorted, with a direct line
to walk between the prog and main stages, with the Metal Hammer stage
deservedly out the way. Joe Geesin
success of the inaugural High Voltage Festival last year, the festival
made a welcome return to Victoria Park in East London just a stone's
throw away from where the Olympics will be held next year. Luckilly the
Rain Gods stayed away and many left the site on Sunday evening with red
faces from the sorching sun. Over 32,000 classic rock fans enjoyed a
weekend of a wide variety of music to make rock fans of all genres
highs, there was lows. The biggest complaint was that the sound level
was so quiet for some bands on the main stage that a name change to Low
Wattage Festival would've been apt. However this didn't spoil the fun. A
good vibe was had throughout the weekend and everyone went home happy
with many stories to tell of an action packed weekend. Mark Taylor
by Andy Nathan
Additional reporting: Joe Geesin, Jason Ritchie
losing money last year few wagered it would happen again, but
thankfully the High Voltage festival was back again on the same site,
with a few tweaks, a slightly less ambitious line-up and cheaper ticket
Monroe opened proceedings, the former Hanoi Rocks frontman looking a
little more leathery in the face these days but otherwise little changed
from the image that, let's face it, was copied wholesale by a generation
of 1980's glam and sleaze.
song was sung from half way up the tent rigging, a good effect, but
difficult with mike in hand. Having to come down step by step in between
lines looked dangerous. This guy rocks and entertains in equal measure.
He was a
hyperactive performer, dabbling on sax and harmonica and jumping into
the photo pit. Though his garage-style band were tight, the material,
much from new album 'Sensory Overdrive', did not overly grab me but the
set ended on a high with 'Back to Mystery City' from Hanoi days and his
solo classic 'Dead Jail or Rock n Roll' which saw the first raised fists
of the afternoon.
supposedly ending their short but sweet reunion last year, Skin
were tempted back one more time for a typically punchy set with the sole
new song 'Born to Rock n Roll' getting their set off to a flying start.
classics from the first album featured heavily - 'House of Love', 'Look
but Don't Touch' and 'Tower of Strength', while Colin McLeod's subtle
organ sounds gave 'Take Me Down to the River' a bluesy feel and 'Shine
Your Light' closed the set, showcasing how Skin's best songs start at a
relatively sedate pace then gather momentum and Myke Gray's solos get
faster and faster.
continuing with his Red White and Blues project but I sincerely hope
that the raw, throaty tones of singer Nev MacDonald are not lost to
music, provided he recovers from a self-inflicted swinging mike
accident. That would be a travesty.
should have certainly been higher up the bill than Rival Sons.
Contrived, heard it all before classic 70's rock and frankly boring.
Bands like Black Stone Cherry do this so much better and with feeling.
classic rock magazines and radio stations and opening Judas Priest's
tour earned Rival Sons a slot on the bill above two acts with a
much longer pedigree.
with some fine slide guitar, got the set off to a decent start but,
though singer looks like Jim Morrison and sings a touch like Robert
Plant, I found them lacking in stage presence and songs and some of the
longer workouts were frankly boring.
be unfair, but to me they have the air of LA hipsters who have suddenly
discovered that Led Zeppelin are cool. At least 'Get What's Coming'
ended the set on a more straightforward hard rocking note.
Queensryche were introduced as having sold 15 million albums
worldwide, but as a cynical friend remarked to me, most of those were
for two albums over 20 years ago. Their new album 'Dedicated To Chaos'
has had mixed reviews, so would they play it safe or stick to the
A bit of
both was the answer as they opened with a fairly enjoyable new song,
'Getting Started', but provided plenty of old hits including 'I Don't
Believe in Love', though singer Geoff Tate left much of the chorus to
the audience, and a brace of 'Empire' favourites in 'Jet City Woman' and
the title track.
closed with the classic 'Eyes of A Stranger' with its menacing twin
guitars, yet on this above all other tracks it was apparent that Geoff
reaches for his trademark high notes more sparingly than in the past and
sometimes they just won't come out.
thing is that despite four of the five original members still being on
board, they are rather faceless with the visual focus falling heavily on
the singer. Nevertheless this was a solid set that for me eclipsed their
rather boring display at Monsters or Rock in 2006 at Milton Keynes.
Jason Ritchie on the PROG
visit to the Prog Stage to see Caravan. They will
have to move the Metal Hammer stage if they do another
festival as both stages music kept wafting over each other.
what song Caravan were playing but it seemed to go down well
with the sizeable crowd. Not really my prog rock cup of tea
... Anathema were good from the two songs I caught.
They have some of those classy Pink Floyd riffs with their
own progressive slant.
Neal Morse's set, along with that of Judas Priest,
were the day's highlights. Playing as much as he could in an
hour of his 'Testimony 2' album it was a real treat and
appreciated greatly by the crowd.
Street, the very moving 'Jayda' (a song about his daughter's
return to good health) and 'Nighttime Callers'. At one point
he was off into the crowd to greet his former band mates in
Spock's Beard. Musically and sound wise the best of the day
- the acappela section in the set was simply amazing.
off to a church concert tomorrow. What do you do at the
church services, is it a mix of music and spoken word?
These events are very important to me and I am honoured to
be wroking for the Lord. They include some music and singing
from me, along with me talking about events in my life from
a spiritual perspective. They are very enjoyable and after
tomorrow's one I hope to be back in time for Spock's Beard's
Will you be joining them onstage as the rumours suggest?
Yes all being well, perhaps for their final number in their
How different is it writing solo as opposed to in a band
setting and any style of music you'd love to record if you
had the chance?
I obviously have more freedom but it is not that different
from writing within a band. Randy (George) and Mike (Portnoy)
have been with me down through the years so in many ways it
still has that band feel.
I would love to do a big band album. You know a real
traditional, big band feel and sound - similar to some of
Michael Buble but I am not sure how good I would be at it!
Have you always been a Christian or have you converted in
A lot of my life story can be found in my book but I have
not always been Christian in my beliefs, more likely to have
been anti-Christian. In an interview I did for a German
magazine that part didn't come out quite right and they said
'Neal Morse is an anti-Christ'.
The song about your daughter 'Jayda' and her recovery
from illness is a very moving part of the set. It must be
quite difficult to sing this every show without thinking
back to the whole events?
Yes it is but I am determined it remains a special part of
the show, which is often hard with tears in your eyes. What
I don't want it to become is a performance and for it to
lose its special magic.
of my all time favourite bands and one the back of a triumphant tour
with a new line-up, Thin Lizzy were for me a perfect festival
choice - though a 50 minute set was something of an insult.
all did not go to plan with a quiet, muffled sound for much of the set
with Scott Gorham's guitar suffering particularly. Ricky Warwick really
seems to have channelled some of the Philip Lynott warrior spirit, while
I regularly was drawn to the little subtleties in Brian Downey's
played a hit packed set, opening with 'Are You Ready', 'Waiting for an
Alibi' and 'Jailbreak', but there were a few surprises.
Monroe came on to add sax - when his feed didn't cut out - to 'Dancing
in the Moonlight', while 'Emerald' had not been in a similar set last
month at Download. I thought new guitarist Richard Fortus overplayed his
solos on it, but he atoned with some sharp lead guitar work that gave
'Whiskey in the Jar' a sharper edge.
problems were forgotten as 'Cowboy Song', 'The Boys are Back in Town'
and 'Rosalie' provided one singalong after another, while set closer
Black Rose sums up the spirit of Lizzy with its Irish folk imagery and
celtic themed harmony guitars. Hopefully a decent sound engineer has
been recruited for next year's tour.
'iconic' is over used, but one of classic rock's trademark images is
Slash, in top hat and shades, playing his Gibson SG at a 45 degree
angle. So his appearance second on the bill was fitting for a great
night of metal.
spanned the whole of his career, but it was naturally the Guns 'N Roses
material that gained the biggest reaction including an early double of
'Nightrain' and 'Rocket Queen'.
of the few times when the crowd noise matched that coming from the
stage. Jason Ritchie
Bridge singer Myles Kennedy doing a passable but easier on the ear Axl
impression, singing in a slightly higher register than on his day job,
and Slash reproducing the solos note perfect, these songs again sounded
like the classics they are, and to hear 'Sweet Child O Mine', and
perhaps the best guitar solo of the last quarter century, was a
recent solo album was recorded with a dozen guest vocalists but Myles
had the versatility to cover the likes of Ghost, originally done by Ian
Astbury. However there are limits to his 'Dead Ringers' repertoire so
towering bassist Todd Kerns took the mike on Lemmy's 'Dr Alibi'.
A dip into
the Velvet Revolver catalogue for 'Slither' lost nothing in comparison,
before 'Paradise City' ended another far too short 50 minute set with
fists raised in the air all the way back to the mixing desk and the
crowd signing along.
goings on in the camp of headliners Judas Priest. This gig was to
be part of their farewell 'Epitaph' tour, but a couple of months ago
founder member KK Downing suddenly quit and youngster Richie Faulkner
replaced him. Now, fans stood confused whether this was the end, or the
start of a new chapter.
It has to
be said that the new boy not only looks like a younger KK with his
leather and mane of fair hair, but played with great flair and panache.
Suddenly Glenn Tipton, who seems to have gradually taken over nearly all
of the solos over the years, had to share the shredding limelight.
and bassist Ian Hill rather rooted to the spot, his more energetic shape
throwing also enhanced the band's stage presence. Rob Halford was on top
of his game, and generally acting more down to earth than on recent
tours, though I was a bit disconcerted by his habit of walking round the
stage in a circle staring at his feet as he sang.
classic 'British Steel' opening of 'Rapid Fire' and 'Metal Gods', this
was a setlist with a difference, as Priest managed to play at least one
song from every single album (other than the Ripper Owens years), from
'Never Satisfied' from 1974's 'Rocka Rolla', right through to 'The
Prophecy' from 'Nostradamus'.
would have a favourite but mine - just shading the twin guitar attack of
'Heading Out to the Highway' and 'The Sentinel' - were the return to the
set of 'Victim of Changes' and 'Beyond the Realms of Death'. They are
both epic songs with light and shade, gargantuan riffs, Halford at his
screaming best and long guitar solos.
many numbers much more than I expected, ranging from 'Nightcrawler' from
'Painkiller' to, at the other end of the spectrum, the guilty pleasure
of 'Turbo Lover', and even ''Blood Red Skies' from an album I detested,
'Ram It Down', had me wanting to check it out again.
was cranked up with 'The Green Manalishi', a bizarre version of
'Breaking the Law' in which Rob left the crowd to sing the entire song,
including of course one of rock's greatest riffs, then after Scott
Travis' drum solo 'Painkiller' closed the main set.
Thankfully, 'Electric Eye' did make it into the set as first encore
before two moments of high camp, as Rob rode in on his motorbike, whip
held between his mouth like a flower, to perform 'Hell Bent for Leather'
(insert your own pun) which, it seemed to me, contained longer solos
than normal, then leading a very Mercury-esque call and response with
the crowd before almost mincing across the stage leading a chorus of the
(over long) 'You Got Another Thing Comin'.
clock ticking towards a 21/4 hour set, those who had not made an early
dash for the exits were rewarded with a completely riotous 'Living After
Midnight' to finish off the evening.
If you had
to name the definitive metal band in terms of image and music, Priest
would be top of many people's list, and if they are to stop touring,
then this was a definitive show to go out on.
Joe Geesin writes: Judas Priest I love, but was tentative about seeing since the
departure of KK Downing. Now down to one original member (bassist Ian
they did sound excellent and when it comes to straight British heavy
metal Judas Priest are it, no question. The opened superbly with 'Rapid
Fire' then 'Metal Gods' which got the crowd going before singer Rob
Halford got chatting. Heading Out On The Highway, Judas Rising (from
Angel Of Retribution) and Starbreaker were next and just as gripping.
early songs from Sad Wings Of Destiny and Rocka Rolla went down well,
tracks like Victim Of Changes and Never Satisfied fitted in well with
Diamonds And Rust (acoustic intro) and Nostradamus.
By then a
couple of things were obvious, aside from Halfordís regular jacket
changes (almost every song); first off was that while the two guitarists
traded solos and lines, it is now less equal, the spotlight more on
Glenn. Secondly was, I think itís a sign of age, the time between songs;
sometimes it was so long almost every song in the set was like an
Ritchie writes:New boy guitarist Richie Faulkner seems to have
settled in well, although you do miss the KK Downing/Glen Tipton guitar
Halford still has that metal voice and he can always be relied on to
deliver a lower, slower vocal when needed like on 'Beyond The Realms Of
encores almost picked themselves, ending a highly enjoyable set with
'Living After Midnight'. Nobody does heavy metal as good as Judas
Judas Priest setlist - Rapid Fire/ Metal Gods/ Heading Out to the
Highway/ Judas Rising/ Starbreaker/ Victim of Changes/ Never Satisfied/
Diamonds & Rust/ Dawn of Creation/ Prophecy/ Night Crawler/ Turbo Lover/
Beyond the Realms of Death/ The Sentinel/ Blood Red Skies/ The Green
Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown)/ Breaking the Law/ Painkiller
Encores: The Hellion/ Electric Eye/ Hell Bent for Leather/ You've Got
Another Thing Comin'/ Living After Midnight
Main review by Andy Nathan
Photographs by Noel Buckley
Interviews by Joe Geesin and Mark Taylor