After 18 months away from live music, I was dying to get back to it and where else was it all going to start? HRH Sleaze of course!
I have been eagerly anticipating Bank Holiday weekend since everything was allowed back open. Yes there was doubt as to whether the event would be allowed to go ahead with all the new Covid restrictions surrounding large events, I am so glad it did. It all kicked off at the O2 Academy in Sheffield on Friday night!
Walking past the O2 Academy gazing up at the sign “HRH Sleaze IV, The Return, Sold Out”, my heart was fit to burst with excitement! Checked in, unpacked, answered a few emails, threw on my glad rags and off I went. Enough hairspray on my head I created my own helmet, smoky eyes to blind for miles and finally bringing out the gold shorts! I was GlamRat ready for Highway to Hell, the warm up for the weekend.
Six bands compete for the Highway to Hell Competition, a chance to win a record deal with “Off Yer Rocka” Records, promotion and playing at events up and down the country including HRH Events, obviously. They had to play a short set of four songs with one being a cover track. The audience members each got a text while each band played and had to vote on performance, image, originality and whether they had “Balls”. The bands competing this year were: Fall from Ruin, Building Giants, Bastette, Kaluss, Lost Search Party and Cry for Mercy. Normally a performance by the previous winners open up the competition but sadly Twister had a prior engagement. Metalheads Enquire Within burst everybody’s ear drums with a killer set to get everyone fired up! It was great to back amongst the noise, sweat, alcohol and thundering vibrations from your back combed hive to your steel capped toes!
After some blistering performances from all the bands and a bit of a boogie in between, Bastette were the clear winners of the night! Their performance was through the roof and the stage presence was undeniable. Bastette’s cover track was Pink’s “Just Like A Pill”, but far one of my favourite Pink songs. I presented the band with their award which sadly was not made of glass but consisted of a white helmet, scribbled and signed by big boss, Jonni. It was time to hit the hay and get refreshed for the long day ahead.
The first band up was my good friends Twister to get everyone warmed up. They had already softened the morning with a private acoustic show with DC members (then had another set on stage two later in the day) but were biting at the bit to get onto the main stage. Twister played tracks from the debut album “Cursed and Corrected” much to the crowd’s delight. Pounding drums, soaring vocals, booming bass and screeching guitars, a fantastic band to kick off one hell of a weekend! A very proud friend moment, watching them for the first time in nearly 2 years and singing along to every word. Following up was the Takeaway Thieves, sadly I missed most of their set but from my advantage point, the crowd loved them and wow they had one hell of a time.
Next up was Gypsy Pistoleros, a band I have seen so much about and are signed to “Off Yer Rocka” Records. I’ve played them on my show a few times, they are very supportive of what I do and I just had to see this! I don’t know how to describe it but I was not disappointed! It is one of the most unique things I have ever seen! They got everyone dancing and feeling like they were at a sleazy mardi gras! Covered in sugar skull face paint, big sombreros, a HUGE bass and of course a bit of brass thrown in. Got me dancing and in a fun loving mood that’s for sure. Giving us a sneak peak of a Christmas track (Yes I said the C word) was just the hit of the party! ¡Muchas gracias mis amigos!
After a quick turn around, next up was New Wave of Hair Metal’s very own champions, Midnite City! I first fell in love with these boys in 2017 and couldn’t want to be watching them again. The guys have an immense presence on stage and filled the room. In that huge dark room with no light of what was going on in the world outside, the guys instantly transported you back to the strip, catchy tunes, great to look at and all round good time fun. I had a dance with some friends and I haven’t smiled so much at live music in a long long time! Hair metal certainly isn’t dead and Midnite City always bring the party!
For a while I disappeared helping out with merchandise for the bands so I didn’t get to see much of the afternoon but from what I could hear and the snippets I saw, everyone was having an amazing time! Everyone was happy, laughing, hugging and dancing without a care in the world. I caught a bit of Wayward Sons as we were rolling into the evening, first time I seen them since they opened for Steel Panther in February 2020. Once again, singing along, dancing and feeling good with Toby as entertaining as ever. Toby is like the friendly neighbour who will do everything and anything you ask him. I heard him say pardon to a heckler! A true British gent!
Tigertailz were there to wrap up the night and what a party to finish with! The crowd went nuts and the room was packed! Their limited edition welsh emblem shirts had been flying off the shelves all day. Rob (the singer) had a very busy day playing twice in as many hours, but not a drop of exhaustion in his performance at all! A band that doesn’t tour very often and performs when they want to is a great thing, gets the fans all hyped and for newbies like myself, a chance to see a brilliant band perform at their best. Dancing along to my favourite track “All the Girls in the World” had me smiling and dancing all over the place. The lights, the music and the fans made the room feel electric and I’ve never felt so alive in a long time, I’m sure the bands and the fans felt exactly the same. The lights came up, the disco started and danced into the wee hours of Sunday.
Another day of great music awaited my sleazy fiends with it all kicking off with Sweet Teaze! They put on a blistering set waking everyone up, or adding to their hangovers, either way it definitely warmed up the room. If that didn’t wake you up then The City Kids definitely did! Not exactly punk, not exactly sleaze, whatever genre you wanted to put them in, a whole load of rocking noise with a sprinkle of boogie and a skip full of attitude is exactly what The City Kids are! Billy of the Suicide Notes jumped up on stage singing along to one of their tracks “Rats!” sent the atmosphere through the roof! On a side note I loved seeing people wearing “Who the F*** is Dirty Berty?” tees! And what a busy boy Berty was too this weekend! First performing with Tigertailz and then with The City Kids, no rest for the wicked!
I did miss the next two bands from running around doing errands and interviews but from the snippets I saw, South of Salem packed the house and sold loads of merch to both old and new fans and that’s what I love about Sleaze, always discovering something new. She Burns Red turned up the heat and got everyone all fired up for the first American band on UK soil!
The Mercury Riots! Wow! What a great bunch of guys! So wonderfully Californian and so laid back, its infectious! Jonny and Zacchary set aside some time to speak to me before jumping up on stage and I loved their set. More of a hard/southern/blues rock band than sleaze but I think that didn’t really matter as the crowd welcomed them with open arms. Tracks about having a good time (Fired Up) and drinking (Save Me a Drink), it’s all everyone wanted and was actually doing. Guitarist on the bars, drummer running around between playing and just good old fan and artist banter. Can’t wait to see these guys again I really can’t!
To wrap the night up was the mighty, The Quireboys. Definitely a favourite for the HRH family. Spike is forever the charismatic frontman flinging his mike stand in the air, playing the harmonica and inviting everyone to a “Sex Party”. The crowd was hammered as I think were the band but as long as you were enjoying yourself why did it matter? The night felt like it was never ending but nobody seemed to care, no one wanted the music to end but sadly the lights had to come up, the gear was packed away and the sleazy crowd crawled out the door and slid back to their hotels.
No other event other than Sleaze could announce that HRH Festivals were back. Yes there was a lot of line up changes due to the ever changing Covid restriction landscapes but the best of British pushed the event through the stratosphere, people will always mumble and grumble, no matter what you do but all of that was left at the door. We all hugged, kissed, laughed, cried, drank and danced until we collapsed. An immense and unspeakable feeling. This event brought out the best of live music from the UK (plus one from America), I know everyone will agree that it was one the best weekends I have had in months.
One hell of a sleazy weekend!