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Hard Rock Hell Awards 2018 - Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli (UK) - 07 November 2018

Hard Rock Hell's CEO Jonni Davis is a man who is rightly proud of the HRH brand, and this event not only highlights just how far the franchise has come in its twelve year history, but also gives recognition to music heroes as well as the new blood in the Rock world.

Kicking off with the red carpet walk for both fans and band members alike, shows how HRH likes to build its events around what pleases the ticket buyers, getting them involved at the ground roots level - something other festivals struggle to achieve. With the obligatory posing out of the way, the lights dimmed and the Area 51 girls took to the stage decked out in pink and white outfits which were a mix of jester meets Suicide Squad. Once the fire swallowing and cavorting was complete, this was swiftly followed by the arrival on-stage of Jonni Davis to present the evenings awards.


HRH Awards 2018 Area 51 Live

First category was "Angels Of Rock" and was won by Aussie favs, Tequila Mockingbyrd, in a class which also included Haxan, Rock Goddess and The Amorettes, so tough competition. Next award was for "Stoner Lords" with Conan, Crowbar, Monster Magnet, and Orange Goblin in the running.


HRH Awards 2018 Orange Goblin Live

Orange Goblin's guitarist Ben Ward was called to the stage to accept the award. It was clearly a proud moment for the band. Next to rapturous applause, Bridgen''s darlings, Those Damn Crows took the "Rising Stars" category.


HRH Awards 2018 Tequila Mockingbyrd Live

As is customary on these nights, award presentations are intermixed with live music and tonight was no exception. Being the first band on is enough to attack the nerves, but to be performing to an audience made up with some of the biggest names in Rock, media, and super-fans as well would have made many crumble, but not the guys of Collateral. They oozed energy and enthusiasm, loving every minute, just the right way to get the party started!


HRH Awards 2018 Collateral Live

Returning to the awards, Davis announced the "Axeman" award which went to Phil Campbell who humbly accepted the presentation. Next category, "Young Blood", had Gin Annie, Devilfire, Tomorrow Is Lost and Footprints In The Custard in the running.


HRH Awards 2018 Footprints In The Custard Live 2

When the latter won and the boys came on stage to collect their award, they didn't know whether to laugh or cheer! The band never take anything too seriously so to be voted top in this segment was alien to them but very much appreciated.


HRH Awards 2018 Biff Byford Live

The nominees for "Metal Maniacs" spanned the generations with Evil Scarecrow, Helloween, Kamelot and Saxon in the mix. The masters of denim, leather and Metal, Saxon were to score here, with Yorkshire's finest Biff Byford taking the stage to collect the award.

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Back to live bands once more, this time with earlier nominees, Devilfire and their brand of melodic AOR. Long hair flowing and catchy riffs from a band who love to be on stage guaranteed a good reception here.


HRH Awards 2018 Devilfire Live

Davis next presentation was for "Global Hero" which went to Michael Monroe with his acceptance speech being played on the large video screen. Saxon were once more put under the spotlight when Nigel Glockler won the "Tub Thumper" category. The eagle had certainly landed tonight!

Heavy Blues flavoured Rock was next to pour from the PA as Gorilla Riot stamped their sassy mark on the evening. Kicking off in acoustic mode for the first song then pushing into heavyweight setting, they took no prisoners in a well-executed set.

A much more relaxed audience (thanks to free bottles of Burnt Out Wreck and Fireball) settled down once more for the last round of awards. This time Biff Byford scored the hat-trick for team Saxon as he secured the "Legend" award. Bifford humbly accepted the accolade and briefly mentioned that there would be some special shows scheduled for 2019 to celebrate Saxon's fortieth anniversary.


HRH Awards 2018 Biff Byford Live 2

Last award of the night, "Mjolnir Lifetime Achievement" went to one of the founders of Space Rock, Dave Brock. Brock couldn't be there to accept the award in person so his speech, done in his own zany way, was shown of the large screen while Phil Campbell took the award on his behalf. At the same time Campbell confirmed he would play with Hawkwind at HRH Ibiza 2019.


HRH Awards 2018 Phil Campbell Live

With the pillars of Rock recognised, there was only one way to round off the evening and that was with the next generation. Those Damn Crows took to the stage again to more applause and blasted out a spirited, rousing set. What better way to celebrate a night of success.


HRH Awards 2018 Those Damn Crows Live

With award winners for most of the categories being decided by fan votes, this event is a good snapshot in time to see who the real go getters are in Rock and is a great way to mark the beginning of the three days of Hard Rock Hell. Next year's awards will move to Great Yarmouth as the Hafan Y Mor site is about to have a major facelift, so another chapter ends in the evolution of HRH.

Review and photos by Paul Sabin

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