HRH Sleaze 2017

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HRH Sleaze 2017

HRH Sleaze 2017 - O2 Academy, Sheffield (UK) - 02-03 September 2017

Saturday 02 Sept

New Generation Superstars kick off proceedings and while the impending marriage of vocalist A.J. perhaps explains his shorn locks and suit pant trousers, with exotic dancers and plenty of old-school Rock songs with catchy verses they soon have the eager crowd roaring and remain white trash at its finest; it's something a haircut can't cure thank God! With mounts on the drum riser and harmonised guitars this is exactly what the crowd want, and the audience shout back of "get fucked" so loud that A.J. admits that "for 2pm that's fuckin' cool". Guitarist Davey Messiah and bassist Jonny Suicide launch themselves into the pit and Suicide extends the arm of his bass deep into the crowd – they have literally penetrated the crowd.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live New Generation Superstars

Daxx And Roxanne look like unlikely Rock 'n' Rollers, however, all doubts are expelled once they start and vocalist Cedric Pfister opens his mouth to reveal a bluesy whiskey-laden voice. They endear themselves to the crowd by pouring Jim Beam into open mouths and emptying it in less than a minute. There's a ZZ Top-like sound to their music at times, but pink and black tiger print, red flying Vs, skulls 'n' crossbones and feather hair accessories betray their Glam roots, and they are going large on the moves as they jump, pirouette and synchronise bum swinging to boot. They appear to have potential as classy song-writers, so despite not being Rockstar thin and the featuring of dastardly ginger moustaches, they get away with it Justin Hawkins style (as Pfister declares "ridiculous, non?")' as what they have to offer is quality old-school talent which never gets old. The crowd is mad for it.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Daxx And Roxanne

Up next are Bai Bang who are a party, party band and gentlemanly vocalist Diddi Kastenholt does everything in his power to engage the crowd and keep the energy up. If anything, he's a bit too sincere for a cynical urban-life-hardened UK Rock crowd, but they allow him his sentimental stories between songs because the band has some great tracks and he really means it. He still looks the part with tan Sunset Strip-influenced sunglasses over bandana around long black Rock 'n' Roll hair, white studded denim and full sleeve, and I am not the only one appreciating that in this auditorium as it's all too rare these days. Generally the party songs go down a treat, the big style anthemic ballad is perhaps a little too NYE for this early on the bill, but this crowd having had such a great time so far wears it, and since they are soon rewarded with D'Molls and Warrant style shout-along Rock with blistering guitar, they don't have to take the pace down for too long. Bai Bang's songs have simply chord structures, but they are catchy, have authentic Glam Rock roots and there's some big sounding AOR as well as the Poppier raw style Poison numbers. 'I Love the Things You Hate' is their classic offering and it still sounds good after all these years. A welcome addition to the bill.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Bai Bang

Devil Fire start late due to technical problems which I am later told are their own fault as they had not plugged in their gear correctly. Whatever the cause, they get going and don't really sound like I expected. They are more AOR than the name suggests and not Cookie Monster at all. After the poor start, they seem to recover, but the energy does not really recover to the level of the previous bands.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Devil Fire

Kaato are decent, commercial Hard Rock with a pretty boy, seventies heroin chic look. They are pleased to report one fan flew all the way from Japan to see them at HRH Sleaze. They have a pre-nineties sound when the heaviest thing you would hear was Deep Purple or Dio. Coming from Australia, unsurprisingly there's a hint of AC/DC, but with a clearer voice without that trademark rasp. They are pretty entertaining to watch with plenty of "whoah, whoa, whoah" sing-along choruses, but one track does have a part that sounds suspiciously like a bit from 'House Of The Rising Sun' to me. They do seem to be having fun though and that really is the point of all of this!

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Kaato

Rocky Shades is a brilliant front-man and he lights up the stage during Wildside Riot's performance, inviting everyone onto his virtual tour bus. There's a touch of arrogance as he tells everyone that Wrathchild paved the way for the Sleaze genre and also that everything you see in this front-man is real and not cocaine. However, when he tells the crowd he only got ten minutes to rehearse, he shows he can enjoy the joke when he says "whadd'ya mean you can tell!". His charisma makes up for the fact that the vocals are a bit off at times. It's big titanic riffs in a style not touched by the twenty-five odd years since the eighties, although they do play some new material – a track called 'Desperation'. The audience thoroughly enjoy classics like 'Trash Queen' and Shades pulls off his cheeky overconfidence and indoor sunglasses look with ease. His parting shot: "A good band without a front-man is like a watch without hands, looks pretty, but it's fuckin' useless. I am Rocky Shades, love me or hate me, I just am".

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Wildside Riot

Tigertailz have all the songs and relentlessly pound the crowd with hit after hit. As a photographer, it's hard to get any pictures because they don't stay still, running around the stage like twenty year olds! The sound is rough around the edges at the beginning (and improves as the show proceeds), but no one ever minds that in the context of Sleaze and their sheer energy culminating in the nuclear explosion that is 'Love Bomb Baby' means technical assessment gets lost in the sheer spectacle. More than anything, they are good time fun and the ideal anecdote to a grey and lustreless Rock scene we tolerated in the nineties and to some extent now. 'Heaven', as a Metal Anthem, sounds hyper real and with the pure and clear sound of the Jay Pepper solo it demands exclusive attention as it floods the whole space. The crowd does them proud with football crowd style singing. There are backing tapes aplenty I think, but again, who cares, it was a great show!

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Tigertailz

Vain are still at the top of their game and a worthy headliner. The crowd are a bit too eager for the music to listen without impatience to long stories between tracks (even if it is about 69 or Gene Simmons calling vocalist Davy Vain to tell him Rock and Roll is dead), but the ever savvy Vain sees this right away and adjusts, instead letting the music do the talking, sticking mainly thereafter with one simple concept between tracks – his "secret set-list" which after the repeated build-up of which, he throws out to a mad scramble in the crowd before he leaves. After the band leads with excellent versions of their classic tracks 'Secrets' and 'Icy' (when he runs up and down the stage like he was half his age), the crowd patiently appreciate new track 'Dark City'. Expert at handling a crowd, Davy Vain does not lose the opportunity to tell the crowd how much he loves England.

With more than one original member in the band on stage, the sound is authentically that distinctive one from the first record with plenty of blistering guitar solos and further classics like 'Who's Watchin' You' and '1000 Degrees'. Davy Vain teases the crowd that this may be the last time he plays England and he thanks them for making him feel so good. There's no doubt that the crowd were super appreciative of a great performance from the band tonight. Davy Vain's voice sounds like an air raid siren and the crowd shout back "no Respect" on the band's first flagship number followed shortly by the second 'Beat The Bullet' when Davy Vain runs up and down the entire length of the pit high fiving the crowd. With the justly bold declaration "We are Vain from San Francisco. Thank you so much", they leave the stage having flown the flag for not only their band but the continued survival of their genre.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Vain

Sunday 03 September

Cruel Intentions the new band of Lizzy Devine from Vains of Jenna is as Rock 'n' Roll as you'd expect. A fairly new band, they announce they intend to have an album out next year and here they play new material as well as older songs and some familiar Vains Of Jenna tracks. They bring the Backyard Babies to mind in style. Devine has the air of Dregen crossed with Marilyn Manson; a pretty lost boy with long black hair that somewhere along the line was damned irretrievably. The thought crossed my mind that they need to work on their songs with one of them reminding of 'Everything About You' by Ugly Kid Joe, but they were still interesting and good to watch. They get a pretty good singing reaction from the crowd despite the fact that its 2pm after a late night for most.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Cruel Intentions

It was Bulletrain's first time in England and with the catchy 'Wet Tired And Lonely', they are hard-working commercial Hard Rock reminding somewhat of Little Angels. However, they do combine a traditional Sebastian Bach scream with some Funk and Rap influences making the approach a little more diverse. This continues through a slower song with a bluesy solo when the singer sits down to sing to the crowd. There's a lot of effort to engage with the crowd, which is nice to see in a young band. They have some good, nicely structured material and infectious choruses. When the singer makes a foray deep into the crowd to get the energy up, he seems electrified by the experience with Glam Rock clothing and bare chests adding to the extravaganza.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Bullettrain

Sister from Sweden have the sleazy look, but their material has some of the Cookie Monster vocal element which frankly is a turn off for me. They do have some fast Rock 'n' Roll guitar like Faster Pussycat and it's obvious that they have a following in the crowd. They're a bit post-modern nihilistic for me with a darker strain post-nineties sound than Sunset Strip bands ever had. However, the singer has KISS on his pants showing that they have the right influences for this festival. They do have some more traditional songs like a ballad with big Slash style solos and whisky-laden vocals that only go Cookie Monster for the chorus. The finish is a very fast Cookie Monster number with no melody. It may be popular, but it's not really for me.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Sister

By contrast Spreadeagle's Ray West has a sweet and welcome voice with ballads that get the crowd singing and sections where they Rock out with fists in the air. There's fast shredding, whammy bar, finger tapping playing and an old-school approach, but it's mixed with an urban streetwise if relaxed approach. He warns the crowd not to forget them as they will be back with a new record 'Revolution Maker'. He shows a sense of humour when he asks the crowd if they're ready for a love song and then play a track the speed of which would have kept Lemmy Kilmister quite happy indeed. They have some material which is a bit funky, like the latest stuff Lynch Mob have been producing. There's also a bit of Doom and Thrash. It is a little scattergun, and while not many would have recognised them through memory from the late eighties/early nineties, they do play the old material and there is just enough fast solos, heavy riffing and loud high screams to keep this crowd happy.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Spreadeagle

Jizzy Pearl owns the stage like a prince. Playing all the favourites, they are a phenomena and seeing that distinctive voice command a pretty large crowd took me back and gave me all the right feelings I would hope to have coming to a retro festival like this. He is his usual irreverent self, proclaiming "I feel a little sleazy right now" with his eyes to heaven. Even without the original band, this feels like an authentic experience and quite special. He reminds the crowd that it's the 25th anniversary of 'Wasted In America' and following that title song and 'Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?', they oblige with 'Blackout In The Red Room' and the crowd explode. He's not in denial about the old days and he's not trying to be anything other than himself because he just knows instinctively he is quite enough just as he is – a stunning show!

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Jizzy Pearl

Dogs D'Amour also rose to the occasion. Tyla J. Pallas has always been able to pen a catchy ditty and he pulls them all out of the hat. His style is chirpier Bill Sykes than Rockstar, the latter being a role with which he's never been quite comfortable with even in his chandelier swinging days. Those days are gone and he points out to the crowd he has gained weight in the last few years. However, he does it with a funny joke that immediately renders him immune to criticism. In fact, he still has dandy style and whilst he's no longer cutting himself open with glass and jumping from stacked amps, he comes across as a comfortable and experienced showman. It's a much bigger crowd than he has played to recently, at least in London, and it's nice to see a full electric show after a lot of acoustic performances as it's good to get a hot tasty meal after sushi. He also doesn't just sit down as he scoots around on the stage like he's on rollers, still pulling off a few high kicks, throwing his guitar forward and getting to the front of the stage to engage eyeballs like all good front men do. The band sound great with plenty of Rock 'n' Roll. Having not seen them do a big show for a long time, they exceed all my expectations. Once again, it felt like a return to former glories.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Live Dogs D-Amour

Faster Pussycat were the final headliner and at the end of quite a number of UK dates bassist Danny Nordahl look clearly wrecked and exhausted until the adrenaline kicks in which thankfully it does. For Taime Downe himself (always the gentlemanly professional despite expectations perhaps, and more of a thoughtful observer always assessing a crowd well), it could be the first night as he doesn't appear fatigued, and he looks and sounds very well indeed, considering a recent life-threatening bout of pneumonia with only the occasional cough as evidence it even happened. However, when someone has survived the Sunset Strip in its heyday you know they are nuclear proof. It also looks like he's picked up a new Rock 'n' Roll wardrobe on his travels in bowler hat and new leather trimmed jacket. Ace Von Johnson on lead guitar never disappoints and always provides that Faster Pussycat trademark high energy, Rock 'n' Roll guitar without which they simply would not be the same. As such, his playing is key to the performance, for example on 'Bathroom Wall' where his fingers travel like silk across the fret and in 'Shut Up And Fuck' when he entertains by finger tapping and playing with a beer bottle to add a little pizzazz. They play all the favourites; 'Cathouse', 'Babylon' and their trademark version of 'You're So Vain' along with their favourite covers 'Ace Of Spades' and 'Pretty Fucked Up'. Downe obviously loves the crowd, so he gets away with a surly "You fuckers still here?" before they end with 'Where There's A Whip There's A Way'. Always a band that never likes to look like they try too hard and the crowd knows that, in fact, they care deeply, and the unacknowledged love affair is mutual. Who knew that Faster Pussycat and the British would have so much in common.

HRH Sleaze 2017 Faster Pussycat

Review and photos by Dawn Osborne

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