Hammerfest – Pontins Holiday Village, Prestatyn, Wales

June 1st, 2009
by Hanntu

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After the high-octane fun of Skindred, Sepultura had a tough act to follow, believe it or not. It felt like a slight anti-climax when Derrick Green and co. stepped out on stage, especially as their latest album A-LEX dominated the setlist, but as they launched into old favourites like ‘Roots Bloody Roots’, ‘Troops of Doom’ and ‘Refuse/Resist’, it was not hard to join in with the wild headbanging.

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Saxon were probably one of the main reasons why a lot of us went to Hammerfest. I was blown away by their live performance on the first night of Wacken 2007, and have always looked for an opportunity to see them again up close.

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“Four wives, 18 albums and 30 years later,” as Biff put it, and the band is still as entertaining as ever. The man himself is full of vitality, striding up and down the stage and commanding the audience for more and more. And I couldn’t repress a smile every time I looked over to bassist Tim Carter, who stumbled into our apartment at six in the morning, drunk out of his skull and raising hell.

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The 80 minute set was chock-full of the old favourites like ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’, ‘Strong Arm of the Law’ and ‘Wheels of Steel’, as well as lifting heavily selections from their latest album released in January, INTO THE LABYRINTH. Allowing the crowd to choose their encores was a good move, as the crowd definitely had good taste, calling for ‘747’ and the band finally closed with ‘Princess of the Night’.

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Setlist

Battalions of Steel

Heavy Metal Thunder

Demon Sweeney Todd

Strong Arm of the Law

Witchfinder General

Never Surrender

The Letter

Valley of the Kings

And The Bands Played On

Hellcat

Wheels of Steel

Crusader

Live To Rock

Motorcycle Man

747 (Strangers in the Night)

Denim and Leather

Princess of the Night

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More true metal awaited, this time from Sweden’s Wolf. Bassist Anders Modd was definitely the life of the party, pulling rock star faces and poses and generally having a whale of a time. He was joined by guitarist Johannes Losbäck who was also a bundle of fun. More restrained was singer/guitarist Niklas Stålvind, but the Swedish band definitely pleased those who stayed behind to watch them.

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Setlist

Speed On

The Bite

Black Wing Rider

Curse You Salem

Hail Caesar

I Will Kill Again

Voodoo

Genocide

Evil Star

In The Shadow

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I on the other hand was not missing Cathedral for anything in the world. After staying for fifteen minutes of Wolf, I headed over to the second stage to finish off the night with some true doom metal courtesy of Lee Dorrian and Cathedral. Heavy, sinister and utterly dark, the tales of witches and evil deeds done in the dark of night filled Pontins. Lee’s voice is timelessly crystal clear and the tight rhythm section in the form of Leo Smee and Brian Dixon makes slow, controlled headbanging a joy. Finishing off with the classic ‘Hopkins’ got the crowd singing along to every word.

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Setlist

Utopian Blaster

North Berwick Witch Trials

Cosmic Funeral

Carnival Bizarre

Open Mind

Night of the Seagulls

Corpsecycle

Ride

Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)

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Hammerfest and its parent festival Hard Rock Hell is a well-organised festival that brings good music and creature comforts together in one beautifully wrapped package. They are beginning to pull bigger and bigger names year after year, and I can only see them going from strength to strength. The staff at the festival were efficient and friendly, food was relatively cheap, and you get fridges to chill your booze in. An arcade, a go-kart area, a pool and a beach a short walk away gives everyone something to do between waiting for bands. And clean toilets!


Thanks to Duff and Tara at Duffpress UK for the photo pass and ticket!

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