HIGH VOLTAGE FESTIVAL 2011
Victoria Park, London
Saturday 23rd – Sunday 24th July
Review by Mark Dean
Photos by Graham Hilling & Falk-Hagen Bernshausen
Graham Hilling Photography
In this festivals 2nd year running & the quality line-up of High Voltage Festival and with so many glowing references from friends, I just had to fly over from Ireland this year to go along and see exactly what all the fuss was about!
Quickly by-passing personal horror stories, of attempted mugging, transport and accommodation issues, I eventually arrived at Victoria Park, London at approx 1pm on Saturday 23rd July, where I quickly got my bearings and immediately hit the main stage!
Independent of sound problems (which blighted the weekend) MICHAEL MONROE’S set largely came over as one-dimensional and flat, despite him trying with an energetic stage persona to win over a generally disinterested audience.
Clearly a small in-door venue would suit the tunes more effectively, but New track "78"generated a more enthusiastic crowd response. As an up-tempo party anthem "Dead, Jail or Rock n Roll" strived to maintain the mood.
However Mike’s efforts to cajole a response fell on deaf ears.
Highlight for me was his scaling of the stage scaffolding, his bands set sadly failed to reach such heights.
The re-united (once again!) SKIN, were up next! The band have been a long-term musical favourite of mine, despite never seeing them live.
Sound had begun to stabilise and Neville Mcdonalds vocals began to resonate beautifully over the audience.
The band delivered a tight and powerful all too short set.
"Take me down to the river", "Look but dont touch" and "Tower of strength" included an amorous overture to a lady in the audience.
The band were proficient led by lead guitarist, and songwriter Myke Gray with the crowd being awakened as cold beers were consumed in the scorching summer sun!
RIVAL SONS; have been generally labelled by the Rock Media as "The next happening thing".
Not purveyors of a unique or new sound, they have also retro influences, they do an efficient and blues tinged set, but with singer Jay Buchanan they have a vocalist of stellar quality!!
The crowd instantly welcomed the band and indeed they were the only band to play 2 sets at High Voltage this year, unfortunately, their 2nd set clashed with The metal Gods ‘Priest’ on the Main stage as they stepped in at the eleventh hour to replace Electric Wizzard.
The crowds’ anticipation levels began to build quite dramatically for the next band!
I have loved QUEENSRYCHE, since buying their debut album "The Warning" and saw them open for Dio in my hometown back in 1984.
Well…what a huge and very disappointing let-down that proved to be!
The blame for this lies squarely on the shoulders of the festivals soundman.
Geoff Tates phenomenal set of vocal pies was reduced to largely inaudible mess, despite adjusting my position several times, the sound emitting from the stage didn’t improve.
Classics "Empire”,” Eyes of a stranger" Jet city woman" and my all-time favourite Ryche tune "NM156", from their debut were all chewed up, and spat out by an unrelenting PA!
The name ‘Low Voltage Festival’, would have been more appropriate!
THIN LIZZY were on next and despite detractors (yes, I was once one) the bands current lineup to quote another HV band "Delivers the Goods" With a setlist overloaded with hits, which made the crowd energetic, bouncing and rockin away, with many clearly revisiting the anthems of their youth.
Frontman Ricky Warwick successfully capturing the very nurture and essence of Thin Lizzy, while still retaining Phil Lynott’s heart and soul.
Bringing Michael Monroe back on stage to play sax on "Dancing in the Moonlight" was a nice touch.
Lizzy generated a huge wave of audience positivity!!
As id already seen Lizzy twice the previous month, I left towards the set end for nourishment, and the Queensryche signing.
Finally the sound was now improving with each act and next up was SLASH.
Hats off, quite literally to the legend who successfully managed to fuse all his musical history in an all too-brief set.
Snakepit,Velvet Revolver and a tasty 4play of Guns N’ Roses anthems truly satisfied the punters.
With Sun shining, and a general feel-good factor of rocking bonhomie was all around, especially as the beer continued to flow!
With abit of time to put in before headliners Judas Priest were due on, I decided to head over to the Metal Hammer stage to see the Swedish trio GRAND MAGNUS half way through their set.
After witnessing their well-attended signing, I was curious to see what exactly the fuss was about.
In the true definition of Heavy metal, and in the spirit of Manowar their style was earthy, doomy, and undoubtedly heavy.
Like the receptive large audience, I soon found myself nodding along to their crunchy riffs!
It was then back to the main stage for JUDAS PRIEST, who closed the main stage on their farewell "Epitaph" tour.
Over 2 hours, 22 metal anthems, full power restored, lights, motorbike, Rob Halfords voice soared majestically!
Painkiller and all the standards that people loved and had come to expect from Priest.
Nice to hear "The Sentinnel" included in the set, an old tune not played for quite some time live!
It was hard to believe that there was a new young guitarist in replacing KK Downing!
Ritchie Faulkner did a solid job in fitting into the classis Priest twin-guitar sound.
A guy beside me turned and said "That is true heavy metal!" and I could not disagree with him!
Lets hope that once again we will hear Rob scream those immortal words "The Priest is back"!!!!