On a cold and wet weekend, HRH Spring Break brought the perfect party antidote to the inclement weather to Great Yarmouth. Over thirty bands formed an eclectic lineup of rock, metal, thrash and much more. HRH Mag reporter Simon Potthast runs down the highlights of the weekend.

For the early birds, London based rockers, Ransom kicked things off on the second stage with their upbeat brand of entertaining, classic rock inspired tunes getting the punters well and truly warmed up for the weekend ahead. While over on the main stage, White Raven Down put on an awesome performance of melodic heavy rock, tuning up the audience’s vocal chords for the first time of the weekend.

Next up, Iconic Eye gave us a fun, upbeat set with a definite 80’s vibe comprising a mix of harmonising solos, the awesome voice of frontwoman Janey Smith and her effortless rapport with the crowd. Standout tracks included the anthemic Black Heart with its soaring string section and their final tune, a cover of Jefferson Starship’s Jane.

Electric Black brought their excellent blues rock stylings to the evening along with a fun mid-set game of Beer From The Bar keeping the band and the audience well lubricated and in fine spirits. VEGA then stormed onto the stage with incredible hard rock harmonies, classic rock solos and melodic vocals. The duelling guitar solos mid set were particularly impressive and the crowd absolutely loved frontman Nick Workman’s banter.

Dare, fronted by former Thin Lizzy keyboard player Darron Wharten, brought a level of polished professionalism to the evening as they played through a showcase of tracks from their significant back catalogue. Including a dedication to Phil Lynott with the anthemic Return. If Dare brought the class, then headliners Enquire Within brought the thunder with easily one of the heaviest sets of the day bringing the evening to a thrash fuelled conclusion with chunky riffs, throaty vocals and pounding bass. Despite the late hour, they managed to not only get a circle pit going, but finished up with an absolutely awesome cover of System of a Down’s Ariels.

Getting everyone going for Friday on the main stage, The Darker My Horizon kicked off the first of three sets from them over the weekend showcasing the wealth of material in their back catalogue, including an excellent cover version of Knocking on Heaven’s Door with the audience unable to resist putting forward their very best Axel Rose impressions. Meanwhile stage two opening act Maxwell Avenue woke up the crowd with their energetic post punk/pop punk vibe.

Rising Yorkshire star Loz Campbell kept things moving with her riff heavy alternative rock vibes. Much props to Alice ABomb, normally to be found providing rhythm guitar, but here filling in on bass duties showing off her incredible versatility. Campbell’s easy wit and on stage banter easily won over the crowd as did their amazing cover of The Runaways Cherry Bomb.

Energetic Blues Rockers The Jokers managed to restart the party after the building had to be evacuated due to some fire alarm issues. Not only do they win my First Harmonica of the Weekend award but also special mention goes to their incredible cover of Pinball Wizard which had the crowd singing along. While over on the second stage, Bradford based doom metallers Son of Boar put on a stonking set of thunderous riffs and Pantera-esque vocals.

Then it was up to Gypsy Pistoleros to maintain their reputation as The Best Glam Punk Band Ever with a storming set of tunes including latest single, The Ballad of Tommy Murphy and what the band say will be a one-time only cover of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Eileen based on a previous reviewer’s (not I, I hasten to add) comments about them. Meanwhile, Staffordshire classic rockers Bang Bang Firecracker kept the audience’s spirits high with upbeat, riff-heavy tunes including a crowd-pleasing Motörhead cover.

Fan favourites, Crashdiet took to the stage, the crowd, the VIP area, the rafters and indeed  anywhere frontman Gabriel Keyes could make his way to in his attempt to prove that the venue was in no way large enough to contain him. It’s easy to see why these Swedish glam rockers have such a following with their high energy performance, glorious riffing and impressive vocals quite literally tearing the roof off the place. As over on the second stage, The Darker My Horizon closed things out in style with their second set of the weekend.

Continuing with thematic resonance, Finnish Sleaze Rock/Glam Metal outfit Reckless Love arrived sharply dressed, co-ordinated and ready to rock. Peacemaker fans were treated early on to a rendition of Monster from their fourth album InVader which featured on the show. As well as a phenomenal cover of Bark at the Moon and finishing up the second night of the event with the anthemic Beautiful Bomb rousing all the crowd into a singalong frenzy before the final bows.

Saturday showcased some of the finest new and classic thrash metal bands on the planet as well as more than a few surprises. Hollow Crown blasted out of the gates onto the main stage with brutal riffs and throaty vocals sang through a baseball bat styled mic stand firing up the crowd for the day ahead. As Spring Break heroes, The Darker My Horizon put in their final performance of the weekend to a packed out room, proving how many fans they have made over the weekend with their melodic hard rock stylings.

Despite further technical issues interrupting their set, Diamond Black, fronted by Sisters of Mercy guitarist, Ben Christo engaged the audience with an impressive set of epic cinematic rock tunes including new single, Through The Misery, the anthemic The Scarlet and set closer Sorrow. Giving voice to a lot of the pressures and issues we have all faced both during and post-pandemic, Diamond Black are definitely one to check out if you’ve not heard them before.

Given that they include songs about quantum physics in their set, it’s unsurprising that iconic thrash metallers Lawnmower Deth turn in the highest song to time ratio of the weekend, cramming in more songs per minute than seems humanly possible. With tracks like Egg Sandwich clocking in at around fifteen seconds and offsetting cerebral themes with songs about bastards and hilarious between track segments, they easily turn in one of the most entertaining and enjoyable performances of the weekend.

Continuing in the same vein, legendary thrash metal outfit, Xentrix, blew up the main stage with the biggest drum setup of the weekend so far. Harmonic power solos, chunky riffs and colossal choruses pepper a set full of brutal bangers including Black Embrace from their 1990 album, For Whose Advantage and the epic Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead from the latest album Seven Words.

Lively thrash metallers Acid Reign wasted no time with frontman Howard “H” Smith getting into the middle of the crowd during their second number and starting off a circle pit while performing a running Wall of Death across the monitors at the front of stage. They continued to bolster the crowd resulting somewhat surprisingly in some of the first crowd surfers of the weekend. Their cover of Hanging on the Telephone was both hilarious and impressive in its execution.

Swedish Melodic Death Metal outfit Dream Evil gave us the penultimate set of the weekend. Turning in an incredible selection of tunes from their various studio albums including The Book of Heavy Metal which had horns and hands waving throughout the venue.

From the opening quotes from Transformers: The Movie, the onstage props and sets and the opening strains of The Touch it was clear that headliners Evil Scarecrow were going to be something different and special. They did not disappoint. With songs steeped in 80’s pop culture including a segment with a giant, inflatable karate man and an audience member attempting to catch a giant fly on a string with oversized chopsticks it’s incredibly clear that this is a band who know how to embrace fun in their performance. Unafraid to incorporate props and costumes, the set included aliens, antigravity machines, death metal eggs and the evil Crabulon, and was engaging, musically impressive and constantly surprising. A fittingly upbeat, party ending to a wonderfully eclectic weekend as a very happy audience made their way home to the strains of Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again.

Originally printed in https://issuu.com/chicfestivals/docs/hrh-mag-issue-20-may-2023