High Voltage is like no other UK festival. Curated by Classic Rock magazine, with help from their friends at Metal Hammer and one or two other places, the line-up boasted some of the finest old school names in prog rock, some up and coming metal bands, a one off reunion, a farewell headline appearance and topped it off with the world’s biggest prog metal band. So how did it all go down? Matt and Jamie from Rocksins went to find out….
The atmosphere in Victoria Park in East London was initially very strange. Rumours had swirled around the Twittersphere that ticket sales for the event had been less than stellar, heightened by some fantastic value for money last minute offers. The first band of the weekend that passed our eyes and ears were Skin. Skin are an archetypal classic rock band and a perfect fit for High Voltage. Pleasant clean vocals, some nice guitar work and in particular some nice basslines made Skin a very pleasant way to spend our first half hour of music at the festival. Well worth watching if they make an appearance at a festival or gig near you, if classic rock is your thing check Skin out.
At this stage of the day we thought we might like to hear some metal, so a stroll over to the Metal Hammer stage brought us into sight of Raven’s Creed, who were literally just about to start their set. There was nothing classic rock about Raven’s Creed with some guttural vocals and punishing drums punctuated with some nice riffs and breakdowns made for some high quality metal, brought to us straight from Nottingham. “They are the many, and they are the weak, but we are the few, and we are the strong” was the cry from singer Al Osta referring to the increasingly sizeable crowd at the Metal Hammer stage vs those who were elsewhere. The weekends first pleasant surprise, Raven’s Creed would please a lot of traditional metalheads.
Anathema were next up on the bill, and Matt has done a review of their performance which you can read right here: Review of Anathema live at High Voltage 2011.
After that, it was Thin Lizzy time, the question being would it feel like Thin Lizzy in name only or the real deal? Ricky Warwick has taken on the somewhat large shoes to fill in the role of Lizzy’s vocalist (the same Ricky Warwick being the first musician Jamie ever saw live 9 years ago opening as a solo act for Def Leppard). The big hits (Whiskey In The Jar, The Boys Were Back In Town) were sung along with by a considerable crowd, but it never felt authentic. One problem that was completely out of the bands’ hands was how quiet the sound was – if you were to have a conversation with the person stood next to you Thin Lizzy’s volume level made them sound like background music. That was a shame as their Download appearance was highly lauded. Hopefully for Thin Lizzy things will go better on their newly announced UK tour with Clutch next year.
Rock Sins’ favourites Sylosis stood out like something of a sore thumb on today’s line-up, even on the Metal Hammer stage, a fact which singer/axeman Josh Middleton alluded to. What was impressive for Sylosis was the size of the crowd they had attracted, he biggest of the Metal Hammer stage all weekend, evidence of their continuing growth in both popularity and recognition. With a longer set than they had two weeks earlier at Sonisphere they had more time to flex their musical muscle and the presence of songs such as Sands of Time as well as old favourite Stained Humanity went down a treat with the Victoria Park masses. Usual set closer Teras prompted what I would refer to as the only “proper” circle pit of the weekend with Rocksins’ own Matt Hill coming away with a slightly unfortunate war wound. Be careful in the pits kids! Another fine performance from the Reading foursome who’s star continues to rise. For an excellent live show catch them on tour with Malefice at the end of September.
The Sylosis setlist was:
Reflections Through Fire
Sands Of Time
The decision to watch all of Sylosis meant that upon returning to the main stage, Slash and his band including Myles “The Voice” Kennedy were already under-way and flying through a catalogue of material that most bands would be jealous of. Kennedy breezed his way through songs from both Slash’s solo album and his old band Slash’s Snakepit, various Guns N’Roses classics including a note perfect rendition of Sweet Child O’Mine, sung to a level that Axl Rose could only now achieve in his dreams and Velvet Revolver’s biggest hit Slither. All the while Slash shredded and solo’d away in an effortless way that only the top guitarists like him are capable of. Another entertaining performance and great things will be expected of his second solo album, this time to be sung entirely by Mr Kennedy.
We departed the main stage a little on the early side to return to the Metal Hammer stage, hoping to make it 3 for 3 in quality performances by checking out Swedish power-prog conjurers Grand Magus (who also took the time to have a chat with us, read that exclusively here on Rock Sins’ very soon). Grand Magus would not be everyone’s cup of tea but there was a sizeable following present to headbang along to the likes of Kingslayer and the most recent album title track Hammer of The North (the album is a must if you’re a power/prog metal fan) and JB’s vocals are pretty damn awesome live. If you missed them, they are supporting Cathedral on Cathedral’s farewell show which gives everyone another chance to check them out, which you all should!
Arguably what today was all about was Judas Priest’s (supposed) final live show in London, headlining the first day of the High Voltage festival. Their performance has been given the special treatment by Matt, who’s in-depth review can be read here:
Overall, what started off as a slightly underpopulated day in Victoria Park ended up with a huge assembled throng of classic rockers and metalheads saying cheerio to The Priest having enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining, varied collection of rock, prog and metal. We hoped this would carry over into day two as day one was great fun for all, stay tuned for the review of the Sunday of High Voltage 2011.