High Voltage Festival Day 1 Review
Words: A Harvey
Photos: Antony Roberts
6 things that ruled about High Voltage
1. NEUROSIS NEUROSIS NEUROSIS
2. It stayed sunny all weekend, unlike the downpours of Donington and Knebworth it made for an amazing dry weekend
3. Grand Magus being back in the UK again and playing a blinder of a set
4. They allowed the public to bring SLR’s in onsite – more festivals should do this it makes it easier for smaller sites like us to cover them and get some shots. Serious Kudos to the organisers for this.
5. Judas Priest playing a 22 song set
6. Did we mention Neurosis?
6. things that sucked about High Voltage
1. The norway bombing/shootings. This absolutely tragic event put somewhat of a downer on the weekend. It also led to flight disruptions and so Electric Wizard were unable to get their flights and had to cancel.
2. The beer prices – Hey HV I know you’re based in London but people from outside London don’t earn London wages. £4 for a can of beer is ridiculous, and £4.50 for a cup isn’t exactly playing ball.
3. Our photographer was shooting for a large print magazine and was going to give us spares. He’d had his pass confirmed then on the week of the festival had it cancelled as the PR company had “oversubscribed” passes. He was not a happy bunny as he was not going to get paid without photos for the mag but came along anyway and shot from the audience for us – thanks Antony you rock
4. No camping – this makes the festival very expensive as London hotels are not exactly cheap.
5. The sound – this being held in a residential area meant sound levels have to be kept to a “reasonable level” meaning at times it was pretty damn quiet. There were also some bad mixes for some bands most notably Queensryche.
6. The lack of ticket sales. (Presumably) due to low ticket sales there was a mass sale on with the build up to the festival. The weekend before Groupon were doing tickets at 60% off meaning quite a few friends picked up weekend tickets for £44, bargain. The week of the festival Live Nation were offering by one get one free. This is great for those that haven’t bought tickets already, but for those of us that had got in early, supporting the festival and paying full price, it felt like a big fat hard slap to the face.
Large travel times to get from home into London meant we got into the festival late and had missed the first few acts, arriving to hear Skin on the main stage. They filled a gap whilst waiting for more substantial acts. Don’t get me wrong Skin aren’t particularly bad but they seem to play every single festival I go to and I guess familiarity breeds contempt.
Next up on the main stage was Rival Sons. They play 70’s rock but the problem is it’s already been done really, really well in the 70’s. You need something to stand out and unlike say Witchcraft who have Magnus’ strong and unique vocal style to make them unique (as well as some killer riffs) Rival Sons were a bit too pub band for me.
Queensryche took to the main stage and having missed them on every UK jaunt before I was excited but apprehensive about seeing them. Growing up on them I was too young to see them live in the heyday of Mindcrime. Recent live reports, particularly the shocking reviews of the lacklustre performance at Hard Rock Hell, left me nervous about ruining fond childhood memories. This was definitely not the poor live performances I’d read about the band, if the sound had been better it would have been a stellar set. Unfortunately though Geoff’s vocals were too high in the mix. Finishing with Jet City Woman, Empire, Eyes Of A Stranger and then Anarchy X it felt like their set was over too quickly. Just as they were starting to play what I wanted to hear their set was over, and with a rock star group bow they left the stage.
The Legend that is Slash walked on to the main stage and drew the biggest crowd of the day so far. After starting with snakepit song “Been there lately” it was straight into the classics with “Night train” immediately followed by “Rocket Queen”. Getting Myles Kennedy as vocalist was a brilliant choice, he has the range of Axl covered competently without all the rockstar posturing, hassle and arrogance of Slash’s former bandmate. A few new songs and more snakepit tunes midset preclude the closing trilogy of “Sweet Child Of Mine”, “Slither” and “Paradise City”. You may have heard them a million times but today the classics ring out fresh, with the entire audience singing along.
Next up on the Metal Hammer stage was Sweden’s Grand Magus. Words can not do any justice to how good their set was. if you were there you know. Songs like Iron Will and The Shadow Knows have some of the best riffs ever commited to record. Setlist was something like “Kingslayer”, “Iron Will”, “Hammer Of The North”, “Silver Into Steel”, “The Shadow Knows”, “Ravens Guide Our Way”. I think “Like The Oar Strikes The Water” was somewhere in that mix but I was too busy headbanging to the onslaught of riffs coming through the P.A. to take notes. They’ve been confirmed as one of the support acts for Cathedral’s last ever show at HMV Forum in London on 3rd December. This was already going to be an essential show but now if you have any taste in metal you NEED to get a ticket.
Headline act Judas Priest had announced prior to their High Voltage this would be a farewell tour. Whether this is the case, only time will tell, so many bands farewell tours have happened again and again, year after year. With the performance they put on they are certainly not at a point that they need to retire. 22 songs were played tonight and what a performance. Even without KK Downing, Priest showed why they are revered in the metal community. Halford stalked the stage commanding the crowd and had more costume changes than a waif at a catwalk show. Saving his voice during “Breaking the Law” the band left the vocals to the entire audience who sang along to every word. Final pre-encore song Painkiller had Halford reaching his entire range screaming at the top of his lungs. 4 encores later with “Electric Eye”, “Hellbent for Leather”, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” and “Living After Midnight” the night was over and a very, very happy festival crowd made their way home.