HRH NWOBHM – Sheffield O2 Academy, Dec 2-3 2016 [DAY 2]

After a good night’s sleep and a big breakfast we head back to the arena for day 2 of HRH NWOBHM. Want to find out about what happened on Day 1? Check out the first part of this behemoth!


The first band up today are Savage kicking things off upstairs on the smaller stage. Original members Chris Bradley on bass/vocals and Andy Dawson on guitar get the crowd going straight away with classics “We Got the Edge” and “The China Run”. The band followed this by playing four tracks from the album (2015) with “I Am the Law” going down particularly well with the crowd. Chris Bradley’s voice is in fine form and he introduced his son Kristian early on who plays second guitar – and a fine player he is. The band end the set with a run of tracks from Loose ‘N’ Lethal, ending with “Let it Loose”.


Downstairs on the main stage we have Chariot who played a classic set, again pulled from the past as most bands have done this weekend. “Screams The Night” and “Demons & Angels” were both stand out tracks for me. The band are as good as they would have been thirty years ago and one of the few old bands who are active a lot these days. Singer/guitarist Pete Franklin in particular puts on a fine show. They end a fantastic set with another two oldies – “Warriors” and “Vigilante”.


Back upstairs Quartz are hitting the stage and this band really impressed me – they date back all the way to 1974, believe it or not. They are not the youngest looking band (sorry chaps!) but by heck, they can play! The title track off new album Fear No Evil is one of the best songs they play along with “Mainline Riders” from their first album. The new album is now on my Spotify playlist. A band I will definitely be checking out live again should I get the chance.

Tokyo Blade

Trudging back to the main stage downstairs we have Tokyo Blade who absolutely nailed it. They started out with “Death on Main Street”, but for myself “Sunrise in Tokyo” was the highlight, mainly for the way it went all over the place with the boys obviously having fun even if the tracks didn’t always go to plan. The twin guitars of Andy Boulton and John Wiggins were a joy to watch, along with Andy Wright on bass bouncing about the stage. Steve Pierce brings up the rear on drums, with vocals ably handled by Alan Marsh who rejoined the band to do the European shows after a 35 year absence. You would never think he’d been out of the picture for so long, with the voice in fine form as they ended the highly enjoyable set with “Dead of the Night”. I would catch the band while you can with Alan on vocals.


Another clamber up the stairs for those classic fellows Tytan with bassist Kevin Riddles the only original member. He has a great band with him, in particular Dave Strange on guitar who was fantastic. Tom Barna handled vocals/guitar along with Andy Thompson on keyboards, and a youthful-looking James Wise on drums. We start off with “Cold Bitch” and “Monday for Love”. The band have a new album coming out shortly and if new track “Fight the Fight” is anything to go by then we are in for a treat. A great setlist including the classic “Blind Men and Fools” and ending in style with the “Ballad of Edward Case”.


On the main stage a band I have waited a long time to see – the awesome Demon who I have loved since the opening intro to “Night of the Demon”. A total favourite moment for me out of the whole weekend as I sang along with it plus “Into the Nightmare”, “Liar” and “Don’t Break the Circle”. The band were top notch with Dave Hill’s fine voice on “The Plague” of particular note. I’m not sure I can say much more without gushing, as I sing along to the tracks of a great band who went down a storm here. I hope to catch them again soon, this time with shirts so I can buy one.


Back upstairs for Trespass now with Mark Sutcliffe on vocals/guitar in fine voice, along with a great band who start off with the excellent “The Duel” quickly followed by “Jealousy”. The band get through a great set including “Dragons”, “Live it Up” and ending with the classic “One of these Days” before we head downstairs again for Grim Reaper on the main stage.

Grim Reaper

Steve Grimmett has one of those outstanding voices in rock and as soon as “Rock you to Hell” started you knew it was going to be a great night. Bass player Martin Trail runs about like a looney (he also plays for Fury), adding to the entertainment value. I have to say the standout track for me tonight was “Wrath of the Ripper”. Those who know me will tell you I don’t have time for covers or tributes for the most part, but the cover of Dio’s “Don’t Talk to Strangers” was quite spectacular and new track “Temptation” was stunning. The band storm through a classic set and end on a real high with “See You in Hell”. Great band, great set and what a voice.


The last band of the weekend to tread the boards of the small stage were Stampede, who I thought were fantastic even though I caught them in between getting something to eat and drink as the weekend had been long by this point. With great tracks like “Having Fun”, “Humble Pie” and “Jessie” they went down well with the busy crowd.

Chrome Molly

Down to stay now at the main stage to catch those fun boys Chrome Molly with a great frontman in Steve Hawkins. With his great classic voice and always smiling, he’s joined by John Foottit armed with his classic flying V who gets those guitar sounds out there along with fellow shredder Andy Barrott. Nutter bass player Nic Wastell bounces about the stage and keeps rhythm along with the ever smiling Greg Ellis on drums. Their best track for me will always be “Thanks for the Angst”, on this occasion joined by “Short Sharp Shock” and “Some kind of Voodoo”. There was not as big a crowd as there should have been for the boys but food and beer probably got a few folks at that time of day. They end the set with “Corporation Fear”. I have a soft spot for the band and they are always great live. They deserved the last minute spot on the bill for the weekend.


Up next, a band that were awesome at the Scottish Wildfire Festival earlier this year. Vardis, a classic old school blues rock based band, while not quite NWOBHM nevertheless fitted in really well and the crowd lapped up every minute they were on stage. The stand out tracks were “The Loser” and “Red Eye” with Steve Zodiac a killer guitar player and singer. Mosh interviewed them in the summer and they had some brilliant tales to tell.

As we near the end of the night and the event, a band a lot of people were waiting on – Venom Inc who were a scary, brutal assault on the ears and senses. Venom were a bit ahead of their time back in the day but laid the groundwork for the heavy bands to come. They were the only band of the day to bring their own drum kit which Abaddon duly battered ten bells out of for the whole set. Tony Dolan was a frightening sight and sound on bass once they got it working, and the main man Mantas is a true professional as demonstrated when during “Live Like an Angel (Die like a Devil)” he got hit in the face with a pint of beer.

Venom Inc

The man never missed a bloody note and kept playing where a lot of lesser or larger bands would have walked off stage. But no. Song ends, he gets a towel, wipes down his face, chest and guitar and asked “Who threw it? Do you have the balls to own up?!”. He was furious for the rest of the show but played on perfectly and the highlight for me was the very intense “Sons of Satan”. This was a brutal display of metal the likes of which you don’t see very often, with tracks like “Don’t Burn the Witch”, “Seven Gates of Hell” and the set closer “Witching Hour”. Simply stunning in its brutality.


The end of the weekend now with the closing band who need no real introduction, the one and only Girlschool. They fire through “Demolition”, “C’mon Let’s Go”, “The Hunter”, “Hit & Run”, “Yeah Right” and “Race with the Devil” and many more classics. The list of well-known tunes is endless as Jackie and Kim trade guitar licks. Kim is also on the top of her vocal game even with the slightly dodgy sound for the set. The figure of Enid on bass pounding away along with Denise on drums is always a joy to behold. Having first seen the girls on the Hit & Run tour back in 1981 at the Edinburgh Odeon, the band never fail to put on a superb show and were a truly great end to a truly great HRH NWOBHM.

I have to say I am tired but elated after this weekend of stunning bands as I head off to make the trip back up to Bonnie Scotland. These bands need to tour more these days, especially on the back of the success of this year and now next year’s event. The audience is there for them.

Until next year, I bid Sheffield adieu.

All photos by Gary Cooper.

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