High Voltage Festival Uk

My wife and I attended the High Voltage Festival in the UK last weekend and we had a great time. It's great to know that classic rock or Dinosaur rock as it was called in the 90's, is still alive and going strong. The amount of people in attendance from all over the world proves this. We weren't able to see every band as there were three stages and some of the acts overlapped. Luckily there weren't any severe choices and sacrifices to be made.

Gary Moore (main stage) - My wife wanted to see Gary Moore as she was a bit of a fan. I've heard his music before and he is an excellent guitar player and songwriter, however for me, this performance didn't do any thing for me. While he played well, his performance seemed lack lustered. We left after about half his set to see Zappa plays Zappa.

Dwesil Zappa (prog stage) - Not a big fan of Zappa's music as it's just too weird and off the wall for me. Although Catholic Girls is a funny song, which they didn't play. The band was tight and energetic and looked like they had a great time. We saw most of the set and I did appreciate what they did, it just isn't my cup of tea. great to have heard it though.

Heaven and Hell (main stage) - We took a break got some food and then saw Heaven and Hell (formally known as Dio led Black Sabbath). Earlier on in the year lead singer Ronnie James Dio passed away due to stomach Cancer and Heaven and Hell pulled out of the show. Then it was announced that they would be back in doing a tribute to Ronnie with Glenn Hughes and Jorn Lande handling the vocals. The show was great starting off with The Mob Rules and continuing with music mainly from Mob Rules and Heaven and Hell. They did one song off of Dehuminizer which was I. My song highlights of their set were Country Girl, Turn up the Night and Falling off the Edge of the World.
While I think both vocalists did a great job of singing, I think Jorn’s voice is more suited as he had more of a metal voice where as Glen’s voice is a little smoother and bluesier. Over all a fantastic show.

Transatlantic (prog stage) - Transatlantic was the last band we saw on the Sat night and they were excellent, although not what I was into. I don’t know why, but they’ve never been able to hold my attention. Nevertheless, they’ve got my respect.
Their encore was a huge surprise as they brought out Steve Hackett (guitarist for Genesis during the 70’s) and played the 1970 Genesis song Return of the Giant Hogweed. Totally blew me away.

Wishbone Ash (prog stage) - The Sunday started off with Wishbone Ash. I had seen and heard a little video of them on the High Voltage site and thought they were pretty good. However, their performance left me disappointed. I couldn’t get into their songs and they weren’t very progressive which left me wondering why they were on the prog stage. Also, their playing was loose and sloppy which too me sounded like a band which hadn’t had time to rehearse that much. However, the crowd really enjoyed their set so what can I say.

Steve Hackett (prog stage) –I had only heard a little bit of his solo material before so I was looking forward to hearing more. It was amazing. What I thought was really great was the diversity of his material. With most guitarists’ solo material, the texture usually consists of guitars, guitars and more guitars, and the guitar as the lead instrument, in every song. Hackett is more of a song writer who uses his guitar to fit in with the song. As a result, guitars were not always at the forefront of his music. This gives his music a wider texture which is something I loved. Again, I loved his set and will be picking up, or downloading (legally iTunes) some of his material.

Uriah Heep (prog stage) – I have a few compilations of Heep’s music and I do enjoy it. However I’ve never seen the band live so this was going to be a treat. They played all of their Demons and Wizard album which meant that many of their songs I did not know. They were great, energetic, played well and were tight. Their vocalist (Canadian born) Bernie Shaw was great and handled all the melodrama that original vocalist David Byron had. A great set.
We grabbed some food and then returned to the Prog stage for headliner Marillion. Anyone that know me knows that I’m a huge Marillion fan so this review will be biased.

Mariillion (prog stage) – They opened with their lengthy number Invisible Man and unfortunately fell into some technical glitches with Bassist Pete’s equipment. Also it seemed that Keyboardist Mark Kelly was having a few problems of his own playing the right parts at the wrong time. However, that didn’t stop the rest of the band from performing well with vocalist Steve Hoggarth giving his all. Highlights of the set were the lengthy 20 minute opus This Strange Engine with Hoggarth being overjoyed at finally getting his midi controlled cricket bat to work at the crucial time. Neverland was huge and majestic with guitarist Steve Rothery’s guitar lines slicing through the mix. Surprisingly, the set ended with the trilogy of This Town/The Rakes Progress/100 Nights. Over all a great set by one of my favorite bands and I’ll be looking forward to the 2011 Montreal convention.

ELP (main stage) – We missed the first quarter of ELP’s set due to overlap with Marillion. We arrived during Knife Edge. Instantly I could hear that something wasn’t quite right. They sounded loose, a little sloppy, and keyboardist Keith Emerson wasn’t playing as well as expected. I did know that Keith has had nerve damage and surgery in his right arm so it could be expected that there would be some deficiencies in his playing, but not to the extent that I heard. Also, I found out after the show that this was their first gig together in about 15 years, but again I didn’t think it would be as noticeable as it was. But perhaps that was just me as most in the crowd seemed to really enjoy the show. Highlights of their set were the solo piano Eruption, and the full band version of the rest of Tarkus. Over all, a good set which was enjoyed by many.

Over all, my wife and I had a great time at the festival. My only complaint was that the Metal Stage was too close to the Prog stage which resulted in some rumble during quieter parts of songs. Hopefully the festival made enough money to be able to hold it again next year.

Wilton

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