High Voltage Festival 2011 review

'A wonderfully classic rock event with a celebratory feel'

High Voltage Festival 2011 review

Photographer: Sara BowreyRoss Baker on 25 July 2011

The second ever High Voltage Festival is a memorable affair featuring some strong performances, and although the Metal Hammer stage lacks the stellar line-up of 2010, there is still much to enjoy.

Rival Sons (7/10) swagger around the main stage like they own it. Bathed in glorious sunshine, they get the weekend’s festivities off to a bang with their hip shaking soulful rock.

Anathema’s (9/10) ethereal melodies are somewhat stunted by a poor sound mix, but the Liverpudlian prog-rockers majestic melodies shine through. Lee Douglas’ voice is achingly beautiful and their dedication of ‘Dreaming Light’ to the tragic events in Norway is truly touching.

Thin Lizzy (6/10) also suffer from a lack of volume. Not that it deters fans from singing manically to the likes of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’. Let’s hope that the boys are back in town again very soon.

Faring much better is birthday boy Slash (9/10) who oozes cool on the guitar while singer Myles Kennedy delivers a faultless vocal performance. The set relies most heavily on Guns N’ Roses material, of course, but how can the likes of ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’ fail to deliver?

By contrast Sylosis (5/10) are a dry affair with their pummelling metal at odds with the rest of the bill. Their macho aggression seems out of place with the good time vibe elsewhere.

Judas Priest (8/10) show us all that despite this being their farewell tour, there is life in the old dog yet. While Rob Halford doesn’t manage to hit all the high notes anymore, he is still a great focal point and the band has a slew of anthems at their command, which has the crowd eating out of their collective palm. Watching the audience lose their minds to the epic sing-along of ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘You Got Another Thing Comin’’ is worth the ticket price alone.

Mostly Autumn’s (7/10) delicate prog rock soothes many a sore head on the prog stage Sunday before Thunder (7/10) take hold of the main stage with storming renditions of ‘Love Walked In’ and ‘Dirty Love’ which have the ladies collectively swooning.

There is nothing romantic about the visceral power of a Neurosis (9/10) set with the Oakland mob in the mood for some prime brutality. ‘A Season In The Sky’ and the massive ‘Through Silver In Blood’ are hulking bruisers. They are possibly the heaviest band in the world.

Flutes and fantasy of Jethro Tull (7/10) are a calmer but no less involving alternative on the prog stage. Ian Anderson and company pull off musical compositions that it would take many modern bands generations to perfect.

The musical masterclass is in full swing with Dream Theater (9/10) delivering a dazzling set of virtuoso musicianship and epic melodies. Songs from their forthcoming LP, ‘A Dramatic Turn Of Events’, are warmly received and the vocal performance of frontman James Labrie is nothing short of jaw dropping. While some may criticise the band for their musical excesses, they manage to get the balance right and will inspire many great musicians of the future.

While the metal acts aren’t as high profile as with the debut High Voltage, this is still a wonderfully feel-good classic rock event with a real celebratory feel.

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