Live report ROCK HARD FESTIVAL 2018 – Day 3

The 2018 RHF edition comprised of a significant amount of Swedish bands and it was one of those that helped Day 3 to get of the boxes. Thundermother was the adrenalizer needed to kick-off things on final day. The four girls from Sweden were a real energizer and their groovy hardrock awoke even the ones that still were a bit sleepy on another summerly metal day in Gelsenkirchen. By the way, the status the girls achieved in short time could be measured in meters. The queue at the signing booth was as long as the one Overkill had the day before. Respect.

Bolt Thrower successors Memoriam took the stage by storm. Harsh and brutal death metal filled the oval and if some even still slept during the Thundermother show, now they were awake. The quartet from Birmingham, the cradle of metal, were loud and heavy. Their slow and intense riffing felt like a thunderstorm on a sunny Sunday noon. The British death machine was extremely well oiled that day and obviously enjoyed every single minute of their show. Memoriam is a band that’s passionate and authentic with Karl Willetts being an excellent growler as well as a true frontman. He’s in constant connection with fans, on stage but also afterwards when he made himself available for countless selfies and talks with fans. Memoriam, that’s the true metal vibe.

What followed was an hour of traditional heavy metal, performed with excellence. Night Demon belongs to the shooting stars and could constantly enlarge their fan base. This became obvious during today’s show at RHF. Not too many fans missed the performance of this Californian powerhouse from Ventura. Fans rewarded a well-done metal show with massive headbanging and loud „Night Demon“-shouts. Last but not least it was the ‘reaper’ that appeared at the second last song, leading to even more enthusiasm amongst fans. Night Demon is on fire and that‘s also what they express in an authentic way. There is no way not to like this three metal enthusiasts.

The running order of RHF 2018 was done extremely well and it as the gently singing guitar of now less than Uli Jon Roth that acted as treat for everybody’s ears and mind. The show was announced as ‘Scorpions Revisited’ and the setlist reflected that very well. It was a journey back in time, days when Scorpions celebrated first wins with songs like ‘In Trance’ and “Fly to the Rainbow’. These classics in rock where a moments to dream away. Exquisite solo parts have been ear candy for everybody at Amphitheater and it has been two more classics that ended a terrific concert. Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing’ marked the epic ending of a brilliant performance.

What was missing so far at RHF were some more complex songs with a more progressive approach. This gap could be closed on Sunday when Swiss prog thrash legend Coroner started into an hour of thrash metal classics. I love the Coroner records but for whatever reason I never got opportunity to see them live. This was another gap that could be closed on Sunday. Witnessing a show of this re-enforced metal legend is a create experience. It’s the marriage of musical savvy, excellent riffing, aggressiveness and complexity that leads to a constant ‘wow’-feeling. Looking on the amount of fans right in front of the stage showed in an impressive way that Coroner didn’t lose anything of their attraction. This is even more astonishing when considering the fact that the last studio album, ‘Grin’, was unveiled 25 years ago and therefor it wasn’t surprising that this album contributed with most of the songs played that day. However, the setlist comprised of all four longplayers and it was ‘Reborn Through Hate’, the opener of the debut, that has been very much welcomed by everybody at RHF.

With Backyard Babies the next Swedish band entered the stage, spreading a rock’n’roll virus over Gelsenkirchen. Nicke Borg, Dregen, Johan Blomqvist and Peder Carlsson started with ‘Made Me Madman’ into the show and ignited a hard rock fireworks. As the temperature also the show of this quartet was hot and the also the final track ‘Minus Celsius’ was far away from a freezing point. The setlist covered all the years from 1996 when ‘Total 13’ saw light of day up till 2008 when the ‘Backyard Babies’ longplayer hit the shelves.  As extra treat the band performed a new song that will be released in a few days. ‘Shovin Rocks’ is a cool rocker that’s taken from the upcoming album ‘Silver & Gold’. It’s the first time the band performed this tune on stage and it’s a real appetizer for more. All in all Backyard Babies have been an excellent addition to this year’s RHF line-up, representing sleaze rock the Swedish way in perfection.

Things came closer to an end, but there were still two legends left. One of the bands I wanted to see were Armored Saint. It was back in 1984 when ‘March of the Saint’ was revealed, followed by the even better ‘Delirious Nomad’ album. Even though popularity of bands that started the same time, like Metallica and Anthrax, grew fast, it is the great music, the authenticity and the underground vibe that makes Armored Saint still to one of the best metal bands.  This quintet wrote songs for eternity and the RHF setlist included the best of the best. From the opener ‘March of the Saint’ till the frenetically celebrated ‘Can U Deliver’ (they sure did deliver 😉 ) the show included everything you could wish for as a fan of exquisite power metal. As a special treat the five-piece performed with ‘On the Way’ and ‘Spineless’ two classics doesn’t belong to the ‘usual suspects’ of an Armored Saint setlist. The first one was the performed live the last time in 2001 while that later hasn’t been played live since 1991. There were just great shows at the 2018 edition of RHF but at least for me, Armored Saint was the best in a line-up with great bands.

After having seen 21 out of 22 bands means that there was still one to go. The might Saxon was the headliner of Day 3 and closed the entire RHF weekend with a 90 minutes set that stated again why Biff Byford and Co. belong to spearhead of heavy metal. It’ the second time I saw the band this year and as their show at 013, Tilburg also this gig was just great. Saxon has a huge fan base in Germany and almost 7.000 of them have been part of this special show that rounded of a fanatic weekend, organized by a great team that put together a line-up that covered many different styles. There was no single dull moment and I think everybody can look forward already to RHF 2019. Rock on and see you next year!

You’re interested in the setlists? HERE they are.

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