HRH A.B.C. 2021

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(Collateral)

I originally booked for this three day AOR / Blues / C.R.O.W.S. extravaganza in September 2019 as it was initially scheduled to take place in November 2010. Covid-19 decided it was going to turn the world on its head and everything was put on hold.

Live music has gradually been given licence to make a comeback in recent months and HRH had the confidence to proceed with a series of three day inside festivals, this being the second following Hard Rock Hell 14 held in this venue the previous weekend.

My wife and I arrived at the Vauxhall Holiday Park, Great Yarmouth on the opening day 11/11/21. Sign in at reception was completely painless and literally took a minute.  Accommodation was very comfortable and a five minute walk to the three venues, being the main stage, the Blues vs Crows stage and AOR stage. Only disappointment was they had obviously shelved the idea of checking everyone's Covid vaccination status, allbeit on a randum basis....ho hum let the party commence.

The absence of US bands, as a consequence of the very late relaxation of the the Covid-19 travel limitations between the two nations, opened the door for many more emerging UK bands to shine.


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(Bad Touch)

Bad Touch was originally scheduled to be the penultimate band on Stage 2 day one but they were brought forward and kicked things off and what a performance, setting the bar really high for the weekend. Bad Touch, being local only had to travel 20 miles from Norwich, Steve Westwood (band’s vocalist) behind the wheel of the tourbus. To compensate for the locality of this gig they were driving the 550 miles to Inverness directly after this performance for a gig at The Ironworks the following day.

From the opening chords of Lift Your Head Up to the closing climax of 99% they were absolute class throughout.

Please visit: https://badtouchrocks.co.uk


Doomsday Outlaw, Sheffield based band I had not seen prior to this event really kept the pace going and included a blinding version of Humble Pie's 30 Days In A Hole

Please visit: https://www.doomsdayoutlaw.com



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(Doomsday Outlaw)

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(Twister)

Little Tiggers were first up on the main stage, a two piece powerhouse I had seen before had the audience rocking and boy can they raise the volume.  

Please visit: https://www.littletriggersband.com


Twister followed them onto the main stage with visuals on the amps maintaining the tempo.

Please visit: https://www.officialtwister.co.uk


Bootyard Bandits are not only a musical treat, they are a visual delight. Inflatable cacti graced each side of the stage and it was only a matter of time before these were launced into the sizeable audience. Quite possibly the UK's only country metal band. What I didn't realize at the time was they were two members down and were playing with three stand ins. The band announced on its Facebook page "Neither CJ nor Joey were able to attend, as they've both been arrested for an incident involving a horse. But we can assure y'all it's all just a big misunderstanding. So, a huge shout out to their stand ins, Russ DeBalls, CC D'Beard and Hick Fucknall, who absolutely smashed it at very short notice! Yeehaww!"

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(Bootyard Bandits)

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(Jo Harman)

Jo Harman is back after presenting her first child to the world and her devine vocals certainly haven't been impaired. She had her faithful band behind her, Nat Martin (Guitar), Emily Francis (Keys) and Martin Johnson (Drums). Two rockers No Regrets and Heartstring to start with and then Jo decided she could squeeze in a couple of ballads starting with Cold Heart.

Please visit: https://joharman.com


The main stage is a short distance from here and the sounds of Alcatrazz are coming through. I had a quick glance of these vintage rockers on the way past before retiring to my caravan for the night.

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(Tom Killner)

12/11/21, a palindrome of a day, even before the first band hit the stage. The VIP acoustic sessions started with a stripped back Tom Killner Band. I had been fortunate to see Tom and his band a couple of weeks prior to this event and certainly wasn't going to miss this opportunity to see him in this setting. Tom's Working Man was excellent and you would be forgiven for thinking this was a cover of a Lynyrd Skynyrd classic but no this is truly a Killner classic and highlights Tom’s special vocals.

Please visit: https://www.tomkillnerband.co.uk


Jo Harman, following her headline slot on the Blues vs Crows Stage the night before, followed Tom Killner and gave a very impressive acoustic set with her bass player accompanying her on acoustic guitar.



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(Jo Harman)

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(Bootyard Bandits)

Bootyard Bandits acoustically are the ultimate good time band, especially with the special humour of stand in vocalist Russ Grimmett. They very quickly had the audience wetting themselves with laughter. Family Tree was a brave choice for this Worcester based quintet in a Norfolk location with lines like "My brother is my cousin and my cousin is my son, my son is my wife and my wife is my mum".

Mart Trail (Two Puds) on bass would also be making an appearance on the main stage latter in the day with Aaron Buchanon & The Cult Classics.


Please visit: http://www.bootyardbandits.com

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(New Device)

New Device, another new band for me which is surprising as they have been on the scene since 2007. I was very impressed, they have a great front man in Daniel LeighMatt Mallory (Guitar) and a powerhouse drummer in Greg "Rozzy" Ison. They have the sound of a stadium band and were even short of their bass player Lzi Hayes on the day. Terrific band worthy of some further serious investigation.

Please visit: https://www.newdevice.co.uk

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(Ken Pustelnik's Groundhogs)

This was the second time I had seen Ken Pustelnik's Groundhogs and I may be slain for such a suggestion but I believe these guys create a sound that's even better than the real thing. 

Ken Pustelnik was sat behind the drums during the Groundhogs glory years and first five albums including the classic threesome, Thank Christ For The Bomb, Split and Who Will Save The World. Tony McPhee had a totally unique guitar and indeed vocal style which was the foundation of the original bands success. Ken Pustelnik has Chris D'Avoine on guitar and vocals, Sol Latif adding his guitar licks together with Latch Manghat assisting the rhythm section with some heavy bass. It is simply a match made in heaven for Groundhogs fans.

Please visit: https://www.musicglue.com/kpgroundhogs/

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(Dig Lazarus)

Dig Lazarus, a reference to Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, who knows? Excellent band with an up tempo set featuring much of the recently released debut album Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time. Latest single from said album Sky Tonight being a stand out number.

Please visit: https://www.diglazarus.co.uk


I had seen Félix Rabin on three occasions previously and he has certainly left an impression. In 2019 he was the surprise act at the annual HRH Blues Festival and just before lockdown curtailed his guest slot on Samantha Fish's European tour I saw him twice. Debut release Pogboy was well received in 2020 and his performances show real development each time I see him. This was the first time I had seen Félix, however with the addition of Francesco Gagna on guitar.

Please visit: https://www.felixrabin.com

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(Félix Rabin)

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(These Wicked Rivers)

These Wicked Rivers from Derby were excellent packing in a capacity audience on Stage 2. 

A very well turned out John Hartwell (Vocals/Guitar) and Arran Day (Guitar/Vocals) with Sam Williams and Dan Southall on bass and druns respectively. They had even gone to the trouble of furnishing the stage to give it a sitting room feel, lamp shade and all.

I was really looking forward to seeing these guys and they didn't disappoint, one of the highlights of the weekend.

Please visit: https://www.thesewickedrivers.com

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(Molly Karloff)

I had heard good things about Molly Karloff but this was my first opportunity to see them live. A first class power trio with the striking figure of Simon Guilliard on guitar and lead vocals.

Please visit: https://mollykarloff.co.uk


Crow Black Chicken are a really good Irish band but a guitar failure and disappointing sound didn’t do them any favours. Nevertheless they overcame these initial hurdles and did themselves justice in the end.

Please visit: https://crowblackchicken.com

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(Crow Black Chicken)

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(Tom Killner)

Tom Killner, having given an excellent up close and personal acoustic set earlier in the day returned in the evening to take the roof off with a full blown electric set on Stage 2. Again with an absolute cracking Working Man.


Creedence Clearwater Review does what it says on the can, a very good tribute band delivering the classic CCR hits, starting with Born On The Bayou and bringing the set to a close with Have You Ever Seen The Rain.

Please visit: https://www.creedenceclearwaterreview.co.uk

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(Creedence Clearwater Review)

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(Revival Black)

I had seen Liverpudlians Revival Black many times and they certainly attracted a large audience, Stage 3 was completely mobbed for these guys. They gave us most of their excellent debut album Step In Line with one cover, Deep Purple's Burn which was terrific.

Please visit: https://www.revivalblack.com

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(Empyre)

There were many clashes during the weekend but a big decision had to be made when Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics, Big River and Empyre took to stages 1, 2 and 3 respectively at the same time. I just love all three of them but Empyre got the vote, this band deserves to reach the very top.

A cracking set, as always, and Henrik Steenholdt on vocals is very special. Once described as the love-child of Pink Floyd and Soundgarden.

Stone from the band's debut album Self Aware is probably the bands most recognisable hit but the dreamy Only Way Out does it for me everytime.

I didn't stop to check out the excellent Simon McBride closing things on the main stage but caughr a little of Fargo Railroad Co. on Stage 2 before making my way back to my caravan with Empyre's joyous Only Way Out ringing in my ears.

Please visit: https://www.empyre.co.uk


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(Fargo Railroad Co.)

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(Scarlet Rebels)

Day 3 started with the breaking news that the Quireboys could no longer fill their scheduled acoustic and main stage slots. These gaps were filled by White Raven Down and Jimmy B & The Death Rattles respectively.

Wayne Doyle, frontman with Welsh rockers Scarlet Rebels allowed his band mates an extra hour in bed by taking on the acoustic set alone. To be fair his colleagues were not missed as he did a grand job entertaining the gathered audience.


The shining light was his solo rendition of the excellent Heal taken from the bands debut album ShowYour Colours albeit with interference during the opening chords from White Raven Down's guitarist's mobile phone. A very embarassed Stu Bailey apologised and Wayne was allowed to continue after some good humoured banter. A great cover of Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer was also very well received.

Please visit: http://www.scarletrebels.com

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(White Raven Down)

White Raven Down were only asked to fill in for The Quireboys acoustic set the night before and they suggested it was never a bright idea to compile a setlist when you're pissed. Nevertheless they did a great job and their cover of the Wheatus classic Teenage Dirtbag was excellent. Their new single which I believe is called Control also lent itself to being performed acoustically.

The band's bass player wasn't on stage but in the audience which gave licence to a little banter.  There was also a number of references to switching mobile phones off during the performance...haha. Stairway To Heaven sequed into Tenacious D's Tribute which was quite amusing.

Please visit: https://www.whiteravendown.com

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(Crooked Shapes)

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(Eliana Cargnuletti)

I first saw Eliana Cargnuletti when she visited our shores under the Ruf Records banner of Girls With Guitars with Sadie Johnson and Heather Crosse in 2015. I have seen her more recently with her own band so I was not surprised at the reaction she got when she opened proceedings on Stage 1.

She filled her 40 minutes with songs from her 2021 release Aur and judging from the length of the queue at the merch desk she had a very successful afternoon.

Please visit: https://www.elianacargnelutti.com

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(The Nile Deltas)

I always enjoy being entertained by The Nile Deltas and they thrilled me more with a great cover of Blind Faith's Had To Cry Today.

Please visit: https://www.theniledeltas.com


Paul Lamb & The King Snakes took to the main stage. Paul Lamb needs no introduction as he is one of the country's finest harp players. His son Ryan, on lead guitar, gave us an impressive solo or six when the band warmed up the audience before his father took to the stage.

Please visit: http://www.paullamb.com

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(Ryan Lamb with Paul Lamb & The King Snakes)

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(Southbound)

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(Jimmy B & The Death Rattles)

Not too sure what to say about Jimmy B and The Death Rattles, interesting and lead vocalist Jimmy B aka Daniel Bateman was a dead ringer for Dave Stewart. Not sure the Quireboys fans saw them as a suitable replacement.


Next up on the main stage, Hell's Addiction, were much more of a hit. A serious metal band.

Please visit: http://www.hellsaddiction.com

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(Hell's Addiction)

I have seen Gin Annie a few times and they are a treat with a real showman up front in Dave Foster (vocals). The two guitarists Byron Garbett and Brian Green trade licks and Phill ‘Hammer’ Burrows (bass) and Jack Ryland-Smith (drums) provide the tight rhythm.

Please visit: https://ginannie.com

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(Gin Annie)

Lee Ainley's Blues Storm is a family affair with mum Lee Ainley, daughter Tori Mai and father Nat Ainley. Lee has a great voice and Tori Mai compliments it rather well. Tori Mai is quite happy with lead vocals as well.

With Dave Moss on lead guitar and Dave Atkin on drums this blues rock outfit held the attention of a very appreciative audience.

Please visit: https://bluesstorm.co.uk

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(Lee Ainley's Blues Storm)

It is no surprise that Collateral‘s lead singer Angelo Tristan has been chosen to play a young version of Aerosmith‘s Steven Tyler in an upcoming ITV biopic. He has all the moves and is a very dynamic front man.

This was the first time I had seen Collateral since new members Louis Malagodi (guitar) and Robert Richard James Fenning (keyboard) joined them to extend the band to a six piece in 2020.

Excellent band always worthy of top billing.

Please visit: https://collateralofficial.com

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(Collateral)

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(Wille And The Bandits)

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(The Brew)

I have been trying to catch The Brew for some time. I came close in 2015 until they were forced to withdraw from The Cleethorpes Blues Festival. That was unfortunate but it did introduce me to a band that replaced them on the bill and I now call friends, Rainbreakers.

Tim Smith (bass), Kurtis Smith (drums) and Jason Barwick (guitar, vocals) are a formidable three piece and it was well worth the wait to see them.

Unfortunately due to other commitments we had to leave for home after The Brew.

Please visit: https://www.the-brew.net


To summarise, this was an excellent weekend of live music in a really convenient setting. Everything was within a five minute walk. In the main I felt safe with regards the threat of Covid-19 but I guess many of us are feeling a little more relaxed. However, from a personal point of view I will perhaps be less relaxed in the future as I was tested positive for Covid upon my return home and have been preparing this short review whilst in self-isolation. 


I leave you with my spotify playlist featuring music from many of the bands I saw at HRH ABC 2021: 

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7LxCGIKIdkDciKHXIT8kHk?si=izObwfgyR2yy0sjKO4BUjg



Photography and words by Phil Honley at HRH A.B.C., Thursday 11th November 2021 - Saturday 13th November 2021. Phil has his own photography site here where you can find many more photographs (too many perhaps) from this great festival: http://www.gigsnapz.co.uk.



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