High Voltage The Review (Victoria Park Saturday & Sunday 23rd 24th July)

Posted on 05 August 2011 by Mizzle

Back in the good old days of rock and roll, one thing was for sure, and that was that Monsters of Rock was the festival to be at. These days, there are so many rock festivals, it’s quite possible to be one at every other weekend. What High Voltage delivers is the feel and personal touch of the heady days of MOR.

There’s something for everyone and whilst the Metal Hammer stage didn’t have the line-up of the previous year, there was still enough to either reminisce to, or quite simply jump around to, in the glorious London sunshine. Michael Schenker delivered an assured, strong performance, showing no signs of recent personal problems, one of the surprise packages from my own view point, and he finished by rocking the crowd like a hurricane.

With spirits high, it was Thin Lizzy’s turn to keep the party going, led by Ricky Warwick. It was predictable to know what was coming next, a back catalogue of classics such as Whiskey in the Jar, Jailbreak and Dancing in the Moonlight.  Okay, it’s not the original line-up, but it’s a bunch of superb musicians there to keep the spirit and music alive of Messrs Lynott & Moore… and why not!

If that back catalogue of classics wasn’t enough, it was time for Slash to whip up a frenzy of rock classics ranging from his own solo material to G’N’R classics such as Sweet Child o’ Mine, Nightrain and Paradise City.   Received with rapturous applause and delivered with a sterling vocal performance by Myles Kennedy, of Alter Bridge, this was an undoubted stand-out performance of the festival.

As daylight faded into the ether, the impending anticipation of Saturday’s headliners Judas Priest was tangible.  Walking on stage in usual leather attire, Rob Halford and crew knew exactly how to deliver a finale of fist-in-the air-metal.

In fact, it was four decades’ worth of material: Breaking the Law, Turbo Lover, Hellbent for Leather and the superb Nostradamus sent everybody home with exactly what they wanted – the end to a great first day’s party!

Sunday had an interesting prog line-up. First up, the Enid, with one of the sets of the weekend.  Their sound is huge, the music is both dramatic and delightful, and how they got only half an hour’s set and an opening spot is beyond me, especially with substandard performances from the likes of Curved Air and Spock’s Beard.

Jethro Tull has always been a personal favourite of mine, as quintessentially English as a cup of tea. It was a good, assured performance, Ian Anderson lacks the vocal range of yesteryear, but you can forgive them for that when you get the likes of Aqualung, which has everybody on their toes, and a memorable moment to come with the superb guitar maestro Joe Bonamassa joining the band on stage to bring down the curtain down with Locomotive Breath.

Back on the main stage, Thunder are no fools when delivering festival crowd pleasers, and it’s easy to forget the size of their back catalogue. There’s enough to keep everyone entertained, with classics such as When Love Walked, Backstreet Symphony and Dirty Love – possibly the best crowd reaction of the weekend.

And so to Sunday’s headline act: Dream Theater. Not everyone’s cup of tea, including mine, but there were plenty who do like them, and there’s no doubting their credentials as musicians. It was maybe a strange choice to close, but this was a nonetheless jubilant and sun-filled festival at Victoria Park  8/10.

Review By Chris Knight