TVD Live Shots:
HRH Sleaze, Sheffield 8/28–8/29

Live music has returned to the UK with a mad rush of festivals doing their best to salvage what has been a brutal summer for music lovers.

I had my sights set on something a bit different outside of the masses heading to Leeds and Reading. Taking the train from London a few hours north to Sheffield, I was excited to get back to my roots, the music I grew up on, sleaze metal. And there’s no better way to experience this resurgence than my first Hard Rock Hell festival. Focused on returning this under celebrated metal pastime to the forefront, the fine folks at HRH brought together a stellar lineup for their 2021 return.

While quite a few of the original headliners and bands from outside the UK, unfortunately, had to cancel due to Covid restrictions in one form or another, the lineup ended up surprisingly strong. A mix of new blood nestled in-between some industry staples made for an exciting two days of old favorites and new discoveries. Here are my highlights and picks from the two-day sleaze-fest.

WAYWARD SONS

This is currently my new favorite band. I have no idea how I missed these guys for the past several years living in the UK, but holy shit are they good—easily one of the best live shows I’ve seen since moving to London six years ago, and to say that I’m excited about their upcoming new album is an understatement.

Frontman Toby Jepsen is a force to be reckoned with as his vocals are above and beyond any UK rock band at the moment, and his songwriting is harder hitting and more melodic than ever with the latest single, “Faith in Fools.” But the showstopper was the freight train that is “Don’t Wanna Go.” I’m looking forward to seeing them again on November 17th at Islington Academy in London.

STEVIE R. PIERCE AND THE HOOLIGANS

I may be a bit biased as I’ve been a Stevie fan for years, and my photo of the band graces the cover of the brilliant new record, but this was a highlight for sure.

It was the release of the band’s new record, the appropriately titled Major League Son of a Bitch, and it was the first time I’ve seen them play many of these songs live. The new album is a beast. Heavy, aggressive, and sonically superior to the debut with the legend that is Dave Draper pushing the sound to eleven and beyond. Get the new record here and check out the latest video for the new single, “Major League Son of a Bitch” featuring Love/Hate’s Jizzy Pearl.

MIDNIGHT CITY

If you are going to stay in the ’80s, they own it and go all in. That’s exactly what Nottingham’s Midnight City set to accomplish, and they do it very well indeed. Lead by singer Rob Wylde, these guys have the sound, the songs, and most importantly the look that transports you back to the time when hair was big and glamming it up was the norm.

THE QUIREBOYS

The UK rock ‘n’ roll legends are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their landmark debut A Bit of What You Fancy. Three decades on it holds up extremely well and the band gives it a boost as they’ve re-recorded the entire record which is available as a very limited run on blue vinyl!

THE MERCURY RIOTS

The first American band to tour the UK post-pandemic and the only band from the US to hold their spot on the final roster. The Mercury Riots are basically Bullets and Octane minus original singer Gene Louis, but oh man are they a completely different style.

I think the entire room was a bit hesitant to go all-in on a new band taking to the mainstage without a record  just before The Quireboys, but that changed in an instant. These guys turned every head in the room, launching into their California sun-glazed back to basics rock ‘n’ roll grooves. Who fucking knew that Zachary had the voice? The bass was thunderous, the guitar was melting faces, the drums were in perfect time, and the songs were bloody brilliant. When is this record coming? The recordings on Spotify don’t hold a candle to the live show but are certainly worth a listen. Keep an eye on these guys, they should be massive.

THE SUICIDE NOTES

These guys started out right before the pandemic hit and I never got a chance to see them until now. They were by far the best band on the second stage, blasting through a set that was part punk, part metal, part sleaze, but all attitude. Frontman Billy Tee is one of the best frontmen I’ve ever seen before and he continues to impress. Pick up their debut EP here and get ahead of the game.

TIGERTAILZ

The Welsh contribution to hair metal is pretty much the gold standard of the era, and one of those bands that should have been much bigger on a global scale. Headlining the main stage and celebrating the 30th anniversary of their epic album Bezerk, Jay Pepper led the band on a roller coaster ride down memory lane playing the songs true to form but with a few modern tweaks thrown in by the “new blood.”

GYPSY PISTOLEROS

They’ve been called “the greatest flamenco sleaze glam band ever” and I wholeheartedly agree after my first time seeing them live.

You might ask yourself, “How do these two genres blend together?” Imagine Hanoi Rocks crossed with the Gypsy Kings for starters. They’ve toured with the likes of LA Guns and Faster Pussycat in addition to a slew of others. They also graced the stages of Rocklahoma several years in a row back in the States. I thought these guys were absolutely brilliant and I can’t believe they were not on my radar before as they originally formed back in 2005. Better late than never I say, check out their latest “The Mescalito Vampires” which you can pre-order on limited edition moon-colored vinyl with 2 extra tracks.

THE CITY KIDS

During the pandemic, a supergroup of sorts was formed by members of The Main Grains, Warrior Soul, Tigertailz, and Falling Red. They had recorded the entire record and launched The City Kids without ever being face to face. They managed to squeeze in one rehearsal before their first official gigs, with one of them being the main stage at HRH Sleaze.

Somewhere between Social Distortion and the sound of straight-up ’70s punk, these guys not only play spectacularly together but the songs are instantly catchy and stay with you. I’ve been singing the chorus of “Best of You” all week long and I only heard it that one time. Get the record here and catch them on tour throughout the rest of the year.

SOUTH OF SALEM

Fresh off their Bloodstock performance, goth-sleaze metal band South of Salem brought their dark vibes to the main stage. Certainly, one of the heavier bands on the bill but they fit right in and the crowd seemed to dig them. I was getting a bit of a Type O Negative crossed with Avenged Sevenfold. Lots of horror themes and even a pretty good ballad that had the entire crowd waving enthusiastically along as if they were in a trance.

THE PEOPLE!

A big shout out and thank you to Toby and the HRH crew for taking care of me with a photo pass and for making such a special event for the bands and fans. Tickets are on sale for HRH Sleaze 2022 now.

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