Day two of High Voltage take two threw up the kind of diverse mix all fans of great guitar music crave – from the 70s-soaked rock of Graveyard, to the polished stadium blues favoured by Black Country Communion and the classic prog of festival veterans Jethro Tull.
Basking in sunshine and promised a plethora of new and established talent an early treat for the main stage die hards came in the shape of seasoned UK club heroes Heaven’s Basement. We’ve already tipped the former Roadstar/Hurrican Party boys to finally make it in 2011 and this tight set – initially dogged by a poor sound – reinforced their burgeoning reputation as the next big thing.
The Treatment might debate that billing if a magnificent set on the Metal Hammer Stage was anything to go by. Mixing 80s sheen with a modern soul these boys had the crowd bouncing from the off and we can’t wait to see more of them very soon.
Back on the main stage and St Jude almost blew their big chance by trying to be a little too cool. Blessed with enough blues vibe to melt the most cynical of hearts their stage craft, when faced with a big crowd, appears to need some serious work. Boasting a charismatic frontwoman is not enough and the sooner the boys wake up to that fact the better.
Michael Schenker sensibly delved into some of the signature tunes he helped to make hits with his former band and Rock You Like A Hurricane was a High Voltage highlight. He’s still got it, but only just.
Back on the Metal Hammer Stage and Swedes Graveyard stole the show with their retro Zeppelin-esque blues rock. Remember Kings Of Leon when they were still cool and didn’t fill arenas on the back of commercial hits? Welcome to Graveyard. Only this lot are so much better than the Kings ever were.
Thunder more than justified their billing (many of the fans here would have been happy for Danny and the boys to take the headline slot) and if this ‘one-off’ comeback really was a flash in the pan then it proved to be a blast. A magnificent rendition of Love Walked In rivalled Schenker’s Scorpions numbers.
Black Country Communion can’t really fail such is the level of talent across the board within Glenn Hughes’ supergroup. Wrapping things up with a cover of Deep Purple’s Burn got the biggest cheer of the evening but once BCC’s original material becomes more familiar this lot will go places fast.
Jethro Tull commanded the Prog Stage like it was always their natural home and the decision to dig deep into a 40-year back catalogue proved the right one. As the sun set the old favourites provided the perfect backdrop to a glorious English summer’s evening.
And so to Main Stage headliners Dream Theater. If technical progressive metal is your thing then this lot are the genre leaders. If, however, you desire a party band to bring High Voltage to its natural conclusion then the US act are wholly unsuitable. File under ‘opinion divided’.