Billed as an incredible rock ‘n’ roll freakshow there will never be any chance of Helldorado being done for false representation. With over 30 live bands, live wrestling, burlesque acts and a whole lot more besides the 40 odd Euros I shelled out for early bird tickets made me feel like I’d bagged myself one of the gig bargains of the year. But would it really live up to my expectations?
Arriving at the Klokgebouw (an arts/theatre venue in a huge multi room warehouse complex situated on an industrial park within a bicycle kick’s distance of PSV’s ground) with about half an hour to spare before the doors were due to open this gave one or two of our travelling group the chance to walk off their fragile states following the previous night’s Turbojugend meet up in the city’s Café The Jack (steady on Daley there were no retrievers in sight here) which had proven to be as colourful an introduction to the city as the Glow art event that was also taking place that same evening.
After finally making our way through the airport style security (which was done as quickly as possible by very friendly staff who seemed to be able to speak a multitude of languages all at the same time) I finally made my way into the venue and hit the main Cobra stage just as Prima Donna were launching into the 2nd song of their set. With just 30 minutes on stage there was no time for banter or messing about so Kevin Preston and his prima donnas (ouch) just do what they do best and play a set packed full of infectious rock ‘n’ roll anthems largely drawn from their excellent ‘S/T’ album. A better sound mix (something which you’ll see becomes of a recurring theme throughout the day) might have drawn out some of the band’s poppier saxophone driven moments but at 1pm in the afternoon, warming up a largely still hungover crowd, the boys did mighty fine indeed. Now make sure you catch them on the road with Danko Jones right now!
Moving over to the adjoining Lion stage for a little bit of fun with Cirque Du Mort’s Trashy Pandas and it’s somewhat confusing to discover that after travelling all this way this UK troop’s lead hostess speaks with the broadest of Welsh accents. Alright butt. Then just as The Devils (no not the Nick Rhodes pre-Duran act) prepare to take to their makeshift stage in the middle of a wrestling ring situated mid dancefloor one of our group (whose been on a proper walkabout around the complex) points out we best make our way over to the Tarantula stage as it’s a tad smaller than the other two stages and the buzz surrounding the arrival of The Hip Priests complete with their very own trashy panda on lead vocals might just see us left out in the cold (and boy was it cold outside) if we’re not sharpish. On our way over though we just have time to check out the doom drone of Monolord on the Cobra stage which on another day in another venue might have inspired me to throw my horns in the air, however today I’m all about the Priests.
Getting into position a few rows behind the Spasm Gang diehards who follow The Hip Priests all over the globe the most rewarding thing for me (and I’m sure the band too) was to glance around and see the venue was indeed fully packed out. If ever there was a reason for this band to exist then there really was no time like right now to fully deliver on their musical promise. With the Fuck Cancer t-shirted Von Cruz dedicating their set to Kathy Rocker this just seemed to light their fuse as they sped off through a set littered with career defining tunes that just exploded right in our faces. The ever present ‘Instant Delinquent’ got the first proper pit of the day going whilst in ‘Zero Fucks Given’ I still say the band have the best Stooges song Iggy never wrote, and it’s not just me that thinks this as the crowd literally hollered the song’s title back at them during the extended coda outro. ‘Stand For Nothing’ might be the ironic(?) title of the band’s soon to be released fourth studio record, but for the thirty minutes spent in their company today they stand for everything, so cheers to you guys you really are muthafucking superior.
It’s almost impossible to get my bearings after such an incendiary set so I drift between Death Alley and The Rock N Roll Wrestling and then Vintage Caravan (none of them able to get anywhere near what had preceded them) and in the meantime I also manage to somehow miss The Dahmers (who talking to someone later were apparently excellent) altogether. Bollocks!
It was the lure of witnessing Nicke Andersson back behind a drum kit (for the first time since his days spent with the mighty The Solution) playing with Lucifer over on the Cobra stage that dragged me out of my stupor, and as the band unfurled its very own fringed tops take of Psych-Doom I suddenly started to have flashbacks to a few years back when a good mate of mine made me watch Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and Witchcraft back to back at Hellfest and I honestly thought I’d just woken up in 1972. In many ways I feel Lucifer are perhaps not unlike an Andersson’s Night for the Scando-Doom generation, and whilst I personally don’t dig it the many people around me who headbanged constantly throughout the band’s 45 minutes set treated them like headliners in waiting. I’ll stick with my Blues Pills LPs thanks.
Price pointing their merch at 10 and 15 Euros a pop the muthafuckin’ Dwarves really were living up to their rock legends tag long before they had even played a note today. It’s simple acts of punk rock genius like this that see most people either sporting or carrying a cross-boners themed item of merch by the time the band hit the Cobra stage, and initial dodgy sound aside Blag and his gang of reprobates simply could do no wrong as they stampeded their way through the likes of ‘Way Out’, ‘Sluts Of The USA’, ‘Back Seat Of My Car’ and ‘Devil’s Level’ leaving me with barely time to take a gulp of my beer between the classic tunes crammed into the set list this afternoon. With added human fireball, smurf and a bevvy of lovelies providing visual stimulation for a mosh pit seemingly set on self-destruct (especially during a frenzied ‘I Will Deny’) the only thing that was really missing was more tunes from the band’s superb ‘Take Back The Night’ LP. Then again when you’re as good looking as these fucks you can do whatever the fuck you want and still end up being one of the best bands of the day.
Moving back to the Lion stage for the highly anticipated return of Supersuckers, out on the road promoting the (almost) 20th anniversary of ‘Evil Powers Of Rock N Roll’, it actually took me 2 or 3 songs before I realised this was the same band that totally blew me away all those years ago. The current 3-piece version of the band seem to favour the type of flat-out wall of noise approach to gigs that Motorhead pretty much made their trademark, and to be honest it all kind of goes over my head, especially early doors. Couple this with an Eddie Spaghetti who is obviously trying to warm up and not over stretch his voice (for obvious totally understandable reasons) I simply found the whole thing very frustrating indeed. Yes of course the band still soared majestically when they aired the likes of ‘Born With A Tail’ and ‘Pretty Fucked Up’ but I’d be gobsmacked if anyone went out and bought a copy of ‘Suck It’ as a result of hearing any of the songs aired from that here this evening, and that’s a crying shame because it’s actually a very good album.
Jogging back over to the Cobra stage to find Zeke were just about to into ‘All The Way’ from their ‘Hellbender’ LP the packed out room then proceeded to just totally lose it. This being my third time of seeing the band on this tour meant I knew what was about to come and the odd beer shower was an almost welcome relief from the already oppressive heat being generated by the Olympic sized pit moving at pace stage front and centre. With side stage also packed full of other bands all keen to experience the Zeke-effect it was reassuring to finally put to rest the urban myth that Nick Oliveri and Blind Marky Felchtone were in fact the same person, Oliveri screaming most of the band’s back catalogue from the wings like their number one fan whilst the more eagle eyed amongst us also spotted Austin Rocket from The Hip Priests revealing himself as a closet KISS fan by singing along to the Zeke-ified version of ‘Shout It Out Loud’. If you’ve seen Zeke live yourself recently, you’ll get what I mean when I say they are impossible to critique, they just are muthafuckin’ Zeke end of.
With prospect of the night turning into a progressive/psych type of affair if I hung about in the main stage areas to watch DeWolf and then Kadavar, I instead plumped for the much more sensible (and less satin flared) option of checking out Nick Oliveri – Death Electric back in the Tarantula stage. Backed by his Dwarves bandmates and dedicating his set to Todd Youth, from the opening ‘Tension Head’ to the final chords of ‘Millionaire’ what we were given tonight was a simple lesson into why Nick is so badly missed by Josh Homme in his now piss weak stadium filling version of the once great band. I could have listened to this stuff all night but with barely an hour before the first of the two!! headliners were set to take the stage it was time to finally catch my breath.
Chatting with friends old and new in the food concourse for the best part of that hour the highlight of which involved us people watching two lads trying to get a 12” record into a 10” locker that eventually ended up with said record being bent slightly in half in order to get it in (yeah I’m still cringing writing about it here) it was thankfully the sound of Rich Knox’s kick drum heralding the arrival of Danko Jones over on the Lion stage rather than the snap of an LP that brought us back into reality with a bump.
Now having mentioned how off the mark the sound had been for a number of bands earlier in the day the immediate thing that impressed me when I took up my place on the barrier for Danko was just how clear and powerful it now was. Could the curse of Castle Donington have made its way all the way to the Netherlands? Oh, what the hell, I’d last seen the band about 5 or 6 years ago at Hellfest struggling a little bit to get a reaction from an audience only looking to throw devil horns and headbang but here at Helldorado Danko Jones (the band) really were in their element, plundering their extensive back catalogue to keep people dancing and humming their tunes long after their hour long set had ended. ‘The Twisting Knife’, ‘Had Enough’, ‘Play The Blues’ and of course ‘Sugar Chocolate’ (which took me right back to 2001 and the band’s debut UK support slot with Backyard Babies) were all present and with Danko (the frontman) on top form banter-wise tonight really was theirs for the taking and just like with The Hip Priests earlier in the day it was absolutely fantastic to see a band with originality high on their menu (even if it’s the bits they steal from other bands) getting the reception they so justly deserve. Karma indeed!
Having released an album that has caused some pretty diametrically opposite reactions from their diehard fans the Turbonegro of 2018 have certainly come a long way since I first saw them live back in the early noughties playing a small club in Birmingham promoting their then reunion LP ‘Scandinavian Leather’. However, whilst I’m man enough to admit to quite liking ‘RockNRoll Machine’ it’s the distinct possibility of Queen covers (something they have been doing more recently) being played that found me entering into this Cobra stage headline set with more than just a bit of unease. I shouldn’t have worried though because here tonight the band blended the post-Hank and pre-Tony years into a set of high-octane stadium rock that must have had even the out and out haters of ‘RocknRoll Machine’ nodding along. I mean how can you sing along to the likes of ‘Wasted Again’, ‘All My Friends are Dead’ ‘Get It On’ and ‘Back To Dungaree High’ and then not also be drawn in by the likes of ‘Hurry Up & Die’ or the hilariously titled ‘Hot For Nietzsche’ (the pereft counterpart to the band’s love letter to Van Halen’s ‘1984’ that is ‘Chrome Ozone Creation’)?
With an encore consisting of 2 more classics from ‘Apocalypse Dudes’ (‘The Age Of Pamparius’ and ‘Selfdestructo Bust’) before the ultimate vinegar stroke of ‘I Got It Erection’ was dispatched to send some of us off into the cold night air night, I’m not entirely sure where all the anxiety I had about seeing Turbonegro in 2018 came from, they are still the same fun loving bunch, they’ve just polished the whole thing up a bit that’s all.
So as the party raged on hard well into the wee small hours back at the Klokgebouw I walked back to the hotel reflecting on the fact that with hotel, train and gig tickets plus flights, this trip worked out around £275 for each of our party. That’s for a weekend in a fantastic city we’d never been to before, the chance to meet some great new mates plus catch up with some great old ones, plus watch a shit load of superb bands in the process. I just know I’m gonna wake up feeling like I want to do it all over again next year. That’s because you gotta live life people – take some risks- because you never know what you might discover just around the corner even on an industrial park somewhere near PSV Eindhoven’s stadium.
Thank you Helldoardo for being so fucking amazing!!!!!
Author : Johnny Hayward