The Hard Rock Hell crew recently packed up their bags and dusted off their passports for warmer climes as the annual HRH Road Trip descended upon sunny San Antonio.

With the unpredictable nature of British summertime weather, a five-day hard rock festival located on the Balearic Island of Ibiza doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. You can leave those wellies at home, put your tent away, and comfortably enjoy the diverse bill of entertainment on display without worrying about being washed away. Instead, HRH Road Trip brings with it in tow several musical filled days and plenty of sun, sea and San Miguel.

As the White Isle awakens from its seasonal dormancy, flocks of revelers arrived at the party capital of the world as HRH took over San Antonio’s hotels, bars, and legendary night spots. The event itself offered a comprehensive bill of both established and emerging talent whilst encompassing acts that represented many of HRH festival’s different brands. Four of the five nights of the festival were housed under the roof of one of the island’s largest superclub’s, that being Eden

Day 1 – Eden Main Room 

Hard rocking British quartet JOANovARC kicked off the festival in fine fashion on the first night of the event. Opening with “Live Rock N Roll”, the band perfectly set the tone for the week ahead. Likewise, tracks like “White Trash” and “Seeds Of Summer” from JOANovARC’s debut album Ride Of Your Life really stood out in their set. The four-piece gave the HRH crowd a taste of their forthcoming album, which is set for a September release with their infectious new track “Slipping Away”. It’s fair to say that just like the title of their recent single these “Girls Wanna Rock” and don’t they just.

Melbourne’s Tequila Mockingbyrd gave a straight up shot of rock and roll to the Eden masses. With their no messing approach, the T-Byrd’s belted their way through the likes of “So Not Me”, “Somebody Put Something In My Drink” and their alcohol-fueled number “Jagerbomb”. The band also included new single “Tell Me”; one of several of their freshest cuts included in the set. On the strength of the new material featured we eagerly look forward to more of what is to come from this hard-rocking Anglo-Australian trio.

Day 2 – Eden Room 2 

The second night of the festival orchestrated by HRH Metal featured one of the heaviest nights of music to be witnessed on the island this year. Welsh outfit VOiD, Mansfield based stoner rockers Witch Tripper, a rare appearance from Scandinavian five-piece Evil Masquerade and Glaswegian metallers Attica Rage were the order of the day. Collectively they performed under the atmospheric red light of Eden’s room 2 to a packed out hot and sweaty, fist-pumping crowd. The vibe in the room was reminiscent of Love/Hate’s hit single “Black Out In A Red Room”.

Day 3 – Eden Main Room 

Friday night at Eden featured a very strong lineup. British quartet Empyre opened up the proceedings with their distinctive brand of prog-tinged atmospheric rock for those in attendance early on. However, it was Montreux based outfit Daxx and Roxane who were one of the talking points of the festival. The group delivered a high energy set of tequila-soaked classic rock and even managed to fit in a cover of Queen’s “One Vision” in the process. With good time rock and roll numbers like “Ticket To Rock”, “Junk Food Hangover”, “Girl Next Door” and emphatic set closer “Wrong Side” Daxx and Roxane certainly struck a chord with the Ibiza crowd.

Hard Rock legend Graham Bonnet made his first appearance in Ibiza and brought with him in tow an arsenal of crowd-pleasing classic rock anthems. Bonnet delivered a bountiful number of timeless classics from his illustrious career that included the likes of Rainbow’s “All Night Long”, MSG’s “Desert Song” and a rather fitting performance of Alcatraz’s “Islands In The Sun”. Former Stryper guitarist Kurt James made his live debut set with Bonnet and lit up the stage with his blistering fretwork throughout.

The Graham Bonnet Band is getting ready to release their new album Meanwhile, Back In The Garage on 13th July and subsequently they took the opportunity to showcase a few tracks from it including both “California Air” and the frantic “Into The Night”. Of course, the set would not be complete without “Since You’ve Been Gone”.

Massive Wagons arrived on the island fresh off the back of their recent signing to Earache Records. With their new album, Full Nelson scheduled for an August unveiling their set centered on their forthcoming release. The band’s electrifying set opener “Back In The Stack” and “Under No Illusion” was enough to blow the cobwebs off those who had spent the afternoon basking in the sun at the HRH pool party. The aforementioned gathering was described to us by one enthusiastic festival goer as ‘Download by the pool’. A mid-set power cut did not deter this incredibly professional outfit. With a packed out summer festival season including appearances at both Download and Camden Rocks, along with regular airplay on Planet Rock Radio things are certainly looking good for this British five-piece. 

Day 4 – The Zoo Project 

On Saturday evening the festivities moved to The Zoo Project located approximately 5-10 minutes outside of town. The location once housed the island’s Zoo some years ago, hence the name, but now feels like somewhat of an adult’s theme park. Many in attendance participated in HRH’s boat party earlier in the afternoon.
 
Having spent the last few nights indoors at Eden, we spent the vast majority of the night outside at Zoo Project’s amphitheater/acoustic stage. This provided quite a strange setting for a show, with a small pool in front of the stage, and a packed out grandstand surrounding it; in this kind of scenario, you would usually expect an aquatic mammal to appear in front of you rather than Nicke Borg, Massive Wagons and Empyre.
 
The latter of which kicked off the proceedings as the crowd filed their way into the park on shuttle buses arriving from the HRH Hotels in San Antonio. Empyre picked up from where they left off the previous night in Eden, with stripped back renditions of several of their original compositions. However, this wouldn’t be their only appearance of the evening.
 
Following Friday night’s power cut during Massive Wagons headline set at Eden maybe an acoustic performance wasn’t the worst idea in the world. With several of the band having already returned to the UK, it was left to lead vocalist Baz Mills and Stevie Holl on guitar to do the heavy lifting, or as Mills puts it ‘the two least talented members of Massive Wagons’. By their own admittance this format is not something they do very often or have even rehearsed for that matter, but since we are all mates there is a sense that it doesn’t really matter too much.
 
The vibe is predominantly around the campfire with Massive Wagons and each song is accompanied by witty banter and self-deprecating humor and let’s not forget the duo’s suitably themed animal print shirts. Massive Wagons deliver a thoroughly enjoyable five-song acoustic set that included new song “Hate Me” alongside fan favorites “Red Dress”, “Tokyo”, “Under No Illusion” and a lively cover of AC/DC’s “Let Their Be Rock”.
 
A last-minute change to the bill due to Graham Bonnet having to catch an early flight saw Empyre make their third appearance of the weekend. The band switched things up and showcased a different side of their repertoire during a crowd-pleasing three-song set that included upbeat covers of Cameo’s “Word Up”, The Beatles “Come Together” and Lynyrd Skynard’s “Freebird”. Backyard Babies Nicke Borg rounded out the proceedings with a solo acoustic set that featured tracks from his multitude of projects as well as addressing many issues important to him in the process.
 
HRH DJ’s entertained the crowd outside with a rock disco between the venues two main stages whilst a raucous metal fueled foam party later in the evening gave those in attendance the opportunity wholeheartedly participate in one of the island’s long-standing traditions.
 
Welsh upstarts Those Damn Crows, delivered one of the standout sets of the festival and brought a fair few of their fans with them who lined the front of the stage bedecked in shirts emblazoned with the band’s moniker. The lively five-piece belted through a high octane set full of fist-pumping hard rock, with songs packed full of crunchy riffs and a thunderous, pulsating rhythm.
 
The group gave a live debut to their new song “Devil In My Pocket” which sat side by side with the incredibly infectious “Blink of an Eye”. However, it’s the bands anthemic “Rock N Roll Ain’t Dead” which really encapsulated the spirit of the festival and one that everyone in attendance fully embraced. Fans wearing Viking helmets and other such attire carried on into the night with headliners Turisas.
 
Whilst this beautiful sun-kissed Spanish island has always been known as clubbers paradise by the dance music fraternity, on the strength of the last week’s events in San Antonio, it’s fair to say that Ibiza most certainly rocks!
 
HRH Road Trip will return to Ibiza in 8th-15th May 2019 where it will be celebrating its impressive 10th anniversary. For ticket and accommodation packages please visit HRHRoadTrip.com.
 
 
HRH Road Trip
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Event Date: 9th-13th May 2018

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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