HRH CROWS 2018 – Saturday

This was the first day of the first HRH Crows – Country Rock, Outlaw, Western & Southern Rock. Held in the O2 Academy in Sheffield there was a fairly diverse lineup to look forward to over the weekend.

The outlaw orchestra

Before the main event started, there were two bands doing acoustic sets for the VIP ticket holders. First up was The outlaw orchestra. This was the first of two sets for them, with the second being an electric set later in the day. They were definitely a great choice to start the day as it was a nice lively set that really got the crowd enjoying themselves. With a Cajon instead of drums, a banjo instead of electric guitar, and an acoustic guitar instead of electric, plus a double bass they’re a great band to watch. Their set included a Cliff Richard cover, “Devil woman”, and really was a great start to the day.

Next up was Scarlette Fever. For this set it’s just part of the band – Scarlette singing and playing acoustic guitar plus an electric guitarist. It’s a much more laid back set than The outlaw orchestra but it’s a great set.
First up on the main stage was the strangely named Cellar door moon crow. They’re not your typical band either – there are only two of them (brothers Phil & Tom Goodwin), one singing and playing guitar and the other on drums, keyboards and harmonica. For a band with just two members it’s quite a shock at first to see them play – it’s loud, rocky, and sounds far bigger and better than you’d imagine. It’s a fantastic performance, and it’s definitely the first time I’ve seen someone alternate between playing keyboard parts and drumming in the same song. It’s a great start to the day as their energetic and lively performance gets the fans in the mood for the rest of the day.

After watching part of Cellar door moon crow’s set I headed over to stage two to catch Case Hardin. It proved to be a good decision as Case Hardin’s Southern/Country rock sound coupled with a talented band meant this was a great set – and the capacity crowd certainly seemed to be enjoying it too.

The outlaw orchestra’s electric set was even better than their acoustic set. Both sets were fantastic, but the electric set was just that little bit more powerful. A great band well worth watching, and it’s no surprise they had a big crowd there watching them.

Fargo railroad Co

Fargo railroad Co may have a real Americana sound that would feel at home in a bar in America’s deep south, but they’re actually from the South…. South Yorkshire that is, being a local Sheffield band. They’re a band I haven’t come across before, but they very quickly impress with great vocals and a fantastic Country Rock sound.

Scarlette fever’s second set was actually very similar to the acoustic set, despite the presence of an extra couple of musicians. Their sound doesn’t really change much in either format – it’s good but not as rocky as I’d have liked.
Wesh rockers Buffalo summer have played festivals as big as Download and Wacken, but are equally at home on small stages. Today they’ve got a good crowd on the main stage as they run through an excellent blues-rock set. It may not be what the festival was supposed to be about, and more suited to HRH Blues, but it’s still a very impressive and enjoyable set.

Dawson Smith and the dissenters were on stage two putting in a great set which was a mix of Americana and blues. It’s a great polished performance – it’s obvious that this is a band that plays a lot of live shows

Federal charm

Federal charm came next. With a new album due out a week or so after the festival, they kick off with a song from the album and play several more new songs during the set. They’re smartly dressed in suits – not the typical attire for a rock band, but despite looking like they’re about to play at a wedding, this is no laid back covers band, this is a fantastic rock band. Watching them it’s clear to see how much they love what they do, and the fans seem equally happy with their music. It’s a real highlight of the day.

Rebecca Downes was the final act on stage two. She’s a bit out of place, being a Blues artist, but she’s drawn a big crowd (in fact stage two was busy all day). I’d heard a lot about her but this was my first time seeing her live, and I wasn’t disappointed. She’s a fantastic singer with a powerful soulful voice that’s perfect for singing the Blues. It’s a really enjoyable performance, and while most of the set is her own material, we do get a couple of covers – a Janis Joplin cover early on and closing with her cover of the Beatles hit “With a little help from my friends”.

Wille and the bandits

Wille and the bandits are a great live band. I’d seen them before at Bearded Theory festival, so was looking forward to their set tonight, and they certainly don’t disappoint. They’ve drawn a good crowd, with the second stage emptying out a bit as people came down to watch Wille and the bandits. A blues-based rock sound with stunning guitar work make this a really enjoyable set that goes down well with the crowd.

Like Rebecca Downes, Jo Harman was a strange choice for this event. She doesn’t fit in the musical categories that the festival supposedly targets as she’s a Blues artist. As a result although she’s a fantastic singer and put in a great set, the reaction was far more muted than it would have been if she was playing HRH Blues instead (an event where she’d have gone down a storm). A fantastic artist – just on the wrong bill.

Dan Baird & homemade sin

Headlining tonight were Dan Baird & Homemade sin. For anyone unfamiliar with the name, Dan Baird was a founder member of Georgia Satellites where he sang lead vocals and played guitar till he left in 1990. While tonight’s set primarily focussed on his solo material, we did get a couple of Georgia Satellites songs – “The myth of love” coming early on in the set and going down extremely well, and “Six years gone” coming later on. It’s a great set – his solo stuff (recorded as Dan Baird and Homemade sin) is really good and the large crowd are clearly having a lot of fun. He’s got a great band with him and they all put in great performances. Dan Baird was a great choice as headliner and draws both the largest crowd of the day and also the most animated. A great fun set to end the night.

Today was an excellent day with a load of fantastic bands. I think the two Blues acts felt a little out of place and large sections of the audience would have preferred to have more acts fitting the Southern/country/outlaw rock genres play despite the obvious talent of the Blues and Blues-rock acts. Despite that the crowd seemed to enjoy the day and it was good to see the second stage being so busy with fans, not just the main stage, although I suspect much of that was down to the fact the bands that fit the advertised genres were mainly on the second stage, with the main stage being more blues and blues-rock.

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.