Friday at Hard Rock Calling started for me with a trip over to the Pepsi max stage to see The Dirty Youth get the event off to a great start. They started their set with “Rise Up” which really set the tone for their set as they put in a high energy set. Singer Danni Monroe was eye catching with her yellow and black catsuit and shocking pink hair as she put in a great performance and did her best to get the crowd going – something that’s hard at the best of times when you’re the first band of the day, but even more so when people are soaking wet from the poor weather outside the tent. “Requiem of the drunk” is an obvious choice for a festival set with its chorus of “Let’s get drunk”, but today it falls slightly flat. By the end of the set though the band had clearly gained some new fans in the crowd, and set closer “Fight” went down well.
Over on the main stage Black stone cherry on main stage pulled a good crowd (with most of the people in the park going over to watch them) and went down very well managing to get the crowd to sing along. Luckily the rain held off till moments after they finished. The band have been going down very well recently and selling out venues on their tour. Today’s set included some great songs such as “Blind man”, “Blame it on the boom boom” and “White trash millionaire” with the band going down well with the crowd.
Back in the Pepsi max tent, Red white & blues were the next band for me to see. I’d heard good things about them but not actually heard anything by them before, and I have to say I was very impressed. The band are formed of former members of Skin and Jagged edge, and play some good hard rock. They pulled a load of people in to see their set – plus a few more sheltering from the rain, and went down very well with the crowd. This is a band I’ll be looking out for in the future as I’d definitely like to see them again.
After a short break it was time to see Skindred in the Pepsi Max tent. They opened with an announcement “You wanted the best. You couldn’t afford the best so here’s skindred”, before their familiar Star Wars Imperial March intro tape started. Despite the weather outside being dry temporarily, the tent was absolutely packed, and with good reason – Skindred have a reputation as a great live band, and tonight was no exception. Singer Benji Webb is one of the best front-men around and makes sure people don’t just stand and watch but instead join in and show some enthusiasm. With songs including “Roots rock riot”, “Nobody” and “Warning” this was a great (but all too short set). At one point we got a short bit of Metallica’s “Sad but true” which got people singing along before the band stepped up the pace and segued into “Trouble”. Skindred deserved a place on the main stage today, or at least a longer set, but what we got was top quality – a real highlight of the day.
Next up was Iggy and the Stooges on the main stage. Iggy Pop is a true legend and always puts in a good performance, and with songs such as “Raw Power”, “I wanna be your dog”, “Johanna” and “Open up and bleed” he certainly didn’t disappoint tonight.
Finally it was time for the headliners – Soundgarden. I’d love to tell you that they were superb, but sadly I found them quite disappointing – they weren’t bad, but they just failed to impress me which is a shame as I’d been looking forward to seeing them. By this time the rain had returned with a vengeance so many people had their views obscured by a sea of umbrellas, and the gusting wind meant the sound was pretty dreadful. After around half their set I decided to join the line of people trudging out of the park – a sad end to a great day of music.
Soundgarden clearly weren’t the sort of draw that the organisers had expected – despite the venue being capable of holding around 80,000 I’d be surprised if there were even 10,000 there – the place was like a ghost town with food stalls having no queues (or customers) and half the bars not even opened as there was nobody at all in the rear three quarters of the arena.