Hell – BOA Saturday August 10, 2013 – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Following King Diamond’s theatrical performance on Friday night with a similarly themed spectacle, any band will have their work cut out for them. This isn’t just any band though. I bid you welcome to Hell.

Taking the prize for this year’s most preposterous and overblown stage production, Derbyshire’s own put on a stunning show from the get-go. A wall of flame greets ‘Let Battle Commence’ and the furious riffing drowns out the noise of several thousand jaws simultaneously hitting the ground. It’s clear that frontman David Bower is in possession of an Equity card. His over-the-top gesticulations and enunciated vocal delivery are pure West End. This is musical-theatre-goes-metal and it’s utterly brilliant.

Between the gasps and oohs from the crowd that greet each burst of fire, each ridiculous costume change, each pyrotechnic explosion, there is, thankfully, some great music. This is to be expected, naturally, with a band that counts Andy Sneap as its musical director but the real star is leading man Bower. How can he not be when he strides the stage on stilts as a ten-foot tall Lucifer spinning a trident that spits fire against a backdrop of spark-spitting fireworks?

The greatest trick this devil pulls is putting across such ludicrous, pompous visuals and the bitter misanthropy in songs like ‘On Earth As It Is In Hell’ with genuine balloon-bursting humour: “Bloodstock, do you smell burning? That’s your souls that is” is a knowing wink to Newman and Baddiel’s History Today skits.

In an ideal world Hell would storm that god-awful Spice Girls musical and burn it down, their gargoyle-adorned pulpit and 666-daubed church organ rising from its ashes as centre-pieces for their own brand of infernal entertainment. Girl power succumbs to fire power. The world needs Hell.

Hell – Official Website

Bloodstock Open Air – Official Website

Photos taken by the excellent Sabrina Ramdoyal for ThisIsNotAScene.