Catch Them While You Can
This year’s Lovely Days Festival took place in Schlosspark Eisenstadt, Austria. For the first time the festival managers decided to choose a new location instead of the very popular Wiesen – a good decision, the ambience was fantastic! The excitement was tremendous – as were the expectations, given the impressive line-up.
Ten Years After
Ten Years After, a band that played Woodstock and could arguably be called a historical group, was formed in 1967 by Leo Lyons (bass) and Alvin Lee (guitar, vocals). Now, the frontman is the much younger Marcus Bonfanti (guitar, vocals, harmonica) and he is doing a great job. Not only is he a capable guitarist, his voice is just mind-blowing! Only thing was that the other, well, older band members seemed and sounded quite tired indeed. Ric Lee’s drumming especially was pretty loose. But apart from that, Ten Years After served the crowd some fine blues rock with a great young singer.
Next in line were the Sweet – what an iconic band! Who does not know their glam rock hits Fox On The Run or Teenage Rampage? As if on purpose, their performance was quite the opposite of Ten Years After: better drumming, weaker vocals! To be honest, it was hard concentrating on the music since it lacked energy. It seems their era is slowly coming to an end.
The low point of the day for me were Mother’s Finest. The funk-rock-soul-crossover band consisting of six members, including the female singer Joyce Kennedy, who did most of the main vocals, was the weakest group considering musical ability. The singer’s voice does have power and good quality, she just did not use it adequately and thus sounded somewhat hysterical most of the time, which was not exactly pleasant to listen to. What was worse though, was the guitar performance by Gary Moore (how wrong it sounds saying that…but the guy’s name really is Gary Moore!). Admittedly I do not know whether he is always on such a low level or if he just had a bad day – but this was more Guitar Hero above anything else.
Seiler & Speer
Seiler & Speer, a momentary hit-wonder from Austria, did not exactly enhance my mood. I felt like on Oktoberfest or the like. Anyway, I found that they were actually quite alright. The vocals were fine and so were the musicians, but the best thing was that they were really sympathetic and motivated the crowd. Righteously, they also made sure to mention that they feel very out of place on a rock festival like this one, but heartily thanked everybody for supporting them, which was really nice.
Finally, the acts that I actually came for were about to start. First off was Ian Anderson – a real favourite of mine. Being a huge Jethro Tull fan (the first band that enters my mind when hearing the term “prog”) and listening to the records up and down for years on end, I could not believe I was going to see this legend live on stage. It was a cool concert, Anderson played songs like My God, Songs from the Wood, a few tunes from the 16th century and naturally the classics such as Thick as a Brick, Aqualung (god, what an album!) and Locomotive Breath.
Strange thing was, though, that the concert was at its best in the beginning but gradually decreasing in terms of voice quality. This might have to do with his age, but it might also be the fact that he just does not dig his own hits anymore (Locomotive Breath was the Jethro Tull encore since 1972… imagine that!) and therefore wants to add a slight change to them at every gig. „Slight change“ meaning he just sung it differently than on the record – in the end he did not even really sing anymore, it was rather more of a whining on every syllable. I cherish improvisation, but it just did not sound good. Overall it was a decent performance though, especially in terms of instrumental quality.
The festival’s headliner, Deep Purple, was naturally arousing the most excitement that night. The crowd was expecting hard rock hymns by one of the greatest hard rock bands of all time. Well, that’s what the crowd got, starting off with Highway Star. Knowing that Ian Gillan’s voice is not comparable anymore to his younger days, and the fact of Highway Star being a very difficult song lyrically and melodically, it didn’t turn out all too well. But I was prepared for this and looked forward to what came next. Funny thing was that again the performance was the opposite to the act before. Now, the concert got better and better toward the end regarding Ian Gillan’s vocals. Instrumentally, both bands were flawless. They naturally played the classics Strange Kind of Woman, Black Night, Smoke on the Water and Hush for the encore.
To sum it up: three out of six acts were really cool. Ten Years After surprised me because of the very good singer, Ian Anderson and Deep Purple were partially exactly how I hoped they would be, and partially they didn’t fulfill my expectations. The main point here being that age always takes its toll, and that an era of legends is definitely coming to an end – you can feel it now more than ever. So just make the most of it and use every chance you get to see them – I’m glad I did.
Author: Robin Frank
More info / photo credits:
Lovely Days Festival