Festival Review: Lovely Days Festival, 09.07.2016

Blog, Festival Review

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!

This was the line-up:

Ten Years After
The Sweet
Mother’s Finest
Seiler & Speer
Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson
Deep Purple

The excitement was tremendous – as were the expectations.

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 likely 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 listening 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.

Followed by Seiler & Speer, a momentary hit-wonder in and 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 is 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 that one, but honestly 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 total favourite of mine. Being a huge Jethro Tull fan (the first band that enters my mind when hearing the term “prog”) and listenting 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, he 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 good 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, that song didn’t turn out all too well.  But I was prepared for that 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 more than ever now. So just make the most of it and use every chance you get to see your legends – I’m glad I did.

Photo Credits:

© Lovely Days Festival


Gig Review: Whitesnake – The Purple Tour, 19.11.2015

Blog, Gig Review

The concert started right on time at 8 pm at Vienna’s Planet.tt Gasometer.

The Dead Daisies, an Australian band I admittedly had not heard of before, came in support of the main act, promoting their latest album Revolución.
Judging by the logo, I thought they were up to play some punk music, but what they actually – and rather logically – did was hard rock. Generally, The Dead Daisies are a highly professional musical collective, with lots of musicians linked to bands such as Guns N‘ Roses, The Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy and many more. So as the lights went off, they were announced by Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love guitar riff, fused with Black Sabbath’s War Pigs lyrics.
This time, they came in a pack of six: singer John Corabi (who also sang in Mötley Crüe) was vocally backed by lead guitarist Richard Fortus (who looks frighteningly similar to Ronnie Wood from The Rolling Stones), an incredibly friendly-looking rhythm guitarist whose name I was not yet able to find out (it was not David Lowy), bassist Marco Mendoza and keyboardist Dizzy Reed. Last but not least there was the insane drummer Brian Tichy, frequently throwing up his drumsticks metres high into the air – catching them again a few seconds later (most of the times, anyway).
They opened their set with Midnight Moses and continued with songs such as Evil, Mexico or Lock’n’Load. In the end, they finished off by covering The BeatlesHelter Skelter…which was of course harder than the original version.
The Dead Daisies are a band that’s really got it together, showing energy and fun while performing, and were thus an ideal motivator for the audience for what was to come up next: Whitesnake.

whitesnake_bandThis time, the announcement’s Led Zeppelin-riff was fused with James Brown’s Sexmachine – indeed an interesting combination.
Having released their latest „Purple Album“ (a compilation of the three Deep Purple albums from the time when David Coverdale was their singer) on May 15th this year, Whitesnake are currently on Purple Tour through Europe.
It is thus self-explaining that there were no new songs to be heard that night. So Whitesnake took a pretty safe path playing all their own evergreens (e.g. Love Ain’t No Stranger, Fool for Your Loving, Here I Go Again and Still of the Night in the encore), but mainly Deep Purple’s old hits, such as Burn, The Gypsy, Mistreated, You Keep On Moving, You Fool No One as well as Soldier of Fortune (played with only one acoustic guitar, or, as Coverdale called it: „a nice piece of wood“), which was the part of the evening where I truly had to hold back by tears, considering this song to be one of my absolute favourites of all bands – all time.
Coverdale certainly is one of the best singers within the hard rock (and partly hair metal) genre, which he proved once again. Even though I would have hoped for a few more of the slower songs, since those are also a strength of his, in contrast to his falsettos and rough parts.

Like on every great and legendary rock concert, you can be sure of hearing extended solos in the form of one-man-shows with nobody else on stage. So, first came guitarist Reb Beach, followed by guitarist Joel Hoekstra, who were „competing“ for the better solo; then came drummer Tommy Aldridge, who first went crazy with his drumsticks, only to throw them into the audience a few minutes later and continue playing without them, banging the drums with his bare hands – amazing! It wasn’t exactly an outstanding solo, I’ve heard more interesting ones, but the way he played it was something I hadn’t seen before. Special credits go to his steady double bass which was flawless even while standing.
The other touring musicians are the Italian Michele Luppi on keys and the rather young (and vocally very talented) bassist Michael Devin.

The atmosphere and musicians‘ vibes of this gig reminded me very much of the AC/DC gig in May: old but gold rockers who know they have achieved everything, yet happily continue doing what they love so much – just for the hell of it…always with a smile on their lips and a bit of madness in their eyes.
Raising awareness of the current happenings around the world, Mr. Coverdale chose the words for that night’s goodbye as follows: „Thank you for having the courage to come here, Vienna; be safe and happy and don’t let anyone make you afraid!“

Further information / photo credits:

http://thedeaddaisies.com (The Dead Daisies) ©
http://whitesnake.com (Whitesnake) ©