Festival Review: Lovely Days Festival, 09.07.2016

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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.

The Sweet

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.

Mother’s Finest

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.

Ian Anderson

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.

Deep Purple

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

Festival Review: Lovely Days Festival, 04.07.2015

Blog, Festival Review

Lovely seems an understatement

Reading such a lovely Line-Up, one simply couldn’t not go to 2015’s Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, Austria. The festival area of Wiesen is quite a small one, with only one stage, one food-tent, one sanitary station. But exactly its cozy size makes it so comfortable and intimate. The thing about this festival especially is that people do actually go there for the music, rather than the party. There was no fighting, no mayhem; it was all truly peaceful. Certainly, one of the reasons for this was the average age of about 40 of most of the visitors, but this is hardly an important factor. What constitutes a good festival is – as always – the music.

The Doors Alive

The first band to take the stage was The Doors Alive, not hard to guess: a Doors tribute band. They opened their set with Light My Fire, rolling on from one hit to the next, including Touch Me, Roadhouse Blues, Break On Through, Riders On the Storm, and many more. They closed the set with The End, and in some moments I could have sworn it was Jim Morrison singing. They copied their role models fantastically, obviously being highly trained musicians, with a great keyboard player. As the singer told the audience, it was the first time for them to perform at Lovely Days. Maybe that was the reason for them being a little, well, quiet. The frontman hardly said a word, the performance was not energetic at all. For a live concert, this was a bit too phlegmatic, but the musical quality was without a doubt very high.


Next came Nazareth – a band I was very excited to see. Being from Scotland, the band announced their performance with nostalgic bagpipe-playing. Then the four guys came on stage, with bassist Pete Agnew being the only original member. The new singer, Carl Sentance, joined in 2015. Nazareth would have completely rocked the audience’s heads off, hadn’t it been for their boring guitarist Jimmy Murrison. Naturally he plays the guitar well, but he was so lazy and undynamical, there was no tightness in his playing at all. This immediately reduced the whole band’s performance, which is really unfortunate, since the singer did a truly great job with his powerful voice and its range.

Uriah Heep

Having already seen Uriah Heep in Vienna last November (review here) I had high expectations regarding this band. Sadly, I was really disappointed in comparison to the last gig. Singer Bernie Shaw was not at his best, honestly the whole band seemed really down. One might guess the reason for this lack of energy is their extensive touring over the last months, with a show almost every day, traveling around, doing the same thing over and over again. The setlist this time was exactly the same as in Vienna, the bits and speeches in between the songs were exactly the same, too. Knowing how good Uriah Heep actually are, it was far more disappointing to see them hitting rock bottom.

Jimmy Cliff

Famous Jamaican reggae artist Jimmy Cliff instantly brought a change of atmosphere. To his all-time-hits I Can See Cleary Now, You Can Get It If You Really Want, Wonderful World, Beautiful People etc. the whole audience wouldn’t stop dancing, everybody seemed so happy. And this was again the reminder of what music is supposed to do, when it comes down to the very core. Jimmy Cliff managed to put a smile one everyone’s face with a few simple tunes played and sung perfectly.

Status Quo

To Status Quo I honestly cannot say much – they were the band I put the least interest in before as well as during the festival. Somehow I just never really liked them – the songs, the tunes, for me there is simply too little going on. Certainly they were the highlight for a lot of people in the audience, though, and judging by only the few things I know and the few things I’ve seen that day, I think they satisfied their fans.

Eric Burdon & The Animals

Finally Eric Burdon, my actual reason for buying a ticket to this festival, came on stage. And if there is one thing to be said: this man has still got it. Singing about Bo Diddley and spilt wine he proved to still have the Blues. He has become old, and his voice definitely has changed to a darker and deeper timbre, but in some moments he sounded just like on his old records. After only a few tunes it was clear that a legend is up on stage – somebody who is officially one of the greatest singers of all time. He proved very energetic, his voice strong. Approaching the end of the set, though, I think he did get a little tired. This great show, naturally including The Animals and WAR hits like Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, House of the Rising Sun, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, only lacked one song I wished for: As the Years Go Passing By.

Looking back, it really was a very Lovely Day.

Author: Robin Frank

More info / photo credits:

Lovely Days Festival