Festival Review: Lovely Days Festival, 04.07.2015

Blog, Festival Review

The Doors Alive
Nazareth
Uriah Heep
Jimmy Cliff
Status Quo
Eric Burdon & The Animals

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 size makes it so comfortable and intimate. The thing about this festival especially is that people do actually go there because of the music. 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 40.000 visitors, but this is hardly an important factor. What constitutes a good festival is – as always – the music.

The first band to take the stage was The Doors Alive, not hard to guess: a The 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 in Austria. 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.

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.

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.

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. I was not touched by their performance at all, though.

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 old English 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.

Photo credits:

© Lovely Days Festival

Advertisements

Gig Review: Uriah Heep – The Outsider World Tour, 19.11.2014

Blog, Gig Review

After years and years of missing this band, it was on 19.11.2014 that I finally got to see Uriah Heep at Szene Wien. It was a tough decision, since Slash played a concert in Vienna on the same day…but I chose Uriah Heep, and was not disappointed.

Formed in London in the year of 1969, Uriah Heep is a band often referred to as one of the „Big Four“ of Hard Rock (next to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin) and a true legend.
Having sold millions of records, their latest and 24th studio album „Outsider“ was released in June 2014 and songs from it are performed on the current world tour. The album also features bassist Davey Rimmer, who joined the band after the death of former bassist Trevor Bolder, who died of cancer in 2013.

First things first: the band was definitely worth the wait. They managed not only to fulfill, but to even top all the expectations I had. Apart from  playing and performing brilliantly, they also had a great show and a good setlist. The thing that amazed me most, however, is the atmosphere they managed to create, and the strong presence they had on stage. They seemed to be so excited to be back in Vienna again, yet they radiated that certain professional calmness that only real experts can have. Their joy completely captured the audience, and none of it seemed fake.
Singer Bernie Shaw, who joined the band in 1986 after the death of original singer David Byron, is tremendously talented and has great power in his voice, which he managed to apply on every note. Apart from that, he is a great entertainer, informing the audience about the fact that this Wednesday was „not Mittwoch…just an early Friday!“.

IMG_20141122_174415

Bernie Shaw

Instrumentally, there is truly nothing negative that can be said about this gig, or, in fact, the band itself. Mick Box, guitarist and founding member of the band, had a permanent smile on his face and convinced not only by his skills, but also by his creative guitar tricks and crazy hand moves.

IMG_20141122_174501

Mick Box

Then there was Phil Lanzon on keys, who joined the band in ’86 and also proved his vocal talent. Lastly, the two „newer“ members, drummer Russell Gilbrook (2007) and left-handed bassist Davey Rimmer (2013), who make a great match and provide the best possible rhythmical basis for Uriah Heeps‘ music. I think I’ve never seen a bass with that long a neck as Davey Rimmer’s.

The band played songs from the new album „Outsider“ such as The Law and the great track The Outsider. Generally, I can truly recommend this latest album, there are great tracks on it with genuine Heep-Sound. Amongst the setlist, they also played Sunrise (a personal highlight for me) and the 10-minute Prog Rock track The Magician’s Birthday (here, Bernie Shaw let us now that they would play this extra-long song, simply because they can, and because they send all those three-minute radio songs to hell). The concert also included the world-famous hits Gypsy, Easy Livin‘ and, of course, Lady In Black, on which the audience transformed into a huge choir.

It is such a great feeling when you get to see musicians who really know what their profession is all about. And after decades of playing, they still manage to deliver such happiness on stage, which makes everybody in the audience forget the world outside for a few hours.

Cheers to this gig, cheers to Hard Rock, cheers to Uriah Heep!

IMG_20141122_174401

Uriah Heep

Photo credits:

© Uriah Heep
© RIFF SHIFT