Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Rock Fest Barcelona - Friday 24 July, 2015

Rock Fest Barcelona was held for the second time this year. Building a line up around bands who were big in the eighties, with some seventies and nineties around it an interesting set-up for the metal fan of the time. For me it was a good combination with holidays, were we drove a Brazilian cousin through France and Spain on short trip through Europe. As "coincidentally" we hit Barcelona during the first two days of the festival I had to choose between Thursday night with Dream Theater, Scorpions, Wasp and Saxon or the Friday with Some heavier bands, plus Helloween, Europe, Angeles del Infierno and the band that made me choose the Friday Twisted Sister. Actually my favorite band of that day would close between 02:00-03:00 hours and as I had to drive up into France the next morning I decided to leave before the end. Annihilator I hope to see later this year when they tour Holland as well. Almost I decided to go the evening only as Tiago showed an interest in the double Twisted Sister-Europe. Unfortunately showing the time-schedule had the same effect on him  as Annihilator's slot had on me, so alone I went.

Arriving slightly late I missed spanish band Hamlet, entering the heat with the pleasant Death Metal tones of Entombed A.D. Missing their set some years ago at Stonehenge festival I now did see Left Hand Path performed live and the show was good. At the same time I got very worried that Barcelona Rock Fest would come to an end before reaching it's third edition as there basically hardly was anyone around at two o clock. Maybe 1000-1500 people uncrowded the fairly large area and with two bars still closed and everyone hiding in the shade gave a macabre impression at first. France has Hell Fest and Dubai had Desert Rock, but these names would be very apt for the heat hitting us in Barcelona, well over thirty degrees on a windy sandy underground made life of a metal fan a tough one.

This brings me to the organization which was pretty good. Water bottles were available at a fair 1 Euro for half a liter, avoiding accidents of sunstroke. Beer was also priced normally and the food options were a delight. Never before did I have an Argentinian Chorizo  for dinner after a Iberico ham sandwich for lunch at a festival. Next to many other options the food and beverage obviously scored a big plus.

Continuing the festival I watched from the shade a cheesy show by german Power Metallers Axxis, which was OK, followed by (Mexican??) extreme metalleros/rap/core band Brujeria. They managed to get a great response by the slowly increasing crowd, but it was not my cup of Tequila. Then came the biggest surprise of the festival to me in Nuclear Assault. Representing no-Nonsense on an overly Power Metal day was one plus and their songs, not known to me, impressed a lot. In the end Dan Lilker announced they would play some crazy short stuff from years ago and their hit passed by. Ridiculously fast sung I did love the Hang the Pope, hang him by a fucking Rope Lines, which are classic lyrics in metal and another box I ticked off. Definitely I will explore more music of this band and keep an eye on festival appearances nearer to home.

Hereafter came Destruction, one of the Teutonic 4 giving us plain German Thrash Metal. No worries there, but that soon would change. Recently Powerwolf made it to the cover of Aardschok already and I noticed that also in Spain they are becoming big. So probably this band shall be touring European festivals for years to come, which is a pity as it easily was the worst show I saw in years. Completely over the top, silly image, cliche after cliche and every song contained either Hallelujah or Ave Maria in a gothic way of metal. Love them or hate them, probably so hate them it is to me, realizing they had some succes with the ever increasing crowd. Next up were a home country band in Angeles del Infierno. I listened on the internet before to them and quiet liked their eighties melodic metal in Spanish. At FNAC I got a best of CD the day before and live I saw many Spaniards singing along to their old songs. Probably a similar feeling I had seeing Vandale last year. Classic songs in your own language always stay in your mind for longer times. A good show and a warm up for the bigger names of the day.

First on were Helloween, who started with Eagle Fly Free and sounded right. Their show was actually not that different from the last times I saw them in the second half of the eighties and nostalgy factor helped in making this a great show to see. Especially when they played the start of the seven Keys Epic Halloween.  Ending with I want Out was also nice and suddenly I noticed that while I was digging for the words in my memory, many young visitors who were not born at the time of release shouted every word along.

During the Helloween show I was walking to different spots, as now it had turned really busy (20,000 one band mentyioned) and I decided that I wanted to be somewhat closer to the stage for Twisted Sister to particiate on the show in full. Today's show commemorated the live of A.J. Pero their drummer who sadly passed away this March by a Heart Attack. His substitute on one of the last shows ever for Twisted Sister was noone less than Mike Portnoy. Both the fact that Twisted Sister retire next year and that I never saw them live before made me choose for this day. I can easily say that TS paid off for my choice as this was one impressive show. Dee Snider is mad on stage and gets the audience going by all means. Diving on stage, swearing every second word, looking like 30 years ago, threatening Europe's crew for screwing up the show tuning guitars, taking the piss on Scorpions retirement and asking for many shouts and clapping hands. The band itself is further still the same as it has always been and the songs just ROCK.
Highlights their biggest hits We're Not Gonna Take It and I  wanna Rock. But special mention the emotional drum solo on Video by A.J. Pero and ballad the Price. Twisted Sister got the longest set and they deserved every minute of it. Entertainment at the highest level.

And then Europe had to follow this up. Maybe I was too tired, as I definitely like their new work as well. Maybe they lacked the humor we just got overdosed on, maybe they were a bit too sunburned and white teethed, but I decided halfway to call it a day and leave for home. I would like to see Europe when fitter one day though as War of Kings sounded great and Screaam of Anger relived their eighties best. So while only seeing bigger part of one day of this three day festival I can highly recommend Rock Fest Barcelona. If at the Costa Brava or in Barcelona itself for holidays this festival is just a very nice alternative from Beach or musea. If they manage to continue filling their line-up with bands from the past  this formula might work for years. I would suggest to advertise more in magazins abroad as many Dutch, Germans, Brits, Belgians pass Catalunya in July I did feel that while obviously present more foreigners can be attracted. While saying that the chant of Ole sung by mainly Spaniards as it was meant to be has its charm as well.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Thunder - Boerderij Zoetermeer 11 July, 2015

On their way to today's Bospop festival Thunder decided to stop over at de Boerderij again and in spite of summer holidays and great weather enough people turned up to make this a busy evening at the farm. Earlie this yeaR I already wrote about teh quality of their come back album which can stand amongst their best work and now they came to show us that Thunder is still a force to rechon with on the live circuit.

Kicking of with the title song of their new album, it was immediately clear what I like so much about Thunder. They just make feel good melodic rock with no place for sad faces. Everyone coming out of a Thunder show has a smile on his face (unless you hate them and should not have come all together). Yesterday's show was no different and the mix of new songs and old classics gave us almost two hours of uplifting songs. As Thunder are also known for their great ballads new one Broken stood amongst the best. Too bad for them the eighties are over, for this could have been a MTV hit loved by mothers and daughters alike.  Actually all the new songs came over really good and blended well with their greatest hits Low Life in High Places, Backstreet Symphony and Love Walked In.

Thunder plays dance music really and as the performance is so good, we forgive them for walking the edge of cheesyness with lots of clapping along requests. With a sound that was cristal clear vocals that brought you back to their shows in the nineties (by Bert van Marwijk?) and Luke Morley showing inbetween what a great guitarist he is, this was just a very nice evening watching a very sympathetic band. For me they can keep the tradition of returning every two years, when playing a festival in Europe. Good times guaranteed as well as a soar throat from shouting along. So after skipping Bospop I did get the extended Thunder show and saw yesterday FM also annonced for the Boerderij this year. As I am sure that all others from the great Bospop line-up shall be around within teh next year, my decision turned out to be right during these Wonder days of my life, when the summer seems so long.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Third Ion - 13/8 Bit

Looking at my last 5 posts it might look like I am stuck in the past and stopped discovering new bands. Therefore herewith a very short direction to a new band that I liked and who released a CD that gets better every time I play it. Third Ion is a Canadian Progmetal band that likes games, heavy basses and guitars. Starting off with some beeping noises of games of the eighties (sorry) they move over to a Tool like progmetal, although slightly faster. Only after a few listenings I started to discover and recognize the songs. There is one Epic one the album in Time Lapse Beta, which has some great returning themes. But I still am not sure if it is my favorite on the album. Does not really matter, as I said very short, so just give this one a try maybe you like what you hear as well.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Trespass - The Quay Sudbury, 3 July 2015

It is only once a year that you can see a show and realize that noone is going to top this one within the year. My best show of 2015 was performed by Trespass in their hometown Sudbury on a beautiful sunny Friday in Suffolk. Two weeks ago Hans & Mary asked me if I would join them with more friends to travel to Belgium for Graspop. I friendly denied as I explained that my priorities were for this show in an intimate setting and one has to make choices. Starting the Friday great meant that I could travel to England with a bermuda and T-shirts, with no need for bringing any luggage really as the Lightsmith brought us a lot of sun. Arriving in Sudbury this turned out to be a lovely town with a 1000 year old heart where I stayed at the Black Boy a few minutes from train station and venue. When asking for directions it is funny to anyone not British to learn you have to turn left before the cricket ground and leave the crocket field on your left hand side. Basically all in Holland so popular TV detectives could have been filmed in Sudbury. Arriving at The Quay a warm welcome for being one of the two foreigners showing up, by organizer Tom and some beers  got me ready to enter The Quay. Warm-up band where Ipswich band Invasive who leaned somewhat to Thrash metal corners and warmed us up well enough.

After a short break Tom introduced the show, explaining he saw them back in 1979 already, when they rehearsed at the very same place which now turned into theater The Quay. This show was all seated and with a rather large stage the ambiance was just great. All seated might mean no wall of death or slamdancing going on, but given the age of the fans who knew and appreciate Trespass this was hardly missed. As from the moment they came on, one could see that the band was at ease, the lightshow impressive and teh sound very good and clear. Being with three guitars and one bass on stage meant that a constant solid wall of sound was the base, with many harmony guitar solos flying over. Trying to remember highlights I actually believe we just jumped from one to the other. Their last CD with re-recordings of old songs was played in full, apart from maybe Bloody Moon. We also got in "Be Brave" and "Footprint in a Rock" two new songs. An to me unknown oldie "The Visionary" sounded great and the Head album was visited with "Stick in the Sea". If going to specific highlights I might mention Bright Lights, as it was one of the three songs I knew in the eighties (through taping radio show Stampij, when Holland still respected Heavy Metal on national radio). Lightsmith was beautifull and the double Eight till Five/Live it Up where metalling things up. Ending the show we got Stormchild which is such a great heavy metal anthem and a great way to close the set. One encore came in their hit "One of these Days". Seeing the long version live, makes you realize that the music business is so not fair, as this song alone should have made them a household name all over the world some 35 years ago.

Coming to the sold out The Quay was such a good decision as I loved every minute of it. So my thanks go out to Tom (good luck with stopping the new road and your bicycle paths) and Paul who offered me a pub tour after the show. This gave as an extra bonus another rock show by Silent Divide in The White Horse, police advise where to get the best pint after midnight and just a brilliant finish to this Friday. Main thanks go of course to Trespass who showed to be live an even bigger force than on CD (which I now have completed buying Head before the show). Last year I tried to get Stampede to play Holland, which did not yet work out. As I plan to see Reuben Archer at Power & Glory again I hope to make some progress. Now I learned that Trespass should be joining for the perfect double line-up. No clue if I can manage to pull that one off, but dreaming never hurts.