All Live Photos © Marc Hansen
Courtesy of CMM Marketing
Live Gig Report by Gabor Kleinbloesem (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
LORELEY: Freilichtbühne Loreley / St. Goarshausen – Outdoor
Saturday, 1th June 2013:
TOTO 9:00 p.m
SURVIVOR 7:15 p.m
RICK SPRINGFIELD 5:45 p.m
MAN DOKI SOULMATES feat. MIDGE URE 4:20 p.m
FM 3:00 p.m
Entry 1:30 p.m
Sunday, 2nd June 2013:
WHITESNAKE 9:30 p.m
JOURNEY 7:30 p.m
EUROPE 5:45 p.m
BLACK STAR RIDERS (ex – THIN LIZZY) 4:20 p.m
H.E.A.T 3:00 p.m
Entry 1:30 p.m
If there’s one location in the world where the sound during concerts is absolutely picture perfect and the views are breathtaking, then it should definitely be the Loreley location in Germany. Every summer this location is home to festivals and concerts featuring some of the most well-known acts in the music business, from the past to the present. The Loreley is an UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE, so a lot of foreign visitors come to see this beautiful part of the world. The venue is actually an outdoor-amphitheater at the top of a hill, standing tall at 150 meters. The closest village is the typical German Rhine River town of St. Goarshausen, where everybody comes together during the weekends before going up the hill to see some memorable performances in the afternoon and evening.
Anyway, the first weekend of June 2013 brought us the HI ROCK Festival, which is more or less a similar festival to the ROCK THE NATION and ARROW ROCK festivals of the 2000s. 2 days of live music (mainly covering the Classic Rock, AOR and Melodic Rock genres) at such a beautiful location is a must-see, especially when the weather conditions are summer ish, but in the few days the festival took place the biggest concern was the weather. However, believe it or not, not a single drop of rain fell during the festival, but the flooding of the rivers, caused due to the heavy rainfall elsewhere in Germany, this made it quite an adventurous trip. The day after the festival the whole town was under water, so if that had happened just one day earlier, the second day of the festival would probably have been cancelled. This did happen to the counterpart location of the same HI ROCK festival that took place in South Germany (Inzell), where the water in the rivers caused a lot of damage to the towns, with many flooded streets and roads. It was supposed to be a festival taking place on 2 days at 2 different locations, with a switch of the full line-up, so the Saturday acts of the Loreley location would move to Inzell for the Sunday schedule and vice versa the Saturday Inzell line-up play on Sunday at Loreley. Sadly the Sunday in Inzell was cancelled, but thankfully the Loreley festival location didn’t face any problems and so it was 2 days of high class live music.
The weather itself wasn’t too bad, although there was a major difference between Saturday and Sunday, because on Saturday it was freezing and bitterly cold, with winterish ‘feel’ temperatures far below 10 degrees, while on Sunday it was extremely hot with full-blown sunshine all day. Anyway, the festival consisted of a line-up that featured FM, RICK SPRINGFIELD, SURVIVOR and TOTO on Saturday and H.E.A.T., BLACK STAR RIDERS, EUROPE, WHITESNAKE and JOURNEY on Sunday.
FM opened the festival and it was good to see that right from the start a large crowd was enjoying this wonderful British AOR band. They performed at the same location 2 years ago and it felt like this time they sounded better and made a bigger impression. Lead singer/guitarist STEVE OVERLAND still has one of the greatest voices in Classic Rock/AOR and the overall performance was musically speaking picture perfect. The songs from especially their first album ‘Indiscreet’ sounded very close to the original version and that might just be the only negative remark to be made about FM, because everything sounds really excellent, but there’s hardly any improvisation. Nonetheless, it is fantastic to hear AOR classics like “Face to face”, “I belong to the night”, “That girl” and ”Other side of midnight” live at such a beautiful location, while also the cover “I heard it through the grapevine” and the newer songs “Over you” and “Crosstown train” should be mentioned as being the highlights of this strong performance by FM. The sound was so perfect and with the hills around the Loreley in the background, it feels a bit like we are “Closer to heaven”, one of the surprising songs played during the 1-hour performance of FM.
Up next was RICK SPRINGFIELD, who hasn’t performed in Germany since 1985 (!), so it was a nice welcome back for this legendary Australian singer-songwriter. It was also clear that a lot of people came to see his show, because normally speaking Rick only performs in the USA and just recently he started to also focus on the European continent. Anyway, if you never witnessed a show of Rick before, then you have no idea what to expect and so a lot of the visitors were entertained at a very high level for more than 1 hour. The sound board was not as good as during the FM show, because there were some troubles with the mixing of the vocals and the tuning of Rick’s guitar during the beginning of the show, but basically this was a true Rock and Roll show like you don’t see that often. Especially the interaction with the audience was remarkable. Rick went into the crowd during “Human touch”, walking like a madman through the audience and eventually trying to find his way back to the stage. “Don’t talk to strangers” featured a sing-a-long part for the audience, where he challenged people to sing the chorus and this led to a young child standing alone at the stage singing the chorus in front of thousands of people. Rick himself was running all over the stage, throwing guitars in the air and from a distance you wouldn’t think he was already 64 years old! Besides a string of the classics from the past (“Jessie’s girl”, “Affair of the heart”, “Living in Oz”, “Celebrate youth”), also a couple of new songs were played, including the recent song Rick wrote with DAVE GROHL from the FOO FIGHTERS for the SOUND CITY movie. In contrary to the FM show, this was entertainment at a high scale, although the difference might be that musically speaking FM was better than Rick. I guess you can say that both were a must-see/hear, with FM being a must-hear and Rick a must-see.
Then it was up to SURVIVOR to put on a show they haven’t done in ages, because usually they play in front of a few hundred people in the USA and now they had a huge crowd to perform for and secondly, they had a very interesting recent line-up change. 2 years ago they cancelled their show at the Loreley, but now they entered the stage and performed a full show. Just a couple of weeks ago their original lead singer DAVE BICKLER joined the band and so it was beforehand going to be an interesting performance, because also JIMI JAMISON was present as lead singer. This way, guitarist FRANKIE SULLIVAN could easily switch between old and less older material from the SURVIVOR catalogue, but also dig out some of the more rare stuff from the glorious SURVIVOR past. Although Jimi is much more a frontman and a better singer than Dave nowadays, it turned out to be a great gig with both singers doing quite well. The soundboard during the first couple of songs was a bit messy and so we had to wait until the 2 surprises before we could really get into the show. “Rebel girl” was actually a major surprise, because not only is this is a great classic SURVIVOR tune from the early days, but also the performance of the song with Dave on vocals sounded sensational. Jimi’s answer with “It’s the singer, not the song” was another highlight in the setlist. It almost felt like SURVIVOR was about to become the winner of Saturday when the keyboards signaled the intro of “I’m not that man anymore”, but sadly it was only a glimpse of that classic tune, because the tempo was slowed down and “The search is over” was played. Despite this is a classic SURVIVOR ballad, the performance on the HI ROCK FESTIVAL was a boring version that sounded like an old vinyl single being played at 33 RPM instead of 45 RPM! The Rocky anthems “Burning heart” and “Eye of the tiger” were of course played as well and they got the audience back on their feet again, jumping up and down and singing-along enthusiastically. After the show, there were clearly mixed feelings about the performance, because it had its fair share of ups and downs, but overall it was a memorable SURVIVOR concert. I think they need to practice and improve a bit more, work on the setlist and make advantage of the unique selling point of having both SURVIVOR on stage. Likewise we will always miss the energy of JIM PETERIK on keyboards, because without him it’s just not 100% SURVIVOR, but compared to earlier performances of the past 10-15 years (such as the dreadful Arrow Rock show or probably any ROBIN MCAULEY fronted gig), this must have been the best SURVIVOR concert since the early 1990s.
25 minutes before TOTO was scheduled to play, they already entered the stage, because apparently the band couldn’t wait longer. Right from the very first minute it was also clear that this was by far the best act of the whole festival. Everything sounded and looked perfect and actually it seemed like this was the best TOTO line-up ever, because lead singer JOSEPH WILLIAMS never sounded better and instrumental the bandmembers were definitely reaching the best you can get in musicianship. The sound was crystal clear and visually it looked absolutely amazing, with the glorious landscape and mountains in the background, this TOTO concert belonged to one of the best I have witnessed in ages. The setlist was also interesting, because besides the typical classics (“Rosanna”, “Africa”, “Hold the line”, “Home of the brave”, “Stop loving you”, etc.), especially the beginning of the concert featured some of the more rare material of the band’s back catalogue (“On the run”, “Goin’ home”, etc.). Not a single negative remark can be said about this TOTO concert, because everything ran smoothly during the 100+ minutes counting adventure. It felt like a beautiful movie we were all part of, really taking you into a long journey that taught you a music history lesson, because that is basically what TOTO is all about, combining all music genres and still making everyone happy. For me personally, TOTO is the ultimate live and also the most diverse AOR band ever, easily beating the somewhat standardized JOURNEY. Towards 22:30 it was completely dark outside and the TOTO show ended. Without a doubt, it was clear that it would seem unlikely for any other band (on Sunday) to beat TOTO.
Whereas the Saturday was an AOR/lightweight Poprock affair, the Sunday was a Hardrock orientated line-up, with as only real AOR band JOURNEY whom actually closed the festival. The summer sun already began to shine during the morning, so everything looked perfect for this 2nd day. The Swedish newcomers of H.E.A.T. kicked off and it was clear that they wanted to show an even better performance than 2 years earlier when they were part of the Loreley festival ROCK THE NATION. The energy of the band was really appealing, just like the performance by RICK SPRINGFIELD the day before. Musically the guys bring 80s type of fun uptempo DANGER DANGER/BON JOVIish Melodic Rock that is made for Arena’s like this. Although vocally it is not 100% picture perfect, H.E.A.T.’s 1 hour concert is very entertaining, with quite a nice selection of songs from their catalogue, such as “100 miles”, “Falling down” and “Living on the run”, which are all easy to sing-a-long tunes that feature clever infectious melodic choruses. The combination of warm sunny weather, beautiful women, a fantastic landscape as background and some great live music, that makes this 2nd day visually better than the 1st day.
Black Star Riders
However, the 2nd act BLACK STAR RIDERS is more or less musically not as good as one might expect when learning about the fact that this actually concerns a band made up of ex-THIN LIZZY guitarist SCOTT GORHAM, vocalist RICKY WARWICK, guitarist DAMON JOHNSON, bassist MARCO MENDOZA and drummer JIMMY DEGRASSO. Although they are said to be a homage to THIN LIZZY, with many songs of that band in their setlist and a full album worth of original material in the style of the old THIN LIZZY, this concert was nowhere near the legendary THIN LIZZY concerts. Spell breaker is definitely vocalist RICKY WARWICK, who just is not able to sing very well and the only time the band has something of interest to offer are during the THIN LIZZY classic “The boys are back in town” and the band’s own song “Bound for glory”. Especially the part where Ricky invited the crowd to sing-a-long was not something to be proud of at all. Anyway, a lot of people thought differently as much closer to the stage there were quite a lot of enthusiastic fans.
Although JOURNEY eventually became the headliner of the Sunday, it was clear that EUROPE and WHITESNAKE were also headline status acts and especially EUROPE completely blew away most of the other bands on Sunday. The only slight remark one can make about them is the standard setlist, because EUROPE has a huge back catalogue, but has been playing the same songs ever since their comeback (kind alike JOURNEY actually) and only adds a few new tunes whenever a new record is released. Nonetheless, the show of EUROPE is pure masterclass, the way a good entertaining Hardrockshow needs to be. Of course the classics pass by and despite a slightly manufactured version of “Carrie”, the band truly rocks during the songs from the first couple of albums (“Seven doors hotel” and “Scream of anger”) and the newer bluesy melodic hardrock material, but to most people the absolute highlights are of course the anthems “The final countdown”, “Cherokee” and “Rock the night” when nobody was able to ignore singing along. JOEY TEMPEST is a fantastic frontman and JOHN NORUM a must-hear for any guitarists, so combined with a tight performance and high quality material, EUROPE should now be considered as a Classic Rockband that should last until the end of time!
For me personally WHITESNAKE is over and out, because DAVID COVERDALE is not only the weakest link in his own band, but also the full line-up of the band does not make any sense to still call it WHITESNAKE. Of course it is David’s band, but after the performance here on HIROCK it is clear that there is no future left for this band, in contrary to previous act EUROPE. First of all, the sound/mixboard in the beginning of the concert was extremely loud and must have turned people deaf who were standing upfront. And David’s continuous screaming through his mic didn’t help either, so the first couple of songs were quite annoying actually. It became a little better during “Is this love”, although this classic sounded quite boring, with David singing in an uninspired low key. More WHITESNAKE classics followed, all performed instrumentally quite well, but vocally (especially during “Still of the night”) sounding very weak. Also the endless drum- and guitar solo’s couldn’t prevent David’s vocal problems, so all together it was quite an embarrassing performance that was completely overshadowed by the excellent performances of especially TOTO, EUROPE and closing headliner act JOURNEY.
JOURNEY put on an almost similar performance to their appearance 2 years ago when they also headlined the similar ROCK THE NATION festival at the Loreley location. Of course vocalist Arnel Pineda is not STEVE PERRY and he will never ever be able to replace him, but the high energy and fun of a JOURNEY show is always entertaining and without a doubt, from start to finish this is a high quality performance. It has all the tricks and trades one expects from a good solid rockshow. The setlist is focused on the older STEVE PERRY sung AOR Classics from the 1978-1983 period and here you get to hear and see them all, with of course “Separate ways”, “Don’t stop believin’”, “Open arms”, “Only the young”, “Stone in love” and so many others being the absolute highlights and perfectly ending this successful HI ROCK FESTIVAL at the stunning Loreley location.