Live Review: Adrian Hextall Photographs: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
Day 2, no hangover ….. winning ! Back to Castle Park and openers, Freedom Call.
Power metal. Love it or hate it, it’s perfect to blow away the cobwebs and kick start a new day. The best party music for another cold beer and rock fueled day down by the beach!
After an opening set of ‘happy metal’ as the band describe their style, Von Hertzen Brothers came on to deliver the perfect mix of anthemic prog rock. They sit comfortably across a dozen different genres and as such attract a broad mix of fans from pure proggies to metal fans with a few fans that clearly only come out at night also making an effort to see the band perform. A hard rock REM with a dash of Pixies and Pink Floyd thrown into the mix. Hard to top, especially when the next band up favours the more extreme metal trapping that come with the guttural roars and aggression as only media favourites Jinjer can deliver.
Having heard nothing but positive comments about the band and their particular brand of progressive groove metal I smacked firmly sideways as I watched the band for the first time. I’ll be honest, my review here will be skewed as I make no apologies for admitting I dislike the typical death metal growl in a vocal or some of the bands that head down the screamo route. Now the Ukrainian band have, in Tatiana Shmailyuk, a great lead vocalist who can sing cleanly and growl with the best of them. She does it extremely well but she spends, for me, too much time on the dark side and the roaring vocals are a huge distraction to the music. Musically yes, there’s something and when Shmailyuk sings clean, I’m over the moon. However, as it stands, not a great set.
With Dark Tranquility up next, some light in the dark was needed so the concept of cinematographic metal drew us to the Castle stage and French band Hypno5e.
I was however mistaken as this is not Hans Zimmer cinematic fare but more the French arthouse cinema equivalent. If you want truly cinematic metal then check out Starset as they have it nailed perfectly. This instead was a frustratingly mixed bag of sounds that really showcased the versatility of the musicianship but, like a good Jazz session, it often felt like everyone was playing a different song at the same time as each other. Technically proficient, an unusual style of vocal delivery that, like Jinjer, often mixed growls with the smooth, leaving the listener unsure as to what to expect next. Fans of F.A.C will lap it up, the rest of us…. ‘nul points’ as they say in Eurovision.
Magnum, old school favourites for a lot of the crowd in Fuengirola, are able to add the word ‘old’ to a lot of things. Fears about the strength of Bob Catley’s voice appeared to be founded when the set began but, everthe professional, Bob had a quiet word with himself, decided it was 1986 once more and all of a sudden Magnum sounded glorious. The hits were reeled off and the crowd responded accordingly. Sidekick for life, Tony Clarkin, played his guitar like the success of the day as a whole depended on him and no one else and boy did it pay off. ‘Vigilante’ stood out as a huge highlight reminding us to not write off bands too soon.
If Magnum do split however, there’s a job for Catley as an Ozzy Osbourne tribute as you can see from the picture above! Sharon!!!!
Opeth openly admit that they do not sit well in the sunshine at a festival. Dark progressive metal should be heard in a black walled venue with the band surrounded by smoke and a wall of lighting rigs to generate the right atmosphere.
Lead singer, and part time comic, Mikael Åkerfeldt, did more than enough to keep the crowd entertained but at times it felt as if he were putting the smiles on faces rather than the music as was strictly intended.
A lot of the crowd did join in, laughing and cheering in equal measure which suggests on one level Opeth nailed it. The mix of music from early to present showcased just how much they’ve come on in recent years and it was a welcome addition for many present.
Up next and our main reason for attending the festival, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Previous concerts from the band had suggested that the sets focused too much on the Dio era of Rainbow songs when the crowd pleasers, the big radio friendly hits that your Nana knows, all came from the Graham Bonnet onward albums.
Thankfully, they’ve had a team meeting where Ritchie may or may not have pulled a Brian Clough by listening to everyone’s concerns and then confirming that they’ll be going with his plan, but the end result was just the best of all worlds. Vocalist Ronnie Romero adapting to every Rainbow era and delivering everything Dio, GB and JLT could offer and more. I Surrender, an absolute belter from the moment the unforgettable riff opening up the song to the end of the track with Romero proving why he’s on so many artists speed dial when in need of a vocalist. If you bought a weekend ticket and only turned up for this, it would have been worth it! Thankfully, those of us in the know came for more and we got it. With one band (for us) left on the planner, The Darkness were our closers for the weekend.
The Darkness, another band with the tough task of following the headliner but, like Joey Tempest, Justin Hawkins brings the ego and the performance out just when it’s needed and the band turned up, turned on, turned up the volume and rocked. Dissenters who dismiss the band as a joke need to take in a show because they play like their lives were built on rock music.
A set that gave us a little bit of what you fancy from the debut to newbie ‘Pinewood Smile’, the band gave it their all, even dealing with the rudeness of Michael Monroe’s bass tech who decided to switch the monitor on and soundcheck on the other stage whilst The Darkness were playing. Justin’s use of pure British swearology delivered a phrase that can only be uttered to others at a Manowar concert when they are playing on 10. Nice work Sir Justin.
Brother Dan was a whirlwind of frantic solos, bassist Frankie looking like he’d just starred in a Shaft movie sequel and Rufus Taylor keeping the rhythm strong, all helped The Darkness over the line with ease. Triumphant despite bass tech guy being a twat!
Overall, superb. If you’ve not yet seen the rejuvenated Rainbow, with a youthful 74-year-old Ritchie Blackmore, then do so as there’s really no guarantee he’ll be doing this for years and years to come! A really privileged moment to watch one of the greats on stage!
Well done Rock the Coast 2019, top that if you can!