Gig review: FIREFEST X, Nottingham Rock City, 18-20 October 2013

Firefest X

Firefest’s status as almost a world convention for melodic hard rock seems to grow with each passing year. This year’s Festival was virtually sold out months in advance, reflecting the strongest line up to date and a festival that has grown from a day with a small warm up to three whole days. It was tinged with sadness though as an announcement had been made the previous week that Firefest 2014 would be the last.

John Motson’s famous colemanball ‘the World Cup – truly an international event’ applies to Firefest and the vibe is very special.  Friendships are formed and renewed, people crackle with anticipation and the streets of Nottingham are filled with fans from all nationalities in the most obscure t-shirts they can find.

It is organised immaculately, yet by fans of the genre rather than as a profit-making concern and this creates a further bond. At what other venue would the promoter (Kieran Dargan) receive a hero’s reception at the end?

DAY 1

HAREM SCAREM, DARE, W.E.T., WORK OF ART, EDENS CURSE, THE MAGNIFICENT

Despite a 3pm weekday start, the hall at Rock City was already packed as yet another in the seemingly endless production line of great Scandinavian bands, The Magnificent opened proceedings.  A combination between two men with a heavier background, singer Michael Eriksen and guitarist Torsti Spoof, their bright and breezy sound was actually even more melodic than their album.

The set grew ever more convincing with the melodic choruses of Lost, Bullets and Love’s On the Line, and Cheated by Love was the stand out, before ending with perhaps their best known song Holding On to Your Love. Their name instantly invites scepticism but in a short set their huge potential clearly shone through.

Eden's Curse - Firefest X
Photo: Andy Nathan

Eden’s Curse finally got to play Firefest five years after it had first been mooted, but with a new singer in the diminutive Nikola Mijic who I thought did a good job, ably rounded out by the backing vocals of bassist Paul Logue and Power Quest keyboard player Steve Williams.

On the very heaviest edge of the spectrum for this festival, their melodic power metal was at its best for me when they dropped the pace slightly but no less heavy on songs like Trinity and No Holy Man while bringing on the beautiful lssa to duet on Angels and Demons was a masterstroke.

In complete contrast the sounds of Work of Art were silky smooth on the return to the stage they graced 12 months ago, Lars Safsund’s crystal clear vocals showing off the strength of Robert Sall’s songwriting.

They played a set of now familiar favourites, beginning with perhaps their strongest in The Great Fall and The Rain, but also slipped in two new numbers of which Time to Let Go was marginally heavier than their usual while One Step Over the Line was even closer to Toto than their normal material. While they can be a little one paced this was another triumphantly classy set.

W.E.T. - Firefest XPhoto: Andy Nathan

Robert was doing a Stakhanovite shift as he switched to keyboards for W.E.T., the nearest to a modern melodic rock supergroup. Treading the middle ground between WOA’s pure AOR and Eclipse’s metallic hard rock they overcame initial sound problems – their 45 minute set was little over half the time slot recently allotted to them at MelodicRock fest 3 in Chicago and yet by stripping away chat and any Talisman numbers they still crammed in the essential set.

It ranged from the best opener Journey never wrote, Never Walk Away to stirring anthems such as Learn to Live Again and Rise Up and the big ballad Comes Down Like Rain.

Jeff Scott Soto remains a consummate singer and live performer while I noticed as the set progressed the extent to which Eric Martensson – in between JSS regularly putting his arm around him and thrusting the microphone in his face -  took on almost as many lead guitar solos as Eclipse bandmate and his lead guitarist Magnus Henriksson.

A 1-2 punch from the new album of Still Unbroken and Broken Wings- with a snatch of U2′s Pride in the Name of Love were simply irresistible. If I Fall had a lush Journey-esque sound with a brilliant solo from Magnus and first album favourites Brothers in Arms – the hyperactive JSS  somehow making it to the bar and back mid song – and One Love, with very modern sounding keyboards allied to traditional melodic rock hooks  ended a set which was certainly worthy headline material.

Dare - Firefest XPhoto: Andy Nathan

I had a major shock when Dare opened with Wings of Fire and the even heavier, blatantly Lizzy/Gary Moore-influenced We Don’t Need a Reason, both from their second album Blood From Stone which Darren Wharton subsequently disowned as an atypical record company driven change of direction.

On a superficial level I was delighted as these songs transported me back to the days of 1991 when Dare were possibly my favourite band but on the other hand they revealed why they are no longer played – not suited to the more acoustic, bass guitar-less line up and Darren seemed rather out of breath singing them.

The quartet of more recent, celtic folk-influenced numbers seemed to suit the band far better with Silent Thunder and Sea of Roses particularly impressive, while  Darren, who more than one wag suggested is beginning to resemble Jeremy Clarkson, outdid even Jeff Scott Soto for man love with his arms constantly around guitarists Vinny Burns and Richard Dews.

However I and probably the majority were dying for ‘Out Of The Silence’ debut album classics and they obliged with the double of Abandon and Into The Fire, both with a moody dramatic sound giving way to choruses that demand bouncing in the air, even if Darren did appear to momentarily mess up the lyrics to the former.

Return the Heart got people swaying before singing along to some of the tribal chanting on The Raindance, which with hindsight was an even more adventurous sound to carry off at the time.

While they may never regain that place in my heart from the old days, with his Lizzy connections  severed there is still plenty of scope for Darren to take Dare further.

Harem Scarem - Firefest XPhoto: Andy Nathan

Six years after playing a so-called farewell show on their last appearance at Firefest, Harem Scarem headlined the first night, with a new rhythm section from last time including the return of larger than life original drummer Darren Smith. Their career has taken various twists and turns, but with the exception of Dagger and Karma Cleansing their darker and more experimental work was kept to a minimum.

Instead the tour marked the 20th anniversary of their 2nd and by common  consent master album Mood Swings, recently re-recorded and the likes of the opener  Saviours Never Cry and If There Was A Time and Stranger than Love, together with classic debut album opener Hard to Love and Slowly Slipping Away, were rapturously received.

The laid back Harry Hess eschews some of the traditional rock frontman clichés, but his voice can move from a harsh roar to real tenderness, the latter expressed at its best during Honestly with the whole crowd joining in on the  chorus. However a revelation would have been the vigour with which Darren attacked the vocals on Sentimental Boulevard.

The early enthusiasm from the crowd did seem to dissipate mid set, although personally, having seen them weeks earlier at MRF3 in Chicago, I was pleased to see the set vary slightly with all four band members coming up front for acoustic versions of Jealousy and Just Like I Planned .

With Pete Lesperance as usual showing his understated class on guitar, the Mood Swings opus was rounded out by Empty Promises and Had Enough, with meaty encores in No Justice and Change Comes Around to complete a splendid set.

Musing on the first day in between dancing the night away to cult melodic rock classics at a bar round the corner, I felt at the time it looked hard to top, but I was to be proved wrong.

DAY 2

HARDLINE, SHOOTING STAR, H.E.A.T., TREAT, HEAVENS EDGE, VON GROOVE, NATION

The second day began with one of the weekend’s heavier bands in Nation, the Swedes whose albums on the then Now and Then label I half remember from the late 90′s.  Well led by military jacketed singer Isaac Isaakson, the stand out feature was some dextrous soloing, like a rapid fire Yngwie Malmsteen,  from guitarist Johnny Olin.

Their progressive metal was not particularly to my taste and yet when they slowed the pace with more commercial numbers like You’ll See and Just Before,  I was impressed. To close they introduced a song that some Swedes recorded in 1974, at which point I  momentarily racked my brains to think of any Swedish rock bands that had emerged before the eighties, but then I recognised Waterloo!

Von Groove - Firefest X

Canadians Von Groove were a mainstay of the former Z Rock festival with various lineups but their Firefest debut saw guitarist Mladen, looking like he had turned up to re-enact A Clockwork Orange, reunited with  singer Michael Shotton. The latter showed a surprising amount of energy as he worked every inch of the stage and indeed the speaker rig, but never at the expense of technically spot on vocals.

My one complaint was with the set list with not enough off the debut – other than opener Can’t Get Too Much and House of Dreams , with the more  jam like numbers, with  a hint of Zeppelin from Driving Off The Edge Of The World, such as Cant Find My Groove, and the title track given prominence.

However their anthemic Two Nights In Tokyo was played by special request of Kieran Dargan and it is hard to credit it had never been played live before, before the inevitable Once is Not Enough ended the set  with Michael going right up into the balcony!

Heaven's Edge - Firefest X

Heavens Edge are a prime example of the long defunct bands that Firefest manage to exhume for an adoring public year after  year. The Philadelphia quintet released their debut in 1990 but were one of the casualties as the hair metal years were rapidly killed by grunge over the following two years.

Singer Mark  Evans still carries off the look, and could have been Firefest favourite Mitch Malloy‘s older brother, and the rest of the band were not only impressively tight on a rare appearance together, but really seemed to be enjoying themselves and the crowd fed off this in return.

While the music was not always to my own liking – Play Dirty and Daddy’s Little Girl being rather unoriginal albeit well executed hair metal – and Don’t Stop, Don’t Go and set closer Can’t Catch Me inferior rapid fire facsimiles of Van Halen with guitarist Reggie Wu spanking the plank – it was hard not to warm to their energy and savour the atmosphere.

My own favourite moments tended to be when they moved more in a Bon Jovi direction on the likes of Jacky and Some Other Time Some Other Place, both from their second album. Skin To Skin got the crowd going and second guitarist Stephen Parry’s slide guitar was prominent on the bluesy Is That All You Want, but the standout cut in a flawless performance was the catchy Find Another Way, surely one of the great lost tunes of that era.  It was a triumphant and heartwarming return.

Treat - Firefest X

Treat‘s third Firefest appearance was tinged with sadness as they had announced that this was their farewell  gig.  In contrast to their contemporaries Europe they have stuck to the melodic rock mainstream, and 2010′s comeback album Coup de Grace was superb and featured heavily here including opener This War Is Over.

After old favourites in Strike Without A Warning and Ready For The Taking, Paper Tiger had a largely Scandinavian contingent jumping from the moment the intro kicked in with keyboards reinforcing the guitar riff.

Adding to the sense of enjoyment was the obvious fun the whole band were having on stage, particularly singer Robert Ernlund, reminding me of a rock version of Jon Pertwee’s Worzel Gummidge, and shape pulling guitarist Anders ‘Gary’ Wikstrom.

With so much  material to cram in, a quintet of old songs, including the classic Rev It Up, were stripped to their choruses in a medley, while We Own The Night and Roar showed the diverse styles of Coup de Grace.

Get You On The Run is a classic mid tempo ballad and I realised the longer Conspiracy went on the extent to which it has become their fans’ anthem. They even squeezed in two quite superb encores, old and new, in Skies of Mongolia and A World of Promises and if this was to be a final performance they went out on a high with one of my favourite sets of the entire weekend that summed up the appeal of melodic rock at its best.

HEAT - Firefest X

Introduced as Firefest’s favourite sons, the modern day inheritors to Treat’s Scandi rock crown HEAT had only stepped up to the bill when Trixter withdrew,  but attracted a packed crowd down the front who it was fair to say were (this writer excepted!)  younger and better looking than the FIrefest average.

Since their UK dates in the spring they have lost guitarist Dave Dalone but sole remaining axeman Eric Rivers postively rose to the occasion and seemed to revel in the greater responsibility.

Tearing on stage sporting a mohawk that has become ever more extravagant, hyperactive singer Erik Gronwall is a compelling figure and gave openers Breaking The Silence and Better Off some real aggression, so he can perhaps be forgiven some of his slightly more camp poses.

While the likes of 1000 Miles and the first album 1-2 of Late Night Lady and Straight to Your Heart remain crowd favourites, as does the fun Beg Beg Beg, it is the modern material that he originally  sung on that seems more natural now, such as the irresistible choruses of Falling Down and the more considered Downtown and In and Out of Trouble that show the band are more than a one trick pony.

But the highlights were on Heartbreaker, with its Jovi esque ‘who-oh-ohs’, and Living On The Run, finding myself in probably the best pogo of the nine Firefests I have attended. The atmosphere became even more manic when Erik crowd surfed  (surely a first at a melodic rock show) during closer Its All About Tonight.

The way they commanded the stage and the audience response led to me and friends discussing whether the time has now come for the new generation of bands  such as HEAT and WET to headline on merit over bands who were big names back in the heyday of this type of music. Either way their rise is an indicator of a healthy scene.

Shooting Star - Firefest X

By the same token, an older pre-MTV generation of bands are finding it harder to win over the Firefest crowd, such as Santers last year, and for each person, myself included, eagerly anticipating the first appearance on UK soil of Kansas City pomp rockers Shooting Star (34 years after their debut album was recorded in London), there was another who chose this as the moment to pop out for food and a leg stretch.

They began slowly with an unconvincing Summer Sun (from the more AOR leaning Silent Scream album that they were advised to play more from) and Its Not Over, the absence of a bass guitar contributing to a rather thin sound.

However, the participation of Are You On My Side warmed people up and the band gradually got into their stride with the marvellous pomp sounds of Somewhere In Your  Heart  and older classics like Flesh and Blood and Hollywood.

Between them, keyboardist Dennis Laffoon, who was quite a character, and founding member Van McLain effectively  covered the violin parts that were arguably the band’s trademark sound. New singer Todd Pettygrove is not a conventional rock belter in the mould of some of the other singers on show but compensated with  a warmth and passion in his voice.

Touch Me Tonight, with Van and Todd sharing the vocals was a great AOR-friendly moment, and from then on in then the band hit their groove with each successive classic- Tonight, Breakout, the rocking Hang On for Your Life, where Van and Dennis traded ever faster lines with the latter attacking his keyboard with Keith Emerson like intensity, and the pomp epic Last Chance. By the end I hope they had won over new admirers who may have initially dismissed them.

Harem Scarem - Firefest X

Hardline headlined the day and while only singer Johnny Gioeli remained from the line up that made the 1992 debut classic ‘Double Eclipse’, the excellence of most recent album Danger Zone made them suitable headliners.

Their multinational lineup began with the slow burning title track before the place erupted for a double of Taking Me Down and Everything.  Johnny is a passionate frontman, working the stage, eyes bulging and he appeared to break down paying tribute to the death of a friend’s son while introducing the stripped down ballad In this Moment.

Fever Dreams can rightly be considered a modern day melodic rock classic and Voices  had a more progressive feel to it. However it was the oldies that people had come to hear and Dr Love and a punchy Life’s A Bitch did not disappoint. His long time cohort Josh Ramos tastefully interpreted Neal Schon’s original guitar work and his restrained yet emotive solo on the ballad Hands Of Time was perhaps the most moving one all weekend.

Weight from Hardline II, explained by Johnny  as written at a time when he had lots of issues, had staccato riffs and his almost demented poses struck a contrast with the more commercially friendly material.

The one complaint was that even with the padding of keyboards, drum and even bass solos they still did not use their allotted hour and a half. However Hot Cherie sent people into delirium and to cap it all Jeff Scott Soto, who by this stage was even outdoing Alfred Hitchcock for cameo appearances, came on to join in one of the classic choruses.

The encore of Rhythm From A Red Car also got the faithful going and while for me Treat and Heat shaded the day, Hardline’s set brought a suitably uplifting end to surely the highest quality day yet at a Firefest.

Eclipse - Firefest X

DAY 3

LEGENDS (feat. GRAHAM BONNET, BOBBY KIMBALL, ERIC MARTIN), JSRG (ex VIXEN), BATON ROUGE, PROPHET, ALIEN, BRIGHTON ROCK, ECLIPSE

Despite enjoying the mother of all after shows in the Salutation Inn, chatting to like-minded friends and partying to melodic rock classics till nearly 3:30am, following lunch and a beer in Wetherspoons I was back in Rock City on Sunday well in time for rising Swedish force Eclipse.

Heavier than W.E.T. who they contribute three band members to, indeed almost metallic in places, it did occur to me that they could cross over into other genres and appeal to a Bloodstock or Wacken type crowd. Nevertheless the presence of keyboards and a better sound system meant I found this approach more satisfying than at their appearance at Melodic Rock Fest.

Opening with oldie Wild One, recent album Bleed And Scream, which marked a quantum leap forward in terms of heaviness formed the bulk of the set and Erik Martensson commanded the stage with his energy and powerful singing, almost inevitably being joined by  Jeff Scott Soto for the massive title track.

Other highlights included Wake Me Up and the celtic-sounding Battlelines, as well as more melodic moments like the semi ballad Bitter Taste and SOS.  Closing with Breaking My Heart Again, this was a set worthy of a much higher place on the bill and another indication that a new breed of heroes is waiting to take over.

Brighton Rock - Firefest X

Brighton Rock, who were making a return appearance from 12 months ago, have never been my cup of tea, specifically the sandpaper voiced vocals of singer Gerry McGhee. However it has to be said he is a brilliant frontman for the Canadians whose stage show still adheres to the traditional entertainment values associated with heavy rock.

I enjoyed the more melodic moments such as Hanging High And Dry and the ballad One More Time and thought the sound was more balanced  when Johnny Rogers switched to keyboards before they ended with two heavier numbers in Jack is Back, with Gerry donning a mask, and Unleash the Rage.

Prophet - Firefest X

Prophet, the influential New Jersey pomp rockers, were making their Firefest debut although they had taken the ill fated Z Rock by storm in 2012, so I knew what to expect and indeed was proudly wearing the t-shirt I had bought that day. Even more so than other bands, they used the discipline of being restrained to a 50 minute set to fairly whizz through the music with minimal chat.

The big haired days are gone and they may look more like a bunch of American realtors these days – indeed at least one of them is! – but the polished musicianship was perhaps the most outstanding all weekend, particularly from slightly built guitarist Ken Dubman. Indeed on the progressive instrumental Hyperspace he and bassist Scott Metaxas would have given Lee and Lifeson a run for their money.

They were also heavier than expected with a fair chunk of songs from their third album Recycled such as the opener Restless Hunger, while Power Play was the sole pick from their debut.

However songs from Cycle Of The Moon were what the majority of us wanted to hear and they obliged – from the commercial Can’t Hide Love and Sound Of A Breaking Heart with Russ Arcara singing his heart out, to more atmospheric pieces such as the title track and Asylum, and the rapid fire Red Line Rider which closed an excellent set.

Alien - Firefest X

Yet another of the large Swedish contingent on stage, Alien, made a welcome return after a stunning performance two years ago, capped by the golden tonsils of singer Jim Jidhed.  On that occasion his dart player attire had also attracted much comment, so it was a relief to see him in more rock n roll black garb with hair also grown out.

His silky smooth voice graced a series of classics from their debut album like Touch My Fire and Go Easy, in a pure AOR style which is surprisingly rare to hear at Firefest these days. Now Love was a particular highlight and with its prominent keyboards  could have been classic Perry-era  Journey, although my usual favourite Tears Don’t Put Out the Fire seemed a tad slower and stripped back than usual.

The moment of their show however had to be Jim’s awesome dramatic delivery of Only One Woman (ironically originally sung in the sixties by Graham Bonnet of whom more anon) before inviting us to join into some communal singing.

A new song, In Love We Trust sounded really promising in classic Alien style, and I’ve Been Waiting allowed the band and notably cheesy guitarist Tony Borg to stretch out and share Jim’s spotlight, before the ballad Ready to Fly and up tempo Dying By The Golden Rule finished a set every bit as good as their previous one.

Baton Rouge - Firefest X

The success rate so far had been remarkable, but it was Baton Rouge who dropped their eponymous.  The hard-hitting Louisiana rockers were one of the few bands on the bill I had never seen and I had been putting it about beforehand they were the act I was most looking forward to. However I did have insider knowledge from the erratic behaviour of singer Kelly Keeling at Melodicfest in Chicago that there might be a risk things would go wrong, and they did spectacularly.

As they came on stage an early discouraging sign was that they were missing a keyboard player and/or second guitarist, which made for a more basic sound, then Kelly came on stage in what might be politely described as a barely coherent state, pulling poses but missing out lines and when singing doing so in at best a weak and half-hearted fashion.  It was a worrying sign that I barely recognised songs like Doctor and Baby’s On Fire from their classic Shake Your Soul debut, which formed the bulk of the first half of the set, until they got to the singalong choruses.

I was surprised that their second and third albums seemed to be totally ignored but a new song, which I think was announced as Nothing You Can Do, actually proved to be one of the best of the set.  An all acoustic harmony version of There Was A Time was always going to be risky and when Kelly began climbing on the safety curtain during Walks Like a Woman, I feared an industrial accident. Glassy eyed, he made his way into the crowd but we were more or else left to sing the classic song for ourselves.

Guitarist Lance Bulen’s hyperactive banter with Kelly was equally irritating and rather than rising to the occasion as say contemporaries Heavens Edge had, they seemed to be self-indulgently  treating it as a private debauched party on Sunset Strip circa 1989. To be fair, Lance (in a pair of specs that made him look like the third Ronnie) and the rhythm section valiantly tried to hold things together and as the set wore on he even took an increasing share of the vocals.

The set limped to a conclusion with covers, a seemingly endless version  of Gary Moore’s All Messed Up – appropriately  enough – and Born On the Bayou, with Lance singing, but by that stage I was already checking social media feedback where words like car crash were being used, and I am sure I even heard a smattering of boos at the end.

JSRG - Firefest X

The appearance of Vixen by any other name, going under the clumsy handle of JSRG, an acronym of the girls’ first names, was a festival highlight but tinged with sadness. Just a week before the show Vixen founder,  guitarist and owner of the name  Jan Kuhnemund lost her battle with cancer, and even more poignantly it was revealed she had just opened talks about reuniting the classic line up at the time of her diagnosis.

Looking better than they had a right to be, they were raucously received and put on a fine show, though as they opened with a couple of stone cold commercial classics in Rev it Up and How Much Love, I was struck that guitarist Gina Stile had a much more metallic, shredding style than Jan did.

Vixen’s popularity in the late eighties and early nineties seems to have been unfairly forgotten and this was a timely reminder of what strong songs they had (admittedly, many such as the ballad Cryin were written by Jeff Paris), and they were delivered better than ever.

Bad Reputation saw the band pick up the pace progressively; I Want You To Rock Me, which I always found rather cheesy was in this environment a fun hybrid of We Will Rock You and I Love Rock n Roll; Streets In Paradise I realised is a neglected classic; and Love Is A Killer (ignoring the intro from a phantom keyboard player) demonstrated what a great and underrated voice Janet still has.

She took a brief break to allow the remaining trio to cover Rockin In The Free World with bassist  Share Pedersen comfortably handling the singing, and an unfamiliar song to me Never Say Never (from the grungey Tangerine album) was surprisingly good,. It was inevitable at some stage they would pay tribute to Jan’s memory and the band were visibly cracking up as Janet did so, but they recovered their composure to deliver a storming version of their biggest song Edge Of A Broken Heart, rapturously received.

With the set shorter than their allotted time they returned and said they would cover a song by an English artist they admired: I should be ashamed to admit that it took being given a setlist to know it was Adele’s Rolling In The Deep, but I feel rather proud of my ignorance and I was not the only one. That said, I would love this to be the springboard for further live action from the ladies.

Firefest’s headliner this year was something slightly different. The most prolific guitarist in melodic rock, Tommy Denander, had assembled a project called Legends, where his band of crack Swedish players would back some of rock’s famous names performing their hits.

Legends - Firefest X

This already generated a degree of discussion as to whether this took Firefest too much into cabaret territory, and as with JSRG, things did not go to plan. Ex Toto singer Fergie Frederiksen had suffered a setback in his long fight with cancer and for less understandable reasons Joe Lynn Turner had also bailed out. In his stead came another former Rainbow singer in Graham Bonnet, who was the first on stage.

Even if his Ray Ban specs made him look even older, he was incredibly sprightly for his 66 years and energetically tore into All Night Long, with his voice in good shape. Already his stage moves suggested an  eccentric, and this impression was confirmed when he made reference to his famous exposure incident in his only gig with with Michael Schenker, before an excellent rendition of MSG’s Desert Song, which was a pleasant surprise.

After stretching his tonsils n bluesy fashion on the Mistreated ripoff Love’s No Friend  from Down to Earth, in his own words he f___ed off and left the stage to Eric Martin. Full of good cheer, indeed chatting too much, he played a quartet of Mr Big songs.

Legends - Firefest X

The rockers – Daddy, Brother Lover Little Boy, Alive and Kickin with audience participation and Addicted To That Rush – saw the band make a good job of handling  some of the most consummate musicianship the genre has seen while he was joined for Wild World by one of rock’s most loved figures, Magnum’s ‘uncle’ Bob Catley, who could not resist plugging their new album.

Legends - Firefest X

The final member of the trinity of singers was another Toto alumnus, indeed their original lead singer in Bobby Kimball. Before departing the band for the latest time I had found his performances very in and out, but not only did he seem more relaxed than when with his former bandmates and full of southern charm (if rather boastful about Toto’s success!), he delivered a spot on rendition of Goodbye Girl and could still hit the high notes.

Tommy Denander in particular is a noted Toto and Steve Lukather fan and the band were best suited to this material – Africa saw the keyboard player P-O Nilsson handling the verses, White Sister saw keyboards and guitar competing for supremacy in up tempo fashion and a great version of Rosanna had an extra coda in a fine closing solo from Sayit Dolen  just as the song seemed to be drifting to a conclusion.

Sometimes in the past Firefest has closed with a ‘fun’ episode, but on this occasion they played it straight by each returning to play one of their biggest hits with the others returning to the stage to back him – To Be With You, Since You Been Gone and Hold The Line respectively, not musically challenging perhaps, but an enjoyable opportunity to sing along and close a brilliant three day party.

With 19 out of 20 bands, old and new, and from a variety of positions on the melodic rock spectrum, all doing themselves proud, the tenth Firefest was arguably the best ever. Now, how they can they top that for the finale?

Review by Andy Nathan
Photos and Gallery by Simon Dunkerley (except where indicated)

 


Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)

Power Plays w/c 28 October (Mon-Fri)

COLLATERAL Mr Big Shot (Roulette Media Records)
BABY HUSBAND Stop Thinking About Tomorrow (indie)
OF ALLIES Off The Map (indie)
EXPLORING BIRDSONG The River (indie)
MARISA AND THE MOTHS – Slave (indie)
CATTLE AND CANE I Wish I Knew Jesus (Like I Do)
KING VOODOO Creep (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 28 October (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Big Blue World (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 REDLINE Gods & Monsters (Escape Music)
14:00-16:00 WILDWOOD KIN (Silvertone/Sony)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)



Email This Page
This entry was posted in All Posts, GIG REVIEWS, Special Events and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply