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HiRock Festival 2013 Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 13, 2013    
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HiRock Festival - Freilichtbühne Lorelei, St. Goarshausen (Germany) - 1st to 2nd June 2013

June, 1st

“The air is cool and darkening, And peacefully flows the Rhine, The mountain top is sparkling, The twilight sunbeams shine.”

This is a quote from German poet Heinrich Heine taken from his famous poem The Lorelei and should appropriately introduce this review about one of the most incredible rock festivals this world is offering.


On the first weekend of June 2013 the famous rock of Lorelei again became the perfect scene for the HiRock festival. Due to heavy rain parts of Germany had to struggle with extreme high water by that time, therefore the transportation to the festival was quite an adventure and I unfortunately missed the first band on Saturday, FM. However, from what people have told me the British band must have put on a highly impressive show. Singer/guitarist Steve Overland with his unique voice and the great performance of the band morphed masterpieces like ‘Face To Face’, ‘Closer To Heaven’ and a brilliant version of ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ into a goose-bump raising opener!

Contrary to expectations, Rick Springfield however was not quite able to convince the audience with a great voice. His band was louder than he was but luckily Rick is a perfect actor and he surely loves his fans. So he compensated his lack of volume by performance. While singing classic hits like ‘Celebrate Youth’ and ‘Living in Oz’ he was walking through the crowd, had a beer with the fans, shook hands and gave all he could give. He even included a bunch of roses into his guitar-playing which caused a spectacular rain of rose petals all over the stage. The kid he took on stage to be a part of ‘Don't Talk To Strangers’ must have had a very special moment anyway. Finishing his set with his hit ‘Jessie's Girl’, he left the stage, letting an entertaining but slightly bizarre show sink into our memories.


After a short break Survivor arrived on stage. Actually I was so looking forward to seeing the band play with original singer Dave Bickler, Jimi Jamison and band boss Frankie Sullivan, but the reason why all these ego-games within this group have led to enormous problems and tour-cancellations during the past years was immediately obvious after a few minutes of this show. Shy Dave didn't really seem to dare to stand shoulder to shoulder with the big Jimi and therefore always left the stage as soon as his parts were over. Jimi and Frankie both couldn't quite find their own, worthy levels within the show. After the first few, very weirdly mixed songs like ‘Rebel Girl’ and ‘Take You On A Saturday’ they also presented their classic hits like ‘Burning Heart’ and, of course, ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ and by then it seemed like they had reconciled their differences. Even though the show was enjoyable, the thought of “Line-up experiment failed!” had settled in my mind. Pretty sad to report as the great potential of ability and quality could have and should have delivered an awesome show.


My personal favourite on day one was surely TOTO. As I've seen them play several kinds of shows before – small, huge, indoor, open-air, in burning summer heat or freezing winter – and I can definitely say that this band is special. It's not for nothing they're considered as one of this world's best live bands... which they surely proved again tonight! First of all it was the unbelievable sound that suddenly woke our ears – did someone find the master controller for the PA? Then the lightshow totally blew me away, the Lorelei rock gleaming in its whole beauty. Steve Lukather, standing in the spotlight, delivered so much joy for what he does and so it even seemed that with his steady smile and energy he had put some kind of spell on the audience. Being responsible for some incredible and well-known songs, one could imagine him delivering some sort of exorbitant egotistical display but Luke is nothing but natural. In his case it's all about music. Similar facts, different person: Joseph Williams showed an extraordinary level of vocal ability, not the smallest mistake, not a whiff of shakiness - while he never forgot to have fun on stage. This professional, high quality band presented a very well-assorted bunch of old, new, progressive and classic rock songs, such as ‘Goin' Home’, ‘Rosanna’, ‘Falling In Between’, ‘Africa’, ‘Stop Loving You’ and ‘Hold The Line’ during their two-hour show. From what one could see in the audience's faces this was the best way to finish day one of a great festival.


June, 2nd

Arriving at the festival for Day two, Swedish rockers H.e.a.t. had already started to play. The energy TOTO had left behind must have been picked up and inhaled by lead singer Eric Groenwall. They opened their set with ‘Breaking The Silence’ and they surely did! Eric's massive voice and his energetic posing was accompanied by daredevil jumps from the drum-riser while the band mainly presented songs from their last album, ‘Address the Nation’, such as ‘Better Off Alone’, ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘It's All About Tonight’ but also included hits like ‘1000 Miles’ and ‘Beg Beg Beg’. H.e.a.t. are always fantastic to see. Satisfaction guaranteed. 

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After Thin Lizzy was announced to be incarnated in 2010 the formation around Scott Gorham, Marco Mendoza and Ricky Warwick called Black Star Riders has now released the debut album ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ and the guitar-driven band definitely meant to prove quality at HiRock. The set mainly included new material such as ‘Hey Judas’, ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ and ‘Bound for Glory’ which wasn't quite familiar yet for parts of the audience but nevertheless did a lot of persuading. With great riffs, an awesome sound and surely some massive joy in playing their new stuff the band has left behind a significant mark. However I was happy to hear some Thin Lizzy  material such as ‘Cowboy Song’ and ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ too.


Next, it was the Swedish monster rockers Europe's turn to put the heat on us. They started off with three songs from their latest album, ‘Bag Of Bones’: ‘Riches To Rags’, ‘Firebox’ and ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’, and gave a breath-taking performance. Front man Joey Tempest was in great shape both vocally and in fitness, and was rocking the stage like a tornado. He got in touch with the crowd again and again, posed for pictures and mischieviously fooled around with the photographers. I guess many fans must have had the moment of their lives! The whole band showed that rock 'n' roll is definitely not a matter of age. John Norum's dexterity was beyond prodigious and when he began ‘Girl From Lebanon’ I was just speechless. Apart from Joey's interesting knowledge of German language – “Scheissdreck” - the band also presented us with classic hits like ‘Cherokee’, ‘Rock The Night’ and, of course, ‘The Final Countdown’. After 75 minutes of spectacular stage-action they let us go into the night happily.


By the time Whitesnake entered the stage the sound engineer must have fallen asleep as we were confronted with a brutally loud and unbalanced mix. Unfortunately it seemed to be beyond Mr. Snnnnnaaake Dave Coverdale's power to compensate this by his voice. Through all those years his voice had suffered a lot and even though he's still a truly charismatic front man – sometimes slightly too sexist for me – he couldn't really impress. Apart from that the performance was great, with Reb Beach and Doug Aldrich seeming to have a lot of fun during their guitar-duels and proved to be a well-working trio with Coverdale.


I even liked the bare-handed drum solo of Tommy Aldridge. Masterpieces like ‘Can You Hear The Wind Blow’, ‘Don't Break My Heart Again’, ‘Fool For Your Loving’ and ‘Here I Go Again’ were presented wholeheartedly whereas Coverdale let the fans sing, chatted with them, shook hands and truly seemed to enjoy himself having such a close contact with the audience – especially with the girls. Altogether a nice show but not quite a high-class performance. Probably the Snake needs new teeth to be able to bite more firmly?


The last order the audience had placed that night was a big jar of fantastic melodic rock hits performed by one of this world's greatest AOR bands of all time. Our order was taken and promptly delivered by Journey, the headliner of the second day at HiRock. Their first three songs, ‘Separate Ways’, ‘Any Way You Want It’ and ‘Chain Reaction’ initiated a stunning, wild and colourful, well-mixed, high-level show that blew us all away. Unfortunately press-people didn't seem to be very welcome and after the first three songs all the photographers were supposed to leave the whole festival area. This was something I've never experienced before and made me angry. As I luckily had the chance to place my camera under a tree beside the stage I was kindly allowed to stay to enable me to provide you with more impressions of this phenomenal ending of the festival. What a joke!


Luckily the ill feeling was assuaged by the following two hours. Front man Arnel Pineda was dancing, jumping and running around like a bat out of hell, overwhelming us with his ability and with the magic every Journey song contains. Always followed by a security guy who was three times as big as himself, Mr. Pineda also maintained contact with the crowd. Neal Schon, Ross Valory and Jonathan Cain completed the highly energetic scenario and came up with nothing but brilliance! When drummer Deen Castronovo started singing ‘Keep on Running’ I couldn't believe my ears - all my respect to that guy! During ‘Open Arms’ and ‘Faithfully’ the audience's lighters created a sea of flames and magic was everywhere, the whole amphitheatre singing out loudly. Finishing the set with the hymn itself, ‘Don't Stop Believing’, the Philippine tornado and his fantastic band left the stage, just to – regardless of the loudness restrictions after 11pm – return to dazzle in the dark night with ‘Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' ‘. Hell, what a show!


My personal conclusion regarding this festival is actually expressed by one word: “stunning”! The line-up was extraordinary, the scenery is just unbelievable and the people around were like a huge family from all over the world: Germany, Brazil, Australia, Spain, USA. I've rarely ever experienced such a well-organized festival where even drunk people seem to be able to party happily together. The prices for hotels or camping, the festival-tickets and on site drinks and food were reasonable and the transportation situation was totally relaxed. For me, HiRock has already established itself a solid institution in my calendar. Whoever wants to experience this mixture of magic, great music and great people, be sure to join us for HiRock 2014!

Julia Braun

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