This is a special report from the 2004 Bang Your Head Festival in Germany. Long time contact Sven Horlemann covered the show for the site and I am honored to be able to present his review and pictures for your enjoyment. Thanks Sven for being the site rep for the festival. Take it away Sven....
MelodicRock had the chance to talk to Lenny Wolf (Kingdom Come), Steve Lee (Gotthard), Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin (Magnum).We also got the chance for a quick chat with Harry James (Thunder and Magnum drummer).
Thunder again this year: According to Harry James Thunder are working on a new CD. It can be expected to see the light of day 2004. Harry did already lay down several drum tracks in the studio. His activities within Magnum do not interfere with Thunders plans to release CD's and go on tour, because all members seemed to have a certain freedom to do things beside Thunder.
Magnum claim we all run from the important things in life.
At the Bang-Your-Head festival in Germany we had the chance to talk to Magnum, who previewed two new songs to the well receptive crowd The title track "Brand New Morning“ and "We All Run“. Although classic Magnum, the new CD is "more guitar orientated“ (Tony Clarkin) and lyrically shows a "darker side“ of the band according to Bob Catley.
The most catchy song "We All Run“ paints an apocalyptic scenery. "It's actually about the nuclear holocaust“ says Bob Catley. "The song starts with 'I dreamt I saw the cities burning, at the gates I saw the angels cry. Now there be no turning, and still I wonder why. I dreamt I felt the hand of reason, coming slowly down and pass me by. It's just a killing season, yeah it's a foolish lie. We all run, it's a pity for every one. It's all gone, and there's nothing that can be done."
Tony Clarkin explains "The idea of the song is – we all ignore the important things in life. And the actual verse is that is really poetic license trying to create a picture 'We all run' as 'We don't care anymore'. Like the cities are burning, like people are starving to death. That's what it means."
Gotthard deliver best of. According to Steve Lee successful Swiss rockers Gotthard will release a best of CD to fulfill their record contract. A new CD is planned to be written and produced beginning later this year.
Steve was very confident on new guitar player Freddy Scherer (China). "The rehearsals where amazing. You know, the four of us know us so long now it is pretty tough to get another player into the team. I got a good feeling about Freddy being the right one."
Freddy Scherer follows Mandy Meyer, who left the band.
Interviews: Magnum & Gotthard.
Bang-Your-Head 2004 (Balingen, Germany)
MelodicRock.com review by Sven Horlemann.
Best of both worlds...
June 25th and 26th saw another festival of hard and heavy music at the Bang-Your-Head 2004. Founded by German hard rock magazine Heavy-oder-was?! this open air festival serves up to 22.000 fans some of the most wanted melodic rock and heavy rock bands. I want to thank Thomas Michel of Heavy-oder-was?! to make it all happen, as well as the promoters of the bands (Frank and Mirko).
The mixture of melodic rock (MAGNUM; KINGDOM COME; GOTTHARD; UFO; ALICE COOPER), heavy metal (QUEENSRYCHE; SEBASTIAN BACH; ICED EARTH; BLAZE; PRIMAL FEAR) and thrash & death metal (ANTHRAX; TESTAMENT; DEATH ANGEL; CHILDREN OF BODOM) is very popular, so again the festival was nearly sold out.
Though it seems that a lot of melodic bands oftentimes are pigeonholed into the late '80s hair-metal scene, these days this genre rises from the dust of the grunge era, bringing rock back to the masses.
Besides the above-mentioned bands there are always some long lost underground bands being part of the event (RUFFIANS; SHOK PARIS; ANGEL; OMEN; LILLIAN AXE). Of course also some newcomers were invited (CAGE; MAJESTY; BALLISTIC).
The concert for me started with KINGDOM COME hitting the stage. The overnight sensation of 1988 today consists of original singer Lenny Wolf and a band of German players, some of who are band members for several years now. It doesn't really matter who is part of the band today, as long as they play the songs with the right rocking attitude - and this is what they did!
The crowd received KINGDOM COME well, eager to hear some classic songs. The band is very good, only Lenny excused himself for catching a cold and having problems to sing properly. Anyway, Lenny decided to play the concert and he did enjoy himself during it.
Most of the songs on the set list were from the latest CD Independent (e.g. Mother, Do You Dare, Didn't Understand). The third song Should I (Hands Of Time, 1991) made hopes that there will be some classic rockers, but unfortunately KINGDOM COME stayed with songs from the mid 90 s like Only Rainbows Know (Master Seven , 1997) and Always On The Run (Twilight Cruiser 1995).
Don't get me wrong, these are good songs. The KINGDOM COME style is unmistakable, an omnipresent groove and Lenny s incredible vocals. Still I have to say that contrary to UFO, were I can't hear their best of program any more, me too would have loved to hear older songs.
It was the last song, Living Out Of Touch (Kingdom Come, 1988) where the crowd really began to enjoy themselves.
Although all KINGDOM COME songs are at least good groovers, two or three more known songs would have served the concert better.
On the August 30th KINGDOM COME will release their new CD Perpetual. Lenny seemed to be very pleased with the outcome and looked forward to the upcoming headlining tour through Europe.
I missed BLAZE and PRIMAL FEAR for two reasons I've seen them both and wasn't so hot to see them again, and I had a Lenny Wolf Interview coming up.
Next was ANTHRAX. God Almighty! This was my first ANTHRAX concert and it meant incredible fun. The crowd reaction was overwhelming - so much power, rhythm and positive energy. I wondered why the fans were so easy to get into the moshing staccato riffs from Scott Ian. Well, it is pretty simple ANTHRAX have melodies. Everywhere in their songs you find parts you can sing along. Secondly, they have enough repertoires known by the audience so the crowd happily joined the choir.
The set list was a best of ANTHRAX NFL, Got The Time, Caught In A Mosh, Antisocial (the TRUST classic), What Doesn't Die & Safe Home (off the latest CD We've Come For You All ) and the classics Madhouse , Be All, End All as well as Indians.
Great band, great concert. They left one happy family. ANTHRAX conquered Balingen!
Leaving CHILDREN OF BODOM to their fans (uahh), I was happy enough to Interview Steve Lee from GOTTHARD for MelodicRock.com in the meantime.
GOTTHARD's Steve Lee promised a hard rocking set of GOTTHARD gems, and this was what they played.
Standing In The Light, Make My Day, Fire Dance set the pace. New songs Human Zoo, Top Of The World (from the latest CD Human Zoo ) rocked the house and it was only with song # 7, Let It Be , that GOTTHARD slowed down.
Sister Moon and Hush (DEEP PURPLE) followed, until Leo Leoni and new guitar player Freddy Scherer (former CHINA) began a jam on famous guitar riffs backed by a cool bass / drum groove from Marc Lynn and Hena Habegger. The audience started chanting along, and Steve took the opportunity to start a sing-along that culminating in the last song Movin' On.
As usual GOTTHARD played a very good set. Steve Lee is an amazing singer, never missing a note and getting all the screams right. The band is tight and obviously enjoyed their set. New guitar man Freddy blends very well into the team of the four original members. GOTTHARD were relaxed and did their best to give the people what they wanted. Although this was only the 3rd concert with Freddy, their strong melodies and good rocking fun made them a highlight of the festival.
QUEENSRYCHE did what nobody expected Ignoring all songs after 1988, they played the Operation Mindcrime CD nearly complete. This was, apart from the encore Take Hold Of The Flame, the set list. As though the others records didn't existed... I didn't mind.
It was a blast. QUEENSRYCHE rocked through their classic concept record, and bringing along Pamela Moore was even more satisfying.
Geoff Tate had fun playing his role in the drama, and the interaction with Pamela Moore (Suite Sister Mary) was one highlight of the show. Pamela had a positive stage presence and was very active on stage.
Strange at first sight was the addition of the new guitar player Mike Stone, replacing original member Chris DeGarmo. Mike looked more like someone from a stylish nu metal band. Right into the first song, he was accepted. Not like Kelly Gray who I felt always to be not fitting into the creative energy of the band, Mike Stone really was part in the sound and music.
What can I say about ALICE COOPER? Not much, I am afraid. Who hasn't seen him live somewhere, sometime? ALICE COOPER rocked more than I expected. This was due to his actual band, which really has that US rock attitude. ALICE COOPER mixed songs from the new CD (sounding in song writing like production more 70's like) with his all time classics and was a worthy headliner.
The concert was fun to watch, rock entertainment at it's best.
Arriving at the venue 70's rockers ANGEL entered the stage and r-o-c-k-e-d! I remember listening to some of their LP's at a friends place and not liking the dominant keyboards (original by Gregg Giuffria, founder of GIUFFRIA and HOUSE OF LORDS).
2004 saw a much harder version of ANGEL. With LILLIAN AXE wizard Steve Blaze on guitar they rocked straight ahead through typical 70's prog repertoire.
Dressed all in white, their appearance also underlined that they were different to the other bands.
Very enjoyable, I must admit. If there is to be a new record, or some best of, I am going to check it out.
LILLIAN AXE played right after OMEN (just forget them). This was to be the last concert with original singer Ron Taylor, and a lot of people I knew were hot to see them.
They were not disappointed. LILLIAN AXE satisfied the audience, although some later said they wished on different songs. I can't comment on this, because I was never a LILLIAN AXE fan. Somehow I missed what the exceptional thing is with them.
LILLIAN AXE took advantage of a good sound and had their fun running around on stage. A good concert, but not my cup of tea.
DEATH ANGEL was a hyperactive contrast, thrashing along their set. Good band, good attitude, I am simply not a fan of their singer, so...
Following DEATH ANGELS ripping and screaming (though stunning) performance MAGNUM started off with All England's Eyes , and instantly you could feel that they already achieved an acceptance beyond what you normally expect from a classic hard rock act from late 70's and 80's. Of course MAGNUM were active into the 90's, still there was a break of 7 long years were Tony Clarkin (guitar player, main songwriter and producer) formed a new outfit (HARD RAIN again with Bob Catley on vocals). The audience was very pleased to have them back on stage, and having guys in Cannibal Corpse t-shirts sing along the songs is a clear indication on the status of the band. The magic comes from the songs melodic rock without clichés and unmistakable with the distinct sound of MAGNUM.
After exchanging a defunct guitar cable MAGNUM commenced with Wild Swan (Wings Of Heaven, 1988) before announcing the first new song Brand New Morning from the upcoming new CD of the same title. Brand New Morning is a mid-tempo rocker based on a relaxed but heavy groove and topped by Bob Catley's magnificent vocals. By the way Bob what a voice. I've seen MAGNUM in the 80's but have the impression the years made him even a better singer. Bob's voice got more depth, more emotion and no indications that his vocal powers will loose its presence.
Another new song We All Run followed Back Street Kid and Les Mort Dansant. At this point MAGNUM could have played anything. We All Run is the catchiest song of the new CD and people hummed along the hook line. Surprisingly this nice and happy song has a darker lyrical theme painting a picture of nuclear apocalypse. According to Tony The idea of the song is that we all ignore the important things in life. And the actual verse is that is really poetic license trying to create a picture 'We all run' as 'We don't care anymore'.
The highlights concluding the concert were How Far Jerusalem, Vigilante and the inevitable Kingdom Of Madness. The last being enthusiastically welcomed by the audience, THUNDER drummer Harry James got the chance for another heavy metal break. British humor indeed. Al Barrows on bass and Mark Stanway did a solid back up. Al grooving and moving on the left side, Mark of course situated behind his keyboards and having some problems with the sound mix first the keys were not loud enough, later in the show single parts sometimes thundered through the pa.
Great concert, good comeback show. MAGNUM always will be welcomed in Germany, even on a metal festival like the Bang-Your-Head.
This was my first concert of UFO with Vinnie Moore, and it will be my last. I've seen them in different incarnations and in my opinion this is the weakest. Let me put it this way I've seen the most technical UFO ever, but the soul was missing.
Vinnie had one spot too many to show of his amazing technical abilities but lacked that extra soulful playing Michael Schenker is famous for. I like his first solo records (I got them all) and Vinnie is famous for his fluid playing. Nevertheless I consider him not to be the right guitar player for a hard rock legend.
The band played rock solid. Pete Way running around, being the most active on stage, Paul Raymond and Jason Bonham giving an excellent backing, and Phil Mogg being an extraordinary singer. Like MAGNUM singer Bob Catley Phil Mogg seems to get better with the years.
Apart from the opener of the last CD You Are Here ( When Daylight Goes To Town ) UFO played a boring best of set (Doctor Doctor, Rock Bottom, Lights Out, Too Hot Too Handle, Love To Love, Only You Can Rock Me, This Kids, I'm A Loser, Let It Roll). What a pity that since the reunion in the 90's songs from the Chapman era (No Place To Run, The Wild, The Willing and Innocent, The Mechanix, Making Contact) are omitted.
Solid show, but disappointing.
SEBASTIAN BACH will not forget this concert for a long time. After some ok reception in Switzerland before, Germany welcomed the former SKID ROW singer with greatest warmth and enthusiasm.
All dressed in leather Sebastian stormed the stage and the audience went crazy.
Of course the highlights were the songs from the SKID ROW debut, all along with Slave To The Grind, Monkey Business, and a magnificent Time Warp cover version.
If someone thought he didn't have the balls to be co-headliner of a festival, he was proven wrong. Sebastian had a super voice, hitting all the high notes and banged all the way through his set.
This was the only downside all the songs were played very hard and very fast. Sometimes a bit too much.
01. Slave To The Grind, 02. Big Guns, 03. Always And Never The Same, 04. Piece Of Me, 05. Frozen, 06. Here I Am, 07. 18 & Life, 08. Rock 'N' Roll (from his solo record Bring Em Bach Alive), 09. Sweet Little Sister, 10. The Threat,
11. In A Darkened Room, 12. Monkey Business, 13. Time warp, 14. I Remember You, 15. Youth Gone Wild.
I missed TESTAMENT because of Interviews, but they served the crowd their brutal trash and left a lot of happy faces I was reported. Knowing that they are constantly on tour it wasn't hard to believe, although original guitar player Eric Peterson couldn't play because of an accident he had some days before the concert.
I've seen Tim the Ripper Owens headlining the Bang-Your-Head festival with JUDAS PRIEST, so I was not surprised to see that he pushed ICED EARTH with his excellent vocal performance to the limit. Unbelievable how easy Tim sings the highest notes with such a power.
After some controversy about Tim being the new singer the German audience accepted him without hesitation.
If he gets along with Mastermind Jon Schaffer, we will see some great new metal CD s in the future.
Bobby Jarzombek replaced drummer Richard Christy (applying for a job on the Howard Stern radio show) and did a marvelous job. One of the best metal drummers today. Ralph Santolla played the leads without problems and seems to be a good addition. The whole band is not too active on stage so it was up to Tim Owens to do some stage acting.
Headlining the event, of course some nice pyro's exploded and burnt, in the end the traditional fireworks concluded two days of mostly superb music.