at Sinkkasten, Frankfurt, Germany, July 5, 2006

The announcement was intriguing: Not only would Jon Oliva play a live show, but it would be an acoustic live set. Real Power and Melodic Metal fans will know that Jon only recorded one album so far with his solo band, Jon Oliva’s Pain. Therefore, one could rightfully expect quite a few Savatage songs, and that made more than one hundred Headbangers turn up, although the second semi-final of the 2006 Football World Championship was being played at the same time between France and Portugal.

Everybody who attended were not disappointed. This was (and is – check out the tour dates when you read this, there are a few more gigs to see) a special tour, seemingly booked to fill the gaps between the festival gigs they play. The band did not have to promote a new album, they could just play and have fun.

Every Savatage disciple was in awe already when they started playing “New York City Don’t Mean Nothing“ from the Streets album, accompanied by “Stay.“ Already a first highlight would follow, the alternate version of “Jesus Saves.“ The band did transform the songs nicely into acoustic versions, even with tracks like “Jesus Saves,“ which dwell on hard riffing on the album. Naturally, the softer side of Savatage songs were greatly represented. Jon was talking a lot, explaining things about songs and versions, and giving some funny insights to his musical history, present times, colleagues, and life in general… always served with the usual Mountain King humor.

On the setlist, the 1991 Streets – A Rock Opera Album was dominant, a fact highly appreciated amongst the fans, as for many, Streets is the ultimate Savatage album. Ballads and emotional tracks from the band’s history were thrown in, including an unexpected “In The Dream,“ originally recorded in 1985, which marked the furthest Jon would dig into Savatage’s history.

What would be second in representation to Streets would be cover versions from The Beatles. “You Never Give Me Your Money“ from Abbey Road was the fifth song of the gig. Around the middle of the set, a front man hugely enjoying himself explained his musical past and how big an influence John Lennon and the Beatles have been. What followed was announced as being the bonus track of the upcoming album, a song in the style of John Lennon. It was amazing how Lennon-esque the track really was, and that Jon Oliva can sing Lennon songs. He proved that later when the band performed one of the more obscure tracks in The Beatles’ portfolio, “A Day In The Life“ from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. “Eleanor Rigby“ (Revolver) would also follow, and as a final track — a widely unknown “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey“ from the White Album.

But, they did not only live in the past. Two tracks from the first JO’s Pain album blended perfectly with the old material, and one song from the upcoming album Maniacal Renderings served as an appetizer for what the future holds.

After 95 minutes, the band left the stage. They would not return for an encore, but left a very satisfied crowd to German beer with the memories of a truly different Oliva show that was as entertaining as it was performed brilliantly. Yes, fans want Jon together with Chris Caffery and Paul O’Neill, but as long as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra out-sells Savatage by far, who can blame them for taking the fame and money after all those years in the business? Nobody’s getting any younger …

For now, go see Jon’s shows and enjoy the Jon Oliva’s Pain albums, where he can push the boundaries much more than he could with Savatage. You know, the Mountain King is … uh … still king!


New York City Don’t Mean Nothing
Jesus Saves
When The Crowds Are Gone
You Never Give Me Your Money
All That I Bleed
Heal My Soul
A Little Too Far
Fly Away
Only You
Stare Into The Sun
If I Go Away
Walk Alone
In The Dream
Eleanor Rigby
Summer’s Rain
The Answer
A Day In The Life
Strange Reality
Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey

Setlist by album:

Power Of The Night:
“In The Dream“

Gutter Ballet:
“When The Crowds Are Gone,““Summer’s Rain“

Streets – a Rock Opera:
“Jesus Saves,““Strange Reality,““A Little Too Far,““New York City Don’t Mean Nothing,““If I Go Away,“ “Heal My Soul,““Believe“

Edge Of Thorns:
“All That I Bleed,““Sleep“

Handful Of Rain:
“Stare Into The Sun“

Wake of Magellan:

Jon Oliva’s Pain: ‘Tage Mahal
“Fly Away,“ “Walk Alone“

Jon Oliva’s Pain: Maniacal Renderings(Release 9/2006)
“The Answer,“ “Only You“ (Bonus Track)

cover versions:

“Eleanor Rigby,“ “Money,” “A Day In The Life,“ “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey“ (all from different albums by The Beatles)


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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