in Seebronn, Germany, July 28, 2006

“Are those people pissing there? Even during the ballads? Don’t do that, that is disrespectful!”

Rock Of Ages is a new festival that has been squeezed into a festival summer in Europe that is already filled to burst. Taking place quite close to the location of one of the major events in Germany, Bang Your Head, and only a short time after it, one may wonder if it is worth doing this at all, and if it can attract enough people. But, since the organizers are also the people behind Bang Your Head, it was at least certain that the organization would be professional and the sound at least satisfactory. It turned out that the sound was indeed excellent, although maybe a bit too loud. The bands were almost excactly on time, and if the festival lacked something, it probably was higher attendance. Still, during the second day, it was publicly announced that there will be a second Rock Of Ages next year, and hopefully a long succession of others in the years that follow.

What made this festival different was the billing consisted almost exclusively of aged rockers who would play for a similarly aged audience, where even a handful of families were present, including their kids, looking like they loved it as much as their parents. The billing consisted of a small number of bands, but with more stage time each, all on one stage, which is different compared to all those big festivals where you spend your time mostly hurrying from one stage to the other, only to find that you already missed half of a gig.

This review only covers day two of the event.

This day held a nice surprise: Dee Snider of Twisted Sister announced the bands personally. The day before he played his last gig with Twisted Sister on German soil, so they said. He made the announcements personal, emotional, and funny. He always was an entertainer, and he still is. The headline quote made a few people blush in the direction where he pointed …

”Who are we?”

Evidence One

Evidence OneMusically, the band of Carsten Schulz, better known to most for being the singer of the German Melodic Metal band Domain, and Robby Boebel, the main songwriter of Frontline, fit the billing perfectly. Just the fact that Evidence One released only two albums so far made them stick out from the list of great Rock bands they could share the stage with. But, from the moment they entered the stage, they made it quite clear that they had come to rock. The opener, “Criticize The Truth” set the mood for the rest of the show: Straight Hard Rock songs topped with Carsten’s perfect Hard Rockin’ voice.

They played a good mixture from both of their albums. On record, the songs are great, but the stage is where the band definitely belongs. Although at this time of day — they started at 1:20 p.m. — only a few hundred people were on site, but those seemed positively surprised. The posing of the musicians could be called a stereotype, or cliché, but it was nevertheless intoxicating. The brilliant “In The Beginning There Was Fire” already made quite some hands raise, and the smashers from the second album, Tattooed Heart, “When Thunder Hits The Ground,” “Virus In My Veins,” and “Written In Blood” made sure that the small crowd in front of the stage needed a drink afterwards.

There was something else they did right, which is repeating the name of their band several times to make sure everybody knew what CDs to look for later. And it worked, after 40 entertaining minutes, the question, “Who are we?” was answered correctly!

Ole Rockin’ Ladies


vixen In Metal’s history, there are only a few female bands that come to mind. Vixen is one of them, although they only recorded three albums without great success. But, everyone remembers the opening track of their self-titled debut album, “Edge Of A Broken Heart.” It was obvious to everyone that Vixen would end their gig with their biggest hit, the question was if the rest of the material would be good enough to fill the remaining 55 minutes they were allowed on stage. And, while the opening track “Love Made Me” was a good start, it all went downhill when they continued with three new songs from their upcoming fourth album.

The first one, “Anyway,” was ok with a bit of Saxon feeling, but the other two made quite a few of the people that were holding out in front of the stage head for a beer. Another reason probably was that the otherwise brilliant singer Jenna Sanz-Agero was not much of a frontwoman. Dressed in a black robe that reminded of a maternity dress, her interaction with the fans was almost zero. So even a well-performed “Cryin'” could not save the day for the girls, and the overall impression was of an ok, but somewhat boring gig. “Edge Of A Broken Heart” still is one of the greatest Melodic Rock songs ever done. And yes, they ended the gig with it.

“You made a happy man very old”


Andy Scott, the only remaining original member of Sweet, was the oldest performer on the festival with a Hard Rocking 57 years under his belt. The fact that he and his band was received with much cheer was a surprise to most. It seemed everybody wanted to see them, but nobody dared to confess to it. And, when one thinks about their hits, the first attribute that comes to mind would be cheesy. But, when the crowd went wild during the first song, “Hell Raiser,” there was no holding back. Andy Scott had to recruit new musicians for his band, and he did well in getting Tony O’Hora, who played with Praying Mantis before and has a solo album out on Frontiers Records.

Tony is a good frontman, and he performed the songs in a way that let you forget that Brian Conolly could not be there this day. Andy acknowledged that and asked the crowd for a big applause for the guys, because “it is not easy when you have to sing like girls.” They went on with two more recent songs before Andy told the audience they would play some old stuff now, especially for the German Hell’s Angels guys who still use Sweet songs in their initiation rites. And Tony added “songs from Sweet’s Spinal Tap years.”

With this attitude, they rampaged through “Wig Wam Bam” and other Glam classics. A definite highlight was “Love Is Like Oxygen,” with all parts performed, from the most Progressive phase of the band in 1978, including a short version of The Beatles’ “Let It Be” in the instrumental section. There is not much to add when one looks at the playlist, and when the last notes of “Ballroom Blitz” had faded, the crowd was definitely satisfied. Very visibly, so was the band. Or, as Andy put it: “You made a happy man very old today.”

Setlist: Hell Raiser * Burn On The Flame * Everything * Wig Wam Bam * Teenage Rampage * Live Is Like Oxygen * Piece Of The Action * Blockbuster * Fox On The Run * Ballroom Blitz

”Wurst is chef here”


UfoA festival like this deserves a special setlist. UFO has a discography that would allow them to play several nights straight with different songs, and still have classics and enjoyable rockers left for just another night. So the question was what they would pull out of their hats for this special occasion? What they did was play two songs from their most recent album, You Are Here, namely “When Daylight Goes To Town” and “Baby Blue,” and other than that, only classic tracks from 1979 or older! The backbone was the 1975 classic album Force It, which contributed four songs, “Mother Mary” as opener, “Let It Roll,” “Out In The Street,” and “This Kid’s.”

Throw in tracks like “Only You Can Rock Me,” “Too Hot To Handle,” or the brilliant “Love To Love,” and you have the recipe for an hour of Hard Rock at its very best. From the start, the fans celebrated this performance of a band that made more headlines with the fact that guitarist Michel Schenker joined and left the band faster than the wind turned than with their music. On You Are Here, Vinnie Moore of Alice Cooper, Vicious Rumors, and half a dozen solo albums’ fame replaced the German quite nicely. On stage, he showed that he can make you even completely forget that legend of Metal, and Schenker was not missed at all.

Singer Phil Mogg, along with Paul Raymond and Pete Way, one of the three remaining originals UFOs, seemed a bit distant in the beginning, but the music spoke for itself, so when he later began interacting with the fans it was just the cherry on top of a great performance. The only thing that seemed to bother him was that the wind turned, and the aroma of the grill was blown in his direction. Obviously very interested in German cuisine, he grinningly complained that he could not get to the barbecue, cause Wurst is chef here. But, before he could go for a bite, the band finished the set with “Rock Bottom” and the inevitable “Doctor Doctor,” both from the 1974 Phenomenon album, and left the audience exhausted, but happy.

Setlist: Mother Mary * When Daylight Goes To Town * Let It Roll * Out In The Street * This Kid’s * Baby Blue * Only You Can Rock Me * Love To Love * Too Hot To Handle * Rock Bottom * Doctor Doctor

”They call me The Fish”


FishTo find Fish on the billing of this festival was a bit of a surprise, since his music could hardly ever be described as hard. Nevertheless, especially the old Marillion albums with him on vocals are held in highest regard among Rock and Metal fans all over the world. Still, since Fish released no less than seven albums in his solo career so far, and certainly none had increased the heavyness to a point beyond, it’s safe to say “Assassing” from Marillion’s Fugazi album, it was a wonder to all how his very Poppy tunes would agree with the audience. But, that question should not be raised. Fish’s set was announced to be a special set for the occasion, which is the 20th anniversary of the famous Misplaced Childhood album.

His last tour was already called Return To Childhood, and as he did then he did now: the concept album was performed completely and in order. This was a feast for Prog fans. Starting with the intro “Pseudo Silk Kimono,” leading into Marillion’s biggest hit, “Kayleigh,” the magical brilliance of those songs was clear to all. Choruses were sang along in “Lavender,” and quite a few knew the lyrics to “Heart Of Lothian” completely. The first 50 minutes of the set culminated in the epical “Childhood’s End?” and “White Feather.” The performance of musicians and singer alike was breathtaking, and although he had to change the melodies a bit at times, because age has taken his toll and he can not hit all the highs as he did in 1985, he proved to be one of the best singers and frontmen Progressive Rock has ever seen.

After that, Derek William Dick introduced the band, and a special applause was raised to Frank Usher on guitar, a mate for 15 years now in the career of the singer who introduced himself as They call me The Fish. Unusual for the large Scotsman was that he could not talk to the crowd during the long performance of Misplaced Childhood. Those who had the pleasure of seeing Fish on a regular tour know that he is a very political, emotional, and humorous person with strong beliefs and convictions, and he would never let an opportunity slip to voice them –- or to make some fun. In this case, the next song was “Incommunicado,” a drinking song that made everybody dance, followed by a remarkable choice, “Market Square Heroes,” which was the first single ever released by Marillion, but which never made it on any studio album.

The last song finally saw the political Fish appear, when he stated that he was sad that the lyrics to the song were more up-to-date than over twenty years ago when they were written. He dedicated the song to the people of Lebanon where fighter planes cut the sky as he spoke. And when the song ended, everybody was singing along with him “Where are the prophets / Where are the visionaries / Where are the poets / To breach the dawn of the sentimental mercenary.”

Setlist: Pseudo Silk Kimono * Kayleigh * Lavender * Bitter Suite * Heart of Lothian * Waterhole (Expresso Bongo) * Lords of the Backstage * Blind Curve * Childhoods End? * White Feather * Incommunicado * Market Square Heroes * Fugazi

The lady is nowhere as famous as in Germany

Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep36 years in the business, and still going strong. With only two original members remaining in the band, Mick Cox and Lee Kerslake, and a somewhat uneventful career in the last 20 years, Uriah Heep were unexpectedly high on the billing. But, they demonstrated that they are a different band live than on record — here they prefered it hard. From the start, singer Bernie Shaw was the center of attention, constantly in motion and spreading enthusiasm that the people could not help, but had to share.

While in the first part of the set newer songs from Sonic Origami (1999) with “I Hear Voices” and “Between Two Worlds” and Sea Of Light with the brilliant “Words In The Distance” dominating, the second part consisted of a handful of classic tracks that every Rock fan knows. The way the band performed, none of the songs sounded antiquated, rather very up-to-date. Since they were the first band to play without full daylight, they also profited from a professional and supportive light array, which made the gig not only a pleasure to hear, but also to watch.

The very entertaining set ended with their biggest hit in Germany, “Lady In Black,” which was number 1 in the German singles charts for 13 consecutive weeks in 1978.

Setlist: I Hear Voices * Words In The Distance * Stealin’ * Between Two Worlds * The Wizard * Free Me * Sunrise * Gypsy * Easy Livin’ * Lady In Black

Four Keyboards and a Guitar


SagaAfter all those great performances, it means quite a lot to say that Saga were a worthy headliner for a remarkable festival day. More than any other band, they filled the stage from the first note, and they took no prisoners. Michael Sadler’s voice seems to be like a good Bordeaux –- it is just getting better with each year passing. Starting with two new songs from their recent release on Inside Out, Trust, they showed that in spite of the occasion, they were not willing to dwell in the past. And surprisingly, the crowd did not mind, but celebrated the set from the start.

Their biggest international hit, “Wind Him Up,” was already the third track played, a bold statement with regard to the repertoire to fire their biggest shot that early, even more as it was followed by two tracks from 2004’s Network album. One can safely assume that with the exception of the members of Saga Germany, and a select few in the audience, hardly anybody was familiar with those tracks. Still, the noise from the audience was proof that Saga hit a nerve even with their newer compositions. Of course, that was topped when they played “The Flyer,” their second biggest hit single internationally, and the biggest in Germany.

And finally, after two more songs from the after-2000 era, they began to play their timeless tunes from the seventies and eighties. A highlight was the melancholic “Scratching The Surface” with Jim Gilmour on vocals, and also “Careful Where You Step,” which did not always appear on Saga’s playlist. It was obvious that the new drummer, Brian Doerner, steered the live sound into a more Hard Rock-compatible direction. His drumming was fast, heavy, and seemed to be a counterpart to the keyboard laden pompousness of the compositions. He had the opportunity to perform a drum solo, but instead of a tedious show off of his technical abilities, he focused on grooves and rhythms –- and started a fast “Ace Of Spades” chorus in the middle of it, where he sang the words in a parody of Lemmy’s characteristic voice.

That choice said a lot about his musical background and was greeted with great amusement. Throughout the whole set, it seemed the band members had as much fun as the audience, and so the almost two hour long gig came to an end much too early. The only organizational flaw of the whole day was that the fireworks that should end the festival started too early and gave “Careful Where You Step” an interesting, but unfitting, war sound background.

Setlist: Trust * That’s As Far As I’ll Go * Wind Him Up * On The Air * Keep It Reel * The Flyer * The Runaway * I’m OK * Humble Stance * You’re Not Alone * Scratching The Surface * One The Loose * Don’t Be Late * Careful Where You Step


  • 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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