Frontiers Rock Festival IV – Live Club Trezzo Sull’Adda, Milano Italy – Sunday April 30th.
The first day had us nothing but highlights and the following night was again rather short! But very close to the venue there are several pub’s and coffee bars! We also found a small convenience store close by and bought some necessary food and liquids. On a festival you burn a lot of energy and you have to recharge the batteries before entering the Live Club. We luckily found the time to sit down a few minutes and drink a delicious latte macchiatto. So our energy levels were boosted again and we were ready for another day of melodic heaven.
The band that kicked off day two was the also Swedish Cruzh. Frontiers Music every time gives young bands a change to play for a big audience and that’s a great opportunity to gain some new fans. While standing in the photo pit I saw many girls trying to get to the first row. When singer Philip Lindstrand came on stage I knew why. The guy has a superb sculptured torso and his voice was more than average! The band plays a softer version of melodic rock, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad at all. The more poppy sounding rock got an immediate great response from the audience. The keys dominated ‘Before I Walk Alone’ came before the more rocking, late Def Leppard era sounding ‘Survive’.
But the real crowd-pleaser on stage was definitely bass player Dennis Borg. His furry outfit caught everyone’s eye and he was the spokes man of the bunch. The party continued with the catchy riffs from ‘In N’ Out Of Love’, where the bass from ‘Butabi’ was very dominant. With ‘First Cruzh’ we got a harmony vocals extravaganza. For some reason the band reminds me of the early Robby Valentine. They close their short set with the more guitar orientated ‘Aim For The Head’. Cruzh certainly played his role as opener very well. With this kind off festivals (that stick to one main genre) is clear that the audience is present to see and hear the bands. This translates itself by the big amount of people that is present at the start of this first set. Melodic rock is never gonna die and is here to stay!
The second band Adrenaline Rush was also present on the first edition of this festival. But since then the line-up has changed. New are the young sixstring-master Sam Söderlindh and ex-Dynazty bass player Joel Fox. When opener ‘Adrenaline’ starts is clear that the sound of the new material is heavier and a notch faster. But you can’t deny that the eye-catcher here is singer Tåve Wanning. This girl knows how to move on stage and there weren’t many men who complained. But the blonde can sing as well! It’s not a power singer like Doro, Lorraine Lewis (Femme Fatale) or Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast) but she sings with passion and her tone fits like a glove around the music.
Joel Fox delivers some smooth backing vocals and youngster Sam asks his part of the attention on stage. This time around I feel that there is more a band feeling than the first appearance here in Italy! The focus lies on the recent album “Soul Survivor”. The band throws the fast riff galore ‘Love Like Poison’ in the audience and later in the set the darker colored ‘Breaking The Chains’ and the fast attitude filled ‘My Life’ raises the temperature in the venue! Also the hugely 80’s inspired ‘Shock Me’ is well received. The first album is represented by the very first single ‘Change’, the more straight forward ‘Generation Left Behind’ and the ultimate party rocker ‘Girls Gone Wild’ brings this steaming set to an end.
The many requests for an Italian band on the bill where answered by bringing Lionville on the stage. I saw this band on stage in 2012 during the famous Firefest festival in Rock City, Nottingham. Despite their rather short gig there, they left an permanent impression in my musical brain. I was looking forward to seeing and hearing these guys again. The crunchy riffs from ‘I Will Wait’ gave me an instant boost of energy and emotional happiness. And when Lars starts to sing I thought I was actually in melodic heaven. This Scandinavian guy has the ultimate voice for this blend of AOR – Westcoast and melodic rock. And when you’re a sucker for keyboards (like yours truly) this band is a dream come true. The keyboard solo on ‘I Will Wait’ can simply brighten up every rainy day!
The band brings us a good mix of the three albums with a light preference to their latest “A World Of Fools” album. They grant us the uplifting sounds picked from the title track of the new platter together with the Westcoast influenced ‘Show Me The Love’. But for me personally the highlights are the tracks from the debut album. First up was ‘Here By My Side’, later followed by my personal favorite ‘Power of My Dreams’ and the smooth set closer ‘With You’. Lionville wins the prize for most beautiful songs and greatest vocal performance!
I was curious what the set from Kee Marcello would bring. I always loved his work with Europe, but wasn’t that fond of his “Melon Demon Divine” album. But his latest album “Scaling Up” caught me by surprise. Kee set the stage alight with the new, rocking and riff dominated ‘Soldier Down’. Many people where waiting for at least one Europe song and their secret desire was answered when Mr. Marcello started ‘More Than Meets The Eye’ (from Europe’s “Out Of This World”). Wow… that brought back some lovely memories indeed. He added another gem with ‘Girl From Lebanon’. The set continued with the extremely groovy ‘Scaling Up’ which holds a furious solo. He threw in some more tracks from his new album and picks the modern rocker ‘Black Hole Star’ and the AORish ‘Don’t Miss You Much’. Kee did go a bit wild on ‘Get On Top’ from his previous album “Judas Kiss”.
Another nice surprise was the almost punky sounding ‘We Go Rocking’ from his first band Easy Action. I probably would have falling in some kind off trance when he played a track from his second album “That Makes One” from Easy Action, but it didn’t happen! But I not gonna nit-pick here because Kee granted us a couple of absolute crackers with ‘Tower’s Calling’ and ‘Superstitious’. ‘The Final Countdown’ closed this awesome set with a crowd who jumped to the beat! Great performances and the first surprise of the day.
A band who was on the must see list by many fans was Unruly Child. First reason was the fact that the band released his debut album in 1992 and it’s considered a classic among melodic rock lovers. The other reason was the fact that singer Mark became Marcie. The metal world has a transgender with Mina Caputo (previous Keith) and the melodic rock has Marcie. With both singers this transition hadn’t the slightest effect on the voice. I’ve seen Mina life and she is still struggling with moving as a woman. Marcie on the other hand is fully female. The moves on stage, the way she swipes her hair, the way she dresses herself and yes how she addresses the audience is stunning. But people her voice hasn’t changed a bit. She sure did stand the test of father time.
The ones who love that debut album (myself included) got the time of their life, because with the exception of ‘Criminal’ we got to hear the whole album. Many of the songs emphasize on the vocal acrobatics from Marcie, but let’s not forget she is backed up by an amazing band. First up there is guitarist Bruce Gowdy who delivers the goods and his string pulling on ‘Long Hair Woman’ is superb. Behind the drums is Jay Schellen, who played in Hurricane among others and on keyboards there was original member Guy Allison.
During the set the naughty undertone from ‘Take Me Down Nasty’ was followed by the pure AOR in ‘Let’s Talk About Love’. It were all highlights and I want to mention here the heavier ‘On The Rise’ and the smoother ‘When Love Is Gone’. Marcie brought things down with the balladesque ‘Is It Over’ and the romantic ‘To Be Your Everything’. A special song was without a shadow of a doubt the newer track (from 2014 “Down The Rabbit Hole” album) ‘This Is Who I Am’. You have to accept people just the way they are! One thing is certain, Marcie gave me goosebumps during several songs.
Last year the two pioneers of L.A. Guns reunited again! So, the world got a second change to hear the magic the two produced in the late 80’s and begin of the 90’s. Loudmouth Phil Lewis and six-string torturer Tracii Guns blasted the furious ‘No Mercy’ in the venue. From the first minute I knew this was going to be a stellar set. Phil’s voice still had that vicious edge. The band focused on the first three albums. The power was actually rolling from the stage and Tracii granted us that sleazy guitar sound that makes you go wild! The fast and furious ‘No Mercy’ gets this party going and ‘Killing Machine’ injected the sound with some controlled aggression! The slower crawling monster track ‘Over The Edge’ got the bowed guitar intro from Tracii!
The gig was one long attitude trip along the Sunset strip! After ‘Bitch Is Back’ the jump to their biggest hit ‘Sex Action’ wasn’t that big and the whole crowd shouted along. The band is going to release a new album on the Frontiers Music label and with ‘Speed’ we got a taste of things to come! It was a fast and wild rocker that makes you hungry for more! ‘Malaria’ was one of the three tracks from the second album “Cocked & Loaded”. This track is a real guitar extravaganza with second guitar player Michael Grant.
The band is clearly full of energy and uses every square inch of the stage. The instrumental ‘Jelly Jam’ proves that the band is also capable of emotional and sensitive playing. This was a real treat for guitar lovers! This was the perfect bridge to ‘The Ballad Of Jayne’ and a perfect romantic moment in this energetic sleazy set. Set closer ‘Rip and Tear’ sets the stage alight for the last time and the band gets a louder than loud applause from the crowd. This was the surprise of the day for me!
The band that would close this fourth edition of the festival was the mighty TNT from Norway. The album “Knights Of The New Thunder” back in 1984 was an instant classic to me and all melodic metal & rock lovers around the globe. The high pitched vocals from American singer Tony Harnell and the unique sound of Ronni Le Tekro’s guitar was a match made in heaven. Tony recently joined the band again and this year they celebrate the 30th anniversary of the “Tell No Tales” album! Many fans wondered if the magic still was there! ‘Give Me A Sign’ kicked this Scandinavian train in motion. By the second song ‘As Far As The Eye Can See’ we reached already a high cruisin’ speed. Tony’s voice isn’t that pure in sound anymore, but what the hell guys and dolls they started over thirty years ago! He still shines as a bright star and has developed a raw edge to his voice. The band played seven tracks from that anniversary album and it was heartwarming to see and hear so many people sing along and have the time of their life!
During his solo spot Ronni amazed many people what a wall of sound he could produce with just one guitar! The whole concert was a collection of classic tunes and a true feast for melodic rock fans! ‘Seven seas’ concluded the first part in an excellent way! The encores were a triplet from “Tell No Tales”. ‘Listen To Your Heart’ was followed by the flashing ‘10,000 Lovers In One’ and ‘Everyone’s A Star’ was dedicated to the fans. Le Tekro was the real guitar hero of the festival and TNT was a more than worthy headliner!
Curious what the fifth edition will bring and I guess we will be bringing some more Belgian and maybe even some Dutch friends along.
Text and photos by Rik Bauters