ARROW ROCK FESTIVAL 2004

June 11-13, 2004: De Schans, Lichtenvoorde (NL)

This weekend I would relive my youth. Ranging from the primitive and earliest stage of sympho rock of CARAVAN, until the high priests of heavy metal JUDAS PRIEST, and everything there is inbetween, was about to play at this place called Lichtenvoorde. This may sound like a dream come true - a dream that certainly would become reality. The ultimate rock festival started out on Friday with a short bill. DAVID BOWIE, who was first scheduled to play there, was banned to the Arena in Amsterdam, and instead, the organisation came up with an alternative programme, where the gods of weather and the gods of music would play a very important role.

Thursday, June 11, 2004.

This first evening started off with the usual running back and forth to get our backstage and photo passes. Because of this, we didn’t get to see the DIRE STRAITS cover band BROTHERS IN ARMS. We heard some songs in the background, but they weren’t representative enough to give an honest opinion. As far as I’m concerned BLAZE OF GLORY could have been skipped, because they were making a fool out of my favorite music. They sounded like one funny sketch, by playing covers of VAN HALEN, GUNS & ROSES, AC/DC and a couple of other bands. These covers were presented in such a childish way, that I would have gladly kicked them off the stage myself. They even played an acoustic version of MOTÖRHEAD’s “Ace Of Spades”. Really! So, fu*k off and get a life, people!! This is pure blasphemy!
THE QUILL however made up for this terrible mistake. Their heavy sound will remind you of the great seventies and they sure knew to play a fantastic show. However, RONNIE MONTROSE definitely was the headliner this evening, and everybody has to know that. What a brute tyrant, this man is! A great guitarist, who pulled out stunning versions of MONTROSE classics, like “Rock The Nation”and “I’ve Got The Fire”. No wonder, I was walking around with wet trousers at the end of his set. And it didn’t even rain. What does this mean for the remaining weekend?

Saturday, June 12, 2004.

Okay, the actual festival started on Saturday….with some very heavy showers and hail, just about when the first visitors were entering the gates. What a great welcome! Dutch rock band PLAETO take off in the big tent, but I only get to see one song. The audience gives them a warm welcome though.
My main interest goes out to the openers at the main stage today: TEN YEARS AFTER. Unfortunately, without Alvin Lee, who is being replaced by the much younger Joe Gooch, but the other band members of the original line up are still there. The band sounds just as fresh as on Woodstock. Their timeless blues rock almost makes me forget the bad weather. Of course they close their set with the ultimate TEN YEARS AFTER anthem “I’m Going Home”. THE GODZ already supported KISS in 1977, and so we can’t really call them newcomers. True to the bone biker rock, their music fills the giant tent. Again we can speak of some timeless music here. Of course, they treat the audience to the GOLDEN EARRING classic “Candy’s Gone Bad”, but they also spend a lot of time on long introductions and speeches inbetween. After all, they have about thirty years of history to talk about.
Y&T played in the tent last year, but they have been rewarded to play at the main stage this afternoon. Their set is totally different from last years, which makes it an exciting performance all the way. Halfway their set, they even added an instrumental blues, and especially a song like “I Believe In You” makes my flesh creep. What an amazing guitar solo! For a moment, my thoughts go back to Pinkpop 1982, where they played next to bands like SAGA (who would also be playing at this festival later on) and ZZ TOP. A marvellous show, that could have go on and on, as far as I am concerned. I’ve only watched ERIC BURDON AND THE ANIMALS for a couple of minutes though. After all, I am writing this review for a hard rock and heavy metal magazine/website. If I am right, I recognised Dave Meros of SPOCKS BEARD on bass. Still, I have enjoyed some great songs here, such as “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and “House Of The Rising Sun”.
At the main stage, PAUL RODGERS’ BAD COMPANY take off. Now that’s what I call a real treat for the fans. Classic BAD COMPANY tunes alternate with songs of THE FREE and THE FIRM. Somewhere in the middle of the set, Paul’s juggling with the mike standard goes wrong, and it lands right up his nose. BOOM! But this doesn’t effect the walking draughtboard (I mean his terrible overdressed black and white blocked shirt!!), and the man simply keeps smiling and being cheerful. “Fire And Water”, “Allright Now”, “Can’t Get Enough”, “Shooting Star”, “Feels Like Making Love”, it’s all there. And Paul’s voice is still in a very good shape.
The same applies to mr. Phil Mogg, a vocalist of the highest quality imaginable. Together with ‘Mr. Rock ‘N’ Roll’ himself, Pete Way, he takes care of a marvellous gig in the crowded tent, where he lands with the old mothership UFO. Vinnie Moore is a great guitarist, who fits into the band like a tight glove. Prove is given during opener “Mother Mary”, “Let It Roll”, “Only You Can Rock Me”, and the very beautiful “Love To Love”. The ultimate highlights “Rock Bottom”, “Lights Out” and “Doctor, Doctor” are also sprinkled with his flashing guitarsolos.
Outside on the main stage, MOTÖRHEAD are there just being themselves. With the wonderful backdrop of “Inferno” hanging at the back of the stage, the band plays a whole lot of typical MOTÖRHEAD bashers. Lemmy counts the fingers of those who want it louder, and he calls it a ‘mandate of the masses’, when he turns up the volume just a little bit more. And even when some half naked chicks appear beside him, Lemmy plays his songs like nothing has been happening. This is what real rock and roll is all about, my friends!
I was really looking forward to seeing Blue Oyster Cult again on stage. It’s been almost twenty years ago. I believe, that I saw them for the last time in Germany together with WISHBONE ASH, KANSAS and NAZARETH. Only Eric Bloom and Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roesser are the true survivors of the old line up, and they still know to rock. The most well-known songs, that I heard this afternoon are “Harvester Of Eyes”, “Burning For You”, “On Your Feet, Or On Your Knees”, “Godzilla”, “Don’t Fear The Reaper” and “Cities On Flame”, which are mixed with newer songs like “Shooting Shock”. Of course we are also treated on some long lasting instrumental solo parts. And here it becomes painfully clear, that Bobby Rondinelli’s drumsolo is not that exciting anymore as it was in his RAINBOW years. Splinters of his drum sticks are still in my ears! During the intro of, what had to become “Don’t Fear The Reaper”, the band makes a mistake by playing the intro of “Godzilla”. But they rectify this pretty fast, and the audience hardly notices it, while enjoying the show of these dinosaur rockers. It’s quite funny though, that a band playing these songs for over thirty years now, still makes such a mistake sometimes. Their professional way of dealing with this, shows that we’re dealing with some real good musicians here.
THE SCORPIONS sound very fresh, or was it the rain that gives me the shivers? It could be either one. However, I was positively surprised by our German friends, and especially songs like “The Zoo” and the instrumental “Coast To Coast”, took care of some real firework on stage. The band slowly returns to their roots, I believe.
ALICE COOPER is also ready to rock the joint here. He really knows to satisfy the crowd, including myself. We don’t get to see a real huge show, but still he’s a great entertainer. His new album “The Eyes Of Alice Cooper” is very good again, but I still fancy old songs like “Hello Hooray”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Billion Dollar Babies”. Highlight is the live performance of his classic “Halo Of Flies”, in which Alice cuts off the throat of a young lady, who attacks him with a sword, inbetween two refrains. What else would you do? Alice wins the uneven battle. “Only Women Bleed”, right?! During “Sick Things”, Alice gets his pet on stage, a giant snake. Then it’s time for the outrageous sing-along song “School’s Out”. Alice needs two encores to cool down his audience a bit. Closers on this rainy day are JUDAS PRIEST, who present us a superb show. HALFORD is in an excellent shape today, and if he keeps on singing like this, he will easily remain one of my all-time heroes of heavy metal history. The set list leaves me nothing to worry about, and even the acoustic version of “Diamonds And Rust” doesn’t sound disturbing at all. For me, the guys of JUDAS PRIEST will always remain the real ‘metal gods’, and they prove this with breathtaking versions of songs like “Victim Of Changes”, “Heading Out To The Highway”, “Painkiller” and the awesome “Beyond The Realms Of Death”. I really had a blast with this band on the first day. A shame, the weather wasn’t that great, but when you are enjoying your favorite music, that’s a minor detail! I am definitely ready for Sunday!!

Sunday, June 13, 2004.

Sunday started off dry, probably because there wasn’t any rain left after yesterday. SYMPHONY X opens this day in the tent, and my feeling was that they wanted to impress the audience by playing ultraloud. Their sound was literally earsplitting (what do you say???) and that’s why Michael Romeo and Sir Russell Allen didn’t impress me at all. What I did like was CARAVAN, although I don’t know their music too well. But if you know to impress a couple of thousand people by clattering with some spoons on your knees, then you must do something right, I guess. Craftmanship is mastership. You don’t have to play loud guitars to impress, that’s a fact now. I liked the set of SAGA too, especially when they played a few of my favorite songs like “You’re Not Alone”, Don’t Be Late” and “Wind Him Up”. I even sang along to these songs. Nobody could hear me after all. It’s a shame, they didn’t play “Humble Stance”, but hey, you can’t have it all.
Hey, Jesus has risen again! Oh no, it’s only the keyboard player of IRON BUTTERFLY, who got stuck in a time machine, somewhere in 1968 or something. Love and peace is their motto, and when they get to play “In A Gada Da Vida”, I realize how important this song must be for music history, because everyone seems to know the lyrics. This afternoon we hear the long version, including the long drum solo, which creates a very cosy atmospere out in the field. I missed the set of FISH for the greater part. His set was not the regular one, so I’ve heard, and the fans seem to like it. A long version of the old MARILLION song “Market Square Heroes” closes his set.
HEART is another band, which was high on my list of possible highlights for this weekend. And the band really knows to convince me of their quality. Ann still has that remarkable, powerful voice. And her sister Nancy is a real treat for your eyes and ears. Does she never get old?? Add to this an impressive list of old classics, and you can understand that a full hour was much too short for me. Think about awesome versions of “Crazy On You”, “Dog And Butterfly”, “These Dreams”, “Alone”, “Even It Up”, “Magic Man”, “Barracuda” and the LED ZEPPELIN cover “Black Dog”, which shows us a band, that is in perfect shape. They are watched by Eddie Jackson and Pamela Moore (both of QUEENSRYCHE), from the side of the stage. And when HEART is finished, they leave behind an astonished crowd. A lot of mouths were wide open, when this storm was over. And I also had to search for the fillings of my teeth, after the show of these rockers from Seattle.
In the tent, they have started the ‘tour de force’of G3. Four hours of guitar masturbation with ROBERT FRIPP, STEVE VAI and JOE SATRIANI. Fripp takes care of creating some space in the tent. Not that his music sounds spacey. Well, now you get to mention it..... No, the tent is emptying itself real quickly. What is he trying to prove with his experimental soundscapes? I really don’t get it. Everybody is reliefed, when GOLDEN EARRING start their show on the main stage. Dutch ‘hope in hard times’ start their set with the one and only version of “Candy’s Gone Bad”, and of course we also get some smashing versions of songs like “Twilight Zone”, “Another 45 Miles” and a long version of “Radar Love”, in which Cesar Zuiderwijk really goes beserk during his drumsolo. “Back Home” and “When The Lady Smiles” are on next, but they stop their show much too early with “Long Blond Animal”, leaving ten minutes of unused playing time on the clock. What a pity!
Let’s go back to G3 for a couple of minutes. Magician STEVE VAI is showing some of his magic tricks on stage. What a marvellous guitar player! No wonder, when you know that he is backed up by wonder child Billy Sheehan (MR BIG, NIACIN, DAVID LEE ROTH, TALAS) and Tony Macalpine. On a given moment, all guitar players gather on one row, and they start to play each others instrument. WARNING: Do not try this at home! You only see this happen very occasionally in some good science fiction movies, but you simply can’t do this on stage anymore. During “For The Love Of God”, I realize that VAI wouldn’t have looked bad on the mainstage. He will do a world tour with Hans Kazan, a very famous Dutch magician, so the rumour goes.
I was a bit afraid about the live show of QUEENSRYCHE, because their previous CDs didn’t show any progression, and sounded very average, to say the least. But when you play an integral version of “Operation Mindcrime” in one hour time, backed up by the real ‘Sister Mary’ PAMELA MOORE as a special guest, then all your doubts disappear real quickly. The band plays a very fine set, in which Geoff Tate and Pamela Moore steal the show. The leather jacket of Geoff Tate, with on the back a portrait of George W Bush and underneath the text ‘Liar’, needs no further explanation, I think.
JOE SATRIANI also convinces me with a great performance. His latest CD goes back to the days of “Surfing With The Alien”. Bass beast Stu Hamm is the big showman again, while Satriani lets the music do the talking. YES are the headliners on the mainstage, while in the tent the members of G3 are teaming up for a long jam, in which they perform “Ice Nine” by JOE SATRIANI. They also play “In The Court Of King Crimson” of Robert Fripp’s band KING CRIMSON.
But I am really flabbergasted by headliners YES in this last one and a half hour. When you open with “Going For The One” and “Sweet Dreams”, then you know that you will get a real ‘best of’ set this evening. Impressive versions of “All Good People” (in which they play a short part of JOHN LENNON’s “Give Peace A Chance”), “Roundabout” and “Starship Trooper” close this second edition of Arrow Rock in Lichtenvoorde.
For next year, I have already some wants, like REO SPEEDWAGON, JOURNEY, BOSTON, THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND, ROGER WATERS (if PINK FLOYD would be unavailable!!!), ZZ TOP, FRANK MARINO and of course TED NUGENT. And especially old bands, who can show these youngsters that the oldies still rock! And so the older people, like myself, can enjoy their rock loud, without being bothered by stagedivers, crowdsurfers or camelfuckers. See ya next year! With a little bit of sunshine, if that would be possible.

Written by: Toine van Poorten.
Pictures: Rita van Poorten.

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