Firefest Friday Nottingham Rock City 18-10-13

Doesn't time fly as this was Firefest's 10th anniversary show and my 4th visit always to the Friday show that has grown over the last few years from 3 bands to this 6 band line up.

When the bill was announced last December I was unsure but with the addition of W.E.T. I was off to Nottingham again for a sold out melodic rock blowout.

Arriving to a huge queue around the building,the doors opened bang on time at 3pm. To a huge crowd at the very un rock n'roll time of 3.20 THE MAGNIFICENT opened the proceedings with a 40 minute set playing 7 songs from their 2011 debut cd that was received so positively by critics and fans alike.

Led by the golden tonsils of Michael Eriksen their set was greeted like a long lost friend by the crowd who had all turned up early to witness one of the best opening acts Firefest had ever seen.

Here is what they played
Smoke and Fire
Satin and Lace
Love's On The Line
Cheated By Love
Holding On To Your Love

Playing a classic mix of Europe,Foreigner,Journey and the more modern sound of Brother Firetribe the only let down was the sound mix which sadly a feature of the day. On my side of the stage Torsti Spoof on guitar was excellent and audible but Tuomas Heikkinen I struggled to hear from the other side.

The hard edged "Bullets" led into the 3 stand out songs on the cd with "Holding On To Your Love" finishing the set on a high with the first mass singalong.

Probably my only chance of seeing band members of the sadly missed Leverage but here's hoping for next year!!

Next up was EDEN'S CURSE who was looking forward to after the release of their new cd "Symphony Of Sin" and the debut of new vocalist Nikola Mijic and on keys Steve Williams.

Sadly their entrance and the title track of the new cd was ruined by the worst mix I have heard in over 300 gigs. Just dreadful but  with 6 string wizard Thorsten Koehne my side, he was audible and he won the shredder of the day award comfortably and luckily things did improve.

New man Nikola did a great job with a superb range and a mix of old and new songs had the band having a ball.

Here is what the played.

Symphony Of Sin
Fly Away
No Holy Man 
Evil And Devine
Angels And Demons

"Unbreakable" is the stand out track from the cd and was dedicated to all the fans for waiting 2 years and 3 vocalists before the new cd arrived.

The band finished with Issa reprising Pamela Moore's role in "Angels And Demons" and here is hoping for more live dates soon.

Next up was WORK OF ART who played a more Firefest approved AOR set after the metal edged Eden's Curse.

Led by the quite brilliant stage presence and vocals of Lars Safsund, who had kicked off last years Firefest with Lionville, the band who had played last year too were warmly received.

Their 8 song set was a mix of 6 older and 2 new songs from their soon to be released third cd.
All played superbly but again a struggle to hear guitarist Robert Sall which was a shame.

Here is what they played 

The Great Fall
The Rain
Time To Let Go
Nature Of The Game
One Step Away
Lost without Your Love
Never Love Again
Why Do I

"The Great Fall" and "The Rain" were great openers with Lars putting in a vocal performance few can match. New songs "Time To Let Go" and "One Step Away" show real promise and ending with the sing along "Why Do I " was just perfect.

Lets hope with the new cd the band can get a support on a huge tour and get the success they deserve.

Next up was the band I was really looking forward to W.E.T. Their 2 cd's are both quite brilliant with its heavy guitars,huge choruses and vocals and upbeat songs just the perfect music.

The crowd expectation grew and the band tore into a 10 song set that was the set of the day for me and from the reaction of the crowd,most of them too!

Led by the legend that is Jeff Scott Soto on vocals,the guitar duo of Erik Martensson and Magnus Henriksson and on keys the returning Robert Sall, who had played earlier with Work Of Art, and for 45 minutes you could forget energy price rises,broken cars,computers,tills at work,trying to get the kids to do their homework and health issues personal and family and just scream your lungs out and have a great time.

Here is what they played

Walk Away
Learn To Live Again
Rise Up

Comes Down Like Rain
Still Unbroken
Broken Wings
If I Fall
Brothers In Arms
One Love

With a slightly better mix although Jeff could have gone up a touch,Martensson and Henriksson ripped up a storm and they hit the heights with a set that showcased everything they have.

"Rise Up" was dedicated to the sad loss a few days previous of Vixen guitarist Jan Kuehnemund.

I was elated to see "If I Fall" in the set as it is the sort of song you can imagine Journey would have played if Jeff had stayed.

In fact the last 3 songs were of a level rarely seen with a huge swagger and say look at us. During "Brothers In Arms" Jeff left the stage to take a trip to the bar to get a drink for all the band before they left us wanting more with a mass singalong of "One Love".

50 minutes was never going to be enough and a UK headlining tour is a no brainer!!

Next up was DARE who were the only band on the bill I had seen before and that was over 20 years ago.

After the excellence of W.E.T. the band started on a high with 2 from their Blood From Stone cd including "We Don't Need A Reason" which had grown men leaping in the air!

Here is what they played.
Wings Of Fire
We Don't Need A Reason
Silent Thunder
Sea Of Roses
Where Darkness Ends
Beneath The Shining Water
Into The Fire
Return The Heart
The Raindance

Great to see Vinny Burns back in the band but again the earlier sound issues meant I couldn't hear everything he did. 

Darren Wharton was in good voice and nice to see a genuine warmth between him and Vinny after many years of not speaking.

Their was a dip for the first time on the day as an acoustic led song lowered the decibel level but, soon however with the last 4 songs on the night all from the classic "Out Of The Silence" cd they finished on a high with Vinny's guitar becoming more audible.

Last up on a day that had flown past was HAREM SCAREM who have just released their rerecorded "Mood Swings 2" cd.

With the best sound of the day the band kicked up a real storm and had the crowd eating out of their hands from the word go.

Here is what they played

Saviors Never Cry
Hard To Love
If There Was A Time
Sentimenatal Boulevard
Slowly Slipping Away
Karma Cleansing
Stranger Than Love
Just Like I Planned
Empty Promises
Had Enough
Encores of 
No Justice
Change Comes Around

Led by the wonderful stage presence and voice of Harry Hess who really went for every note, and Pete Lesperance on guitar who had a great tone and played on the edge with some excellent solos.

With Darren Smith back on drums and for these live shows Stan Miczek on bass it was a real tour de force with every chorus being sang straight back at the band.

The whole of Mood Swings was joyously received and one of the few acoustic songs of the day showed off Harry's voice to perfection. Darren was supposed to help out on a few bars but much to Harry's annoyance he was messing around and talking to Firefest host Kieran Dargan.

A well deserved encore and the last 2 Mood Swings songs "No Justice"and "Change Comes Around" finished a truly excellent day.

Firefest gives us the opportunity to see bands and projects that we would never get the chance to see live in the UK.

With the announcement that next years show will be the last, lets hope that someone can keep this style of music alive because their are enough people who care and need it in their life!!

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