On August 23 - 24 – 25th, the first edition of the Golden Age Rock Festival 2019 was a fact. What started as a nice conversation /or dream between 5 friends with a passion for rock music with deep roots in the 70s and 80s, became a full blown 3 day festival in the city of Liege in Belgium. For HeadBangers LifeStyle Raymond Helebrand went there to write a report and shoot some photos.
The festival took place in an old riding school in the middle of the city, with a nice outdoor room as well. When I arrived at the hall, I noticed some market stands and food trucks outside.
Inside there also was a market, with vinyl, cd’s, shirts and so on, in the VIP and press area there were expo’s. One with the great artwork of artist Eric Philippe, who is known for his work for a lot of bands. The atmosphere of the whole festival was friendly, well organized and relaxed, with many great artists on stage and all three days the venue was filled with people who enjoy good rock music.
The band that had the honor to open the festival was Tygers Of Pan Tang, the band that was originally formed by Robb Weir (guitar). After reforming Tygers Of Pan Tang in 1999 the band still plays a lot and is a well oiled machine. They play a set of new and of course old material, even from their debut release ‘Wild Cat’ from 39 years ago. Jacopo Meille handles the vocal duties for the band since 2004. The sound in the hall is good and the crowd respond well to the band. Great kick off of the day.
Next on the bill is former Motörhead axeman Phil Campbell and today he came with his bastard sons. Literally!! Sons Todd (guitar), Dane (drums) and Tyla Campbell (bass). Neill Star (vocals) completes the band. Although they were formed long after the golden age of rock, Phil cannot deny his past, so besides work from their album ‘The Age Of Absurdity’ they also play Motörhead classics like the inevitable ,,Ace Of Spades'’. A solid show and somehow I wondered why they played so early because this was a very enjoyable gig.
After a changeover it was time for the French band Vulcain. Formed in 1981 by Daniel Puzio (vocals and guitar) and his brother Vincent Puzio (bass). AKA the French answer to …. yes Motörhead. The band seemed to really enjoy their set and besides some technical problems with the bassamp, the show went smooth. The audience also reacted well to this performance, but sorry, not my cup of tea.
Former Manowar (1982-1988) member Ross The Boss was invited to the festival for a trip down Manowar lane. Yes, this was very well received by the crowd. ,,Sign Of The Hammer’’, ,,Fighting The World’’, ,,Battle Hymn’’ and ,,Hail And Kill’’ amongst others, blasted through the speakers. Also a big thumbs up for the band, who nailed it with this performance!! The party could have been even better if former Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing would have played the show, like stated a few weeks before the festival, but unfortunately this did not happe. But there was little to nothing to complain about this show and that’s what counts.
Channel Zero from Belgium had the honor to close the bill for the Friday. This is a well oiled machine and a bit off from the rest of the line up, because of the fact they were “only” formed in 1990. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not. We did get a killer metal set from those guys.
They hit off with ,,Dark Passenger’’, ,,Ammunition’’, ,,Hot Summer’’. The knifes are on the table!!! For me drummer Seven Antonopoulos stole the show with his energetic performance. Damn this was a great show the end the first day with.
For the people who still had not heard enough the all girl AC/DC tribute Back:n:Black played until the small hours. But because of the 2 days coming up I did not stay for their show.
As I re-entered the venue on Saturday the final tones of Alain Pire Experience
blasted through the speakers. So I was a bit late for that. Sorry, but I have heard the people who attended really loved the show.
Leaf Hound, who was originally formed in 1969 under the name Black Cat Bones, was the next band for today. Nowadays lead singer Peter French is the main face of this hard/blues/psychedelic rock band. To me the band did not make a big impression, but the crowd seemed to like it a lot and they even got more when Peter French would play another show with his other classic band Atomic Rooster. Also a band with the roots in the early seventies.
Around 2:45PM it was time to really shake the audience awake. Because Dutch artist Robby Valentine came to Liege to give away a full set of Queen classics. Robby is a perfectionist and will not settle for a few covers. It really has to be a special tribute!! And that it is. These days Robby and his band play quite a few shows with this tribute and as always they are a tight machine. Robby handles vocal duties together with Maria Catharina, who both do a great job!! ,,Killer Queen’', ,,Bicycle Race’’, ,,Under Pressure’’, ,,Bohemian Rhapsody’’ and all the other Queen classics are played. Great show!! And the crowd loved every single minute of it.
Uli Jon Roth has a big history with the town of Liege. Actually he refers to the fact that the first performance with Scorpions outside of Germany was in Liege. So he still has a soft spot for this town. Other than this, former Scorpions drummer Rudy Lenners (‘In Trance’ and ‘Virgin Killer’) lives in Liege. Uli decided to play only classic Scorpions stuff like ,,In Trance’’ and ,,Fly To The Rainbow’’ while Rudy Lenners steps in to play ,,Pictured Life’’ and ,,Catch Your Train’’ with the band. Uli ends this show with Bob Dylan’s ,,All Along The Watchtower'’ (most known for the Hendrix version). This man still is one of the great masters of the guitar. Pure craftsmanship and tons of talent.
Canadian rockers Moxy are next on the bill. This is the first time they played in Belgium, since they were formed in 1974. Earl Johnson (guitar) is the only remaining original bandmember, but I have to say he surrounded himself with an amazing band. (Nick Walsh - Lead Vocals, Rob Robbins - Guitar/Backing Vocals, Chaz Butcher - Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals, Desche Sparboom – Drums). The set contains classic songs like 75’s ,,Out In The Darkness’’ or ,,Time To Move On’’ and 77’s ,,Nothing Comes Easy’’. Great melodic rock band!!
Next on the menu is Southern rock band Doc Holliday. The original line up of this band was active from 1981 until 1983. After that they re-vitalized the band for many times. The current lineup is featuring Eddie Stone (keys, vocals) as the only remaining original member. The Golden Age crowd loved this band and songs like ,,Redneck Rockin Roll Band’’, ,,Southern Man’’ and ,,Lonesome Guitar’’ were very well received.
The last band of the Saturday is Foghat. This hard/blues/boogie rock band originally formed in 1970, is still an active force. Drummer Roger Earl is the remaining original member, while singer/guitarist Charlie Huhn (Ted Nugent, Victory, Gary Moore, Humble Pie) and lead guitarist Bryan Basset stepped in the bandsome twenty years ago. Foghat kicks off with ,,Drivin’ Wheel’’, ,,Road Fever’’, ,,Stone Blue’’, is on fire and the audience loves it. It is clear that the organization of the festival did an awesome job to get bands like this on the bill.
After a great and satisfying second day it is time to go and get ready for the Sunday.
Day 3 started at 11:45PM with Irish Coffee
from Belgium. I had to miss this band because of other obligations, but also from people I spoke with this was a nice band to watch and hear.
The first highlight of the day however, would be the Pat McManus Band. For me this was the best act on the Golden Age bill. Damn how did I not see that coming. Pat was one of the original members of 80s hard rock band Mama’s Boys. What a charismatic man this is. Drummer Paul Faloon and Bassist Marty McDermott lay down the solid groove for the brilliant performance of Pat. Some solo work, some good old Mama’s Boys oldies. But hey, I had the goosebumps during the whole one hour performance. ,,Last Thing’’, ,,Wreckage’’, ,,Belfast City Blues’’, ,,Mama Don’t Do It’ were all performed in a stunning way, but when the song ,,Belfast Boy’ started it was just breathtaking beautiful. I know for sure that the next time this band is in a circle of 50 miles, I will go and see a full gig. I do not know why a talented guy like this, does not have the stardom a guitarist like Gary Moore had. Simply stunning. Oh and did I mention he also handles the fiddle like a crazy man? For me this was the headlining act of the whole three day festival.
The act to follow this was Rudy Lenners. Like already mentioned former Scorpions drummer and a well known person in Liege. As a kind of tribute to his career Rudy gets a big spot on the Sunday bill. Together with his musical friends he performs some classic songs from throughout his career. The crowd reacts great to it. For me this spot is a bit too long, but I can imagine the town of Liege to be proud to have a person like Rudy amongst its citizens. The almost 80 minutes set ended with all of Rudy friends on stage performing the Neil Young classic ,,Rocking In The Free World’’.
New wave of British Heavy metal outfit Heavy Pettin is the next band to hit the stage. This band was originally formed in 1981 and the debut ’83 album ‘Lettin Loose’ and the ’85 follow up ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’ are considered real classics. Heavy Pettin was the band to follow Def Leppard to big time success but somehow that did not happen. The 2019 line up, with original members Hamie (vocals) and Gordon (guitar) joined by Jez Parry on bass, ex-Gun guitarist Dave Aitken and Michael Ivory on drums. ,,Rock Me’’, ,,Roll The Dice’’, ,,Break It Down’’ are some of the songs the Pettins played. Later this year there will be a release with new material. Already curious how that will sound because the band is very much alive.
The Swedish rockers of 220Volt have kind of the same vibe as Heavy Pettin. This band was very much alive in the 80s, but in the early 90s they broke up. Almost a decade later they reformed and since then they have been active. Like most of the bands appearing on the Golden Age Rock Festival stage, these guys love to be in Liege and fire on all cylinders. ,,System Overload’’, ,,Dog Eat Dog’’, ,,Eye To Eye’' are some of the songs included in this ‘best of’ set. And because they love Christmas so much, they also do the song ,,Heavy X-mas’’.
And then it was time for the cult band Angel, the band with a big link to KISS. In the 70s the band was presented by their record label Casablanca as the opposite to the dark image of KISS. White was and still is the theme for these rockers. Although they have aged, they still put on a charismatic show. For some it might be a bit too much over the top, but hey, this is Angel and that’s the way it is done. Original members Frank Dimino (vocals) and Punky Meadows (guitar) are still giving their best. ,,On The Rocks’, ,,The Fortune’’, ,,Rock & Rollers’’, ,,The Tower’’ are some of the classics these men perform tonight. This is glam rock like it was made in the seventies!!
The act to close the first edition of this festival is no one less than Dee Snider with his solo band. Luckily for the metal heads Mr. Snider is not the guy to lay back and stop performing. After the farewell tour of Twisted Sister he did not slow down, but decided to keep recording new material. The album ‘For The Love Of Metal’ is the latest addition to his musical legacy. Dee still rocks!!!! Period. This guy might be in his mid 60s, but a lot of young artists will be blown off the stage by him. What a force is this man. With a setlist that is dominated by Twisted Sister classics, but also contains some of the new stuff, the venue is on fire within the first minute of the show. Nothing but admiration for him and his band mates. ,,You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll’’, ,,Kids Are Back’’, ,,Burn In Hell’’, ,,We’re Not Gonna Take It’’, ,,I Wanna Rock’’ are all performed with big balls and the crowd responded with loud singing and applause. Not only for the TS songs, but also for songs like the title track ,,For The Love Of Metal’’ from his last album release. Dee knows how to set a stage on fire and he was the right act to close the list of bands that had the honor to perform at this great new festival.
All in all my impression of the Golden Age Rock Festival is great. Good classic bands that never or hardly ever played in this area, a nice venue with merchandise, metal market, great stage and sound and signing sessions by many of the artists that played the festival.
I spoke with organizer Gauthier Henri and a second edition of this great new festival is already in the plans as they still have a lot of bands on the wish list. So watch out for the announcement of the GOLDEN AGE ROCK FESTIVAL 2020 edition!!!
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