Last year we had beautiful weather and excellent bands on the coziest festival of Europe. This year, however, we had lots of rain (f… cloud breaks even) on Friday, and musically speaking the Bospop edition of 2004 was not as good as the previous edition, although some people may question my humble opinion.

The Friday started with heavy rain showers and the jazzy/proggy instrumental music of Living Colour's guitar picker Vernon Reid. Not your typical opener for a rock festival, but I, as a true guitar freak, really enjoyed his 45-minute set, although Vernon definitely was the "odd one" on this edition of Bospop. Next on the main stage (15 minutes too late) were Swiss hard rockers Gotthard (read the interview I had with them). These guys have been around for more than 15 years already and they still have not lost their "dedication". Pure hard rock a la Krokus (also a Swiss band btw) could be enjoyed with super vocalist Steve Lee as the main attraction of the band. To some people they sound a bit old-fashioned, but melodic rock songs like "Top Of The World", "Let It Be", "Make My Day" or "Human Zoo"(the title track of their last album), still guaranteed a good rockin' time for the audience. To my surprise they played "Hush" as their last song and that would not be the only time that a band would play that song on Bospop 2004!

Due to interviews I had with Marc Lynn, Leo Leoni (Gotthard), Doro and Chris Caffery (Savatage) I missed Thunder, damn... I would rather have missed out on Cheap Trick, because their performance was almost a complete waste of time. Their sound was bad, Zander's voice was terribly raspy and the setlist could not really capture my attention for one complete hour. Nielsen changed his guitar before every song and there were actually people who liked some of their songs like for instance "The Dream Police", "Big Eyes", or their super hit "I Want You To Want Me". Meanwhile in the tent it was Wishbone Ash time, one of my favorite rock bands of the seventies and eighties, mainly due to their fantastic twin guitar solo playing. Well, it was like I was back in the seventies with songs like "Phoenix"(superb!!), "Throw Down The Sword", "The King Will Come" and the biggest surprise, the opener "Vas Dis", a song with extraordinary lyrics! My god, these guys can still play their asses off, although there is just one original Ash-member present, namely Andy Powell. The fabulous twin guitar solos and guitar melodies forced me to unpack my air guitar and to do some really heavy air guitar playing. From their last album "Bona Fide" they only played "Faith, Hope And Love", but the audience only wanted to hear classic Ash songs, and they got what they wanted… The best performance of the day so far. Status Quo will always be Quo and nothing more or less; you love or you hate them. My tendency in the last years is to become a "member" of the latter group. Sorry guys, no more "Rain" or "Roll Over Lay Down" for me...

I rushed back to the tent because at 22:00 Anthrax would try and conquer Bospop for the first time. The Big Apple trash band succeeded with flying colours, what a powerful set and the energy these guys have on stage, just spectacular! Anthrax already surprised me with their excellent "come back" CD "We've Come For You All", but I truly did not believe that they would be so fantastic during a live gig anymore. John Bush is a super vocalist (such f…. power) and the guitarriffs and loud sounding drums go straight through your heart. The set was a mix of old/classic and new Anthrax stuff. I really enjoyed moshing about on "Madhouse", singing along with "Anti-Social" or headbanging on "Caught In A Mosh". From the new album they played, probably the best song of the set, "Safe Home"; a killer track with superb singing/shouting by Bush, the absolute highlight of Bospop 2004. Headliner, however, this year was Deep Purple, a band that I have not seen doing a live gig for ages. So, I was curious how these guys would sound like with Glover, Morse, Paice, Gillan and Airey as the Deep Purple Mark 8. Well, thank god musically there is nothing wrong with DP, but Gillan's vocal performance left much to be desired. His voice is really worn out so to say, especially when trying to reach the high notes, it was quite embarrassing to listen to. The best band member of Deep Purple 2004 is without any doubt guitar player Steve Morse. His solos were brilliant, amazing and sparkling during the entire set. Of course they played a lot of old DP classics like "Highway Star", "Smoke On The Water", "Black Night", "Perfect Strangers", "Demon Eye" and "Space Truckin' (the short version)". Furthermore they played new songs from their latest album called "Bananas". And for the second time this day I heard "Hush", and maybe Gotthard even played it better than the old masters themselves…

All in all, Bospop 2004 was again, as always, rather enjoyable, but I must conclude that there have been better editions of this well organized, friendly festival. See you all next year.

Due to personal circumstances I was not able to visit Bospop on Saturday, so I missed o.a. Todd Rundgren, Echo and the Bunnymen, Walter Trout and John Mayall; sad by true.

Report by Martien Koolen for Rockunited.