BOSPOP - WEERT - THE NETHERLANDS 2 AND 3 JULY
The 25 th anniversary of the coziest festival of Europe was a huge success with more than 20,000 visitors; which was the largest crowd that ever visited Bospop in those 25 years. As usual the festival started with rain on Saturday, but the rest of the day the weather was rather fine. As for the Sunday, the weather was marvelous, with lots of sunshine. On the whole you could say, great atmosphere, typical Dutch weather, excellent music, and lots of "work", meaning: doing interviews, taking pictures, listening to the bands and running between the main stage and the tent. But as usual, I really enjoyed myself again on Bospop and I will be back next year for sure….
The Saturday started with Peter Frampton and if anyone had any doubts about Peter's voice or guitarplaying they had another thing coming. "Show Me The Way", "Baby, I Love Your Way" and especially the Frampton rock classic from his famous live album "Do You Feel Like We Do" was shouted along through thousands of throats and Frampton proved that he can still rock and entertain a large audience.
Steve Lukather has been on the main stage before and then he played an extremely heavy guitar set, which was very much to my liking and I was kind of hoping that he would do the same this year… and he did! He started with an amazing jam session of 16 minutes, which was actually a mix of jazz, rock and blues, leaving the crowd in utter confusion as I heard people say: "I thought that he was the guitar player of Toto?". But again no Toto songs were played, instead of that 2 Jimi Hendrix covers: "Freedom" and "Little Wing", and although these songs have been covered by too many artists already - never reaching the Hendrix level by the way - Lukather proved that he is a great guitar picker with lots of emotion and passion. From his solo album "Candyman" (1994) he chose "Hero With A 1,000 Eyes" and the tribute to his favorite guitar player Jeff Beck called "Song For Jeff".
Then it was time for old hard rockers Uriah Heep, a band that keeps on playing despite the 40 line up changes and two deceased Heep- members. But today Heep completely disappoints me, the vocals are weak and the magic that the band used to have is gone, for me at least. Even Heep-classics like "Sunrise", "July Morning", "Gypsy" and "Easy Livin'" sound totally old-fashioned and uninspired to me. The first and actually the only disappointment of this 25 th edition of Bospop, although Uriah Heep will contradict me of course….
A band I was really looking forward today was Marillion, seeing that their last studio album "Marbles" was a true classic progressive album again. Of course everyone expected them to play the hits "You're Gone" and "Don't Hurt Yourself", and they did, joined by lots of people singing along. The sound was excellent, but the set list was not exactly what I expected. "Between You And Me"(Anoraknophobia), "An Accidental Man" (the opening song) and "Man Of A 1,000 Faces", both from "This Strange Engine" are really not my favorite Marillion songs. But luckily they made up for that by playing "Fantastic Place", "The Damage", "Beautiful", "Cover My Eyes" and the super epic "Neverland". They even did an encore, "Easter" with Steve Hogarth singing from the "roof" of the stage.
Roger Hodgson , better known as Mr. Supertramp, was next and he did what the audience expected from him. Namely, play all the old Supertramp hits/classics. So we could enjoy stripped (as he was almost alone on stage most of the time) versions of "School", "It's Raining Again", "Take The Long Way Home" and "Give A Little Bit". The latter was even played twice, but nobody seemed to care.
Sunday started with sunshine and the English hard rockers Dragon Force, which is a band you love or hate. I belong to the latter group mainly due to the fact that their live sound is always shite and their music is actually too monotonous with very fast double bass drums, super speedy guitar solos and very theatrical singing. This is not my kind of music and certainly not at 13.30 on a Sunday afternoon. White Cowbell Oklahoma have a certain reputation (check out their videos), which might have drawn lots of people, including yours truly, to the tent, but in fact nothing happened today. The 9 hillbillies just played their dirty rock and roll without any spectacular stage acts, except for the killing of a giant Winnie The Pooh…. In Extremo on the main stage did a much better job, as their music is more interesting. Their folk metal with lots of old and extraordinary instruments is always a pleasure to listen to and look at. Das Letste Einhorn (as the singer calls himself) draws the attention of the crowd with his exceptional vocals and his great costume. This is probably one of the best German rock live acts of this moment. Back in the tent again I saw one of the best American metal bands of today trying to blow up the tent with their massive sound. Mastodon is the future of metal and their set was hard, heavy, aggressive and monstrous. Most of the songs played were from their last album "Leviathan" and they really moved the earth, especially drummer Brann Dailor. I have not heard such power in a long time, so watch out for these guys as I think that they are going to be huge in the metal scene.
Back to the main stage were Masterplan again had not a very good sound mix as the bass and rums were too dominant, leaving Jorn's vocals completely in the background. Later on this improved and the Germans kicked some serious ass with songs like "Crimson Rider", "Into The Arena" and "Back For My Life". After the gig I had an interview with Jan and due to that I missed Overkill. But now it was time for The Dutch revelation of 2004: Within Temptation, the best selling Dutch band of the moment, they even are in the charts in the Middle East! Their performance of today had just one surprise for me, namely the Kate Bush cover "Running Up That Hill", which I did not really enjoy….The rest of the set was sheer magic, Sharon singing like a young divine diva and the band playing as tight as ever. Could it get even better than that, yes because "old" rockers Y & T stole the show on the main stage today, with such hard rock classics like "Rescue Me" and "Dirty Girl" they stole the hearts of many Bospop rockers forever. Dave Meniketti's voice is still very powerful and his bluesy, laid back guitar solos are still top of the bill. Their best song, and maybe one of the best hard rock ballads ever, was the absolute highlight of the set. So "I Believe In You" boasted through the speakers and gave me goose bums all over; definitely the best band at the main stage today. But if you thought that Y & T were the best of Bospop you could not be more wrong. English prog kings Porcupine Tree came, played and won. Introduced by Marillion vocalist Steve Hogarth Wilson and Co. absolutely astonished the crowd with magnificent modern prog rock songs like "Deadwing", "Halo" and one of the best PT live songs ever "The Hatesong". Absolute highlight of the set was the epic "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here"; this band is the future of progressive rock music for years to come, sheer brilliance! Last but not least Iron Maiden hit the main stage and lots of fans, seeing the amount of Maiden T-shirts, finally could enjoy the band they had come for. I was rather disappointed as the set only consisted of songs from the first four Maiden albums and I really started to get bored after a song or 5. Do not get me wrong the band played good, Bruce's voice is still very powerful and the show was amazing, but the songs all sounded the same to me, and probably also a bit out of time. Maybe this sounds strange, as I was a real Maiden fans for years, but I seemed to have changed my musical taste a little bit over the last few years as I thought that Porcupine Tree were at least three leagues better than Maiden, but luckily there is no account for taste, so….
The Bospop Festival had a great anniversary, the music was great, the atmosphere was superb and the organization was again, like any other year, perfect. See you all next year!
Review & photos by Martien Koolen,