FIREFEST III - Rockin' in Rock City!
28 October, 2006 Nottingham, UK

The melodic rock festival Firefest III was again held at the venue of Rock City in Nottingham. The city was blessed with warm weather, so the local youth were partying hard on both Friday and Saturday nights just like on any warm summer night. It was a whole new world in UK compared to the cold and snow covered Finland, where we just flew from in just three hours. The Firefest III Friday pre-show featured bands such as Bad Habit, Bombay Black, Newman and Alibi, but RockUnited got to the spot too late to catch any of those. Instead we went to The Rig, the club right next to Rock City, and discovered another completely different world from there compared to typical Finnish clubs playing heavier metal. Even our latest hard rock/aor group Brother Firetribe got airplay there, way to go! The club was packed with people, but not as much as after the Saturday's shows were over. That's when it was really tough to walk around in the smoky and dark club and even get drinks.

Saturday's bands featured WIG WAM, GOTTHARD, WINGER, BONFIRE, FAIR WARNING, TREAT and NEXX. While waiting for the bands to go on stage, the venue had loads of treats for the rock fans, including a pre-listening of the Harem Scarem album "Human Nature", which sounded as good as any other Harem Scarem stuff. Also you could join in on a metal quiz, meet people like Bob Catley there, who wasn't even playing at the venue, get your albums etc signed by the bands and whatnot.

The hottest bands on Saturday were definitely Gotthard, Treat and Wig Wam, and this coming straight from hundreds of mouths who were present. The hype was just unbelievable while those bands were playing and Treat was a band which surprised many, they weren't as well-known in UK as one could've thought. Soundwise Rock City isn't the best places to hold concerts as it echoes, and most of the bands played really loud, so earplugs were handy.


The line-up for Saturday was great for sure and all the bands were a must-see of course, but it was great to see the Spanish NEXX, as I haven't caught them live yet. Playing soft melodic rock the band and its sensual small singer Patricia Tapia began the event already before one p.m, when the rock fans weren't quite awake yet and didn't respond too loudly to the set. The band was in fine shape, though didn't really perform much. Patricia was rocking though, kicking the air and of course she sang well and brightly. Nexx opened up Firefest III softly in a Fiona-fashioned way, offering entertaining pop. Maybe not the best audience for Nexx in Rock City, they belong somewhere among those bigger entertainers with their lighter sound.

Setlist included: Critical, Guiding Star, Arches Of Faith, Hey Father, Far Far Away, Remember

While waiting for the next band to go on stage, the venue first played some of the strangest music not expected at a rock concert, but this was to be corrected after the second band, as Brother Firetribe's "Midnite Queen" started airing throughout the evening. Smiling, we thought; "WAY COOL!", cheering to that. Firetribe's music would definately fit in to Firefest, but due to Nightwish's tourplans it seems they're not playing here next year. Truly a shame, but some other time in the UK then.


Having just seen TREAT this summer in Sweden Rock it was really exciting to see them again, as they were helluva hot in their homeland. And of course being a fan from day one there was more thrill to it. Strangely UK saw the band first time live and many people weren't familiar with the band at all, but the smokin' live band made lifetime fans from those unfamiliar with the band. Also being the nicest guys on earth they made a huge impression on Firefest goers after their show too, as they stayed to watch the other bands and patiently signed stuff and posed for photos. Treat had to do their soundcheck just before their show, and there wasn't much time for any bands for that. Taking this into consideration all of them did pull good shows, although there were small technical problems throughout the evening.

From the first minutes Treat went on, the Rock City crowd was totally astonished. The 80's band can surely come storming in on stage and "Changes" was a great opening track. Most of the Treat-songs are hits, but the most popular ones in the set this evening were "Conspiracy" and "Sole Survivor", which got noisy applauses and screams. The crowd seemed to be wondering what hit them, as Treat bursted with great action from minute one till the end and managed to infect their amazing energy to their crowd only after playing one or two songs. It was still too early to go totally bonkers though, as Treat came on stage as early as fifteen minutes to two, and there were many bands waiting and not many seats seen.

Setlist: Changes, Ready For The Taking, I Burn For You, Love Stroke, Too Wild, Sole Survivor, Conspiracy, Get You On The Run, World Of Promises


Along with Treat and Fair Warning, Firefest III also offered the first visit to UK for the Norwegian Eurovision Song Contest representative WIG WAM. There was no question that the band would hit big in the UK, as their kinda metal works brilliantly here, spiced with their humorous side of course. It didn't take long to get huge cheers, when the band had showed themselves for the crowd. "Are you ready to kick some ass", singer Glam in his indian headress and those kinda cheezy glam clothes with a tail attached to his butt screamed instantly as entering the stage, and the colourful crowd hailing from such countries outside UK as Italy, Spain, USA, Scotland, Norway, Greece, not forgetting Finland, was sold. What a charisma, what a rascal and bundle of joy, no one hardly makes such speaches anymore as he did through the show.

The band went through the show with high energy levels, where loads of things were happening all the time, like band members toying around with their instruments and funny solos and their comical features were all welcomed to the smiling crowd, who were loudly singing along to the catchy and melodic songs. The band played a few coversongs, where they could've played their own songs instead, but Wig Wam did a brilliant job with those too. As Melanie C's "I Turn To You"-cover went on, Glam took a fast spin around and his tail took off flying high in the air. The band was having a great time and those AC/DC-covers sounded great, Glam's vocals were a good match to those of Brian Johnson. Also guitarist Teeny, "man with the golden fingers", did a good solo of Van Halen-like "Erection". A great continuation where Treat left with, WIG WAM was as much about that great party spirit as Treat was, so both were voted as the best bands in Firefest, along with Gotthard. The 80's are definitely back!

Setlist included: Rock My Ride, Bless The Night, I Turn To You (Melanie C), Crazy Things, Kill My Rock'n'Roll, guitar solo; Erection, Bygone Zone, Highway To Hell (AC/DC), Back In Black (AC/DC), Hard To Be A Rock'n'Roller, In My Dreams


Sadly after Wig Wam finished, their German followers FAIR WARNING weren't welcomed as furiously on stage as the Norwegians, eventhough they were playing in UK for the first time. Their set seemed to calm down the mood a bit, but the band played professionally, after all they are one of the hottest rock groups to be found and singer Tommy Heart has the best voices in the biz. The band doesn't put all their efforts on performance, but Heart and guitarist Helge Engelke were the ones to watch for.

Setlist included: Angels Of Heaven, Save Me, Generation Jedi, Out On The Run, Longing For Love, Desert Song, Children's Eyes, I Fight, Don't Give Up, Still I Believe, Burning Heart


Apart from Treat, RockUnited saw Gotthard and BONFIRE in Sweden Rock this past summer, all tight live acts. Bonfire spent the night before Saturday at The Rig, but their gig luckily started a bit later the next day, so they had some time to relax before the set. As Fair Warning ended their set, the stage got more German visitors in Bonfire. As was predicted, the band didn't disappoint their fans, but played their set through with ease and showed they're true rock entertainers. As before, singer Claus Lessmann hit the floor level to greet their fans and the crowd was cheering loudly. It was no surprise their fans were so pleased to see them, as the band hasn't been in UK in five years.

Setlist included: Under Blue Skies, Hot To Rock, Don't Touch The Light, Tony's Roulette, American Nights, Hard On Me, Sweet Obsession, Ready 4 Reaction, Bang Down The Door


When the Swiss rockers GOTTHARD went on people were in for another helluva rockin' treat. This band has never let their fans down live, and obviously their success story that started in Switzerland is just expanding to other countries as well. The crowd seemed to be expecting this band quite a lot, as they were pretty noisy already before the show even got started, but no wonder, Gotthard just visited UK earlier this year and gained more fans through that. Like the rest of the bands, they also suffered of technical problems and singer Steve Lee's mike went off in the end, but he didn't seem troubled by it at all, but calmly stated "it's only rock'n'roll". Steve Lee is the bands most charismatic person, and the crowd just melts before him, acting like a bunch of marionette puppets when Lee asks whatever from them.

Rock City was the noisiest while Gotthard was playing and it was incredible to watch most of the people at the lower level singing and dancing along to almost any tracks the band was playing. "All We Are" just blew up the venue for starters and one of the noisiest and damn loud moments was while the crowd was singing the chorus of "Hush", that Deep Purple/Joe South cover song the band usually plays live. Another track that never fails to kick hard and serious is "Lift U Up". While people sang loudly in "Hush", in "Lift U Up" they instead started jumping like crazy and doing whatever they could do to participate the immense fun atmosphere. Gotthard has in the latest gigs pretty much kept the same setlist as is heard on their "Live In Switzerland" - release, but it's a well working set, where the band feels right at home on stage. And like any other bands, Gotthard has their solo parts sunk in as well, but what was seen in Firefest involved beer bottles as slide instruments. What fun was that to the band and their fans, never have I seen nothing like this done before, although with other instruments. When a band as tight as Gotthard is playing, the set always seems too short, but eventhough everyone would've loved to hear more, there were time limits to all bands and I was also pleased to get a short break from all the fun in the very hot venue. It was obvious Gotthard should've been the main band of the event.

Setlist: All We Are, Dream On, Hush, Top Of The World, I Wonder, Let It Be, Mountain Mama, Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn), Firedance, Lift U Up, Anytime Anywhere


Having just seen WINGER two weeks before their Firefest show I knew they didn't have the easiest slot performing for the Gotthard-mad crowd. Firefest was filled with professional bands and Winger was one of them. They played a good set in Finland before UK, but it could've been better and truthfully, beating Steve Lee's wild performance is hard. Winger's show was yet as expected as any other bands, and they haven't been in UK in over ten years. From the start the band was having trouble with whatever like it was the case in Finland, and it was sad to watch the great band struggling with such difficulties.

The crowd grew totally bored with the show, only a few were partying, and it didn't help when singer Kip Winger didn't like the comments heard from the crowd and seemed to lose the rest of the interest for performing along it. The show had jamming and solo parts from guitarist Reb Beach and drummer Rod Morgenstein, but most fans expected more hits instead of those. Overall the band made a rehearsal-like impression, although some fine performance was seen from Reb and Rod, who can be really energetic on stage. Another problem the band encountered was in the beginning of "Rainbow In The Rose", when they had trouble with the keys and had to start over again. Sadly Winger also had to cut their show short, as time was limited again, so songs like "Who's The One" and "Miles Away" weren't heard here. The new tracks didn't work as well for the melodic based crowd here as in Finland, where a bunch of musicians had come to hear the more complex songs.

Setlist: Blind Revolution Mad, Loosen Up, Seventeen, Down Incognito, Rainbow In The Rose, Generica, Junkyard Dog (Tears On Stone), Right Up Ahead, guitar solo, You Are The Saint I Am The Sinner, drum solo, Headed For A Heartbreak, Can't Get Enuff, Easy Come Easy Go, Madalaine.

Before Winger even finished their set, some crowd had left the building to continue the evening at The Rig, which was packed. Even Winger and other band members were seen there and I checked out the dance floor with Rod, but couldn't get him there. Strangely in UK as well as in Ireland the dance floor is mostly filled with guys, when in Finland it's the opposite, which would be the case in most countries. Hmmm, now I'm beginning to understand the reluctance of Rod to join in on the hard rock disco fever...

Firefest 4 is now comfirmed too, taking place at the same time next year also in Rock City. The venue seems to be a bit too small for this event nowadays though, and considering it's hard to find seats there and no food is available, it would be better to take it some place else. But we're still anxiously waiting for the next year, after all Firefest III was a thrill of a lifetime! Thanks to Bruce Mee and the Firefest and Fireworks crew for a great festival and company!

Report by Satu Reunanen, satu [at]
Pictures by Kari Helenius, carda [at]
Hi-Res versions of the pix and more at
(c) 2006 RockUnited.Com