Tony Martin, Gotthard, P-Box
16 November 2005
A-38 Club, Budapest – Hungary

My first time in this venue, or I should actually say "on" this one cuz it's a ship with an impressively designed interior that hosts a relatively okay-sized stage and room for an audience of 800 at maximum. A massive audience of about 500 turned up for the show and though I personally didn't really care for the Hungarian opening act, I was early enough to witness their entire show which was absolutely okay. They play decent melodic rock with pretty strong 70s Deep Purple influences, this time focusing mostly on their old material showing a few songs from their new album out. The response from the crowd was somewhere between polite appreciation and friendly cheering.

However all their efforts and the quality of their performance seemed to pale quickly compared to Gotthard who took the stage after a surprisingly short break. The Swiss' never fail to impress me and they delivered a quality show this time as well. Despite the permanent problems with his monitors Steve Lee was in fine form, his voice was perfect from the first song on, and his energetic performance got the crowd going. The setlist concentrated mostly on classic

Gotthard stuff with a surprisingly heavy emphasis on the album "G" and towards the end it was spiced up with the rather uptempo songs from their newie "Lipservice". Probably the most interesting part of the entire setlist was a one-guitar only acoustic performance (played on the electric without any distortion though) of "In The Name". Steve's vocal performance was unbelievably perfect in that one.

The band's spirit was really high in the first part of the show as the audience really got into their show however the constant sound problems with interfering microphones and bassplayer Marc Lynn's misunderstanding with a member of the audience lead to a minor setback in their spirit but they got through it professionally and a few people I talked to after the show didn't even noticed the problems I did. After making the audience sing in "The Mighty Quinn" the crowd was eating from Steve's hands and by the end of the show we felt that it would be very difficult to top Gotthard's performance that night.

Due to customs problems Tony Martin and his co. were an hour or more late and Tony apologized for it right away mentioning they had to drive 9 hours since the last show. This and the fact they had to use some of Gotthard's gear was a good-enough apology for the problems during the first few songs. Both the opening "Law Maker" and "I Witness" suffered from an unbalanced mix and the lack of Tony's warm-up. By the fourth song or so sound problems disappeared and Tony's voice caught up with him and from then on he delivered a decent performance proving he didn't lost his voice along the way. His band was a bit too "patchy" for my taste with Geoff Nichols (the man behind the curtain in the Black Sabbath years) on keyboards… well there was a reason for hiding him, watching him I simply couldn't get past his reading-glasses that he used to see the display of his keyboards… on top of that unfortunately the keyboards got pretty much lost in the mix.

Tony brought his son Joe Harford with him on guitars, a very nice, polite, withdrawn kid who simply didn't fit in the band both age and attitude wise. He looked to be a shy boy from a college band. Danny Needham on the drums was the total opposite; his playing was as spectacular as of Tommy Lee's with sticks spinning all the time. He spiced Cozy's themes up, pretty much reinterpreting the whole thing. He was probably the only member of the band eligible for stage actually. The Italian guitarist looked like someone who just escaped from a Spinal Tap movie but credit where it's due: his playing was really okay though it is to admit that Iommi got a thicker sound alone than the two guitarists together. All in all it was Tony's incredible voice and his stage personality that saved the day with jokes like "The last time I sang this I had hair. Probably you too." and some other similar gags. It was nice to hear all the classics from him from "Headless Cross" to "When Death Calls" however the set-list was very heavy on slow and mid-tempo songs, "Devil and Daughter" and the second part of "Valhalla" were the only uptempo moments. I could have done without the Ozzy songs in the encore; they really felt out of place here.

And the verdict: Tony's voice and Danny's performance on the drums are not enough to make a show even if the band played the classic tunes we were waiting ages to hear live, so all in all Gotthard clearly stole the show from them.

Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner
Photos by Geza Kelemen,