June 7th and 8th, 2002
Ritmo y Compás
Madrid, Spain

Well, it was a pleasant surprise after last year's first ever Melodic Rock Festival in Spain that there was actually a follow up to that show. José Herrera, the main man of Necessary Productions, in fact the only promoter that dares to bring us Spaniards melodic rock acts, be it local acts or international ones, was hesitant to repeat the experience because of financial problems, having lost around 6,000 € in last year show. But Mark Ashton pushed him a little bit and since José now works as a gig programmer on Ritmo y Compás, a complex that has rehearsal studios, recording facilities, a school of music, and even a small auditorium that can hold up to 350 people, he made up his mind and ended up organizing Nemelrock 2.

Line up sounded really good to us melodic rock fans that responded to José's call with a turnout of around 200 on Friday (mainly Spanish bands) and sold out on Saturday (with the "big" names playing).Not only that but among the audience there were people from all around Spain and far beyond (Portugal and the UK, for instance).

Sadly, I missed most of their set, due to traffic excellences of Madrid, (oh man, I love this city! :-/). From the opinions I gathered, they sound promising, but are still a bit immature, but that's not my word as I wasn't there to witness their show. Hope to catch 'em again soon.
These Barcelona based hardrockers have been playing inthe Catalonian club circuit for some years now, and you can tell that of the way they sound live, pretty tight and with a definite style, very much into late 80's/early 90's US hard rock ala Skid Row, but with shades of what you British would call pub rock. The singer didn't impressed me that much, but I must say he suits pretty well within the band's sound. They connected well with the audience and left an overall pleasant impression on us. They played a cover of Skid Row's "Monkey Business" that worked well, even though the singer is far away from being Sebastian Bach. All in all a good show and an appetizer of things to come later on the festival. Their demo CD with 14 tracks should be on my way so, expect a review later this month on our A&R Dept.

Having seen them three times now, I can quite honestly say this was their best show so far IMO. They sound tight as hell, which is even more surprising if you take into account two facts: a) this is their 4th gig as Golden Farm with this line up, and b) this time they hadn't rehearsed at all (just two songs on the soundcheck) as both Loren, the guitarist and Ito, the bassist, who live in Menorca, arrived by 5pm on Friday. The day these guys have a proper week of rehearsals, we can expect a mind blowing show! As I said both in my review of their debut album, "Angel's Tears" and in the review of their first gig back in February, Tony Menguiano has one of the best voices in Spanish melodic rock scene, being by far the most technical singer I've ever listened to in this country. Obviously he's got his limits (as anyone else) but he's well aware of that and knows how to take full benefit of his vocal rank and has a remarkable ability to rock when needed and mellow down when he has to. That's why I defined him as a cold blooded vodalist, (something he, somehow doesn't like that much);). Bernardo Ballester, drummer is kind of a rock legend here in Spain, having played in old legendary bands over here as Ńu and Santa and he sure is skilled enough to rock the house, plus being such a nice guy, he has won the hearts of the fans who really appreciate him. Ito is a really good bass player plus sings harmonies really well, (so does Loren), and together with Bernardo deliver one of the best rhytm sections you can see live around here. Igor, keyboradist, is really talented and skilled musician, but to me is somehow the weak spot on this band as I think his playing sounds weaker than the one you can hear on the record (he joined the band after the recording, so did Bernardo). And now let's go to Loren, one hell of a guitarist if you ask me and a really good songwriter too. His playing is nothing short of brilliant as he combines quite well the "Swedish school" as I fancy to call it with an 80's US hard rock approach that melts into a very nice sounding melodic yet heavy style.

Those who saw the band for the first time were really impressed and from here, both media and fans are already starting a campaign to take this band to the most relevant melodic rock festival nowadays (two editions this year, the other one to be held in November... need further clues? :P)

I was really looking forward to see this one, as I heard/read very good reviews on last year's Gods one by these guys, plus the Finn section of the AOR Europe time haven't ceased raving about them ever since their debut came out last year. (Hmm... maybe is because they were the very first AOR band ever to come out from Finland?). [The Finn Section: No. It's because they're good! Doh! ] Anyway, my expectations weren't fullfilled at all. In fact the other way round, I got really disappointed by their show. They had a bad sound, the vocal department wasn't by any means as its best (and I mean both the lead vocals and the harmonies) and the audience was left with a "WTF" sensation. This is always painful, but when there are Journey songs mistreated in such a way it becomes almost a crime. I felt really sad for the guys who were really looking forward to this gig in Spain, but honestly it wasn't at all a good show. Only highlight was when Patricia (NEXX) joined them to sing "Send Her My Love". Wicked tongues commented after the show that maybe she should'be sung the whole set. ;)

They were supossed to play on Sunday as an epilogue to the Nemelrock 2 festival, but work commitments (they are all pro musicians playing with Spanish top 40 Pop artists) forced the promoter to move them to Friday. Pity they had to play so late, as they were nothing short of amazing. Not every day you have the chance to see a TOTO tribute band (really hard stuff to cover properly) and let me tell ya having not seen TOTO live I honestly doubt they can do any better than these guys. Sounds a bit too much raving but anyone who stayed at the venue to see their set can tell you if I'm wrong. Crystal clear sound, brilliant performance and superb vocals (lead and harmonies) made them one of the most impressive bands I've ever seen live not only in this country (that's for sure!) but counting foreign acts too. Shame that the guys can't actually make a living of this and had to play with shitty pop stars who only sound good live because they have top level musicians like these on their live bands. Can't wait to see them again live as they play around Madrid as much as their commitments allow them to.

All in all a fantastic show in which the Spanish bands were way better than the only foreign act playing. Be aware mates, the Spanish have arrived! :)

Due to a bit of confusion on the door (problems with the booked tickets), I missed half of their set. They were supposed to play a full band electric show, but they didn't. Official reason given was that the bass player broke his finger the day before the show, thus only the new vocalist and guitarist Vince O'Regan were onstage doing an almost improvised acoustic set. It was ok, but not what we expected, and if we add that the people was still entering the venue, the reaction was a bit cold. Hope to catch them again this time with a full band electric show as for me acoustic sets are not the best way to catch my eye on a band for the first time.

Now, I have seen these guys (and girl) quite a few times over the last 16 months and they don't stop amazing me each time I see them live. They are gaining both experience and musician skills step by step. Bernardo has definitely lost his shyness and cranks up his guitar giving the band an edge it lacked of before. Fran delivers a mellower sound on his keyboards, and brings on lots of both AORish and proggie influences which makes the blend of sounds richer. Jose (bassist) and Oscar (drummer) sound tighter each time. And both Bernardo and Jose are improving the backing vocal dept (traditionally the weakest point of this band). If we add to the above the ever growing vocal and stage presence of Patricia, who doesn't stop to thrill me (she even made a part of the audience cry with emotion ;) ) no matter how many times I see them live.

Those who hadn't listened to their new stuff dropped their jaws for the whole set, and the overall impression the band left in the audience was really good. Their new stuff is getting more technical at places (Arches Of Faith), more in a commercial direction in others (Hit Me), some ass-kicking hard rock here (Hanging Around), and still AOR (Remember, If you Could Read My Mind). Unlike previous shows, they only played two covers (Whitesnake's Fool for Your Lovin' and Europe's Let The Good Times Rock), as time has come for them to show their truly potential with their own stuff, which IMO is nothing short of brilliant. After a long chat with the band after their set, I got some really good news, as it seems that the agreement between the band and a certain label (yet unnamed) is being worked out and signing should follow really soon. That certain label apparently has already chosen the tracks to be included on Nexx debut album that should be recorded after the summer for a release before the end of the year. But details on where and how wil it be recorded are still to be discussed, so is the producer issue. More info as soon as we get it! :-)

Nexx setlist:
0. Lullaby
1- In A Blue Moon
2- Hanging Around
3- Wake Up
4- Fool For Your Lovin' (Whitesnake)
5- After The Storm
6- Arches Of Faith
7- Consciously
8- Let The Good Times Rock (Europe)
9- If You Could Read My Mind
10. Remember
11- Get Fire

Expectations were high to see these Madrid based melodic rockers as it's been a while since they last played live around here. Work commitments on some band members (pro musicians) prevented them to play more often and even to work on their own stuff. But they were eager to do a gig, so they accepted Jose's offer to play at Nemelrock 2. Technically their show went down quite well, they got a good sound, Julio (vocalist) had his day and the band delivered a good proof of what they're able to do. BUT (and that's my personal opinion, though), seems to me that they are somehow missing the train. Let me explain, with the increasing number of new good acts on the Spanish melodic rock scene, which is good because the level of our national rock is getting higher and higher each time, Elyte seems to be missing the chance to work hard on new stuff to show what they have to offer to the melodic soundscape nowadays. They played their set half (or more) in English, (sadly with not so good an accent), and part in Spanish, which made the audience confused and divided on it. They even played a couple of new tunes, but even they sounded way dated to me. They couldn't match the songs on their first album, or on their '94 "Mas Fuerte" demo. No new things in there, no musical development, if you know what I mean. It's hard for me to say this, cause I have a lot of respect and affection for these guys who broke on a time where there was no melodic rock scene neither here nor in the rest of Europe and they always stuck to what they believed in, but I think they should work really hard on new stuff in the months to come if they dont want to definitely miss their chance.

Well, having heard nothing but raving about these guys live, and having listened, and digging their debut album, I must confess I was really looking forward seeing them. And to be honest I got a bit disappointed. The set started really well, with four of their best tracks played in a row, but from there it went down hill all the way. Luckily, Kimmo (vocalist) was in a much better shape than the previous day on the Journey tribute show. Vocal harmonies were ok, but not brilliant, and the sound of the band was solid, I'll give you that, but Erkka was not at his best (he had to have surgery on his arm the following monday, I just talked to him after it and it was a complete success, so no worries about playing in a near future).

The biggest downside of their performance was that to me they lacked feeling after the start of the show. Even if they left a treat to the end of their set - Devil In Me, one of my faves on the album - it was too late to regain the interest of the audience. They left me a bit cold, but I hope they can do it much better in a forthcoming show they are about to play in November. ;-)

Urban Tale setlist:
1- Circus
2- Passion Takes Over
3- King Of Hearts
4- Engine
5- Broken Chains
6- On The Edge
7- Water
8- Runaway Train
9- One Day
10- Doris Day
11- Devil In Me
12- Starship Of Giants
13- House Of Blues

And finally the highlight of the night came, the band everybody was looking forward to see, whether you did see them last year (or earlier this month at the gods) or you were new to them. And they left no one disappointed. What a great show they put on! According to those who saw them last week at the Gods in Bradford, England, they were better over here, playing a much better set. But as I for one wasn't there (at the Gods), I'll stick to this very gig and only will compare it to last year one. They didn't played any Rubber songs, which wouldn't bother me as I like that stuff, different from Harem Scarem, yes, but enjoyable nontheless. It made their Spanish fans happier. Funny thing I find in this is the fact that they did play some tracks from their new album which are very Rubber oriented, like If You (one of my faves of the album) or You Ruined Everything, and the crowd enjoyed them just the same as Saviours or Hard To Love! Hard to understand the melodic rock fans sometimes-.. ;-)

Harry Hess is a hell of a vocalist live, Pete Lesperance is a beast playing riffs and solos and the band has a live sound that is as good as it gets. PERIOD. As I said on my review of last year's Nemelrock, not every day you get the chance to see such top level musicians playing live in your town, and me for one always enjoy such experiences, no matter if the play AOR, Metal, pop, or sevillanas for what is worth. The band left the fans with a big smile on their faces and that's what's itall about, enjoying playing the music you like and make someone else enjoy it as well. I could keep on rambling here about how good they were, but honestly, I doubt I could add something new to those who were lucky enough to be there, nor could get to describe the show for those who missed it. So Jorge shuts up now! :-)

Harem Scarem setlist:
1- Change
2- Killing Me
4-Hard To Love
5- You Ruined Everything It
6- Ain't Over
7- See-Saw
8- If You
9- Frozen
10- How Long
11- Honestly
12- Outside Your Window
13. So Blind
14- The Paint Thins
15- No Justice
16- Weight Of The World
17- Saviours Never Cry

All in all a great weekend of good music, even better bands and best of all, a chance to meet many people who are into the same music as you, no matter if they're fans, media, or musicians. Big Thanks to Jose Herrera for putting up this show, and also to all the bands playing as well. Special thanks to the URBAN TALE guys for being such nice guys, NEXX for being themselves and to all the people who travelled such a long way to make it to the show (Portugal and the UK, for instance). Hope you all had such great time as I had!

Jorge "Vigilante" Antonaya