Arrow Rock Festival
John Waite, Whitesnake, Journey, Deep Purple
June 9th 2006
De Schans, Lichtenvoorde, The Netherlands
Through the years the Arrow Classic Rock Festival has become the best (and only) festival for the classic rock. Held in a motorcross field in a small middle of nowhere town near the German border, the location is far from attractive and not quite the most obvious location to spend the weekend. It is probably exactly because of that that the festival has become an annual pilgrimage of overweight, balding people who come to enjoy a healthy dose of 'old geezer rock'.
Classic rock may not be hip and therefore the Arrow Festival will never be as big as other Dutch festivals like Pinkpop or Lowlands, but in recent years organiser Rob Trommelen has attracted a steady line-up of big names including Alice Cooper, Yes, Dream Theater, Meatloaf, Kansas, Styx, Manfred Mann, Fish, Saga and Heart.
Because of the large amount of suitable bands on offer, and conflicting schedules of those same bands, the 2006 edition was spread out over two days, with especially the second day being almost exclusively progressive rock.
The first day contained more music in the classic and hard rock vein, and the second night was more prog rock and prog metal. However there was one band in the line-up which made it very interesting for prog fans to travel to Lichtenvoorde on the Friday: American rockers Journey were to play their first gig in 28 years on Dutch soil.
As always the festival was divided over two stages. The open air stage Rock Garden, and the stage in the tent, Rock Palace. The programming was done very efficiently so that a band on one stage would start the moment the previous band on the other stage stopped. This way there was music continuously on offer and no one would have to miss a single performance they wanted to see.
the afternoon sessions
Winnetoo rockers Blackfoot opened in the Rock Garden while we were sorting out parking and entrance, but we were in time to catch most of the set of former Babys and Bad English singer John Waite who gave a well-polished performance in the Rock Palace. I was impressed by his powerful voice and thoroughly enjoyed his set, which included his hits Missing You and Babys classic Isn't It Time. However, he did neglect his Bad English past despite Time Stood Still being his biggest hit in The Netherlands.
Furthermore his set was very short. He didn't need anyone with a watch to tell him to leave the stage after an hour, as he needed less than 55 minutes to complete his set, which included the Led Zeppelin cover Rock n' Roll as encore.
Redneck rocker Ted Nugent 'entertained' the audience in the Rock Garden to a wall of noise, as well as some favourable views of American domination of the world. Time for lunch and a beer. For some reason the beer tasted too good to get up for the Uriah Heep performance in the Rock Palace. So despite this band's music being quite in the prog mould, we missed the entire performance.
We did get up for Whitesnake, largely because my brother-in-law used to listen to them in some former life.
I'd read reviews about Whitesnake and especially David Coverdale's performance and I can say that they are all true. Basically the guy is still running around the stage making obscene moves as if the last 18 years never happened, introducing every song with "here's a little song for ya!"
The set was pretty much a greatest hits set, which included Fool For Your Loving, Slide It In and Is This Love?
What I didn't understand from Whitesnake was that a band with a twenty-odd year career, that gets a 75-minute slot to play at a festival, still can't find enough material to fill the set and has to bide the time with not one, but *two* guitarsolos, and a ten-minute drum solo. I know hard rock is all about ego's and all members needing to show off, but this was just ridiculous.
Dutch guitar legend Ad van den Bergh joined his old bandmates for the final encore of Here I Go Again, which was the highlight of an otherwise uninspired gig.
Status Quo did their usual thing, turning the twilight into an excellent rock party. Unfortunately they also had the need to bore their audience with a drum solo, but nonetheless they entertained with classics such as Down Down, Roll Over Lay Down and Rockin' All Over The World.
They suffered somewhat from a lack of attention as halfway through their set many people moved to the Rock Palace to be in time for the Journey which was to take place in the Rock Palace next.
As some seven or eight thousand people were waiting in a steaming hot tent, the sounds of Status Quo on the nearby Rock Garden stage sparked off some of that party atmosphere and many people were happily jumping and singing along "Rocking all over the world!"
A better warm-up act Journey could not have wished.
Journey were the one reason for me to attend the Friday event. Failing to tour Holland or even Europe for a long, long time resulted in two things. Firstly, many people were having great expectations. Most people going to attend have never seen Journey with Steve Perry at the mic, which could make this an even harder audience to win over. Secondly, they were bound to play a kind of greatest hits set to please the audience, which is always a good choice for a festival audience anyway. That did the trick, of course. Journey played for a very appreciative crowd, that sang along to most of the songs, and even sang louder than Steve Augeri during Lights and Faithfully.
By Jerry van Kooten
I had my expectations too, alright. I had never seen the band live before. However, I was never a bigger Steve Perry fan than a Journey fan. For me, the band was the band, who happened to have an amazingly good singer, but who also sounded too clean and a bit whining at times. The greatest hits set, therefore, would not be my choice of setlist, but was very good still. To be honest, I have heard Lights or Faithfully a few times too many, and would love to hear more of the older stuff or some less popular songs of the later albums. But we did get a list of other great songs like Mother Father, Edge Of The Blade, Separate Ways, plus one of the best of the new stuff, Faith In The Heartland. What completely made my day was Mystery Mountain off the first album. The fact that Jonathan Cain told the audience twice that this was something from 1975 showed they weren't too confident this would work. I am so glad they did this, they have touched even more people's hearts with that.
The band's playing was simply great. Probably due to their knowing they had to win over the audience, but also because they're a very professional band. To my taste, there was a bit too much showing off the American way (Neal's solo spot, the tactics to get the audience to clap along), but then again they're a US band. The playing was tight, but fortunately not too polished - I like my Journey a bit rough!
Steve Augeri is an amazing singer in his own right. He's singing the Perry songs in a way that is sometimes his own, and sometimes very much like Perry, especially during the hits. Especially after I heard that Perry was the main reason for the band not travelling to Europe, I couldn't care less about him anymore. Augeri is a great singer, slightly rougher and therefore a bit rockier than Perry, making him more interesting to me than his predecessor. Whereas the band lost me in the mid 1980s, they brought me back with the latest albums. Deen Castronovo is drumming his arms off, and surprised me by singing Mother Father, which was probably too high even for Augeri? The two founding members, Neal Schon and Ross Valory, and keyboard player for more than 25 years already, Jonathan Cain, are obviously used to sharing the same stage - they don't need a lot of communication to make things run smoothly.
Starting five minutes earlier than planned and stretching out a little bit, the band got about 10 to 15 minutes more than was on schedule. Almost a full show, but I think we did get something extra compared to, for example, Manchester, where they played a two hour set, but no songs off the first album. We were treated with a powerful set, including many different crowd teasers and pleasers, easily winning over almost everyone. Including me. If they worried, they should not have. I hope they realise we expect them back on a tour of their own, including that planned middle set of songs off the first three albums. Yes, a mix of that, some Perry era tunes, and more new songs would make it even more exciting.
Faith In The Heartland
Neal Schon Guitar Solo
Stone In Love
Wheel In The Sky
Edge Of The Blade
Who's Cryin' Now
Don't Stop Believing
Anyway You Want It
Be Good To yourself
Deep Purple returned to the Arrow Stage after three years to deliver the perfect ending to a perfect day. Although they weren't able to top the performance of Journey, they did treat the audience to an excellently balanced set which consisted of a greatest hits package plus some new songs.
I'd never seen the band live before, and was amazed by how much fun the band were having onstage - they acted like a young band out on tour for the first time, rather than a rock band that has existed for nearly 40 years. No running through obligatory routines, none of that, just pure power and entertainment.
Sure, you could say that Deep Purple is not the same anymore now Ritchie Blackmore and John Lord have left the band, but with Steve Morse and Don Airey as apt replacements you could also say that the band has rediscovered themselves and by replacing the two ego's they have managed to make touring fun again.
And besides, Steve Morse managed to make you forget all about Blackmore, with a sound almost similar to Blackmore's, yet making all the solos his own. And the way he was battling out the guitar/keyboard duels with Airey made you feel like you were watching a gig from thirty years earlier.
OK, the guys have put on some weight and gone grey, and Ian Gillan doesn't reach the high notes anymore (causing songs like Child In Time to be dropped from the setlist) but they played with the enthusiasm of a young band.
When the band was joined by Journey's Neil Schon to play the final encore of Smoke On The Water the party was complete, and we left the festival grounds very satisfied - knowing that today was only a teaser of what was to come the next day!
Setlist Deep Purple
Things I Never Said
Rapture Of The Deep
Strange Kind Of Woman
When a Blind Man Cries
Smoke On The Water