Rotherham Rocks Festival, Saturday 20th October 2001
Pallas, Threshold, Sylvan, Ricocher
Oakwood Centre, Rotherham, England
By Charlie Farrell
Rotherham Rocks Festival
This was the 8th occasion of the Rotherham Rocks Festival, spread over two days and two venues in Rotherham - The Heringthorpe Leisure Centre for the Saturday afternoon session and The Oakwood Centre for the Friday and Saturday evening events. The Saturday evening event featured four bands and though the hall wasn't sold out - there was still a healthy number of people present.
I missed the first of the evening bands (Ricocher) from Holland, but they sold a good number of CDs that evening, so I think that they must have been very well received. They certainly seemed pleased with sales.
Around 8PM the German 5-piece outfit Sylvan came on stage and blasted into the opening number No Way Out. I was pleasantly surprised by the heaviness of their approach as I’d been anticipating something rather softer. Vocalist Marco Glühmann seemed immediately at ease and communicated well with the crowd, who responded to the opening numbers with warm applause. By the third number, entitled That’s why it hurts, they had well and truly warmed up and bassist Sebastian Harnack was also moving around the stage and visibly enjoying himself.
Deliverance, the title track of their first CD, was an epic 10 minutes long, and formed the centrepiece of their set. Marco sounded superb throughout and together with the keys of Volker Söhl and his brother, Kay Alexander Söhl’s guitar, made it perhaps the highlight of the set, for me. Kay Alexander in particular delivered some excellent solos, during the last couple of numbers and the band closed its set to great applause from the crowd. They are entitled to feel content that their first UK gig was a great success.
After a lengthy break, the lights went down again and CRS boss Martin Hudson introduced Threshold, playing their first UK date since the Clone tour in 1999. Featuring a shorter set that that which they had played on their European headlining dates they rocked from start to finish opening with the powerful Freaks from Clone and closing out with the ever popular Paradox. In between, the set featured the cream of their latest disk Hypothetical and a couple of old gems, but sadly nothing from Extinct Instinct. Turn On, Tune In and Oceanbound maintained the pace and heaviness of the opening number, before they slipped in one of the slower numbers Change where Singer Andrew ‘Mac’ McDermott revealed the subtler side of his voice.
‘Mac’ really does make a great frontman, and is certainly able to animate the crowd, encouraging them to clap and sing along on several occasions. Similarly impressive tonight is the other relative ‘newcomer’ to the band, Joanne James, who really drives the band along with his drumming and seems to relish the faster driven numbers as the slower passages left him enough time to juggle his sticks as he played.
The twin guitars of Nick Midson and Karl Groom form the band’s strike force and nowhere else was this better illustrated than as they thundered through Long Way Home, with Karl picking up the majority of the solos.
Jon Jeary then introduced ‘one for the old fans’ - the classic Devoted from Psychedelicatessen, which sees all but Mac and keyboardist Richard West take a break during the quiet section before the they all return for the closing part of the number. Two further tracks from Hypothetical followed; Light and Space and the epic Ravages of Time, which features more of the thumping bass of Jon Jeary together with his excellent vocals, nicely counterbalancing Mac’s voice and illustrating beautifully another element of Threshold’s sound.
Despite the contracted setlist, the band showcased their material very successfully. Hypothetical has sold well and this line-up has solidness and conviction about it at last, which seems destined to allow them to build further on their success.
Headlining the evening’s entertainment were Pallas, playing the second of two UK gigs this year, the first having been in their hometown of Aberdeen the night before. A lengthy overture, taken from Mozart’s requiem set the mood and prepared for their entrance on stage where they opened up with the title track from their latest disk The Cross and The Crucible. The setting was quite spectacular, with the stage lighting down low and the band illuminated by huge flame effects on the stage floor and from two huge crucibles sited on the speaker stacks, either side of the stage.
This was followed by another tune from TC&TC - For the Greater Glory and then an old favourite The Executioner which was greeted with a huge cheer of recognition by the crowd. As singer Alan Reed strapped on his guitar once more, he quipped about how “Some things have changed. After 15 years they allow me to play guitar”. He then introduced Who’s to Blame, yet another new tune - which has something to do with the media?
The band then treated the crowd, a good number of whom were old fans, to some older numbers Crown of thorns, Beat the drum and Blood & roses before returning once again to the new material. The Blinding Darkness of Science was superb and moved quickly into the epic The Towers of Babble. Celebration was then introduced as “something more uplifting” and the crowd were thanked for their patience with the new material which the band had only played live once before. A medley Lacrimosa (Requiem)/Atlantis brought the set to and end.
Though the clock was edging towards midnight, the crowd demanded an encore and so the band returned to play Midas Touch, once again utilizing the very impressive flame effects and a finale of Cut and Run, pushing the set’s length towards the 2-hour mark. All in all an excellent well-organised evening featuring a fine mix of British and European prog.
No Way Out
Essence Of Life
Thats Why It Hurts (new song)
All Of It
Turn on, Tune in
Long Way Home
Light And Space
Ravages Of Time
Introitus: Requiem Aerternam (Mozart's Requiem)
Cross & Crucible
Executioner/Rat racing (medley)
Who's To Blame
Crown Tf Thorns
Beat The Drum
Blood & Roses
Blinding Darkness Of Science
Towers Of Babble
Cut & Run