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Artist
Venue
City
Date
Reviewer
FIREFEST 2012 NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND, OCTOBER 19, 20 & 21

Rock City

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND

OCTOBER 19, 20 & 21, 2012



DAY I – FRIDAY – LIONVILLE, DANTE FOX, TEN & TYKETTO

DAY II – SATURDAY – JOHNNY LIMA, WORK OF ART, ROBIN BECK, SANTERS, XYZ, MITCH MALLOY, GOTTHARD

DAY III – SUNDAY – FARCRY – FIONA – ROYAL HUNT – BRIGHTON ROCK – LILLIAN AXE – STAGE DOLLS – DANGER DANGER

Well, it's not an easy thing to be impartial about writing my second coming to Firefest. Last year it was such a great experience that I just had to go there again this year; after all, this year's casting was just phenomenal!  2012 was quite a hard year. Lots of things to do, little money to do everything. The whole trip to England almost did not happen, but I was there eventually, and it was worth every single time I had to sacrifice making it there.  After spending a couple of days in London, Nottingham seemed like a dream! The days had finally come! Other than meeting each and every one of the artists I went there to see, who, by the way, couldn't have been nicer, it was finally time to rock!

DAY I – FRIDAY – LIONVILLE, DANTE FOX, TEN & TYKETTO

I would be lying if I told anyone I was there to see all the bands. I should have, once this was not fun only. I was covering the event after all, but come on, before anything I am a fan. A huge fan of most of the bands I was there for, so I had to sacrifice some of the other bands so that I could rest a bit, eat a bit, sleep a bit…. Lionville was the first band on Friday, but I couldn't make it to their show.  Anyway, I heard that they put on a good show – and I'm quite sure they did, since they have amazing musicians like Alessandro Del Vecchio, Mario Percudani & Anna PortalupiDante Fox was the second band on the bill but, unfortunately, I couldn't make it to their show either. I had been told that singer Sue Willets was great (I'm a huge fan of female singers myself), but anyway, I had to get some rest and do other things during the afternoon and early evening…  Word has it was a good show too. Ten came next and I was curious about catching them live, since they were kind of one of the big bands playing at the festival, and also for Gary Hughes being such a respected and well known singer. But no, I didn't make it to this show either. To be deadly honest, my Friday's goal was this one band some may know as Tyketto… When getting to Rock City, the venue where Firefest takes place, was really exciting. Once I looked back from the photo pit I could see that they had flags from various countries – Brazil's flag was there by the way!!!! It was such an honor to be there representing my country and seeing how the wonderful people who take care of everything – Kieran Dargan, Bruce Mee, Phil Ashcroft and Sue Ashcroft,  not to mention all the wonderful people from the crew, really care a lot about the ones who travel from all over the world to attend this unique event.
I had seen Tyketto live before here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, some years ago, and they were amazing back then. At the Rio gig they played the whole Don't Come Easy album, some tracks off Strength in Numbers and a song off their then new album The Last Sunset: Farewell 2007. But that was some years ago, and with the band obviously playing material from their excellent new Dig In Deep album I was quite sure this show would be much better than the first one I watched.
Tyketto hit the stage with "Strength in Numbers", new single "Faithless" and old favorite "Burning Down Inside", and the crowd was more than I could call receptive. Hey, they were really smart starting off with three tracks from three different albums, and actually great songs to start the set with.  The band was surely boiling hot - Brooke St. James (lead guitar), Jimi Kennedy (bass guitar), Michael Clayton (drums) and of course, singer Danny Vaughn, who was, without a doubt, one of the best performers of Firefest 2012. The guy seems not to age at all, still has great looks and great moves and his voice, well, still sounds just like on the studio. 

"Lay Your Body Down" and "Here's Hoping It Hurts" (the best track off the new Dig In Deep album) came next and you could see they were being sung by everyone at Rock City. Simply Amazing. Danny Vaughn then comes up with his acoustic guitar to play three fan favorites then, "Catch My Fall", "Sail Away" and their stunning power ballad "Standing Alone". They wouldn't miss this one (I am glad they didn't, since it's my personal favorite Tyketto song). After these crowd pleasers, the guys kept on with some fabulous rock songs: "Rescue Me", "Meet Me in The Night" (both from the Strength In Numbers album) and "The Fight Left In Me" (from Dig In Deep). So was the night over? No, there was this incredible encore coming up!

Tyketto came back onstage and played their two most famous tunes to date, "Wings" – who Danny Vaughndedicated to his wife who was also attending the show, and the last number, the classic "Forever Young". It was really overwhelming seeing every single person at Rock City singing along to these two great last songs. So the night is over, but everyone wished the set was little longer, since they had to have a few songs left due to being short of time. Tyketto left Rock City that night as one of the best Firefest attractions, and they headed for Germany a few hours later, since they had a gig there the following day. They were and I think they will always be one of the greatest bands of their generation. And that was just the first Firefest day!

TYKETTO SET LIST:

  • - Strength in Numbers
  • - Faithless
  • - Burning Down Inside
  • - Lay Your Body Down
  • - Here's Hoping It Hurts
  • - Catch My Fall
  • - Sail Away
  • - Standing Alone
  • - Rescue Me
  • - Meet Me in The Night
  • - The Fight Left In Me
  • - Wings
  • - Forever Young
DAY II – SATURDAY – JOHNNY LIMA, WORK OF ART, ROBIN BECK, SANTERS, XYZ, MITCH MALLOY, GOTTHARD

Well, after Tyketto's show from the night before, everybody attending the second day of Firefest 2012 was really expecting something special. The question was "will any band top Tyketto's gig?"… It made it so exciting to wait and see the artists that would be playing on the second festival day.

I wasn't really aware of Johnny Lima's music maybe a month before Firefest. A good friend of mine told me about how great this guy is and I decided to check him out before making it to Rock City. And she was so right! All of his albums are awesome, and I was lucky enough to get to know the music he would be playing there.  Johnny Lima himself is a great guy, very sociable and friendly. I could hardly wait to see him performing, since when this year's attractions were announced he was said to be "more Bon Jovi than Bon Jovi". Johnny Lima started the second Firefest day in great style – delivering great music, great looks and attitude. Opener "Made In California", from his most famous album to date, named after the same song, gained the crowd immediately, opening ways to three tracks from his last album Livin' Out Loud: "Hate to Love You"," All I Wanna Do" and "Wildflower". As these songs were being played, we could see why Johnny Lima had been chosen to be on this year's bill. So much energy mixed with powerful songs that would really make Bon Jovi look back at how good they once were. A new song came next, "My Revolution", that surely deserves to be on his next album. Such a great track! "Blame It On Love", another new song, could show in which direction Johnny Lima's new material is heading for. And it sounds great as well. He's a great singer and also a great songwriter and it will be great seeing a new album of his out soon. His back-up band was also really good, and it made possible for Johnny to deliver a great set. Then it was time for the best song on his set, or so I thought. "Caught In The Middle" is everything a song should be – a melodic, pure party-rock song with a catchy chorus and great lyrics to match. It was hard to see Johnny Lima leave the stage after performing the last song, appropriately called "Hard To Say Goodbye", also from his great last Livin' Out Loud album. In short, Johnny Lima fit just perfectly as the first artist to perform on Saturday. Let's see if this time he can deliver an album soon, because I am pretty sure he's got quite a lot of new fans, just like me.

JOHNNY LIMA SET LIST:
  • - Made In California
  • - Hate to Love You
  • - All I Wanna Do
  • - Wildflower
  • - My Revolution
  • - Blame It On Love
  • - Caught In The Middle
  • - Hard To Say Goodbye
The next band to play was Work Of Art, another one that I just had to miss. This marathon of shows makes some of us make choices sometimes – we always need a meal every now and then, and I still needed to meet a lot of people. From what I heard later that day, they delivered a nice set comprised of songs from both of their albums, Artworkand In Progress. I also have to admit that they did fit the festival as well, since I only heard positive comments on their show afterwards.

Coming next was one of the most awaited shows: Robin Beck. She has always been, without a doubt, one of the best female singers in the business. When she was announced early this year and the world got to know that her back-up band would be her husband James Christian (the singer and main man from House Of Lords) on bass guitar, B.J. Zampaon drums (also from House Of Lords), and everybody's favorite guys Tommy Denander on lead guitar and Eric Ragno on keyboards, people in general were very excited about this show. They also had one more guitar player, a guy called Jorge Salan. Robin Beck has so many great albums (and I'm talking about the old and the new ones)and so many songs that were very popular back in the day that I think it was the reason for so much talk about her performing at Firefest this year. She and the band hit the stage gracefully with four tracks from her most popular album to date, the fabulous Trouble Or Nothing. By the first notes of "If You Were A Woman" and straight on to the hit single "Don't Lose Any Sleep" (one of my personal favorites) it was clear that we would have an amazing set to go! Two more hit singles followed, "Hold Back The Night" and "Save Up All Your Tears" (another personal favorite) were really touching, being followed by a song of her last album The Great Escape, "That All Depends (On What You Do Tonight)", originally recorded with the great Joe Lynn Turner, but here with the not less great James Christian sharing vocal duties with her. How was it? Simply great, it was certainly one of the best moments of her show. She and the band knew the crowd was ready for another hit single, so they did "Tears In The Rain", with some great keyboard work from Mr. Eric Ragno. Actually, all members of the band shone brilliantly. Tommy Denander proves each day he's one of the best new melodic rock guitar players around and, to be honest, there are few drummers like the great B.J. Zampa these days. One more track from her The Great Escape album, "The One". Robin Beckand the guys meant business when they played the next one, the fabulous "Hide Your Heart", and of course her biggest song to date, the phenomenal "First Time", both also from her classic Trouble Or Nothing album. As if it was not enough, there was still a last song on the set, an unreleased one called "Follow You" (Robin said it's going to be on her next album – I hope she's right!), showing that the material to come may be as good as the one which all of us are already familiar with. And that's surely a good thing. One of the best shows from this year's Firefest for sure.

ROBIN BECK SET LIST:
  • - If You Were A Woman
  • - Don't Lose Any Sleep
  • - Hold Back The Night
  • - Save Up All Your Tears
  • - That All Depends (On What You Do Tonight)
  • - Tears In The Rain
  • - The One.
  • - Hide Your Heart
  • - First Time
  • - Follow You
When Robin Beck's set was over, it was time for another break, at least for me. So I just had to miss the next band, Canadian veterans Santers. Once I was back to Rock City, people were still talking about their show, saying that it was a great one. There were many people there to see them, so I guess they couldn't be wrong after all.

XYZ was the next band to play. Me, as a fan, could hardly wait for them to hit the stage. Terry Ilous is another one of the greatest singers of melodic rock, and I was pretty sure the XYZshow would be memorable. And I wasn't wrong. It was great seeing Terry and original bass player Pat Fontaine together again. New drummer Joey Shapiro seemed as if he had been playing with the band since its very beginning, and the great surprise was the new guitar player Tony Marcus, previously known because of his work with Stephen Pearcy's Vicious Delite. I told him myself after the show I was quite impressed by his playing, since what he did in his previous band was far different from and simpler than the XYZ material. Anyway, I'm glad Tonyfit the band that well!

XYZ started the set with a couple of tracks from their classic first album, "Come On And Love Me" and "Maggie". Terry has got an incredible voice, which makes the XYZ sound quite unique. The man can sing from rock to a more bluesy style, and still kick some serious ass singing ballads.  Pat's performance was far better than I expected, and it was also a special date, since it was his birthday (There was even a birthday cake and "Happy Birthday" singing to him). The new guys were just amazing as well, and the set continued with "Off To The Sun" and then the great ballad "What Keeps Me Loving You", one of the most special moments. "Follow The Night" came next.  It was a good surprise seeing that the band was sticking to material from their first two albums, XYZand Hungry, other than including stuff from their last ones. Just to make it all better, Terry and Tony got a couple of acoustic guitars and played three of everyone's favorite tracks that way, "After The Rain", "When I Find Love" and "Souvenirs". That was also something special. As some say, if a song doesn't sound good the way it was written, it is not a good song. These three acoustic songs opened ways to some good rock and roll again, with crowd pleaser "Face Down In The Gutter" and their biggest song, "Inside Out". They closed the set with the great "Don't Say No", although most people there could easily spend another hour to XYZ. It was quite an impressive live band with a potent and rocking set list. It was surely worth it waiting to finally catch XYZ live since 1989.

XYZ SET LIST:
  • - Come On And Love Me
  • - Maggie
  • - Off To The Sun
  • - What Keeps Me Loving You
  • - Follow The Night
  • - After The Rain
  • - When I Find Love
  • - Souvenirs
  • - Face Down In The Gutter
  • - Inside Out
  • - Don't Say No
When XYZ's set was over, it was clear I wouldn't have a chance for another break. Mitch Malloy was coming next, and I wouldn't miss his show for anything. He played at Firefest 2011 and he delivered an amazing show, with the guys from LIONVILLE backing him up. As Mitch had a new album out, a rerecorded version of his old Shine album, titled Shine On, I thought it was worth checking the songs off that album out, other than the old familiar songs that he would surely play. To my surprise, Mitch Malloybasically delivered the same set from last year's appearance at the festival. It was a bit saddening seeing some people say "oh, I listened to most of these tracks last year" and leave for a beer or a cigarette then. I was there for the whole show anyway, since Mitch is not only a great guy, but also a top notch singer, songwriter and performer. He and the band started it off with his first album's "Mission Of Love", and then "Falling To Pieces", from his great Malloy II album. The next one, also off his first album and one of my personal favorites, "Stranded In The Middle Of Nowhere", showed  once again that I had made the right decision of staying for the whole concert. Mitch was really good. "I'll Love You Still" also from the Malloy II album kept it up, and then it was time for "Over The Water", from his first album. It's unbelievable that he claims it's his favorite song from that album, when most people just like me think it's easily the weakest track on it. Mitch, if you're reading this, don't get upset, brother! It was great listening to "It's About Love" from the Shine and Shine On albums though. The set was still going strong with a couple more tracks off the Malloy II album, the fabulous "Love Song" and "On And On". Another favorite of mine came next, the beautiful "Our Love Will Never Die", which was sung by everyone in the house and played halfway acoustically until the band joined him, and also "Forever", both songs from his first fantastic first album.

Time for an encore? For sure! Bruno Ravel from Danger Danger joined Mitch and his band on the song "Shine" and it was great seeing and listening to that for sure! Great song indeed. I still remember Mitchtelling me during the interview we had last year that he felt the songs from that album hadn't been recorded the appropriate way, and that he wasn't that happy with them. I'm glad that now with the Shine Onalbum he will be hopefully playing some of those again! His show ended in great style with everyone's favorite track "Nothing At All" (sung along by everyone in Rock City as well) and the beautiful "All My Friends", also from Malloy II. I must say that if Mitch Malloy didn't exactly put on a show that different from last year's Firefest, he did what he does best – he rocked the house down. Once again.

MITCH MALLOY SET LIST:
  • - Mission Of Love
  • - Falling To Pieces
  • - Stranded In The Middle Of Nowhere
  • - I'll Love You Still
  • - Over The Water
  • - It's About Love
  • - Love Song
  • - On And On
  • - Our Love Will Never Die
  • - Forever
  • - Shine
  • - Nothing At All
  • - All My Friends
Seeing Mitch Malloy again was a blast. I don't want to make all the other bands and great artists look less than they are, but then again it was time for Gotthard. I had heard they became really big in Europe and not only was I worried about getting to meet the band (I had missed them twice here in Brazil and it couldn't happen again this time) but I was also curious as hell to see them with their new singer Nic Maeder – after all it is not an easy job filling in for the great and charismatic late Steve Lee. Their new Firebirth album is awesome from start to finish, so curiosity was really screaming! How would Gotthard sound with a new singer doing the old Steve Lee songs? I guess that was what everybody was wondering before the show started. And come on, it's such big responsibility and I don't think there are lots of singers out there who would be put to this type of test.

Gotthard hit the stage with "Dream On", from the Lipservice album. They did choose a great opener. Nic really sounded great along with veterans Leo Leoni (guitars), Marc Lynn (bass guitar), Hena Habegger (drums) and Freddy Scherer (guitars). "Gone Too Far" off the Domino Effect album was another good starter and they headed for "Starlight", off the new album brilliantly. Nic Maeder felt really comfortable and confident in the beginning of the show, showing all of his talent. Comparisons were made. OK, Nic is not Steve Lee but he did a great job. "Top Of The World" (one of my personal favorites) came next, followed by another great new track, "Remember It's Me". Things started slowing down when they played the old classic "Sister Moon", off their G album, when Nic started showing a bit of insecurity. That was totally understood if you consider the pressure this guy has been under since he joined this great band. "Fight" came next, just before the crowd went crazy with their rendition of Deep Purple's "Hush". It is also worth mentioning the incredible guitar work that Leo and Freddy do on each song. "One Life, One Soul" (sung along by Rock City) and the new Firebirth tracks "Shine" and "The Story Is Over" followed, showing that Gotthard still has so much in store for them. "Fist In Your Face" and "Give Me Real" were well performed as well, and another classic tune, "Mountain Mama", off their second album Dial Hard, was surely a good moment too.

It was clear that Gotthard was willing to play the most new songs as possible, and "Right On" was also there. Good choice. Another one of the band's classics, "Lift U Up" had to be on the set after all. It was such a great track before the encore, which hit hard with "Master Of Illusion", also from their Domino Effect album. Needless to say that they saved one of their biggest hits to close the show, and "Anytime Anywhere" was just the right song for the right time. Let's say Gotthard did put on a great show, even though there were people there saying it would have been better if it had been with the late Steve Lee. But as I said, new singer Nic Maeder may seem a little out of place here and there, but just give the guy this tour and more album with them and I'm sure he will be what all the old Gotthard fans expect him to be. Not a big deal. Bands like WARRANT, SKID ROW and of course, Van Halen, changed singers and they survived it. I bet the same will happen to GOTTHARD if they release another album as good as Firebirth in the near future.

GOTTHARD SET LIST:
  • - Dream On
  • - Gone Too Far
  • - Starlight
  • - Top Of The World
  • - Remember It's Me
  • - Sister Moon
  • - Fight
  • - Hush
  • - One Life, One Soul
  • - Shine
  • - The Story Is Over
  • - Fist In Your Face
  • - Give Me Real
  • - Mountain Mama
  • - Right On
  • - Lift U Up
  • - Master Of Illusion
  • - Anytime Anywhere
DAY III – SUNDAY – FARCRY – FIONA – ROYAL HUNT – BRIGHTON ROCK – LILLIAN AXE – STAGE DOLLS – DANGER DANGER

Saturday was a great day. But as any other person who was attending the three-day festival, I still wanted more, and I wanted it to be even better than the day before. Sunday would be a long, long day, I could only have one single break during the shows. I was already tired as hell, but come on, it was such a great selection of bands that could not be missed!

Farcry was the very first band playing on Sunday. I wasn't really familiar with the band's music long before Firefest, just a few weeks before it. I checked on their music eventually and yes, they are a great new band. Pete Fry (lead guitar), Angelo Mazza (rhythm guitar), Ronnie Parkes (bass guitar) and Tommy John (drums) were just great people to meet before the show. I was then told their old singer had left the band, and I was curious to check on the new one, Michael Ledesma. They started their set with "She's Crazy", off their first album High Gear. A nice start, but it was when they played stuff like the second song, "Over And Over Again" and others from their last album Optimism was when they really rocked! Pete Fry is, without a doubt, a great guitar player and songwriter and he did an awesome job for sure. "Nothing You Can Do" and "Better Than This" are also great songs (the latter featuring the great Eric Ragno on keyboards), also from their last album. Even though Farcry showed to be a good band, I'm glad I was not the only one who had this one opinion. New singer Michael Ledesma just didn't fit the band right. Once you listened to some great songs you could instantly feel that there was either something missing or out of place. Not that he is a bad singer, but the thing is that he just didn't fit the band at all, but it was kind of annoying sometimes listen to him for forty minutes basically screaming songs that were definitely made to sound good and pleasant for the ears.

Back to the first album, Farcry did "Have It All", with a great guitar solo from Pete Fry. "Too Hot To Hold", the best song on the set came next, being followed by two other songs off their first album, "Fine Line" and "Love Won't Wait". Drummer Tommy John must be mentioned too, he is a great one! In short, Farcry is a very good band, they played a nice set, but they should do something about the singer. They do need someone who can fit the band appropriately, and I mean musically and with the "I'm cool" attitude the other band members have for sure. Nice first show for Sunday. 

FARCRY SET LIST:

  • - She's Crazy
  • - Over And Over Again
  • - Nothing You Can Do
  • - Better Than This
  • - Have It All
  • - Too Hot To Hold
  • - Fine Line
  • - Love Won't Wait
When Farcry was done, all I could think of was about the next show. It's no secret to anyone that Fiona's show was one of those which I longed for the most. I've always said that she's always been my favorite female singer ever, and I couldn't wait until I finally saw her on stage. Fiona's back-up band was the same who played the day before with Robin Beck:  James Christian on bass guitar and B.J. Zampaon drums (both from House Of Lords), Tommy Denander on lead guitar, Jorge Salan on the other guitar and Eric Ragno on keyboards. Fiona's cousin, a really nice guy whose name I can't remember right now was also in the band, as one of the back-up singers. So the time had finally come! She was clearly very nervous and there was a feeling that, no matter what, she wouldn't be able to relax at all. Openers "Loved Along The Way" and "Broken", both from her last fabulous Unbroken album were surely a nice start. She's a great singer and she had a great band backing her up, and it was something strange seeing that, little by little, the energy that was there when the show started was fading after each track they played. The two tracks that followed were certainly some of the best ones, "Ain't That Just Like Love" and "Treat Me Right", both from her best album to date, the 1992 Squeeze album. These two songs were really sung along by Rock City. After "Treat Me Right", Fiona was clearly losing her voice, maybe because of her nervousness.  By the time she and the band hit "Keeper Of The Flame", from her classic Beyond The Palealbum, the audience could feel that both she and the band were not very happy. James Christian and Tommy Denander looked very annoyed, but both made their way through the set gracefully. "Hang Your Heart On Me", from her first album, seemed to bring back the excitement that was there when the show started, once again having people sing along. That was then that Fiona played my personal favorite track of hers, the movie theme "Hearts Of Fire". It's such a perfect song after all, and I remember lots of people singing along to it as well. But again, she and the band looked really uncomfortable while playing this one, and the same happened during the next song, the hit single "Talk To Me". Fortunately for her and the band, and unfortunately for me and a lot of her diehard fans, the last song was announced, the great "Shadows Of The Night", also from her Unbroken album. I really thought it was a good show, but I wonder why Fiona's biggest song ever – "Everything You Do", the famous duet she did once with Kip Winger was not on the set. Something else that everyone was counting on was a duet between Fiona and her friend Robin Beck, but that did not happen either. It was also weird seeing the band that sounded so tight with Robin Beck the day before was not as good this time, and hey, we are talking about great musicians here. Maybe next time Fiona will include some more top songs on the set. No matter what, she will always be my favorite female singer and I will support her on anything she does in the future. Fionahas always been great, it's great to have her back in the business!!!!! All of us are waiting for a new album soon!!!!

FIONA SET LIST:
  • - Loved Along The Way
  • - Broken
  • - Ain't That Just Like Love
  • - Treat Me Right
  • - Keeper Of The Flame
  • - Hang Your Heart On Me
  • - Hearts Of Fire
  • - Talk To Me
  • - Shadows Of The Night
When Fiona's set was over it was time for a break. We still had so many great bands to see and everybody kind of needed a little rest and some food… Royal Hunt would come next, and since they are not really what one would call a melodic rock band I was not really interested in watching them. Thank God I was not the only one who thought like this… Anyway, we should respect DC Cooper, who is a really good singer in his style. I didn't hear much about Royal Hunt's show when I made it back to Rock City though.

One of the most expected shows was next: BRIGHTON ROCK. This was also meant to be a special one, since there was no word of a show from them in many years. I was in contact with some of the band members for a while before Firefest, and the guys had been just great. Meeting them was awesome, and it made me wonder even more how this great band would be sounding like live these days. Brighton Rock hit the stage with the merciless "Unleash The Rage" from their magnificent album Take A Deep Breath. And really, that's what I call energy! "Young, Wild and Free", the title track of their first album came next and it just confirmed what came to my mind after the first song: that would be one of the best shows of Firefest 2012! The band was boiling hot and they showed they are still great at what they do – singer  Gerry  McGhee was another one of the best performers of the whole festival, and it was crazy seeing that he could still sing like he did in 1991! Wow, the guy is still singing just like on the records! Greg Fraser (lead guitar) also showed he was there as one of the best guitar players on the bill. His licks and solos were fresh and powerful, not to mention his performance and superb backing vocals! Stevie Skreebs (bass guitar) was also awesome, let's talk about performance when we talk about Brighton Rock!!!! Greg Fraser and Stevie Skreebs also have another band called Fraze Gang. Great band too, by the way. Every BRIGHTON ROCK fan should listen to their two CDs, because they rock - Greg Fraser is also the lead singer in Fraze Gang!!!! Johnny Rogers (keyboards and guitar) was also great and the mighty Mark Cavarzan was seen as another one of the best drummers of this year's festival. The good "Barricade" came next, and then three more songs from Take A Deep Breath: "Hangin' High 'N' Dry" (one of my personal favorites), "Outlaw" and "Rebels With A Cause" (another favorite) just kept the great show going. Gerry 's vitality was nothing but amazing, really. "Hollywood Shuffle", from their Love Machine album came next, giving way to two other favorites of mine (how many BRIGHTON ROCK favorites do I have? Hard to tell…), "We Came To Rock" and the great power ballad "One More Try", which was sung along, word by word, by the whole Rock City. "Jack Is Back", from their debut album was the last song before the encore – What else would these guys play next? 

Brighton Rock's encore was brutal! Gerry announced that they were to play his favorite BRIGHTON ROCK song next, and "Nightstalker" (talk about personal favorites again…) was just perfect. Another favorite one? Yes! "Power Overload" was also one of the best moments of this brilliant set, and it was sad to see them go with the last, but powerful song "Bulletproof". Well, needless to say that BRIGHTON ROCK was one of the best shows I have ever seen and it was great, later that same day, to hear from the guys they are planning on recording a new album.If the guys put on all of this show's energy into the new songs, you can bet the new album will be just as great as their first three ones. Long live BRIGHTON ROCK.

BRIGHTON ROCK SET LIST:
  • - Unleash The Rage
  • - Young, Wild and Free
  • - Barricade
  • - Hangin' High 'N' Dry
  • - Outlaw
  • - Rebels With A Cause
  • - Hollywood Shuffle
  • - We Came To Rock
  • - One More Try
  • - Jack Is Back
  • - Nightstalker
  • - Power Overload
  • - Bulletproof
Wow, what a show that was! After seeing Brighton Rock it was hard to tell if any other band would top them at Firefest 2012. But we still had three bands to go. Lillian Axe was on stage twenty minutes later, and they also proved to be a great band live. Steve Blaze (lead guitar), the only member left from the original band line-up was another one of the top guitar players on the bill. He's also got his own style and even though Lillian Axe is not the same band they used to be in the late eighties and early nineties, he's the responsible one for keeping the band alive. It's been years since the "hair band" image is no more for them, and maybe some of their albums do sound heavier than they should, but they never stopped being a great band.  Steve's partners in crime Sam Poiteven (guitar), Ken Koudelka (drums) and Eric Morris(bass guitar) showed to be a great live band. The good surprise was seeing singer Derrick LeFevre back in the band, when everybody was waiting to see new singer Brian C. Jones, who is on Lillian Axe's new album  XI: The Days Before Tomorrow. Derrick proved to be a great front man as they kick started their set with classics "Misery Loves Company" (from their first album) and "Deepfreeze" (from the Psychoschizophrenia album). What we could see was a nice set with songs basically from their classic albums, the ones most people really love. "All's Fair In Love And War", "Mercy" and "The World Stopped Turning" were great choices, and they did please most people attending Firefest. Some more classic songs followed then, "Hard Luck" and a medley of my personal Lillian Axe's favorite songs, "True Believer" and "Dream Of A Lifetime". It was only a bit disappointing not listening to the full "Dream Of A Lifetime" song, which is obviously their greatest track ever.

They threw in a track off the new XI: The Days Before Tomorrow album then, the good "Babylon". Two more classic songs to follow, "Crucified" and "Ghost Of Winter" were also good picks, just before another song off the new album was played, "Death Comes Tomorrow". Yes, Lillian Axe must be heavier than before, but it was nice seeing them stick mostly to their old material. The two last songs on the set, crowd pleasers "Show A Little Love" and the fun "No Matter What" just proved that Steve Blaze and his band are alive and kicking. With Derrick LeFevreback in the band we can expect good things coming when it comes to Lillian Axe. XI: The Days Before Tomorrow is a good new album, but all the old school fans of the band are not totally hopeless that one day they will make another classic one just like Lillian Axe, Love And Warand Poetic Justice.

LILLIAN AXE SET LIST:
  • - Misery Loves Company
  • - Deepfreeze
  • - All's Fair In Love And War
  • - Mercy
  • - The World Stopped Turning
  • - Hard Luck
  • - True Believer / Dream Of A Lifetime Medley
  • - Babylon
  • - Crucified
  • - Ghost Of Winter
  • - Death Comes Tomorrow
  • - Show A Little Love
  • - No Matter What
Stage Dolls was the next band to be on stage, and theirs was surely another one of the most expected shows. They had been to Firefest before, and I was glad I could make it there this year and catch the band live. Being a huge Stage Dolls fan since the mid-eighties made the wait look endless, but it was more than worth it when the band hit the stage. Torstein Flakne (Vocals & Guitar), Terje Storli (Bass Guitar) and Morten Skogstad (Drums), accompanied there by a keyboard player, were certainly one of the top attractions of Firefest 2012. With their great AOR / Pop Rock songs being played, believe it or not, just like the studio versions, they showed they are not only one of the best bands of their style, but also one of the most professional bands I have ever seen live. The title track of their last album, "Always" was the opener, just a warm up for the classic "Love Cries" song, from their most popular album to date, the homonymous Stage Dolls (1989). They threw in an old classic, "Left Foot Boogie", just before the super ballad "Hard To Say Goodbye" (one of my personal favorites for sure). The feeling of seeing every single person at Rock City singing along to this one was hard to be explained. The two next tracks, both from the good Get A Life album, "You're The One" and "24/7" showed the band can rock as well, with Torstein Flakne playing some simple but incredible rock and roll riffs and solos.

Another favorite of mine, the power ballad "Sorry Is All I Can Say" came next, which was another sing-along song. It's really incredible how great of a songwriter Torstein Flakne is. One more song from the Alwaysalbum, "Taillights" just warmed up the audience for the classic tune "Commandos", from the album under the same title was also on the set and again, it was good to see these guys playing most of their best songs. Time for another power ballad and personal favorite, "Love Don't Bother Me". It's such a great song, and the crowd's singing along to it just made it more special. It's incredible that a band like Stage Dolls, with so many great songs and so many good albums, is a band whose albums are almost impossible to find. Maybe it's time finally some record label had their full back catalog rereleased. It was then time to rock and roll once again with another classic song, "Wings Of Steel".

The two last songs on the Stage Dolls set were just brilliant as well. Classics "Still In Love" (another personal favorite) and "Soldier's Gun", the latter from their first album, were surely the right ones to close this marvelous show. In short, that's what Stage Dolls is all about: simplicity, superb professionalism and great songwriting that will always make them be one of the best bands of their genre. Time for a new album, right?

STAGE DOLLS SET LIST:
  • - Always
  • - Love Cries
  • - Left Foot Boogie
  • - Hard To Say Goodbye
  • - You're The One
  • - 24/7
  • - Sorry Is All I Can Say
  • - Taillights
  • - Commandos
  • - Love Don't Bother Me
  • - Wings Of Steel
  • - Still In Love
  • - Soldier's Gun
Sunday had been an incredible day so far. We still had one band to go, and that was Danger Danger. What can I say about them? Not only have they been one of my favorite all time bands, but it would be the very first time I would see them live. I have known singer Ted Poley for years now, and we became such good friends. Ted played a four or five times in Brazil as a solo artist and that's how we met, hung out a lot and became friends. I had always told him that one day I would catch him live with Danger Danger, and this day had finally come! The other guys in the band are also awesome people and it's great to go to a rock concert when the band playing there are "people" and not self-called "Gods" like Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe. By the time Danger Danger hit the stage, Rock City was totally crowded. It was so clear why they were the big headliners, since they have a great following in the UK. Rock City could hardly wait for the "party band" of the festival to play!

"Rock America" was the first song on the set, driving people wild. Honestly, it was one of the very few times I saw all of the polite people from the UK lose control. And it is easily understood, since Ted Poley, Bruno Ravel (Bass Guitar), Steve West (Drums) and the great Rob Marcello (Guitar) were there willing to literally "rock Rock City down". Ted was so excited that on the very first song he hit his hand accidentally on Rob's guitar, but it didn't stop him at all. Everything is about rock and roll to the fullest when it comes to Ted Poley! "Beat the Bullet" from the Screw It album was a nice surprise, and so was "Shot Of Love" from their excellent Cockroach album. The band's performance was fantastic from minute one, and it was great seeing Rob Marcello has finally found his home in Danger Danger, after playing in some other bands. He fits them like a glove. There was a lot of talk between Ted Poleyand Bruno Ravel throughout the show, but I guess they just wanted people to feel comfortable while they were there on stage. It was time for a song from their last great Revolve album, the killer "Killing Love", a great track by the way.

"Don't Walk Away" was such a special moment. While the band was playing it, Ted Poley did not hesitate to go into the crowd as he always does when performing this great song. Rock City was really packed with people, but he wasn't afraid of that at all. He managed his way beautifully into the crowd, walked all around the venue, shook people's hands and made his way back to the stage. Simply fantastic. No doubt that there were so many great bands and performers during the three-day festival, but certainly there was nobody like "the man", Ted Poley. "Don't Blame It On Love" came next, another sing-along song. I know, it's totally unnecessary saying that, since all of the Danger Danger songs were familiar to every single soul in the house. What followed next was another track from Revolve, the great "Hearts On The Highway". This one is obviously among the new Danger Danger's best songs.

If I told you all about my personal favorites it would take me quite some time to list them, but I have to mention at least two of them, other the obvious ones, which are also everybody else's favorites. "Feels Like Love" was fantastic. Period. And then it was time for their hit single "Bang Bang", bringing back all of those memories from the golden MTV years. Two more personal favorites in a row – the great power ballad "I Still Think About You" and "Crazy Nights", both from the amazing Screw It album. Danger Danger's set seemed to be going way too perfect when they left the stage and left people waiting for their encore. Too obvious? Not really…

They came back onstage again, and there was still a lot of fun talk between Ted Poley and Bruno Ravel before the hit single and crowd pleaser "Monkey Business" was announced. That was a funny moment when two people from the Firefest crew joined them wearing monkey outfits and throwing bananas to the audience. When things couldn't get better, they just did. Mitch Malloy joined halfway to the end of the song, and it was great seeing the guys together. Before leaving the stage, someone from the audience threw one of the bananas back to the stage, and it accidentally hit Mitch in his head! That was also funny! But he's a great guy, and he took it just fine! After all we were all in the middle of a rock and roll concert and he is surely a great guy and clearly had a lot of fun joining Danger Danger on this one. The time to say goodbye had unfortunately come, but not before some more surprises. Obvious show closer "Naughty Naughty" was received quite warmly by the audience (Who there would dare not to?), and some members of some other bands who had played this year's Firefest jammed with the band on this one. If it was not good enough having Danger Danger on stage, imagine the band sharing it with Robin Beck, James Christian, Tommy Denander andTerry Ilous! That is what I call a great rock and roll party and a "grand finale" after this three-day marathon of such great artists playing together.

DANGER DANGER SET LIST:
  • - Rock America 
  • - Beat the Bullet
  • - Shot Of Love
  • - Killing Love
  • - Don't Walk Away
  • - Don't Blame It On Love
  • - Hearts On The Highway
  • - Feels Like Love
  • - Bang Bang
  • - I Still Think About You
  • - Crazy Nights
  • - Monkey Business
  • - Naughty Naughty
All I have to say is that Firefest is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best festival on the planet. It's more than having a lot of bands playing their sets, packing up and going home. Once you're there you feel like being part of this huge group, which deserves to be called "family". You don't really see what goes on there in other places. People from all parts of the globe, having a good time together, getting to meet each other personally. Maybe the best place to make new and true friends. So very different from festivals in my own country, Brazil (Rock In Rio, for example) and also very different from Sweden Rock, at least from what I heard, but I can't really tell, since I've never been there. And you know what, I don't really feel like going. Once you experience Firefest you just to go back over and over and over again. Special thanks to all the great artists and bands that played there for us this year, and extra special thanks to some of the kindest people I have ever met in my life, the ones who make it all happen: the fabulous Kieran Dargen, Bruce Mee, Phil Ashcroft and Sue Ashcroft. Thanks for being who you are and for always being there for all of us, artists and fans.

Criss Sexx, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 2012.  








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