By Carl Begai
What started five years ago as an interesting concept of mashing a rock band with an orchestra live on stage in support of popular vocalists of yesteryear, Rock Meets Classic has set a new standard for itself and anyone dumb enough to try and rip them off. Following successful runs through select parts of Europe – primarily Germany – with stars such as Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Paul Rodgers (Bad Company), Steve Lukather (Toto), Dan McCafferty (Nazareth), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) and Eric Bazilian (The Hooters) to name only some of ’em, the 2014 edition of Rock Meets Classic serves up its most diverse line-up yet with unexpectedly positive results. As in, a brilliant high quality ass-kicking.
In all honestly, hearing that Alice Cooper, the Uriah Heep duo of Mick Box and Bernie Shaw, and Joe Lynn Turner were going to share the stage with the likes of ’80s popsters Kim Wilde and Midge Ure (Ultravox) for the tour left me scratching my head in disbelief. As in, I was curious as to who was smoking what when they dreamed up a supposed musical car crash. It’s supposed to be ROCK Meets Classic after all, and although The Mat Sinner Band and the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague have never disappointed in the past, I wondered who the hell would even care about Kim Wilde and Midge Ure.
A whole hell of a lot of people as it turns out. And rightly so, as the duo stood toe-to-toe with their rock pedigree tourmates.
So, rather than penning an overblown review with too many windbag adjectives, the following is a list of highlights from Rock Meets Classic’s fifth show of 2014 on March 14th Würzburg, Germany:
– the Würzburg show and audience crushed the Nuremberg production from the night before.
– backing vocalists Amanda Somerville, Tiffany Kirkland, Kolinda Brozovic, Ralf Scheepers and Sascha Krebs were given the deserved opening spotlight with a great rendition of the Queen classic ‘Show Must Go On’. It was also nice to see they still have their own individual looks and a minimal choreography rather than being decked out like penguin clones. Scheepers still looks metal, and nobody is trying to hide Kirkland’s rather awesome haircut (especially the lady herself).
– Midge Ure’s voice is amazing, and the symphonic rock version of the Ultravox hit ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ is a keeper. Thank the appropriate diety for YouTube so you can experience it.
– Joe Lynn Turner wore a vest that looked like the couch my parents had back when I was a kid in 1975. He sounds just as good as he ever did, which is bloody amazing.
– seeing and hearing four of five Primal Fear members out of their metal comfort zone is always a blast. They set a new benchmark for themselves this year.
– keyboardist Jimmy Kresic sported an array of different looks over the course of the show. Ten years from now he’s going to have more hats than Elton John has custom glasses.
– Kim Wilde sounds exactly the same as she did 25 years ago. For someone that probably hasn’t toured or performed on this level for quite some time she has a frightening amount of energy on stage. She received almost as much applause as Alice Cooper on the night, which was well deserved. Yes indeed, her show rocked.
– conductor Bernhard Wünsch made no secret of the fact he was having a blast on stage. He officially looks like a bad-ass in suit and sunglasses.
– Oliver Hartmann’s solo spot (no, I’m not going to spoil it) was a nice surprise.
– choir vocals on Joe Lynn Turner’s ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, Midge Ure’s ‘Hymn’, Kim Wilde’s ‘Keep Me Hangin’ On’ and Alice Cooper’s ‘Poison’ = godlike.
– Uriah Heep’s Mick Box and Bernie Shaw… the life of an already impressive party. All smiles, had the audience standing from the first notes of ‘Easy Livin’ to the singalong ending to ‘Lady In Black’. Yes, they love what they do.
– drummer Randy Black is still a pirate. I bet he never thought he’d have his own orchestra.
– Alice Cooper is in the business of entertaining people, and although he didn’t have his usual full-blown headline stage set he put on a killer show (pardon the pun). Guitarist Orianthi in tow (with a surprise appearance by his other axe-slinger Ryan Roxie for ‘School’s Out’), Cooper’s set included plenty of pyro, a guest spot by his wife of 38 years as a vampire bride, hit songs, and a respectable amount of blood for the mainstream audience.
– nobody has a flute player that rocks out and headbangs like the lovely lady in the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague’s first chair, the lovely Nina Sivosova.
– Cooper’s hit ‘Poison’ was made for the Rock Meets Classic treatment. This group version puts the original to shame.
– the Würzburg audience showed the rest of Germany it actually IS possible to clap in unison and in time for more than a minute.
– tour photographer Heiko Roith is actually quite talented for someone as short as me.
– you can watch Alice Cooper’s set here.
The Mat Sinner Band is:
Mat Sinner – bass / Master Of Ceremonies (Primal Fear, Sinner)
Alex Beyrodt – guitars (Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle)
Oliver Hartmann – guitars (Avantasia)
Randy Black – drums (Primal Fear, DuskMachine)
Jimmy Kresic – keyboards (Voodoo Circle)
Amanda Somerville – backing vocals (Trillium, Avantasia)
Tiffany Kirkland – backing vocals
Kolinda Brozovic – backing vocals
Ralf Scheepers – backing vocals (Primal Fear)
Sascha Krebs – backing vocals
The Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague is conducted by Bernhard Wünsch.
Check out interviews with bassist / Master Of Ceremonies Mat Sinner and drummer Randy Black for an inside look at Rock Meets Classic.
For more information:
Rock Meets Classic
Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague