By Carl Begai
In 2013 the annual Rock Meets Classic tour – featuring rock artists from the ’70s and ’80s performing their hits backed by a full band and orchestra – made its way through parts of Europe for the fourth time, once again to rave reviews. As every year changes were made to the roster of artists on board, welcoming Paul Rodgers (Bad Company), Eric Bazilian (The Hooters), Steve Augeri (ex-Journey) and Bonnie Tyler to the stage, with Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) being the only holdover from 2012. Changes were made within the usually static ranks of The Mat Sinner Band as well, with backing vocalist Kolinda Brozovic and Primal Fear / DuskMachine drummer Randy Black welcomed to the fold. Black’s presence marked the fourth of five Primal Fear members in the Rock Meets Classic family, and he was only too happy to put his well-seasoned metal impulses on the backburner in favour of performing with some of rock’s finest.
“Not to sound sappy – and I’m going to sound like a wimp (laughs) – but there haven’t been many times in my career when I’ve had tears in my eyes on stage,” Black admits. “A song like ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’ by Paul Rodgers, I grew up with it and cut my teeth on the cover scene in Canada with them. What people might not realize is that I’m above the stage at Rock Meets Classic, I’m looking down over the orchestra and the band, and I have an in-ear mix of everything. I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it now (laughs). I had this amazing sound in my ears, I was looking down and listening to everything, and I thought ‘I can’t believe I’m drumming for this.'”
“It’s a whole different thing. It’s not metal, but it’s what I grew up listening to; pop rock. There were so many ‘wow’ moments on the 2013 tour, like hearing Bonnie Tyler nailing those notes on ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’. Everybody knows the song, everybody knows what Bonnie Tyler sounds like, and she was amazing. I wish my mom could have been there for that.”
Although he was new to the crew, Black was given the spotlight along with the orchestra for a crowd-pleasing rendition of the Pirates Of The Caribbean film’s theme music, ‘He’s A Pirate’. Black played up the part accordingly, making the short interlude one of the many high points of the show.
“That actually wasn’t planned,” Black reveals. “The orchestra rehearsed it without me, and a few shows in they thought drums might add more to the piece, so they put a pirate’s hat on me and away we went. I actually just found out they put it in again for this year.”
Rock Meets Classic 2014 features a completely new line-up of starring vocalists that includes shock rock legend Alice Cooper, Mick Box and Bernie Shaw of Uriah Heep fame, former Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen singer Joe Lynn Turner, Ultravox vocalist Midge Ure, and pop crush special guest Kim Wilde. Easily the most diverse Rock Meets Classic roster to date, complete with a certain amount of hero worship from Black’s side.
“Alice Cooper was a big deal for me when I was growing up and learning the ropes of the music business. Playing his songs is going to be a huge highlight for me. Joe Lynn Turner, I remember seeing the tour with Rainbow because it was the first time I saw Ritchie Blackmore. And the guys from Uriah Heep? Finding out they were on this tour brought me back to junior high and my buddy Ken, sitting in his basement listening to those songs. Again, I’m getting chills just thinking about it; I can’t believe I’m going to be playing those songs with those guys on stage.”
Black will, of course, rein in his trademark metal attack full-on metal attack, something he says is easier to do than some people think. That said, his colleagues will be on hand to make sure he doesn’t pull back too much. He was hired to play his heart out and not fill a seat on stage.
“For Rock Meets Classic there’s a lot less double bass compared to Primal Fear, for example, so I do the things that people know me for but in a tasteful way. If the guys don’t like what I’m doing they’ll tell me. I trust them. To be honest, on the last tour they were encouraging me to do more than what I was doing. My thinking was that I was just up there supporting the artists so I was holding back, and they were like ‘Come on! Rock! Do this…’ (laughs). I saw the last two Alice Cooper tours when they came through Germany and I paid attention to what his band was doing, and they weren’t following the studio albums. They had some leeway, so I figure I’ll have some too. If I do too much I’m sure Alice will tell me pull it back, and of course I will.”
“I’m looking forward to Rock Meets Classic this year as much as last year,” Black adds. “Maybe even a bit more because I’ll be a little bit more relaxed going into it this time. I’m excited and I can’t wait to get out there…”
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 Wuensch.
Tour dates are as follows:
9 – Berlin, Germany
11 – Fankfurt, Germany
12 – Neu-Ulm, Germany
13 – Nuremberg, Germany
14 – Wurzburg, Germany
16 – Passau, Germany
18 – Mannheim, Germany
19 – Kempten, Germany
20 – Munich, Germany
21 – Regensburg, Germany
23 – Zurich, Switzerland
25 – Strassbourg, France
26 – Innsbruck, Austria
27 – Ingolstadt, Austria
29 – Halle-Westfallen, Germany
30 – Leipzig, Germany
1 – Hamburg, Germany
2 – Essen, Germany
4 – Stuttgart, Germany
5 – Dresden, Germany
For more information:
Rock Meets Classic
Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague
Check out an interview with Mat Sinner about Rock Meets Classic here.