Wednesday 9 July 2014

Rock Werchter 2014 Day 1: Day Of Legends

This year is the fourtieth edition of the Rock Werchter festival in Belgium. In all those years it grew out from a small festival to a huge one with 80,000 visitors every day and the biggest headliners. This year the line-up looked better than ever, so we really couldn't stay home.

Rock Werchter 2014 Thursday, July 3 2014

After a smooth journey we find a queue at the camping ground, but fortunately it moves fast. Within no time our tents are up and we're sipping a well deserved cold beer in the sun. This way we also make it to the festival ground in time for the first band.

The three Radke brothers surprised me a few weeks ago on the Best Kept Secret Festival and are the opening band on the huge main stage. But the three young men don't mind and play another convincing show. They bring their Ramones infused punk rock with a lot of energy and try to shrink the huge gap, the square Metallica ramp and pit causes. It's a shame that all the bands have to fight this pit where no one is allowed in yet. Radkey don't seem to mind and make a well deserved victory round on the ramp at the end of their set.

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Daptone Super Soul Revue
A two hour soul party follows with the best the Daptone Records label has to offer. We missed the beginning and the first few acts and enter the show at the moment where Charles Bradley makes his entry. The "Screaming Eagle of Soul" never lets down and brings his soul songs with all his heart. A bunch of flowers is thrown on the stage and the gentle singer is handing them out one by one to people at the front at the end of the show.

He's followed by the afro-beat band Antibalas. Fronted by the charismatic Duke Amayo, dressed and painted in bright colours, the band starts a dancing party and heats up the hot tent even more. The horns section all get a chance to show their stuff and the band know how to play the crowd.

After that it's Sharon Jones' turn, who will close this super soul show. And you can leave that to the small but powerful singer whose strong performance wraps everyone around her finger within no time. Backed up by her great band The Dap-Kings, she puts up a very good show. Although I'm still not sure what to think of her music, she's showing today what a great singer and performer she is.

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Miles Kane
Another great performer is of course Miles Kane. He has proven that many times. On this hot afternoon his show takes off maybe a bit slow, but after a few songs his hard work is paying off. The still fit crowd is coming alive and soon everyone is dancing to the catchy rock tunes. And so by the time Kane is playing his final song 'Don't Forget Who You Are' everyone is joining in for the "nanana" part.

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White Lies
The bright sun light doesn't look like the right environment for the dark songs of White Lies. The band never was really able to impress me on stage before, but today they actually play a good show. Of course the group has many hit songs that are scattered throughout the set. Somewhere in the middle it sounds like they are letting it slip away again as the attention of the crowd is fading. But then they pick it up and win back the willing crowd.

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Robert Plant And The Sensational Space Shifters
Many people have shown up to watch the legendary singer of Led Zeppelin. Robert Plant is in great shape and knows exactly what the crowd wants to hear. He is throwing around some Zeppelin songs, that sometimes get different arrangements with African influences which sound amazing. His voice is still quite good for his age and backed up by his great and tight band, just now and then you almost feel you're listening to that legendary band from the past. When they start off 'Whole Lot Of Love' a big roar rises from the crowd and the place is totally exploding. Plant himself is looking very pleased with this response and for a good reason. Sensational indeed.

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Damon Albarn
Hardly recovered from that, we find our way to the next legend. To me Damon Albarn is one of the best composers and musicians around. And he is showing that today, with songs from his entire career, Blur of course, but also The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Gorillaz and even Rocketjuice & The Moon. Naturally Albarn is playing many songs of his solo album Everyday Robots, which is a down tempo record, but full of tension. The Heavy Seas Of Love, his backing band, are doing a fine job at combining all these styles into a homogeneous entity. The moments where Albarn is sitting behind the piano all by himself are beautiful and when he's playing my favourite Blur song 'Out Of Time' it is even magical.

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The big closing headline of today is of course Metallica. Many people have come to the main stage to see the big metal band play songs that have been requested by the fans. It turns into a greatest hits show with some fan favourites, that is not so much different from all their shows we have seen them play in the past. From our position the sound isn't really great, the drums are too loud in the mix, but this could just be the spot we're in. The only surprise in the show is that their are no fireworks. Still the visuals on the massive screens look great as does the impressive light show with tons of lasers. It's quite a spectacle for anyone seeing the band for the first time I'm sure. For anyone else who's not a real fan, it's nothing more than a solid rock show.

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And so this festival was off to a great start. We're still in great shape and that means we are going to drink a few more beers. Where the party at?

More Pictures

Rock Werchter 2014 Day 2
Rock Werchter 2014 Day 3
Rock Werchter 2014 Day 4

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