Tuesday 4 July 2017

Rock Werchter 2017 Sunday

We used to go to the Rock Werchter festival every year for quite a while. A few years ago it was time for a change of scenery and we decided to skip it, although we still love the festival. This summer Foo Fighters are in Europe for only two weeks to play a string of festivals and Rock Werchter was one of them. It was time to visit our old friend again. And Dave of course.

Rock Werchter 2017 Sunday, July 2 2017

The festival didn't have the best weather and visitors had to deal with quite a bit of rain. Today looks a lot better although when we park our car we have to sit out ten minutes of rain. Fortunately for us the weather will only improve for the rest of the day. Within no time we find ourselves exploring the festival site to see what has changed. We are ready for the first band.

Cage the Elephant

This band is guaranteed to get the party started early with their lively performances. Singer Matt Shultz is an explosive energy bomb that is bouncing around the stage. The sound in the beginning is completely out of balance and his vocals are almost impossible to hear. Because of his running around it is probably quite hard to balance his mic out anyway, since he isn't exactly always singing in it in the same way. It doesn't matter since this band is all about putting a lot of heart in their shows. Their classic rock with a punk twist may not always be tight but you can forgive them for that when you see them working up a sweat like this. If anyone wasn't fully awake yet, this sure should have done the trick.

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The Thurston Moore Group

Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon were the one of the alternative rock's scene most favourite couples and their band Sonic Youth were highly successful until the couple broke up. Sonic Youth are now on a hiatus that will most probably mean it has split up. Moore is focusing on his solo career and released a new album recently Rock N Roll Consciousness. Today he's playing the entire album after opening with new single 'Ceasefire' that is not on the album. The songs are patiently built up which is exactly what his music needs, since the songs are carefully crafted and the long songs need time to reach their full potential. The tracks are full of little twists and turns, cleverly placed and several times you think a song is over until it continues for a few minutes again. It turns this performance in a very interesting one and enough to keep you on your toes throughout.

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The Kills

Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince are taking the main stage halfway the afternoon while the skies are clearing and the sun shows itself regularly. In their familiar way the duo play their sultry rock songs together with a drummer and keyboard player added to the live line-up. Mosshart of course is a delight to watch with her sexy appearance and ultra cool stage presence, sometimes walking around like a caged tigress. Her smiling faces make her even more charming. Hince is showing his incredible guitar skills, posing at the front of the stage and using the mic stand as an extra guitar accesory. But the main stage may not be the perfect place for them as their music works best in a darker environment. Next time it would be better to schedule them on one of the two tented stages.

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Benjamin Clementine

We make our way to one of those huge tent stages that are hardly tents any more. Air conditioned and with seated stands to the side they are full scale venues. We are joining Benjamin Clementine halfway his show. His story is remarkable, spending some time in France as a homeless person. After he got his break at Later With Jools Holland he's now considered a talented musician and poet. His show is quite impressive with music that swings between classical, soulful pop and theatrical. The charismatic Clementine sometimes looks a bit lost sitting behind his piano, but that makes him more mysterious and the crowd love it. His four backing singers and band add a frame for him to create his interesting songs in. It isn't necessarily my kind of music but it's an impressive show nevertheless.

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Unfortunately we can't get in the the tent where Rag'n'Bone Man is performing so we have to miss his show. Instead we wander around a bit, have some food and drinks and make sure we get to The Barn stage early for Belgium's Soulwax. I can't get enough of this band and after seeing them three times in a year, I want to see them play their home turf. I am expecting a huge party but it takes a while for it to take off. The packed full house at the beginning, is even getting more empty halfway. But I know the two brothers are simply building up their show, teasing the crowd with climaxes that are not always coming, slowly picking up the pass, making them beg. Just over half of the show they let it rip and the three drummers are in perfect harmony, playing irresistible grooves that make everyone crazy. Now they are going for the ultimate climax and everyone that stayed in here is exploding. 'NY Excuse' is killing it and is their ultimate victory lap, turning the place into a party after all.

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Foo Fighters

The field is filling up early for Foo Fighters and we make sure we have a decent spot. It isn't extremely close to the stage, but it's good enough for a good view. The last time they played here was in 2005, when we were here as well. Because of Dave Grohl's broken leg, the band had to cancel in 2015 and Grohl explains they are here to make up for that big time. Of course you can leave that to Foo Fighters. The band plays a greatest hits set that should make everyone happy. Grohl isn't the greatest singer and his voice isn't in the best shape tonight, but of course that's not what matters a lot. He's all over the stage, running to either side and at one point makes his way all the way to the sound booth where we are close to. The rest of the band are watching him with a huge smile.

I know there are many that find this band too commercial and middle of the road and maybe they are right their music isn't the most inventive or original. But to me this is one of the best live bands around, that are simply having so much fun at it and do everything they can to show everyone a good time. It's exactly what they are doing tonight. Grohl is undeniably one of the most charismatic people in the industry. He's working the crowd like no other and is lighting the fuse to an explosive mix of rock whenever he likes. He's cooling down the crowd with little speeches throughout the set and the band will never take things for granted. To me it's like eating one of the best burgers in the world that can taste just as good as a three Michelin star meal. I like both but it is good to have variation around.

Two songs of the upcoming album are on the setlist today. The new single 'Run' that they have been playing for a few weeks now. Tonight the song 'La Di Da' that they recorded together with The Kills' Alison Mosshart. Of course she is joining in to sing it with them and from the cheerful look on her smiling face I can tell she hasn't been drinking apple juice back stage. After two and a half hours the band wraps up their show with 'Everlong' and fire works are set off at the end of it. Foo Fighters prove they are the perfect headliner to any festival, one that guaranteed will send off the visitors smiling.

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It was nice to be back at this festival that is still a great visit. Rock Werchter will always come up with a killer line-up but I don't know if I can take the four day partying combination with sleeping in a tent again. But I'm sure we will back here again, maybe for just one day. It was totally worth the 3 hour drive back home in the middle of the night, arriving home while the sun was rising again.

All Pictures

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