BOSPOP 2011 – 3 Days of Bands, Beer and Brilliant Music!

Not only was Bospop 2011 the 31st occasion in the history of this music festival, but it was also the first one to run over 3 days namely, the 8th, 9th and 10th July. The actual Bospop site is situated on the edge of the picturesque Dutch town of Weert – Limburg, and with its close proximity to the borders of neighbouring countries, Germany and Belgium, the festival attracts a truly international audience for what is, in my opinion, the friendliest, best organised music festival I have ever had the pleasure of attending.

One reason for this feel-good-factor could be because the Bospop crew are all volunteers who are passionate about the festival themselves… apparently they order around 1400 staff t-shirts and most of the people wearing them are regular helpers who have taken vacation time from their normal day jobs to be there.

With a capacity for 30,000 music fans, there is certainly no shortage of support for the diversity of the acts… rock, pop, heavy metal, blues, rockabilly, punk, party, country… they’re all there, beautifully organised between two stages with precision akin to a Swiss watch.

And of course when you look back at Bospop’s history, it is a fascinating musical journey comprising of some of the biggest names in the music world like: Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, John Fogerty, Toto, Neil Young and Santana to name but some of the headliners from previous years.

Bospop 2011 had a total of 37 acts that included a Beatle AND a Rolling Stone – not in the same band, I hasten to add, although they did perform on the same stage. But nevertheless, for Team Mojo, the main sponsor of Bospop, this will surely go down as a major organising coup for them. Manx Radio’s Greatest Hits Presenter, Marc Tyley, was on hand to capture the thoughts of several of the artists which he then aired as part of a “Bospop Special Feature”. Along the way, he met up with Paul Adriaens, Bospop’s Chief Organizer and this is what Paul had to say about how the acts for the festival are chosen:

Manx Radio’s Greatest Hits interview with Paul Adriaens

As far as finding somewhere to lay your weary head (and feet!) after the last note has faded into the dark, star-filled sky over the festival site is concerned, Bospop caters for all – a quick look at their website will give you all the details you need for your particular sleeping preference. Sustenance is also well organised with a large range of food outlets situated around the perimeter of the concert area. All the food and drink counters operate on a ticket system which, once purchased, reduces the need for faffing around with cash.

Of course, no festival would be complete without… beer! And Bospop is no exception. I was a little bit curious re the statistics for this so I had a chat with one of the bar staff, who not only showed me the vast tanks of the stuff, but who also told me that Bospop beats all the other festivals when it comes to the total amount of beer consumed per head!

In addition to soft drinks, champagne and coffee, Bospop 2011 went through some 65,000 litres of beer. Now, when you consider the fact that this is about 350,000 glasses you might get an idea of how busy and how hard the volunteers behind the bar actually work. They reckon each person drinks an average of 15 glasses of beer over the weekend, although it has to be said that there is no World Record per se, because as Bospop grows in size every year, so does the beer consumption.

With regards to the programme itself, I always see festivals as an opportunity for combining the old and the new with the borrowed and the blue sort of thing… or in other words, there’s something for everyone and if a particular act doesn’t take your fancy, there are plenty of other things you can to do pass the time e.g. there is even a market area on the Bospop festival site if you feel the need to do some shopping for records, CDs, tees, sunglasses etc.

Bospop has two stages – the larger outdoor Main Stage and a smaller, more intimate, semi-enclosed, Tent Stage. In fact, this is where Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes performed at Bospop 2010 and it is just such an amazing experience to be in this huge, pink circus tent complete with an authentic carnival carousel in situ, that is now devoid of its brightly, painted horses and nickelodeon music box, having been magically converted into a bar instead.

Most of the sets run for 60 minutes… not 59 minutes or 61 minutes, but 60 minutes! The last two acts of the day on the Main Stage are allocated 75 and 90 minutes respectively, and as I see it, this type of scheduling is one big advantage of watching live music at a festival as opposed to an arena or even a stadium show… at least you know when the band you want to see is actually going to start playing. I would guess from the point of view of the artists, the short set does tend to restrict the content and as such, most performances become a sort of heads-down-no-messing-about-greatest-hits-show. I really like this format and what follows is a blog of the bands iPicked to see at Bospop 2011.

Day 1 (Friday) Main Stage:
The 101s – Gianna Nannini – Foreigner – The Faces – Journey – Joe Cocker

Foreigner: I last saw Foreigner at the NEC in Birmingham back in eighty-something and I was a little curious to see if they were as good now as they were back then. I wasn’t disappointed. Their excellent set included 10 of their classic hits: Double Vision, Head Games, Cold As Ice, Waiting For A Girl Like You, Feels Like The First Time, Urgent, I Want To Know What Love Is, Guitar Solo, Hot Blooded and Juke Box Hero. Actually, if you listen closely to Paul Adriaens interview above you will hear Cold As Ice in the background.

The Faces featuring Ronnie Wood – as in the Rolling Stone part of the organising coup – Kenney Jones, Ian McLagen, Jesse Wood, Glen Matlock and Mick Hucknall taking over lead vocals. I really had no idea that Mick Hucknall’s vocal range was so similar to Rod Stewart’s but wow… watching Mick Hucknall strutting his stuff as stand-in for Rod Stewart (and with Rod’s blessing apparently) is a sight to behold and the signal I picked up from the stage simply read (!) that Mick Hucknall is clearly having a blast performing in this role. The set included a legendary drum solo from Kenney Jones and of course, hits like: Miss Judy’s Farm, Had Me A Real Good Time, Silicone Grown, Maybe I’m Amazed, Ooh La La, Cindy Incidentally, Losing You, I’d Rather Go Blind and Pool Hall Richard. Tin Soldier, All Or Nothing and Stay With Me were the encores that concluded a brilliant set and certainly one of the highlights of the weekend for me.

Journey: Don’t Stop Believing is one of my all-time favourite songs and goes back to ’81 when Steve Perry was the lead singer. These days, that lucrative position is competently filled by Arnel Pineda, whose powerful vocal prowess contributed to Journey’s stellar performance. Their slightly heavier sounding 75 minute set included the following songs: Separate Ways, Ask The Lonely, City Of Hope, Stone In Love, Edge Of The Moment, Lights, Tantra, Chain Of Love, Escape, Wheel In The Sky, Be Good To Yourself, Faithfully and Don’t Stop Believin’. Anyway You Want It was the short encore. Incidentally, Journey have been teaming-up with Foreigner at various festivals this summer… a great chance to catch two musical giants with one ticket if you have an opportunity.

Day 1 (Friday) Tent Stage:
The Resistance – Yasmin – The Answer – Rival Sons – Texas.

TEXAS. I’m ashamed to admit that this was the first time that I have actually seen the band live, even though we are from the same city and the fact that I have been a fan of their music ever since the release of Texas… but there you go… everything comes to she who waits! And it was certainly worth waiting for… what a performance… it was just drop-dead-brilliant watching Sharleen Spiteri leading the band through a 12-song set that included: I Don’t Want A Lover, Everyday Now, In Demand, Black Eyed Boy, Halo, In Our Lifetime, When We Are Together, Summer Son, a fabulous new song called, The Conversation, Say What You Want and Inner Smile.. A rousing cover of Suspicious Minds closed what was an absolute belter of a performance. Shortly before the band’s set, Marc Tyley caught up with Sharleen Spiteri backstage:

Manx Radio’s Greatest Hits interview with Texas’ Sharleen Spiteri

At this point I’d like to add how wonderful it was to be surrounded by so many Glasgow accents… especially when embedded in the middle of The Netherlands!

Day 2 (Saturday) Main Stage:
The Dirty Denims – Coldplace – K T Tunstall – Ringo Starr And His All Star Band – Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot – Roxette – Anouka.

Ringo Starr And His All Star Band comprising of: Rick Derringer, Wally Palmar, Gary Wright, Edgar Winter, Richard Page and Gregg Bissonette on drum kit #2. It has to be said that for a septuagenarian (yes, that’s pronounced with seven syllables: sep-tu-a-ge-nar-i-an) Ringo – as in the Beatle part of the organising coup – is certainly hanging on in there… and from the point of view of someone whose dad wouldn’t let her go to see the Beatles when they came to the Odeon in Glasgow because she was “too young”, it was a bit of a life-long ambition to actually see one of the original Fab Four. The set was a mix of Ringo singing solo/playing drums on: It Don’t Come Easy, Honey Don’t, Choose Love, Yellow Submarine, Back Off Boogaloo, I Wanna Be Your Man, Photograph, Act Naturally and With A Little Help From My Friends, inter-mixed with some lengthy individual performances from some of the other All Stars: What I Like About You (Wally Palmar), Love Is Alive (Gary Wright), Frankenstein (Edgar Winter), Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo, (Rick Derringer) and Broken Wings (Richard Page). The All Stars’ set concluded with a rendition of Give Peace A Chance and was certainly a major result for the Bospop Team!

Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot featured legendary Stray Cats drummer, Slim Jim Phantom – he really lives up to his name btw – and he joined the band for the second half of the set. You just gotta love the way these guys sustain the 50’s look and sound… it’s a little bit like watching a live version of “Happy Days” at a time when poodle skirts, multi-coloured pettycoats, tight sweaters, pony tails, bobby socks and flatties were the look of the day – for the girls that is. As for the guys… slim-cut dark jeans, thin white tees, stressed-leather jackets, creepers, bowling shirts and slim fit suits with black velvet collars were the order of the day and all of which were in evidence… on stage! As you can see from the set-list, it really was a rockabilly riot: Ignition, This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof, Drive Like Lightening Crash Like Thunder, 8 Track, Slow Down, Put Your Cat Clothes On, Rumble In Brighton, Runaway Boys, (She’s) Sexy, Stray Cat Strut and Fishnet Stockings. Wonderfully entertaining stuff.

Roxette were the next act to appear on the Main Stage programme. I reckon there must be something in the Swedish water that nurtures home grown musical talent because after the success of ABBA, Roxette is officially the next most successful musical export that Sweden has ever produced. Given the health problems that singer Marie Fredrikssen has encountered and overcome these last few years, it is nothing short of a miracle that she is with us today. In that respect, this was a particularly poignant show for me to see. Watching Marie performing a 75 minute set with Roxette partner Per Gessle, and in particular, listening to her singing the songs that made the band famous before she became ill, was a moving experience. The band stormed their way through a 14-song set that included: Dressed For Success, Sleeping In My Car, The Big L, Spending My Time, She’s Got Nothing On (But The Radio), Perfect Day, It Must Have Been Love, 7Twenty7, Fading Like A Flower, How Do You Do, Dangerous, Joyride, Listen To Your Heart and The Look. A fabulous set from Roxette earning them well deserved rapturous applause. Shortly before the set, Marc Tyley had a chat backstage with Per Gessle and here’s what he said about Roxette’s past, present and future:

Manx Radio’s Greatest Hits interview with Roxette’s Per Gessle

Day 2 (Saturday) Tent Stage:
Harrie & De Gebroeeke Zwiegelkes – Serena Pryne – The Ultimate Eagles – The Bosshoss – Gregg Allman Band – Roger Hodgson & Band.

Roger Hodgson & Band  This performance was more than worthy of a Main Stage slot but I, for one, am very glad that it happened on the smaller, more intimate Tent Stage.
Think: capacity crowd.
Think: Supertramp.
Think: Supertramp’s Greatest Hits.
Think: capacity crowd singing Supertramp’s Greatest Hits.
Now put all of that together and you’ll pretty much have an idea of Roger Hodgson’s set. Except what you can’t feel is the unity that was in the pink tent during Roger’s performance. IT. WAS. ELECTRIC.
I don’t think I have ever heard community singing like it… anywhere! It was like being caught in the middle of some sort of tunnel that was filled with the sound of Roger’s music… quite remarkable and clearly an indication of the huge impact his music has had on people over the years. I guess Roger Hodgson will always be THE voice of Supertramp and this was a truly amazing set from a truly accomplished, sincere musician and performer who quite literally broke the time rules by playing a short encore in order to appease an ecstatic audience who simply wouldn’t budge until he came back out again. Power to the people!! Oh yeah, and keep a look out for a new CD from Roger called “Classics Live” which really captures some of the magic we felt at Bospop.

You would think by Day 3, that the proceedings would be starting to wind down a little… well think again!

Day 3 (Sunday) Main Stage:
Vanderbuyst – Malina Moye – Jimmy Barnes –Triggerfinger – Thin Lizzy – Black Country Communion – Dream Theater

Thin Lizzy. As much as I love and have loved Thin Lizzy’s music, I have never quite got round to seeing them live so to be honest, I don’t have anything to compare this performance to, in terms of who was doing what in the band in Phil Lynott’s day and/or beyond. Original band members, Scott Gorham, Brian Downey and Darren Wharton are now joined by bassist Marco Mendoza (formerly of Whitesnake), guitarist, Richard Fortus (formerly of Guns ‘n Roses) and taking over lead vocals, Belfast born rocker, Ricky Warwick. Was I impressed? Oh yeah… and then some! When these guys came onto the stage, they didn’t just walk on… they hit the ground running and didn’t stop until they ran out of time. Playing directly into blinding sunshine, this was 21st Century Lizzy… new energy, new look, new attitude… add that to the “old” Lizzy catalogue of classics and yes, it was a blinding set… the boys were certainly back in town and I, for one, loved every single minute! The set included: Waiting For An Alibi, Jailbreak, Do Anything You Want To, Don’t Believe A Word, Whiskey In The Jar, Sha La La and of course… The Boys Are Back In Town. PS When Marco Mendoza removed his waistcoat towards the end of the set, I couldn’t help but notice the impressive tattoo that has been ever so delicately designed around his right nipple… that must have hurt, or..??

Here’s what Marco, Scott, Brian and Darren said to Marc Tyley shortly before the show:

Manx Radio’s Greatest Hits interview withThin Lizzy’s Marco, Scott, Darren and Brian

Day 3 (Sunday) Tent Stage:
Stefan Schill – The Juke Joints – Popa Chubby – Philip Sayce – Walter Trout – Riverside.

Walter Trout. My focus was well and truly on Walter Trout who I have seen several times at the Blues Garage in Isernhagen, Hannover. Walter didn’t disappoint and his set was a classic mix of the blues/rock style of music Walter is such a master at. One of the highlights for me whenever I see Walter play is when his Road/Tour Manager, Andrew Elt, joins him on stage. Andrew is an accomplished musician in the Netherlands having made his mark with his own band, Sleeze Beez.  What a superbly talented vocalist Andrew is… and believe me, he easily gives Robert Plant and Ian Gillan a run for their money! Marc Tyley was able to catch up with Walter shortly after his stunning set and this is what he said about his new album as well as sending a clear and direct mesage to the organizers of the Isle of Man’s Bayfest festival:

Manx Radio’s Greatest Hits interview with Walter Trout

Check out Walter Trout’s tour dates and be sure to see him if he plays at a town near you.

As you can see from my thoughts above, there was a huge diversity of musical genres at the festival and of course there are loads of excellent photographs and video clips online which Google will be happy to take you to – just type in the keywords and away you go.

Also, if I’ve managed to whet the appetite of any musicians and/or bands who might like to appear at future Bospops, the person to contact is the Festival Director, Peter Verkennis at:

(Hmmm… I wonder if Peter is looking for a PA… now there’s a job I know I would enjoy doing!!)

Sincere thanks to Paul Adriaens for all his organizing skills and support during the 3 days, and to everyone else I met, including Leon and Luc, for making me feel so welcome at Bospop 2011, I had the best time.

See you next year!

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