Dilemma: What do you do when three festivals that feature bands and musicians you really, really want to see, fall on the same weekend in three different countries?
No brainer. You pack the car and go!
So, yes… by the time I got to Bospop, Saturday’s programme had already morphed into Sunday’s programme which was OK really because my duties as production assistant to Marc Tyley, Manx Radio’s Greatest Hits Show’s presenter, were scheduled to begin on the second day of the festival – as you will see further on down the page. For the past three years, I have been helping Marc to book guests for his programmes and somehow, Manx Radio seems to have become the ‘Irish Sea’ correspondents for the Bospop Festival.
But before I go any further, I need to explain that Bospop 2013 was, for various reasons mostly connected with the financial returns of the last three years, relocated back to its original site, something I hadn’t experienced up to now. I have to say it was rather nice being able to walk to the site from the hotel, or more to the point, not having to drive back! It also seemed like the 1000-strong volunteer force that provides the backbone to Bospop in terms of making sure that everything runs like clockwork, were equally happy about this; even the windmill that overlooks the site got its tuppence worth in.
At time of writing, various reports have already appeared in the Dutch press absolutely raving about the success of the festival this year so maybe there is some truth in the well known saying that goes along the lines of: never touch a running system.
For the benefit of anyone who is new to my blogs, I first landed at Bospop in 2010 because of… the greatest bar band in the world, aka – Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes, who were booked to perform in the pink tent that year. Needless to say, when I saw someone wearing a Jukes t-shirt in the Weert hotel breakfast room, I did a double-take and of course struck up a conversation with the shirt’s owner. The owner/wearer turned out to be long time Jukes’ fan, Peter Rolinson, who together with his wife, Cath, had made the trip to Weert from their home in North Yorkshire. Small world story: Peter and Cath were also at Bospop 2010 and were back to re-run the fun.
In the big picture of things, Peter and Cath got to see much, much more of the music than I did o/a my inability to be in two places at the same time and with very little persuasion, Peter kindly shared his views on the different performances with me. As owners and founders of the successful, Cornucopia Festival, Peter and Cath have a lot of experience when it comes to judging performances so I believe that between us and together with Marc Tyley’s interviews, we should be able to give you a good impression of a totally amaaaazing weekend of music.
SATURDAY July 13th
Peter began by telling me: The combination of ZZ Top, George Thorogood, Golden Earring and the Fabulous Thunderbirds enticed us back to the Bospop Festival three years after our first visit to see Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes in 2010. The move back to the original site was a bonus as it meant an easy walk from our hotel in town, although the combination of a smaller site and excellent ticket sales made for a very crowded, but always friendly, site. After an easy journey from Hull via North Sea Ferries and train form Rotterdam we finally made it onto site about half way through the second act on the Saturday.
The Dutch Eagles: Performing on the main stage, the Dutch Eagles were a very high quality sound-alike (but certainly not look-alike) tribute band that soon had an already sizeable crowd singing along in close harmony. Close your eyes and you were in California in 1977.
The Monophonics: First up on the tent stage, were the Monophonics, a great sounding funky soul band from San Francisco bringing with them some of the psychedelic sounds of that wonderful city. Excellent, committed vocals, by a singer clearly believing in what he was doing.
Racoon: A very well received Dutch group, initially very laidback, but picked up the pace well to even greater response from the local crowd. Good, close harmonies and the sound worked well for the time of day and with the temperature starting to hit the low 80’s. A little bit too low key for our taste.
JJ Grey and Mofro: Back to the tent stage for a band we had never heard of but were delighted to discover. Old school R&B with overtones of funk and classic soul with a kickin’ horn section. Almost the Jukes but not quite. Very slick, very polished, great entertainment all round.
And from Bishopbriggs to Bospop…
Amy Macdonald: After the buzz created by JJ Grey, Amy seemed to get off to a slow start and appeared to struggle initially to get the crowd on her side. However a succession of crowd pleasing hits delivered with passion and belief, soon had a by now, very warm and large audience right on her side. Excellent band and great
Dana Fuchs: There is no subtlety with Dana. What you see is what you get. A huge personality delivering raucous blues rock. A very charismatic, aggressive front woman with a great voice and looks to match. Top notch, well schooled band giving fantastic backing. Only downside was too much discussion of religion and politics. This isn’t the Today programme.
Roger Hodgson: A superb voice and very tight band reminded everybody just how many hits Supertramp had enjoyed. One of those occasions where, within seconds of the opening notes, the whole crowd recognises the song. Maybe a little staid, but Supertramp were never noted for pyrotechnics on stage. We didn’t stay for the rest of Saturday as Dutch Folk sung in dialect isn’t really our thing and we had seen CSN many times before.
I saw Roger Hodgson and his band at Bospop 2011 and metaphorically speaking, they blew the roof off the pink tent stage. This year, Roger was asked to perform on the much larger main stage, a show that was actually the third of three consecutive performances on his tour schedule, the middle one taking place the previous night in Losheim am See, an incredibly picturesque lake-side resort which nestles in the Saarland region of Germany close to the borders of Luxembourg and Belgium. How do I know this? Because this was the first stop on my road trip and I can tell you that the performance was simply stunning. It was Bospop 2011’s pink tent stage show plus, plus, plus… and whattaband… the collective talents of David J. Carpenter (bass / backing vocals), multi-talented Aaron MacDonald (saxophones, harmonica, keyboards, backing vocals and German), Kevin Adamson (keyboards, backing vocals) and Bryan Head (drums / percussion) had you believing you were listening to Supertramp all over again. I can more than relate to Peter’s impression because Roger Hodgson brings an alluring and totally charming quality to the stage that enraptures his audience and quite simply leaves them applauding loudly for more. As for the story behind the little yellow rubber duck that adorned Kevin’s keyboards… that would be telling! I can also say that it was a real pleasure to meet Roger after the show in Losheim and to be able to say ‘thank you’ for such a wonderful performance. Altogether, it was a perfect summer’s evening and to borrow a quote from Roger and the band as they ended the “Logical Song” in Losheim, it was bloody marvellous!
SUNDAY July 14th
Smalltown Nobodies: Got Sunday off to a rocking start. With a lead singer looking a bit like Tom Jones, the performance was energetic and passionate and must have cleared a few hangovers for sure. They must have been hot in all that black leather though.
Blo Ya Top: Very loud formulaic power rock, trying hard and great fun, and not pretending to be anything other than what they are – a basic competent rock outfit. I think they were almost trying to be a tribute to ZZ Top, but why bother when the real thing was on later?
Kitty, Daisy and Lewis: Like a breath of fresh air after Blo Ya Top. Great looking multi-instrumentalists playing some proper rock and roll and rockabilly – very reminiscent of Imelda May in places. The long pauses between songs whilst they all swapped instruments became a bit tedious, but the change of pace and style was very welcome.
Tim Christensen and the Damn Crystals: We didn’t see this band as we went off site for some shade and a bigger beer.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Tim’s set either but I can tell you that he is an accomplished Danish singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist and if you check the YouTube collection of recorded material from Bospop 2013 you’ll be able to see that he delivered a stellar performance on the tent stage and see why he is such a success in his native Denmark.
Within Temptation: Classic rock at it’s best with a fantastic singer who knows how to work a crowd and a great stage show. Not normally my favourite genre, but definitely a band I’d pay to see again.
I’m with Peter here 100% because I had never heard of Within Temptation before Bospop 2013 but hey, isn’t that the great thing about festivals? That you leave with more musical awareness than you came in with? For this particular heads-up, my thanks go to Leon Deelen, Bospop’s bar manager. The lead singer from Within Tempation, Sharon den Adel, is a dynamic performer whose stage persona is simply dazzling and is accentuated even further in her choice of stage attire. The set started with a bang and ended the same way leaving some of us (i.e. moi) thinking that something electrical had blown on stage! Within Temptation gave Bospop 2013 a 75 minute show that was fortified with twenty-four-carat-passion from beginning to end. As far am I’m concerned, my appetite for Within Temptation has been duly whetted and I will most certainly be keeping an eye on the tour dates as I really would like to see a full set from this band. “Symphonic Metal/Rock” isn’t a genre I would normally find myself attracted to but as with art in any form, when it is performed to the calibre we saw at Bospop, I feel sufficiently motivated to research this band more and see what I have been missing. A five star performance.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds: What can you say? Time for a move to the Premier League. The legend, that is, Kim Wilson, fronts a band that I would travel many a mile to see and was one of the main reasons for the trip from the UK. Brilliant musicianship and a fabulous, fabulous performance from the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
There is something about the name of this band that just has that je ne sais quoi ring to it and I would just love an opportunity to introduce these guys… maybe it’s using an adjective and turning it into a noun sort of thing… je ne sais pas! But whatever it is, it rocks!
As. Does. This. Band.
The heat inside the tent was a major physical force to be reckoned with mainly due to the fact that every square inch of floor space was filled with Bospoppers eager to see what could be perceived as the “perfect” American band. Legendary frontman, and sole remaining founder of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Kim Wilson’s lead vocals and harp prowess, epitomise many of the sounds that are categorised and sub-categorised in the A – Z guide to the blues; he has been described as a “true master of the stage” and you only have to watch him power his way through favourites like, “Wrap it Up” or “Tuff Enuff” and you will see a delivery that is so well oiled you’d think it had come straight out of a can of WD40. The latter track was a 1986 single that came from the album of the same name and which was produced by Welsh rocker, Dave Edmunds. More recently, “On The Verge”, the band’s latest CD, was released at the beginning of 2013 and features an excellent collection of original material penned in the main by Kim Wilson. My personal favourite song from the album is, “Hold Me”. I just love Kim’s vocals on this as well as its mygirlesque groove…a really great track. And while we’re on the subject of albums… The Fabulous Thunderbirds are included on a compilation CD called, “Pure… Guitar Legends”. The featured track is, “Powerful Stuff”… which says it all, really. Supported and surrounded by a wealth of talent on guitars and percussion, there is only one word to describe this band, i.e. F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S and of course, another addition to my must-see-full-show list.
(Marc chose ” I Want To Believe” and “Tuff Enuff” as part of his interview with Kim – link to official videos)
George Thorogood and the Destroyers: The other band I was very keen to see. George now has legendary status as a master of the slide guitar and he and the band did not disappoint in any way. Great uncomplicated rockin’ blues and a true entertainer with excellent stage craft (even though I had heard all the patter in Birmingham three weeks before).
Sporting a bandana and kicking off with Bo Diddley’s, “Who Do You Love?” George Thorogood and the Destroyers had arrived and were very definitely making their mark on the Bospop main stage. The crowd simply loved George’s intro to his version of, “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and were quite literally word perfect as they became his extended backing band. George Thorogood is a performer who certainly knows how to make his guitar talk and from where I was standing, it seemed like his music is really well-known in this part of the world as the crowd paaaaartied and sang along as one to songs like “Bo Diddley”, “I Drink Alone”, “Get A Haircut”, “Madison Blues” and “Bad To The Bone”. “Bad To The Bone” is of course George’s most successful song (to date) and has been used in commercials, various TV shows and films many times over the years. “2120 South Michigan Avenue” is the latest studio album from George Thorogood and the Destroyers and was released a couple of years ago. I had this on miPlaylist prior to Bospop because up to now, I hadn’t had an opportunity to see the band play live and I’m happy to say my pre-show homework paid off as my impression was much like Peter’s… straighttahead, stripped-down, balls-to-the-wall rrr-rock’ n’ blues. Whatta seriously cool way to spend a Sunday afternoon in The Netherlands and yep, here’s another band for my must-see-more-of list! George very kindly took time out before the show to speak to Marc Tyley and made us feel very welcome in his backstage dressing room. It was a pleasure listening to George guide us through some parts of his career path as well as sharing a host of other fascinating insights into his life as a musician from Delaware.
(Marc chose “Madison Blues”, “Bad To The Bone” and “I Drink Alone” as part of his interview with George – link to official videos).
PS Talking of “career paths”, I’ve recently finished reading Gary U S Bonds’ autobiography, “That’s My Story”… and who appears on page 198?? George Thorogood, in conversation with Lance Hyland Stark, Gary’s regular drummer. The music world sure is small.
Thunder: Felt a bit too heavy in what was by now a very hot and sweaty marquee, but a classic English rock band with all the right moves. Like me some of the band are from the West Midlands so they can’t be all bad. Plenty of energy and attitude but didn’t want to get too close.
Golden Earring: What the locals had been waiting for and the crowd seemed to like what they got. Plenty of memories and the band seemed to be loving it. Made the most of Radar Love then left the stage for an eternity about 20 mins before scheduled only to re-appear for one more song.
I won’t spoil the opening lines of Marc Tyley’s interview with Rinus Gerritsen, bass player and founding member of Golden Earring who very graciously found time to talk about the band’s past, present and future before their Bospop main stage time slot. Suffice to say, Marc hit the proverbial nail on the head with his introduction!
“Bospop: Back Home” had become the official “catchphrase” for this year’s festival and it seemed totally fitting that Golden Earring, as in The Netherlands’ biggest musical success ever, should include, “Back Home” as part of their setlist. Rinus was a mere 15 years old when he and his neighbour, George Kooymans, came up with the idea to start a band… the rest, as they say, is history! The band kicked ass as they tore their way through a 90-minute set that of course included their globally acclaimed hit record, “Radar Love” which got a seriously extended-re-mix-arrangement allowing the guitarists to exercise their plectrums to the max. ”Twilight Zone” was another crowd favourite as was “Another 45 Miles” with its catchy slade-y chorus. There are loads of YouTube videos from Bospop but one clip I particulary liked was the compilation below which will give you an overview of Golden Earring’s peformance. Great to see such a solid and well received performance from a veteran band that has been around for some 52 years. If music be the food of love guys, do please play on!!
Steven Wilson: A complete change to prog rock and something of the Pink Floyd/King Crimson here. Very arty, wonderful atmospheric lighting and great technical skills gave the crown a chance to chill out before the final act of the festival.
ZZ Top: Were simply ZZ Top! Nothing changes and no-one would want them to. Still one of the great bands and proved once again that they are amongst the best blues rockers there has ever been. Nothing else need be said.
(Marc chose “When the Bullet Hits the Bone” and “Radar Love” as part of his interview)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcEuRcJR4Gw – Golden Earring @ Bospop 2013
“That little ol’ band from Texas” was how the ZZ Top were introduced by a Daisy Duke look-alike on a perfectly presented video clip. I have to say I always find ZZ Top a little mysterious as it is nigh near impossible to see what they look under their floppy felt hats, shades and facial hair… I mean… would I actually recognise them if I fell over them?? Some extra special customised American cars ala early band promo videos were on display backstage and very special looking photogenic machines they were too.
For me, the classic ZZ Top songs will always be, “Gimme All Your Lovin’”, “Legs”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Tush”, all of which were part of this headline act that brought Bospop 2013 to a close. The performance was very polished, very synchronised and very everything you would expect from ZZ Top – even the windmill got in on the act by displaying yet another banner which read: BOZZPOP – I just hope the guys were able to read it through their shades from the stage! Check out the link below for some great BOZZTOP moments.
So what is it about Bospop that makes it different from all the other music festivals that take place around central Europe at this time of year? I would attribute the success to the organisers, their mini army of volunteer helpers as well as the friendliness of staff and festival goers alike. It can’t be easy picking bands that will pull sufficient numbers to justify the means but the Bospop management always seem to hit the spot as far as creating the right mix is concerned.
Here are some very interesting statistics from the weekend:
Tickets sold out: 20,000 visitors both days; Campers: 4,000; Waste: 45 tonnes
Beer consumed on festival site: 80,000 litres +
Bosuil 24 hour camp site bar: 20,000 litres +
As you can see, the sounds of Bospop rocked the small town of Weert all weekend long and even the weather was fabulous. I had a really great time and in terms of success, I would say, congratulations to all concerned at Bospop HQ – mission well and truly accomplished.
Sincere thanks to:
- every single volunteer in the Bospop Crew 2013, your hard work was noticed and appreciated
- Peter Rolinson for kindly filling the programme gaps for me
- Hen at www.henmetsemakers.nl for kindly allowing me to publish his aerial view of Bospop 2013
- my sat-nav, Daniel, for getting me to where I needed to be and back without losing the rag whenever he had to “recalculate”.
See y’all at Bospop 2014!
PS In the meantime, I will continue to listen to my local radio station, Radio 21, whose catchphrase is wir spielen was wir wollen and whose playlist is like Radio Bospop – every time I switch on I hear someone from the Bospop alumni… uncanny!