The third edition of ROCKFEST promised bands like RAINBOW, SLIPKNOT, DISTURBED, DEF LEPPARD and many more. With great acts like these on their roster, it again was very hard to say no to the festival, even though the previous editions had been a bit of a struggle organization-wise. Third time's a charm, right? So, we packed our bags and decided to drive up to Hyvinkää to start our summer festival season at ROCKFEST.
The previous year there were a lot of issues with the wristbands and it caused chaos and huge queues everywhere, this year, we had to wait about 15 minutes to get our wristbands, and then smoothly got our passes. There was a bit of miscommunication, however, as we thought that the accreditation point was at the main entrance. Because of that, I missed the opportunity to take photographs of KINGSTON WALL in the photo pit. Nevertheless, we arrived only a bit later than their setlist.
Seeing KINGSTON WALL play live, is something I had been looking forward to. I am not super familiar with all the band's material, but I have heard a couple of songs before, and I knew it was enough to keep me fascinated during a show of theirs. It was not too long ago that the band announced on their Facebook page that they would be playing a gig at Tavastia in Helsinki to celebrate the 50th birthday of late Petri Walli. Performing under the name KINGSTON WALL BY JJYLLI, KUOPPIS & BROTHERS VON HERTZEN. So the current lineup of the band includes the two original members Jukka Jylli and Sami Kuoppamäki on their original instruments and the Von Hertzen Brothers on guitars, lead vocals and percussion. Definitely, a good combination.
In about 30°C the band played a lot of KINGSTON WALL classics, with so much energy that it felt as if they were causing the hot weather. My personal hightlights of the show were "Could It Be So?", "Shine On Me", "Konevitsan Kirkonkellot / Kuusamo / I Feel Love / The Real Thing" and "Štüldt Håjt". After the sold-out shows at Tavastia, I was really happy I got to catch the band live after all, and it definitely made for a great opener for RAINBOW.
It was then time for the hard rock classic RAINBOW. The band had been to Helsinki the previous year, and we attended their show. Unfortunately, it was the only show in the tour where they didn't have the opportunity to play the encores. Was it because of Ritchie Blackmore's bad mood, was it because of the lack of time? No idea. But the not playing the encores ended up being an important factor in interacting with the audience.
A bit later than scheduled, and after fans shouting "Ritchie, we are waiting for you!" from the front row, the band finally made it to the stage on the tunes of "Land Of Hope And Glory/Over The Rainbow", and continued with the energetic "Spotlight Kid". During the first three songs while I was in the photo pit, it was clear that Ritchie Blackmore was having some issues with his in-ears. After throwing a small tantrum, the band continued with telling us that this night they plan on playing the encores, and Ritchie Blackmore was holding up a gigantic setlist to show us, I presume.
Ronnie Romero, is still a great choice as a lead singer. I previously said that he doesn't take too much of the attention, but it feels like after touring extensively that has changed a bit. He's running a lot more around the stage, he's more energetic and more interacting with the crowd, but still he doesn't steal the show from Ritchie Blackmore. Moreover, he can cover most of the songs, and he reaches a climax in songs like "Mistreated", and "Man On The Silver Mountain".
During "All Night Long" Blackmore - for a reason unknown to me, I was rather confused about the whole situation - suddenly wanted to switch his instruments with bass player Bob Nouveau. Nouveau encouraged us to sing along, because he can't play the guitar that well, he needs some help, but conjures out great riffs nonetheless, and Ritchie Blackmore plays the bass very well, which somehow was not a big surprise. "Stargazer" was next in line, after a funny interaction with an Argentinian fan on the front row, so the band, instead, played "Mirador de estrellas", which for me definitely was a highlight of the show. The band ended with "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll", and after a lot of cheering started a slightly slower version of "Burn", one of my all-time favorite DEEP PURPLE songs. The band disappeared from stage, and after a lot of shouting, clapping, RAINBOW returned for us because they did owe us "Smoke On The Water" after all from last time, and they played (at least to me) a very surprising refreshing rendition. What a great closing song to an outstanding setlist and great night.
The first night was deemed a success. Now a couple of words about the festival grounds, for those who attended the festival last night, not much has changed, but it did takes us a while to find the water points, something I personally find really important during a heatwave. Other than that the structure has remained the same, and it was less chaotic than last year, let's see what the next couple of days will have in store for us! I'm at least looking forward to the rest of the festival!