Loreley Festival june 2005 (D)

The Loreley Festival "3 Days of Love and Peace" went from June 17th to June 19th. The location is surely one of the most beautiful places for a festival you could imagine: on a mountain top overlooking the vinyards softly sloping down to the gentle curves of the river Rhine is a stage surrounded by semicircles of roughly hewn stone blocks on which people can sit like in an ancient amphitheatre.

Watching the sunset from there is perhaps even more memorable than the many brilliant performances by veterans like Savoy Brown, Jefferson Starship, Iron Butterfly, Hawkwind, Ten Years After, Robin Trower, Man, Focus, 10CC, Steve Hackett and Manfred Mann's Earthband (who were surprisingly good).

And what about that other factor which can ruin or enhance a festival, namely the weather? Well, having experienced one of the coldest and wettest summers in years it's hard imagine how hot and sunny that weekend in June was. Caravan starteded their set at the Loreley Festival on Sunday 19th around 1:30 pm. They were scheduled to start around 12:15 pm, but for some reason (and perhaps some bad advice) they swapped their slot with Pavlov's Dog, who were very well received. Here the space in front of the stage was packed with several hundred people.

By the time Caravan hit the stage it was so boiling hot that you could almost feel your body melt in the heat of the burning sunlight. Whereas Pavlov's Dog's gig was very well attended, the crowd now seemed to have dwindled to just one hundred or even less diehard fans. Most of the people seemed to have fled to the shelter of the shady trees away from the sun which was beating relentlessly down on the seats of the amphitheatre. Caravan's set offered no surprises: as always, the musicianship was flawless, their set was a stripped down version of last year's "full concerts", offering old favourites like "And I Wish I Were Stoned", "Golf Girl" and "For Richard" along with recent songs such as "Unauthorized", "Head Above the Clouds" and "Revenge". They had a sort of urgent, no-nonsense approach making only short announcements and trying to squeeze as much music as possible into their slot. Whereas this festival's standard set was 55 minutes Caravan played over an hour, desperately trying to give their audience as much as possible.

However, the punters tried to keep it cool (pardon the pun) in the shades of the distant trees. So, I'm afraid, not many new fans were gained. After all, the band had to compete with crowd pleasers like Nazareth, Robin Trower and the dreadful Barclay James Harvest, who attract more mainstream audiences to which Caravan could never appeal. Their old fans in turn, who must have seen them at last year's Herzberg Festival and then a few months later in Bonn (where all of of the songs performed this Sunday had already been played) would have loved to hear one or two less familiar numbers for a change. "Nowhere to Run" would have been a better choice than "Unauthorized"; and what about resurrecting the magnificent "Where But For Caravan Would I Be" ?

So, even though Caravan's set was immaculate I had more fun watching Manfred Mann's Earthband who manged to offer not only crowd pleasing sing along songs but also progressive music with improvisations both jazzy and rocking and complicated time figures. And the biggest surprise? Could have been 10 CC, who were quite enjoyable, but no, it was some arse-kicking funky rock by the unlikeliest of all combinations: good ole Mother's Finest with special guest Steve Hackett. What a surprise! Now, when can we expect some surprise supplies from Messieurs Hastings & co.?

Mathias Rapp