Rockwave Festival (Day 2) – Ozzy And Friends, Machine Head, Paradise Lost, Unisonic, Planet Of Zeus
Terra Vibe, Malakasa, Greeece

Once more I headed to the Terra Vibe park in Malakasa to witness one more Rockwave Festival. On the one hand, the feeling that each year I want something new which I seldomly see and on the other hand, the decrease of distance for the trip in Malakasa since I don’t live in Thessaloniki anymore. I don’t expect many breakthroughs from this festival anymore, it’s somehow known which bands we’re going to see every two or three years and with very few exceptions, we taste the same overbaked food every year. Mainly we all want to keep the tradition as this festival has become something like a habit, more than entertainment. This time we had two great Greek bands opening, the German all-star band Unisonic, Paradise Lost who come to Greece every ten months, Machine Head who saved the whole festival and Ozzy with his line-up boosted up with the presence of Geezer Butler, Zakk Wylde and Slash.

Lucky Funeral opened the festival under the hot burning sun, an ideal scenery for their sludged stoner musical approach. Mike on vocals gives the signal and they play without stopping for about half an hour. A very good and honest performance by the band, which surely took advantage of the chance given to them and they have made their name known to all those who should have already listened to them. The sound was good for the opening band, with a lot of emphasis on the bass which worked more than a second rhythm guitar and made them sound heavier and slower in many parts, nothing to complain about I guess. The fans showed response and compared to other years in the festival, Lucky Funeral were lucky enough to play in more than 1.000 people at this specific moment (ask some other bands struggling to play for 200 people in other cases). The guys are one of the best bands in our country and I hope they will get more recognition after this. The beginning was the best possible.

Planet Of Zeus managed to make things even better, it’s amazing how much they have grown as a band in a very short period of time but more amazing is this aura and comfort they show on the stage. Starting with ‘’Leftovers’’, they play a safe card which makes people move and applause them in any given opportunity. They are in tremendous shape and as with Lucky Funeral before, they play for half an hour and a little more under the sun heading towards their heads. They don’t give a simple fuck about it of course and on the middle of the set, they throw ‘’Vanity Suit’’ to make people move even more. The fans are more than enthused and they make the band feel more comfortable every minute that passes. Without much words and will to overreact, Planet Of Zeus prove to everybody that has suddenly started bitching about their success that they deserve it and that if a band works hard and is focused only in things inside the band, then what is about to be accomplished will take its way to the right direction sooner or later. The two Greek bands can surely feel proud for their presence and they surely played better than the next two bands.

Unisonic is a case where you get yourself in the middle of some things. On the one hand you have their own material which is sympathetic if you are in a good mood and not inspired and completely out of time if you want new sounds in your life. What they play is not revolutionary, it’s not something you haven’t heard before and it’s nothing that can make you listen to it many times. On the other hand, I finally saw Michael Kiske who still remains a very inspirational figure of my childhood and one of my early heroes. His presence was great regarding the circumstances and if Unisonic sounds a little good for a reason, then this reason is definitely Kiske. Kai Hansen was cheerful as always (especially when he comes to Greece, spread your mood to some people too man) and the two Helloween classics ‘’March Of Time’’ (fuck yes!) and ‘’I Want Out’’ for the end, made things a lot better. A band which you won’t put in your stereo but once you see them live, you will give them the hint that they are honest and they play as professionals. I still preferred the two Greek bands though.

Paradise Lost is a band which must split up immediately. I don’t know how I have come in the state of feeling like this but I know that they disappoint me as much as it gets through the years. Not convincing, without nerve and with Nick Holmes always complaining about the sun, they played only 50 minutes (and not one hour as they should) and with his once great voice becoming a shadow of the glorious past, he makes the whole band sound like shit. They opened the set with ‘’Widow’’ and they also played stuff such as ‘’As I Die’’, ‘’Embers Fire’’, ‘’Forever Failure’’, ‘’One Second’’, ‘’Say Just Words’’, ‘’Erased’’, ‘’The Enemy’’ and two new ones, ‘’Honesty In Death’’ and the title track off their latest album ‘’Tragic Idol’’. Tragic performance indeed, Holmes was nervous because of the heat (give me the money you got for this and I do this every day, even in the desert) and the fact that I see them headbanging in the two tracks of ‘’One Second’’ whole fifteen years ago they were sitting like dolls, makes things even worse. Respect your name and stop playing live, that’s all I have to say. It was the last time I saw them live, long live the old Paradise Lost.

Machine Head was the oasis that not only drove the sun away, but also showed how a band must be live. I heard that they played with the gear of Zakk Wylde and this makes their performance even better, for they didn’t have the sound they wanted. It was still heavy and groovy but seemed to be taken away by the air. Starting with ‘’I Am Hell’’, they go on with hymns like ‘’Old’’, ‘’Imperium’’, ‘’Beautiful Morning’’ (great surprise), ‘’Locust’’, ‘’Aesthetics Of Hate’’, ‘’Darkness Within’’, ‘’Halo’’ and of course, ‘’Davidian’’ for the end. For about 70 minutes we saw a great Robb Flynn feeling great with the Greek crowd and with the help of Phil Demmel, we saw why they have written some of the best metal riffs and solos of the last ten years. The rhythm section nominal for once more and especially Dave McClain on the drums is evolving more and more through the years, his Van Halen II t-shirt was the fetish of the day also. They swallowed Paradise Lost without chewing them and they promised it won’t take eight more years to come to Greece again. For me personally, the festival was through when Machine Head left the stage.

Ozzy is an undisputed persona non grata for the whole music scene. Reaching 70 in a while, he still has the will to offer fun to the fans. This time something seemed to go wrong and while he starts great with ‘’Bark At The Moon’’, on ‘’Mr. Crowley’’ his voice starts to betray him and for some seconds I thought he was going to collapse. Well, he finally made it and with two tracks from ‘’Blizzard Of Ozz’’ (‘’Suicide Solution’’ and ‘’I Don’t Know’’) and ‘’Shot In The Dark’’ (what?), he leaves room for his band to show their skills. Gus G. showed this time how professional and great he is and anyone who defies his position must be a loser the least. Then Geezer Butler and Slash come on stage and they play ‘’Iron Man’’, ‘’War Pigs’’, ‘’N.I.B.’’ (twice heavy, colossal performance) and ‘Fairies Wear Boots’’. Though I’m totally against this alliance, as I feel they should respect Tony Iommi’s condition and NOT play Sabbath stuff the way presented, I can’t help but stating that chills circled me once again, such tracks never die.

Then came Zakk Wylde on stage and they start playing ‘’I Don’t Wanna Change The World’’ and I travel back in time when ‘’No More Tears’’ was the first album of Ozzy I ever listened (and still his best one for me). ‘’Crazy Train’’ is destined to make fans jump like crazy and ‘’Mama I’m Coming Home’’ was the biggest surprise everyone could expect. For the end we had the best part with Gus G., Zakk and Slash on stage on one side, Ozzy and Geezer on the other and four guitars in total (one played by the great keyboardist) and ‘’Paranoid’’ waves goodbye to Rockwave Festival’s metal day for 2012. For about 90 minutes, Ozzy gave all he got. Thousands hate him, millions love him, but no matter what, Ozzy is living history on his own and for more than 40 years he does what he knows best, he drives people crazy in a very special way. The security guys suffered his water and foam attacks as he usually does. I’ve always been more a fan of his personal albums than his Sabbath days, as I am more keen to Ronnie James Dio and especially Tony Martin, but I left satisfied and I have no complaint from Ozzy. I just hope that next time he’ll be on his own without guests and without any disrespect, this special Sabbath stuff shouldn’t have happened. Until next year, let’s hope that the promoters will act with focusing on new stuff and bands we HAVEN’T seen on Greece.

Report: Aggelos Katsouras.