Videos are a good thing. Usually. The music industry depends on them to promote their wares and to boost sales. Thanks to YouTube and their ilk.
It is also well known that you need to make the first 30 seconds of airplay or so count, or you will lose this finicky audience at once. You know, these suckers that should keep their eyes glued to YOUR clip, and then come back for seconds. Tons of clicks, conversions on fire, that kind of thing.
Well, the same goes for videos that bands project during live shows. Short, crisp, and like Thor’s metal hammer they should be. With only one purpose: To whip the crowd into an insane frenzy. And to get them ready to thunderously welcome the stars on stage for an hour or so of totally decadent, blazing-hot rock’n’roll.
So, why on earth Krokus treated us to some 30 minutes of terror with extracts of the age-old documentary As Long As We Live is beyond me. You see, for such occasions, I got a nice TV machine at home. One that delivers HD quality right to my screen. To be consumed with loads of popcorn and beer.
So, damned straight I was mad – and still am. I signed up for a red-hot live rock show that would undo my shiny long hair and rumble across my stomach with those meaty riffs and damn bass sucker punches. Not some weak tea documentary from times past.
The boos and whistles from the fans were thus understandable, but at the same time especially stark. This was supposed to be a friendly crowd, in the home country of one of the major Hard Rock bands. A show delivered on a home run in one of the biggest arenas Switzerland has to offer. Only, the stony or bemused, if not outright annoyed faces in my direct vicinity told a totally different story.
This meant that Krokus already started their farewell concert with a cranky audience. One they already pretty much lost before they even played one single note. A free home advantage squandered for no good reason.
Marc Storace picked up on that about 1/3 into the concert with his ill-fated ‘chuchichäschtli’ (kitchen cabinet) shoutout to the crowd. I take it that this meant to tell his fans to stop being so stoically Swiss and to react properly to his performance. Only that this had to do with video poisoning, not stoicism.
And that is a real pity.
Because them old rock warriors from Krokus still have it in them, big time. Once they appeared on stage, the direction was set. This is the high-roller brand of Hard Rock and early Heavy Metal that we crave. A steaming array of top-notch rock’n’roll delivered by a band of battle-scarred rockers. With energy levels that will put much younger bands to shame.
Of course, the venue and Krokus delivered this very tasty fare with all the accouterments of boom and bang that Swiss regulations permit. All there, paper bomb ‘fireworks’, the usual and somewhat anemic pyrotechnics of the dancing flames, and loads of smoky fog. Together with a pretty cool background video show that often combined the live action with some retro props in a juicy mix of moving pics and impressions.
And truly, once Stick Goes Boom (One Vice At A Time, 1982) rocked out the door, things started to feel right again. Krokus really went for the full monty and kept going for about one hour and a half of extracts. Out of a wealth of material of some 18 full-length records, if we allow Big Rocks of 2017 into that august list.
So, we got redemption in the house?
Quite. Because this selection of Krokus‘ finest really rocked the building big time. Even if the setlist sometimes made me wonder why all that clutter would appear out of the left-field all of a sudden.
Like those infamous covers such as American Woman (The Guess Who, 1970) that constantly pollute the albums of this band. Even if the Krokus version really rocks this time, far away from the somewhat bloodless original. But they had three of them on this set if I counted that right. Which – in itself – is enormous on a limited setlist with loads of original kick-ass pieces of this band still nowhere in sight.
We nonetheless got a truckload of special treats with some of the most iconic tracks this band ever produced. Quite unsurprisingly, a fair number of those came from the famed Metal Rendez-Vous. Tracks like Tokyo Nights, Heatstrokes, Back Seat Rock’n’Roll, or – again – Bedside Radio. With the title track from Hoodoo (2010), and Eat the Rich from Headhunter (1983).
I also quite enjoyed the Rock City – Better Than Sex – Dög Song medley. Which put Dirty Dynamite (2013) and – surprisingly – Hardware (1981) squarely on full display.
And Krokus truly know which side their bread is buttered. The setlist pretty much cuts off in the mid-’80s and restarts squarely around 2008. Because in between – well – there was a lot of pain but not much fame.
Now, a lot of that astonishing power the band still musters comes of course from the guitar work. It’s not only those into-your-face barebone riffs that will put AC/DC to shame. But surely the pretty stellar solos that really often got on my good side. So, kudos go to Mandy Meyer and Fernando Von Arb for their outstanding prowess, both old hands and still going strong.
Flavio Mezzodi – the youngster of the crew – really impressed with his stick work. This was just what the doctor ordered for a Hard Rock band like Krokus, even if the overly lengthy solo after Heatstrokes made me scratch my head. And where’s Chris von Rohr in all that goodness? Well, I saw him bouncing about the stage like mother goose, kinda nervously meandering about all that fragile equipment, whilst strumming away at his axe.
But I really enjoyed Marc Storace‘s pipes throughout the performance. This approach to thunderously steamroll through them tracks like brother T-Rex on steroids just gets on my good side. This guy still has the goods after all these years. Which makes me think that maybe – just maybe – an audition with the current AC/DC would be an idea. Because – really – we don’t ever want to see Axl fucking Rose on a chair on stage again. Even if the job he did was pretty decent, I give him that.
But back to the concert.
In the end, Krokus shall be forgiven for that abject video torture they saw fit to impose on us. Because once they got down to business, they delivered this meaty rock show, and then some.
These old rockers still have it in them, this old fire that pulled us to them so many years ago. Drawing from a rich heritage, they presented old-style Hard Rock and early Heavy Metal that slowly goes out of fashion in today’s world of pseudo Latino tunes and atrocious fake rap.
A style that reminds us of a time when rock’n’roll was dirty, smelly, sweaty, sexist, and mean. Where sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll noisily filled giant music halls. With high-octane firepower and undeniable grit that rendered their concerts trvly remarkable.
And they just did that again.