Axeman gets by with a little help from his friends
German Heavy Metal Guitar Wizard Axel Rudi Pell celebrated his 25th anniversary as a solo artist with a once-in-a-lifetime performance at the ‘Bang Your Head’ Festival on July 11th 2014, in Balingen, Germany, featuring a stellar line-up of famous invited friends (alongside his current band line-up), in front of over 15,000 fans.
Steamhammer / SPV are now set to release a very special ‘Magic Moments – 25th Anniversary Special Show’ 3CD, 3DVD and Blu-Ray, capturing the show, (one that is unlikely to ever be seen again in this constellation), on Steamhammer / SPV on April 27th.
A whole host of legendary guest vocalists, including former ARP Band singers Rob Rock (1991) and Jeff Scott Soto (1991-1997), plus Dougie White (Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow), Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, MSG), John Lawton (Uriah Heep), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) and Michael Voss (Mad Max, Bonfire) as well as current (1998 – Present) front man Johnny Gioeli, graced the stage on that amazing night.
Former drummer Joerg Michael (Running Wild, Stratovarius), celebrated tub thumper Vinnie Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath), and ex-Rainbow keyboard player Tony Carey, as well as the entire original line-up of Axel’s first band, Steeler, also took to the stage during the three hour set.
It took almost a year to set everything up. “The actual organisation started in the summer of 2013 when the promoter and I went public with the idea of this event,” Axel tells with obvious relief. He´s still happy about how things have turned out. With a little help from his friends at his booking agency, the Bochum guitarist set up an extraordinary line-up. “It was mostly all about personal contacts”, because after more than 30 years in the business Axel Rudi Pell is not only well-known, but also well-respected in the worldwide rock community, so the affix “& Friends“ is not one of those usual exaggerations.
Almost all of his favoured candidates agreed on this one July date. As Axel is an early bird, the whole organisation was fairly easy. Of course there were rehearsals, but only one day before the show. Over fifty minutes worth of footage from those remarkable sessions are featured on the DVD and Blu-ray versions of this package. During those sessions Axel realized that something unique was happening. “Everybody involved had a blast and was right on track,” he remembers. Unfortunately, Doogie White had a prior engagement with Michael Schenker on that rehearsal day, but was replaced with ARP frontman Johnny Gioeli. And except for Charlie Huhn, who had already agreed to play a gig in the USA with his current band Foghat, Axel´s former singers turned out in full force.
After a historical four-song Steeler reunion at the beginning of the show. Axel´s current lineup put on a best-of show with a blisteringly atmospheric version of the Neil Young classic “Hey Hey My My“ and a few epic ARP classics like “Mystica“, “The Masquerade Ball“, “Casbah“ and “Into The Storm“. You could feel those goose bumps spring up, and the climax was still to come: after a furioso battle between drum gods Vinnie Appice and Bobby Rondinelli, a long list of rock legends took the Balingen stage: stepping in for Joe Lynn Turner, who was tied up with business affairs, Pretty Maids frontman Ronnie Atkins performed a superb version of Deep Purple´s “Black Night“, including audience sing along. Then John Lawton, the former voice of Uriah Heep, demonstrated why he still deserves a lot of “Sympathy“ (Uriah Heep), and he was still looking for some “Tush“ (ZZ Top). When ex-Rainbow keyboard player Tony Carey joined in for an emotional “Mistreated“, the now available Doogie White and Johnny Gioeli set the roof on fire. Graham Bonnet, another Rainbow veteran from the glorious “Down To Earth“ era, remembered the good old times with “Since You Been Gone“ and, of course, the aforementioned “Long Live Rock´n´Roll“. At the endAt the end of those three hours plus, all guests (and friends!) gathered on stage for the grand finale “Smoke On The Water“, drawing a legendary evening to a spectacular close.