On the bill of the 2015 edition of the famous Sweden Rock Festival could be seen a name which hadn't been on any concert bill for many years. I am talking about a band which made their comeback 20 years since the last time they had been together. In 2015 they already released a kind of compilation album which they named Awakening (see review). Besides older work on one disc, some new material was presented on a second disc. It was a way to tell their fans that they were back but the official reunion of the famous progressive hard rockers Lucifer's Friend on a stage was held in Sweden in front of thousands of people. The event was captured on audio and released on a CD which got the title Live @ Sweden Rock 2015. It got the subtitle The Official Bootleg.
For those who do not know the band at all I can tell that Lucifer's Friend is a German hard rock band, formed in Hamburg in 1970 by guitarist Peter Hesslein, singer John Lawton, bassist Dieter Horns, keyboardist Peter Hecht, and drummer Joachim Reitenbach. The group was noted as early practitioners of heavy metal and progressive rock, but they also incorporated elements of jazz and fusion into their music. Their eponymous debut album was released in 1970. Then, after another six discs of excellent workmanship, in 1976 the British singer John Lawton left the band to become the front man of Uriah Heep. Many of the band members were also musicians in the James Lasts Orchestra.
The concert captured here features three of the five original members of the group: Peter Hesslein on guitar, Dieter Horns on bass and of course John Lawton on vocals. They are accompanied by two new musicians in the group, namely Jogi Wichmann on keyboards and Stephan Eggert on drums.
The setlist they performed at the festival and featured here on this live disc contains songs taken from the best releases of the band and of course tracks from their self-titled debut. You can enjoy songs such as Ride The Sky and Keep Going. One of my favourites from the old days Moonshine Rider was-thank God-done as well. It was taken from one of the bands best releases Mind Exploding (1976) next to the album Sneak Me In (1980). Songs from the second disc of the Awakening album can be heard as well. The new compositions such as Pray, Riding High and Did You Ever have more progressive rock influences than the older stuff that was done during the concert at this festival. They move more towards a style of music which reminded me many times of a band such as Deep Purple. The songs performed are very well received by an enthusiastic audience but that's not so strange because the band plays their material in a rather strong way and with a lot of energy.
This release is certainly a must for all fans of the group and those who are very much into 70s hard rock. Lovers of progressive rock don't have to avoid this release. I had a great time listening to the music on this disc and therefore recommend it to them as well, most of all those who just like myself started in their teens listening to Deep Purple and discovered progressive rock later on!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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