The candles blew and then disappeared. The curtains flew then he appeared. Saying don’t be afraid.”
Those soul-searching lyrics, dealing with the emotive topics of eternal love and the inevitability of death, resonate as strongly nowadays as they did when I first heard them some 35 years plus ago.
However New York’s Blue Öyster Cult are much more than this one, admittedly timeless, track. Indeed, they’re much more than the hard-hitting, heavy-weight punch of titanic offering ‘Godzilla’; it certainly isn’t a sloth approaching!
There’s good reason why this twin salvo, lifted from 1976’s ‘Agent of Fortune’ and 1977’s ‘Spectres’ respectively, is saved for the closing assault upon the crowd gathered at 2016’s Rock of Ages Festival in Seebronn, Germany.
However there’s further good reason why the initial double-barrelled shots from the hip are taken from the aforementioned long-players.
Eric Bloom growls his vocals through quickfire set-opener ‘This Ain’t The Summer of Love’ as BÖC hit the stage at full pace, taking Seebronn by storm, barely drawing breath before hitting, note perfect, the opening vocal harmonies of mini-rock opera ‘Golden Age of Leather’.
Cans of beer held aloft in tribute to the aging motorcycle gang members who Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser poetically romantacises about, in their last act, fighting to death out in the desert.
BÖC’s pace is unrelenting and the hard-rocking quintet next serve up the pyroclastic legacy rocker ‘Burnin’ For You’; just three tracks into the set but it’s clearly evident why so many acts from the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica right through to Queens of the Stone Age and Alice In Chains all cite BÖC as an influence. Riff-tastic T-Rex edged romp ‘OD’d on Life Itself’ is given an energetic outing before matters are, mid-set, taken down a notch with the atmospheric ‘Harvest Moon’; a track that one could easily imagine Tom Petty turning his hand to.
Barrelling into boogie rocker ‘ME 262’ BOC are on course, at times, to play a 12 bar ace to trump Quo themselves. Weaving some progressive intricacies into the track ensures that it’s taken to another dimension completely however; it’s fair to say BÖC have never been comfortable being placed in one defined pigeonhole.
The band roll into a seven and a half minute romp through the instrumental ‘Buck’s Boogie’ that demonstrates, should there be anyone left in doubt by this stage of the set, of the high level of quality musicianship that is on display here.
The curiously titled ‘Lips in the Hill’ from 1980’s ‘Cultösaurus Erectus’ album ups the ante further as the set builds towards it’s climatic ending. Roeser’s cool as you like vocals and wondrous six-string licks caress the listener throughout the epic 10 minutes plus of prog-anthem ‘Then Came The Last Days of May’; the words inspired by three students of Stony Brook University who traveled south for a drug deal but wound up being shot.
A recurring theme within BÖC’s lyrics; nearly always a story to be told or recollected. A level of literacy that has lead to them being dubbed ‘the thinking man’s heavy metal’.
Proceedings are wrapped in befitting style with powerhouse ‘Godzilla’, complete with monster bass from Kasim Sulton, and the absolute classic ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’.
Two instantly recognisable BÖC anthems that bring down the house at Seebronn; with a crowd left completely enthralled by this 11 track, hour long, triumphant romp through the eclectic rock sphere that BÖC inhabit.
LIVE AT ROCK OF AGES FESTIVAL 2016″ INFO CD: 1. This Ain’t The Summer Of Love 2. Golden Age Of Leather 3. Burnin’ For You 4. Od’d On Life Itself 5. Harvest Moon 6. Me 262 7. Buck’s Boogie 8. Lips In The Hills 9. Then Came The Last Days Of May 10. Godzilla 11. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
Subscribe To Our Channel: http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers | From the album “Live At Rock Of Ages Festival 2016”. Buy or Stream: https://orcd.co/rockofages2016 #BlueÖysterCult #FrontiersRecords #ClassicRock
Review by Gary Spiller for MPM