By Rosine Alleva and José Oliveira, Rock At Night EU Editors.
Following the pandemic, after two years of absence, Basel was back to a normal life! A few weeks before the start of the famous Swiss Festival, the excitement was palpable in the air. Swiss people like to party and this was reflected in the rapid sale of tickets for these ten days of the Baloise Session. Within a week, everything had sold out. From October 27 to November 11, eighteen Artists and 15,500 people shared ten fantastic nights. One of the peculiarities of this Festival is that it has always been rooted in a kind of eclectic musical styles, which gives it a special appeal. For this new edition each night was marked by a theme, starting with the “Opening Night”, followed by “Roads of Rock”, “Star Poets”, “Magic Seductions”, Irish Emotions”, “Grammy Jazz and “British Pop Tradition”.
There was a huge expectation around this concert. First of all because the band appearances in Europe are rare. Second, because it’s one of our favorite bands and a great privilege to see them live. And last but not least, Béatrice Stirnimann, the (lovely) Festival Director, allowed us to have an exclusive interview with Derek TRUCKS, just before the sound check. This foray into Europe mostly relied on titles from their latest work. An ambitious project with 3 albums and 4 films on the clock, under the title “I AM THE MOON”. Very tight band and awesome vocals by Susan and the usual fantastic Derek’s guitar play. All the Band was on top of their musical shape, as tight and clean as the audience could expect. With twelve great musicians on stage, everyone had the opportunity to express their technical qualities, with bewitching solos. It was an immersive and nostalgic musical event. Many people seemed to still stay in touch with the old days, these when Derek played with the Allman Brothers Band.
When Susan Tedeschi is playing guitar and singing, you feel the love and positive energy she brings out. Her highlights moments were “Yes We Will”, “I Am The Moon”, “Midnight In Harlem” and the fantastic blues ‘Just Won’t Burn’ with her delicate guitar solo and this way to make you fly with her soul and bewitching voice. Usually, Derek Trucks always has a tendency to prolong these bottleneck solos by 5 minutes before starting a title but here, the balance was perfect. TDB delivered seven new songs from last album I am the Moon. In “Pasaquan” a showcase for him, he was just a king of perfection. This is a 15-20 minutes instrumental track. With only guitar, keys, bass and percussion it also gave a break to most of the band. The saxophone, trombone and trumpet, Kebbi, Elizabeth and Ephraim were bringing up their solos and jams while Harmonies were abounding with the 5 vocalists of the band on ‘Fall In’, ‘Circles round the sun’ and throughout the set. For the encore the band played ‘Show Me”, Joe Tex’s cover, and everyone left this unforgettable night singing, the heart full of love. It was a fantastic show.
The BossHoss is a German band from Berlin. Founded in 2004, they made a name with country style interpretations of pop, rock and hip hop titles including “Hot in Herre” by Nelly, “Toxic” by Britney Spears and “Hey Ya!” by OutKast. They play on the American cowboy stereotype with their outfits and behavior. Today, their setlist is more oriented to Rock n’Roll roots and they compose most of their songs. The seven men group has been steadily gaining popularity ever since. We were surprised to see them playing after TTB, as the headliner that night but we were unaware of this big reputation in German-speaking regions, such as Basel.
Saddle the horse, put on your Cowboy hat and boots!!! Boss Hoss Frontmen Sascha Vollmer and Alec Völkel bewitched anyone with their sleazy Rock-Pop in Western style, starting with the set’s first track “Black Is Beautiful”, title of their latest album released in 2018. Jumping into the pit, teasing the other musicians during the solos, they set the stage on fire. It was the absolute highlight of the BossHoss concert when they played Dolly’s Parton song “Jolene”. The venue went crazy!!! At the end, nearly the entire audience was going down on their knees, jumping up wildly. The photos are very explicit of the atmosphere experienced that night. A big musical delirium that transports us straight into the disturbed universe of The Eagles Of Death Metal. With The Tijuana Wonderbrass funky brass trio, fast beats and cool riffs they were at their best from the start to the end. A country pop groove mixed with cool rock, that’s The BossHoss music! They are currently preparing a new album and therefore a next tour which could be announced in 2023 with some dates in Mexico!!! Change your Cowboy hats for Sombreros!!!
The concerts of Gregory PORTER and the Americans of SNARKY PUPPY were announced as The Evening of the “Grammy Jazz” because in their career both names had the pleasure of winning the Grammy Awards!! One of the very interesting features of this 2022 edition of the Baloise Session was the live broadcast of the 10 headliners of the Festival by the Franco-German TV channel ARTE CONCERTS. It is important to point this out because in Europe, this is very rare. Influenced by the Jazz of Nat King Cole and Joe Williams, the Soul music of Marvin Gaye, in twelve years of existence, his recording career includes 6 studio albums and 2 live albums. His 3rd album “Liquid Spirit” in 2014 allowed him to obtain great critical and public success. He won the Grammy Award for “Best Jazz Vocal Album”. Since then all the American and European scenes started to fight to have him!!! His set, in Basel mainly relied on the albums “Liquid Spirit”, “Take Me” and his latest work “All Rise”, which dates from 2020 and which he couldn’t promote because its release coincided with the start of the pandemic.
Attending a Gregory Porter’s concert is very powerful. His presence on stage, his wonderful vocals, the way he speaks catches your full attention. All the ingredients to captivate the audience.“Concorde” and “On My Way To Harlem” were the chosen titles to immediately initiate a kind of musical communion with the public. “Hey Laura” was next followed by “Musical Genocide”. Both fantastic songs from his iconic album “Liquid Spirit”. When Gregory introduced his band along the concert he also showcased the musicians extraordinary techniques. Jahmal Nichols, the bass player, was always smiling during the set. He was one of the main pieces in this peaceful musical puzzle. During his solo, a medley of many well known songs touched the audience enjoying and laughing, delighted by this funny moment.“Papa was a Rolling Stones” was the only cover he did. A touch of THE TEMPTATIONS entirely interpreted in a jazzy version. Happiness, love and hope were the magic feelings throughout this exceptional show. The sensational musicians, Gregory’s vocals brought out so much energy, jazz, soul…! This was one of the best shows of this 2022 Baloise Session. Gregory PORTER showed repeatedly his fascination with the beauty of the city of Basel, which he was able to visit a little, even launching towards the public “I believe that Paradise is here”!!! The enthralled public greatly appreciated it. The audience didn’t let the band leave! After a crazed, frenzied encore, Gregory and the band came back to the stage. He thanked everyone and closed with “Revival Song”. The audience, with stars in their eyes, gave him a fantastic standing ovation !!
It was indisputably the best name to close this great edition of the Baloise Session 2022. There were high expectations for Holly Johnson’s show, after years of making brief appearances at festivals everywhere. But as soon as he stepped on stage, the years melted away. Wearing the latest fashion in sunglasses, a black shiny suit and a smoke-generating suitcase, Holly was greeted by an enthusiastic audience. A gentle soul with a naughty twinkle in the eye, he’s been through his entire career, with plenty of Frankie Goes To Hollywood hits. His set list wasn’t limited to a simple nostalgic trip. Obviously, seven Frankie Goes To Hollywood hits were enough to blow away the venue. Other themes like “Americanos”, “Love Train” and “In and Out of Love” were taken from his solo albums.
His voice, so characteristic, is still that of a rich baritone and his sense of humor remains sharp. We could see it during his presentation of the musicians who accompanied him that evening. Right away, you can’t help but notice how young his group is. I don’t think any of them were born when Holly’s career took off. Holly showed himself several times to be very happy to sing in front of such a cozy audience!!! Huge interaction with the audience, practically between each song! With “Heaven’s here” Holly took the opportunity to charm the public, saying that Basel could very well claim this title…The walk in town a few hours before the show had seduced him so much! The last three themes are certainly the ones that motivated a lot of people to come to this concert. “Two Tribes”, “Relax”, followed by the final encore “The Power Of Love” were the highlights of these ninety minutes of pure dancing bliss. What a great ending to the show. The public gave him a standing ovation!!!
We’re looking forward to the next Baloise Session! From 19th October to 9th November 2023.
Photos by José Oliveira
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