20 year celebration at Firefest...
Last year's Firefest III at Nottingham Rock City provides the occasion and venue for this DVD which marks the amazing 20 years anniversary of German melodic rockers Bonfire. With only a reasonably small stage, a basic stage set with only a logo backdrop and no gimmicks its always got to be the music and performance that win the viewer over and to be fair, with their 13 song set Bonfire do impress.
Drawing from a number of their albums they open with 'Day 911', really hit their stride on the two Point Blank cuts 'Tony's Roulette' and especially 'Hard On Me' which sounds so much better live, and receive most audience reaction perhaps unsurprisingly for the four tracks culled from the 'Fireworks' release namely 'Never Mind', 'American Nights', Ready 4 Reaction' and perhaps their best known track 'Sweet Obsession' which again benefits from the harder live work out.
Benefiting from eight cameras and superb sound available in both PCM and 5.1 surround options its an admirable set however, due no doubt to it being a festival audience you can't help noticing that after the first five or six rows the remainder of the audience are in the main watching passively. Having said that the band are fairly static as well with the obvious exception being front man Claus Lessman who carries the show superbly with a display of genuine warmth and enthusiasm and its largely down to him that the live set gets the thumbs up.
Full marks to the band for offering up extensive bonus features to complement the show. The "Behind The Scenes at Firefest" footage serves a purpose but is largely filler as the handheld camera footage suffers from poor sound.
Following the band to the stage and capturing the on-stage final bow from the bands perspective is a nice touch but it's most frustrating when, due to surrounding noise, a local radio backstage interview with Lessman is rendered near inaudible. The five promo videos are the big bonus and hark back to the major label days of the late 80s when Bonfire were regulars on MTV Europe and the Headbanger's Ball. 'Starin' Eyes', 'Sweet Obsession', 'Sleeping All Alone', 'Hard On Me' and 'Sword And Stone' are all featured and whilst definitely remnants of a different time they also serve to remind you just how good the band sound today with the versions included in the live segment. Finally a three song feature culled from German TV's famous Rockpalast series captures Bonfire live in 2002 performing the excellent 'Under Blue Skies', 'Sweet Home Alabama' and 'Proud Of My Country' in front of a partisan crowd, although disappointingly it does not share the sound quality of the 2006 set.
Overall an enjoyable release that has certainly had me digging through the CD boxes fishing out my old Bonfire discs that haven't been played in years, however I can't help thinking that maybe this would have been an even better and more fitting celebration if it had been a live show with the band headlining in their own country.
Review by Bill Leslie