Ever the chameleons of pop, Sunny Skies fitted onto the tiny stage of the Poppelsdorferfest as snugly as they fitted onto the rather grander Harmonie stage or indeed the ‘Grand deluxe’ of the Museumsplatz (supporting Black Fööss in July). With the added bonus that here, for a once a year festival amongst the bier and bratwurst vendors, they could play until 11pm. But first they all had to get on the stage at once…
When we arrive I spot ‘Skies’ singers Alex Krienke and Jeanne Altfeld, standing in front of the stage with looks of rapt concentration on their faces, almost as if sheer willpower will make the stage raise up larger – like some giant apple pie in an oven. It takes half a dozen strides to walk from one corner to the other, and ten musicians will be standing on it at one time. Oh, and there is a shortage of microphones too. In short, it’s going to be like the Cologne-Bonn train at peak time onstage and possibly as chaotic.
By letting the back row of drums and horns onstage first the band manage to get everyone in place. When diminutive Altfeld takes her place in front of the less than diminutive Bassist Marvin Philippi the former almost seems to disappear until she starts singing – at which point there is no doubting this girl has a great voice for pop and rock standards of all shapes and sizes. She and the band have more than a lack of ‘private space’ to contend with initially though. Large rumbles of feedback roll around the corner of Clements-August-Strasse, and I imagine a few residents looking out of windows excepting to see rain and lightning. It can only get better – and it does. Better than better even.
As the feedback gets smaller, the audience gets bigger. By the time Martin Behr is chugging out the fabled riff to Quo’s ‘Rocking all over the world’ everyone has long forgotten about the problems and even a seasoned concert goer like myself feels dewy eyed to see a youngster no more than nine in the front waving his air guitar to the music. For young children this is where they will first hear live rock music – and they could do a lot worse than hear it from Bonn’s best coverband Sunny Skies.
Suffice to say that all the ‘Skies’ favourites were played. A highpoint, as it was in Museumsplatz, was Martin Behr’s super solo on ‘Like Rain’. There were smiles allround as Alex instead of standing next to Jean and holding out his hand had to wave it over her shoulder instead – there was no room for both singers to stand level with each other. I loved as always Alex’ moving rendition of Freddie M’s ‘Too much love can kill you’ and missed, as always, ‘American Pie’ (when are you playing it again people?!) ‘Little Help from my Friends’ is pretty much the band’s signature tune. I wonder if it was in the very first set they ever played? Still there after the Beach Boys and Beatles have been replaced by Quo and ACDC.
In contrast to the recent Harmonie concert, the set was somewhat lighter of real heavy rockers. ‘Smoke on the Water’ was great to hear though. It’s a number that can sound very tired in the wrong hands, but Martin’s imaginitive and lively intro together with Alex’ powerful vocals gave it enough kick to get loud applause. Come 11pm and the best number of all this evening was Jeannne’s ‘Highway to Hell’. Doesn’t Alex normally do this one? He’s going to have a hard job getting it back from her if he does. Super way to finish an evening that started with clouds. Sunny Skies won out in the end God Bless ‘em.