I know the bands material so well now that I stuck an old envelope and a pen in my pocket before heading out the door. There’s usually a surprise or two in the band even after all these years – the last appearance (which I missed) saw Patrick Sühl add an extra guitar attack to the band, so who knows? Sunny Skies were making their last appearance of 2013 at the Poppelsdorf Street Festival
My chances of catching up on the missed guitar shot from Rheinaue were quickly scuppered – “Not enough room on the stage” Patrick pointed out. It was an understatement. Every year the Poppelsdorf stage looks smaller than the year before. Or it could be that every year the band add an extra body to fill it with. Full band, horn section and four singers made twelve people and a stage full of cables looking like a badly tended plate of spaghetti .
The soundcheck took so long it was almost a concert in itself – not that there’s a problem since this is a Streetfestival and not a concert hall. There are numerous places to eat, drink and be merry withing earshot of the main stage where Patrick is asking why he can’t hear anything in his earpiece, drummer Andreas Altmaier is stoically thumping a bass drum, and band ‘Urgestein’ Rope Schmitz is calmly dragging smoke from a Marlborough into the rapidly darkening September light.
Needless to say that inside of five minutes after the opening intro to ‘Hot Stuff’ finally hitting the evening air there isn’t a free square inch of pavement to be seen. I can manage maybe two pictures before I’m standing in someones way and maybe two more somewhere else before the same thing happens. It’s quickly evident that the best plan of action is a place deep in the crowd and a long lens.
Even deep into the crowd there are lots of bobbing heads and people swaying to the music. My envelope stays in my pocket. All the old favourites are on parade.
Sunny Skies in 2013 is very much two bands. One is the Pop rooted element that first took the stage many years ago and although many of the songs have, like pop fashion itself, changed, the music in itself hasn’t. Old gold like ‘Little Help From My Friends’ really does seem nostalgic but there’s more modern pop there too of course in numbers like ‘Heavy Cross’ , ‘The Best’ and and ‘Let It Rain’. The latter always a great place for Martin Behr to show his considerable talents as a guitarist. There is also a reason to take out my envelope and pen to make note of a new song in the form of Jessie J’s ‘Price Tag’ – vibrantly sung by Nadine Weyer and Babsi Nitsche with a bit of hip-hoppy hand gesticulating for realism.
The other side of Sunny Skies 2013 is the masculine Rock side courtesy of vocalists Patrick Sühl and Detlef Kornath. Martin Behr fits excellently into both the pop and Rock camps but seems just a tad more to enjoy kicking ass on Radar Love (and delivers a wonderful solo to prove it). Patrick Sühl has a great voice for the Robbie Williams favourite ‘Angels’ too but again seems to enjoy delivering a Coverdale style vocal on ‘Here I Go Again’ just a little more. I still rather miss Alex Kriencke when it comes to the Pop ballads – his ‘Too Much Love Will Kill You’ was always a showstopper. Sühl and Detlef Kornath are both excellent Rock vocalists though – give them ‘Perfect Strangers’ or ‘HighwayTo Hell’ and there’s no one better, except maybe Ian Gillan and Bon Scott. There’s even a reason to whip out my envelope again when Patrick announces a new one – the Foreigner classic ‘Juke Box Hero’. Naturally enough it sounds like they’ve had it in the set for years. The band are all veterans. That goes of course for the horn section too, and especially worthy of mention in dispatches is the soloing of Beate Bohm on saxophone – maybe a future song for the set would be Thin Lizzy’s ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’? they have the right lady for the job.
Okay, I didn’t make it to the end of the set. Hunger took over and I went in search of something to mop up the beer and a place to stand under warm lights. The band may have been Sunny Skies, but the weather wasn’t. By my reckoning I will have missed ‘Highway to Hell’ and ‘Little Help from my Friends’. If I missed something else, please let me know and I’ll add it to the envelope.
In short, another night of excellent music that left a smile on hundreds of faces and made a Poppelsdorf Street Festival without Sunny Skies seem like a dull proposition indeed. Long may the sun shine.