Rea Garvey – High Flying in Bonn

Rea Garvey-151

“I got to the show 20 minutes before stage call and then I left three minutes after the Encore!! It was a crazy Day and yet in all truth one of the best days!! Thank you Bonn!!”

That’s how Rea Garvey described his ‘flying visit’ to Kunst!Rasen on Sunday via Facebook.
It was an evening of music that was as varied as it was entertaining.  Local heroes Smash Brothers, Rapper Mark Forster and Rocker Rea Garvey  all delivered excellent sets without a single raindrop falling.  ‘Wahnsinn!’ as the locals say.

Local funkrock band The Smash Brothers must have been praying for the rain to stop at 5pm. After having won a local radio competition to start the evening off, it would have been a shame for them to play in front of an empty rain-sodden field.

Smash Brothers - 'Hello Mum!'

Smash Brothers – ‘Hello Mum!’

Luck was with the Brothers though and showtime had a respectable crowd enjoying their sound. I actually enjoyed them more than any of the bands from Thursday’s Kunst!Rasen opener. These were four guys enjoying playing and enjoying the moment.

“Our parents are here tonight. They never believed anyone would ever pay 50 Euros to see us on a stage!” remarked singer Manuel Storz to loud laughter and applause. “Are you ready to get the funk up?” is also not an option you are given every day. ‘Roonies, Loonies and the Toonies’ is the title of their first EP, a lively number played on the day, and I recommend checking them out at The Pantheon here in Bonn on 27 June.

Mark Forster doesn’t look immediately like a double platinum winner that’s for sure.  It’s clear he has an ear for commercial sounds though, that was honed writing jingles for television in Berlin, and must be useful for his positionas jury member on SAT1 casting show ‘The Voice Kids’ aimed at 8 to 14 year olds. Fame for Forster himself came after singing with rapper Sido on ‘Einer dieser Steine’ and it’s a popular number this evening too.  Forster points towards the stage wings as he announces the partnership, only to admit Sido isn’t here this evening. So Mark Forster is therefore left to hop around the stage on his own – which he does with such a light step that I’d swear if he was walking on egg shells none would get cracked. Possibly you’ve heard him without realising it, since his ‘Au revoir’ was the song used on Eins live during the 2014 World Cup. It also gets applause during it’s airing tonight. He was fun and entertaining which sounds easy but below that baseball cap and big glasses I had the feeling was a man who works hard to be that easy going.

Mark Forster - working hard under his trademark cap

Mark Forster – working hard under his trademark cap

Other people seem to be easy going without any effort at all. In fact the Irish are probably World Champions at it. Enter Rea Garvey. The Tralee born singer left Ireland for Germany in 1998 and worked as a Roadie and T-shirt seller. He remembered at the concert living in Gummersbach and playing in Bonn as s street musician. “Where were you all then?!” he asked with a smile as he surveyed around 6000 bobbing heads.

I had high hopes for Garvey this evening. Okay, he was an original judge on ‘Voice of Germany’ but hey, I haven’t as yet seen a band on the Kunst!rasen stage this year who hasn’t entered/won/judged some competition, and most decisively, he’s from the land that brought us Rory Gallagher, Phil Lynott and The Pogues. It was just a question of where his music would tilt in all this.

Rea Garvey Feeling the love

Rea Garvey Feeling the love

Early on things were a bit lush and predictable. Grand affairs like ‘Can’t Say No’ or potential rockers like ‘We all fall Down’ lacked the edge I’d hoped for. ‘Catch me when I fall’ had the audience clapping along though. “Can you feel the love, Bonn?” shouted out Garvey. It seems Bonn could.

The change did come though and it seemed to start with ‘Supergirl’ a song so simple that Garvey may well have been busking with it in Poststrasse. It was the thumping good time beat of 2012’s ‘Wild Love‘ that finally got me over on Garvey’s side though – especially a nod to Lizzy’s ‘Emerald’ in it’s closing break.

Dare I say that Rea Garvey seemed to become less German and more Irish as the evening wore on? Certainly his speech did. “I always tend to start speaking English when I’m nervous” he explained. After which he was telling us how not every Irishman is the stereotypical hard drinker, but he actually was stereotypically Irish, after which – he began singing ‘Love Someone’ and climbing the spotlight tower in front of the stage. At which point I decided Rea Garvey WAS my type of Irish musician after all!

Garvey checks the view from the lighting tower

Garvey checks the view from the lighting tower

So thankfully the show rocked itself to an emotional close. “Disconnect the batteries, Pull the sockets from the wall” is hammered out with a hard as nails backbeat from what it transpired was a very fine Rock band.

All eyes are on Margaret, Garvey, Rea's sister

All eyes are on Margaret, Garvey, Rea’s sister

As encore came the Leonard Cohen paced ‘It’s a Good Life’ and it proved a perfect breathing space for the storming finish of ‘Oh my love’. Finally, I realised what I’d been missing from my last visit to Kunst!Rasen – a great Rock/Pop tune rolling pleasantly round in my brain. The sign of a good evenings live music. It was touch and go whether Garvey would make it to the show at all. Missed/delayed flights meant arriving twenty minutes before going onstage – no soundcheck. I’m thinking the extra edge to the show was no bad thing musically. Just so long as the last flight gets to the stage on time. It certainly had Rea Garvey flying high on Sunday night.


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