Well Ladies & Gentlemen of Bonn, that was more than a bit special. A super Choir, a super Rockband and a super venue. The superlatives will have to vary a bit in my review I know – but Sunny Skies+Bonn Voice+Poppelsdorfer Palace = SUPER!
It’s 6.30pm at Poppelsdorfer Schloss. I I’m feeling underdressed. There are a lot of smart ladies and gentlemen around and in my ‘Nine Below Zero’ T-shirt I’m not one of them. I’m having a short chat with a gentlemen in black heavy metal T shirt and long shorts admittedly, but he’s allowed to look casual, he’s the lead singer with the band . Thankfully as the courtyard fills up there are an increasing number of black T shirts with Rock motifs on, even though they remain heavily outnumbered by collared shirts and ‘proper’ trousers. This Choir meets Rockband thing is not simple where fashion is concerned.
When it comes to music however the difference disappears. Bonn Voice really are a bit special. Underneath the posh frocks and collared shirts there are clearly some rebels to be found. The lady with the green dress and shocking orange hairdo has to be one of them for a start.
The musical borders melt away very quickly when you these guys and girls settle into their musical stride. An energetic ‘Lady Madonna’ is an early crowd pleaser and this really is a bit, different (special!). The choir seem to change places every song and yet it all seems so organized – there’s even someone out front waving his hands (Bonn Voice founder and conductor Tono Wissing. The young lady with the orange hair makes a nice cross-over between the choir and Rock styles and they even ‘nick’ one from the Sunny Skies songbook with a wonderful rendition of Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’. Showstopper of the evening in the ‘Choir Only’ segment though had to be ‘Fernando’. A gloriously irreverent and humorous take on the Abba classic with even a sombrero to add authenticity to the mood. Having used up my quota of ‘Supers’ already in this article I will have to say ‘excellent’ instead and move on after a well deserved round of applause.
It’s time for that man with the Metal T-Shirt. His name is Patrick, and he is, in my humble opinion, one of the best Hard Rock singers I have ever heard. Anyone who takes on Freddie Mercury, Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Joe Cocker and survives every time to tell the story is someone I take my hat off to. Patrick Sühl is also a master at being Master of Ceremonies and rules the stage like a monarch – fitting since so much of the material played and sung came from Queen and Freddie Mercury.
Suitably, given the Metal T shirt, Sunny Skies kick off with the hard rocking Deep Purple classic ‘Highway Star’. Patrick Sühl isn’t having it all his own way with the lead vocals though. The Skies have a female ace up their sleeves in the fine shape of Babsi Nitsche. When it came to publishing the photos from the show I wasn’t sure if I should put out images of her looking somewhat less than lady-like hammering out the lyrics as she did. They show (hopefully) though something of the power of her contribution to the band’s sound and the evening’s success. Looking at all the photos later it actually occurs to me just how many smiling and grimacing faces there were onstage on Saturday. It’s one of the reasons that this man, who generally is not a coverband fan, is a Sunny Skies fan.
The last part of the evening was a shared stage and really the part everyone had most been looking forward to I’m sure. It’s where Queen came back in force (earlier the choir had covered ‘You Take my Breath Away’ quite admirably, but it was the combined forces of Rock ‘n’ Choir we were here to witness and, as someone famously in a galaxy far away once noted, the force was with us tonight. I loved Babsi taking on ‘I Believe I can Fly’ with such a fervor that I half expected to see her sitting on the spire of the Palace at any moment. I loved too the pastiche delivery of Patrick duetting with Babsi on Cocker’s ‘Love Lifts us Up’ and of course no one would have gone home without hearing the Band and Choir perform ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (worth the entrance price alone).
It was dark when the final chorus of ‘We are the Champions’ rang around the Palace courtyard. Possibly the best Sunny Skies concert that I ever attended was over. Bonn Promoters, I have to say the sound in this venue was first class. If you get the chance to put something on here DO it! Thanks to The Lions Club for arranging the evening in aid of support for children from War zones, thanks to Bonn Voice for being so ‘off the wall’ in their repertoire (Rammstein even!) , thanks to Sunny Skies for the enthusiasm they brought to this (and every) show and I make no apology for using the ‘S’ word again – thanks everyone for a Super show that could only take place in Bonn!