They truly are the Duracell Bunnies of Bonn’s music scene. A lot of water has passed under the Kennedybrücke since the Autumn day in 1972 when Rope Schmitz and FD Faber met during a Riverboat-Shuffle and decided to form a band. They called it Sunny Skies.
The hair is a different colour and the spectacles stronger, but the enthusiasm on Rope Schmitz’s face is as strong as ever when I weave my wave through a huge throng of dancing bodies to the Rheinaue stage. I had originally decided to just report on the Alten Zoll concert this evening and head for home. After all, how many pictures have I taken of Sunny Skies? Can there be any words I haven’t written yet about them over the last ten years?
When I first arrived at around 9.15 pm organizer Walter Schnabel was handing out the last raffle prizes so I grabbed a chat with guitarist Martin Behr who between sips at a cold beer told me some good news. I was still in time for a couple of new songs being played tonight.
So here I am again on my own. Patrick Sühl is coincidentally screaming out “Here I go again” and here I am at that age when I remember seeing Whitesnake do this, or Deep Purple doing ‘Perfect Strangers’ and I realize why I keep coming back to Sunny Skies gigs – because when they do these songs they do them proud. Martin Behr is as good as any guitarist I’ve seen play at the Museumsplatz in Bonn – well maybe Gary Moore, Jeff Beck and Warren Haynes have the edge, but Behr is still a bit special and rocking it up particularly hard today because of the ACDC style shorts he’s wearing. Deft guitar solos only curtailed when he stops to swat at the hundred or so flies drawn to the spotlights above his head.
Patrick Sühl is a perfect frontman, bridging the gap between band, stage and audience with ease. He’s also a great singer, knows all the rockstar poses and throws a couple my way which my Nikon happily gobbles up.
Babsi Nitsche is also born to be in front of a camera and you just need to put said camera on burst mode to catch all the drama in her ever changing eyes. She also delivers new song Paul Stanley’s ‘Hide Your Heart’ as well as Bonnie Tyler did in her heyday. Anouk’s ‘Nobody’s Wife’ also gets the full on Rock treatment and we’re heading already for the final bend of the evenings musical race with ‘Radar Love’ and ‘You shook me all night Long’.
In an effort to avoid the flood of people leaving I head back in the direction of the Rheinaue tram station before the last song. The strains of Patrick and Babsi singing Joe Cocker’s ‘Love lifts us up’ blow gently out from the bandstand. I’ve seen enough Skies concerts to know Patrick is teetering on the edge of caricature with his windmill arms without seeing him do it, and I guess I could have put most of the show together that way from past memories. But there’s nothing like being here every time the sparklers (Wünderkerzen as the Germans with much more astute naming call them) shine onto smiling faces and happy, dancing crowds of people. I can see very plainly at such times how, after all these years, Rope Schmitz still finds that smile.