Atomic Rooster: See Studio, Walldorf, Germany

Rooster storm through Germany

AFTER QUICKLY sussing out that the prefix “doppel”, strategically placed, guarantees you a double helping of everything, Germany is not really such a bad place.

And double heading the English rock assault last weekend were Atomic Rooster and Nazareth who played the Beat Club in Bremen together on Thursday and then made the long journeys to Heidelberg and Frankfurt respectively the following morning.

After missing the scheduled flight for reasons too involved to relate, I arrived at Frankfurt airport where Mr. Farlowe was waiting with a Range Rover stacked with military antiques. A frantic drive to Heidelberg with Atomic Rooster’s lead singer shouting the odds at all and sundry, and then a further 20 miles out to Walldorf where Rooster’s hoot turned out to be a typical dive called See Studio; memories of the French disaster came flooding back when we realised there was no backstage entrance and access could only be gained by the front door. At around 9, the group eventually managed to plough their way through to the stage.

“Good evening, everybody, how are ya? Nice one” …and Chris Farlowe’s intro took Rooster straight into ‘Breakthrough’.

When bands succeed in evoking any sort of reaction it is considered a gargantuan achievement in Germany, and after ‘Friday The Thirteenth’ which they have revitalised in a faster tempo and re-titled ‘Save Me’, things started moving. ‘A Spoonful Of Bromide’, the incredible ‘Black Snake’… then the big identifying number ‘Tomorrow Night’. Farlowe remains fairly static on stage as though gently easing that mighty voice out into the auditorium, and the prancing is left to guitarist Steve Bolton who, like Rick Parnell, is just right for the band and has given Rooster much needed stability at last.

The Germans really dug Chris Farlowe’s weird incantations during ‘Tomorrow Night’ and the other old stage favourite ‘Geshatzer’, and a long sustained shriek actually had them applauding. The band achieved the ultimate for they were brought back for an encore, and it was probably a measure of their own confidence that they had kept back ‘Devil’s Answer’, looking in better shape than I’ve seen them since the early days of the Crane-Cann-Hammond alliance.

A steady 100 mile an hour drive back to Frankfurt next morning and by midday we’d met up with Nazareth, who had just started a short residency at the infamous Zoom Club.

Our four intrepid heroes from Fife — still recovering from the Welsh male voice choir misnomer, which had plagued their previous German tour with Ron, Gallagher — set off for the gig where the factions are divided almost regimentally into genuine rock fans, groupies and heads, who turn onto a full length silent feature film which is screened at the back of the hall.

The lads can’t get on stage quick enough and when they do it’s really great. Nazareth are a good, solid rock band of long standing, and they manifest a camaraderie and team spirit which really shows through in their music.

Take my advice, forget the overload of publicity that preceded Nazareth’s first album, for their current show presages something far greater. Watch ’em go in the next few months when they lay down a new album and then visit the States with Deep Purple.

© Jerry GilbertSounds, 26 February 1972

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