By Rosine Alleva & José Oliveira – Rock At Night EU Editors
The Baloise Session intimate venue and the wonderful artists make this Festival a really special and exciting event each year. With 2 opening nights with the famous German Herbert Grönemeyer, what a start! Rock At Night was attending the first night, it was fantastic and absolutely surprising!
OPENING NIGHT 1
JAZZ MORLEY is a British singer-songwriter and was the first artist performing on the 34th Baloise Session stage. Elton John is a big fan and says she embodies “the future of music”.
Every song has a story and the highlight was while she played Disconnected on piano, inspired by her brother while he was serving in Afghanistan. A heartfelt song…Her cristal voice and beautiful soul melodies and lyrics will remain a delightful memory.
The calm before the storm when HERBERT GRÖNEMEYER hit the stage!!!
HERBERT GRÖNEMEYER, Germany’s biggest music star, was “THE“ one expected on the opening evening. What a fantastic showman and surrounded by incredible musicians.
On tour with his last Album TUMULT, he was programmed on 2 nights in a row ! It only lasted a few seconds before the crowd was dancing, everyone ! No more people seating around their tables… Everybody was standing up, singing along and this all through the show. The Baloise Session was on fire ! Yes, Herbert GRÖNEMEYER sings in German, something I am not used to….But no need to be Swiss or German!! With his energy, fantastic voice and music, Herbert Grönemeyer and his musicians transport anyone ! I’m a new fan !
THIS IS COUNTRY MUSIC” – BRAD PAISLEY/WARD THOMAS
THE WARD THOMAS Twins
Paisley always had an exceptional eye and ear for finding new talents to open his concerts and set the mood for a fantastic evening.
Openers Catherine and Elizabeth WARD THOMAS are twin sisters from Hampshire, Southern England, brilliantly launched into the revival of country music in the UK. Their set list essentially relied on “RESTLESS MIND”, their latest opus. Their compositions reveal a Pop touch, rather accentuated. When we listen well to their lyrics, we can easily note an important attachment to feminist causes. With a song like «No Filter», the challenge of abandoning social networks and a campaign rather focused on the human, family and Friends! Huge program! In the USA, WARD THOMAS have won the prestigious CMA Jeff Walker Global Artist Award. A reference for anyone who does country music outside the States. In any case, on stage, their performance really pleased the Swiss public, which even demanded an encore. Highlights : « It’s Not Just Me » ; « Breath In”; “Cartwheels”; “ One More Goodbye”.
The atmosphere was particularly festive that night. To see a crowd of rowdy Swiss public, transformed into a cowboy style, with the traditional Stetson and Santiags was already quite a spectacle!
Unfortunately, the cows and horses, not being admitted, remained in the beautiful Swiss meadows! It was the first time I saw a tenor of the American Country Music performing at the BALOISE SESSION. And my hopes were not disappointed! Unlike most American country singers, BRAD PAISLEY is by far the one who surprised me the most as a guitarist! His great guitar play, with powerful solos and riffs, is a little contrary to the usual country style. A great communicator with the public, even sneering as he saw a few wealthy Swiss with whiskey or champagne at the table, he demonstrated his developed sense of humour. He even rewarded the audience with a few notes of Prince”PURPLE RAIN”. Animated by an enormous generosity, which is so familiar to him, during the final of «Waitin On’A Woman» he decided to offer his Fender Telecaster to a kid in the audience. Emotional session, with the audience, cheering and delighted. Just to remember that one day, he had experienced the same feeling when his grandfather had given him his first guitar, at the age of 8! He packed the set with 20 songs. All of them exploring love and heartache (She’s Everything) and American patriotism, after twelve albums, ten millions selling’s and dozen of Awards, five-time Academy of Country Music male vocalist of the year, BRAD PAISLEY finally acquired the same status as GARTH BROOKS.
Paisley’s set was full of his most popular songs, including tracks from his previous albums such as “Crushin’ It,” “Then,” and “Mud on the Tires” but songs like “ Perfect Storm”, “This Is Country Music” and “ Old Alabama” were great sharing moments with the audience.
Kendal MARCY (keys), Randle CURRIE (Steel Guitar), Gary HOOKER (Guitar) Kenneth LEWIS (Bass), Benjamin SESAR (Drums) and Justin Williamson (Fiddle) formed BRAD PAISLEYS line up.
As a perfect gentleman, he invited the WARD THOMAS Twins to join him on stage to close a successful evening and they played “Alcohool”!!! A perfect Country breakthrough in the Basel Canton!!! The fans won’t forget this evening anytime soon.
SOUL & BLUES TRAIN RAG ‘N’ BONE MAN / RAPHAEL SAADIQ
I saw RAPHAEL SAADIQ performing in 2011 in Zurich when he was touring with Lenny Kravitz and I immediately loved it. When he was announced end August at the Baloise Session press conference I had to shout out my appreciation!!
Not only singer and songwriter, he’s a multi-instrumentalist, record producer and produced songs for artists as Joss Stone, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, John Legend and more. It’s around the 90 that he became famous as the frontman of Tony! Toni! Toné! At the Baloise Session with his first album in eight years, ‘Jimmy Lee’, about the death of his brother, who died from a drug overdose in 1998, he mentioned the addiction problems people may encounter.
Before the concert, Rock At Night had the privilege to have an interview with this amazing artist and human being.
RAN– You fell into music when you were very young! How did it all start?
Raphael SAADIQ– My work was doubtedly about music and arts, and I sort of fell on brass instruments, instrumentation, also watching animation cartoons, listening to proper shows, symphonies, all those stayed into my ears. So I recognized sessions into school. So I asked for one, a friend of mine who knows trombone, bass guitar, my brother plays guitar so everybody kind of got into it, then it became like a gathering of all sorts of people.
RAN– What is your best memory ever?
Raphael SAADIQ– Probably one was a guy from this Gospel choir, a Gospel family, it’s all about this Gospel influence. Edwin Hawkins and family were working with Jessie Dixon (O Happy Days). They were in my neighborhood and I had the opportunity to play with them in Highschool. One of my favorite musicians, Joel Smith, I got this opportunity to play alongside with him, a drummer and also a bass player, a brillant musician. For me these were the biggest achievements. People don’t know who he was but he’s a legend around the world of Gospel.
RAN– You were not even 18 when you’ve been part of the PRINCE PARADE, how was this ?
R.S– Yeah with SHEILA E, it was a great experience. It was awesome. It was good for me, to look at operations, the price that people put at management team, for a first production, top flights tour, first class.
And it was good to see someone working very very hard. PRINCE put his life on the line, he had to be selfish to do that. It’s the kind of show for which you wanna go or not, starting from the bottom, follow the rainbow…You have the chance to look at people like MICHAEL JACKSON “ok, how far should you take it or not”. Great experience.
RAN– I’d like to mention 2 people you must know, I interviewed one of them here a few years ago, Marcus Miller.
R.S– Yeah, I worked with Mister Miller!
RAN– And the second person I’d like to mention is Eric Gales. He released an album in 2016, A NIGHT ON THE SUNSET STRIP on which you played bass on “Miss You”, a cover of the Rolling Stones. He’s the guitar player Beth Hart wants to work next with, That’s what she told me last year when I interviewed her here as well…
R.S– Eric Gales is an amazing guitar player! It’s funny I just had a phone call, I talked to him on the phone just before this, he’s in Chicago and I told him I was here. He’s a close friend of mine, we talk a lot, he’s amazing.
RAN– These opportunities to meet other musicians is also encouraging creativity I guess…
R.S– That’s what it is for, for me. I’m into music cause I stay fair about musicians, or about groups. That’s what keeps me going on. I don’t wanna fall into this mould…”I’ve decided the music I really like”, to help out the people, manage that they meet different musicians.
RAN– JIMMY LEE is your last album, why did you decide to release a new album after 8 years?
R.S– I felt like it was time, I had a particular break after my two albums. At the studio I was working at, just thought about a lot of people who fell into drugs, rappers in America, lot of kids, lot of pop stars, lot of rock’n’rollers. It seems like it touches all the areas, not just music but music are the ones we hear about the most. In my family, maybe 3, 4 family members took drugs. I lost 2 brothers to drug addiction. And I lost a 3rd brother to a similar drug habit situation, my brother Dazmin committed suicide cause he couldn’t stop. I was like maybe seventeen. Jimmy was maybe 43 , he was 17 years older than me. When I was a kid I’ve only known him being addict to heroin. Knowing that I didn’t have the opportunity to talk about addiction, I started to think about how many times I’d seen him and how many times i didn’t have the chance to talk about this with him.
So this record is me having a conversation with Jimmy Lee… It’s not only dedicated to Jimmy, I just use his name cause other people might know a Jimmy Lee. Cause I talk about his experience but also to people in the world who have this addiction. Talking about how much I loved my brother, no matter what darkness he was going through with the chemical.
RAN– Talking about addiction, especially artists around music, I saw on your Instagram on the World Mental Health Day, that you support a new program TOUR SUPPORT
R.S– Yes, it offers Mental Health Tools For Touring Professionals. It’s about young people suffering of mental health problems. People don’t really talk about it as you can be walking around, be much normal. I’m coming from a family where my grand mother had mental illness at a young age. My dad went through this. When I heard about that, I thought this should be more in the forefront. it’s a real thing and people, musicians need to know that the help is out there, people are thinking about you. Cause we, musicians have to go on tour and you always have to be on so I fell that was a great thing I could help with.
RAN– First time at the Baloise Session, what’s your impression?
R.S– It’s beautiful, very nice, everything is very well settled for us. Everything’s been pretty great.
RAN– How would you describe your type of music?
R.S– I want to say that my music is story telling, a part of my journey, lot of gospel cause gospel is in truth, it’s a lot of truth as I say when I write. It’s more about people, I would say more honest, more true.
RAN– Thank you very much for this interview. Looking forward to seeing the show!!!
RAG ‘N’ BONE MAN
Rock At Night saw RAG ‘N’ BONE MAN in Colmar last year, where the concert was great but surprisingly then, he was quite shy with the public.
This year, wow, he was really interacting with the crowd and this made a huge difference to his performance at the Baloise Session! Becoming famous with his title “Human”, RAG’N’BONE MAN won already many awards. He was accompanied by a eight piece band, including trumpet (Paul Jordanous) and two great female backing vocalists, fitting perfectly with his bass-baritone voice. The amazing ladies (Desrine Ramus & Sylvia Mwenze) gave us extra goosebumps when each of them performed solo.
With a savory mix of hip hop, soul, gospel and blues, RAG N’BONE MAN gave again a fantastic show full of emotion. A great moment as well when he said “I wouldn’t have imagined when I was 16, that I would be on the same stage as Raphael Saadiq one day!“
Two beautiful souls on the same evening. Thanks again to the Baloise Session for this subtle choice.
Thanks to Dominik Plüss – Baloise Session Official photographer for Herbert Grönemeyer pictures.
Part 2 following with BRITTANY HOWARD – MICHAEL KIWANUKA – TOM WALKER – SNOW PATROL – MADRUGADA – KROKUS