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Metal rendezvous pulls in rock fans to Bern

Krokus rocking on in the Swiss capital Keystone

Swiss rockers Krokus delivered the concert they'd owed fans for 25 years when they played a packed Stade de Suisse in Bern.

This content was published on August 4, 2008 - 14:11
swissinfo.ch

"It was super – it didn't seem like it had been over 20 years," enthused concertgoer Daniela Glauser of Bern. Ernst Ramseyer, also of Bern, agreed: "Fantastic! Still the same guys – only the faces are a bit older."

The line-up featured the same musicians who made the band famous back in the early 1980s. Then and now, Krokus are: Chris von Rohr (bass), Fernando von Arb (lead guitar), Freddy Steady (drums), Marc Storace (vocals) and Mark Kohler (rhythm guitar).

It's also the line-up that recorded One Vice at a Time, which contained hits like Long Stick Goes Boom and Playin' the Outlaw. Between 1980 and 1984 alone, Krokus released five albums, including top sellers Metal Rendez-Vous (triple-platinum in Switzerland) and Headhunter (platinum in US, gold in Switzerland and Canada).

They also toured nearly non-stop in the United States and Canada, which eventually led to burnout and tension among the band members. Over the past two decades, there've been several (re-)incarnations of Krokus.

A joint TV appearance of the old brigade in late 2007 was the impetus for the big reunion concert in Bern. Von Rohr, von Arb, Storace and Steady played a three-song medley on The Greatest Swiss Hits of All Time – their first performance together in over 20 years.

The viewers went wild. During the programme, Krokus received a special honour – the "Diamond Record Award" for overall sales in Switzerland during their tenure with the BMG label. Krokus are the world's most successful Swiss rock band.

Diehard fans

Long-time fan Holly Craven was ecstatic when she heard about the reunion. In fact, she and her husband Duncan travelled all the way from New York to attend the big show. "My first thought was: How many vacation days do I have left and are the dog sitters available?" laughed Craven, who has been to about 20 Krokus concerts over the years.

Fans Dieter and Fabienne Hadorn-Hitz of Los Angeles were surprised to learn about the concert, but not surprised by the band's enduring success. As Dieter Hadorn put it, "A great record and a gripping live gig will leave a scar on any rock fan – one that never quite heals. When you get a chance to pick at the scab – you go for it ... if you know what I mean."

Both the Hadorn-Hitzs and the Cravens took advantage of a special offer from Krokus. Fans travelling to the show from the US were offered free tickets for the concert and the VIP party.

Before the band launched into American Woman, Storace thanked those who had made the journey "across the pond". Krokus also entertained its fans with old favourites like Rock City, Tokyo Nights and Fire. In addition, they played Hellraiser from the 2006 album of the same name.

Like a difficult marriage

Before their TV appearance in 2007, some members of Krokus hadn't spoken in years. In Chris von Rohr's words, the relationship can be described "like a marriage that had fallen apart. But after a long time, the partners found each other and realised that it was the real thing."

Von Rohr, who helped found the band in 1975, served as drummer, pianist, lead singer and bassist before dropping out in 1989. Fernando von Arb, who like von Rohr is from Solothurn, has logged the most years with the band, having stayed on board almost continuously from 1976 to 2004, when wrist problems forced him to drop out for a while.

He and singer Marc Storace, who is originally from Malta, joined forces with three new members in 2002. After this comeback, Krokus recorded two studio albums Rock the Block, which hit number one on the Swiss charts, and Hellraiser, which hit number two.

By 2007, Storace was the last "original" member performing with Krokus. Though he enjoyed the collaboration with that line-up, he was also happy to reunite with his old comrades.

"We played a few of our old classic songs and it felt as if we had only just returned from a long holiday," said Storace of the band's first jam sessions of 2008. "Bands are like puzzles; you lose a couple of pieces and it ruins the picture." Ex-drummer Patrick Aeby was in Bern to support the reunion.

"I think it's good that they got back together," said Aeby, who played with Krokus from 2002-2005. Meanwhile, drummer Freddy Steady's American wife flew in from Chicago to cheer the band on. "They're having a blast!" she said, "I'm so happy for them."

Future

The majority of concertgoers were in their 40s and 50s; however, there were a significant number of people in their 20s and 30s as well.

Asked how Krokus have managed to maintain and even build their fan base despite the numerous line-ups and break-ups, fan Martin Wetten of Washington, DC, commented: "Krokus stay true to their roots and don't pretend to be a band they're not."

It seems to be a formula that works – most concert-goers were up and dancing by the second half of the show.

Although there has been speculation regarding a tour and a new album, there are no firm plans for the future. Von Arb has said that he's not willing to put up with "endless tours and bad managers".

In addition, "It just has to be fun," insists the silver-haired guitarist. In Bern he appeared to be having the time of his life, smiling almost non-stop throughout the concert. It looks like Krokus still have some serious rocking to do.

Albums

· 1976: Krokus
· 1977: To You All
· 1978: Painkiller / Pay It in Metal
· 1980: Metal Rendez-Vous
· 1980: Early Days '75-'78 (Compilation)
· 1981: Hardware
· 1982: One Vice at a Time
· 1983: Headhunter
· 1984: The Blitz
· 1986: Change of Address
· 1986: Alive and Screamin' (Live)
· 1987: Stayed Awake All Night – The Best (Compilation)
· 1988: Heart Attack
· 1990: Stampede
· 1993: The Dirty Dozen (Best Of)
· 1995: To Rock or Not to Be
· 1999: Round 13
· 2000: Definitive Collection (Compilation)
· 2000: The Collection (Compilation)
· 2000: Best Of (Compilation)
· 2003: Rock the Block
· 2003: Long Stick Goes Boom: The Anthology (Best Of)
· 2004: Fire and Gasoline (Live + DVD)
· 2006: Hellraiser

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Films

As Long As We Live – Directed by Reto Caduff, this documentary takes a look at the history of Switzerland's most successful rock band. It won the Zurich Film Award in 2004.

Handyman (2006) – This Swiss comedy featured an appearance by the 2005 version of the band, plus the song Hellraiser. In addition, Chris von Rohr played a talent judge – much like he did on the Swiss Music Star programme.

Anuk – the Path of the Warrior (2006) – Singer Marc Storace played a medicine man in this Luke Gasser film about a clan of cave people. He also lent his voice to the soundtrack.

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