CRYSTAL BALL   release party
and CHANNEL 5 at AlpenRock House - Zürich-Kloten - 16.11.2003
review by dalia "gryphon_spirit" di giacomo  - all pics © by Stefan "Absolut_Evidence" Vogelaar


The public use of these fotos   

is strictly prohibited without written permission



Imagine a very small swiss alpine village, made of stone and ancient wood, under a starry sky, . Now imagine that it can become a venue and an entertaining centre, set with original authentic rebuilt chalets . Among rocks, paths and steps where every house and place is a corner when you can found bars, internet connections, merchandise, tables with romantic candle-glasses red and yellow , with a square that opens like a cute small amphitheater delimited by a nice stage, a chalet whose balcony shows prudly coloured flowers and a huge fire place with burning pieces of wood and old copper pots. This is the AlpenRock House, a dream venue that lets me literally amazed and without words , really magic. And moreover easy to be reached with all means of transport, from the moment it is placed practically in front of the international airport of Zürich (Kloten) . Like they say on their website: the AlpenRock House is the only Swiss venue with its "own" airport! We reach it before doors open , around 19:00, it is still almost empty, but everything is ready for the event. Swiss Melodic Hard Rockers Crystal Ball will officially baptize their fourth full length album, released through Nuclear Blast on 3rd november, whose title and cover represent a Swiss quintessence: Hellvetia. In January 2001 Gotthard presented to the audience here their album Homerun. Now i really couldn't imagine a better place where this Swiss young successful act could celebrate a release party. After having listened well to this album, characterized by agreeable Hard and Heavy Rock tracks, with much melody, and just a drop of Power, i can imagine that the impact on the stage, sorrounded by this frame, can only be awsome. 
At 20:00 we meet lead and rhythmic guitarist Scott Leach and we carry on together a nice interview, where, among other, we speak a lot about music , guitars and inspirations, with perfect calm. After the interview we come back to our table, near stage and fireplace (Am Feuerhorn) and relax, in this magic atmosphere. The venue, in the meanwhile, begins to guest more and more inhabitants. Doors have opened and everyone finds place and home in this tantalizing three-dimensional virtual rockin' village.




Interview with Scott Leach (will be online)

CHANNEL 5    www.matteomusic.ch 
Around 21:00 an energetic DJ calls the attention of the audience, welcoming everybody "herzlich willkommen!" and presenting the guest band Channel 5. So , pardon , but who the hell are they? Well it's a project around Giorgio Brander and guitarist Claudio Matteo, former China member, project which was called Cheap Sunglasses, if i am not wrong.
Recently 2 new members joined this project so that they are a right band now: Channel 5 indeed, fully influenced by the typical American rock. 
Claudio Matteo is a good experienced artist, one can understand it at once, and his performance is really valuable. Channel 5' singer has agreeable vocals, drums are rather quare, some touch of bassdrum and good snare. After all they entertain the audience in a pleasant way. And among rocking rhythms we slide slowly into this evening where Rock is the absolute protagonist. Channel 5 play a decent gig, after all, that makes everyone feel sincerely good mooded. Lost Souls makes us dream about far american beaches, while the covers "Wherever you will go" and "So lonely" are the peak of the whole setlist. Agreeable, rhythmic, supported by a 5 string bass, the melody and proceeding are underlined by some hand clapping. The audience, though the majority remains firmly nailed to seats and tables, is anyway appreciative. At 21:33 we have das letze song, the last track . So lonely is announced and the music from Police, with that unmistakable reggae attitude, still remains a masterpiece. Few minutes afterwards, during an opportune moment in the performance of the song , guitarist Claudio Matteo is presented, being rewarded by good warm appluses. "lo-lo-lo" evokes "our" singer "lo-lo-lo" follows a chorus from the village. "loonely - loooonely" shoots higher the frontman in white shirt. "la-la-la" is the reply from the wing of reserved tables, " ja-wol" replies amused channel 5 vocalist, who finally , after having repeated "I feel so lonely", launches and sings for the last time the mythical refrain. Final thunder of instruments. "Danke vielmals!", but a surpise is still awaiting for us : glass of sparkling wine are brought on the stage, the well known "happy birthday to you!" is sung and all Crystall Ball lads appear under the spotlights, celebrating with Channel 5 and with the enthusiasm of the venue this aperitif . 21:43 Mark Sweeney holds the micro and presents with determination "Channel Five!" "Zum Wohl miteinand!" Prosit! if someone is not actually enjoying his b-day, all this should be applied to the new born CD. 0 years what a beautiful age!
american beauty
lost souls
wired all night
wherever you will go
no sunshine
basket case
do you know
follow me
so lonely
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CRYSTAL BALL                      review Hellvetia    Special Kochduell
22:04 the pit is now crowded. On the stage the works are in full swing: 2 panels with the helvetian "shield with cross" are placed at the sides of the stage, the drum bass shows proudly the image of the Swiss value: the Franc, also chosen as cover and symbol for the new born Hellvetia. A big backdrape with band logo dominates the background. 2 iron barrels will provide for live flames while additional pyrotechnics are planned. The sound-and microphone -check is carried on. Of course Crystal Ball are also testing the scenography for the tour that should start next year.
22:11 the DJ greets the Alpenrock House again asking us whether we are ready for ..Crystal Ball. Obviously ! There are nice vibes: people really interested, fans coming from neighbouring countries too, good-mood and easy going feelings. I knew it! It couldn't be otherwise: the folk-ish,alpine , solemn Jodler- intro of the album Hellvetia is obviously the suitable intro for this concert, the intro which will open the celebration. And in this venue it sounds very goo, this must be told. In the semi-darkness drummerMarcel takes place behind the "skins", the band mates take the stage too, and let's go! It's Hellvetia, the opener, title track of the album. Enthusiasm and enthusiasm. The band starts off with an energy that touches the sky. Singer Mark is not wearing the famous red T-shirt with the white cross on it (why do you think now about the Swiss flag? eh?) , but a red one showcasing the number 1291. Ok, ok: no escape. Crystal Ball are VERY Swiss! Like i did in my review : short history lesson again: 1291 is the date in which Switzerland was born. The "Everlasting League" of the 3 states Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden forms the Swiss confederation; each state swears on august, 1st 1291 on a small mountain named "Rütli": "we will be a one and only nation of brothers". Musically spoken Hellvetia is a good opener who delivers rocking energy, though imo is not the best track of the album. Anyway the concert has started very well. Brilliant vocals delivered from an enthusiast, aggressive , smiling but highly concentrated Mark, while the rest of the band is already providing for an excellent stage acting that will be one the marks of the gig. "Are you ready?" "Yeah!!" and hand clapping in unison. While we can begin to realize that Scott is very confident and a high -class guitarist, shooting the firt of a series of amazing solos that will be the second characteristic of the concert. The third mark will be Tom's support behind keyboards and at the rhythmic guitar, playing the one or the other according to track, or even both in the same song . Tom's double engagement will never disturb the line of the songs. The one task fades into the other with extreme naturality. The long haired quintet is often banging (drummer included) , shows a brilliant mobility, and a very good mastering of instruments without indulging in that typical Rock /Power silly acting. Though a certain school, typical of this genre, cannot be avoided , at least the worst clichés are spared to us. "Merci vielmals" tells a satisfied Mark to his fans and explains a bit the meaning of the title Hellvetia. One can make many conjectures, he says, but actually there is a critical concept, a critical message, behind this name, not excluded a certain disagreement concerning Swiss politics. So we are back to music with the romantic Forever and eternally, always taken from Hellvetia, sung with passion. Melodic and pushing, it sounds like it must sound. Happy enthusiasm reigns but, at least, is fresh and sincere. Long notes put Mark under pressure but his voice is well prepared in order to get throug this good track, enriched by Scott's lead. After thanking all who support this release party, Opposites attract is announced, again from Hellvetia. And this is a good thing: 3 tracks from the celebrated new album open the release party for this same album: after all is mainly due to Hellvetia that we are here. And the band seems fully confident with the new stuff, ready for a tour. In Opposites attract, vocals are modulated from bass tones, while the general soundscape reminds me of White Lion: same effect i got when i heard the CD. Bass player Daniprovides some backing vocals and Scott proposes another remarkable solo. Mark is very interactive with his fans, wherever they come from, so he changes also very gladly some words in French, before starting with Never surrender. 22:31 it's time for "Am I .....?" "Am I.....?" "freeeeeeeeee" replies the crowd. Am I free from album Virtual Empire. A solid hand clapping supports the crunchy rhythm, while Mark delivers a good vocal extension and Tom controls his constant discrete work at the keys. In the middle of the song Mark leaves for a moment the stage , so that the instrumental part can starring. And in particular keys and drums that launch then an intense string cooperation. Mark is soon back to incite a choral "am..I free....!" again. All together (well to tell the truth keep me out) wit joy and emotion. So we go on with much partecipation through My Life that sees Tom at the keys that sound a bit jumping à la Toto. Around 22:43 starts the first pyro- shot while around 22:50 Mark asks whether in the audience there is a coiffeuse . A girl raises her hand. "Ah and you're blonde too!" adds Mark, "..and maybe you have also a golf cabrio!" (Mark is joking about the typical swiss blonde cliché: according to which a blonde girl is nothing but a coiffeuse driving a cabrio golf...mah), and from the moment that Mark knows how silly this joke is , he will reward the blonde girl choosing her as sweet fairy of the baptism. And while the flames burn in the barrels and nice songs are presented with a heavy rocking atmosphere that knows no flat moments, we go quickly toward the magic moment of the official release celebration and around 23:04 ,so after around an hour of concert, this moment has come. The blonde pretty Fräulein is invited on the stage, and side by side with an entrtaining mark who aks what is her name, a bit emotioned, she receives a girlie shirt , while another shirt: the new model, with the words -I've been to Hellvetia and back- on it, is presented and launched to the audience. Angie (so is the name of the girl) opens the bottle whose wine will bless the box of the limited edition. You can say what you want but this moment is one of the most nice and involving ones you can ever attend concerning music shows. 23:07 fateful hour, the "cork" is shot, though it doesn't fly away that much , and the wine flows on the CD. 

Applauses, joy and satisfaction. Few minutes afterwards we are already back to the gig which goes on with One Day at the Time, sounding a bit like Saxon of the Dogs of War era, i still confirm this impression. Again Mark will underline with word and gesture the solo of Scott "C'mon!" "ehi Ehi Ehi!", and it's rocking pit again. I stil l don't know that Savage Mind will represent the only disagreeable moment for me: it's during this track that the audience is invited to sing along those typical choral vocalisms: oh oh oh oh..........ye ye yey ye .......yeho yeho yeho. people sing any vocalism proposed by the lively Mark happily but i only hope they all give a cut to it soon. Fortunately soon an instrumental support will conduct the chor and soon as well the following Lay down the Law will begin. Last Dance should be also the last song and sees the last pyro-effect. 23:31 Mark thanks the audience and blessing the first row with water Evian. Anyway an avalanche of applauses is calling for en encor that promptly is carried on with 2 songs: during the first one, Dance with the Devil, Mark presents the band members and gives also a nice news: bass player Dani will soon become a dad! My personal best wishes too. The second and last song, Private visitor, closes a very good gig, with the flaw that , maybe as discharge of the tension after the success, Mark fully gets some notes completely out of tune, but well, after such an emotion and pressure this is understandable and doesn't throw any shadow on a brilliant concert that brilliant has always remained. Lively and nice stage acting, awsome lead guitarist, fresh energy and total cohesion, precise drumming, valuable vocals. Good string cooperation. I'm not that a*selicker who tells that Crystal Ball has gained a new fan (me). Never i will be a fan of any Rock /Power band. From me it's already an event when i can say : this is a very good Rock band!, a band that in this genre i can only suggest!. And i'm more than glad to say that Crystal Ball are such a band: live are a brilliant energetic, nice, lively and united . If young rock should be, so Crystall Ball: not innovative but nice at least, and able to perform a good show. The fact they are swiss couldn't impress me less from the moment i'm Italian and europeist down till the very core of my bones. But part of the editiorial of this zine is based in this country so it's more than right to express satisfaction . Keep up the good work Crystal Ball, and all the best to your child Hellvetia: that in this moment is going up the Swiss chart and can only grow up and grow up!

Intro (Keys)    


Forever and eternally      

Opposites attract       

Never surrender       

Am I free       

My Life       

Soul Mate       

Want it all       

Stare at the Sun      

Pictures of Love      

One day at the Time       

Savage Mind      

Lay down the Law       

Last Dance       



Dance with the Devil       

Private Visitor


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dalia di giacomo    

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