The 4th edition of the Rock Legends Festival was preceded by two events which had an influence on its artistic shape and were an announcement of what and who was in store for the audience of the Festival. The first event took place on the 13 March and it was the opening of the Rock Pub where the protagonist of the previous edition, Arthur Brown, unveiled a statue of himself. The ceremony was followed by a concert featuring the blues duo Maggie Bell and Dave Kelly, the first bass player of Deep Purple, Nick Simper with his new project Nasty Habits and, of course, Arthur Brown. The Bell & Kelly team did a very good job in signalling the climate of the festival by singing some blues classics (the famous The House of the Rising Sun among others). It was Nick Simper and especially the charismatic frontman of his band, Christian Schmidt, who made the audience join the fun and Arthur Brown, already known in Dolina Charlotty heated up the atmopshere. He not only sang impressively but also ran among the audience, lay on the floor, jumped on the chairs and did his fire trick during his finale song Fire. The audience’ enthusiasm exceeded the expectations of the organiser and the artist himself. After the concert, Arthur had to spend some time looking for his special helmet. The second event which preceded the festival was Sen o Dolinie, a competition which took place in May and allowed to select the Polish debutant groups which will perform at the festival. The first band played on 9 July. It was the Słupsk-based Resekcja who supported the Hamburg Blues Band, a German band with the fantastic British guitarist Dave Clem Clempsonem and a great figure in the history of rock, the nearly 70 years old singer - Chris Farlowe. His performance showed that it is not the age but the talent, the skills, the knowledge of music, the voice and a good team of musicians that count. Chris Farlowe sang classics of R&B and blues fantastically (Sing The Blues For You). He also sang pieces from his latest album (Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore and I Don’t Want To Sing The Blues Anymore”) and the songs which made him famous on the hit lists of the 1960s: Out Of Time, Think, Ride On Baby, Handbags And Gladrags. Apart from Clem Clempson, who formerly played in Colosseum and Humble Pie, also the organist Adrian Askew (ex-Atlantis) and singer Gert Lange turned out to be good assets of Hamburg Blues Band.
And although it was a great concert, it turned out only to be a prelude to the performance of the master organist Ken Hensley, easily recognisable as a member of the hard-rock British group Uriah Heep. He recorded a couple of great albums and songs which reached the charts (e.g. Lady In Black). Hensley, who had long since lived in Spain, performed in Dolina Charlotty with his band Live Wire made up of Norwegian musicians. Of course, Ken Hensley did not forget about the hits (Easy Living, Sweet Freedom which was dedicated in Dolina Charlotty to Lech Wałęsa), which were intertwined with songs from his solo album Blood On The Highway. It was the famous and legendary July Morning in a new and slightly rearranged fashion received the greatest ovation. The song sounded particularly awesome in the evening setting of Dolina Charlotty. Whereas it was the many thousand strong audience that sang along with Ken and the musicians to the before mentioned Lady in Black. In the encore Ken Hensley prepared another classical piece from the repertoire of Uriah Heep - Gypsy.
The second day began with White Room, another Polish group selected in Sen o Dolinie, the competition in May, which reminded of the trio Cream not only with its name. Then, David Cross appeared on stage. The violinist is remembered as one of the members of the legendary band King Crimson. In Dolina Charlotty he performed with a jazz-rock band. They presented an amazing programme. Apart from their own intriguing pieces, they sang the great hits of King Crimson: Starless and 21th Century Schizoid Man in the encore. The last performance of the day and that part of the festival was given by Omega, the most popular Hungarian rock band of the 1970s in Poland. It is nearly a classical band which has many fervent admirers until today. One of the fans, Andrzej Radajewski’s dream was to sing the famous Gyöngyhajú lány, or the Pearl Hair Girl, together with Omega on stage. His dream came true on 10 July in Dolina Charlotty. Although Andrzej Radajewski had terrible stage fright he sang the hit very well and with emotions. The audience helped him out in the chorus. The show enriched with laser effects (with hits like Tizezer Lepes, dorablo and Gammapolis) was a proper ending to the July part of the 4th Rock Legends Festival and awoke huge appetites for its second part in August.
On 13 August, the festival began with the show by Kruk, the Polish band from Silesia from the competition Sen o Dolinie. After that the stage was literally claimed by Arthur Brown. The staunch supporters of the festival, and those came in greater and greater numbers, already knew Brown but he again surprised the audience with a band of new musicians and a beautiful dancing girl who changed costumes (once she was a butterfly, after that an angel - according to her nickname - „Angel”). Arthur Brown presented a new show, but as was already the custom from last year, he included the fascinating hit Fire and the finale fire on his head. However, this time the flame lit a hanging paper ball spinning around during the show on fire and it was inches from making the stage catch fire but the firefighter on duty reacted immediately and effectively. The second part of the show was saved although Arthur and his guitarist were slightly covered in hot wax. After a round of applause from the audience they sang two songs for the encore including Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood from the repertoire of the famous jazz and blues singer Nina Simone, associated mainly with The Animals. Arthur did not remember about this and announced the next performer of the festival. The last artist of the evening, the famous singer of The Animals – Eric Burdon began his show with the autobiographical song When I Was Young”, after which he publically gave a scolding to Brown for „stealing” his song which he wanted to sing himself. Surprised by the sudden attack, Arthur sneaked away to his hotel room without being seen by the reporters. The audience mostly did not notice this unexpected event as they listened to the hits dating back nearly 40 years: Don’t Bring Me Down, Spill The Wine, Monterey, Don’t Let Me Be Miusunderstood (Brown’s rendition was much better), blues classics like Boom Boom, I Believe To My Soul, rock’n’roll classics Around And Around and of course The House Of The Rising Sun and finally an expanded version of the great We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place for the encore. All of the songs made the audience go crazy. They gave him a standing ovation which Burdon - the pheonix of rock - definitely deserved. On 14 August it was time for the second part of the August festival took place. After the performance of the young Polish prog-metal band Disperse, Jan Chojnacki announced the coalition of the great British blues artists as the British Blues Quartet together with Maggie Bell (vocals) and Dave Kelly (guitar and vocals). The quartet was created by musicians each of whom went down in the history of rock and blues in the UK and are known to the audience at the festival. They all have their share in records and many concerts of other famous rock legends - Eric Burdon. The British Blues Quartet are Colin Hodgkinson (bass and vocals), Zoot Money (keyboard and vocals), Miller Anderson (guitar and vocals) and Colin Allen (drums). It is no wonder that the great music performance of the six man show was appreciated not only by music connoisseurs but also by the spontaneous reaction of the audience. Maggie Bell’s soul interpretation of Wishing Well and Respect Yourself sang together with Kelly Take Me To The River and also the moving I Just Want To Make Love To You. The great solos by the outstanding instrumentalists were a big hit with the audience. The requests for an encore were eagerly fulfilled by the band. Many people came from all over the country to see the performance of Marillion, the last show of the evening. It turned out that the amphitheatre is too small and that it will need to be rebuilt in the future as even greater stars are to perform at the festival. The main star of the concert was of course the frontman of the band, Steve Hogarth, who sang wonderfully. He sang some very well known hits of the band: The Invisible Man, Cover My Eyes, Slainte Mhath, King, Fantastic Place, His Strange Engine, Neverland and His Town/”The Rakes Progress/100 Nights for the encore. The guitar solos by the „old” band member, Steve Rothery, received the greatest ovations. The concert ended with the great finally which received standing ovation of the many thousand strong crowd - Hogarth thanked the audience for such a warm reception. Only one day of the 4th Rock Legends Festival in Dolina Charlotty remained. The final day on 15 August began with the performance of one of the winners of the competition in May, a young Polish band from Włocławek named Passion Fruit. Then, Quidam an art- rock band from Inowrocław known in Poland and outside appeared on stage. They came to the festival on the eve of their 20th anniversary and received well-deserved ovation for their ethereal jazzy pieces going back to the tradition of Genesis. Then it was time for the performance of Nick Simper, the ex-bass player of Mark 1 (first band of Deep Purple) who himself announced his concert March last year. He left his trace on the first three albums of Deep Purple so the concert at the festival that he gave together with his Austrian band Nasty Habits was mostly based on that music (And The Address, The Painter, Mandrake Root, Chasing Shadow, Wring That Neck and the hit Hush). The amazed audience reacted wonderfully to the performance. They especially liked the charismatic Christian Schmidt jumping all over the stage and the lead singer who established a real relationship with the audience. The last band and the key performance of the 4th Rock Legends Festival was Procol Harum. This concert had it all - great songs sang and played on the piano forte by the leader Gary Brooker with huge commitment (Beyond The Pale, A Salty Dog, Simple Sister, Whaling Stories, Grand Hotel, A Strong As Samson, Hamburg, Good Captain Clack). There were amazing guitar solos courtesy of Geoff Whitehorn. Unfortunately the performance of Procol Harum was interrupted by a storm and torrential rain right in the middle of singing their greatest and most memorable hit – A Whiter Shade Of Pale. The umbrellas swinging in tune with the superhit formed an image worthy of the great finale.
The 4th Rock Legends Festival turned out to be a great event for the older part of the audience who were able to see and hear their idols from past year live, to transcend to the years of their youth by the tunes of the „old” immortal music. For the younger part of the audience it was an opportunity to get to know the artists who went down in the history of rock music. What is more, this festival is arousing greater and greater interest of the media (there are now radio transmissions and TV recordings of the perfomances) and the artists themselves. The artists who want to perform here are starting to get in line. Zdzisław Pająk