Despite having planned his career meticulously over the past 25 years or so, even in the camp of German hard rock master Axel Rudi Pell surprises cannot be ruled out: Before playing in front of a sold out Cologne crowd on the second leg of his wildly successful “Circle Of The Oath“-tour the opportunity arose for taping the whole show, with cameras being all over. Well, Axel gave it a try. And that was a good move. Ten years after his last live album “Knights Live“ (2002) you can - again - be a witness of a complete concert from the Bochum based guitar virtuoso and his German-American all-star band. To round out the Axel Rudi Pell live package, the recording of the co-headlining gig at last year´s “Rock Of Ages” festival was added to “Live On Fire“, the name of his newest live oeuvre.
Obviously a live album doesn´t have the same importance and significance as a new studio output, but it nevertheless is a perfect snapshot in time, because 2012 was the most successful year in Axel Rudi Pell´s solo career by far! “Circle Of The Oath“, album No. 14, was released on March 23rd and rode high on the charts all over Europe: in his homeland Germany the critically acclaimed disc made it up to No. 16 in the first week, Switzerland welcomed good old Axel on No. 30, Austria on No. 55, Norway on No. 69 and in Sweden he went up to No. 51. The land of the elks even honoured the German guitarist with a Gold disc for selling well over 10.000 copies of the single “Run With The Wind“! And last but not least he received another Gold Award for selling out three consecutive nights at the famous “Zeche” venue in his native Bochum. Apart from that he rocked the summer crowds at the legendary “Sweden Rock“ and “Wacken“ festivals, as well as the open air “Rock Of Ages” in Germany together with his band. Not only have those performances disqualified you from criticizing him – but on stage Axel Rudi Pell always delivers the goods in absolutely astonishing hard rock manner. And remember: no f***ing overdubs, guaranteed!
Even though Axel loves the composing part at home and the recording business in the studio, home is where the heart is and that´s being on stage. Being musically socialized in the Golden Age of hard rock (the Seventies) he´s probably a bigger fan of live albums than he would admit. As they say: Applause is the performer´s meat and drink. But without sometimes being anarchistic spontaneously and playing with the audience´s emotions, without the sweat coming off the ceiling and the priceless energy being trapped in the middle of an adventure that is called live concert, when the lights go down and every amp is on fire – the life of a true rocker would be incomplete. Speaking of which: besides his success Axel Rudi Pell has always been that down-to-earth guy and mainly the fan he was turned into when he first heard Deep Purple´s “Fireball“ back in the day. With “Live On Fire“ he accomplishes a long-desired wish and gives his fans what they desperately want for quite some time.
No surprise at all that the main focus is set on the newbies: here´s the striking chords of fast and furious opener „Ghost In The Black“, the hard rocking pounding of „Before I Die“ and without a doubt one of Axel´s best songs written in a decade: the brilliant “Circle Of The Oath“ which would made Jimmy Page cry out loud. But there´s more to listen to on “Live On Fire“: the passion for medleys (“The Masquerade Ball“/”Casbah“/”Dreaming Dead“) combined with some all-time classics here and there (Zeppelin´s “Whole Lotta Love“ or Purple´s „Mistreated“). And don´t forget his own hits like “Fool Fool“, “Nasty Reputation“ or “Rock The Nation“! You´ll see (and hear) how well attuned this steady ARP line-up is.
And they aren´t finished yet and will enter the studio in autumn of 2013, with a tour coming up in February/March of 2014. This could be something, as after a quarter of a century as a successful solo artist Axel Rudi Pell and his mates are still “Live On Fire“!