SEPANG: Legendary German rock band Scorpions headlined off the first of the two Rockaway Festival Malaysia 2016 events this month, breaking a three-year hiatus for the Malaysian rock festival in a stellar show also attended by Australian hard rock band Wolfmother, UK rock band The Darkness, and Malaysia’s most loved Wings.
Held at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), the event came on the tail of the 2016 Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, which saw a record 161,533 fans in attendance.
Initially planned as a two-day weekend event, unforeseen circumstances saw organisers The Livescape Group condensing the event into a Saturday Rockaway Weekender that was opened by Malaysian band Muzza’s Mayhem.
What started out as a possibly lukewarm event, with the constant drizzle and muddy ground dampening the crowd’s spirits, soon turned out to be quite the show.
The heat turned up considerably when Wolfmother took the stage. The three-piece band, helmed by vocalist and guitarist Andrew Stockdale, caught the burgeoning crowd’s attention with the instantly recognisable guitar hook to their famous song, “Joker and the Thief.”
The crowd was sufficiently enlivened when Wings took over. Band frontman and Malaysian celebrity Awie was riveting in all his classic rock glory, decked out in his near-trademark sash; their songs, especially the piano-driven “Ingatkan Dia”, had the crowd raising the Wings “W” hand sign along with their lighters.
The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins was all garish showiness in a set that harked back to the 80’s flamboyance, wearing figure-hugging spandex with a V-neck that plunged to his solar plexus and regularly punctuating each song with crowd-amusing pelvic thrusts.
Among the classics in their set included “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” and “One Way Ticket”. Hawkins also levelled an accusing finger at the Malaysian censors’ guidelines, pointedly stripping the performance of any offensive swear words that would rile local zealots.
By the time Scorpions took over, the stage was transformed with psychedelic visuals and a huge platform for band drummer Mikkey Dee. The show was a long trip down memory lane for Scorpions fans, with frontman Rudolf Schenker taking the crowd through the past few decades with classics such as “Wind Of Change”, “Rock You Like A Hurricane”, and “Send Me An Angel.”
The next and final event in the Rockaway 2016 Festival will be on November 19, entitled Rockaway The Saga Continues, to be held at the Bukit Jalil Extreme Park.
The event will see a bigger lineup that will be headlined by American rock bands Third Eye Blind, Taking Back Sunday, and The Get Up Kids.
Also playing on November 19, coincidentally held on the same day as the planned Bersih 5 rally in Kuala Lumpur, will be a slew of Malaysian acts, featuring Zainal Abidin, OAG, Hujan, Butterfingers, Dirgahayu, Artefacts, Kyoto Protocol, and Killeur Calculateur.
Here’s to another banner year for the Malaysian rock festival, previously held back by public logistical tussles with Malaysian Islamists who had taken issue with Livescape’s various choice of acts, including American heavy metal band Lamb of God in 2013.