Gotthard: live in Lugano and exclusive pics
One of last gigs by Steve Lee, a show that will enter in history... inside a compact disc

Article by Gaetano Loffredo - Publish on: 15/10/10

Fotogallery made by Donatella Lomma
Translation made by Elisa Bonora


July 17, 2010, is a hot, hazy day, the day when Lugano, all dressed-up and neat, welcomes up to the middle day of the Swiss Harley Days, a three-day event dedicated to the undisputed icon of free, wild motorcycle riding, of which Harley Davidson is the most significant and representative brand.
There are two reasons that led us to this trip in Ticino: watching the astonishing show of a colossal parade of bikers coming there from all over the world and… doing so while enjoying the perfect soundtrack for such a show, that is any setlist by Gotthard who have come back to play in their hometown after ten years.
I feel it right to start this report by praising the excellent organisation: police, medical staff, janitors, stand assistants and the bikers as well have joined forces to guarantee a superb, constant support to the scores of thousands of visitors that flooded Lugano’s squares as well as the lakeside and the parks which border the city centre.

This excellent support starts very early, on the roads and motorways which convey the visitors’ traffic in the “hot” zone, surrounded by enough parking space to accommodate everyone and with a widely diversified price range. We decided to park our car in the Trade Fair District area, which at 3 in the afternoon is almost empty, and then to take a pleasant walk through Ciani park up to the Riva Giocondo Albertolli entrance, where we start to smell the air of Milwaukee (Wisconsin), home of Harley Davidson.

It looks like Lugano is the centre of the world tonight as the distinctive roars of hundreds of Harley Davidson come and go in a colourful, noisy afternoon, with the flags of Italy, Ireland, Spain, France, USA, Canada, Australia and of course Switzerland being the most common, an almost overpowering presence just like the Coca Cola stand (I cannot even imagine how many mini-cans of Coca Cola Zero have been freely distributed to all visitors) and the Harley Davidson stands, literally assaulted by the countless aficionados of this all-American jewel. After having watched the exhibition of the luxurious, glistening motorbikes (some of which are really incredible), most of the visitors flow into Piazza Della Riforma, the venue of the concerts that would soon see the local heroes Gotthard come to conquer their own homeland again.

SWISS STORM (Chapter 2)

The task of heating up the crowd is entrusted first of all to “Infrarossi”, a Vasco Rossi tribute rock band, followed by the Rockabilly “79ers”, but then a thunderstorm, as short-lasting as incredibly violent, does a brutally good job in cooling the atmosphere down again.

The concert square empties out in the blink of an eye as hail starts raging on. Only a handful of brave, die-hard fans decide to endure it and stay near the barriers surrounding the stage so as not to lose the first-row places they have so bravely conquered in the afternoon, while most of the people flee in search of a makeshift shelter (the portable toilets being among everyone’s favourites) and it is likely that even the organizers considered cancelling the show in what would have been a sad, scornful twist of fate.

Luckily, much to everyone’s pleasure, the Gotthard show is just going to be delayed and as soon as the sky has cleared again the square fills up anew, and that is the time for going on stage!


There is a strong tension in the air. It is, however, a positive tension, mixed with the tension generated by such a long wait. Gotthard seem to have decided to wait a bit longer before taking the steps that lead them on stage, it is likely that they do not want to risk making any mistake by rushing the after-the-storm sound-check and so everything has been planned methodically, with no undue hurry. At last, at 11.20 p.m. with a substantial delay on the schedule the boys reach the stage to be greeted by the roar of Piazza Della Riforma, indeed a spectacular venue with a unique, impressive view with the stage embraced and engulfed by the city’s historic buildings.
The blank stare on the faces of Leo and the other guys clearly say one thing: that playing with all of Lugano, literally, at their feet is the apex, the coronation of a successful career. I cannot remember faces so deeply marked by the emotions inside but despite that (important) fact the band’s professionalism, fighting spirit and sheer power are as strong as always.

The show’s undisputed star goes by the name of Leo Leoni. I’ve never seen him in such a state of grace before, never seen him so completely in control of everything, never ever seen him so inspired (just take a look at the picture and you’ll see what I mean). He indeed was charged up with tension, but managed to turn it into raw energy and this was no doubt his night.

The setlist is quite similar to the most recent ones: a long, complete set (unlike the short set played in some recent festivals) which was focused mainly on tracks from the latest album “Need To Believe” but included also older major hits like the ever-green “Sister Moon”, “Top Of The World” sung along by everyone, the pleasant “Heaven” and the irresistible “Hush”.
Listening to the band is always enthralling, and the acoustic jam in particular is a joy for everybody’s ears, especially the intimately delicate “Angel” and “One Life, One Soul”. Then Lipservice captures everyone’s attention with the ultra-applauded “Lift U Up” and “Anytime, Anywhere” as the traditional finale.
Somewhere in the middle of the show there is also time for the no-longer surprising performance of the Swiss bag-pipers “Lucerne Caledonians” in “Unconditional Faith”, an interesting moment of folklore, and for an improbable Hena/Steve duel, with the latter testing his mettle on a second drumkit purposedly set up only for him in the stage mixer area, in the centre of the parterre. Steve shows us that he’s good on the drums too, but Hena… well, Hena’s Hena!

Two hours pass all too quickly and applauses literally flood our six heroes as they heartedly salute us and promise us they’ll return. Then an unreal moment of silence falls, only to be swept away by the roar of the Harley Davidsons, ready to leave full-throttle in search of another land to conquer… Just like Gotthard, don’t you think?

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