Saturday, 27 December 2014

The top 14 of 2014: Live Shows

2014 Definitely was a good year for live shows to me. Today's reality means that bands have to tour to make a living and resulting in an abnormal number of shows. As I am travelling a lot for work I have to be lucky and picky in deciding which shows to attend. Also at times there is just too much at the same time, which makes it almost physically impossible to attend all. One example was early November. After seeing MSG the weekend before I could go the next week on Thursday to Saxon/Skid Row, on Friday to Opeth, on Saturday to Haunting Skies festival with Distorted Harmonies and Hekz, On Sunday to Threshold and on Tuesday to Solstafir/Obsidian Kingdom. Normally all shows I would like to see, but now I only went to see Threshold. So taking the above names into account together with Toxik, Pendragon, Anvil, Steve Rothery, Metal Church, Mastodon and another few hundred bands I missed, there is basically just too much playing to attend all. Still from the bands I did see I could make up this top 14 of 2014, with still some great shows not making the cut. So 2014 was brilliant and as a bonus included the show of my life.

14: Night Demon - The Hague May
The Hague Heavy Metal Alliance organizes many shows in my home town and I missed most. This one I saw on a Tuesday night in cafe de Vinger. What a great band and getting this for almost free and near home. They come back to The Hague in March under THHMA. Also Kyrbgrinder and Tysondog are scheduled so I hope to see many more shows on bicycle distance next year.

13: Intervals/Tesseract - Dordrecht February
My list is dominated by nostalgia, but these bands are the future. Djent Metal has a (the?) future in progressive metal and for me these two stood out from what I saw live on younger bands. Interesting to see how the audience also is changing for the future as black is no longer the only obvious color.

12: Pain of Salvation - Baarlo October
Playing two sets at Progpower and both going back to their glory days (first 4 albums) it shall be hard to find better progmetal bands. Still I had a bit of mixed feelings, wondering why they ever moved away from that style. Seeing Remedy Lane played live from start to finish, was something we could never dream off the past five years and it sounded great.

11:Soldier / Midnight Messiah - Hatfield August
Power & Glory Festival. A new name and hopefully one to stay. In the great atmosphere The Rock Den provides, this was one day of old glory reliving their past and showing their relevance still. My two favorites of the day were Soldier and Midnight Messiah, but the full day deserved thumbs up. I do hope to be back in Hatfield more than once again in 2015.

10: Dream Theater - Amsterdam February
After seeing them at Night of the Prog during their previous tour I already decided I would like to see them again once playing those evening setlists. 3 hours of Dream Theater. Being critizised for taking away the surprises, by repeating the same set all over the tour, even when returning to Holland in summer I loved the setlist with new blocks and a highlight in side B of their best album ever Awake.

9: Paul Di'Anno - Tilburg December
Still fresh in my memory, last Sundays blast at the Little Devil. A Set of old Maiden Classics, a great band and a voice that was in spite of a cold acceptable. What more does one need for a great evening out? Noting really and I am even looking forward to his new material.

8: Lawless / Shatted Skies - Wales March
HRH AOR/Prog. Many great names and a brilliant mix of Classic Hard Rock and Prog. In spite of the big names on the bill my two favorite shows were Shatterd Skies at the Prog Stage and Lawless on the music Stage. Most catchy song of 2014 live : Black Widow Ladies by the latter one.

7: Marillion - Rio de Janeiro May
During Marillion weekends and in interviews more than once Marillion spoke great of their Rio shows. Now work brought me at good timing to Brazil and I could see for myself. Audience response was not that specially more entusiastic to my ears, but highlight was their greatest hit show which meant many returns to the past. Biggest surpise Ocean Cloud passed by as the most unknown song of the evening.

6: Threshold - Zoetermeer November
Threshold is one of those bands who never disappoint live. With a great back-catalogue a lot was taken from last two albums with Damian Wilson back on vocals. Damian Wilson also happens to be one of the best performers in progmetal land and with this great band backing him up, all ingredients for a perfect show.

5: Vandale/Deo - Rotterdam September
Talking about nostalgic domination of my overview here we got two of the best. Deo turned out to be a great Dio cover band and their vocalist made me realize I should see Praying Mantis live soon. Vandale is the only band singing in Dutch that can put a huge smile on all faces of the slightly older audience shouting along to Rot Op, Als je Hart or their classic Geitenwollensokkenrockers.

 4: Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock - Zoetermeer October
A lesson in Classic Rock. Going through the best of MSG, Scorpions and UFO this was jumping from one highlight to the next one. With Michael Schenker looking in better shape than the previous tour all the time I start believing in many Into the Arena's in the years to come.

3: Fates Warning - Weert April
Going from a band that hardly played live in the nineties to a band that keeps on coming back, the setlist might not be the most surprising one, but the quality of the songs more than makes up for that. With Ray Alder in great voice and support band Kingcrow also very good, this might have been of the best Fates Warning Shows I ever saw, worth a high ranking here.

2: Voyager - Baarlo October
Definitely the biggest surprise of 2014. I knew them from CD and liked them alright, but seeing them live is a whole different story. The energy jumping up and down the stage was so captivating and contagious that I did not see anyone leaving the Sjiwa without a big smile on his/her face. Amazing how an OK band can be so overwhelming while on stage and yes their 80's medley was great fun.

1: Stampede - Hatfield February
Show of the year, the decade, my life. How many chances does one get to see a band you loved over 30 years playing live for the first time in a place run by ridiculous sympathetic crew and guests standing in front of the stage going through your favorites and being introduced to the band afterwards. Helped by the fact that Stampede live is even better than on CD. In 2015 they shall be back in Hatfield for Power & Glory 2 so shall I. Missing You, Send me Down an Angel, Shadows of the Night, Moving On and of course Hurricane Town. What a show, what a night and when can I get them to play Holland?

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