Monday, 25 July 2016

Steve Vai - CCB Lisboa 23 July 2016

Now that with every next visit to Lisbon it seems more that we might end up there permanently one day, it is about time to start discovering some places with live shows. This holiday would start and end in Lisbon and checking up agenda's my main interest was in RCA club on 8 July. I am curious to see if this place is more Lisbon's answer to Baroeg (metal!) or de Boerderij (general!) as programming takes bits of both. Earlier this year I missed Gama Bomb by one day and now Lux Ferre played on the night we arrived and had visitors for dinner. So discovering three local black metal bands in RCA stays for later and I went to plan B. Steve Vai in CCB. Now CCB is a theater and as far from a rock club as you can imagine. Personally I am not a great fan of theaters where drinks are not allowed and you are stuck in your numbered seat. Further given the average size of a Portuguese a Dutchman of 6'66" is bound to get uncomfortable at some point. Looking at the audience was another interesting passing of time, as there really was no average to be found. There were black T-shirted rockers, but also people who dressed up better than I did at any wedding I attended (and I suit up if demanded). It felt somewhat strange seeing a show next to a guy in white trousers, but I must admit the overall atmosphere was great against all the odds of the setting.

Regarding the show Steve is touring his Passion and Warfare album 25th birthday and playing it in full. This is the only solo album I have from him on CD. In his case I like the albums he did in Classic Hard Rock bands better: Alcatrazz - Disturbing the Peace, David Lee Roth first two albums and Whitesnake's Slip of the Tongue. In the eighties many guitar heroes came up releasing full instrumental albums. This followed the older heroes like Schenker, Gary Moore and Blackmore. My favorites at the time were Marty Friedman and Jason Becker both solo as well as together in Cacophony. But seeing any of those guitarists live is just a matter of gazing in awe and wondering how does he do that?!? Steve Vai coming up with red lasered glasses in the dark immediatelly started of letting his guitar speak and giving us wonderful melodies. I do not know much of his work and to make matters easier he did not say a word the first 25 minutes. Still he asked for audience participation with arms and expressions. On the background some nice clips added to the show and after a while the full album playing was announced. During the album some videoclips from the early nineties were shown and Steve Vai represented hair metal nicely. Highlights were clips of Satriani and Petrucci, both leading to live jams with a video. At the end some songs followed including one written with help of the audience, which dragged on a bit too long I thought. One more show of complete sorcery on the guitar and we could go home amazed.

While at first the location somewhat disappointed, the show was beautiful and the Portuguese turned out to be a loud crowd. The big guy I saw jogging in the afternoon after buying a ticket and visiting the museum at CCB turned out to be the drummer, glad he survived the 35 degree jog. Upon request of artist or theater no photo's were to be taken. This request was without a chance and gave as extra dimension the girls running through the lanes torching people filming or picturing the show.  Personally if requested by an artist I like to accept such request and see pictures elsewhere. Therefore I close with a picture of my two monsters on rocks. Did I already mention that Portugal is great for holidays?

Friday, 15 July 2016

Iron Maiden - Olympic Stadium Sevilla 14 July 2016

Seeing Iron Maiden in Sevilla, together with Tiago in a crowded Olympic Stadium really meant that nothing could go wrong. Still I forgot how huge Iron Maiden shows can be and I also do not remember ever sitting that high in front of a stage overlooking the slowly filling up arena below.
As this was Tiago's first ever major show I very much liked it to be Iron Maiden. There is always something going on and I got to hear some of his impressions. First he never saw so many black t-shirts together. I noticed that the fast majority were Iron Maiden shirts and any underground bands were not spotted by me (or maybe Axxis can be considered underground) Outside there were many foodstands and Tiago also noticed that beer is usually consumed by many in large quantities. When entering the stadium we decided to stay high seated (where you entered) and in front of the stage. We happily participated in an Icelandic Ahu, which was a huge succes when the stadium was still fairly empty and our uhhs echoed to the field. Later attempts failed mainly because of drunk foremen and noise all around. I also noticed many parents bringing children showing Iron Maiden provides great family entertainment. When support act the Raven Age came on it became obvious that the crowd was willing to participate and I was surprised by the big response to a band that I assume being unknown to all. This band played a kind of modern metal somewhere between Logan and Icarius and was indeed very easy to appreciate by first hearing. When they finished it turned out that many people arrived late and suddenly it was packed. The stage was at the Penalty area of the field and only the curve and seats behind were used. This created a nice triangle of arms and with the steep stadium it must be a great sight from the stage as well. The break was there to refresh with drinks, but that was not as easy as it sounds with too little tap capacity at hand.

When the stage lights were lit and Doctor Doctor was coming out of the speakers we knew it would begin. To my surprise large parts of the crowd went already apeshit during the UFO song, so the atmosphere in the audience would definitely not be a problem. By pleasure also around us everyone was loud and there was no excuse for holding back. The set opened with the first two songs of The Book of Souls and later on four more would follow. I appreciate them playing these knew songs, since it respects new work and also brings us something new. Many people saw Maiden before and change is good. Not all agreed with this I noticed, as when the Trooper arrived the already great atmosphere went up a few notches more. Then we got the usual suspects with Children of the Damned and Powerslave maybe as surprises. Actually this show is alreading touring so long, that I have read too many reviews to get surprised. Some in the crowd did not read the spoilers which meant that after the surpising last two songs Blood Brothers and Wasted Years, many were expecting a real classic to close the evening, which was not to be.

Two hours of iron Maiden flew by and how I loved being in the stadium next to Tiago and shouting along with some all time favorites. This was one evening to remember and hopefully for Tiago as well. He got the Spain Tour T-shirt which he shall wear with pride. 

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Fates Warning - Theories of Flight

I don't believe in the question: "What's your favorite band?". This can only be answered in my eyes by non music lovers. Everyone I know that considers music as very important in their lives shall always try to negotiate at least a top five. I would not even know where to start when looking for the answer. Still if ever threatened under gunpoint to name my favorite band (what are the chances for that happening??) chances are I would shout out Fates Warning.

Now they released their new album "Theories of Flight" and before heading for holidays tomorrow a quick word is deserved. My aim is modest, but if one person reads this and decides to look for more info or clips of this album my target is achieved. The internet is already full of reviews and what I noticed that generally this is considered to be one of their best albums ever. Special recommendation from me would go to The Man of Much Metal. His reviews are always very extensive and informative. He also follows the same range as I do going from Frost* and Cosmograf to Fallujah and In Mourning. Maybe I should say hallo to him once at next Progpower Festival for instance.

I did not yet have the time to form any such opinion, but I do realize that we have a wide range from short and heavy to epic long tracks again. Ray Alder is in top form and I did not discover any song falling below the standard they have set themselves here. Frank Aresti is not officially in the band, but added some solo's so I guess he joins them live as well. Fates Warning can not really do any wrong with me and this album just proves again why. Queensryche has been off the road of good albums for a while, Dream Theater have been repetitive before and strange this year, but Fates Warning just does not have disappointment written in their dictionary. One of this year's highlights and waiting for the tour by Progmetal's greatest founding fathers.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Resolve, Icarius & Inferum - HPC Den Haag 1 July, 2016

Three young metal bands playing of which two from The Hague, means a good way to spend the Friday evening. The styles ranged from death through modern american to prog metal and contrary to my CD reviews starting heavy slowing down through the evening. Opening band were Inferum from Eindhoven. Their death metal was filled with some neoclassical guitar work at times, by their pretty talented guitarist. I like some variation in vocals, but here we got a remarkable strong grunt all the time, coming out of a rather young vocalist. As they had to drive home still they came, blasted and left again. Nice band though.

Next on were Icarius. For us this meant the band where Nick is singing. While this was the first time I saw him perform I did see his parents play many times in the past. Musicallity runs in the family obviously. While I thought we were going to see someone play who we knew when he was very young, I did not expect such a good band. Icarius blends several styles where a groove with three guitars is always present. At times you hear Disturbed, then Rage against the Machine, death double grunts and some old school heavy metal as well (luckily). One of their three guitarists stood out by some great solo's and bridges and Nick is a great performer with a huge range in vocals. This band were having a great time themselves it seemed and with the references mentioned above, has the ability to build a party. I guess we will see them again many more times, as this looked very promising. Waiting for their T-shirts to come out soon and hopefully something on CD for the generation of their parents.

During the next break we learned that Wales kicked Belgium out of Euro 2016, which upped the atmosphere considerably. It was up to Resolve to close the evening in front of people already in a party mood by music and football. Unfortunately the many friends and family who came to see Icarius went home and left a fairly empty HPC Cafe. To make matters worse the speakers had some issues and the vocalist sung mainly from in front of the stage in order to hear herself. In my view the vocals were not loud enough in the mix either, staying somewhat covered below the music. Resolve is the best Prog metal band coming out of The Hague and I quite like their CD Wayward Sanctuary. Tonight was again a short set where only the CD was played. I always believe in one cover mixed in, for bands with not so many own songs yet. Like Musicon last year they decided differently and they were ready before we knew it. Instrumentally this band is extremely good, but I am still not sure about their vocalist. Then again I am suspicious to opinionate on this, as for female vocalists only Oceans of Slumber and Sinistro blew me away recently. Not coincidently both bands who stay away from fairytale like voices. The band will take a break now and we wait for new material. Lennert will be playing Progpower this year with TDW, but unfortunately on the Thursday night before I shall be in Baarlo.

While it turned out we did miss a great match on TV, the decison to g to HPC was the right one. Three good bands with lots of impressive guitar work passing by. As the bar stayed open without any hints of working you out the door, it suddenly was fairly late and we were full. Pity I shall still be on holidays during Submarine festival, as I would like to see Icarius again and finally see my flyering friend from Toner Low on stage.

Friday, 1 July 2016

None Other - Lithium Dawn - Mistur

Internet is killing the music industry!! That might very well be the case, but there is another side. Herewith 3 CD's I would have missed without the internet, as usual from soft to heavy.

None Other - Than the Common Plague
This concept album was recently reviewed by DPRP and thus discovered by me. The album was released last September and is a concept album in prog tradition. When I read it was about disease, treatment and isolation towards the light at the end of the tunnel, I was interested in finding any personal similarities. The CD comes with a 30 page novel, which I did not find time yet to read calmly but should by this weekend. After the interest was created bandcamp was the next step, followed swiftly by an order. The whole concept is made with such devotion that not getting this album/book for merely 8 Euros felt just wrong. Receiving the package very fast I did like to hear the album in full. Musically we travel through different genres, but the name of a former leader of Porcupine Tree is mentioned in all reviews I came across. Well that level is the top in Prog Rock, so won't be reached that easy, but the album is worth a listen and I am curious about the book still.

Lithium Dawn - Tearing Back the Veil I: Ascension
This one I found by actually surfing bands on bandcamp. I think I found it under the progressive metal tag. When approving the album and ordering it I went out looking for more information on this band. They were reviewed in Prog magazine and even are among the nominees for Prog awards (which are a joke, but that's a different story). Well I missed that. This album is again crossing borders, which makes it so nice. The base is Djent, but without any extreme vocals. Further Progressive rock is never far away and at times I hear atmospheric rock of the likes of Anathema or Wolverine. A very interesting album, which needs to be listened to in full concentration. On the background it might pass by without any notice, but listening with headphones or just full attention opens a world of creative ideas and concepts. My only complaint is that lyrics are not included with the CD, while they are available on bandcamp.  This is a very good band, that might break into various audiences with their open style.

Mistur - In Memoriam
When work brings me to Germany I usually look at airport or station for two magazines. Eclipse for the Progressive Rock and alternative discoveries, plus Legacy for the heavy end. I mean Rock Hard is great but very similar to Aardschok. Last month I finally traveled again and got Legacy. This means almost 300 pages full of all things heavy. Being in German it gives me enough reading material for two weeks on a train. The band that got my interest most by interview and CD review this time was Mistur. This band plays Norwegian Black Metal and to me it is next to Borknagar the most exciting album coming from Norway this year. There is a story told on murder , revenge, fire, destruction and what else Vikings used to be spending their time with. When I read along the lyrics taking in the album in full I went back to times of Manowar in the eighties. While using different vocals and being heavier, the grandiosity and heaviness are coming from a very similar base. This band could typically pass de Baroeg if touring Holland and I do hope they are making plans already. Talking about blowing your speakers and ears off, this one comes pretty close. Beautiful in all its heaviness.