Monday, 26 August 2019

Golden Age Rock Festival - Manege Fonck Liege, 25 August 2019

Golden Age Rock Festival is a new one. Focusing on Classic Rock bands of which many never or hardly played Europe this was one adventurous three day event. I could not attend the Friday and Saturday, but with Sunday holding Angel I simply could not resist. Magchiel was interested in seeing Dee Snider  and both of us were more than a bit keen to see Heavy Pettin as well. Unfortunately Pat McManus played too early for us to reach Luik, so we missed that. Pity as the last time we saw him with Gary Moore in Amsterdam was already 34 years ago as well. On a Sunday which saw the return of summer and full beaches we drove against the stream eastwards. Checking in at the hotel and off to the manege. This turned out to be a huge building with a large market and food area behind it in the garden. First compliment goes to the food options which next to the eighties fries truck also had some very delicious Indian options at fair prices. When we entered the hall we were immediately in for the first nice surprise: Rudy Lenners and friends. Now I did not know Rudy, but it seemed he was local and used to play in the Scorpions from 73-75. So after one cover we got a medley of Tokyo Tapes. Speedy's Coming, Pictured Life and In Trance. With the young guitarist/vocalist doing a great Klaus Meine we had a winner after ten minutes in the hall Hereafter the set was closed with Rockin' in the Free World. Now I am not a great fan of the obvious covers on stage, but with all friends joining in, including his daughter the atmosphere was amazing and the more spiritual inclined among us could feel the positive vibes on their skin. To add to the fun, this set was talked together om stage by one of the three organizers (we guess) and that was when we found out that our French is a bit rusty at best. One thing Magchiel and I already decided there and then. If this festival survives we shall be back.

The breaks in between sets were fairly long so we could hang in the garden and bumped into our Bristol/Stampede friends Patrick from Belgium and Gerrie from Limburg. While talking the nerves increased a bit as Heavy Pettin was on next.Now we knew their Classic albums Lettin' Loose and Rock Ain't Dead, but never saw them live before. That is when I decided to move a bit forward to feel the melodic metal through the stomach. Years ago Heavy Pettin were called Scottish Def Leppard and while boxing does not work you can hear why this was the case. Being Scottish all was a bit rougher on the edges, but their songs went down really well. Victims of the Night, Love times Love and Rock Me passed by and we had a blast, I guess their biggest "hit" is In and Out of Love and makes you wonder why that did not do wonders in the eighties when the world was waiting for such songs. Closing their strong set with Throw a Party was a fine choice as that is just what they did to us over the past hour. This was two winners out of two, so we were only getting more in the mood (or was it with some help of our friends the Belgian beers). Only pity was that I was considering getting their T-shirt later on the evening finding out after Angel they already left the building, probably with a boat to catch. ,

Now things would become more melodic Swedish metal, but I never knew much of 220 Volt. It all sounded OK and apart from the vocalist I guess several original members were on stage, but I played smart. Knowing I would need my limited forces for Angel and Dee Snider still I looked for a place to sit.Now inside there was a small stand to sit on, but this was reserved for VIP visitors and we were obviously not that important. So outside it was and sorry 220 Volt.

After a fine Chicken Massala with rice and salad I was ready for Angel. Actually I am ready for Angel for 40 years now and Live Without a Net is one of the highlights of double live albums. I never expected to still see them live on stage and they were to me the reason to drive down to Luik. Unfortunately Gregg Guiffria left the music business, but it turned out that his substitute played rather well, Original members Frank Dimino on vocals and Punky Meadows on guitars were still there and that is where I have to start, The voice of Frank Dimino is amazing and at respectable age he did not loose any of his power it seems. Punky Meadows was always a glam factor in the band, but seeing him arriving on stage was kind of over the top in double. With his tanned skin, huge mouth and very full hair he looked different from the average man in the audience to say the least. As this was a music festival and I can't be bothered too much by looks his playing was great. Actually there was hardly anything to complain. On the Rocks, Mirrors, Can You Feel It opening a set of Classic Angel songs with such a strong voice and clear sound was the party I hoped for, The Fortune, Rock & Rollers the high never stopped. Well the party might have gone on, but the band hardly did. After only 45 minutes they announced their last song, which obviously is their best song ever the Tower. So we were supposed to get an hour, it seemed to me, they were not all that pleased with the small audience or something else annoyed them. The set was professionally played and very well so, yet two more songs should have been possible with so many classics to choose from and a new (not even mentioned) album coming up. so I saw Angel. loved their show and setlist, yet a tiny disappointment came with the short playing time. Still I will buy Risen upon release and hope to see them one day again.

And then we knew that roller-coaster Dee Snider still was to come on stage. He decided to mix songs from his strong 2018 release For the Love of Metal  (tks for the tip Theo) with some Twisted Sister Classics. Anyone having seen the man on stage before knew what we would be in for. Heavy Metal of the catchy kind with some in-between ranting with a healthy dose of humor. Building a setlist is also no issue for him and as it should be he opened and closed with strong songs from his solo album. Yet while all the music sounds good, the party picks up a notch when we can shout that We're not Gonna Take It. The Kids Are Back and Burn in Hell were nice as well and actually the evening was a a fest. Everyone in watched this set with a smile on their face and sung their lungs out on I Wanna Rock. Dee really does this for the love of metal and if he might have hoped for a larger crowd, he does not show any signs of disappointment. Party, righteous headliner and what a way to close the festival. Dee rules.

Well actually the festival was not closed yet as a cover band would come to play for those not willing to go home yet. I thought by their name we would get Eagles covers, but this was much better. 6 wigged Wallonians gave us covers of Europe, Mr Big, Skid Row, Aerosmith and the likes. Very nice band, but we were satisfied, by so many highlights on the day already. Now what the future holds in store for this festival is unclear and was buzzed around all the time. The effort they made on billing bands you can never see is admirable. Fact is that many bands playing (Moxy, Doc Holiday, Vulcain) shall be hardly known by anyone under 50. I hope they somehow managed to get by with those who attended. The initiative deserves a wider audience and the atmosphere was brilliant. So thank you Golden Age Rock.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

The Eternal & Vetrar Draugurinn - Musicon The Hague, 24 August 2019

Saturday night, warm temperatures and no plan in live. Let's check out some unknown bands to me in an air-condioned Musicon. The Eternal are from Australia and play doom. I also heard some new wave like sounds and in general it was dark rock. They pack their music in long songs which have all the time to develop into something heavy and  sad at times. I listened once to bandcamp before deciding to go to Musicon and as usual live it came better together being heavier. Pretty good overall, but still more a band to see on stage than play often at home to me.

The evening was opened by the Dutch band with the impossible name Vetrar Daugurinn. Now Dutch bands with female vocals in general make me a bit scared as the vocalists tend to go operatic. This band has onen who sings and pretty good as well. I liked them best when they went slower and heavier. They play Dutch Doom Days in November and I think that even at Progpower they might appeal to many. A diverse enough set opening a nice evening in Musicon. Today the full houses of late were not met, but interesting enough some 75% of the audience I never saw before, which normally is the other way around. Now off to Luik for some Classic Rock.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Pedal to the Metal - Little Devil, Effenaar, Merleyn, 11-13 August 2019

Pedal to the Metal!!. In a recent post I explained the reason behind my trip. While being in my head some time more or less, this tour all came together rather fast when shortly before my last Portugal trip I sort of fixed my bicycle. After I printed the shirt I realized that I could have included the shows in Musicon and Waterpop I attended 9 and 10 August as I visited both by bicycle as well. Anyway back on the saddle and did that hurt? Yes in a way it did. My total training kilometers must have been around 80 km combined over three days. Now I had to start with the longest stage from home to Tilburg, which including the road-detour and wrong roads taken should have been around 110 km. Never much in a hurry in life I took matters easy and arrived in Tilburg well in time and reasonably fit. After a Japanese dinner I could go to Little Devil.

Tilburg; 11 August
To be honest I included this show for logistical reasons. Tilburg was nice on route, but without the cycling I probably would not have been here. I do like Krisiun and saw them before, but they fall in the category I travel for limited to the Leiden/The Hague/Rotterdam triangle. Last time I saw them they played the huge stage in de Nobel and now one of Holland's smaller stages. That did not matter much to them as they gave us a great set of death metal. with old and new songs. Opener of the evening were Dutch upcoming Death metal combo Sepiroth introducing their new vocalist. I expect to see them more often in the near future, good band for warming us up.

Eindhoven: 12 August
Cycling in the sunny morning I could recover from first small pains in neck, back and knees. only 40 km this was never going to be impossible. The evening had a show I would have gone to see anyway. Soilwork's 2019 release Verkligheten is one of the albums I played most this year. Their melo-death mixed with very accessible melodies makes this a highlight of the year to me.  Headliner was Hypocrisy a band I never saw before and hold a few CD's of. Soilwork did give us a pleasant hour of melo-death, where many new songs were included. My only comment would be that with one keyboard and two guitars on stage I did not get why almost all songs started with a tape. Closer Stälfägel was a party to me and certainly far too commercial for death metal purists. Headliner Hypocrisy is a machine of heavy brutality, but with a sense of great melodies. The not so full Effenaar on a Monday night midst festival season was treated on probably the same set as most festivals, but inside lack of wind and rain always improves sounds. Pleased to see Roswell 47 live once closing a nice evening in de Effenaar. By the way with rather good Verkligheten T-shirts on sale, I regretted not having much space on the bicycle for purchasing merch.

Nijmegen: 13 August
This morning weather forecast was similar, sunny morning, showers as from lunchtime. So another early rise and feeling stronger than the day before a pleasant ride through forests and farmlands. Arriving in Nijmegen I already decided I would train home Wednesday. This gave me the chance to lunch, dine and drink at ease. Another plus was the extra space for merch I created. This was just in time as this show I definitely wasn't going to miss. The Contortionist are my favorite Djent-band and Azusa gave us recently Heavy Yoke a killer album of math rock with a twist. So before Azusa started I made sure I found a good spot close to the stage to see what the hell would be going on. Even after playing Heavy Yoke repeatedly recently, I expected this music hard to recognize song by song. I was right at the opener until they later told us this was a new song. Actually without knowing song titles I did recognize all later on, which does help appreciating their music. References? well with a bassist having a past in The Dillinger Escape Plan and guitars and drums passing through Extol you can hardly expect easy listening. A second guitarist was added, but the surprise comes on vocals. I saw Eleni before with Sea+Air at Brainstorm festival. Well that band had absolutely nothing to do with Azusa. She does rule the stage with her aggressive screams, blended with sweet vocals through another mic reminding me of This Mortal Coil (You and your sister). The interesting part is that when she decides to go soft and sweet the band does not necessarily follow and blast beats might guide her through. I already loved the album, now have another live favorite. This band should get more exposure and I know just the festival in Baarlo where half the audience would totally love them (and the other half not getting the point). Definitely highlight of the week to me and hope they can come back soon. Shall proudly wear their Tee. And than The Contortionist still had to follow this up. Well they could as obviously they gained lots of touring experience over the years. Last time I saw them was in the bar stage of Patronaat, so it was good to see now Merleyn sold out. Through the years they are mellowing out, but the set had many dynamics to the heavier bits. Language I and II remain highlights and actually all was good, although a bit short. A band going their own way this time brought light pink band shirts and played Whitney Houston as intro-tape. To my surprise many people liked this intro, so I must be inflexible here.

What an evening to close my short trip. My health was keeping up fine although cynically enough the rather new shoes I wore at shows gave me a big blister on the heel. Tiago left home Sunday for Leiden and seems to be settled already. Hoping he keeps on spending weekends in The Hague. Again this year I missed out on more day festivals, but this row of five evenings was a success. Next year I might repeat this cycling, joining friends at a festival I choose. I was lucky with the weather, the lack of flat tires, the shows and the food. Sometimes you get what you deserve. 

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Waterpop - Hofpark Wateringen, 10 August, 2019

I knew that Channel Zero lost their drummer rather sudden, This morning due to a Metalfan post I learned this was today on the day six years ago. As a member of the Mearfest family I also did know this is Molly's weekend. So combining both, nothing seemed to be more appropriate than to go down by bicycle against the storm to Wateringen in my Mearfest shirt. Waterpop is the biggest festival in het Westland, the glasshouse region south of The Hague. In the eighties Westland was big in metal. Often we went to see national bands in venues in the region. Nowadays even Waterpop does not shy away to ignore metal as a genre, but this year Channel Zero was on, after a failed attempt one year ago.

Channel Zero from Belgium starting some 30 years ago as a thrash metal band, moving to groove metal. Tonight they would give Waterpop by far the most energetic show of the day. Not too familiar with their CD's I liked their set, their songs and their Flemish introductions. During the last song the vocalist entered the pit and surprised some people at the field. So all in all a very entertaining set by what Waterpop called the best metal band of the Benelux. Further Waterpop is about seeing friends, have a drink and make sure you leave on time before a DJ starts annoying you out. So cheers and thoughts go to Channel Zero and Brian and Claire Mear.

Incantation & Beheaded - Musicon Den Haag, 9 August 2019

Another evening of Death Metal in Musicon. Incantation on their way back from Party-San and support Beheaded would give us something to bang our heads on. For me this weekend the cycling tour Pedal to the Metal starts, so why not open already on Friday. Turned out that we would not have a packed house, but it nicely filled up again. That is not bad given the competition of Into The Grave and Alcatrazz festivals this weekend.

First band on were Beheaded from Malta, and I guess the first Maltese band I saw. Well they played mainly uptempo Death Metal. While the vocalist tried with wide open eyes to attract more people forward most watched from a distance and saw it was good. Incantation was another band I hold no music of. What I liked more about them was the mix between Death Metal and very heavy doomy passages. Vocalist does not like posers and the band played on, even on bass with one finger out. This set was tight and made you understand how these guys are thirty years around. A nice opening of my series of 5 metal nights it was and with the cycling coming up a modest beer consumption to match.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Schollenpop - Zuiderstrand Scheveningen, 3 August 2019

Schollenpop is one of the many festivals around in the summer. For those not from the The Hague area the order is as follows. Kaderock early June hits of the season. In and around Musicon this is musically the most interesting festival, as it builds around guitars and usually includes more than one metal related band as well. End June Parkpop is the biggest festival. In the eighties/nineties they would attract up to 400,000 people, which is less now. That festival you can forget about as they ignore metal and hard rock completely for years. Than Delft holds Westerpop and Leiden Werfpop in July and early August Schollenpop hits the beach, before Waterpop next week in Wateringen sort of closes the festival season in the region. In the past all these events were for free, nowadays some charge a fee and yesterday for the first time we had to pay 3 Euro to enter the beach part of the festival. Schollenpop is also traditionally guitar driven and had some good bands in the past. Of course 2015 is Classic with Death Angel on the main stage and THHMA having an all day metal stage as well. Ever since you feel sorry that this had no continuation after the huge success of that day. This year there were some unknown bands who I later heard were pretty good, but the band I came to see was Moonkings. I decided to go strategically only after 18:00 as an early start guarantees a drunk departure as you always run into friends and more friends.

So after enjoying a sunny, not hot beach it was well past the scheduled starting time when Moonkings hit the main stage. This band is the new project of Adrian Vandenberg, Holland's most successful hard rock guitarist with his own band in the early eighties and later passing by Whitesnake. So for the style of music you can simply think late eighties Whitesnake. This is also made possible by the very strong voice of Jan Hoving. Bass and drums are handled by much younger guys who did so very well. Now I never bought the albums by Moonkings, so strangely enough I was welcoming some covers during this set. From Vandenberg we got Burning Heart and Whitesnake got a nice acoustic Sailing Ships, which next to the sea was probably their best setting ever. Judgement Day was a nice surprise and Here I go Again more obligatory. This actually is a pre-Adje Whitesnake song, but redone during the commercial years. After an own song they closed with the only disappointment of the evening. Covering Rock and Roll is so boring and cliche that you start disliking this in principle strong song. In the end we got a very professional show bringing us back to the eighties in style. Adje even told us he was born 3 minutes walking from this beach while I always thought he was a tukker. Next festival stop Waterpop.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Flotsam and Jetsam, Helstar & Dark Sky Choir - Baroeg Rotterdam, 2 August 2019

Flotsam and Jetsam have been returning quite often to Holland over the past years. The good news is that we don't get tired of them, but seem to appear in larger numbers each time. Two weeks ago they sold out Little Devil and tonight Baroeg looked packed. Not sure if it was sold out, but far too hot it became quickly. Suddenly those airco's in Musicon looked the best investment ever and that one week after the heatwave. But enough about the weather let's metal. Maybe the full house also had something to do with the very strong supporting double.

Opening band were Dark Sky Choir a band I never heard of until recently. Not knowing the band says nothing about the members. The vocalist Brian Allen I recognized from a Vicious Rumours show at Alcatraz some 8 years ago. Guitarist Ira Black played in so many bands I like, but I last saw him with Am I Morbid. The bassist I did not recognize, but even played live with Queensryche and is in Disturbed. Finally the monster of the band was wearing a white tie on a black shirt and hit the drums. He even got a solo spot in the 30 minute set, which was surprisingly entertaining with him climbing his drums while playing. I read somewhere he plays in Exxplorer, but just picked up my copy of Symphonies of Steel and he is not in that line-up. The music you ask? Well with this line up you get what you expect US Power Metal with trashy edges at times. I loved their show and songs, so now I have last album End of Days playing and all is good. A band to follow and if they ever add a cover to a longer setlist, may it be one by Exxplorer.

Second band of the day is an old favorite I did not see that often, Helstar. First time ever was when they supported Yngwie Malmsteen in Zwolle, somewhere late eighties. Second time was at the same Alcatraz festival I saw Brian Allen singing. Helstar is the band around James Rivera, one of metal's traditional vocalists who split opinions. Well I am in the fan-camp loving his high screams. That voice was still strong as we could hear from the beginning. The set visited the history with some more focus on the past (as we like it)  So soon the King was Dead, after which we should bow down to the King of Hell. Time was short, so the band rocked on. An instrumental break gave James the time to dress up. Coming back with a black cape and vampire teeth, we knew it was time for Baptized in Blood. Their one but best song, as they save the best for last. Run With the Pack! Pack! Pack! how I love shouting along with that one. This song alone increased temperatures another few degrees and it was a brilliant ending to a perfect set.

So after two very good openers it was up to Flotts to surpass this. Well they had no problems whatsoever as this probably was the best show I ever saw by them. Everything was right. The setlist, the full house an animated A.K. and the beers cold enough to keep us standing. Opening with new song Prisoner of Death all sounded good, although with the lights going on we doubted if they were sound-checking still. Well rumbling further into Desecrator the roof already almost came down. Following this by the best Iron Maiden song Maiden never wrote: Iron Maiden. If only Maiden would release an album with fast bangers like this again, it would be their best since at least Fear of the Dark, if not further back. Then back in time to Hammerhead from the debut and so the evening went on. Hans and I concluded rightly that Flotsam and Jetsam are so good live, as apart from their starting classics Doomsday and Disgrace, also their last albums are very good and relevant. I said it before, but the big four definitely did not release this century any albums as good as the so called smaller bands like F&J, Exodus, Death Angel, Heathen did. This evening was one perfect show by a band in top form and we know we will be back when they return soon. Not sure if that is valid for the too short set at Killfest for me though. What a great band Flotsam and Jetsam are, let's hope they keep on coming back every year.