Sunday, 15 September 2019

Mario's 55th Birthday Fest - Little Devil Tilburg, 14 September 2019

This weekend Tilburg is the capital of Ayreon land with huge banners starting at the station and fans from all over the world selling out 013 four times. Now I am not a huge fan of rock operas, but probably would have liked the spectacle if I was bothered to attend one show. Fans of metal knew that the place to be in Tilburg for them would be Little Devil as is so often the case. Mario the man who brings so many great bands to Holland had a birthday weekend and while I could not attend the Friday I was in almost from the start on the Saturday Fest. Five great bands 10 Euro, beers reduced to Eur 2 so even Baroeg Open Air was no competition for me. The program needed some updates after unfortunate cancelations by Leather and Syren, but the substitutes performed well.

Upon arrival GRZLY was already playing. First band of the day with a female vocalist and luckily no angelic sopranos but singing with balls and this all guided by an obviously experienced band. The music was heavy hard rock and turned out to be a perfect opener for the day. Next on Thoughtless were the only Dutch band on the bill, so I saw them a few times before. Also female vocals and again of the good kind.  They play heavy metal which goes thrahsy at times and is full of nice guitars. I even remembered drummer Axel's name this time and shall see him again in Baarlo in three weeks, not on the stage but in the audience though. During Metal Experience Fest I could hardly see them in the overcrowded small hall, now watching the full set was a joy. Good band.

The next band on was the one that definitely made me decide to go down to Tilburg: Spirit Adrift. I only recently discovered them through their great CD Divided by Darkness. Their doomy metal definitely sounds like something I would love to see live, so this opportunity was not to be missed. Well that did not disappoint. Sounding live a bit rougher in general and vocals mainly this was an energetic set of doom (if that is possible) Playing songs from DbD and their previous one Curse of Conception we got a good idea on what they are about. This set deserved a purcahse of CD and Tee afterwards and was a highlight of the day to me. Not sure if the huge Tattoo Born Too Late on the vocalists chest was a message to Mario, but  guess not. Highlight of the set Angel & Abyss, check that song out somewhere online. Spirit Adrift are currently touring Europe for the first time with Sanhedrin, so that was the next band. Now up front I heard and read some positive buzz about this band, but I decided to not prepare and let them surprise me. Well that was a nice surprise. A power trio with for the third time today female vocals gave us one heavy set.  The strenght to me lay in the building of atmospheres of power. Great voice suiting the music and yet another highlight of the day with obligatory CD purchase afterwards. As this tour is only just starting I can recommend highly to catch them somewhere in Europe. I shall later be able to say that I was there during the first victorious visit to Holland by Sanhedrin.

Closer of the evening were Tysondog in quartet formation as Steve Morrison was enjoying holidays in Crete. Remember they were a last minute substitue so this was to be excused and in the end did we suffer the loss? No not really as what a party these guys build for us. I am close to Mario's age so starting to get tired I thougt maybe taking an earlier train more towards the end of their set. Well no such early departures as we got a party to close the day. Tysondog are from the NWOBHM era, but I must admit I did not have their LP's at the time. Still I recognized several songs, so must have heard them around. Even if songs were new to me their catchiness made them instantly bangable. We even got some sort of moshpit and I am not sure what the huge drunk german was about looking to hang over the vocalist and the stage. Well a very enjoyable end of a great day came with the song about French cuisine: Dead Meat. So next year I am turning 55 myself and this day gave an idea on how to celebrate that in style. Maybe I should have some talks in Musicon next year and pull of something. Congrats Mario and thanks for the party. 

Friday, 13 September 2019

Vola, Uneven Structure, Arch Echo, Rendezvous Point & Schiermann - Patronaat Haarlem, 12 September 2019

Five bands on a weekday, challenging to start with. I came to see the headliner as I discovered Vola through the Prog Metal Zone website some years ago around the release of their EP Monsters. Pretty soon thereafter they played Progpower and released full album Inmazes. Then last year I did not get their last album "Applause of a Distant Crowd". Reviews on both their album and live shows were positive as I read, so time to reintroduce the band to me. Before they would hit te stage many bands would try to warm us up and although upon arrival we feared an empty house, the evening was held in a very decent filled small hall of Patronaat.

First band was Schiermann. Kicking off he ran into the first technical issues of the evening. Being so worried with his laptop he missed fixing the sound of his guitar so we heard nothing and a restart was sympathetically announced. This instrumental trio played hereafter four songs and they were building up nicely with at times some references to Joe Satriani for me. Pity that they fall in the category overdose on laptop, as keyboards and guitar were also provided by Apple. Next band Rendezvous Point did hold a singer. That does add a song structure in their case and I did like what I saw. Good songs, varried playing and interesting enough throughout. Even liking their set I got distracted as from minute one. No not by the blonde lady on bass, but by the keyboard player. He seemed to have walked straight out of classical dutch saitire program debiteuren/ crediteuren. Result I was waiting for him to throw sandwhiches at us during the 30 minutes shouting Toedeledoki. They shall have a full hour at Progpower, which they did not announce strangely enough, but apparently something to look out for.

The next band was instrumental again, depending on laptops and to make matters worse with bigger technical issues. They could not hear each other with defect in ear systems and thus gave us a jam of music. With music being so complicated a rather hard task, so we got tiring bits inbetween what I thought two songs they could play in total. I would love to see them once without the technical issues showing what they are able of. Now the band was pleased with what they pulled of, but I felt bored at times and thought this miss a victory of organic heavy metal. Next band were French band Uneven Structure. I missed them at Progpower in the past, but saw them at Complexity some years ago. I recall liking them, but tonight they were a bit flat to me. In their defense what did distract and annoy were a bunch of children making a lame attempt at a moshpit or slamdancing without any sense of the music being played. These kids should go obligatory to a next Exodus show in Holland to learn how it is done "Murder in the front row, crowd begins to bang and there's blood upon the stage". Bassist of Uneven Structure was the same eccentric moving guy from Schiermann, thanks Marcel as I did not even notice that. Not their best evening I guess, yet at heavier moments pretty acceptable.

And then Vola came on and it took very short to notice why they were headliners. Sound and songs at another level. Technical issues continuing with a broken string during the opening song causing a minor delay. We had a very convincing band going through their discography, although I believe they skipped their EP. Luckily my favorite Your Mind is a Helpless Dreamer  was in the set. And afater more or less one hour they announced their last song Stray the Skies. This was one succesful reintroduction to Vola and I can see them climbing the time schedule at Progpower any year soon. This band mixes their technical domination of instruments with well written songs and that was not the case with all tonight. Pleased to have trained to Haarlem for the evening and I wll keep a closer eye on Vola returns to Holland.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

SOTO & supports - Boerderij Zoetermeer, 7 September 2019

Jeff Scott Soto is one of those vocalists of whom you have no idea how many CD's/LPs you own so many bands and projects he sung in. I know I first heard him with Yngwie Malmsteen. During the set he mentioned how he loves coming back to de Boerderij as he has been here with bands like Talisman, Sons of Apollo and J.S.S. He actually skipped Soul Sirkus an album I picked up now for the occasion. Solo he can go many directions where he does not scare away from some soul influences at times. His last album Origami is more hardrock again, so we expected some melodic hard rock tonight.

Before it was so far we did get two supports both playing some 40-45 minutes. This meant a long wait as Scarlet Aura was not at the right place at the right time. Their old school metal with female Doro clone did not get any reactions whatsoever from the small crowd, but they kept on trying till the end. Stop Stop hereafter sounded better. No idea how pissed they were when deciding that Stop Stop is a catchy band name. Yet their rock and roll landed better and a walk through the audience by all three band members playing on was an interesting end before they dropped dead on stage.

 S.O.T.O. came on hereafter and we got the music we came for. During the set they played music from several bands he sung in but unfortunately no Yngwie or Soul Sirkus, There was a WET medley for fans of that band and a Talisman cover next to several Soto or JSS solo album songs. His genuine love for de Boerderij was also expressed when he complained about UK venues trying to kick you out fast for a disco to follow. So we got an extra medley where his old favorite cover Crazy by Seal was included again. At first his voice seemed to need some warming up, but later on all was fine. His presentation is professional and sympathetic and his looks reminded Leroy Fer returning after summer holidays. This was just a nice evening of live music. Good band nice performances and afterwards the band would come to the bar for signing without any star issues. September it is and the gig season can be declared open now.