Under Nike’s wings

She said yes,
the glass of the pyramid shone brighter,
just like her eyes, and the Winged Victory smiled
benevolent from her faceless body,
wings spread and ready to fly.
The lock shines under a moonless garden,
its key buried in their hearts.

 

And the poet in her heart stepped into the light
No longer hidden, the question answered
To be forever, and never not to be

Aisles, Profuna Ocean and Little Eye at Extase, Tilburg 27-10-2016

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Last Thursday I finally got a chance to see my friends from Chilean band Aisles perform live. It was their first European tour, and the crowd was small, but they didn’t worry about that – the band played as if they had never done anything else in their lives. The energy, skill and enthousiasm were a wonderful experience.

Their support acts Little Eye (more rock than prog, but a very good live act with a great and expressive vocalist) and Profuna Ocean (prog/prog metal, with wonderful bass work) added to the atmosphere and warmed up the small audience quite well. Although I must add it’s always a pity if people coming to a gig as friends of a support act don’t have the decency to also stay around for the main act. Slightly disrespectful, but let’s not blame bands for the behaviour of their fans.

Below, a set of nice pictures I took at the gig.

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T-shirts (2)

13767360_10206769973269908_8337784239636349092_oOsmo kept his promise, he photographed himself in an Angelo’s Rock Orphanage t-shirt at Nordkapp. Thanks very much Osmo!!!

I also figured out the pricing, so those who contacted me will get a PM or e-mail soon.

Night of the Prog 2016

And a final post for today: I have my ticket, my photo pass appears to be waiting for me, and my hotel is booked. So, in less exactly one month I’ll have returned already from Night of the Prog 2016. At that time, I will have seen the following bands… and met a lot of people that I connected to through Facebook, Twitter, ISKC Rock Radio, this blog, ohter music sites and real life.

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CD Presentation Kristoffer Gildenlöw – The Rain

Kristoffer Gildenlöw and a wonderful band of musicians were at Boerderij Cultuurpodium tonight for the CD launch party of @The Rain. A surprising set up, certainly for photographers, with the band playing behind a transparent screen that was used to display short movies, and video clips while the music was played. It made ‘traditional live pics’ almost impossible, although some kept trying, and led to some interesting effects once I changed my mode of taking photos.

In my album review I said that this music requires attentive listening, and I was afraid it would be hard to make that possible live – using the screen next to the music turned out ot be the perfect way. Kristoffer’s band was in good shape – the guitar, violin and keyboard sounded exactly as they should, after hearing the album. The music built the atmosphere of fear and emotion the main character in the album’s concept – a man suffering from dementia – goes through. This was accompanied by still and moving images on the screen, that when looked at from the right angle, put the band in the middle of the presented scenes. The music was good, the atmosphere was fitting and the set up surprisingly photogenic, despite being hard to capture perfectly.

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Night of the Prog X 2015, the third and final day

And with the third day, the festival came and went. But what a wonderful day it was – the day of instrumentals, dynamic bass players (Special Providence, Steven Rothery, Pain of Salvation and Steve Hackett had those) and a crowd that didn’t care about a bit of rain in the afternoon.

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When I arrived, Special Providence just finished their soundcheck and were ready to surprise us. An instrumental quartet from Hungary, who got the attention of the audience by combining riffs, great guitar tunes and (partly fretless) melodic bass playing. For lack of a vocalist, the bass player made sure he was all over the stage. I had heard of this band before, but seeing live conincved me that this band deserves a lot of attention. The fact that they sold out their CDs within an hour after the gig says it all. Next time, bring more, guys. I’ll probably go see them again when they support Neal Morse at the Boerderij in Zoetermeer.

Then IO Earth was on. Female fronted, close metal but with room for more – you have to if you bring a violin player and a flute player. The band put down a show with great music, and wonderful vocals. What surprised me though was that a large part of the set their singer was back stage while the band played instrumentals. It felt a little bit unbalanced, but given the reactions, the audience didn’t have a problem with it.

After these two relatively new bands, the stage was for four older acts, starting with Kaipa da Capo, headed by guitar mastermind Roine Stolt. He announced the band and started by saying ‘we’ll make some noises and that will develop into the first track’ – which they did. A nice show they put on, with music from the 70s that still doesn’t feel old.

Who also isn’t old yet, at least judging by his face, is Steven Rothery. Experienced as he is with audiences, he had no problem getting the audience’ attention. Even a short heavy rain pour just before the start couldn’t drive his fans away. Starting with some of his own instrumentals, half way through the set he brought on the singer of a Marillion tribute band (I have to look up the guys’s name soon) in order to play a few pieces of Misplaced Childhood, Slainte Mhath and one of my personal favourites Sugar Mice. I got my ‘childhood’ on the second evening, but this additional bit really came home.

Pain of Salvation is a band I discovered for real only about a year ago. I never really investigated them until then, which I regretted as soon as I started listening. Daniel Gildenlöw is of course the musical (and visual) center of this band, no matter how often the line up changes. He knows how to write his music, how to play it and (as he showed here) how to get an audience going. Due to a sound problem after 30 seconds, the band had to start over, which they did by ‘going backstage, we’ll come back and you pretend it’s the first time. This time we’ll come on really cool!’. Great musicianship, nice dialogs with the audience and a band that breathed energy on stage – what more can you want? Oh yes, my pic of the day of course, as shown above.

Closing act of the festival was Steve Hackett, playing Genesis Revisited for the last time, with Nick Beggs, Nat Sylvan and other great musicians. There I did the same as with Fish – take pictures half an hour and then go up the hill to just enjoy the music. All Genesis classics came by, in a slightly modernised jacket, but reliving the moments that I missed because I was only 4 years old when Genesis reached their (prog) peak. I vowed not to buy CDs at the festival – in case of Special Providence I wanted to break that vow but came too late, with Steve Hackett I did break it, and got the Royal Albert Hall CD of this tour. The highlight for me was Pain of Salvation, but what Steve Hackett gave us was the perfect closing act for the Night of the Prog 10th anniversary.

Thanks to all the bands, and to the organisers – I will be coming back to this festival and wonderful venue for sure.

Night of the Prog X, Day 2

Today was the day I had been waiting for – the day I had come to Night of the Prog X for. Read on and you’ll find out why… the picture I picked today is a bit of a giveaway…

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First of, I have to admit that although 7 bands were scheduled today, I only heard 6 of them. Due to another appointment, I missed Luna Kiss. I’ll have a listen at their album later to find out what they are about, today I missed them – I arrived at the Freilichtbühne during Haken’s soundcheck.

Although early in the day, Haken were ready for a good show. Their heavy progressive rock went down quite well with the present audience, and they easily filled their slot. Heavy riffs and nice vocal harmonies (real ones here, not lead and backing vocals) are an interesting combination. Someone referred to them as a heavy version of Gentle Giant. That may be a bit far fetched, but the combined vocals do have some hints of what GG did in the past.

After Haken, the stage was for Sylvan, a German act from Hamburg who have played NotP 5 times before. With a seventeen year old guitarist and a manic bass player, they managed to win this home match easily. Classified by some as neoprogressive, they certainly aren’t an 80s Marillion or Pendragon copy. In fact Sylvan sounds far more modern and varied than that. The guitar and keys power the band, the bass player owns the stage when playing live. I’m not too familiar with their work, but what I heard today was certainly inviting.

Around diner time, Lazuli from French was the main occupant of the stage. A wonderful band, with a very own, rather heavy sound – partly thanks to the léode, a synth like instrument that looks as if it is played like a Chapman stick, but it has no strings. With the lead and a guitar playing duo leads, and the vocalist playing a third guitar, a lot is possible – certainly when taking into accounts the keys and percussion. On stage, the band put on an energetic show, with lots of interaction on stage and with the audience. If you love music, having people like this on stage can make your day.

The Enid followed. A completely different beast than the preceding bands. Founded in 1972, with only one original member remaining, the band plays symphonic prog that resembles musical music – an impression strengthened by the stage act of the vocalist. A mix of a musical star and a young Freddy Mercury probably describes him best (also when it comes to vocal range). I can enjoy musical and symphonic prog, but today this was a bit much for me – although the band played very well and tight.

So, after leaving The Enid half way through, I went for a walk and could still hear them outside the venue. Until I dosed off that is, and was awoken 15 minutes early by the sounds of Riverside reaching my ear. I rushed back to the photographers corral in time to catch most of their opening track. Riverside put on a heavy prog show in the way they are known for – a tight ship, run by bass master captain Mariusz Duda, a beast unleashed on stage. Old and new material were mixed, and receive with great enthusiasm (including mine).

And then, finally, the moment I had been waiting for. Fish was here to play Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood live, as part of the 30th anniversary tour for that album. Since one of my favourite live videos is Marillion’s Live at Loreley in 1987, this is what got me to buy a ticket to the festival.
Fish opened with a few of his won tracks, including Feast of Consequences. Then he announced Misplaced Childhood, and the band played it integrally, without interruptions. I decided to do what I had been wanting to do after getting a ticket and before getting my photo pass: I quit photographing after Lavender, went up the hill above the amphitheatre and sat down in the grass, enjoying the music. It wasn’t entirely up to expectations – Fish’ voice has know better times, and some songs seem to be played in a slightly lower key (probably for the same reason). However, I decided to not let that disturb me – and it worked.
After completing the album, the band played Market Square Heroes and said goodbye. Wanting to avoid traffic, I left quickly and to my surprise I could walk to the car on the tunes of an encore, The Company. Pity I missed that? No, I had my wish fulfilled.

On to day three now, but first – sleep!

Night of the Prog 2015, The first day!

And Friday’s gone at Loreley… And what a Friday it was. No Murphy this time – my photo pass was there, the photographers corral in front of the stage was well guarded by a huge (Polish?) security guy and everything worked out pretty well. The weather was a bit too hot, 35 celcius, but who cares when they get treated to a day of music like we had today. Wifi is still broken so I’ll limit the amount of photos to 1 and will do the same tomorrow and Sunday – to save money on my mobile phone network connection. An overview of the best pics of the festival will follow within about a week, to make up for this.

Dutch band Lesoir was a pleasant surprise. I had heard about them, in a positive way mostly, but had not gotten around to checking them out. Metal? Perhaps, perhaps not. I heard some pretty heavy riffs, but also Porcupine Tree or Sylvium like sounds, and the flute of vocalist Maartje Meessen may be made of metal, it certainly isn’t a typical metal instrument. They took care of the not always thankful job of opening the festival, in a brilliant way. The not yet complete audience was happy enough to cheer them on.

After Lesoir, Beardfish from Sweden took us along among others their albums Sleeping In Traffic Pt2, The Void. and their latest +4626-COMFORTZONE. Rikard Sjöblom showed up in a Hawaiian shirt and led the band through a great and energetic set. Their bass player is the the scariest person I saw on stage today, but also very energetic and full of movement. If not the most energetic bass player of today, then he is only second to Johan van Stratum of Gentle Storm.

Gentle Storm, who came on third, are headed by Anneke van Giersbergen, who’s voice was ‘fucked’ as she said herself. With the help of backing singer Marcella Bovio, she managed to play the full set anyway. I saw this band three times now, the first two were the opening gigs of the Diary tour, in Amsterdam and Ittervoort. In these four months, the band has become tighter and their performance breads fun and friendship, the interaction on stage is amazing. Still, third time, same set (albeit somewhat shortened today) is a bit of a let down for me personally, but the audience definitely enjoyed it.

Another band that usually is good for fun and partying is Pendragon, with captain Nick Barrett taking centre stage. With their latest album, they’ve moved to slightly darker course, which showed also in the show today – but it was still the normal, well performed and uplifing Pendragon we saw and heard.

After Pendragon, the two acts of which the most was expected took the stage – first the Neal Morse band, with Mike Portnoy on drums and then Camel.

Neal Morse is a man I know from Spock’s Beard, and due to his views on life, I never bothered checking out his ‘solo’ works. What a mistake that turned out to be. The band came on stage and blew me out of my shoes with energising instrumentals, brilliant vocal harmonies and none of the preaching I had expected. The only time the word prayer was used, was when Neal dedicated a song to a girl who had a stroke and was taken to hospital during the festival. Can’t blame him for that, can I? The picture below is from Neal Morse’s show, at some point he simply ran into the audience and started hugging people. He had visited the audience earlier also, but from within the photographers area, the second time he went outside.

Funny detail: I had Mike Portnoy dead center in my lens the first time, and he seemed to have noticed that. He pointed to my left, just before I shot my pic, to Neal running past me – as if hinting me to a different target.

After Neal Morse, the closing act of the day was Camel. A band from the seventies, that I know from albums like Nude and Mirage, but some of their older tracks are much more worthwhile – e.g. Snow goose or Lady Fantasy, and top of the bill the instrumental guitar track Ice. The latter two were part of this show, which I enjoyed while having a very late dinner (just before midnight), and without being too focused on the setlist. That was easy to do, because we were directed out of our photo pit after three tracks. No more picture taking (and no filming at all), per request from Andy Latimer himself (just like on other dates of the current tour). Nevertheless, a worthy closing act, because in the end it is about the music, and Ice is breath taking, always.

Off to bed now, and on to tomorrow….

Night of the Prog, the morning before…

I arrived on Thursday night, with my mind set on a very busy schedule – three days of prog bands live, and me having a press/photo pass to cover it for my blog, Background Magazine and ProgPlanet.

I booked a hotel in Kestert, 10 minutes from the Freilichtbühne, and the town was crowded with prog fans – the two restaurants and the three guesthouses were full of them. Old, young, fat, skinny, male, female, but most of all recognisable through t-shirts, hairdo and the occasional tattoo that seem to mark music fans world wide.

The hotel WiFi gave up at 11PM on Thursday night, so while I type this I have no clue whether I can post it to any of the web sites during or only after the festival. The hotel manager is going to fix it, they promised, but he’s not on site right now and I have no clue when he will be….

It’s a Murphy’s law weekend anyway, so we’ll see.  Murphy’s law? Yes indeed, the one that makes things go wrong just because they can. First I forgot my laptop, so I had to go buy another one to be able to type this. I got one, but it doesn’t have an SD card slot, so now I have to get my pictures from the camera through a USB cable. Oh well – it’s not that much slower.

On a plus – while I was at breakfast, the cleaning lady made my bed and even folded up my roadworn jeans from yesterday. Won’t be needing those today, with temperatures going into the 30s in the afternoon…. Let’s take the sun screen, pack the camera’s and get going for a nice first day at Night of the Prog 2015….

Today’s program:

13.30 Lesoir

15.00 Beardfish

16.30 Gentle Storm

18.20 Pendragon

20.30 Neal Morse Band

23.00 Camel

Oh what the heck… it’s text only, so I’ll cannibalise a bit on my 3G data roaming and post this anyway. It won’t hurt much, assuming the WiFi gets fixed today.

April’s top 10 of blog entries

April has come and gone already, so here’s another overview of the top 10 posts of the past 30 days. I’m happy to see Kristoffer Gildenlöw‘s new single Pass the Torch, released last week at the top – after only 5 days of publishing the review. Als interesting is the appearance of an older review, of Franck Carducci’s Torn Apart at the top of the list, right behind the brilliant album A Spark in the Aether by The Tangent – and just above the rest of last months reviews.

One thing to note: somehow, the gig review of Gentle Storm on March 26th has received the largest amount of views on my blog (over 600), most of which in it’s first week. No idea how that spread so fast, and it’s still in the top 10 of the past 30 days.

Kristoffer Gildenlöw asks us to Pass the Torch
The Tangent – A Spark in the Aether
Album Review: Torn Apart – Franck Carducci
Elephants of Scotland – Execute and Breathe (Album Review)
Karibow – Addicted (album review)
What to find inside? This Raging Silence – Isotopes and Endoscopes (Album review)
Nice Beaver @ JJ Music House 10-04-2015
Tiger Moth Tales – Cocoon
Steam Theory – Asunder (album review)
The Gentle Storm @ De Melkweg, March 26 2015