Wednesday, 30 November 2016

British Lion & Voodoo Six - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 29 November 2016

British Lion and Voodo Six might not be that known to many, but Steve Harris is. This was one evening of his band British Lion in de Boerderij. This meant that in spite of unknown bands this was not an underground affair, but a gathering of fans of Iron Maiden wishing to see their hero on a small stage for a change. Support act were Voodoo Six. I knew their name, not their music and did not recognize them on stage. Entering with an open mind it turned out that Voodoo Six are a very nice live band. Playing old fashioned hard rock I also sometimes heard similarities with The Quill in their music. The vocalist had a good voice and the band presented us mainly mid tempo hard rock songs. Nothing earthshaking here, but one of the better support bands I saw recently. Harmless hopefull heavy rock.

Of course most people came to see Steve Harris That he plays in a band called British Lion is secondary. I do not have their debut album, but recall critics mainly writing about the vocalist. Some internet searching made me understand these doubts, but Youtube can never be the judge of a band and seeing them live is the only way. So when the band came on I focussed on his singing and actually at the start it was not that bad. A Classic Rock voice, not among the greatest but suiting the mainly old fashioned hard rock. The band themselves were good and both guitars came alive at times. The tall guitarist reminded me very much of Arjan Lucassen in his Vengeance days, but then 30 years older. He was the animator on stage. Turns out he was touring guitarist with The Outfield, known from their eighties hit "Your Love". (Josie's on a vacation far away, you know I like my girls  a little bit older).  And Steve Harris? well he seemed to enjoy this small venue. Being used to arenas he was now right in front of us. Downside is that to me he looked some 10 years older then when I saw him in Sevilla this summer. He also did use the opportunity to go very West Ham in outfit, which stood out more with less special effects around him. His Whale Oil Beef Hooked shirt does become funny when speaking out fast. The songs finally did convince me. This is just the kind of hard rock that made me start liking the music some 35-40 years ago. The Maiden references mainly came from the several whoo-hoo-hooaas we were asked to shout along. Musically UFO commercial Rainbow and such were a reference as well. Naming UFO it was Let it Roll which was the famous cover played in the encore. So those who came to see some Maiden songs went home unhappy. For me the UFO song also was a tipping point. I actually liked the show and songs. The vocalist did get weaker through the set though and when he arrived at Let it Roll I remembered Phil Mogg only a few weeks ago on the same stage.  No comparison really, so I did not get the album afterwards.

I might seem disappointed with the vocalist, but this was never annoying. The music played tonight is very much aligned to my youth and enthusiasm was all around. I shall go see them again if either band is in the area. Still on possibilities it would have been nice to me if Steve Harris would have blended his love of Prog Rock in his project. Often citing his preferences it could be a nice option. As an example he can listen to Biff Byford who not long ago released a fine progmetal album with The Scintilla Project. From Maiden I now saw Bruce Dickinson solo some times and Steve Harris with British Lion. Number one on my wish list still would be a reunion gig of White Spirit futuring Janick Gers. Maybe the least respected Maiden band member, but to me the best alternative album by any of them (even if released way before he joined Maiden).

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Ray Wilson - Boerderij Zoetermeer, 26 November 2016

Ray Wilson playing in de boerderij a set advertised as Genesis Classic. I knew that his version of Genesis Classic puts more focus on the Phil Collins pop years. The album he sung with Genesis (Calling all Stations) is unknow to me and I also do not know anything from Stiltskin his other hit band. So why did I go? to see him perform his solo work. Although having only one of  his solo albums it meant enough for going see him play live. Ray has a good voice and I expected that he would be able to bring a good band along. One of the probems for Ray Wilson is, that in my CD collection he is crammed inbetween Damian Wilson (one of the best voices in prog) and Steven Wilson (one of the best artists in Prog). So picking up his album with such talented neighbours is rare. There was no support act and we would be treated on a full night with a halftime break.

As I did not know many of the songs I also cannot tell whether they were from Ray Wilson, Genesis or Stiltskin. So herewith just some impressions. Genesis covers were present from very good (as Carpet Crawlers and Mama) through neutral to me (Land of Confusion), to songs I never liked and did not change my opinion now (Follow you Follow me and Jesus He knows me). Surprisingly Solsbury Hill was climbed as well and sounded great as expected. Stiltskin's hit Inside sounded good and the songs played from Calling all Stations, might make me pick up that CD, when crossing it cheap one day. Highlight for me were the songs from his solo albums. Introduced by a variety of stories I considered Makes Me Think of Home and Song for a Friend the highlights in the set. There was one disappointmet as well. Closing the evening with Knockin'on Heaven's Door. I did not like the song when we played it with Two Minutes Warning, nor the Guns and Roses cover. Also now it was a boring end of such a nice evening. Then I was considering picking up his last album, but the queue was long after the show and we ended up in the bar until I needed to rush to catch the last train home (Armored Saint anyone?). Ray Wilson showed me that an evening of mostly unknown pop-rock-proggish songs can be very entertaining as well. 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Doro - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 24 November 2016

Tiago having a cultural evening at school watching Jana sing, meant for me a cultural evening in Leiden watching Doro sing. Those who did not go might focus on her old fashioned Heavy Metal, her accent after 32 years, German Cheese, or make been-there-did-that-comments. Well those people just don't get it. Going to a Doro show means good old heavy metal with an icon on vocals and a solid band behind her. The formula is simple and entertainment is guaranteed. Yesterday was the first show of the Love's Gone To Hell tour. Two days before the show I learned that there would be a support act as well in Spitfire from Norway. As they did not impress me through songs or presentation I keep it short. Funniest moment was after the show when the shirtless vocalist wanted to see us all outside. First it was fricking cold outside and in Holland (as in many other places) asking someone to come outside is an invitation to fight. A confused laugh went through the hall.

Preparing the stage we could see a gorgeous Doro appearing on a huge banner ( I also look younger and fitter on the cartoon then in real life). The lights went off and the international band came on. Doro followed as last one and started banging and greeting all in the crowd very enthusiastically. During the first song we got already the left side confirming they were alright, as did the right side and the people in the middle. This set the tone, but everything was overruled by the enthusiasm of Doro that continued non-stop. Doro was good by voice and good by mood. I do not own any Warlock or Doro albums, but still recognized many songs. It is not for nothing that she is called the Metal Queen as she did produce several songs everyone knows. Highlights for me were Burning the Witches and Für Immer. Shouting along with All We Are is another milestone in her set securing a party. The show was very good, which was helped by the fact that the band is tight. I guess playing in a band like Doro means accepting you are not alwaysin the spotlights, still all four convinced in their presentation. I thought I recognized the drummer and just read that he played in Waysted and Britney Fox, so maybe I saw those once (failing memory here). Only during the evening I heard that one of the guitarists is Dutch, Bas Maas ex Afer Forever. So I might have seen him at ProgPower 2000. With Bas and the bassist both being tall, Doro somewhat disappeared inbetween them on the front row. This is only physically as her stage presence is huge. The fact that she constantly shows that she loves being on stage made this a sincere evening of True Metal.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Iamthemorning - Patronaat Haarlem, 18 November 2016

Iamthemorning are a duo from Russia, Mariana on vocals and Gleb on grand piano and keyboards. . Not dissimilar to Aisles recently  a band coming from far receiveing positive critics but not really a known name outside underground connaisseurs. Touring Europe meaning Holland (plus London) and ending up on the small stage at the bar in Patronaat. This turned out to be a very good choice as the around 50 visitors were straight in front of the stage and the atmosphere of intimacy was suiting the set.I did go and see them for several reasons. Some friends who put me on track of new bands before spoke well of them. The few comments I ran into on their IOpages festival performance seemed all positive. And finally their claim to fame is winning the PROG magazine award for best album. Prog magazine is a funny poll anyway. They follow football/school years, so you get halfway the year a best of award. The nominees are usually extremely biased towards British bands and KScope label. This year Limelight (new band) nominations included Teramaze, who formed in 1993 and released their first full album 21 years ago. Still winning as a Russian band means that many people appreciate their music even if being on KScope surely made it possible to make it on the shortlist.

After playing a chamber gig and a duo gig earlier this week, this evening was the full band gig. I looked at the four members and could not figure them out really. They did not look not Russian, nor Dutch. In order to enter the band one must have a bit hair still, brown coloured and a matching beard, while wearing a black shirt. At the end of the gig Mariana introduced them and we had many nationalities with members of two other bands helping out (whose names I forgot). The band held as instruments Cello, Violin, Drums and Bass. So this was to be a guitar-less show. With this band being substitutes, first compliments can go out to them playing all songs as intended and showing an ease at following up small signs from Gleb. Iamthemorning itself turned out to be two very talented musicians. Mariana stole the show with her clear voice, funny introductions and strong stage presence. Iamthemorning do not play heavy music as stated, but there is a constant dark atmosphere around either in the lyrics or in the music. Their last album Lighthouse is about mental illness and tells all the lost souls out there that they are not alone. During the show I could feel this atmosphere indeed and the sarcastical grin from Mariana when she sung Matches said it all "Your house is on fire, 'cause you were annoying and I dropped the match in". The silent and seemingly much more introvert star of the evening was Gleb. Highlight was his piano solo, which started alone at classical master level and had the band falling in halfway to great effect. Some of the songs were performed as duo as well. After the show I bought their last and my first album, so I cannot refer to many songs they played. In total we got some 80 minutes of music, which I considered perfect for this style,

Iamthemorning turned out to be a great live experience. Musically they could not be farther away from the Whipstriker/Apocalyptic Raids metal I saw two days before, but quality is quality. The talent of both was obvious from the beginning and the band were just fine. While being very calm music, there is this darkness in their topics that made me love this show. Definitely a band that should appeal to all music lovers and maybe the award might result in them breaking big. I will be back when they return for a tour of Holland, whatever the format might be.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Apokalyptic Raids, Whipstriker & Antagonist - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 16 November 2016

Brazilian underground metal bands playing in the area, makes me usually more than a bit interested. Having two on one evening in Leiden made me therefore return to de Nobel. Both bands were before unknown to me. Whipstriker play Mayhemic Speed Metal and Apocalyptic Raids call their style Metal, but are named after a Hellhammer song. As support they had a German band Antagonist. When I entered they almost started and the first outstanding point on stage was the banner with their logo. Handpainted on a white sheet we really were up for an evening of old school. The Antagonist turned out to be a trio in a rush. In the more or less half hour they got we got ten songs presented. All being fast and furious, but musically the band did impress. Vocals were mainly harsh coming from the drummer, but at times the bass player and even the guitarist took over. This is live music, no nonsense and no tapes. Good warm up for the Brazilian wave to follow.

While the Poster and website made us believe Whipstriker were headliner, they played as second band. Actually I only found out after their set, when the banner came down. Mayhemic Speed Metal turned out to be eighties proto-extreme metal with also a healthy does of Motorhead blended in. Admitted I was in the eighties not the biggest fan of Venom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Bathory and the likes. Nowadays this music is way less extreme than thirty years ago and seeing Whipstriker live on stage was sheer brilliance. This was filthy, dirty, kick-ass metal. Similar to the opener, they bulldozered on and most of their songs were around the three minutes as well. Energy coming from the stage, leather studs with pins on the stage and a few beers down made this a very good live experience. I got their last album Only Filth Will Prevail and glad to know one more real Brazilian underground band.

Apocalyptic Raids were on last and turned out to share the drummer with Whipstriker. The trio uses aliases on their CD and while Necromaniac is definitely still the guitarist/vocalist I believe Slaughterer and Hellpreacher might not have been present on stage. Well I got my information from last full album Vol. 4 Phonocopia, which I bought and dates from 2010. Stylewise they were following up nicely after Whipstriker. Less Motorhead though and by playing the song they are called after more Hellhammer I guess. The bass player also asked enthusiastically for reactions and they got most of them from the audience. What was already a great night back in time turned slightly legendary when they were finished. The set was over, they thanked us and the drummer started taking his kit apart having his cymbals off already. The crowd  might have been small, but obviously we all enjoyed the evening and chants for more would not stop that fast. So the cymbals were screwed back on and the band played another song. when this one was finished the bass player took off his guitar and showed signs of leaving which was overruled by the other two just starting a final song. Great spirit and that is exactly why we love these underground shows, where there is place for spontaneity. A great and early evening in de Nobel ended on a high. Thanks to THHMA, Slowrunner Records and Headbangerzineandgigs for bringing this tour to Holland which made the Carioca in me proud.  

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Korpiklaani, Moonsorrow & Kjalmold - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 11 November 2016

Three bands from the north playing Viking or Pagan Metal. Not a word in English tonight and I was curious how this would be live. Opener were Kjalmold from Iceland. First observation was that they received reactions from almost all in an already nicely filled Boerderij. This in a week, where everyone had plenty of options already was a good sign. The music Kjalmold played is basically feel-good party metal. There are some harsh vocals, but also mics for all six band members to do some harmony work. The galloping was inbetween Folk and Maiden and very accesible at first listen. Their strenght to me lays in the presentation. They enjoy themselves on stage and the big bass player shouted wildly in the air. Inbetween two songs he just raised his beer and roared loudly, which was answered by the audience raising glasses and roaring back. Even when they took their instruments of the stage he kept on walking around roaring. Very nice band live, on CD maybe not my thing.

Moonsorrow followed and they were the band that got me going to de Boerderij. I have one of their Finnish titled CD's where they play only two songs, but take more then 50 minutes. I like their building up of atmospheres and heavy undertones. They came up with painted faces and  made the evening turn more metal. Pagan Metal it is called and heavy it was. Musically by far the best band of the evening to me, they focussed more on the songs and less on the party. Still the audience much appreciated them and their long set flew by. Problem with their Finnish song titles, is that you don't recall any names as it all sounds Greek to me. At one point the vocalist asked if we wanted some Heavy Metal. What followed was the best song of the evening, but I have no clue what it was called. A very good show by an interesting band.

Korpiklaani were the second headliner and they managed to remain unknown to me. I know they played many festivals as well, but I usually go smaller gigs and miss those. So I waited with an open mind. When they came on the first surprise were the accordeon and violin. The folky part turned out to play a fairly big role with them. Actually it did not take long to realize they were here to make a party. This with basically pretty simple songs, where the humpa is omnipresent. Looking at them like this it was a good show. Musically I thought Kjalmold in a similar style much better. As Dennis put correctly Andre Hazes was never far away and even polonaises passed through de Boerderij. Was everybody enjoying themselves? yes definitely so. Was this music that made me run to the merch stand, no not really. After an hour and a bit I called it quits and took the randstadrail back to Den Haag. Very nice evening of party metal, which went down well with several beers. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Oceans of Slumber, Ne Obliviscaris & Enslaved - 013 Tilburg 8 November 2016

I put the above three bands in order of appearance. There is a reason for that as I discovered Oceans of Slumber after they released their debut album, Ne Obliviscaris when they released their second album and Enslaved only years on in their career when they blended more progressive influences into their Black Metal. Still I was looking very much forward to all three bands and thought I left home in time. With the idea of not drinking on a Tuesday, not cycling through the cold and gaining time getting home I took the car. Big mistake as it turned out that 8 November broke this year's evening traffic jams record. So there I was standing still slowly seeing on the navigation ETA that I would not see the start of the evening. In the end it took me 150 minutes (back home 75) and I missed half of the Oceans of Slumber set. Not a good way to start the evening. I can't comment much apart from that they sounded absolutely brilliant again in my ears. In Suffer the Last Bridge we got a song they did not play in April. Cammie bought shoes, Sean and Dobber still change instruments, three drum kits makes a small stage. And then after ... This Road it was suddenly over, almost ten minutes before the announced time-schedule. With this short set, there was not even a point in shouting for Coffins Like Kites. Last time I did the fan thing of speaking with the band and taking a picture. This time I wanted to see the other two bands as well and only saw Keegan in the break. Hope to see them back on Progpower stage, where again I got convinced they would go down so well.

Ne Obliviscaris were the second band and some two years ago they impressed me a lot with their album Citadel. These six men from Australia turned out to be a great live band as well. Striking point was the very different style of the two vocalists. Xenoyr looked and sung extreme metal, while Tim looked very extrovert, played violin and was in constant contact with the audience. Last year it seems they already played Tilburg and reactions were pretty much of the whole crowd. The band only got to play four songs as well, but with each of them being around 15 minutes, they still got decent time to show their skills. And skills they had with a main role for the bass player on his many instrumental interventions. Citadel was represented by the the two epics and they sounded fine. This band follows a new way of touring, where you can pay a monthly fee to support them. I do not know the details, but hope they manage to stay around and record. Very fine band mixing the extreme, the technical and the sensitive.

Enslaved tour celebrating 25 years of existence. I hardly can be called a diehard fan, but do appreciate what I know from them. PPE Christian advised me, that we would be in for a very good show. Cutting short: he was right. Enslaved are not a Black Metal band any longer. They asked us if we were ready for some Norwegian Heavy Metal and that is just what they play. They have harsh vocals, but also from behind the keys some very good clean vocals. The metal is loud and during  The Crossing really heavy. Instrumentally you could see the 25 years of experience and the show stood indeed as a spectacle to watch. Grutle turned out a Level 42 fan, the encore started with a drum solo, Enslaved likes Tilburg and we were invited to sing happy birthday to them in Dutch. Great closing of the evening that started somewhat disappointing due to time issues, but got me driving home satisfied while listening to predictions of the outcome of US elections on the radio (man were they wrong).