Friday, 27 September 2013

Submarine Silence - There's Something Very Strange in her Little Room

While I am curiously waiting for the arrival of new CD's of Dream Theater and Fates Warning to decide which of the great three in Progmetal releases the best new album this year (as if I shall give DT a fair chance) I decided to quickly put some attention on this little unnoticed grower in the more symphonic, excentric prog rock world. Submarine Silence releasesd an album before, but are new to me. In this setup that is, since I do own most releases of Moongarden, members of which are the core of this band as well. Cristiano Roversi on Keyboards and guitars plus David Cremoni on guitars are the basis of the band. While Moongarden are slightly heavier, we get here Italian Prog which on the non instrumental songs is dominated by Peter Hamill like vocals. Just for that reason any fan of VDGG or Discipline should already give this CD a try.

There is a story being told here as well, but with one of those booklets which aim at making the letter type as hard to read as possible I did so far not bother to read along. Still I must state that on every new listen this album still manages to get more interesting to me. Many short instrumentals are mixed up with some haunting songs with vocals (Strange Awakening) and overall there is some threatening atmosphere over the music that kind of gets me interested in the story anyway.

Keeping it as short as promised, nice album both for headphone listenings or on the background during a romantic autumn evening with the wind howling around the house. I do hope though that Cristiano Roversi who also released a solo album recently shall find some time to write new material for Moongarden as well. Great when creative artists aim at releasing many parallel projects at the same time. Surprisingly good album and wondering when it stops growing on me.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Fish - Paradiso Amsterdam 18 September 2013

The Fish is back! The Fish himself said so and right he was. Promoting his first new album in 6 years (A Feast of Consequences) a European tour started and after three UK shows he arrived in good shape in Amsterdam. A new album meant many new songs. I am one of the few thousand special edition orderers who missed out on the target date due to a printing company letting Fish and Mark Wilkinson terribly down. This meant undergoing the new songs for the first time life and I can say I am now curiously waiting for the album. Especially the long song on WWI was impressive. As always Fish sings about matters that touch him. So we got WWI, Global warming, Syria, X-Factor celebrities, vinyl and wine, Fish on stage is one of the greatest personalities and it remains amazing how he manages to dominate an audience.

So there were many new songs, but also a lot of Marillion Classics. 30 years after launching the album I was more than a bit pleased when Fish after an all new opening sang one of the best opening lines ever: "So here I am once more, in the playground of the broken hearts". Script remains one of my all time favorite songs (which I noticed I can still shout along from start to finish) Further we got He knows, Assasing, Freaks, White Feather and the jumping shouting part of Fugazi. And to complete the two hour show we got a nice overview of his solo albums. Interesting to see how some of the songs that on album might not be my favorites, came really alive and were highlights of the evening ("What color is God", "Suits").

For an entertaining evening of great music Fish proved to be still the man. How was his voice? is not an unusual question. Well somewhat light at the beginning, warming up through the show and very good on the oldies. Anyone in doubt to see Fish on tour should stop doubting and support the man that deserves it based upon his great legacy for music lovers. The Fish is back indeed.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Pink Project - Peace Palace The Hague 14 September 2013

The Hague is the city of Peace and Justice and happens to be my hometown. The Peace Palace is commemorating it's 100th anniversary and the week started with a live show of Pink Project. Since next week it is world peace day, as well as Tiago's birthday and it is about time we confront him with some good music Tiago went along and we enjoyed a beautiful show which easily exceeded my expectations. Pink Project exist almost 20 years and the way they went through Dark Side of the Moon before the break and essentials of The Wall thereafter was impressive. Being Tiago's debut at a paid show it was nice to see that the show was also extremely well prepared, with many interestimng clips playing along on the two big screens next to the stage.
Playing was flawless, singing was good (Great Gig in the Sky, was a highlight on vocals) and nothing lacking a show matching this occassion. I won't repeat comments/frustrations why a cover band attracts 10-20 times more people than the great Galahad (or I just did), but with the lack of original Pink Floyd existing and Roger Waters playing The Wall last week for the third or fourth time in two years in Holland, this is the best to see this timeless music being played live.
Personal highlight: clapping and singing along with Tiago during "We don't need no education".

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Galahad & The Aurora Project - Alphen aan de Rijn 13 September 2013

Under the monniker Serious Music event Galahad hit Holland again and serious it was. Upon late arrival we were already told that no pinning option was mentioned by the ticket exchange and we should have read the information. The venue turned out to be a cinema setup, which basically kills all attempts for good atmosphere. To top things drinks were not allowed inside the venue, which me being by car was less annoying than if I would have opted for public transport. Finally on the serious front we had opening band Sylvium releasing their CD. If you have six man on stage and only the drummer and bass player seem somewhat at ease being there it becomes nerve-wrecking to watch this. Probably if hearing their CD only I would rate them higher, now easily scoring very high on my personal list of most boring shows ever.

After an half-hour break (where everybody wanted to order a drink at the one bar) The Aurora Project came on and things could only get better, as they did. I saw them before at Progpower and once supporting an international band and considered them OK. This time however, I thought them very good. Obviously their last CD Selling the Aggression is their best album yet and playing it in full made me buy it after the show. It was nice to see how apart from the great songs, interesting anti-war themes and good performance overall also the show got some attention. We got on video several interesting images accompanying the music and the band seemed to enjoy themselves as well. I did not realize that this band would now be among the best bands Holland has to offer, great surprise.

Following the second half-hour break Galahad was on. It is already a joy to see their stage outfits before starting and the shouting back to the crowd from Mark and Roy showed Galahad are performers and they come to entertain us. Never a boring moment they run through their last albums showing us how well the blend of electronic music, heavy guitars plus prog epics com alive on stage. Lyrically they often go for optimism and good doing coming from yourself rather than any religion or god. The last shouted line from opener Salvation set the spirit on that sense: "Believe in your own bloody beating heart!" Last year they just released Battle Scars when they played live and put the focus on that album. Meanwhile they also released Beyond the Realms of Euphoria and the show centered around this one. Only oldy was Sleepers which we got in an epic performance. On bass we now have Mark Spence and seems slightly mental onstage, which adds so much to the whole experience. After one and a half hour we got one encore and one year down the road I can state that "Seize the Day" is the ultimate party-dance-prog-jumping-up-and-down-yet-very-uplifting song. Finally we got to our feet and people did jump, clap and grin along. What a blast as a finish and I do fully agree while shouting along "Seize the day, relish every moment. Make it something to remember".

So a word of thanks to the organization is in place, you could feel the love for the music that drives them to give us this evening. For me the venue is not very suited for rock shows (at a certain moment I wished being in de Baroeg,, which being a sleaze dark metal, beer and sweat place is so much the opposite), but anyone who gives us one of the most entertaining live bands should get a lot of credits.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Reuben Archer's - Personal Sin

Well here's another surprise for you. Those who know me, or this blog when I still wrote in Dutch know that one of my all time favorite bands is Stampede. In the early eighties they released two classics with thier debut Live (!) album Official Bootleg Live at Reading and Mildenhall plus my all time top five favorite album Hurricane Town. They reformed some years ago and released the very decent A Sudden Impulse. Stampede was formed by Reuben Archer and his stepson Laurence Archer in the early eighties. Doing the simple maths we can conclude that Reuben now reached an age where most people think about retirement. Well not him and let us be very pleased with that decision. Apart from setting an inspiring example, this album just gives us great eighties Bluesy hardrock that unfortunately is not mached by many younger hard rock bands nowadays.

The list of guests is enormous and with names like Dave Menikketi, Luke Morley, Paul Quin, Neil Murray anyone loving eighties hardrock knows that lack of quality is not an issue.The songs themselves are also in a style I can not make many complaints about. We get Bluesy hardrock uptempo and more ballad like. We get lyrics about personal sufferings and Rock and Roll, but mostly we get Reuben Archer showing that he is still one of the best voices in melodic hard rock. Rob Wolverson needs to be mentioned as well, since he is the other driving man behind this album.

Anyone with the slightest interest in eighties hard rock, or who like me recognizes that Hurricane Town is one of the best albums ever released ( I know we are with a rather small crowd) absolutely needs to give this album an ear. Doubt it you shall not be happily singing along  with the Ace Cafe, Bulletproof, Personal Sin or the single Play my Rock 'n' Roll. Without aiming at disrespecting the proofen still top vocals of Reuben Archer I cannot let that lyric pass. "Mama Don't allow no Rock 'n' Roll Playin' here". Given Reuben's right to retire his mother should be pushing 90. Good to see that no matter our age, we still get upset by what our parents think and want.

While Reuben Archer thanks his friends by raising a glass of good Rioja, I shall raise many Bock Beers to him over the autumn, since surely this album will appear in my CD player a lot. What a good surprise indeed.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Haken, Soul Secret - de Boerderij 4 September 2013

Wednesday night, one month before returning for Progpower festival, a new CD being too recent with two days after official release to know, Moon Safari the day before for soft Prog fans, Mike Portnoy with  his new band The Winery Dogs two days later, both at the same Boerderij. To go short the odds were not too good, so I can only conclude to be more than a bit pleased that at least the front of the Boerderij was nicely packed and over 100 people nowadays on a Wednesday night is not very bad any longer. Stop nagging about small audiences the best news was that Haken were better than ever before and defintely convinced the ones who were there that they are one of the bright hopes for both Prog rock and metal audiences.

First we got warmed up by the to me unknown Italo-prog-metallers from Soul Secret. 4 songs in 45 minutes with some great instrumental parts and the special one on vocals. Not that his voice was in the prog-metal uberleague, but he looked more than a little bit like Jose Mourinho (sorry the picture is out of focus during an instrumental break). Nice opener and maybe not shockingly renewing yet another good band from Italy (I missed Kingcrow live last Saterday, but also recall great Italian shows from Moongarden, Sadist and Memento Waltz).

Haken headlining was a new experience to me. After festival appearances at Progpower and Night of the Prog, they passed de Boerderij last year together with Headspace. This time we got treated on a full show of 1 hour 45 minutes and since both band and audience seemed to like it no doubt they shall return. As I bought their new album The Mountain at the show I only read some raving reviews on the album, but was not familiar with the new songs. Not to worry since Haken is based upon standing and staring in awe. Not many bands do switch so easily from style, while making it all sound extremely easy. For those who did not like them much before I can tell that also the new songs included anything from burlesque circus music to pretty heavy metal. For me the going all over the place is a bonus, since part of the show is admiring their control. Helped by yet another great sound at de Boerderij (great stage sound by Ron Dingen) the time flew by and one epic followed another. From the new songs most striking was Cockroach King, which had some reference to the Spock's Beard Thoughts songs as well as the more metallic parts. My favorites of the old songs were Shapeshifter and Drowning in the Flood, not coincidentally two songs which go all the way up to grunting. Mentioning the grunts I do know that in the past Ross Jennings on vocals has been mentioned as a possible limitation to the bands development. I never saw this during their live shows, but yesterday he was even better than I saw him before. His range from carrying a piano ballad to shouting and grunting is impressive all around.

But Haken is about the band and all are masters in their area, showing off in a sympathetic way that they are just a bit above average. I shall now put on a headphone get the booklet out and read along while playing The Mountain for the first time. No doubt many spins shall follow after which I know all the songs again when they hit Baarlo. If they more than impress a little again I might even look for Danfest tickets, but with the amount of shows coming up the next months that remains stargazing for the moment.