Concert Review Archive

 

Night Of The Prog

Mostly Autumn, Sylvan, Fish, Seconds Out

28 July 2006
Loreley Freilichtbühne, St Goarshausen, Germany

By Bart Jan van der Vorst and Ed Sander
Photos by Bart Jan van der Vorst

Live From Loreley

Ever since seeing Marillion's Live from Loreley video I've wanted to see a concert at that place. The beautiful natural setting of the amphitheatre high above the riverbanks of the Rhine warrants a special gig no matter what band plays there. So when I found out that Fish was to take his Return To Childhood show to Loreley as part of a prog festival, returning to the stage 19 years after the classic Marillion gig, the choice was easily made.

Together with 2 DPRP colleagues I travelled to the little place of St Goarshausen just south of Koblenz. Once there we were surprised at how small the Loreley stage actually was. We hardly could imagine how 18000 people would fit in this place, but then again, with only about 1000 people in their seats before the start of the first band made the amphitheatre seem awfully empty.



Mostly Autumn


Mostly Autumn suffered from the opening act syndrome, and started playing without having had a proper soundcheck to a rather empty Loreley amphitheatre.
Within two songs their sound improved greatly, as did the weather and eventually audience attention. Naturally the gig suffered somewhat from being played in broad daylight, as there was no effect to the lightshow, but despite the fact that the band wasn't playing their best ever gig they certainly delivered a solid set.

Their one and a half hours long set included all the usual suspects like Never The Rainbow, Evergreen, Heartlife and Mother Nature as well as quite a few of their recent album Storms Over Still Water and the almost obligatory folky fun party with Out Of The Inn and Shindig

Singer Olivia Sparnenn who was the support act for Mostly Autumn during the 2005 Storms Over Still Waters tour seems to have earned a place as a permanent bandmember as a backing vocalist. She even got to showcase her vocal talents at the front of the stage when she sang lead vocals to Never The Rainbow, with Heather Findlay taking the role as backing vocalist.

One of the reasons why this particular line-up for the festival had come about was because was dating Fish was dating Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn at the time. Fish watched his girlfriend's performance from the side of the stage, and during some of the longer instrumental breaks Heather sat down with him, thus creating beautiful image for the few prog paparazzi that were about.

Fish and Heather in happier times


The set ended with the almost obligatory Mother Nature, which nowadays has the last few minutes of Pink Floyd's Echoes attached to it. This led to great cheers with the crowd when they recognised the familiar guitarriff. Fortunately the rest of "Mostly Floyd" was left home.
Setlist Mostly Autumn
Out Of The Green Sky
Caught In A Fold
Broken Glass
The Dark Before Dawn
Evergreen
The Last Climb
Out Of The Inn
Heartlife
Never The Rainbow
Shindig
Heroes Never Die
Mother Nature

Sylvan
(by Ed Sander)

Originally RPWL had been booked to play at Night of the Prog, but after some kind of disagreement about the contract for the gig the band decided to cancel. I was quite disappointed to hear this since RPWL is one of my favourite prog bands from Germany and since I didn't see them on their World Through My Eyes tour I was really looking forward to seeing them again. The good news was that they were replaced by Sylvan, my other favourite from Germany. Of course it would have been perfect to see both band play and I would have gladly exchanged any other band at the show to be able to have them both listed, but alas.

After Mostly Autumns show Sylvan came on stage and bassist Sebastian Harnack took the microphone. He dedicated the show to his little brother Julian, who had lost the fight against cancer earlier that week. Phew, that was quite an emotional opening and somehow the first song, the epic Given Used Forgotten of the X-Rayed album, fit the mood of Sebastian's opening words perfectly. Otherwise I would have opted for a different opening; a song like No Way Out or Deep Inside would make a better show opener under normal circumstances.

Although I've been following the band since 2000 this was actually the first time I saw the band play live. I had high expectations and they were all met perfectly. The band was as tight live as they are on the record. Although they were using some backing tracks with vocals and such the talent of these guys was without question. I especially liked the emotional performances of Sebastian and vocalist Marco Glühmann. While the other band members have the dynamics of you're average Madame Tussaud statue, these two guys were living the emotional roller coaster that is their music. Thumbs up !

After the mentioned epic opener the band continued with That's Why it Hurts, one of the classics of their Artificial Paradise album. Then Marco explained that they were going to do some tracks from their highly acclaimed new concept album Posthumous Silence. It was a sheer joy to see them play the best material of the album. I would have loved to hear the full thing, which they unfortunately weren't able to play because of the restrictions on time. I also have to admit that an open air festival like this is far from the best place to play an emotionally heavy piece like Posthumous Silence. It calls for a much more intimate setting. Nevertheless, the band was great and the audience loved it.

The show opener I had expected, Deep Inside, followed and next up Marco announced the last song of the set. In anticipation I clenched my teeth hoping for that one song, that absolute highlight of the band's career, that composition that can easily sit among the best prog classics of the last five years. And indeed ... they closed the set with Artificial Silence, a song that has it all. The slightly abridged version was the perfect icing on the cake. I hope to be able to see the band live on stage sometime soon. For me they were the highlight of the whole festival.

Setlist Sylvan
Given Used Forgotten
That's Why It Hurts
In Chains
Bitter Symphony
Pane of Truth
The Coloured Changed
Answer to Life
The Last Embrace
A Kind of Eden
Posthumous Silence
Deep Inside
Artificial Silence

Fish


And next came the big Scot, happy to return to the place after 19 years absence. Fish and band were steaming. By now the place had filled up enough to create enough of a vibe to lift the band's spirits.
Fish was in a very good mood, as was evidenced by his chatter to the audience. When he asked who had been here 19 years ago, and a few people raised their hands, he did jokingly added a retort "so where are the other 17,000 then?"
Seriously, I think there were approximately 3000 people in the audience, and that was enough to fill up most of the amphitheatre. I wouldn't want to see the place filled to the full capacity of 18000, as half the people wouldn't be able to see properly then.

The set had remained the same as it had for the entire tour: a one hour set of Fish solo classics, followed by an integral performance of Misplaced Childhood and some Marillion era encores.
One addition to the Fish set was an expected duet between Fish and Heather Findlay, singing a fine rendition of Just Good Friends together. It was a nice moment seeing the two lovebirds perform one of Fish' most romantic songs. Ironically the couple broke up less than two months after the performance - just good friends indeed.



Highlights of the first set were the powerful rendition of Moving Targets and the last song before the break Credo, which seemed to go on and on forever. At the end of the track the musicians one by one left the stage until only new drummer Gavin Griffiths was left to showcase his skills. It was his first show with the band, but you wouldn't tell; he fit the bill perfectly.

When the final drumbeats of Credo died out, a familiar intro tape started playing. Rossini's La Gazza Ladra filled the amphitheatre. It lifted the already good atmosphere to a great party vibe and somehow the mellow Pseudo Silk Kimono that followed was an anti-climax. Fortunately the band picked up again quickly. Kayleigh was the obvious point of recognition for the lesser educated in the audience, Lavender was superb and the Bitter Suite was one of the highlights of the evening. Then Fish sang a heartfelt Heart of Lothian and some three thousand Germans (and a handful Dutch) sang along loyally.

Blind Curve was the natural highlight of 'side two'. Fish sat down with a bottle of wine at the steps in front of the stage (downing half of it in one go 'for inspiration') for the long spoken part. "A Childhood!" bellowed Fish, "A Childhood" responded the audience - magic.

The encores were as could be expected: Incommunicado and a great party Market Square Heroes. Somewhat less expected was the second encore Fish was granted by the organisers (despite the strict curfew he was given): Fugazi.

I've seen Fish three times on this tour, and by now, after reviewing the CD and DVD of the Return To Childhood tour as well, the saturation point has been reached. The guy throws a great party and while there is no denying that he is currently mainly living off old successes, what he is doing is in no way different than the recent tours of Roger Waters and David Gilmour (not to mention Yes even). At least he includes a full hour of solo material. Next year he is planning to take Clutching At Straws out on the road again, celebrating the 20th anniversary of that album too. I know I will be there, that is for sure.

Setlist Fish
Big Wedge
Moving Targets
Brother 52
Raingods Dancing
Wake-up Call (Make It Happen)
Just Good Friends
Innocent Party
Long Cold Day
Credo

La Gazza Ladra
Pseudo Silk Kimono
Kayleigh
Lavender
Bitter Suite
Heart Of Lothian
Waterhole (Expresso Bongo)
Lords Of The Backstage
Blind Curve
Childhoods End?
White Feather

Incommunicado
Market Square Heroes

Fugazi

Seconds Out

When we found out that Genesis cover band had been moved to the final slot - so basically headlining the festival after Fish - we were somewhat surprised. Why would a local coverband headline over an international act? However it soon became clear that it was a good decision. Had Fish started at 11, his set would not have finished until 1.15 am, which is far too late for many people to drive home. So by moving Seconds Out to the post-headliner spot the organisers made that there was some entertainment provided for those who chose to stay late, and there was some exit music for those who wanted to leave.

We chose for the exit music option. Not so much because we wanted to get home early (we had a hotel in the region) but more because, frankly, Seconds Out weren't very good. Despite their interesting line-up with two drummers, and their promise to recreate the concert Genesis played at the very same stage in 1977, they were well below par. I've seen quite a few Genesis cover bands through the years but never one with a singer who sounded like Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel at the same time. (and that is not a compliment!)

So by leaving we did miss Fish making a reappearance onstage as backing singer some tracks and leadsinger to I Know What I Like, but in the end we were glad to have left while we were still enjoying ourselves.

Altogether it was a great day out. The Lorelei Freilightbühne is a stunning location and it was truly magical to witness a gig in a venue with such a rich rock history. The interesting historic surroundings also gave us an excuse to stay a while longer in the area the next day.



 


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