It was a cold an -as usual- windy night when I arrived in Hoorn, some two hours driving from where I live. Hoorn is one of those old merchant cities, with many buildings, preserved from the Golden Age and before, when Hoorn was one of the more important harbors on the shore line of the "IJsselmeer". The "IJsselmeer" used to be an open inlet from the North Sea and many ships used to sail from Hoorn and other cities to many parts of the world.
Manifesto is a rather new venue, seated in the outskirts of Hoorn, and will be celebrating its 10th year anniversary in 2010.
It is one of the many smaller venues in the Netherlands, comparable to (the new) Metropool (Hengelo),
De Gigant (Apeldoorn) or De Nieuwe Pul (Uden), able to harvest 300-450 visitors (only standing).
Although the venue does not seem to be aiming at "prog-acts", this evening was a nice surprise, but unfortunately,
only a few fans showed up to be the witness of two solid performances by Illumion and Knight Area.
The venue has a good PA system and nice lighting.
As part of the band led by talented guitarist Eveline van Kampen is hailing from Hoorn, Illumion seemed a logical choice for Knight Area as support act.
Illumion is Eveline van Kampen (guitar, composer), Peter H. Boer (bass, stick, E-bow, producer),
Esther Ladiges (vocals, flute), Gerton Leijdekker (keyboards, 'MIDI-guitar') and Tom Rutgers (drums).
Illumion opened with Metamorphosis, a nice melodic song with a modest role for the keyboards and groovy bass playing by Boer.
Though in a different order, the band played the debut album Hunting For Significance in its entirety.
Differences with the studio versions, as could be expected, were evident: no multi layered background vocals by Esther,
just one guitar instead of two and sometimes even more and Gerton Leijdekker playing 'keyboard' through his guitar using MIDI.
Ladiges had to sing more powerful than on the album and because she did, the songs got a more 'rock' feel rather than 'jazz'.
No point in mentioning I thoroughly enjoyed that!
Leijdekker obviously liked playing the 'guitar' much more than the keys (The Bliss!) and because of the peculiar sound combined with a different stage performance,
I would say: keep it this way!
Also some nice duels between Eveline and Gerton are not only adding to the live performance but they result in a different arrangement which is always a good thing in a live show.
Esther playing the flute (I think it was Chrysanthemum) was also a nice 'bonus'.
As the band did not play live too often until now and newcomer Tom Rutgers played his first gig with Illumion this night,
it was not a surprise the musicians had to concentrate on their instruments more than the focus being to interact with the audience.
Only Ladiges and Boer, both singing/playing in several other bands, were capable of performing more loosely.
The overall quality of the sounds was quite good although I did not hear the bass pedals nor the bass as well as on the album.
Though the band has to work on background vocals a bit more and avoiding a too static performance,
musically this was an outstanding accomplishment by a group of talented musicians and I would like to pay a big compliment for Rutgers because in my opinion
the drum parts on Hunting For Significance are not that easy to play, but Tom did a remarkable job there!
Died For Beauty
Under The Harrow
Into The Labyrinth
For even fewer fans Knight Area played their new album Realm Of Shadows in its entirety and although there were some minor problems with the sound and the mix,
the overall quality was excellent.
The band played tight and singer/keyboardist Mark Smit tried his utmost to make his performance visually impressive too.
Changing his clothes several times, he entered the stage in the dark, wearing a white cloak (as on the cover of the latest album),
later only in white trousers and T shirt, followed by a black dress and ending up in some kind of rather sexy legging.
The band performed a splendid and vivid rendition of their very strong last album, internationally acclaimed with extremely positive reviews.
Koopman with his Rickenbacker and pedals is an amazing bass player, while Klazinga, undoubtedly the bands mastermind,
plays with concentration and creates the most wonderful as well orchestral sounds.
Do not underestimate the both powerful as quite subtle drumming by Pieter van Hoorn, also the guy providing a lot of the band background vocals.
Guitarist Mark Vermeule is a very reliable part of the Knight Area team,
never seeking to play as loud as he can or as many notes he is able to put in a few seconds, always melodic and a valuable contribution to Knight Area beautiful majestic symphonic music.
After the new album Knight Area performed some of the older songs; from the album Under A New Sign, the band played Dreamweaver,
Mastermind and the encore: A Different Man part 1.
To make the evening complete and satisfactory on all aspects there were also two songs from the debut album The Sun Also Rises: Conspiracy and Mortal Brow.
In the current lineup Knight Area, providing there are no power related technical problems like in Hengelo,
is able to perform on any podium in Europe and even further... weren't they invited to the prestigious Nearfest festival in 2005?
Yes they were and the band is now even more than ever ready to compete with any band in the world of 'prog'.
And just one little detail: next time I would prefer to have a "Knight Area" related image on the bass drum!
A wonderful night with good music, a good sound and a somewhat dark but tasteful lightshow.
Too bad many potential visitors decided to do something else that night, because they made the wrong choice....
Setlist Knight Area
Two Of A Kind
Realm Of Shadows
A Million Lives
A Different Man Pt 1