Tonight progressive bands Anima Mundi (Cuba) and Mangrove (the Netherlands) are co-headlining in the Lakei venue in Helmond.
A good choice of bands and a good choice of the combination? I for one came down to see one of them above all.
I know I have seen Mangrove as Neal Morseís support act back in 2007.
And I remember I was pleased with them (and Dial).
But I have to say that the impact of the main act Nealís Sola Scriptura blew all the details about Mangrove to pieces.
Although neo-prog is not my usual cup of tea, I was very sorry I had to miss out on last years visit of Anima Mundi to Holland.
Especially when friends came back proclaiming it had been an enchanting performance, one of the best they had ever seen.
So this year I got the opportunity to correct that.
And I did as you may read below. Besides that I also had the honour to speak to two of the band members
of Anima Mundi that same night.
You can also read the interview.
Of course I was full of anticipation to see Anima Mundi play live and therefore very curious if they were able to meet
the expectations mentioned above. And I can tell you right away they did.
What a stunning show. In a live setting this is all brought to us with such a power and passion that makes it an overwhelming experience.
Neo prog at itís very best, redefined by this band coming from a prog insulated place called Cuba!
And most importantly in such a delicate, honest and open minded way.
The audience, a good part of them being more or less personal friends because of supporting them on their first tour,
were ravished and fascinated.
It was only afterwards that I realized how very little stage experience these guys had been able to build up over the years.
I couldnít tell, thatís for sure. This five piece are naturals, bringing us their aroused music right from the heart.
The songs of their latest, DPRP recommended, album The Way being known to me, other songs werenít, two songs from the Jagannath Orbit,
one from Septentriůn. And to my surprise two gifts to the audience in the form of the brand new tracks
The Return and Tales From Endless Star of the upcoming album.
Fantastic emotional songs, this is going to be a great album for sure.
During one of the new songs Mangroveís Remco Engels showed his service as a guest drummer to help out Manolo,
who was totally hidden behind his drum kit, to create an even heavier rhythm.
One thing Iíd like to state about
all of the tracks is the cohesion between the band members on stage.
All very gifted musicians individually but always a part of the soul of the songs together.
Yaroskiís ever thriving and pounding bass. Roberto with superb riffs and blended soloing. Virginia meticulously on keyboards,
including the amazing church organs in Flying to the Sun.
And last but not least the fantastic voice of Carlos.
I do not exaggerate if I say he is one of the best live singers of the genre Iíve ever heard.
Carlos also plays some additional instruments, even with a helping hand on keyboards once.
He took some time to thank all the friends that helped them out now and before. Touching.
And after a neverending applause and shouting for more by the crowd, the band returned for an encore.
Totally ďunexpectedĒ like Roberto informed the audience.
An amazing Sanctuary was accepted as the satisfying closer where Carlos even gave the audience the opportunity
to contribute on playing along by passing on his tambourine for a while.
Well, what can I say. My friends were absolutely right. This was an attractive, heartwarming, amazingly good stage experience.
Not many bands can do this to an audience. Top notch.
Setlist Anima Mundi
Time to Understand
Flying to the Sun
Tales From Endless Star
After a long break Mangrove was next on stage.
Unfortunately I had to skip most of their set because of having an interview with Roberto and Carlos of Anima Mundi.
This was arranged to take place before the show but that had to be shifted on the spot because Anima Mundi was on first.
Therefore I can only tell you something about Mangroveís two final tracks There Must Be Another Way and Beyond Reality
that I was able to watch.
This consequently restricts my comments.
Seeing Mangroveís stage performance, all four dressed in sparkling white outfits, was certainly of high quality.
I will remember Chris Jonkerís almost constant grin behind his keyboards.
The relaxed Pieter Drost on bass. And Roland van der Horstís hopping around through the crowd during,
to me, one of their best songs Beyond Reality.
Based on those two songs only plus the reaction of the audience Iím sure they have given a good show.
Time Will Tell
Wizard of Tunes
City of Darkness
There Must Be Another Way
To get back to my initial question.
There is no doubt about both bands and their quality.
You will understand that the combination of these bands as co-headliners is an awkward one to me.
Two totally different cultures and mindsets.
After a performance like Anima Mundiís with all the love and passion that was flowing from the stage,
little others can bewitch the audience once more.
Still I got the feeling that Mangrove succeeded in doing so in their own way.