Just about every other year The Manfred Mann's Earth Band comes along to do a show in the Netherlands.
They haven't come up with new work but the focus had been on the band again because of the huge boxset with all their works,
that came out just over a month ago.
The reason for me to come to this particular concert was primarily because the Earth Band has a new singer: Robert Hart,
whom I've never heard of before.
Although Noel McCalla had proven himself to be a worthy replacement for the man who sung the greatest hits by the Earth Band, Chris Thompson,
I've never been that fond of his voice.
Technically McCalla was quite okay but I didn't seem to match the music as Thompson's voice did.
The show was in Zoetermeer, a very nice venue with a really good PA system and an awesome lightshow
(not always from the point of view of a photographer by the way).
Managing director Arie Verstegen is extremely capable to get most of the first class prog acts to this venue and so all
fans of progressive and related music come to "De Boerderij" as we call the venue quite often.
The only show by the Manfred Mann's Earth Band in the Netherlands happened to be in Zoetermeer and the band chose to perform without support act.
Manfred Man - keyboards and backing vocals
Mick Rogers - guitar and lead vocals
Robert Hart - lead vocals and rhythm guitar
Steve Kinch - bass and backing vocals
Jim Copley - drums
The venue had filled up nicely and I would say was nearly sold out.
The show commenced with the Springsteen song Spirits In The Night and that set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The crowd responded instantly and the band really couldn't go wrong.
The new singer, Robert Hart, seemed to be a little uneasy and is not a real performer, although he came to be more at ease during the show.
His voice had to 'warm up' too but when it had,
it came close to Thompson's vocals and so the tracks that used to be sung by Chris Thompson proved to be a real treat.
As one could expect, it was a great trip down memory lane. Although the band performed Castles Burning before, it was a bit of a surprise to me.
The track is originally called Don't Let It bring You Down and was written by Mr. Neil Young and is one of the great songs
on his multi-platinum album After The Gold Rush.
Another oldie followed, a track penned by Lane Tietgen from 1970 or even earlier.
The band went on player one more Tietgen song originally on the album Watch called Martha's Madman.
Very uplifting was the cover of the big Springsteen (video)hit Dancing In The Dark followed by a slower,
more melancholy song: Dylan's You Angel You, from the album Angel Station.
I should have written it down because I can't remember if Rogers' solo spot was before or after on of the great
Manfred Mann's Earth Band classics Father Of Day,Father Of Night, but I think he did a sort of an intro to this song.
He was enjoying himself obviously when the crowd started to sing along and responded very well to his grinning,
guitar playing and got really enthusiastic when he did a short version of Do Wah Diddy Diddy and of course everyone knew Shake Rattle And Roll.
A superb version of Father Of Day, Father Of Night it was, but Rogers too had to skip the highest notes,
no wonder if you have been singing for over four decades and you're well in your sixties.
He's still a great performer! Mann showed himself on stage more often than in the old days with his magnificent keytar,
but had to 'hide' behind his impressive rack of keyboards again because it was his turn to do the backing vocals on the Springsteen song For You.
Although everyone in the venue seemed to have a wonderful time already,
things would become even better: Robert Hart had warmed up and he proved he could still
reach high notes and he almost sounded like Ian Gillan in his better days! Than here was an exquisite rendition of the classic Don't Kill It Carol
(by Mike Heron) from the album Angel Station (1979).
If I recollect well the band said goodbye and went off stage after a mere one hour and fifteen minutes but of course returned for some encores.
As I recall a long intro by Mr. Mann himself was the prelude to the Springsteen tune Blinded By The Light,
one of my all time favorites from the album The Roaring Silence.
With Hart as vocalist I haven't heard the song so well performed as on this evening.
Another great tune taken from the album Watch was Davy's On The Road Again and the grand finale -everyone from young and old singing along-
was Mighty Quinn, recorded on the album Watch too, but of course it was already a hit for Manfred Mann in 1968 before the Earth Band was born!!
Mann announced they would be back and believe me, it will be worth it to buy a ticket: these guys are still having fun and more importantly,
are still on top of their game. as usual both sound & light were of a superb quality in "Cultuurpodium De Boerderij".
A glorious concert it had been and the only criticism -if any- could be the whole performance was 'just' one hour and forty five minutes.
So my request would be: next time at least two hours (with a break) please! We want more!
Spirits In The Night (Bruce Springsteen)
Castles Burning (Don't Let It Bring You Down - Neil Young)
Captain Bobby Stout (Lane Tietgen)
Martha's Madman (Lane Tietgen)
Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen)
You Angel You (Bob Dylan)
Father Of Day, Father Of Night (Bob Dylan)
For You (Bruce Springsteen)
Don't Kill It Carol (Mike Heron)
Blinded By The Light (Bruce Springsteen)
Davy's On The Road Again (John Simon, Robbie Robertson)
Mighty Quinn (Bob Dylan)