Concert Review Archive

 

Crystal Palace, X-Panda, RPWL, Eclipse Sol-Air, Harvest, Haken, Clepsydra

Friday, 4th April 2014

Article and photos By Edwin Roosjen

Saturday, 5th April 2014

Article and photos By André de Boer

De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, the Netherlands


Friday

It has been a long time since I was this unprepared for a concert. André de Boer was planned for reviewing day two of Progdreams III but wouldn't it be nice if a two day festival is reviewed on both evenings instead of just the last one. So I took the invitation from De Boerderij to cover the first day of Progdreams III.

Poster

When I looked at the poster not all of the names rang a bell. Headlining the first day was RPWL which is a familiar name to me. I saw them about three years ago and that was a very good gig. X-Panda was new to me but I remembered the name from a review done by André and he told me that they were very good live. I read that Crystal Palace played neo-prog but I never heard of the band so the first note I would be hearing from them would be this friday evening at Progdreams III.

 

Crystal Palace

I was just a few minutes late when I arrived at De Boerderij in Zoetermeer. They must have started exactly on time because Crystal Palace was already playing. The first notes I heard were indeed neo-prog. Although never before having heard their music it sounded very familiar. It has all the elements of neo-prog. Lengthy songs with lots of long melodic soloing. Neo-prog is more a label for this type of music rather than implying that this kind of music is renewing. That was done way back in the eighties. Crystal Palace plays just that kind of old-fashion-neo-prog

Crystal Palace

But for a person like me that is not a bad thing. I enjoyed the performance by this German band. The sound was good and I really enjoyed the music in the style of my old favourite bands like Marillion, Pallas, IQ, etc. Guitar player Nils Conrad played some very nice melodic solos. He had a nice colourful guitar placed behind him but he did not use it. If that is his spare guitar then the one he was playing must have been really outstanding. He had some nice equipment.

Crystal Palace

The performance by Crystal Palace was very solid with a good sound. Most of their songs were from their latest album The System of Events. I can only agree with out reviewers, if you like neo-prog than you will like this band. Very nice start of the evening.

Setlist Crystal Palace
Sleepless
As Heaven Dies
Breathe
The System Of Events
Hearts On Sale
 

X-Panda

Crystal Palace was a good opener for Progdreams III. Announcer John Bollenberg asked if we wanted more or less prog-concerts in the Netherlands. More was shouted of course. He introduced X-Panda, a band from Estonia and that is a first for me. Like many others I only know Estonian music from the Eurovision song contest and that is not the music I wanted to hear tonight. From the very quick research I did I knew they were playing progressive metal with some fusion elements and I knew from my DPRP colleague André that they were very good. Well then X-Panda, show me.

X-Panda

X-Panda

Some young guys wearing tailcoats, except for the drummer, entered the stage. They started playing Black and they blew me away. Dream Theater like progressive metal with some Nightwish keyboards.



The quality of sound was very very good and the music was great. Very technical stuff and although I did not know the songs I could see they played with ease and apparantly flawless. After Black the crowd cheered out loud and the young guys from X-Panda were overwhelmed by the enthusiasme. Vocalist/bassplayer Tamar Nugis introduced next song Dickybirds and the party continued.



The music of X-Panda is mostly instrumental. The lyrics and the vocals are not bad but the instrumental parts are the most interesting and X-Panda knows that. The main feature in their compositions is instrumental parts. Only instrumental music would become too much of the same and the balance to me is just right. If vocalist Tamar Nugis has more lyrics then normal then the bass parts are played by another bass player. That way he can concentrate more on the vocals. During the more instrumental songs the substitute bass player positioned himself backstage.

X-Panda

Tamar introduced a new song called Slaves Of Lies that they have played before but it finally got a new definitive working title. Though he proudly presented that they finally found a working title he had much trouble remembering and pronouncing that title.


Guitar player Risto Virkhausen plays very relaxed and the technical stuff he plays with apparantly the greatest of ease. He was relaxed at the technical stuff and the more melodic fusion stuff. At times he reminded me of Luke Machine, also a young guitar player that just makes it look so easy.


Drummer Karl -Juhan Laanesaar was allowed a drum solo. He is a good drummer but the reason for a special solo is unknown to me. Not my favourite part of a rock show and it was not really that exceptional. Keyboard player Kaarel Tamra was very entertaining with his funny facial expressions. But best of all this evening was the fact that they were all truly surprised and amazed by the amount of energy and applause they got from the audience. Though not the biggest of crowds we cheered them all into big smiles.



And I must admit they deserved every bit of it. Beforehand I did not know what to expect but they really surprised me. I am glad I did not prepare a whole lot for this evening because it brought back the days that I took off from home completely blank to a concert and got excited when I discovered a new band. I left the venue with their latest album Flight Of Fancy.

Setlist X-Panda
Black
Dickybirds
Siren
Rhythm Department
Slaves Of Lies
Calm Waters
Revelation
Crystal Gazing
Flight Of Fancy
 

RPWL

During the break I went to the bar to have a cold beer and talk about the first acts. Everybody was totally amazed by the guys from X-Panda. It was a bit strange that the headliner was still to come. It already felt a perfect evening. I saw RPWL three years ago when they toured for the album The RPWL Experience and they were great, they really rocked. Great rock show and Kalle Wallner on guitar made a big impression on me. As told before I did not really prepare for this concert but last thing I heard was that RPWL turned more to the theatrical stuff. I was anxious to see what RPWL would bring.

RPWL

The new album Wanted was just released. The show strangely started without Kalle and Yogi. Bass player Werner Taus did the vocals on Breathe In, Breathe Out only to come to the conclusion that Kalle and Yogi were really Wanted in order to make it a good show. With the help of organizer John Bollenberg the joke was played and the intro tape for Wanted was started.

RPWL

They had some nice screens with beamers playing images on five different TV-screens. The Wanted posters were shown on the screen and a news reader spoke in Dutch about Yogi and Kalle. Slowly the show started and Kalle and Yogi also entered the stage and finally the complete version of RPWL started playing.

They indeed turned a whole lot theatrical. During the show two stage players were constantly present and playing some sort of act. They looked like two Germans from the television show 'Allo 'Allo, Herr Flick und Helga. I thought they would come on just every now and then but they were present almost constantly. Yogi put on many different suits and also the rest of the band was redecorated, Kalle was dressed up with a leather jacket and wooly hat.

RPWL

RPWL

Yogi Lang has a voice that you either love or hate. I am not one of the haters but live is something else than on CD. The vocals of Yogi were not bad but because he does not have a powerful voice but more a soulful voice he got lost in the mix a bit. Not terribly but when you are making a statement with such a theatrical show there is a need to keep track of the lyrics. The fact that RPWL originates from Germany does not help when singing English.



Later on with the familiar songs I knew the lyrics so that was perfect but the unknown songs I could not understand a word he was singing which made the stage act a bit incomprehensible. I lost a great deal of the statement they were trying to make. A few times I heard him sing "religious" but the rest was not east to understand, just bits and pieces of words and sentences.



At some point Yogi was put in some sort of bag/tunnel and his face was only shown on the screens. He was looking for an exit and sang with a disorientated look and I must say he looked a lot like Ozzy Osbourne that way. In the dark with an expression like "what am I doing here" he could have been his brother.

RPWL

RPWL
It is not all bad and ridiculously theatrical, the part with the doll was very nice and the part where Herr Flick und Helga went into the crowd and handed out candy (supposedly pills) was a very nice trick to get everybody participated.



And that was really needed. The stage show seemed to go on and on and on. At some point I really thought "Let's start rocking". It could be the fact that I did not know the new album but this performance gave not enough handles to get a grip and it certainly did not make me want to rush to the counter and buy a copy of the new album.



If I read the cd review now after the show I must say I should have bought it because I think it is a damn fine album. I listened/watched the youtube songs and I really like it. Maybe I should have prepared better for this concert. The album Wanted is probably a grower so I should have checked out more stuff before coming to see them. That is the down side of coming to a show open-minded and unprepared. For the first two bands it worked out perfectly but this show was a bit too much if you do not know the background of the pieces played.

RPWL

RPWL
After the new album RPWL took a pick from their back catalogue. First The Shadow from Beyond Man And Time. I started listening to RPWL with the album World Through My Eyes and it was great that they played two songs from that album, Start The Fire and Roses. Especially the latter was truly great to hear. On the album originally sung by Ray Wilson but Yogi sounded good on this one.



I really wanted to hear Silenced because at the show three years back I remembered that they really rocked on that one. But from The RPWL Experience I only got the funny start at the show with Breathe In, Breathe Out, ah well, you cannot have them all.



Trying To Kiss The Sun and Hole In The Sky received a warm welcome. A few people that did not like the theatrical stuff returned from the cafe and enjoyed the well known beautiful melodies from RPWL.

RPWL

So all considered I was a bit underwhelmed. Expecting to see the same RPWL as three years ago and not knowing the new album did not help. I was new to X-Panda and they blew me away but for RPWL I should have done my homework a bit better. Entering blank without the proper knowledge of what to expect, or expecting the wrong thing, a stage show like this was a bit too much for me. Still RPWL remains on my radar I will probably check out the new album.

Setlist RPWL
Revelation
Swords And Guns
A Clear Cut Line
Wanted
Hide And Seek
Disbelief
Misguided Thought
Perfect Day
The Attack
A New Dawn

The Shadow
Start The Fire
Trying To Kiss The Sun
Roses

Hole In The Sky
 

Saturday

This two day festival was attractive because of the mix of known, unknown, old and new bands. Because of enjoying Credo elsewhere on day 1, I only got to see day 2. As the venue had a curfew on filming that night, this concert review has no live video impressions as usual. Sorry about that.

Eclipse Sol-Air

Eclipse Sol-Air was the surprise and revelation of the day to many. Not familiar with them, I didn’t manage to get much information on the internet beforehand neither. But what a great sound, craftsmanship and theatrical show this band was showing!

Eclipse Sol-Air

With the alternative quality of Magma, although Eclipse Sol-Air has a more solid, even a bit heavy and direct sound that adds up to the exclusive live experience. Together with the use of violin, flute and both female as male singers this was a totally amazing performance. And so a great part of the audience reacted very enthusiastic with rising applause each song. The fact that lyrics alternated between English, German, French and Croatian only enhanced this fantastic atmosphere. Great band, terrific show.

Eclipse Sol-Air

Setlist Eclipse Sol-Air
The Reactor Song
Waiting for You
Destiny of freedom
Lydian Dreams
Asylum
Watch over You

Crazy in the Cage
 

Harvest

On this sunny day I had the privilege of interviewing this Catalan band Harvest right before the festival. You can read the interview here. One of the things that the interview told me was that the band, and especially Dutch singer Monique van der Kolk, was very keen on playing this festival and this venue. Both this tension and eagerness were to be scented on stage. Clearly the band was overwhelmed by the positive feedback from the crowd that probably transcended their dreams. And that was appropriate as Harvest did a great show.

Harvest

Monique has a very clear and flexible voice that fits to every of their songs, except for Moonquake of course, when she left the stage for the instrumentalist to have the stage for themselves. As a surprise part of their show, Harvest presented two brand new songs that will be on their forthcoming album. The new album will be out at the end of the year. This is a show to remember so let’s hope Harvest will show up in Holland regularly from now on.

Harvest

Setlist Harvest
Roundabout
Unknown Skylines
The Spell
Silent Run
No Return
Intuition
It All Becomes Clearer (new)
Stars
Rush (new)
Change Life
Moonquake (instrumental)
The machine
 

Haken

Haken clearly is the headliner for a big portion of the audience present tonight. The band understood that message and rocked the house heavy and heavenly. First time at de Boerderij with the young Conner Green replacing our beloved bass-player Thom MacLean. From the fair-haired Englishman to a bearded American is a big step. But Conner did a good set, sometimes motivated by a friendly encouraging little nod of Charles Griffiths.

Haken

Haken did a really stunning set, again a tad better than their last appearance. This amazing band doesn’t seem to stop growing and to amaze us.

Haken

Conner, coming from the US with Diego coming from Mexico, turns Haken even more into a logistic nightmare. To combine all of that in order to tour, to practise and to write seems rather impossible. We will see how this works out but for now this phenomenal show will live in many hearts for quite some time.

Setlist Haken
The Path Unbeaten (Intro)
Atlas Stone
In Memoriam
Falling Back to Earth
Pareidolia
Cockroach King
Shapeshifter
Celestial Elixir

Visions
 

Clepsydra

The Swiss band Clepsydra from the past reunited last year. And tonight we would witness Clepsydra’s first appearance after 10 years of absence at the start of a new tour. People standing at the front of the audience, obviously another group that stood upfront when Haken was on stage, got really crazy. Even our very own Ko Molenaar was here, still in a wheelchair, in order to witness this.

Clepsydra

After a few songs some people started to get a bit bored by this extremely clear and strong voice of singer Aluisio Maggini. Maybe even too strong and maybe merely lacking any variation. That combined with the lack of things happening on stage made me loose my interest too. A smaller group stayed on to watch the historical resurrection of this Swiss time capsule. They enjoyed the fine guitar solos of Marco Cerulli. The remaining audience clearly compared this with prog heaven and although the quality of play was indeed high -even with the odd use of an electronic drumkit- maybe Clepsydra wasn’t up-to-date enough for this festival to keep everyone satisfied.

Clepsydra

Setlist Clepsydra
The Missing Spark
Alone
4107
Tuesday Night
Hold Me Tight
No Place for Flowers
Fearless
The Nest
The Cloister
The Nineteenth Hole
Travel Of Dream
Prisoner's Victory / The Last Grain

Moonshine On Heights
End of Tuesday
 

Conclusion

A big thanks to the organiser of this festival. He made a really fine choice of bands to build this line-up. Surprise of the day Eclipse Sol-Air was available for the ones searching something new, Harvest for the ones that wanted to hear a high quality -shall I say ‘light prog’- sublime young band. Haken for the ones that like it more metal and Clepsydra for the ones that long for the best of the progressive past. Let’s hope 2015 will give us a Progdreams IV.

 


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