Sunday, 24th Januari 2016
't Blok, Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel, the Netherlands
It was a January afternoon in the nice and cosy 't Blok, located near the town of Nieuwerkerk aan de IJssel,
not too far from Rotterdam. It was on this Sunday, the 24th, that Sebas Honing presented material
from his new album The Big Shift backed by a fine band. Even though the location might seem a little off the map
for those Dutchies living in either end of the country, and for everyone else, for that matter,
it must be said that the ProgFrog foundation, based in that same town,
organises a prog concert every month on one of the Sunday afternoons.
Getting in before Sebas got onto the stage, Golden Caves, the support act was still playing.
And even though there must have been but only a quarter of an hour left,
the young band made an impression; not only did Romy Ouwerkerk really shine on the vocals,
the music of the band, mixing poppier sounds with, sometimes somewhat quirky,
prog influences was played dextrously by the whole of the band. A great round of applause followed.
It is not strange that the ep by the band gets rave reviews internationally. Most certainly a band to bear in mind.
Yet they were only there to warm up the crowd for the main attraction, Sebas Honing live on stage!
The band consisted of Sebas on vocals and guitar, his wife Petra on vocals, Stefan Maas on drums,
Jim Meyer on guitar, Joost Doesburg on bass and Koen Stam on keyboards.
Some of these having played with Sebas before, all of them great musicians in their own right.
Sebas took the time to say that this was a special moment as it had been a long time
coming hearing his own music on stage and that the band and he himself felt excitement
as to now actually going for it.
Surely, there might have been a slight sense of uncertainty attached to the first couple of songs,
but, if anything, it did foremost show that the band were really set to make the most of it.
The band soon enough found their feet, as clearly was shown by Petra's flair and shouts in between songs.
The first three songs being identical to the new album, they did show that Sebas did indeed pull off a Big Shift.
Where both his 2014 albums, Songs of Seas and Oceans and From Middle to East,
both reviewed favourably in issue 2015-18, were more about having the focus on his guitar playing in different guises,
now the songs and singing seemed to have become more in the focus of the young composer.
Melodic heavy rock, sometimes reminding of Trevor Rabin's Can't Look Away while,
in effect sounding far more heavy, was brought to the now by the rocking Dutchman and his bandmates.
Yes, Sebas knows all them fancy chords, his mind is not strictly rhythm,
sometimes he most certainly makes his guitar cry and sing.
Even though I thought the songs might have been heavier than I reckoned the two albums to be,
there is always something about a live setting that gets your adrenaline going and which contributes to the atmosphere.
For sure, if you're not into guitar sounds, then Sebas might not be for you, yet if you are into rock,
into tasteful compositions and great soloing, then the new songs featured in this concert might have been quite right for you.
Of course, for those in the audience who knew Sebas from the earlier recordings,
towards the end of the show there were some oldies but goldies to be enjoyed.
To see Sebas and the band play live, to witness the playfulness of the band members was a joy.
And then, it was special that both Petra and Sebas performed together.
Not only did they become parents last year, Petra added her warm vocal delivery to the show
and radiated a sense of pride for the band and her husband which fit right into the atmosphere of the afternoon.
There was nothing arrogant about it, it came across as a genuine "We're pulling this off together"
feel and, if I'm correct, that feeling was reflected by the response of the audience.
As for that matter, it was nice to notice that Sebas's confidence grew during the concert and that
he seemed more and more relaxed being at the centre of attention and singing as well.
So, yes, there was every bit the right to be proud of this performance.
A first off, a showcase of the very interesting new material, a great live band and a fine feeling
of togetherness was there at 't Blok in Nieuwerkerk aan de IJssel.
Thanks to both ProgFrog and Sebas Honing and band the crowd enjoyed a great afternoon.
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