A.C.T., December 7th 2002
Het Kasteel, Alphen aan den Rijn, The Netherlands

By Richard Winkel


Those musical mood swings

When I arrived at the venue, the support act, Salmon, was already playing. Although I am not familiar with their music, I must say that it sounded very professional; definitely worth to get a copy of their debut CD Decade Reference Iíd say. Unfortunately the next song they were playing was already the last song. Next time Iíll be on time guys.

Peter Asp After a break of 30 minutes the guys from A.C.T. entered the stage, for what was going to be their first full-length show in The Netherlands. This, plus bad promotion by the venue for the gig, probably was the reason why only some hundred people made the trip to Het Kasteel in Alphen. However, this turned out to be a little advantage for lead singer Herman Saming, cause now he was able to shake hands with practically all fans that showed up!

Since their CDís are frequently in my car CD player I had high expectations of these lads from Sweden. I think it was just over a year ago that I first discovered their music (yes, via the Internet), and immediately became obsessed by it. For those who have not had the pleasure to listen to them: their music is perhaps best described as a crossover between the Beatles, Queen and the (for me legendary) Jellyfish. Based on the wonderful chords of keyboardist Jerry Sahlin, and the heavy, yet elegant guitar playing by Ola Anderson, they make very melodic "progressive pop", with loads of "twists", breaks, solos and those "musical mood swings" we progressive rock lovers are always so fond of! ;-)

Jerry Sahlin Already during the first couple of songs it immediately became clear that they these guys enjoy playing live on stage. Although the place wasnít even half full, they performed as if they were playing for a sold-out soccer stadium. The public returned this enthusiasm by making noise of a soccer stadium!

Unfortunately, during the sound check they had anticipated for some more crowd, resulting in the fact that the sound was just a little too loud - I believe I have seen all band members walk up to their sound engineer during play with some instructions. I guess this was the only drawback of the concert.

Most songs that were played were from their first two albums, Todayís Report and Imaginary Friends. Most of these songs are, letís say, somewhat "complex" at times, but they way they played it made it all look so simple and easy! No matter when itís the jazz-rock in Cat Eyes, the close harmony vocals of Ola, Jerry and Herman in Waltz with Mother Nature, or the outstanding solos in many of the other songs, it all sounded very solid and professional. And during all this Herman still saw the possibility to practice his karate-like dance moves! ;-) These guys are Musicians with a capital M! (And probably Karatekas with a capital K!;).

Herman Saming & Ola Anderson Apart from songs from the first two albums we were treated with some songs from the forthcoming Last Epic album (European release scheduled for mid February). These songs impressed me most. It appears A.C.T. has evolved beyond the Imaginary Friends; their new songs sounded very complex and yet very melodic so that when you hear for the first time (as I did during the gig) you immediately get the feeling "wow!". I canít describe how much I look forward to the new CD!

The band played some one and a half hour until they finished off with The Wandering. However, they never got the chance to leave the stage because even before the last notes were played the crowd cheered for more; so why bother leaving if you have to come back anyway?! As an encore A.C.T. played the entire Personalities song from the first album. A great way to end this great show!

For those who missed this gig thereís good news: A.C.T. returns to the Netherlands already in February when they play together with SAGA on their European tour. I understand they will be playing some 50 minutes to warm up the crowd for Saga. Thatís quite some support A.C.T. Iíd say! ;)

Setlist:

Welcome
Cat Eyes
Imaginary Friends
Abandoned world
The Observer
Mr. Unfaithful
Wailings from a Building
Today's Report
The Effect
Waltz with Mother Nature
Biggest Mistake
Manipulator
Dance of Mr. Gumble
Take it Easy
Supposed Tour
The Wandering

Personalities

A.C.T.

 

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