13 April 2005, Theater In De Muze, Noordwijk
21 May 2005, Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden
25 May 2005, Schouwburg, Gouda
27 May 2005, Theater Castellum, Alphen aan den Rijn
Nostradamus - The Fate Of Man
Dutch Tour Overview
After the rather successful reunion-CD Close To The Fire (2000), Ton Scherpenzeel and Pim Koopman decided that the Kayak project should continue. In good Kayak tradition, band members came and went, and in 2001 Night Vision was released. This album was not as good and not as successful as its predecessor, leading to a dilemma: continuing in the same vein (and playing for 100 people in smoke filled youth centres), or taking a new direction. In 2003 their choice was clear: Merlin: Bard Of The Unseen was the first step into a rock opera / musical direction. Both the album and the concerts (in comfortable theatres) were received with enthusiasm. Nowadays, the name Kayak is a vehicle for the ideas of Koopman, Scherpenzeel, and his wife Irene Linders. These ideas can go into any direction and the performers can be chosen, depending on what is necessary for the project. Nostradamus - The Fate Of Man is a result of that new approach. The project is more or less inspired by a book, questioning the authenticity of Nostradamus' predictions. His Centuries may in fact originally have been a cryptic treasure map, conceived 200 years earlier by a monk. Nostradamus supposedly found / stole it, and published the complicated verses as 'predictions' under his own name. The album can certainly be filed under 'progressive rock', but it also features musical, classical stuff, folk tunes, spoken word, etc. In fact, the prehistoric term 'rock opera' is quite suitable for this project.
The people playing on the album are more or less the same as on Merlin. Only bass player Bert Veldkamp has left; on the CD, Ton Scherpenzeel plays bass. The main differences can be found in the vocals: Bert Heerink is still there, and plays the main part of doctor and seer Nostradamus. Singer / guitarist Rob Vunderink plays various small roles that can be described as 'The Opponents'. Cindy Oudshoorn is Nostradamus' second wife. Monique van der Ster was recruited in 2003, more or less to replace Cindy (which in the end didn't prove necessary). She now is Catherine de Medici, Queen of France. Syb van der Ploeg was partly responsible for the Kayak reunion in 1999. For the new album he was invited to sing the part of J.C. Scaliger, friend (and later enemy) of Nostradamus. And the big surprise is the return of Edward Reekers, Kayak singer from 1978 until 1981. His role is that of The Monk, telling the story looking down from his place in heaven. For the live performance, even more people were added: bass player Jan van Olffen, and singers / dancers Marjolein Teepen, Marc Dollevoet and Marloes van Woggelum. All in all, 13 people on stage, including 9 singers!
In Noordwijk, the very first try-out was played before the album was released. As a result, I was confronted with 2 hours of all-new music, and not the easiest music to digest! You can imagine that after the last notes I was left a little numb, not really knowing what to think of it. The first part seemed a bit 'too much' for me. So many stories had to be told by the singers, and therefore the band was very much in the background and didn't have much chance to excel. The second part seemed more accessible, with more room for instrumental pieces and solos. The performance itself was OK. Not many mistakes for a first try-out, and especially the singers were already in good form. At this gig, the costumes, lights, and props were not all finished yet.
Six weeks later, I had witnessed a completely different show in three variations. in Leiden, the theatre was too small for all the gear. Gouda was perfect: sold out for months already (800 people), and a perfect performance. Alphen was yet another story: a brand new theatre (again sold out), with some things not quite arranged yet. That resulted in a few minor problems, especially with the lights.
What Kayak presented was a solid rock show. Difficult to compare to anything, but memories of Jesus Christ Superstar came to mind for some reason. Kayak is not backed by a big production company, and has to work with a limited budget. This demands a lot from the singers, who must work hard to play and sing all the different parts (and background vocals) and change their costumes in time. The setting and lighting is rather sober, and sometimes a bit too dark in my opinion, but the show has grown massively since Noordwijk. Video projections explain the story (in Dutch), which is a big help. And even more than in Merlin, the dance sequences (choreography by Marjolein Teepen) are an integral and useful part of the story.
It is impossible to name the real highlights, as almost every song is great. All singers performed perfectly, including Syb van der Ploeg. I was never a big fan of his, and I also think that on the CD he is the least convincing. On stage however, he is much more dynamic. Bert Heerink does a good job as well, coping easily with ballads and more up-tempo songs. Cindy Oudshoorn has a beautiful voice, and Monique van der Ster received the most applause for her renditions of Pagan's Paradise and The Flying Squadron. Marjolein Teepen is a fabulous dancer, and she really adds something extra to the instrumental pieces. Marc and Marloes don't really have a part for themselves, but their contribution is very valuable for the presentation as a whole. But as far as I'm concert the 'best performance' award goes to Edward Reekers. As the storyteller, his role as a singer is a rather small one. But in Act Of Despair he is responsible for good old shivers down the spine. This ballad may not even be the best song on the CD, but the way he brings it is nothing less than perfect. For this song only, the show is worth every Euro! Another high spot was the instrumental The Centuries with good dancing and perfect accompanying video projections.
But in fact, all performers deserve credit. Pim Koopman, locked in a glass cage to limit the noise, played solid as ever. Joost Vergoossen and Rob Vunderink were responsible for some tasteful guitar, and Jan van Olffen played his bass (also fretless) with great skill. And it's hardly a surprise that Ton Scherpenzeel - even though less prominent than before - is a master at the ivories. Dancers and singers al worked their arses off to get the maximum result. And that's exactly what they achieved: the audience - Kayakfans and 'neutral' spectators alike - loved it and rewarded the band with long and loud applause.
With Nostradamus, Kayak has taken a big risk. A rock opera is hardly fashionable nowadays, and no prophet dared predict the success or failure of this show. But as it appears now, the whole thing seems to work. I don't know about album sales, but concert attendances are very good, and reactions are almost unanimously very positive, with many people visiting the shows several times. Kayak has pleasantly surprised us with this original mix of styles, without losing the band's identity of melodic, powerful prog-pop-rock (?). Still on tour throughout Holland in September and October!
(lead singers' names in brackets)
The Secret Study (Reekers)
A Strange And Cryptic Tale (all)
Friend Of The Stars 1 (all)
Celestial Science (Heerink)
Dance Of Death 1 (Instr.)
Fresh Air, Running Water (Heerink)
The Monk's Comment 1 (Reekers)
Seekers Of Truth 1 (Heerink, v/d Ploeg)
Dance Of Death 2 (Instr.)
Save My Wife (Heerink)
The Monk's Comment 2 (Reekers)
Pagan's Paradise (v/d Ster)
The Inquisition (Vunderink)
The Wandering Years (Heerink)
The Monk's Comment 3 (Reekers)
If History Was Mine (v/d Ster, Reekers, Heerink)
Friend Of The Stars 2 (all)
A man With Remarkable Talents (Vunderink, v/d Ster, Oudshoorn)
Settle Down (Heerink, Oudshoorn)
The Monk's Comment 4 (Reekers)
The Flying Squadron (v/d Ster)
Dance Of Mirrors (Instr.)
A Royal Invitation (Heerink, Oudshoorn)
A Cruel Death - The Monk's Comment 5 (Reekers)
Tell me All (Heerink, v/d Ster)
The Tournament (Instr.)
The Golden Cage (v/d Ster)
Seekers Of Truth 2 (v/d Ploeg)
Living In Two Realities (Heerink)
Act Of Despair (Reekers)
The Secret Study 2 (Reekers, Heerink)
The Centuries (Instr.)
You Won't Find Me Alive (Heerink, Oudshoorn)
Friend Of The Stars 3 (Reekers)
Epilogue - The Fate Of Man (all)
Nostradamus Autumn tour:
12 sep. 20:15 Eindhoven Stadsschouwburg
22 sep. 20:15 Hoogeveen Theater De Tamboer
24 sep. 20:15 Capelle a/d IJssel Isala Theater
1 okt. 20:00 Winterswijk Schouwburg De Storm
5 okt. 20:00 Amsterdam Nieuwe de la Mar Theater
6 okt. 20:15 Groningen De Oosterpoort
11 okt. 20:15 Amstelveen Schouwburg Amstelveen
14 okt. 20:15 Naaldwijk De Naald
15 okt. 20:15 Drunen De Voorste Venne
19 okt. 20:15 Franeker De Koornbeurs
22 okt. 20:15 Purmerend Theater De Purmaryn
27 okt. 20:00 Doetinchem Schouwburg Amphion