December 10th 2005
De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
I'd seen Kino a few times already, but not as headliners, so I was very curious what they would come up with, considering the fact that they have only one album released. I hoped that they'd play some Marillion, It Bites and Arena-stuff for this occasion to make a full set.
Personally, I think Kino is one of the most underrated bands of this moment. Their style is very contemporary and original. You wish they'd be signed by a major label, because their music is a very interesting cross-over between prog, pop and modern British-rock as played by e.g. Muse and Coldplay.
Regrettably only about 200 people turned up. Enough to make the hall not look 'empty', but you would hope that both Trewavas and Mitchell would be able to draw a bigger crowd from their respective fan-bases. Shame on everyone who wasn't there.
In Zoetermeer Kino played most of their debut-album. Only Room for Two wasn't present in the set, because "we were stupid enough to record it way too high for my voice", John Mitchell admitted afterwards. Instead, the band planned a new Kino-song, called Won't Fall Down, but Pete Trewavas asked the boys to drop it since he didn't feel well enough to sing it.
The sound was good, although a bit loud. Especially the drums were very up front in the mix. Since Chris Maitland is absent, due to a regular job on West End in London (where he plays musicals like We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia), It Bites-drummer Bob Dalton took his place behind the kit. It is expected that he will be present on Kino's second album as well.
Bob is a real tight rocker and a driving force behind the band, but I have to be honest, on some songs I missed a couple of subtle breaks and contrasts that are present on the album. Especially Losers Day Parade missed a bit of different colours in some sections. Bob indeed is a very different drummer (no double bass, for example) than the technically gifted Maitland and it depends on your taste which one you prefer. To make a comparison: it's like White replacing Bruford in Yes: less jazz, more rock.
From the drummer then to the other It Bites-fellow: John Beck. I think John is a true genius in the scene and it's great that he's active again after a few years of absence. John is not a typical Wakeman-esque keyboard virtuoso, but he's one that adds flavors to a melody in a very refined and distinguishable way: a drop of 'widdly' here, a touch of 'pweep' there, a bit of piano at the beginning and a bit of Hammond in the middle. Subtle, but very essential to what Kino is. Thanks to the soundman, he wasn't too low in the mix, so I could fully enjoy this all.
Pete Trewavas seemed to enjoy himself very well, despite his fatigue. His rousing bass is quite different from his work with Marillion. Pete has a much more prominent place in this band. He's co-writer to most of the tracks and handles a lot of harmony-vocals and even some lead here and there (as said, regrettably not this evening). I always wonder how someone who plays for a 2000 people can enjoy playing for a 200 as well, but he can. Hats off to that attitude, which -nowadays- is just as important as being a fine musician. Which he is, I hasten to add.
John Mitchell really is the pivot of this project. Ever since the first time I met him, about 8 years ago, this man really has grown! He is a great guitarplayer and intelligent composer. He's able to write and play in some very different styles, varying from his smooth Floydian solos in Arena to rough hard edged riffs in his other band The Urbane. In Kino he combines both aspects, which makes his contribution to the band most versatile.
Back to the gig itself then: People was the tough, UK-like opener, immediately followed by Letting Go. Time for a little breath was given by the slower All You See and Holding On, which featured Pete Trewavas on acoustic guitar. To me, one of the highlights of both the album and the evening. It builds to a great climax.
The up-tempo Leave a Light On even made some people jump and clap along. Next was Perfect Tense, which is -according to John Mitchell- about religious paranoia. A couple of other-band-songs (I wouldn't use the word covers here) were played as well.
Regrettably no Arena stuff, although I'm convinced John Mitchell could do it. He definitely chooses to keep things apart, which may be understandable, but I think many fans would love to hear him do a different version of one of his contributions to that band. In stead we were treated with "12", off the second The Urbane album, which was presented in a nice version.
It Bites were presented by two tracks: Plastic Dreamer and Kiss Like Judas, both off the classic Once Around the World album. Bob Dalton joined on vocals here as well. It was great to here these songs live, since I'd never seen It Bites play.
Marillion was paid attention to with Afraid of Sunlight. The track was a bit harder edged than the original, but I really liked it. Mitchell seems to be able to sing anything! The audience sang along with enthusiasm, just as they did with Swimming in Women. This Kino-track, sung by John Beck, is one of my favorites off the album, and it was obvious I'm not the only one. It's a great catchy song.
The encores were well chosen: the beautiful and fragile Picture was followed by the epic of the album: Losers Day Parade. Especially the finale of that track send shivers in different directions!
Final track of the evening was Marillion's Sugar Mice. It brought tears to my eyes and I definitely noticed it moved many others as well. This can only mean one thing: the already beautiful song was fully done justice by this performance.
All in all: I could've enjoyed Kino for at least half an hour extra, but they simply ran out of material. The special CD, called Cutting Room Floor, on sale at the merch, however shows this band is capable of much more, ranging from Beatles-que songs to Yes-sy epics. I'm looking forward to the second album and a new tour. If you have the chance to catch them live somewhere, don't miss it!
Full tour schedule:
Saturday 10.12.05 - De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
Sunday 11.12.05 - Spirit of 66, Verviers, Belgium
Monday 12.12.05 - Zentrum Altenberg, Oberhausen, Germany
Tuesday 13.12.05 - Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg, Germany
Wednesday 14.12.05 - Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland
Thursday 15.12.05 - Lucky & Co, Rijssen, Netherlands
Friday 16.12.05 - Borderline, London, UK
Saturday 17.12.05 - John Dee, Oslo, Norway
All You See
Leave the Light On
Swimming in Women
Afraid of Sunlight
Kiss Like Judas
Losers Day Parade