Lana Lane and Erik Norlander, 16-5-2001
Biebob, Vosselaar, Belgium
By Remco Schoenmakers
Wednesday 16 May, my girlfriend Samantha and I went to Vosselaar in Belgium to
see the last show of the European Tour of Lana Lane and Erik Norlander, on a kind
invitation by Hans van Vuuren from Transmission Records/Double Dutch BV.
The venue is a small, almost anonymous bar on a long street, and easy to miss in
the dark. Fortunately we were early, and with a couple of others we waited outside
before we could enter. As always, at the time the concert should officially start,
nothing happed yet. The venue can hold at maximum 250 people comfortably (I guess),
and I think about 150 were present. Lately, I have been attending more concerts in
such small venues, and I do like it a lot better than the slightly bigger onces like
Paradiso or de Boerderij (in Zoetermeer), which has a fabulous programme, but the venue
itself is a disaster for the audience, especially when crowded.
The opening of the concert showed how well the sound engineer had set up the
balance of the instruments: the sound was clear, all the instruments in balance and
the heavy intro, a combination of Rocket Scientist, Lana Lane and Erik Norlander
tracks was pounding through the hall. It sounded pretty massive and pompous, just
how I hoped it would be! Lana made her first appearance with Escher's Staircase,
from her Curious Goods album. I personally do not have a copy of that album,
so this was in fact a new track to me. It sounded very good. Lana's voice was
perfect, she knows to hit the notes so precisely and so in tune, amazing after
over three weeks of touring! Unfortunately, her microphone seemed to be dull,
I don't know, it somehow didn't sound as crystal clear as it should have been. During
the concert, I think this improved (or I just didn't notice anymore). The next
track, Though The Rain, which is on her first album Love Is An Illusion (see also my
review of the European release (finally !) of that album here on DPRP soon), sounded
really heavy, with magnificent guitar work by Peer Verschuren (Vengeance) on
guitar. This guy really rocks! Although he sometimes produces more notes than
strictly necessary, he added a good deal of power to the tracks, together with
Ed Warby (Ayreon, Gorefest) on drums. After Alexandria from her latest release
Secrets Of Astrology, the set focussed on Erik's solo efforts. It started with a
powerful rendition of Rome Is Burning, here, of course, sung by Lana in stead of
Glenn Hughes who sings this track on the album. I thought that it would be very funny
but her voice was so natural on this track that I only realised half way through
that this is normally a male-vocal track. Then it was time for some keyboard
wizardry from the maestro himself. Almost hidden behind 6 different keyboards,
among which a Hammond and, you couldn't miss it, his gigantic Moog behind him (for
some detailed info on size and weight of that beast, see the interview Sam and I
had with Lana and Erik for DPRP) Erik attacked the keys for an interesting version
of his "classic" track Neurosaur. It had an extra moody intro and was fully on
keyboards (unlike the version on Into The Sunset which has Arjan Lucassen on a
deep pounding rhythm guitar), as on Threshold. However, it sounded more like a version
in between those two. Erik was flying over the keys, attacking multiple keyboards
at once. A cool sight! After Neurosaur, he played Dreamcurrents, one of my favourite
tracks on Into The Sunset. I really like the almost impressionist chord sequence
of that track. Here, showman as he is, he added some variations to it and did some
impressive piano playing. As on the album, this track was followed by Fly with
Lana returning to the stage. Unfortunately, she couldn't do the "duet"
with herself like on the album, but still this is one of my favourite tracks of
the couple. After this climax, it was time for some rest with two songs of the
Ballad Collection (link), When Time Stood Still and Seasons End. Especially that last
track convinced me much more live than on the Ballad Collection, also due to
the very warm Moog sound (I now see the point of using the original instrument in
stead of a synthesised sound). Still I prefer Hogarths version.
After these resting points, it was time for some action again with, let me call it
the "Astrology Suite". The title track Secrets Of Astrology is a
particularly strong track. I still haven't got that album (I'm drowning in review
work and it is so hard to listen to anything else, I hardly buy any albums anymore,
I simply don't have the time) which I do regret a lot, because I love the
melodic structure of that track (I did hear it before in low quality streaming audio).
Then a surprice: Floyd's In The Flesh? banged through the hall. I already started
wondering if I had been watching a "surrogate band" all the time, but it
flowed into Rocket Scientist's Oblivion Days. Lana's voice was perfectly
suited for the track, and it kept surprising me how easily she takes over these
male-vocal tracks. This pounding track ended again with In The Flesh? and a blistering
guitar solo by Peer Verschuren (I was tempted to shout: eat your heart out Gilmore!
but resisted to do that due to the small venue ;-).
Next we got a lesson in the finer art of Chapman Stick playing by Don Schiff. Almost
the entire concert he had stood on the background playing that instrument, but during
this solo, he could show us all how much you can do with the thing. Truly amazing,
the sounds, melodies and chords you can get of it! Aided by some bass-pedals, he
could almost play an entire band by himself. An amazing sound and sight.
The so called prog-medley consisted of a couple of Rocket Scientist tracks, I believe
the "Scientist" tracks (the tracks on the albums named after a famous scientist). Something went
wrong, I believe, as they suddenly stopped and looked at each other wondering what to do next.
A minor glitch in an otherwise well performed part. A powerful version of Love Is An Illusion
followed, and then Lana started to thank everybody on the tour, and dedicated In The Court Of The
Crimson King to them, a nicely done track. I'm not too familiar with the original (I know, as a
prog journalist I should now go to the desert and slowly starve myself to death for this fact),
so I cannot compare it too closely. The encores Destination Roswell and Symphony Of Angels finished
the excellent set.
It has been a while since I saw a concert that thrilled me so. Maybe the fact that it was not too
crowded, people paid attention and you could walk to the left of the stage when Peer did a solo
and to the right when Erik was working up a sweat, helped but also the music itself is just great.
After the concert, we met a person well known for e.g. his Ayreon and, recently, Ambion projects,
Arjen Lucassen. I hadn't met him in person before and it was very nice to chat with him about his
(past and future) projects, about music and about DPRP's Roundtables (he was wondering if we actually
sat around a stereo together. Well, no, everybody does the reviews completely independently. We can't
even manage to hold more than a single face-to-face team meeting every two years!). After a while, Erik
and Lana were ready for the interview which you can find on the Specials page.
1) Intro: Dark Water/Fanfare/Garden Of The Moon/Ocean Queen
2) Escher's Staircase
3) Through The Rain
5) Rome Is Burning
9) When Time Stood Still
10) Season's End
11) Astrology Prelude
12) Secrets of Astrology/Stormbringer/Secrets Outro
13) In The Flesh?/Oblivion Days/In The Flesh?
14) Chapman Stick Solo (Don Schiff)
15) Prog Medley
16) Love Is An Illusion
17) Destination Roswell
18) In The Court Of The Crimson King
19) Encore: Symphony Of Angels