ProgPower Europe

Symmetry, Chrome Shift, Novembre, Green Carnation, Nightingale, VandenPlas, Xystus, Andromeda, Pagans Mind, Everon, Elegy, Evergrey

October 4th & 5th, 2003
Sjiwa, Baarlo, The Netherlands

By Dries Dokter


Also check the review by Andy Read

This is my first concert review ever so please bear that in mind while reading this. I found it necessary to say this because this review will not contain set lists, I did not take notes and furthermore I started writing on Tuesday doing it all by heart. This can also be an advantage: the things I am writing down are the impressions that I have stuck in my head.

First I have some groveling to do: I live quite near to Baarlo and have been planning to visit Progpower for a number of years, but never did. Actually this is the first time that I went. Now that I know what I have been missing out on all the previous years I am ashamed that I did not go earlier. Being this interested in progmetal and not going to progpower: stupid, stupid, stupid. The other thing I must correct: Pagan's Mind is an absolute marvelous band! Based based on the snippets of music on the Pagans Mind web site I had decided their music was of no interest to me. I was very wrong, they are really good.Of course Andy (Read) speaking highly of them should also have been a clue.

Now that this has been set right I can describe my 2 days of concerts. One thing should be said of all performances: the sound was really bad. It was all too loud. In fact it was so loud that all nuances in music (like someone singing) were very hard to detect amongst the blur of noise. I can understand that a ProgMetal concert is not like having tea with your granny but this was just too loud. Maybe people are used to it but I find it very silly that you visit a concert wearing ear protection. Like: "I am here to listen music, but have to block out most of it". At one moment during the concert I was thinking to myself if progpower would be worth loosing (a part) of my hearing. On saturday the only band for which the sound was better balanced was Vanden Plas. But that can also be accounted to the fact that we experienced that performance standing at the bar in stead of up front at the stage (for no apparent reason other then that we were thirsty). Sunday started of much better but during the day the volume slides automagically moved up.

The first band on stage was Symmetry a dutch band that certainly has a future in ProgMetal. They were telling about their upcoming album for which they are searching a record company. This album had not yet been mastered but a promo containing 3 unmastered tracks was available. This promo certainly sounds promising to me. Chrome Shift

Chromeshift was one of the bands that I was looking forward to see. Although, again, I had not yet heard their complete album but what I had heard sounded really good. Their performance at ProgPower was a big disappointment to me. All keyboards that I liked from the studio album got completely lost in the sound quality and with that all unique points of ChromeShift were gone also. So I did not really like it. Strange thing is the next day in between two performances music from cd was played (at a normal level) and one of the Chrome Shift songs immediately caught my attention. So I think the disappointment is to blame on the sound quality, not the band themselves.

Novembre also was a new experience to me and a pleasant one I might add. Their singer is a very large fellow. He kept his microphone a bit to low so he had to bent over a bit to be able to reach it. Because of that he appeared to be singing through his long black hair. It gave him a somewhat shy appearance. So although their music was not too bad, they did not really have a podium presence (well they were there). Judging from the reactions around me I was not the only one that thought that Novembre was the best musical performance up till then.

Green Carnation really was a pleasant surprise. Based on their performance I would call them "The proclaimers meet ProgMetal". In the near future I will have to get some albums by this band. Discoveries like this should be one of the reasons to go to a festival like ProgPower (and again: I am stupid, stupid, stupid).

Although Nightingale's performance was enjoyable there were no real surprises here. The music they make is somewhat easier to grab. It might be because of that that some people at the festival, not really into progmetal (but just there for the fun) liked this band best. As I have said an enjoyable performance but not really a surprise.

Vanden Plas performed as to be expected: these guys know their stuff and played their set like real professionals. But somehow the spark was missing. This was a really good performance of good music (of the kind that I like) but it will not end up in the list of most memorable performances of 2003. Thinking back of the Evergrey performance on Sunday puts a smile on my face. Vanden Plas just lacked audience contact and spontaneity.

The second day of the festival I was really looking forward to. I would finally see Evergrey and Andromeda live, so I really had high hopes.

Xystus

Xystus were a good indication of how the rest of the day would come to be. A promising opener for this second festival day. This young band plays a very heavy kind of progmetal. They were of course helped by the fact that the sound was much better than saturday. Xystus was good but one of the highlights of this festival was to follow soon.

After my review of II=I I was very curious to the live performance of Andromeda. In my opinion this band brought something new and unique to ProgMetal. And yes, they are able to convey this in their performance. This performance made it official: "I am an Andromeda fan". In my opinion the songs of Extension of a Wish are even better if David Fremberg sings them. This was the first performance of their new bass guitar player: Fabian Gustavsson. It looked as if he felt part of the band, it certainly sounded like that. I think I will forgive the band that they did not really want to talk to me afterwards.

And then Pagan's Mind, the band entrance was as I would expect: a long haired singer in tight pants. So I thought I would sit this one out. But next to the screaming high pitch voice, the kind that I personally dislike so much, complex music could be heard. Music that hit exactly the right spot for me, in a way that I even forgot, no not forgot, I even began to appreciate the voice of Nils Rue. Furthermore Nils was able to make contact with the audience. So I could add albums of yet another band to my wish list.

Pagans Mind

I know Everon from Paradoxes a progrock album they released in 1993. As it was the last I have heard of them I did not really understand why Everon should be at ProgPower. Everon was on just after the diner break and because the local pizzeria in Baarlo could not cope with such an unexpected large number of visitors on a sunday afternoon we missed the first part of the Everon concert. Their music was good but indeed a bit to mellow for me (and it looked like more people in the crowd saw it that way). Going from standing to sitting behind the keyboard with a guitar around your neck to me does not qualify as a podium act. But it was what Oliver Philipps did. The music was good, but it lacked the energy and enthusiasm much of the other bands had.

Pagans Mind

I will barge right in: Elegy was the low point of the festival. Their music is not the kind of music I like but because of the atmosphere that was created during the rest of the day I could have enjoyed it. Ian Parry does have a podium presence: but it is that of a large rock star. Faced with the sceptical ProgPower audience it went completely the wrong. Parry trying to be enthusiastic about himself (indeed, himself, not the music or the festival) and an audience that did not want to respond to his clapping and waving. I was glad this performance was over.

EvergreyA bit of that was of course caused by the fact that Evergrey was the band that I really came to see. Recreation Day their latest album released this year, has been (and will be ) in my cd-player a lot. At the start of there performance the band was a bit troubled by the way their monitors were adjusted. So they waved at the sound guys a lot but in the meantime they were playing like real professionals. And then all of a sudden the bass player went of stage limping leaving the rest of the band in a surprisingly relaxed mood. So Tom Englund started to tell about their concerts in Belgium (pointing out people in the audience who had been there also), and talked some more but Micheal Hakansson did not return. So they decided to play Trilogy Of The Damned part one. Amazing how they, out of the blue, decided to do this song and made it sound that good. After that Micheal returned so Evergrey could continue. But by then because of this strange start there was a real connection between audience and band. An amazing fellow he is this Tom Englund. He succeeds in making connection with the audience in a way that it almost seems personal to each separate person in the audience. Evergrey's high energy music, brought with an sympathetic enthusiasm in a "we do not take ourselves to serious kind of way" made me completely forget the sound level we had reached again at that point. If in this year's dprp poll under best concert it does not say Evergrey than the impossible has happened: I went to an even better concert. Only thing I can imagine: I went to another Evergrey concert where the sound quality isn't half bad.

All in all I had to days of fun, got to meet one of my DPRP colleagues from England, "discovered" 2 new bands and saw Evergrey live. I will not miss another progpower

AndromedaEvergrey Green Carnation

Setlists:

Chrome Shift:

Ripples In Time
Full Moon
In My Own Dreams
Kosmonauten Er Dod
Worlds
Chapter 19
Le Temp Des Assassins
Nightmachine

Nightingale: (not in order)

Into The Light
Scarred For Life
Shadowland Serenade
Steal The Moon
Shadowman
Deep Inside of Nowhere
Eternal
Black Tears

Vanden Plas:

Iodic Rain
Into The Sun
Soul Survives
We're Not God
Rainmaker
Cold Wind
Healing Tree
Free the Fire
Beyond Daylight
I Can See
Far Off Grace

Andromeda:

Reaching Deep Within
In The Deepest Of Water
II = I
Encyclopaedia
Mirages
Star Shooter Supreme
Extension Of The wish
This Fragile Surface
The Words Unspoken

Elegy:

Under My Skin
Walking With Pilgrims
In a Room
Vision Vortex
Frenzy
Principals of pain
Vivaldi (Rondat solo)
No Code No Honour
Trust
Incehouse
Master Of Deception
Metamorphosis

Evergrey:

Blackened Dawn
Blinded
Mark Of The Triangle
Speaks To The Dead
Watching the Skies
Trilogy Of the Damned (Pts I&II)
End Of Your Days
Rulers Of The Mind
The Encounter
I'm Sorry
Fragments
Nosferatu
Recreation Day
Solitude Within
The MasterPlan

All photos by Andy Read for DPRP © 2003.

 

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2003 DPRP