Amarok at De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands, 21 January 2023
On a cold, dark, foggy evening I was driving towards Zoetermeer for an evening with Amarok. During the break of the previous concert I attended at Poppodium Zoetermeer, recordings of an Amarok concert were shown on the screens. I really liked what I saw, and I was interested enough to defy the elements and see this progressive rock band from Poland perform. Because of the cold and the fog I arrived just in time for the start of the concert.
The turn-out was not really great but the front of the venue was nicely filled. Since Covid, each concert I attended at Poppodium Boerderij was recorded for a DVD, and this was also the case for this evening with Amarok. A 100% score and another one on my DVD wishlist! Thankfully, these days, the cameras are very small so there are no big cameras blocking the view of the audience.
The main person behind Amarok is multi-instrumentalist Michał Wojtas. Besides vocals and guitar, he plays instruments like the Indian harmonium and the Theremin. Amarok started as a progressive rock band in 2001 and recorded three albums until they stopped in 2004. After a hiatus of about thirteen years, Amarok returned with the album Hunt, featuring vocals from Mariusz Duda from Riverside and Colin Bass from Camel. Michał joked that both singers could not make it, but both songs, Idyll and Nuke, were played. Nuke was sung by bass player Kornel Popławski, and if you say "Kornel Bass" very fast no one will know the difference!
The first part of the evening started with five song from the album Hunt. I find this 2017 album a very nice one, with a variety of interesting music. After that block of songs from Hunt it was time to put the spotlights on the album The Storm which was released in 2017. Marta Wojtas explained that the album The Storm is not really an Amarok, album but music composed for a contemporary dance performance. After the instrumental songs they added two extra songs on this album with lyrics and both of them were played: The Song of All Those Distant and The Storm. Since The Storm album was made for a dance performance, we were "allowed to dance" to these songs. But hey, we are progressive rock fans! We can't dance!
After a break, the second part of the evening was completely dedicated to the album Hero. There was more power in the music than in the first part of the evening, and that was certainly a good thing for drummer Konrad Zieliński. Before the break, his heavy hitting style seemed a bit too fierce at times for the mellow music of Amarok. The music of the album Hero was a better fit for his style of playing.
With a slight alteration in the order of songs, Amarok played the album Hero back to front. They provided a very solid performance of this wonderful album.
It was a fine evening of progressive rock music from this Polish band. Amarok is not just a standard progressive rock band. What makes Amarok special is, obviously, the use of unusual instruments. Michał playing the Indian harmonium and Theremin. Bass player Kornel played a lot of bass parts on a keyboard, and he also played the trumpet. The barefooted Marta Wojtas played a variety of percussion instruments and provided background vocals. All these things combined give Amarok a very original sound.
The encore, Metanoia, is the title track from their 2004 album. Its rendition tonight was very heavy, and it sounded like all the remaining energy needed to be released in this final song. It sounded almost like a heavy rock jam session, very different from the album version
Considering how I enjoyed this evening, I am very much looking forward to the DVD.
Anonymous Distorted Soul Idyll Winding Stairs Nuke The Song Of All Those Distant The Storm
It's Not The End Surreal Hail! Hail! AI The Orb Hero The Dark Parade What You Sow