Arrow Rock Festival
Riverside, Porcupine Tree, Pavlov's Dog
Queensr˙che & Roger Waters
June 10th 2006
De Schans, Lichtenvoorde, The Netherlands
Day 2 of the Arrow Rock festival was to be the Prog day. Or rather, prog, progmetal and the occassional lost eighties hard rock band or sixties singer/songwriter. An excellent line-up in either case, and good enough for some 27,000 people to turn up - the largest crowd for the Arrow Festival ever.
It was also a good enough line-up to attract the largest gathering of DPRP crew in years, with no less than 5 DPRP team members, 3 ex-members and 2 regular contributors.
(from left to right: Bart, Ed, Dries, Derk, Jerry)
Riverside were only added to the line-up a couple weeks before the festival, and the afternoon programme had been shuffled around a bit, so the information that was in the programme booklet was incorrect. Therefore there were quite a few people who didn't have a clue who this band that came onstage in the tent at 2 o'clock was. The program was printed a couple of weeks earlier, so this still said "TBA" as opening act. I actually heard people saying "Wow, this is quite a good band, that TBA". Other people thought they were actually Pavlov's Dog, which were to play after Riverside on the Rock Palace stage.
Nonetheless the band left a good impression to a decently filled Rock Palace. I even heard someone say that he thought Riverside were the best band of the festival, even better than Roger Waters! (this was before Waters had played though).
Though visibly nervous at the start of the gig (this is by far the largest gig they've ever done) Riverside managed to play a very convincing set, which included pretty much all their epics, like The Same River, Out Of Myself and Second Life Syndrome, as well as the heavy Artificial Smile and ending in style with The Curtain Falls.
Frontman Mariusz Duda, on bass and vocals, has one of the most distinctive new voices in prog, alternating clear long drawn vocals with the occassional grunt. Guitarist Pjotr Grudzinski plays like Duda sings, alternating smooth Floydian guitarsolos with occassional powerful metal riffs. Although this causes the band to be often mistaken for a prog metal band, it does make them one of the more original prog bands of this current day and age. Not quite unlike Porcupine Tree.
The Same River
Reality Dream III
Second Life Syndrome
Out of Myself
Dance With The Shadow
The Curtain Falls
Speaking of which... A band which seemed the opposite of nervous was Porcupine Tree. Not sure whether it was because they were pissed off because of the fact they had been moved to the main stage and had to play in the very bright sun, or the fact that Riverside was just wrapping up their set when Porcupine Tree walked onstage, thus 'stealing' some of their audience. Whatever it was, the band came across as a bit arrogant, with Steven Wilson explaining to the audience "we only get to play an hour, so we're gonna play some songs from the Deadwing set from last year. But we will come back in the autumn and then we will have new songs in the set"
Despite all this the gig was solid and good, although they were somewhat hampered by problems with the drum mics, and bassist Colin Edwin kept fiddling with his bass, as if it wasn't tuned right. The gig lacked some of its usual atmosphere as there was no lighting or videoprojections and the band had to hide behind sunglasses because of the bright sun, but nonetheless they played a solid set which included the optimisticly titled Hatesong and Don't Hate Me, as well as the majestic Arriving Somewhere But Not Here and the single Lazarus.
Don't Hate Me featured an extended, instrumental end section, and also Hatesong was somewhat extended. This gave the gathered Floyd fans a bit extra on top of the standard greatest hits set. Another treat was the heavy instrumental B-side Mother And Child Divided, which caused a few raised eyebrows as not many people knew this song.
Setlist Porcupine Tree
Don't hate me
Mother And Child Divided
Arriving somewhere but not here
By Jerry van Kooten
When I heard Pavlov's Dog were going to play the festival, I bought the first two albums on CD. It had been many years since I heard the albums, but the CDs told me my memory was not far off. So I was expecting some pleasant, progressive pop / rock, deceivably complex at times, and of course the high and clear voice of David Surkamp, which could prove an acquired taste for several people. There are 30 years between the second album and this festival, so I knew there could be some changes in the sound, and maybe I was in for a surprise.
And what a surprise it was! Almost every aspect of their performance exceeded my expectations: the sound, the band, the singing, the songs... The first thing was the most important thing, and that was the sound. It was so heavy compared to the albums! The arrangements were never sparse on record, but live the whole sound was even fuller.
Then the singing. Although Surkamp sings (almost?) as high as he ever did, the sharp, or some would say shrieking sound is replaced by a more bluesy and rougher timbre. His current voice will appeal to a lot more people than it did before, I am sure.
The band is a powerful unit. David Surkamp plays guitar on a couple of songs (and not just rhythm guitar), he's got an excellent guitarist and drummer with him. The keyboard player had very interesting parts, and did a lot more than offering a few layers on which the others could build the rest of the songs. Then something I would love to hear more: violin! The female violin player was not only a visual attraction to the eye, her playing is an essential part of the band's sound: slightly agressive at times, in Kansas style. And there were two more Surkamps on backing vocals: David's wife and daughter.
The whole of this made a very interesting, powerful, and energetic gig, and according to the feedback from the audience, highly appreciated. I was somewhat surprised how many people appeared to know the songs, and were pleased to see the band. Considering how the band plays now, I'd be surprised if they don't get the appreciation they deserved in the 1970s. And with songs written 30 years ago, that does say a lot about the timelessness of the music. I hope we will hear more from them, hopefully some new music as well.
Setlist Pavlov's Dog
At The Soundof The Bell
She Came Shining
Early Morning On
She Breaks Like A Morning Sky
Former Kinks frontman Ray Davies was the only band in the entire weekend who had problems with the build-around of the stage and started 30 minutes later than planned. When they did start play they played a nice light-hearted set which really suited the spirit of the warm afternoon: Lazing On A Sunny Afternoon, All Day And All Of The Night and of course Lola.
As we didn't want to give up our great spots for the Roger Waters gig, we had to skip Dio and Queensr˙che and sit through the Def Leppard set. As I grew up in the eighties Def Leppard is somewhat nostalgic for me and I really enjoyed singing along to Animal and Pour Some Sugar On Me. Not prog though, but I compare the band a bit to Whitesnake the day before, and I must say that I enjoyed Def Leppard better.
As with most of the bands that played the weekend, the characteristic voice of singer Joe Elliot had lost quite a bit of its power, but that didn't deter the band from having fun onstage. It is also impressive to see drummer Rick Allen in action, as most people will know he lost an arm in an accident in the eighties, and learned to play the drums one-armed.
Joe Elliott asked the audience for an extra round of applause for him, reminding how good the Dutch audiences have always been to them, especially when they also recorded an album in Holland shortly after Allen's accident. He apologised for having waited so long (14 years) to play another gig in The Netherlands.
So then, Queensr˙che made a stopover on the Arrow Rock Festival as part of
their Operation:Mindcrime II tour. Now, I consider the original
Operation:Mindcrime (O:M) album to be one of the best by any band ever, but
apart from the Empire album and a few other songs, most of their other work
is unknown to me. That includes the band's latest, the follow-up to the
aforementioned O:M. It was my good fortune then, that the band plays hefty
chunks of the original O:M on this tour, and in fact did so in the half
hour I was able to see them (before increasing crowd congestion forced me
to go secure a place for Roger Waters' concert).
By Derk van Mourik
So, what I heard, I liked. There was a female vocalist to do the parts of
Mary, the prostitute turned nun. There were theatrics, which I thought were
actually quite well done. Geoff Tate is an imposing front man, even viewed
from as far back from the stage as I was standing. The "new" guitar player
is OK, but I must say I miss De Garmo. They played Suite Sister Mary, The
Needle Lies, Revolution Calling, among others. The sound strangely wasn't
as good as on the outdoor stage. That said, I'm glad I decided to catch a
bit of Queensr˙che's concert. Still haven't heard anything from O:M 2, but
I'm not sure I want to. Tolkien never wrote Lord of the Rings 2 either.
Suite Sister Mary
The Needle Lies
Breaking the Silence
I Don't Believe in Love
One Foot in Hell
Signs Say Go
Eyes of A Stranger
Jet City Woman
The Roger Waters gig was postponed for 15 minutes to allow the people who'd gone to watch Queensr˙che to get to the main stage in time. By then some 27000 people were in the festival area and the area in front of the stage was absolutely packed. At half past nine sharp Waters walked onstage to count down with his trademark eins, zwei, drei, HAMMER! to kick in powerfully with -what else?- In The Flesh. Even though it was not fully dark yet the lightshow was overwhelming. There were Pyrotechnics on and above stage, blasting sparks around, and a circle of lights was shining through the projection screen, imitating the Pink Floyd trademark round screen. Next came another track from The Wall, Mother, which he could have skipped for all I care. Fortunately things got a lot better with his 'trip to a very distant past' Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun.
When the familiar tones of Shine On You Crazy Diamond came next I feared that we were going to get a selection of the 2002 In The Flesh set, but were we were assured this wasn't the case when Crazy Diamond was followed by a song that wasn't played during the In The Flesh tour: Have A Cigar.
As on the album Have A Cigar flowed into the radio intro of Wish You Were Here. Though perhaps a tad early in the set it was brilliant to hear 27000 voices singing along to this song. Wish You Were Here was played closer to the original than during the In The Flesh Tour, but it featured an extra chorus at the end of the track.
The acoustic guitar stayed strapped on for the next part of the set: two songs from The Final Cut. Waters sat down on a bar stool and started Southampton Dock. A bit of an odd choice, especially for a festival gig, but I was happy enough hearing songs from The Final Cut. The album has really grown on me since I rediscovered it a few months back. A pity he didn't do The Gunners Dream as well, like a few nights earlier in Lisbon. However, we did get a splendid rendition of The Fletcher Memorial Home, of which the guitarsolo was perfectly nailed by Snowy White. The projections during this song showed a movie which portrayed the Memorial Home, and a room with framed photos on the wall depicting its in habitants. Naturally it contained the world-leaders of the early eighties about which the song was written, but it also contained the current leaders of several nations, brilliantly capturing Bin Laden, Hussein and Bush in one shot.
Following The Fletcher Memorial Home was a brilliant Perfect Sense. The first of only two solo songs in the set. An inflatable astronaut floated over the audience in front of the stage during the 2001 intro, somewhat reminding of the days of The Wall when giant inflatable puppets portrayed the lyrics high above the stage. At this point II somewhat expected that famous teacher to make an appearance as well later on, but as it turned out this was to be the only stage prop used for the gig.
Part 2 was accompanied by a movie which represented the sports broadcast in the song, where a submarine attack on an oil rig is portrayed like a sports event. It was brilliantly done, with Waters orchestrating the audience singing "our global anthem"
Next came the highlight of the show, Leaving Beirut. I had already read that Waters was planning on playing his latest studio track live, but I was worried how 12 minuted of a story recital could work live. It was executed perfectly, instead of reading out the story, like on the studio version, it was instrumental with the story playing out like a cartoon on the video screens.
Waters did sing the choruses of the song, while the lyrics were protrayed as text ballons above his head. Naturally his verbal attacks on Bush and Blair received a huge applause.
The cartoon was superb. It was brilliant, funny and emotional at the same time. Superbly done.
The next song was introduced by Waters with a simple "Baahhh". The sound effects of bleeting sheep took over, and the effect of the 360 degrees surround sound became clear immediately, as you could hear the sheep all around you. Never thought to hear surround sound at an open air gig!
Sheep was another highlight of the set. Not only is this my favourite song off Animals, but it was played brilliantly, with some 15 flamethrowers at the front of the stage spewing fire for great added effect.
After Sheep Waters announced a short break, and promised to come back quickly for "that!", pointing at the perfect round full moon which had risen at the other end of the festival grounds. A better special effect Waters could not have hoped for!
The main attraction of the Waters' festival tour is the integral performance of Dark Side Of The Moon. I did have some reservations towards *another* integral performance of DSOTM, as I've heard this album performed countless times (the last time by Dream Theater, 10 months ago) but to be honest, I had never seen a gig where one of the original members of Pink Floyd performed the album, so that made it special nonetheless.
And hey, there are worse albums to hear at a gig, right?
The show for Dark Side Of The Moon also contained lots of new footage, projected on the trademark round screen. Unlike the In The Flesh tour, where mainly slide projections were used, this gig contained lots of 'real' video footage.
Though considerable smaller scale than Pink Floyd's last rendition of the album in 1994, it was still an excellent show. The Dave Gilmour vocals were divided between Waters, guitarist Dave Kilminister (Money) and keyboardist John Carin (Us and Them)
Oddly enough, while there had been lots of political messages in the gig all night, Brain Damage did *not* feature the usual images of "lunatics on the grass".
A massive version of Eclipse brough the set to a rousing climax.
For the encores a chunk of The Wall was chosen. Starting with The Happiest Days of Our Lives and Another Brick In The Wall pt 2 Waters surprised everybody to continue with Vera and Bring The Boys Back Home before finishing with the obvious Comfortably Numb. As on previous tours the final solo was shared between the two guitarists: Dave Kilminister (very faithful to Gilmour) and Snowy White (giving his own spin).
For the climax a wheel of flamethrowers rose above the stage. A nice gimmick, but hardly impressive because of the scale (a 2-metre wheel to awe a field with 27000 people). I vote for the mirrorball next time.
The final notes left us all on a high. This was one brilliant gig. I'd seen David Gilmour a few months earlier, and while Gilmour is often called 'the sound of Pink Floyd' and Roger Waters 'the brain', I have to say that the brain sounded a lot better!
What was also great to see is how much fun Waters had on stage. Walking around, pulling faces all the time, smiling and joking with his band. Another big difference from the stoical Gilmour.
Setlist Roger Waters
In The Flesh
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Shine On You Crazy Diamond parts 1-5
Have a Cigar
Wish You Were Here
The Fletcher Memorial Home
Perfect Sense part 1&2
Speak To Me
On The Run
The Great Gig In The Sky
Us & Them
Any Colour You Like
The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
Another Brick In The Wall part 2
Bring The Boys Back Home