Is the interest for prog dying out in the Netherlands? Judging from the very limited amount of people who attended this triple concert one might come to such a conclusion.
Not even 100 people found their way to the Boerderij in Zoetermeer, well known for their excellent programming of almost all international prog acts. Deducting all the family members and friends of the three bands, the several DPRP prize winners and the journalists of several prog mags (including myself) the number of paying visitors came down pretty low. In this way it might become very difficult for those few venues that do program prog acts to continue doing so! And that's really a shame and incomprehensible considering the fact that also these less known or new groups provide the same musical quality and entertainment value as the few prog bands that do sell out a hall of this size (Fish, Arena, Flower kings etc.). And where do you still get three bands offered for the prize of one?
So what did all you people who choose to be elsewhere miss on this great evening? Because of the low attendance small tables and chairs were placed in front of the stage and with the candlelights on them it looked more like a nightclub than a concert hall. Around 20:15 Dutch band Kramer kicked off the triple concert. Due to circumstances beyond my control I unfortunately missed most of Kramer's concert. Kramer is the follow-up of the band Lorian that independently released a mini CD called Life Cycle in 2003 with part of a live concert on MPEG video and 3 live audio tracks. Life Cycle was actually a project intended to become a complete CD, but Lorian never came to that and now Kramer is already trying for some time to get this project finished.
The stage set-up of Kramer was a bit different as Marc Besselink on keys and vocals sat in the middle and front of the stage surrounded by the three other band members. Kramer played several tracks from this project, but I only heard their closing song The Final Chord in full. Hearing this song made me very much regret not hearing the full concert since it sounded great! The vocals were very passionate, but also a bit overdone, too loud and screamy. But the overall sound was great; it's a very good composition that was brought to the stage in an excellent way. And the song ended with a great keys and guitar solo, an terrific climax! As a sort of compensation for not being able to give a full concert review I promised Kramer to review their just released mini CD, so you can expect that soon on this site.
After a quick stage change Caamora took the stage; Clive Nolan and Agneiszka Swita are doing a few gigs here and there to already promote their She Project that must see the day of light in one year. Although the final product will be an epic musical journey with loads of other people involved at this moment it's just Clive and Agneiszka to perform the already written songs. Clive said during the concert that he and Agneiszka were sceptical before about this gig, maybe because it's not so easy to bring an epic piece to the stage with only 2 persons and a keyboard. But these worries proved to be unnecessary since Agneiszka and Clive managed to put down a quite attractive and entertaining show all by themselves. That was mostly caused by Agneiszka's expressive performance and her powerful and varied voice.
With just two voices and a keyboard it was practically an acoustic show leaning mostly on Agneiszka. Clive is not the most gifted singer, so on most songs he just sang along with Agneiszka and their singing harmony works out great; only on 1 song Clive sang solo. The interaction between Agneiszka and Clive is excellent and to be honest the chemistry between the both came over so strongly that not only myself came to think there's more going on between the two, not in the least place because of the several sincere hugs and mutual looks. Despite the limited means the two gave a very entertaining show even though there were some minor errors; Clive gave a short explanation about all songs from the forthcoming album and also did announce most other songs. Agneiszka's performance was not only a delight for the ears, but also for the eyes. With her looks she is a pleasure to look at, but more important is the way she performs; she seems to totally go up in the music and gives a very passionate and impressive performance. Clive clearly mainly provides the support with the piano-tuned keyboard and the second voice; only on sparse occasions the keys deliver a more fuller synths sound as we know better from Clive. They played several Arena songs, some songs from their just released E.P. (Half Moon Street, Sacrifice and Closer) and as the last encore they played Jeff Buckley's song Hallelujah, a song very apt for their kind of show and which they sang quite well as a duet. It was a good show, certainly considering it just featured two voices and some keys, but it should not have lasted much longer without getting boring.
Another quick stage change later Galahad took the stage and directly bombarded the crowd with much more power. Before I go on with my report I have to admit that I was not familiar with this British band before this concert, so all I heard was new to me. The opening song I Could Be God comes from their new, soon to be released, album Empires Never Last, a song for which singer Stuart Nicholson had put on a special pastor-like black dress with a big red crucifix on his back. This first song directly impressed me very much as it was very bombastic, well performed and almost theatrical.
Galahad played some more songs from their new album (that was already for sale in a special pre-sale version) like for instance the title track, another very powerful song with a spectacular bass intro. Although he looked a bit like Phil Collins, not in the least place because of his balding head and expressive facial expressions during his singing, singer Stuart's performance did not have many references to that of the former Genesis vocalist. Especially the very expressive and active way of delivering his vocals fitted the music very well and did make an impact with the audience. Stuart's voice sometimes came over a bit too hard and rough and lacked some melody or was not even totally pure on occasions and although he doesn't look like it he handled the softer bits better. But there were enough long instrumental bits to let that aspect not ruin the enjoyment of this concert; during those moments Stuart franticly shaked the tambourine.
The total sound of the band was pretty impressive, full and well mixed. The vocals, guitars and keyboards were well balanced and backed by the bass and drums provided a firm sound in the quite empty hall. The bass maybe came a bit short in the overall sound, but the keyboard was clearly on the foreground; a setting I personally very much prefer. Galahad frequently worked with sound samples, either some spoken words (Martin Luther King) or other sound effects like a girl's choir and these fitted well into the show. Just as Clive Nolan before Stuart expressed Galahad's advance doubts about this gig, but by then they were so much into it that all doubts had evaporated. It was clear to see that the whole band enjoyed playing and that certainly contributed to the quality offered and the very positive reception from the small crowd. Guitar player Roy Keyworth really went up in his playing and could also have won a prize for making weird faces. The last song titled This Life Could Be My Last started with a mellow piano intro and stayed into the more mellow atmosphere, lacking even a true prog sauce making it almost just a pop-song. A strange ending for this further excellent performance, but maybe it was an unscheduled extra bone thanking the small but loyal and enthusiastic crowd.
All in all I had a great evening, saw (most of) three excellent performing acts and really have to compliment the organisation at De Boerderij for keeping a tight schedule this time, not letting the concerts run late as has happened in the past when the last act came to finish at around 2 A.M. I'm sorry I can't give you the setlists as I missed the first gig, forget to note them at the second and didn't know any of the songs of the third!. But to all who weren't there: be sure you made a bad decision, so make sure next time you won't miss these great triple pack gigs!