Satellite, Mangala Vallis, Magenta
Saturday 20 May 2006
Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
iO Pages' 10th Anniversary
In 1996 Freek Wolff and Rob Hanemaayer created a new magazine out of the ashes of SI Magazine (which had disappeared after SI Music went bankrupt in 1995). 10 years later iO Pages is still the major prog magazine in the Dutch language. Time for a party. For the 10th anniversary of iO Pages organised a little prog festival, with three bands from three countries, all of which were special in their own way. Satellite played Holland for the first time, Magenta only for the second, and I'm not sure about Mangala Vallis, but to my knowledge they haven't done that many gigs in the low lands either.
In any case it was a nice line-up which promised to deliver plenty of great music.
Satellite played on Dutch soil for the first time, though three quarters of
the band actually played quite a few gigs over here in their Collage days.
(by Martin Kikkert)
Both keyboard player Krzys Palczewski and Wojtek Szadkowski aged quite well
during the last ten years, but singer Robert Amirian obviously put on a lot
of weight. His gentle voice remains untouched however and nowadays he also
handles the bass quite well on stage, so no complaints there! Satellite
played a relatively short set of just under 90 minutes, well balanced
between their debut A Street Between Sunrise And Sunset and the follow up
Evening Games. The sheer overwhelming power that Collage possessed on stage
has evaporated a little in Satellite's music. Nevertheless they did get
their songs across quite well and the audience seemed to love every minute
of it. An enjoyable opener and thumbs up to the guys from IO-pages getting
Satellite over to Holland.
Before Mangala Vallis came onstage iO editor Menno von Brucken Fock came onstage to present the first "Dutch Prog Awards". The plan was to give one award to a band, and one to a person who had been very important to the Dutch prog-scene in the past year. The band award went to the band Mangrove for their excellent album Facing The Sunset, which was named best album of 2005 by iO staff. The other award went to Arie Verstegen for his exceptional work as booker, first in De Pul in Uden and now in de Boerderij in Zoetermeer.
Another bit of extra entertainment during the breaks between the acts was provided by one Arjen Lucassen who had his own stand where you could get your items signed, or simply shake hands and have a chat with the big man.
Lucassen and Mangrove were only two of the many Dutch bands and artists that were walking around at the festival, and the mingling of regular audience and musicians gave the whole day a nice 'get to know eachother' feeling.
Though I didn't know much about these Italian proggers beforehand, I was really looking forward to seeing them. And with an excellent, powerful liveshow, they certainly didn't disappoint.
Their music is very heavily Genesis inspired, however their live renditions of the songs are played so powerful that not much of the Genesis comparison stands. Frontman Bernardo Lanzetti (ex-PFM) is a great entertainer, and besides having a great voice, he also has a great sense of humour. But the most conspicuous bandmember is drummer Gigi Cavalli Cocchi who not only looks incredibly cool with sunglasses, unbuttoned shirt and grey-ish hair tightly combed back, but who also hits the drums as if his life depends on it.
Another eye-catcher of the band a device which Lanzetti uses to distort his voice during The Mask. By placing a special microphone/device onto his throat his voice sounded like some of sort of cross between a theremin and a singing saw - not at all human anymore. The device itself was disguised as a monstrous claw, which added to the whole 'Lycanthrope' act.
I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with the band's performance and I purchased their latest album Lycanthrope on the spot.
I'd seen Magenta twice before, the first time at the Progeny festival in London and a year later at the Progsfest in Chippenham. Especially that second time they blew me away with their energetic performance. This was the first time I saw them perform on Dutch soil.
For some reason the band had a hard time convincing the audience. I could not put my finger on what it was. The audience's unfamiliarity with the material perhaps (though that didn't affect the previous two bands), or the fact that it had been a long day already by the time Magenta took the stage. Whatever it was, after the excellent 20-minute opener Children Of The Sun (off their debut Revolutions) you saw more and more people getting restless. When the band launched into the second track King Of The Sky, which is probably the heaviest, most rocking track the band has recorded to date, there were quite some people leaving. Quite an odd thing really, considering the demographics of the average prog audience and the fact that Magenta's lead singer Christina Booth is not only a pleasure to listen to, but quite pleasing to the eye as well.
Fortunately there were plenty others that remained to encourage the band to play a rousing set with two encores. Highlight for me was the aforementioned Children Of The Sun, which featured a brilliant guitar duel between Chris Fry and Martin Rosser, who were standing on top of the speakers on both sides of the stage. These were the only times you actually saw Rosser play, as most of the times he hid behind the keyboards of Robert Reed, (who was positioned at the front of stage left).
Chris Fry did his best upstaging the lovely Christina with various rockstar antics, including soloing either on his knees, with the guitar held above his head, or while walking through the audience.
After Envy, the first of only two (and a half) songs from their second album Seven the band played a large chunk of their excellent new album Home. The album was to be released a few weeks later, but the special double-album edition was already available at the gig. The relatively short songs of the album may have been a surprise to fans of the band, though the songs were largely played as a long continuos piece, so perhaps no one even noticed. In any case the new songs were greeted with relative enthusiasm.
The main set ended with their single I'm Alive, and a splendid rendition of Gluttony (you gotta love that solo at the end)
After the band had disappeared from the stage Menno von Brucken Fock called the band back and announced to the audience that today was actually Christina's birthday. So on behalf of iO Pages he presented her with a painting by Renaissance's Annie Haslam, one of the main inspirations of Christina. Haslam and Magenta recently recorded an EP which will be released later this month.
After this interruption the band took the stage again and treated the remainder of the audience to a 'small' encore, in the form of the full 22-minute The White Witch, which was performed to perfection.
This seemed to be the end of the festival, but to everyone's surprise Menno von Brucken Fock once again took the stage to tell the approximately 150 people that remained (it was approaching midnight, and it had been a long day) that the band had time for just one more. An excerpt of Pride was what followed. A pity the band didn't feel like performing the whole track, but at least they did my favourite part of the song - the fast double guitar/keyboard solo played by Fry and Reed, which is alternated with solos by Rosser. This song perfectly showcases the excellent musicianship of the band.
After more than two hours singing Christina's voice was still in remarkable shape. Not a bad note all night, despite the fact that they had had quite a rough and long day travelling from Wales to Zoetermeer.
And that was the end of a long, but certainly satisfying day. Special mention must go to the iO Pages team for their excellent organisation.
Drum intro/ Never Never
Beautiful World / Drum duet
A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset
The End The Beginning
Call Me Alias
Days Of Light
A New Century
Opus 3 (intro tape)
Children Of The Sun
King Of The Sky
Towers of Hope
The White Witch