Due to total computer crash and personal illness this review is heavily delayed, but I certainly didn’t want to hold it back from you.
Since I had heard many good things about and from Mangrove it was high time I’d see them live.
With a high anticipation I went to see Mangrove playing live for the first time in November last year.
As is often the case with prog bands in the Netherlands the show took place at the renowned stage De Boerderij in Zoetermeer.
The concert was announced as a special show since the show would be recorded for a future DVD release.
There was even small bus arranged to bring over a whole bunch of fans, family and friends from their hometown Apeldoorn.
So all-in-all the room was pretty much filled although not packed and certainly not sold-out as the balcony stayed closed.
But the atmosphere certainly didn’t suffer from any lack of people;
there truly was an enthusiastic vibe circulating and soon I got the feeling I was included in the experience of something special.
The band took the stage almost exactly on time and directly kicked off with one of their longer tracks Fatal Sign,
which description actually suits almost all of their songs as they hardly play any song clocking under 10 minutes.
As seems to be standard with Mangrove the whole band was dressed totally in white which apparently has become some kind of trademark for this band.
This dress-code also gave the opportunity to do some creative effects with the lighting.
Manager Henri had designed the lighting scheme and it basically included a lot of blue and red.
In some cases this resulted in a very serene, but also weird scenery and looking back at the pictures I had to wonder with some of them if I hadn’t witnessed a Blue Man Group concert,
especially when the more baldy guys were on it.
This gig was only the third one for the new drummer Remco Engels who joined the group recently, brought along by singer Roland van der Horst who also plays with him in ‘Genesis Project’.
But I honestly can’t say I noticed any inexperience with Remco, who drummed the whole long gig as if he already had done so for years and if his life depended on it.
Bass player Pieter Drost doesn’t claim a prominent place on stage which isn’t strange next to a stage performer like Roland, but it’s also caused by the fact that Pieter
clearly totally gets caught up in the music itself, therefore often playing with his eyes closed.
I personally very much appreciate to witness such intense involvement with the music which is a good indication of total dedication.
Needless to say there wasn’t much to criticize on Pieter’s playing.
Same goes for keyboard player Chris Jonker,
although I did detect some minor flaws here and there, but that can also been caused since I tend to focus much more on the keyboard
than anything else and are therefore more aware of every detail.
To my personal taste the keyboard could have been a bit more on the foreground on some occasions, but that again is a minor improvement suggestion.
Unlike many other keyboard players Chris didn’t totally hide between a wall of keys but also sought contact with the audience here and there, even encouraged them to clap along or respond.
It is a pleasant experience to witness a keyboard player that is very present too and finds the time in between playing to entertain the crowd as well.
But the real eye-catcher of the show is still singer and guitar player Roland van der Horst.
His excellent guitar playing, passionate singing and on occasions very theatrical stage show easily draws most of the attention to him
and makes sure no-one gets bored when watching the show.
His Indian name surely must be “Clown-that-plays-guitar-well”, a name that describes him very aptly.
Apart from his total dedication to the singing and guitar playing, by which, just like bass player Pieter,
he totally looses himself into the music he’s also very remarkable for his jokes and funny facial expressions.
As said before he’s a real and complete entertainer, just as Peter Gabriel was before him and Roland doesn’t need weird costumes for that;
not saying that Peter did either, but many of the people who copied him later actually did.
With 4 such dedicated and musically gifted musicians it has to be a concert to remember, at least if they have some decent material to perform.
Anyone familiar with their most recent (studio) releases Beyond Reality and Facing the Sunset
knows they do and I can tell you they very well manage to perform these lengthy songs in a very well-crafted way on stage.
So there we are: good songs, capable and dedicated musicians, good sound system, good lighting, an excellent and entertaining stage performance, good atmosphere and an enthusiastic crowd.
Doesn’t that sound like the description of an ideal live gig?
Indeed it came very close to that.
I really can’t mention anything that was missing this evening, apart from some minor flaws that were easily forgotten in the thick of it all.
All in all the whole sound came over absolutely brilliant, really rocking the hall to its foundations.
If Mangrove will ever be in need of a financial sponsor they should consider Bounty as this coco-filled sweet snack already plays an intricate role in their stage show.
Two full bags of mini-Bounty’s disappeared into the crowd during the show and when the band went off half way the show for a break
they announced it that they we’re going to have their Bounty moment.
After the break they played their last studio album Beyond Reality in full,
all 6 songs from front to back; especially the title song of the album brought the show to its climax and the crowd in total ecstasy.
Another moment to remember was at the encore, There Must Be Another Way,
when Roland stepped down onto a big equipment box on wheels to be rolled through the crowd by 2 “roadie’s” whilst playing a great solo.
A simple and easy idea, but very effective and truly rock-‘n-roll!
Just as the great old-fashioned drum solo Remco gave away near the end.
The applause of the audience was overwhelming and without any doubt totally deserved by this band that can be considered by now to have stepped up to the higher league of prog rock.
This is truly a band to be reckoned with and who takes their work very serious, even the whole ‘back office’ like management,
website, CD sales etc. is set up very professionally like a real company; Mangrove is more than just a bunch of guys making music.
That was also proven by a 12 year old boy that came on stage after the show handing them out some sort of personal certificate saying they were the best band!
I experienced a terrific good show, perhaps my best of the year and actually can’t wait until the DVD will be released (after this complimentary report,
I can surely expect a free copy, ha ha) in order to re-experience it all again.
On May 28th Mangrove will hold a special DVD release show at W2 in Den Bosch.
Wizard of Tunes
Facing the Sunset
City of Darkness
Time Will Tell
Love and Beyond