Concert Review Archive

 
Night Of The Progs 2012

Hasse Fröberg & The Musical Companion, Enochian Theory, Airbag, Sylvan, Arena, Spock's Beard, Saga, Frequency Drift, Lazuli, Haken, The Flower Kings, Katatonia, Steve Hackett & Band

Friday - Saturday, 7th - 8th July 2012
Loreley, Germany

Article By Gert Hulshof
and Article And Photos By Dave Baird

Gert Hulshof

The seventh NOTP festival took place 7/8th July 2012 at the lovely Freilichtbühne, Sankt Goarshausen, Germany. Once again this was the location for one of the biggest Prog festivals taking place on the European mainland.

WIV entertainment the organiser of the festival succeeded to put together a fantastic lineup for this festival. Big names like Saga, The Flower Kings, Spock’s Beard and more had been booked for the seventh festival, promising a great weekend.

Fans converge on the festival from all over Europe, a two day progstavaganza. Like every year so far a campsite was erected for attendees staying the whole weekend and a great number of visitors already arrived on the Friday night, as did I, making sure not to miss out on the start of the festival.

Rise 'n'shine early Saturday morning - it’s like waking up at a regular campsite, with the only difference the music hailing from a great deal of the tents and even caravans and campers; no pop or radio, nope, all Prog music to get ourselves int the mood for the days ahead.

The Lorelei information centre like before offered a great breakfast at a decent price, so you need not worry about eating well before attending the festival.

Dave Baird

My second visit to the wonderful NOTP festival at Loreley, once again as DPRP's official photographer, and with this year's line-up looking dramatically different with Symphonic Prog replacing the Prog-Metal theme of the previous year.

Fore-armed, of course, is fore-warned and despite sleeping in my car again I had a better mattress, I parked under the trees to provide shade in the early morning (so the car didn't heat up like an oven), kept well away from the campsite to avoid the noise and finally, knowing a fair amount of beer would be consumed on the Saturday, I had a suitably large and practical plastic container to avoid having to exit the car in the middle of the night.

Of course when on is photographing it's not always so easy to pay close attention to the music, but I'll add my thoughts and impressions to Gert's...

 

Saturday, 7th July 2012

Hasse Fröberg & The Musical Companion
By Gert Hulshof

First band to play on the Saturday, and with that the festival opener, were Hasse Fröberg and the Musical Companion. For me this would be the first experience of seeing Hasse perform live with his own band, expectations were high. The band had played in Holland the night before and therefore was set to play again little more than 12 hours after.

Promptly at 12:00 the band were introduced and started playing their set. Opening a festival isn’t all that easy, the crowd still needs to get in and people need to find their places, opening a festival after you have performed no more 12 hours before seems to me a tremendous attack on your personal health, it did not seem to have an effect on Hasse and band. They opened the festival in a grandeur manner, working up the crowd. Of course Hasse is a fantastic front man and singer, after all being in a band like The Flower Kings is no sinecure. On stage with his own band he still is himself, playing guitar and singing the tunes beginning their set with Final Hour and giving the audience a tour in prog style along both albums they have made so far.

Hasse Fröberg & The Musical Companion

After a set of ca. an hour and yes 4 songs they had to stop playing and make way for band nr 2. Leaving an already noisy and excited crowd behind with great expectations of what was yet to come after an opening act with a performance like…. I have just one word for that WOW!

By Dave Baird

I expected a high-tempo performance from Hasse and he certainly didn't disappoint. Drawing two songs each from the two Hasse Fröberg & The Musical Companion albums they absolutely rocked the house giving the early arrivers quite a treat. The two songs from the debut CD came across incredibly well, particularly Piece of the Sky with its various twists and turns. HFMC were tight and lively, with Hasse playing the perfect frontman. Great start to the festival.

Nice to say that Hasse then spent a lot of the day at the top of the hill meeting and greeting fans. I had a short chat myself and he's a lovely bloke.

Setlist Hasse Fröberg & The Musical Companion
Final Hour
Piece of The Sky
The World Keeps Turning
Fallen Empire
Slideshow Hasse Fröberg & The Musical Companion

 

Enochian Theory
By Gert Hulshof

Enochian Theory

Enochian Theory was up next. After a sort of short sound check the three guys of Enochian Theory started playing their set. To be honest I had never heard Enochian Theory music until about a month before NOTP was scheduled, musically their style is not my favourite. Since I heard a lot of sound effects on their album I wondered how a three piece band would get this across in a live setting. They gave the answer; you take a sound engineer and a setup of computers and sound effect equipment position the guy on stage so no one can say this is a fake, a hoax. Your sound effects are there. This is probably what their bio states as The Lost Orchestra.


I Really enjoyed the music these guys were playing live, absolute genius playing, technically and sound wise nothing was wrong. After a few songs the shyness or maybe the unawareness of the band members that they are a fantastic band became a bit too much. Every single time singer Ben Harris-Hays kept thanking the audience but sadly after the great responses For Hasse and his band, Enochian Theory was left with little response. They deserved more as they played an excellent set of songs with a technically high standard. Their lack of experience and therefore showmanship is debt to the reaction the audience gave them. The performance of the music was superb, no show.

Building a good show and showing more self-respect will gain more success with the audience.

By Dave Baird

I'm afraid to say that on-stage Enochian Theory didn't really grab my attention. Their music was really quite nice, with the unusual setup of presenting a trio of vocals/guitar, bass and drums, with another guy at the back of the stage twiddling a few knobs to provide the atmospheric backing for the three guys up-front. My over-riding memory is that they didn't have any self-belief, with the singer, Ben, constantly making disparaging comments about their music and popularity which really put a negative cast over their performance. The reality is that they have a great sound, very symphonic and quite original (to my ears at least) with all the backing tracks and some dynamic, but tasteful playing up-front with a great rhythm section between drummer Sam Street and bass guitarist Shaun Rayment.

Enochian Theory

I bumped into Ben a little later in the event and chided him on his negativity – he agreed and knows he shouldn't do it. Self-depreciation is a bit of an English trait, but on stage you have to glow with confidence and Enochian Theory's music is strong enough for them to do so. At any rate it made me curious to follow them up and I intend to grab some of their CD's when I get around to it, so I guess not all was lost.

Setlist Enochian Theory
This Aching Isolation
Waves of Ascension
HZ
Movement
Inversions
The Dimensionless Monologue
At Great Odds with…
Nisi Credideritis Non Intelligetis
Distances
The Fire around Lotus
The Motives of the Machine
Singularitis
 

Airbag
By Gert Hulshof

With two shows down, we- the audience- already experienced what the difference is between a settled band/artist and a more insecure band starting to create a bunch of followers. Third act of day one, Airbag, are an already established band in the Prog circles, with only 2 full length albums behind their name and on the other hand a track record performing live with other top acts. Expectations were high, their second album All Rights Removed is a fantastic album. All around Airbag gain a lot of credits for their albums as well as their live performances. By the time Airbag got on stage the sun was shining nicely and it was becoming blazing hot. Asle, Bjørn, Jørgen, Anders and Henrik began their show as they should have with the title track of their last album All rights removed, and from the start the energy Airbag create during a performance was rolling off on the crowd, the sound of Airbag may have had something to do with this after all the tunes are quite catchy.

The whole show they kept moving on and the audience was enjoying every minute so much was clear. If there was a doubt in my mind about Airbag this is gone now after their performance at Lorelei 2012. Airbag are a bunch of musicians wow, I completely forgot how hot the sun was in the meantime, really enjoying all of the show, with really wonderful music and of course a fantastic atmosphere.

Airbag

After only three acts, the fantastic weather I already count my blessings for being part of this grand festival and we are not even half way through day one, what’s next.

By Dave Baird

All Rights Removed made my personal top 10 CD's of 2011 so this was a band I was looking forward to, it's a really super release full of melancholy, great melodies, atmosphere, strong lyrics and more than a nod to classic Pink Floyd sound, especially the guitar work of Bjørn Riis which makes more than a nod to David Gilmour. I have to say that they played the majority of this album and they reproduced it beautifully, along with a few cuts from first CD, Identity, but at the end of the day they failed to move me. To be honest, I can quite explain this and I had a similar reaction to Riverside last year only to be blown-away by them at Prog Resiste. Could it be that I was just too pre-occupied with photography? Could it be Asle Tostrup's disinterested approach? To be honest I thought the latter suited the music very well, but I was a bit underwhelmed.

To be fair I was about the only person in the whole of the amphitheatre as the now sizeable crowd went nuts for them and gave a great reception. So I think it was just me and I'd like the chance to revise my opinion someday and of course I look forward to their next release as well.

Setlist Airbag
All Rights Removed
White Walls
The Bridge
Never Coming Home
Homesick I-III
Prelude
Redemption
Safe tree I-III
Colors
Slideshow Airbag

 

Sylvan
By Gert Hulshof

German band Sylvan were also a part of NOTP VI and have recently released a stunning new double CD called Sceneries. Because of their recent release I was expecting to hear a great deal of material from this album. Knowing Sylvan as a great band with a substantial repertoire it might well is that they would choose not to because of the nature of show.

In 2011 Sylvan kind of let me down a little with their performance, looking tired, so different this time. There was no sign of tired, no sign of we are just doing a job. No Kicking off with The Waters I Travelled, The fourth Chapter of Sceneries I was already blown away, and the beautiful atmosphere of the album came to live on stage, all the great melody lines and changes. This was how I know Sylvan.

Continuing with Share the World with me also from Sceneries. Could this become better? Yes it could play follow me out of Force of Gravity and of course Posthumous Silence. Wowe my expectations were blown apart.

Sylvan

Singer Marco Glúhman really had a lot of fun and was going strong. The fun on stage was clearly absorbed by the audience. Beautiful songs, great atmosphere and an audience that went along with all the songs played. Sure I know some of you proggers around like to catch and listen to the songs and nag about notes missed or played false. The band played really great in festival style with slightly altered arrangements especially suited for festival purposes. At festivals I personally enjoy it best when there is improvisation or atmosphere and that was present a lot here.

By Dave Baird

I'm probably a bit of an oddity as Sceneries is the only Sylvan album I know. I was turned on to this CD by my DPRP colleague, Roger Trenwith's, negative review earlier this year which made it sound fantastic (negative reviews can often be positive!). I have to say that the album was everything he said it was and it's up there in my top three for the year. So needless to say I was also looking forward to this band, but a little apprehensive given my expectations with Airbag.

I needn't have worried as Sylvan absolutely *owned* Loreley - you can't say they blew the roof of, because there isn't one, but I think they might have given the sky itself a hard time. They graced us with a large slice of Sceneries although unfortunately missing out Chapter 3: The Words you Hide. The whole band turned up on full-throttle today, the emotion and delivery of singer Marco Glúhman was totally phenomenal - not only did his voice soar, but the expression in his body-language couldn't help but suck you into the performance. I was equally impressed with Sebastian Harnack's the bass-work and the soaring guitar of Jan Petersen.

I know at DPRP this album split the reviewers between love and hate, with little inbetween, but there was little indifference on show from the crowd who went absolutely berserk for the band who, in turn, reciprocated the energy back. There were some non-Sceneries songs that I have to say I also enjoyed a lot, despite never having heard them before and I just whetted my appetite to buy more of their music.

This was a consummate performance, full of authority and I found myself seeking out Marcos afterwards to personally congratulate him on such a fine show.

Setlist Sylvan
The Waters I travelled
Share the World with Me
Follow Me
The Colors Changed
Posthumous Silence
Farewell to Old Friends
Slideshow Sylvan

 

Arena
By Gert Hulshof

Arena
Arena are a band I have followed for a long time now, I still think they make wonderful music, even though they seem to be repeating themselves a little off late. That don’t hurt much, Arena’s latest album was packed full of festival songs, very catchy songs, with instant sing along, not stand still rhythms. Quite the opposite of their earlier works which to me are more important than what they do now.

Although I follow Arena a long time I have never been in the lucky circumstance to see them live.

Arena knows what show means, it shows from the moment they step on to the stage, you are in for a treat. Singer Paul Manzi is walking around in a kind of count Dracula suit, with his long curly hair on top; he is an eye catcher like this. Rattling between the songs what is next, When he announces, I think it was, The city of Lanterns telling the audience he needs to be dressed as a vampire, I thought it was so from the start never mind. He was working the audience to move along with the band.

The crowd was ready for some action but despite all of Paul’s tries never really came loose, all through the show a bit reserved. What happened on stage bounced off into the audience, the splendid material was played at full speed, open throttle. Yet some emotions were lacking. Live shows are an interaction of band/artist and audience. If that doesn’t happen. It still can be technically correct but the fun is less.

Lacking in the show entirely was one of the real prog songs of Arena, like the Visitor, what we did see was a show of all the catchy shorter songs in the Arena repertoire. They are pro’s that showed.

By Dave Baird

Like Sylvan, Arena were another band that passed me by until the release of their most recent album, The Seventh Degree of Separation and strangely enough I picked up on this due to some negative reviews I'd read. To me this album is a bit the way I could imagine Asia could be if they re-discovered their fire and turned it up a notch or two. So for me Arena are this album and I know nothing from their past, once again I was delighted that a large selection of their setlist was from this release.

I really do like the songs on Seventh Degree and I find Paul Manzi an incredible singer, he delivered on stage as I would expect along with a great stage presence and chat with the crowd. Being a long-time I.Q. fan as well, but only having seen them once at Loreley last year after John had left the band, I was really looking forward to the nightly Jowitt's bass. I find his playing sublime - very direct for sure, but extremely dynamic. Where I did have doubts was the ability of the band to reproduce the keyboard layers and multiple-guitars from the studio CD, as well as energise the performance from the drum-stool. For the first point there was no issue, Clive Nolan mastered his parts totally, but to my ears the guitars fell short. Absolutely no doubting the skill of John Mitchell, but I felt some of the choices of which parts to play just didn't work for the songs. This as particularly apparent in The Tinder Box, where screaming, sustained notes create the whole presence of the track, but on stage John chose to just play the underlying chords and I think this diminished the result, losing quite a lot of the piece. Mick Pointer on drums isn't perhaps the most energetic of the band, although no doubt he contributes a lot that's not apparent on stage. He's lacking the fire of the other players and you get the feeling that they feel held-back a bit at times.

Arena

And what of Jowitt? Well he was magnificent, but on the whole the band didn't seem to gel on stage. Paul tried his best, but the performance came over as a bit flat. Perhaps there was a certain element of coming after such a barnstorming set by Sylvan, difficult to say, but I didn't get tuned-on by it at all and neither was I disappointed; ambivalent is perhaps a good word. The band got a mixed reception. After chatting to some of the audience I got the impression that many were looking for more of the older material to be played, so perhaps there was some let-down over that.

So not the greatest performance to be honest and I feel not fully representative of the bands' talent.

Setlist Arena
The Great Escape
A crack in the Ice
(Don’t Forget to)Breathe
The City of Lanterns
Riding The Tide
What if?
Thief Of Souls
Burning Down
Serenity
Valley of The Kings
Crying for Help IV
Ghost In The Firewall
Rapture
The Ghost Walks
Bedlam Fayre
Echoes of The Fall
The Tinder Box
Ascension
Slideshow Arena

 

Spock's Beard
By Gert Hulshof

Spock's Beard Finally after some 8 years I was able to see a show of one of the Top acts in prog rock Spock’s Beard. The band continues to make great albums even after some significant personnel changes they had in the last couple of years, starting again after Neal left, and now the first show in Europe without Nick D’virgillio. It’s now up to Ted Leonard to sing the songs, all of them. When Nick stepped up to the mic more he was already replaced by Jimmy Keegan at the drums. Jimmy is a great drummer and show man, likewise is Ryo “the mad keyboardist” Okumoto at keys.

Spock’s beard is literally a showman’s band, all the guys do their best to make every performance a never to forget experience. With the ever stable factor Dave Meros on the bass guitar. Even before their performance Jimmy Keegan tried to get into the Audience by singing some Queen behind his drum kit, preparing for the show.

During the show there were some technical problems with Ryo’s keyboards, where a constant beep could be heard. This did not withhold Ryo from performing and showing why some people call him the mad keyboardist. Standing between the keyboards, on top of the keyboards, anything goes with this keyboard player. As for Ted Leonard doing all the vocals he was off key at times, but this will improve through time as his role with Spock’s Beard becomes bigger. I left one man out thus far, Alan Morse, one of the two founding members left, he plays guitar or is it just wood with strings. The guitar he played had nearly no paint on its body, no protecting cover so to speak.

The performance was grandioso, despite the technical issues, with the highlight The Light at the end of the set as well as the first time ever for two new songs never performed before Submerged and Something very strange.

By Dave Baird

Having seen Spock's Beard twice in the Morse years I was keen to see how they had evolved in his absence. To be honest I haven't got on with their studio releases since , but they were always a great live act. Furthermore, the departure of NDV I saw as a mixed blessing; on one hand he's one of my personal favourite drummers, but his singing never agreed with me, so another change to look out for. Replacing Nick is the amazing Jimmy Keegan who is one hell of a drummer and has a big character to complement. Replacing Nick also is Ted Leonard on vocals, with a bit of guitar to boot.

Of course with Dave Meros, Alan Morse and Ryo Okumoto not only is the Spock's sound relatively intact, but the stage antics are quite preserved, well at least to Alan and Ryo as Dave doesn't really do a lot other than playing solid, Earth-shaking bass. Alan, like Neal, is a natural entertainer and with both his brother and NDV gone he's able to command a bit more of the limelight, which is does with alacrity; he's a virtuoso player, but you wouldn't know it from the effortlessness of his style, it's only really apparent from hearing the wide range of weird and whacky noises he coaxes from his battered old Strat, only to be matched with the horrendous, but entertaining faces he pulls while playing.

Spock's Beard

Okumoto hasn't changed one bit over the years, once a show-off, always a show-off, plus he's a bit of a nutter too, albeit it in a very loveable and entertaining way. He places his keyboard rig in such a way that he can play to the crowd. Like Alan's guitar his synths look like they've seen better days, but that's hardly surprising given that during the set he likes to climb on top of them, which in this case ended-up with a rather expensive Nord falling to the hard rock floor; fortunately it still worked. Maybe it's these antics have taken their toll as the Spock's set was beset with technical gremlins - particularly annoying being a high-pitched whine coming from the keyboard monitor for much of the performance (probably that Nord complaining, knowing what's to come…)

As a front-man, Ted was competent, but lacking a bit of sparkle. He certainly wasn't over-awed by being new member of one of the biggest Prog bands in the world, but one senses he still needs to settle down a bit and find his place, which I'm sure will happen. Otherwise the show was typical Spock's - these guys are such professionals, so relaxed on stage, it all seems too easy for them to play, but the music of course is complex and challenging. Behind the drums, Jimmy really hold things together well and takes time out when-ever possible to abuse the rest of the band, which of course they return in good fashion. Ryo never stops goofing around and Alan's there with his contorted features. It's all hugely entertaining and endearing. Spock's Beard are a well-loved band and the crowd responded to them very warmly, and judging by all the faces I saw singing along they were already fans; those that weren't most likely being convinced after the first couple of songs.

Highlights of course came from the older material, The Doorway, Day for Night and The Light, but I was very pleased to hear On a Perfect Day which I consider the best post-Morse track they've done (perhaps because it's so much like the Morse era material?), some of the newer songs washed over me a bit, but there was always the performance to enjoy even if the music didn't register.

Spock's Beard are a band that all Prog fans 'ought to see once in their life, it's an experience of joy that few other bands get remotely close to.

Setlist Spock's Beard
Edge of In Between
On a Perfect Day
Day for Night
Submerged
Kamikaze
The Doorway
She Is Everything
Something Very Strange
Walking On the Wind
The Light
Slideshow Spock's Beard

 

Saga
By Gert Hulshof

Closing act or headlining act together with Spock Beard of day one Saga was on next. Again with entertainer purr sang Michael Sadler as lead singer. By now it had turned dark so Saga was able to use the full light show effects, Lots of blue and red. Saga is one of the longest existing bands still to record and perform live. They have been around since the early seventies and are still going strong. Sticking to their musical sound of Neo prog with a touch of AOR.

Saga

Also Saga just released a new album called 20-20. I did not get a chance to listen to this album before the festival, have read some reviews and hope some of the songs will be performed to have a peep at what the album is like. With Michael Sadler back in front Saga gain a lot in show. With a lot of keyboards and just one guitar, every now and again a bass guitar. Most of the bass lines are drawn from the keys. With leading guitar melodies by good old Michael Crichton.

From start to finish Saga were full of energy not in the least caused by the highly energetic performance of Michael Sadler. Who was chatting almost between every song. Telling us as an audience from which album the song came they were playing and how old it was. Even speaking, at least trying to speak some German as well.

Saga played songs from as far back as 1980 from the very early days of their career after Mouse in A Maze, I was kind of expecting they would perform one of their all-time classics Humble Stance, but they did not play that song. Pity I love that one.

Saga

As only band today Saga had a drum solo present in their show. Mike Thorne did an interactive moment together with the audience. Where he did a Plop special, everyone was to plop with a finger in their mouth a nice intermezzo in the otherwise keyboards dominated show. The privilege of being the last band and one of the headliners is performance of a full set and of course an encore. Just before midnight the show ended. This is mandatory for the organization otherwise they need to pay big time.

By Dave Baird

I didn't know what to expect with Saga. I had reviewed the album Trust back in 2008, which was pleasant enough, but I never got around to following-up on that. Regardless of my general ignorance, Saga have been going for some time and have a large and loyal following - in the Prog genre you don't get into that position by luck of without something special, so I was very open minded to whatever would come; and guess what, they were superb!

Of course being the headlining act at Loreley already gives a head-start - there's the advantage of a decent set length and with night-time having fallen, the light-shows tend to be spectacular, especially being combined with the evening ambience of the beautiful surroundings. Even without these in their favour though, Saga were phenomenal, giving the capacity crowd a consummate, energetic and professional performance - here are a bunch of guys, like Spock's Beard, that know how to put on a show. Initial impressions might not have augured well, what with two bald guys (Michael and Mike) and three with 80's porn-star/German footballer shaggy permed hair (Ian, Jim and, erm, Jim!), well they looked a bit odd to say the least, but the music was just fabulous, even more so as I didn't know any of it, but still got a huge pleasure from the show.

Saga

Frontman Stadler was a great presence on stage, belting out the songs and chit-chatting to the audience in excellent German between numbers (well I suppose it was excellent, it sounded convincing to me and I had to check Wiki to find out he is in fact Welsh!), he also played bass in several songs as well as turning in some impressive keyboard from time to time. Likewise, Jim Crichton swapped his bass for keyboards from time to time. This switching of instruments allowed for quite some variation and excitement in the music. Jim's brother, Ian, was simply dazzling on guitar, despite him looking a bit grumpy throughout most of the show, his fingers never still; fast scales and runs seem to be his trademark and he was up and down the fretboard non-stop, all beautifully in synch with the rest of the band. Even more keyboards from Jim completed the fat synth-based sound of the band and Jim also sang a couple of tracks.

Digging in a bit deeper it seems that drummer Mike Thorne is new to the band only joining a few month before the show, well you wouldn't have known it, not a beat missed. Furthermore it was Sadler's return as well after taking a few years off, so to put in such a performance was quite a feat. A really super way to close out the first day and Saga must be pretty popular in Germany too as they received a rapturous reception.

Setlist Saga
Anywhere you wanna Go
Mouse In A Maze
Book Of Lies
Careful where you Step
Framed
Corkentellis
The Perfectionist
The Cross
Drum Solo
Runaway
Tired World
Scratching(Piano version)
It’s Time
Six Feet Under
Pitcherman
On the Loose

Encore Don’t be Late
Slideshow Saga

 

Gert Hulshof

All in all day one of NOTP VII was a fantastic show day, great audience, super performances and beautiful weather a splendid first day of a fantastic festival. Back to our tents, cars or hotels for a good night's sleep, hopefully, up to the next day.

 

Sunday, 8th July 2012

Frequency Drift
By Gert Hulshof

Frequency Drift

Opening act of day two German band Frequency Drift are not that well known yet to a bigger audience despite already having 4 albums behind their name. All of them conceptual of nature. And yes it becomes rather monotonous also Frequency Drift has released a new album. Release date was just before the festival, this album (laid to rest) I did have a chance to listen and like all albums before I was deeply impressed with their musical ability.

Now today is the first live performance I am to witness, hoping the music comes really to life on stage. First noticeable thing was the simple fact that Frequency Drift was this year’s only band with a female lead singer. Antje Auer. After their opening song miss Auer told the audience a little story of herself, how she wished at NOTP VI to be able to perform herself at the festival. And how she’d already bought tickets for this festival. And then receiving a phone call, “Du darfst singen at NOTP”at first it did not fully land. Antje was very excited, and this she told the audience again and again.

In the meantime of course Frequency Drift really needed to perform. Playing songs from three releases only leaving out the debut album untouched. The enthusiasm at which Antje stood there had an effect on the rest of the band and the audience.

Frequency Drift music is dramatic, theatrical at times and needs a great deal of feeling and emotion to come across. Looking at their front(wo)man, Antje can really bring this s across with her enthusiasm her constant deep emotion. They really surprised me, a highlight to start day two. Magnificent show. A stunning performance.

By Dave Baird

Thanks to my careful preparations with the car I got a really good night's sleep and woke fresh on Sunday, with only a marginal hangover from the several (tens?) of beers I had consumed the day before. A little exploration to find the showers on the campsite, which this year featured warm water as opposed to the stuff that was clearly piped directly from the Siberian Tundra the year before. All ready to Prog'n'Roll on day two!!

Frequency Drift

Frequency Drift went down a storm and they're a band that deserve more attention. It seemed that Antje, the lead singer, was a little incredulous as actually being on stage at Loreley, her delight at it all was infectious and the crowd warmed to her and the band very much. Using a diverse range of instruments (guitars, bass, violin, oboe, harp, flute…) their music is quite textured, rather organic and certainly symphonic with the melodies carried by Antje's strong yet sweet and wide ranging voice.

Not the easiest music to take in on one listening for sure, the one track that struck me immediately was Mermaid, which also featured the harp and instrument I feel they could use more in their music, mostly a delicate, chiming piece itr featured an almost-metal mid-section, wonderful textures. The crowd were convinced, giving them a thunderous reception and buying the whole stoke of CD's that they'd brought with them. Frequency Drift made a lot of fans with this performance.

Setlist Frequency Drift
Portrait
Dreams
Mermaid
Cold
Dead
Tempest
Slideshow Frequency Drift

 

Lazuli
By Gert Hulshof

Lazuli


French proggers Lazuli sing in their own native language, the lyrics therefore are not that easy to follow unless you know the French language. For me Lazuli is a big unknown I only heard the name but never even heard their music until today...When the boys were setting up their equipment my eye fell on a”guitar”-player with one arm in a mitella and a specially made instrument. I was also stricken by their stage outfit; the clothing alone was already a show-off, fantastic, somewhat medieval clothes.




This gave me the impression that the music would be going in the direction of pagan-folk, how surprised I was this not being true, Folk elements are amply present in their music which is nonetheless absolutely progressive, with nice up-tempo rocking songs alternated with beautiful ballads. I was absolutely flabbergasted by the music and performance of this band.




They have gained themselves at least one new fan. Especially when they did an encore of all of them playing the Marimba, this was an absolute marvellous thing to see. I had never witnessed something like that before.

By Dave Baird

So far we'd been blessed with some amazing bands and well received performances and you'd never have imagined that the best was yet to come, but nothing prepared for Lazuli. Lazuli are one of the true modern Prog bands, ploughing their own furrow regardless of anything else around them. They truly sound like noone else and noone else sounds like them. They are multi-instrumentalists supreme, reminding me in many ways of Gentle Giant. Of course the one guy who struggles to play most instruments is Claude Leonetti - he of the famous and singular sounding léode, the instrument he made to allow him to continue to play after he lost the use of his arm in a motorbike accident. Claude is one of the original members along with his brother Dominique (vocals and guitars) and Gédéric Byar (guitars). Joining them now since a couple of years are Vincent Barnavol (drums and other percussives) and Romain Thorel (keyboards, French horn and drums - when Vincent is doing other stuff) and these guys mean serious business!

Lazuli

I think at first the Loreley audience didn't quite know what to make of it all - I mean they look odd, they dress quite odd, they play quite weird music and they sing in French, not the most endearing traits. However, the music is good, full of infectious polyrhythms and the attitude of the band is just extraordinary, I've never seen people on stage look so happy in my life. This wasn't because they were just putting on a show, this was the sheer joy of making music to an audience. Be sure the at audience responded and it was almost as if we become one with the band - sounds like a load of New Age bullshit, but it really was something special.

The roar of approval from the audience at the end of the set was deafening and lengthy, I think they were a bit astonished at the reaction and I challenge anyone not to love this band, they are amazing.

Setlist Lazuli
Je te laisse ce Monde
Laisse Courir
L’Arbre, L Azur
Le miroir aux alouttes
15h 40
Les malveillants
Capitaine coeur de miel
On Nous Ment Comme On Respire
Festin Ultime
Abime
Piano Solo
Cassiopee
Film D’aurore
Naíf
Marimba jam
Slideshow Lazuli

 

Haken
By Gert Hulshof

At NOTP VI Haken made their first appearance at Lorelei, a new band at the time with a fantastic album out receiving absolute raving critics, we are one year down the road and Haken is back at Lorelei and yes they have a second album out called Visions.

Haken

Haken is one of those newcomer bands that have taken the Heavy progressive world by storm. Establishing their name in no time. As one of the surprises at NOTP VI as was excited to see them on the bill again, even more when I heard that they were to perform their entire second album. Fantastic news. They really have matured a lot over the last year, the show was better, even though the sound wasn’t all that great. That happens at big festivals, you cannot have everything. That Haken is popular was visible in the audience too. A bigger gathering of people closer to the stage.

Haken

A big surprise came on stage during the performance of Insomnia. Out of the blue super Mario and Princess Peaches appeared to join the band in some serious head banging. Giving the whole Insomnia song a different perspective, a more humorous one so to speak. Indeed all of Visions was played. I was not impressed with the performance of the songs as last year, maybe even disappointed in singer Ross Jennings singing a bit off key at times, May have something to do with too much and not enough rest. Otherwise the show was also far from perfect, you cannot rest on your laurels yet guys, you still need a lot of maturing. Hearing and seeing Visions in its entirety was very pleasant.

By Dave Baird

Maybe a bit unusual for the same band to play Loreley on consecutive years, but Haken went down really well in 2011 and with the release of their excellent Visions album they are on a roll. I bumped into Tom Maclean, their bass player, before their set and he already revealed to me that they would play the whole album start to finish. I also talked to him a bit about the influences and how much some of the stuff does sound like the more technical stuff from Dream Theater, he concurred with that, but surprised me a bit when he said he didn't personally like DT, some internal artistic differences there I think, but explains too why To-Mera do not sound like DT.

Haken

Haken's performance was a bit of a mixed bag. On the whole it was a success, I know the Visions album very well indeed and I didn't notice any major screw-ups, but it was quite rough around the edges and Ross' singing wasn't on best form - he was distinctly flat in places. Haken tried to make a bit of a show of it by having Mario and Princes Peaches come on stage to dance and headband during and extended Nintendo section in Insomnia.

Regardless of this, the show went down well and there were quite a few fans up-front with Haken t-shirts who made their presence felt, so no shortage of good atmosphere. There's no shortage of talent in Haken either and will be interesting to see how they evolve.

Setlist Haken
Premonition
Nocturnal Conspiracy
Insomnia (with Mario)
The Mind’s Eye
Portals
Shape shifter
Deathless
Visions
Slideshow Haken

 

The Flower kings
By Gert Hulshof

After nearly 5 years, finally a show again, an album of one of my all-time favourites, The Flower Kings. I was thrilled to be able seeing The Flower kings live again, Banks Of Eden the latest album again was of high standard and I was hoping to see the same high standard on stage again. I can say I was not let down, not at all; the fantastic opener already gave me shivers down my spine. If there is one thing I want to have until my Last minute on earth, this is it. Old times reappeared on stage.

The Flower Kings

The Flower kings as a band of course had a break, not so for all the individuals in the band. Again as so many times before The Flower kings have a new drummer Felix Lehrmann, taking up the heavy task of erasing the memories of a number of other drummers. Not an easy one.

After such a long absence it came to me as no surprise that The Flower kings played a set with songs throughout their career and only one song out of Banks of Eden, of course this was the epic opener of the album Numbers, thus playing nearly half the album. Roine, Jonas, Tomas, Hasse and of course Felix made the concert one never to forget, a true progressive music extravaganza. Hasse and Roine taking turns in vocal duty like always. Both playing the guitar.

By Dave Baird

After their recent sabbatical it was great to be able to see The Flower Kings once again - surely one of the most important bands over the last fifteen years in this funny little genre called Prog. Unlike most of my peers I wasn't bowled-over by The Banks of Eden with the exception of the main track, Numbers, and as if by demand this was the one track they did play from the new album, and very fine it was too. Rest of the set was a bit of a tour through back-catalogue favourites - with Paradox Hotel being the exception, this is a very weak track in my opinion and an odd choice - something like Blue Planet would have been a better choice. Always nice though to hear The Truth Will Set You Free, one of my personal favourites, albeit in the abridged form, Last Minute on Earth, Eyes of the World (the first track I ever heard from TFK and an all time favourite) and I Am the Sun are also fine tracks.

The Flower Kings

I've had the privilege to see The Flower Kings live about eight times now and it was my impression that they were still a little bit rusty after their break, but still turned in a fine performance. Being a bass player myself it's always a treat to see and hear Jonas, he's one of the top, top guys out there IMO. Hasse of course we'd seen the day before and perhaps he looked a little tired, but that never stops a man of his energy and drive giving it all. Felix, the new drummer, was faultless and Thomas Bodin, although looking a little chunkier than I remember, played the keys only there way he can. But of course The Flower Kings are Roine's band and his playing, as always, was superb: melodic, fluid and with that most wonderful tone he has.

The Flower Kings

The audience really appreciated the set and the Kings looked like they had a great time.

Setlist The Flower Kings
Last minute on Earth
In the eyes of the world
The truth will set you free
Numbers
Stardust we are (p3)
Paradox hotel
I am the Sun
Slideshow The Flower Kings

 

Katatonia
By Gert Hulshof

Next up was Katatonia. I don’t know Katatonia at all, just listened to their last album in the week before the festival. Katatonia have a large fan base in Germany which showed with all the longhaired head banging crowd in front of the stage, After all the dramatic, emotional, symphonic and jazzy music we heard and seen so far, Katatonia made the heaviest music of all and seemed not to fit in that good. The professionalism and showmanship of the band is absolute world standard, But the response of the audience apart from the head bangers in front was reluctant, as if the audience was saying you are of our mind and map, not our music.

Katatonia

This resulted in vocalist and co-founding band member Jonas Renske announcing all the song titles followed by “hope you like it”. Musically Katatonia stand but unfortunately their music did not strike the right key with the audience. Things like that are bound to happen at festivals, not everyone will like everything and all performances.

By Dave Baird

Katatonia
For some reason I thought Katatonia were a FFMB, that is a Female-Fronted Metal Band, so I was surprised to see a male singer come on stage - the rest of the band looked like they fitted the bill though, all black with lots of hair and mean-looking guitars. It's a shame that it wasn't a nice lady singing because it might have distracted from the music a bit. What on earth were the organisers thinking of putting these guys on the bill? With all the beautiful, melodic, symphonic Prog we'd been treated to they just didn't fit in at all. Don't get me wrong, they weren't bad, but wrong audience (me included) - except for the few that had come especially to see them, all gathered at the front. Seemed to me that the majority of the crowd felt the same and many decided this was a good moment to go and grab some food and drink, go to the toilet, go for a walk or whatever, but the previously full amphitheatre suddenly looked decidedly more than half-empty and there was a scattering of luke-warm applause after each song.

It must have been quite disheartening for Katatonia themselves, the vibes were borderline hostile I thought, and this didn't really do them justice as they know how to play, very good musicians in fact and despite the bad reception they kept at it well and were very professional, although the lead singer seemed quite apologetic as he introduced each track.

A bit of a brain-fart in my opinion. There are 100's of quality Prog bands that could have taken that slot and brought the house down, I really wonder for instance why The Tangent never got to play Loreley, they would have really fitted well with this year's theme. As it was I was just pleased when they finished.

Setlist Katatonia
Forsaker
Liberation
My Twin
Chrome
Wait Outside
The Longest Year
Nephilim
Soil’s Song
Teargas
Omerta
Evidence
Ghost of the sun
For my demons
July
Day and Then the Shade
Leaders
Slideshow The Katatonia

 

Steve Hackett & Band
By Gert Hulshof

The show I had to miss, due to car problems and road help to arrive during the Steve Hackett performance I only heard the show from a distance, apart from the first three songs, at that time I was still at the venue but only on top of the hill, such a pity but it can happen. After all I needed to travel back home and that does not happen easy without a running car.

Ahh Well hope to see it at another time.

By Dave Baird

After some mucking about trying (unsuccessfully) to get Gert's car started I headed back to catch Steve Hackett. Now if truth be told, I'm not much of a Genesis fan, OK, I'll be straight, they bore the pants off me, Supper's Ready being the only track I enjoy and perhaps the Wind & Wuthering album I listened to twice without falling asleep, but I think that's only because it sounded rather like I.Q. Of course I accept their important position in the evolution of Prog and I'm not so ignorant that I don't recognise Steve Hackett as one of the great guitarists in the genre and I was very interested to see him play, but at least you know my starting point now.

Steve Hackett

All the crowd, and it seemed a few extra too, had returned from wherever they had retreated during the Katatonia set and a packed house greeted the man on-stage. Roine Stolt and his wife Lillian came and sat next to me in the photo-pit to also take in the performance, which started nicely; Hackett caressing his guitar and producing melliferous, soothing tones. I can't say I warmed a lot to his singing though, his voice just doesn't work for me and I found the drummer, Gary O'Toole's vocals far more effective - and what a fine drummer he is too, I must add. Of course I didn't really know what was his solo stuff and what was Genesis, it all sounded quite the same style to my ears, but a lot of it was palatable. Regardless of my personal preference to the music, Hackett's technique, tone and choice of notes cannot be argued with. There are a handful of players over history who are artists and the very best have a style all their own; Steve is one of these and I can't imagine anyone watching him play and not admire it.

Steve Hackett

The band were tight as hell, I got the impression they've been playing together for years. The wind-instrument player, Rob Townsend, seems to have the role of court jester role too and was having the time of his life frolicking about and entertaining the crowd, mind you, perhaps he was just trying to counterbalance the keyboard player, Roger King, who was a fine player, but rather serious looking throughout. Has to be said that various wind instruments really add colour and texture to the music, it's a shame they're not used by more bands - even a simple penny-whistle makes a big impact. I had expected the ubiquitous Lee Pomeroy on bass, but as he's playing with half the bands on the planet I guess he was busy, so Phil Mulford provided the low notes and backing vocals. One odd habit he had was to stand his bass on the ground on it's headstock - couldn't work out what he was up to there, weird…

One track that I'd never heard before, but that stuck in my mind was Shadow of the Hierophant and I was rather pleased that I now had TWO Genesis tracks to enjoy now, but seems it's a Hackett solo track, damn, thought I was making progress... The very theatrical Nad Sylvan joined for the encore, Watcher of the Skies. This track was also not too bad, so maybe I'll add that to my "like" list.

Steve Hackett

Joking aside, this was a really nice performance from Steve and his band even for the one guy in the audience who doesn't care for Genesis. I can imagine that if I had been more of an acolyte (pun intended) then I would have been swept away. Steve will be touring the Genesis Revisited II album next year and based on this performance this is a must-see for the fans of classic Genesis, hell even I wouldn't mind seeing it!

Setlist Steve Hackett & Band
Every Day
Loch Lomond
The Phoenix Flown
Fire on The Moon
The Carpet Crawlers
Firth of Fifth
Serpentine Song
The Golden age Of Steam
Shadow of the Hierophant
Fly On a Windshield
Sleepers
A place called Freedom
Los Endos

Spectral Mornings
Watcher of the skies ( Nad Sylvan guest vocals)
Slideshow Steve Hackett

 

Gert Hulshof

Another festival has passed, and what a festival it was this year, great line-up with fantastic bands and music. Great atmosphere, a wonderful venue. Looking out for NOTP VIII next year. I will be there no doubt. Organizing an event like this is tremendous effort for all involved. Win and his team succeed every time.

See you all at NOTP VIII!! Right Win.

See you all!

Dave Baird

Other than the poor choice of Katatonia this was a tremendous success. Maybe the crowd was slightly down on last year - could be not having a huge name like Dream Theater caused that, or maybe the variable weather forecast (which turned out to be pretty OK in the end), but overall the depth and quality of the music I felt was even better. Once again we got the chance to see bands we know and loved interspersed with up-and-coming acts, which is a great way to discover new music and a formula that I hope they keep for future years. In fact, with this review coming so late, we've already seen that the legendary Änglagård are the first band to be announced - what a start! I can imagine it will be busy there next year and I'm already looking forward to it. As I said twelve months ago, every Prog fan in Europe should try to make it to Loreley at least once, it's a fabulous way to spend the weekend and they will not be disappointed.

 


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