In spite of the fact that Bigelf had been billed as “BIGELF featuring Mike Portnoy & John Wesley” Netherlands’
top-venue for progressive rock concerts wasn’t sold out. Even worse, my estimate is that only a mere 200 paying
fans came to see Bigelf and their special guests Jolly and Bend Sinister.
Although Jolly’s manager had advised against this tour, still the members of Jolly had decided to go out on tour with Bigelf,
seeking places to stay with their fans: cozy and low budget, but quite an undertaking. Front-man Anadale
(vox, guitar) didn’t seem to worry about the number of people that had showed up, nor the fact that Jolly
was only allowed to play half an hour.
With Joe Reilly on the keyboards, rather emotionless and static, Louis Abramson on drums and the
lively bass-player Anthony Rondinone ( also backing vocals) the band played a mostly up tempo set.
Their compact and direct music seemed to please the audience in spite of the lack of ‘progressive’
elements like long instrumental interludes, complex themes and rhythms.
Their approach to rock is New York style, more like ‘hit hard and be cheerful’.
Their short but powerful show went down very well and Jolly definitely left behind a positive impression!
Next on stage another ‘young’ band: Bend Sinister, said to be rock n roll band hailing from Vancouver BC in Canada.
Dan Moxon on keys/vox, quite a heavyweight, seems to be the main man on stage.
Moxon had a rhythm section formed by Jason Dana on drums and stage-animal Matt Rhode on bass.
Joseph Blood on guitar was either very nervous or was/is dealing with a medical problem,
judged by the way his hands were trembling when he wasn’t playing his guitar.
The band performed their songs with great enthusiasm and although very few people seemed to know their music,
the quartet played tight, harvesting good rounds of applause. Musically their music comes close to bands
like Beardfish but the rock element is much more important, so all and all rather ‘retro’
and most certainly heavily influenced by the Beatles and Queen too! They already have a number
of albums to their credit so in their own country probably much more known than in Europe, but that might change….
Setlist Bend Sinister
Thunder & Lightning
I Got Love
Don’t You Know
Man Of Faith And Virtue
Things Will Get Better
Black Magic Woman (NOT a cover!!)
It Will Never End
We Know Better
Best Of You
Supertramp (or) Quest For Love
Then, for the first time in the Netherlands as headlining act: Damon Fox and his ‘BIGELF’.
When you consider the impact that BIGELF had in 2008 with Cheat the Gallows, it’s inevitable that people
expected the highly-rated band from Los Angeles to strike again quickly and fiercely.
But instead we got a rather astonishing silence due to an impromptu hiatus and the tragic death of guitarist A.H.M. Butler-Jones.
Almost dead and buried if it wasn’t for the helping hands of legendary drummer Mike Portnoy who prevented
Fox to quit the band after some 23 years. Bass player Duffy Snowhill remained on board and Portnoy took over
drums & percussion duties.
Although Fox had Luis Maldonado on guitar during the recording of Bigelf’s latest
album Into The Maelstrom he found ex- Porcupine Tree guitarist John Wesley available to play
alongside him on stage during the European tour. Being composer, singer and keyboard player,
Damon Fox undoubtedly was the main attraction on stage.
Although Portnoy interacted with the fans
as much as he could, his contribution, like his drumkit, was a modest one and I must admit:
he played his role beautifully. Fox entered the stage wearing his top hat and immediately started
to play keyboards at both sides while singing: quite an accomplishment in its own right.
Musically the doom metal of the early years changed a bit towards more easily accessible music,
but remaining true to the fundamentals of the band: hard rock in the vein of Black Sabbath,
psychedelic influences and early progressive influences from bands like Uriah Heep.
The band played a nice mix of older tracks and of course the newer tracks, four of them taking from their last album.
A surprise for most fans must have been the entry of Damon’s son Baron.
A striking comparison between Damon and Baron because with the same length of the hair Baron surely
looked exactly the same as his father did a number of years ago. I don’t believe Fox will hit
the jackpot in Europe with this type of music, but I presume there must be enough fans that enjoy
Bigelf to keep the band going for a number of years.
For three performing bands the crowd was too thin but those who actually came and could afford to stay till around midnight,
were totally satisfied and many took the opportunity to have a chat with members of Jolly, Bend Sinister and Bigelf.
Great atmosphere, delicate light show and as usual a superb sound quality. Thank you again ‘Boerderij’!!
Evils Of Rock & Roll
Money Machine (with Baron Fox)
Edge Of Oblivion
Money, It’s Pure Evil