Usually in the eastern part of the Netherlands there aren’t that many prog or progressive rock related concerts to enjoy,
but fortunately venues like Hedon (Zwolle), Dru (Ulft) and ocassionally De Gigant (Apeldoorn),
try to have some ‘prog’ in their programming. While the UK proggers Arena ‘just left the building’,
the next act was ready to take ‘the east’ by Storm.
Literally and by way of figure of speech because the main event was to be The Gentle Storm,
the latest project initiated by Arjen ‘Ayreon’ Lucassen and former The Gathering lead vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen.
As support act a well-known band in the genre of female fronted metal: Stream Of Passion.
Not a coincidence because firstly SoP was also a brainchild of Arjen Lucassen and secondly two of the SoP members,
singer Marcela Bovio and bass player Johan van Stratum, were doing a ‘double shift’.
Stream Of Passion
Though not entirely sold out, Hedon was pleasantly filled with fans,
eagerly awaiting to hear and see these two formidable bands.
In somewhat shimmering light SoP started their performance with the opening track Monster of their latest album,
followed by another track of that same album, A War Of Our Own.
The name of the band is definitely a splendid choice: especially Marcela Bovio showed a lot of passion in her singing.
The music of SoP flows as a powerful but equally warm breeze.
Newest member of the band, drummer Martijn Peters seemed to fit in perfectly,
playing from a raised platform, just like keyboardist Jeffrey Revet.
His majestic orchestrations proved to be a tasteful counterpart to the two guitarists Stephan Schultz
(lead) and Eric Hazebroek. Johan van Stratum moved around on the stage like he didn’t have to play an instrument.
Amazing how he was able to jump and play at the same time.
After a third track from their latest album, The Curse, it was time to play something from their back catalogue.
Interestingly enough no songs from the third album as Deceiver and Haunted are from the debut album Embrace The Storm
(yes, there’s the same word again!) and the other two,
Street Spirit and In The End from the second album The Flame Within.
Occasionally playing her violin, Bovio invited everyone present to come to Zoetermeer on May 8,
when the band will be performing their debut album in its entirety,
because it will be 10 years ago since its release. Also preforming on that night:
Kingfisher Sky and Synergy protocol. A very nice bill indeed!
Just around 45 minutes for Stream Of Passion, some quick adjustments on stage and then The Gentle Storm…..
Setlist Stream Of Passion
A War Of Our Own
In The End
Ashes are burning
The Gentle Storm
It’s common knowledge by now Arjen Lucassen is a self-declared hermit so he stated he wouldn’t take part of the tour.
A pity because the man does very well on stage (Star One for example)
and perhaps he underestimates the importance of his presence on stage.
On the other hand there’s Anneke: a true performer who seems to enjoy every minute of being on a stage.
And, what a band she had there backing her! Almost sharing the lead-vocals,
but in fact performing all Anneke’s double vocals on the album as a backing vocalist: Marcela Bovio (Stream Of Passion).
She’s not only a joy to look at on stage but her voices matches Anneke’s so well,
there is no way Anneke could have made a better choice.
On the drums the very experienced Ed Warby, whom we all know from the Ayreon albums.
On the bass guitar Johan van Stratum (also from Stream Of Passion), also a highly qualified musician.
On guitar, from her ‘own’ band: Ferry Duijsens. Then on lead guitar, looking like a 13 year old child,
Merel Bechtold (Mayan, Purest Of Pain) but don’t let her feather-weight or looks fool you:
the now 23 year old guitarist definitely knows how to play her 7-string guitar,
performing both lead guitar parts as well as some parts played by violin on the studio-album.
A huge talent!
Last, but definitely not least, Joost van den Broek (ex-After Forever) the magician on keyboards,
a producer and arranger in his own right.
I saw the band perform at Rock Ittervoort where they blew the audience away so I knew we would be in for a real treat.
This proved to be an understatement. WOW, what a golden voice Anneke van Giersbergen has,
what a terrific band, what an enthusiastic audience and what a wonderful sound-quality.
After four songs from The Diary album (of course in the ‘storm version’) it was time to shift gears:
an oldie from The Gathering : Eléanor.
What I missed on The Diary album and sometimes also in songs by The Gathering were… the keyboards!
Nobody could have arranged the songs better than Joost van den Broek and both his orchestrations as well
as his impressive soloing were a real asset to the music.
After another track form The Diary, the beautiful and theatrical New Horizon,
the band left the stage and Anneke returned alone with her acoustic guitar.
Although I’ll always prefer the original, she did a really nice version of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.
The acoustic part of the show continued with the ‘gentle version’ of
The Moment followed by acoustic versions of a couple of Ayreon-tracks.
The full band returned to the stage performing superb rendition of another two tracks taken from The Diary:
Cape Of Storms and The Greatest Love.
Having just one album under their belt Anneke had to bring in music from her past,
so of course there were some songs form her years with The Gathering as well as one form her
collaboration with Devin Townsend (as an encore on this show).
As she collaborated with Arjen Lucassen before on several on his Ayreon projects,
it made sense to include some of these as well.
In an intermission Anneke presented a real ‘Jack Daniels’ guitar, a tradition by the venue ‘Hedon’,
won by Wendy Roessink, who stated she would definitely have to learn to play the guitar now!
So the last third of the show were predominantly songs from ‘other albums’ but Anneke and the
band performed these so well you would almost forget the original versions.
The last song of the show had to be one of The Gentle Storm: Shores Of India and if I remember
correctly there was also the epilogue from the actual album as a last farewell.
In conclusion this had been a stunning performance all the way and it seemed all musicians on
stage enjoyed the show just as much as all people witnessing this performance. What more could you want?
Zwolle was taken by (gentle) storm…...
Setlist Gentle Storm
Heart Of Amsterdam
Wish You Were Here
The Moment (gentle version)
Valley Of The Queens (Ayreon)
Cape Of Storms
The Greatest Love
Waking Dreams (Ayreon)
Strange Machines (Gathering)
Isis And Osiris (Ayreon)