For the fourth time the second best prog stage of the world
in Zoetermeer organized the Progdreams festival;
a 2 day festival with 8 bands for the prize of just 1 major band.
A great opportunity to discover new bands and have many hours of enjoyment of good prog music in a nice atmosphere.
It still astounds me that these events attract so few people, the hall was not even half filled on Saturday and even worse on Sunday.
But I came all the way from Germany to see several of my favorite bands and discover some new ones.
The night before this festival with a dream line-up I was fortunate to invite a bunch of visitors for a curry.
Most of them came over from the UK for this two day festival. And many of us knew each other from social media only.
So it was quite nice to discuss the weekend beforehand face to face over dinner this time.
And on top of that half The Enid turned up at the dinner too. Which was nice!
Anyway, this was to be a weekend with 8 bands that you really want to see live.
As I missed them earlier Lazuli was high on my list fighting with The Enid that I love so much.
But then again I have a close connection with Abel Ganz and Änglagård as well…
The German band
that I already saw live once at the Night of the Prog festival were once
again very grateful and enthusiastic about the chance to play for a bigger audience of prog fans.
They even brought along a guest player, if I understood it well, the guitar player from Flaming Row, who played along with the 6-headed band on some songs.
The band treats the audience with a nice variety of instruments that contribute to the pleasant, refreshing sound of Frequency Drift.
The small red harp played by Nerissa Schwarz jumps to the eye immediately, the flute
brings even more colour into the music an the digital mellotron of course pleases the ears and heart of any genuine prog fan.
Replacement singer Melanie Mau has a pleasant voice, but she occasionally didn't hit all notes perfectly, but not in a way that disturbs the concert.
A bit more annoying for me was drummer Wolfgang Ostermann who was a bit out of tune or beat on some occasions.
I do think that the band still lacks some stage experience, so these imperfections should improve in due time.
All in all the band was an excellent opener for the festival and the hall quickly filled itself after
the band began to play for a handful people as guitarist Christian Hack experienced with great relief as he told later.
Frequency Drift surely gained some new fans with this gig.
This German band had the duty to open the festival with a handicap.
A setback really, as their singer Isa Fallenbacher was ill and was not present.
And vocals being a major part of their music, how would they cope with that.
And the answer is: perfectly. Another singer Melanie Mau took her place and performed as
if it was her regular daytime job. What an achievement,
replacing the cornerstone of the band in such a glorious way. Many, many kudos!
As I spoke to Melanie afterwards, while watching IO Earth, she was a bit timid,
not fully realising the impact of her wonderful performance.
Sweet with a bit of raw here. The singer and the many lovely soothing and screaming guitar
solo’s made this a well worth show.
Setlist Frequency Drift
One of my personal favorite bands
can't really do anything wrong with me, although I do have one point of improvement that I'll mention at the end.
Nothing much has changed since I saw Lazuli live last time a while back.
The dress code is still black with straps, rags and other non-functional, but interesting accessories.
The original band members are still situated on the front stage and wear beards in a creative style
and the newer band members on keys, French horn, percussion and drums are at the back.
Still no bass, still impressive, still very sympathetic and still a full enjoyment to hear.
Singer Dominique Leonetti still sings with lots of passion and pleases the crowd to say
a few words in the native language of the country where they're playing.
His brother Claude still warms my heart with his wonderful, self-made, instrument,
the Léode and still becomes admiration from the audience for his story and his playing.
Guitar player Gédéric Byar resembles Osama Bin Laden more and more, but with a much more friendly
expression and he surely can play guitar much better than Osama ever could which was proved also in the short guitar battle with Claude.
Romain Thorel still impresses me when he takes up the French horn and produces sounds that not
only fit to the progressive band sound, but are also the weirdest noises I ever heard coming out from that instrument.
Drummer Vincent Barnavol still provides a solid, but highly creative back beat to the whole music
and is of course the Lord of the Marimba which once again was the instrument where the encore took place.
Lazuli used their time on stage well and played a sort of best of from their already reasonable catalogue.
Dominique's singing was once again excellent and very emotional at times; high pitched notes and very powerful segments again did not bother him.
So, after the whole band gathered around the Marimba for the encore that was also played with just
as much joy and excitement as the whole gig, Dominique thanked the audience for
the huge applause with the often made mistake of thinking that "Danke" is actually Dutch.
I was left behind with the joyful feeling of just having experienced another great concert by this marvelous band,
with just one doubtful thought: "I have seen, heard, experienced this all before" and that's the only criticism I have about this concert:
lack of something new.
Well, yes, breathtaking. That is the word. Not too many bands have, show and bring the energy like they do.
With a smile, a joke and of course a fantastic performance. No flaws, nothing.
This is musicianship and showtime combined. Like I said earlier, although an admirer for a long time,
this was the first (real) time to see Lazuli play live. And I was a fascinated as any other in the audience.
Including some dancing moves from the ladies. I had high expectations and Lazuli made them all come true. Formidable!
Une pente qu'on dévale
Prisonnière d'une Cellule Mâle
Hands Around the Marimba
My second favorite band of this festival
shortly followed and first I was a bit shocked by seeing the image change of singer Joe Payne.
It has been some years ago since I last saw him and his haircut has drastically changed,
the boy like image had fully disappeared and a more confident singer was now taking the stage.
The band just released a new album, The Bridge, that could be bought at the merch stand,
which clearly indicated the current direction the band was going.
Even more than its predecessor Invicta the current The Enid sound is very orchestral, almost classical with lots of serene, quiet moments.
This clearly was not everyone's cup of tea and the hall slowly emptied a bit during the gig
and afterwards I heard several non complimentary comments from visitors asking if this music has a place still at a prog festival.
The people that did stay were fascinated though by the mesmerizing sounds of the band and passionate singing of Joe.
Singer Joe Payne also didn't have his best day; I rarely have been so impressed by a singer
as I was when I heard this young lad sing for the first time and I still think he would have been the best replacement for Freddie Mercury in Queen.
But I don't think the heavy rock music style of that band would have suited him.
And I'm clearly not the only one convinced by this vocal qualities as he was voted best male vocalist in the Prog Magazine Readers' Poll for 2014.
This evening though he didn't quite live up to my big expectations as he did have some problems here and there to hit all notes perfectly.
But Joe on his lesser days still sings 20x better than most prog singers on a good day, so it was still an enjoyable performance by him.
Robert John Godfrey was concentrated as ever behind his piano and looked very serious and even grumpy.
Only at the end, taking a bow and accepting the applause of the audience the kindness of the man showed itself again.
Guitarist Jason Ducker unfortunately had less to do with these more classical arranged
pieces of music and could only make a significant contribution some now and then.
Max Read added the occasional bass sounds and was a 1 man choir, backing up Joe in the more bombastic segments.
Dave Storey felt comfortable behind the 2 big bass drums and the other percussion instruments that he played together with Dominic Tofield.
With a very simple and endearing gesture Robert John Godfrey just said 1 word near the end and asked the audience "more?".
The remaining audience all shouted and clapped for two and were rewarded for that with an encore of the Barclay James Harvest classic "Mocking Bird".
Although the music was too classical for a considerable part of the audience it still was an impressive performance by this exceptional band.
And on to another legend. The Enid is a living legend of musical history.
Been around for so many years and able to completely reinvented themselves a few years ago by adding vocals and style.
If that isn’t progressive, I don’t know what is. And what vocals, Joe Payne has an extremely beautiful,
strong and flexible, classical voice. I thought lowering your timbre from falsetto to normal
while singing was physically impossible, Joe proved me wrong. He just does, live on stage!
Being the centre of the band, the frontman opposed to being ‘the new addition’
we saw him at de Boerderij a few years ago. Sir John Godfrey, concentrated as eve,
even had time to smile a few times. Clearly he was enjoying the performance as we did, a truly superb show.
Shivers, shivers, shivers.
Setlist The Enid
Someone Shall Rise
Something Wicked This Way Comes
One and the Many
With 7 people on stage, a very (too) loud sound and a pretty singer this English band
was the closing act on Saturday.
With the use of a violin, vibraphone, saxophone and transverse flute they offered their eclectic and rather unique sound.
Due to technical problems they started with some delay, people depending on the public transport would not make it to the end of the show.
Especially guitarist and vocalist Dave Cureton spoke to the audience regularly between songs and announced the next song.
He also introduced the two new band members to the audience who had not played live much with the band yet.
The use of a theremin by Adam Gough, the impressive stature behind the keys, gave an extra spark to the music.
I did notice that some male vocal harmonies came from tape and wondered why the band couldn't perform that live.
Singer Linda Odinson, originally from Norway, had some problems with the lower notes; they didn't
come out as they should do, but in the higher regions her vocals were very fine.
As known from this band they played several longer instrumental pieces or segments and to be honest
I must say the band are at their best when doing that.
Not that the singing was superfluous or unpleasant in any way,
but with these instrumental pieces the band proved best that they are great musicians
Several new songs from the new album were played including a song that was announced as rather heavy
(at least for IOEarth standards), but this didn't of course scare off the audience who
witnessed a good gig and returned home or to their temporarily bed quite late that night.
No people left for this last band of the day, IO Earth.
The audience got to see some great music including instruments such as clarinet,
electric oboe, electric violin switched with guitar form time to time.
The band surprised us with a brand new heavy song called ‘Common Sense’ from their new album.
The guitar soloing, in almost all songs, were a bit too much if you ask me.
It didn’t add to the atmosphere instead it got a bit annoying.
A pity as this was a very enjoyable end of day one of Progdreams IV.
Journey To Discovery
Mountains Start To Fall
Light & Shade
After a good sleep, a late breakfast and a drive back to Zoetermeer it was clear to see that several
people who were there yesterday hadn't come back today and not many new people had joined the audience.
took the stage and opened the Sunday program.
I never saw this band live, nor was familiar with their music, so this could be the first discovery of the festival for me.
With 6 mostly somewhat elderly men, except the keyboard player, they instantly grabbed the attention of the audience.
The fact the band was already formed in 1980 explains the higher age of the band members, but one can't say the show and music was one of elderly men!
Singer/guitarist Mick MacFarlane joked at the beginning that he was going to try to speak in a true Scottish accent to please the crowd.
Bass player Stevie Donnely also brought along a huge cello and Mick occasionally played some keys next to his guitar.
Guitar player Iain Sloan could also be seen and heard playing a sort of pedal steel guitar.
In his song announcements Mick used a lot of humour with which he also expressed the enjoyment of the band to play here.
The second song of the set was announced as the longest song from the new album with several segments, called Obsolesence.
Mick joked not to know how the whole song came together and why it was so long
With several acoustic guitars the band presented their own sound very well and I must say that
the band made a very positive impression at the audience that clearly contained several people not familiar with this band.
The vocal harmony singing, with 4 people, wasn't always as it should be, I noticed some flaws and disharmony there.
An ample attempt to have the audience join in a sing-along rather failed.
Near the end of the set Mick announced a song dedicated to his parents as a thank you which turned out to
be a rather folky/country Mumford & Songs-like song that did please the crowd.
This Scottish band surprised us with a new album last year that made my personal top 20.
After having a nice long chat with most of the guys at the terrace yesterday, I was very keen on seeing them on stage.
Maybe their choice of playing the ‘country-like’ song Thank You was a bit
of an odd one to some for a festival like this, but everyone present had a good time with a happy Abel Ganz on stage.
This being their first show abroad, they must have been a bit nervous.
The songs were glued together by some nice and humorous stories told by singer MacFarlane.
And the closing song ‘Unconditional’ was a very good choice! What a great song live on stage, several parts,
each one building up strength on its own and ending in a glorious grand finale. Well done guys,
the applause was long, intense and well deserverd.
Setlist Abel Ganz
From Hungary these 4 young men,
, came and presented the audience their instrumental Jazz-Rock, Fusion, Progressive Metal, or whatever you would call it.
With a classic band composition, guitar, keys, bass and drums they play their bit jazzy instrumental rock, but without any improvisations unfortunately.
With the bass player situated in the center of the stage the band clearly choose to give this instrument
a bit more prominent role compared to other bands.
The keyboard player also got plenty of room to sauce up the music with his keyboard bits, the music was larded with his contributions.
For me the music of Special Providence is like a dinner: the drums are the meat, the bass is the potatoes,
the guitar is the vegetables and the keys are the sauce and the herbs spicing it al up.
And this was a dinner to enjoy.
Although it seemed like every band member was doing his own thing regardless of what the others were doing,
but in the end the combined output sounded harmonies afterall.
An older song called "Lover" contained a very long, excellent, bass solo of the kind you don't hear too often.
Another song was introduced as their "pop song"; indeed it was a bit danceable, but still very
far fetched from a commercially interesting song; it did contain lots of keys though that this prog fan fully enjoyed.
All in all this band can be complimented with their virtuosity that resulted in a musically very interesting gig.
Special Providence, hailing from Hungary, depicts a very different corner in the progressive universe.
Instrumental, technical heavy and jazzy guitar on a fast beat is the message here. And technically fit these guys are.
The quality of play was brilliant as was the soloing. And although it was very intriguing to watch,
it started to bore me a little in the end. A bit of interaction with the audience would have helped.
I noticed some people walking away, tired after a while, so it wasn’t only me;
watching very happy faces all over the place too. Prog metal with overwhelming pounding drums and great jazz
interludes from a great keyboardist. Thanks Special Providence!
Setlist Special Providence
Due to a very long sound check the much awaited band from Sweden,
, started their gig a bit belated.
With 6 people, including 1 woman, on stage it was once again quite crowded under the spot lights.
A whole array of wind chimes and other noise making attributes took the center spot on the stage and I wondered how
these all would be integrated into the music.
The instrumental retro prog with a huge emphasize on dreamy tunes, quite mellow at times, almost ambient with some
slightly dissonant bombastic explosions were exactly what the audience expected.
Änglagård has developed a style of their own and they're of course good at playing that, weird at times, but very interesting and good.
Guitar player Tord Lindman did the announcements and apparently there was some disagreement among the band members about the setlist.
The introduction of the band members was done in a very attractive way;
Tord told the audience that playing with these guys sometimes results in utter chaos since everybody
plays a different tune and then he introduced every member and the tune they would be playing (all prog classics of course).
Who ever said that a crocheted sweater is not a wardrobe piece to wear on stage at a rock concert?
When you make mysterious and atmospheric Scandinavian rock it actually fits to the music as Anna Holmgren proved and also
the colourful slightly troll-like jacket Tord was wearing along with a coif above his wild bearded face made him look very ethnic.
Apart from the traverse flute and saxophone Anna also used a blown up balloon and 2 party horns among an array of
additional instruments to give a creative addition to the music.
Some segments were very serene, but the audience was mesmerized and totally in trance by the music and therefore silent as a mouse.
Änglagård is famous for the extreme contrasts between serene and extreme bombastic sounds, but this gig the latter was clearly under-represented.
Rather strange was that on occasions the keyboard player sat on a stool with his back to the audience; he was rather tucked into the corner anyway.
The set Änglagård played here was a rather dreamy one and that perfectly fitted to the festival name.
Now for something completely different. Different from Special Providence at least.
Luckily there was more time in between these two shows! Änglagård was the headliner of the day for many.
Again, many happy smiling faces all around, including all Abel Ganz band members.
My second live experience of this eccentric band and wow, it still is brutally overwhelming. The sheer quality,
the full soundscapes, the odd instruments, the great great drums, bass and leadguitars.
Brought to us with an amazing show. Quote from a friend in the audience “If you can play this fucking shit,
you have to be bloody good!”. That somewhat sums it up, isn’t it?
At this time in space I was flabbergasted. Not able to think straight.
Amused by what was happening on stage and amazed about the ease it was done.
I now know for sure, this is one of the best live acts I have ever seen and heard.
Introvertus Fugu Part 1
Vandringar i vilsenhet
was perhaps the most anticipated band of the day for many and to be frankly honest I actually don't understand why.
Some people have called this band a sort of super-group, compiled of renowned musicians that already earned their spurs in various other bands/projects.
Without a doubt John Young is an excellent, well experienced musician who indeed has some fame in the prog and rock scene.
But to be honest I had never heard about Martin 'Frosty' Beedle (although I know the Cutting Crew),
Jon Poole and Niko Tsonev before becoming acquainted with Lifesigns.
So for me this is just an interesting new band with some very experienced musicians.
With guitar, keys, vocals, bass and drums the standard line up was presented.
To me the music of Lifesigns is not truly prog, to poppy and rocky to be called true prog.
But that doesn't mean the concert can't be very enjoyable.
The four guys, not the youngest anymore, showed tremendous fun playing and it was indeed also a true pleasure seeing them play.
John acted also as the singer behind his keyboards, but unfortunately his singing talents didn't come anywhere near his ability to handle the keys
Bass player Jon Poole is without a doubt one of the most lively bass players I've ever seen, jumping around on stage.
And in some way he very much reminds me of actor Tim Curry, so he surely brought some life on the stage.
Guitarist Niko Tsonev was very well into his playing and often drifted off in his own guitar-playing world.
Frosty Beedle sat behind the drums in a sovereign way as if he was born there and would only come out for a nice beverage; a very relaxed drummer.
As already indicated the music didn't really grab me, but that's a personal taste matter,
but I can't deny that these guys put up a great show that fully entertained the crowd.
And they did quite amuse me too with the brilliant remark "For those not familiar with our songs,
you can sing along with the next song since it's an instrumental".
So with a smile on my face I went back home.
Also a band I have missed on several occasions. John Young and his partners in crime
(no Nick Beggs anymore) did a spectacular show here. I thought it was a bit too loud,
some said they brought their own sound guy. If that was the case, please don’t do that anymore.
It distracts from everything that was going on, the action and the great set of songs.
Many of the songs being mimed by a flock of true fans!
The show sometimes has the atmosphere of a pop act rather than a prog rock one.
I think that is a good thing indeed, never a dull moment. A great closer of a perfect festival.
Voices In My Head
Fridge Full Of Stars
At The End Of The World
Thanks to de Boerderij for organising this perfect festival. It was a weekend well spend.
Eight fantastic bands fighting for being the best of the best. The food served, made by lovely people,
was a bit scanty but the bar was cosy with great beers and even a bit of sun at the terrace.
Looking forward to the line-up of next year’s Progdreams V already!