Clepsydra, February 27th 1998
De Lantaarn, Hellendoorn, The Netherlands

By Derk van Mourik

A quiet evening?

After Thursday's Belgian Dream Theater adventure we were preparing for a relaxed gig in Hellendoorn's De Lantaarn venue. But the first thing to prove us wrong was the journey to Hellendoorn itself. We never expected it to be *that* far: it's almost in Germany!

Anyway, after a hellish drive (well, not really…) we finally arrived at De Lantaarn at half past nine to find the place packed. We were quite surprised that so many people had showed up for this gig, which was not only in a remote area but the two bands that would perform this night were not very well known even in progressive music circles. We also expected a typical iQ public (99% male and average age above thirty) but again were surprised to find the actual men/women ratio closer to 70/30.

The venue itself most closely resembled a shoebox: rectangular and a low ceiling. The walls were decorated with all sorts of road and traffic signs nicked from all over the world. One especially was very hilarious, pointing to were the toilets were and reading: 'Next toilet: 96 miles'.

But back to the gig. Sadly, we arrived too late to witness the full set of the support act Odysicce, a Dutch band which plays a type of music which is a blend of Camel and Pendragon. And since these bands are among my favourites I quite enjoyed the performance. At times I could have sworn it was Nick Barrett playing the guitars and Andrew Latimer being responsible for the music. The band was a four-piece but did not have a singer. And this is exactly why I wasn't too impressed overall: instrumental music has to be very good to be able to stand on its own.

A smart trader had set up a small CD booth at the entrance to the venue which we plundered during the break between the two bands' performances. Actually, I managed to restrain myself by buying only one CD (The Shining by Gandalf & Galadriel). Still it was quite nice to see some of those obscure CDs that you read about in the prog magazines but rarely ever see unless you order them at specialized stores.

We then hurried back to the stage because Clepsydra was about to begin their performance. Clepsydra is a Swiss band (I believe consisting of German, French and Italian Swiss) which is occasionally called a Marillion clone. I find that highly exaggerated but I must admit that the influences are certainly there.

The gig started with an intro tape on which running water could be heard. This was a very apt introduction to the song Soaked. The singer did most of the introductions. He appeared to be very nervous but luckily the guitarist helped out from time to time with some explanations. He was without doubt the most virtuoso of the band: not only did he play his guitar very well, he also played saxophone on a couple of tracks! (Can you say Ian Bairnson?) Somewhere in the middle of the set he was about to do an acoustic solo when his acoustic guitar broke down. That wouldn't have been a big problem (happens a lot at these kind of gigs) if the band had returned to fill in the musical gap. But they didn't and the gig bled to death a little while the guitar problem was being fixed.

Fortunately the end part of the gig was phenomenal and this really saved the performance. The beginning and the end were clearly the strongest parts of the gig.

At the end of the gig the singer read a piece of lyric in Dutch, which was shown on a projection screen at the start of the gig. This was very funny because of course he had an awful accent. For that reason I couldn't for the life of me understand what he said!

Right between the end of the main set and the first encore some smartass or other climbed on stage to tell a joke or something. The same guy had also climbed on stage a couple of times *during* the gig to play a solo on his imaginary guitar. The band obviously did not know quite what to think of it. Well, I thought it was very irritating.

Another false note was a part of the audience. Why is it that there are always people in the audience who like talking loudly to one another and drinking heaps of beer more than listening to the performances? And why, if they really have to do it, can't they do it at the bar and not right in the middle of the hall? I really don't know why these people come to these gigs at all. It probably has got something to do with the low admission prices.

These things notwithstanding Clepsydra made a good impression on me and I really had a good time. I bought the latest album (Fears) and went home a satisfied man!


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