December 1 and 2, 2004
Bosuil, Weert and Willemeen, Arnhem
Article & photos by Andy Read
In almost 20 years of gig going, I’ve never before had the chance and/or the energy to catch a band on two consecutive dates of the same tour. But with flights to Holland costing just a tenner (both ways!); with a couple of days vacation to take before the year-end and still being on a bit of an Evergrey buzz following their blow-away performance at Bloodstock, the chance to see them play a full, headline set TWICE was just too good to miss.
And as a way of seeing how the same band can perform such different shows on two consecutive nights, this was a fascinating little trip.
Almost every Dutch town seems to have fabulous little venues in the shape of a network of little youth clubs. Not ‘youth clubs’ in the sense that you get them here in the UK but modern, multipurpose venues with a bar, and in the case of DeBosuil, a sizeable stage with a professional sound and light system. With a capacity of around 400, it seemed pretty close to capacity but for some reason the headliners seemed to be elsewhere. I’ve seen Evergrey on five previous occasions and by their usual high standards, the first part of the show was poor.
Maybe spirits were a little down after the previous night’s show in what vocalist Tom S. Englund later described as a ‘total shithole’ somewhere in Germany. But that’s no excuse for a performance that for the first half was just plain sloppy. Contact with the crowd was minimal and guitarist Henrik Danhage was far from at his best. It wasn’t until the encores that the band seemed to hit their stride and Tom finally realised that you have to give to receive.
Saying all that though, even on half-throttle, the bone-crunching pairing of Solitude Within and Nosferatu and the closing batch of Recreation Day, A Touch of Blessing and The Masterplan ensured my neck would be totally wrecked the following morning. And, heck, I still really enjoyed myself.
Support for this short, five-date tour came in the shape of Danish band Mercenary. Never heard them before but over the two nights they really impressed. A sort of sophisticated Thrashcore would be a fair label but it was their extremely professional, yet instinctively intense performances that really impressed. A very, very good live band. I’ve since got hold of their current album and it’s a bit of a metal monster too!
The Willemeen, in the bustling central city of Arnhem, was a more shabby setting than the previous night but because of that, had bags more character and atmosphere. The crowd was livelier, the atmosphere more electric and from the very first chords of Blinded, it was clear that the band was determined to end the tour with a bang. Tom was clearly unwell with a bad throat – twice leaving between songs – but from the moment he strode onstage, until the crowd participation singalong on The Masterplan, he worked the crowd in the extreme.
The main reason for me wanting to see this tour was the chance to see how tracks from the ambitious The Inner Circle came over live. Of the five songs played over the two nights, there was unfortunately no Ambassador but the decision to open the encores with the instrumental When The Walls Go Down is a great move and as at Bloodstock A Touch Of Blessing stands out as an absolute monster.
The band is currently completing work on a live DVD, recorded in their home city of Gothenburg in October and due out in April. The band has also already been booked for a return to the UK for the Bloodstock Open Air in June. If these shows are more akin to the powerful performance in Arnhem, rather than the sloppy showing in DeBosuil, then you can guarantee venues this small won’t be able to hold them for much longer.
More Then Ever
She Speaks To The Dead
End Of Your Days
Waking Up Blind
As I Lie Here Bleeding
Rulers Of The Mind
Mark Of The Triangle
When The Wall Go Down
The Essence Of Conviction
A Touch Of Blessing