Fates Warning, 17 April 1998
Noorderligt, Tilburg, The Netherlands

By Marco van Leeuwen

These are the signs, that we must embrace: It ruled! 11 out of a maximum of 10 Raindrops.

Venue: An old movie theater (oops! Should be "theatre", of course:-)), rebuilt into a concert hall. A great place for Fates to perform. Capacity about 1200; there must have been *at least* 1000 people.

The opening act: A Dutch technical thrash outfit. I'm not entirely sure, but I think they were called "Harrow". Their set lasted for about 45 minutes; they were quite loud, and (at least to me) not very interesting. Granted, they were quite a bit better than "Omen", the band who opened for FW during the first set of European dates of the APSOG tour, and they were capable of producing a couple of pretty neat riffs, but overall this wasn't exactly my cup of tea.
The highlight: halfway through their set, the drummer managed to wreck his double bass drum, so while the techs tried to mend the problem one of the guitarists entertained the audience by playing and singing the opening tune to "Meneer Kaktus", a popular Dutch childrens' show from the mid-Eighties. "Laat je handen zien, laat je tanden zien, zijn ze goed gepoetst?"
Conclusion: once again the opening act didn't quite belong with the headliner, in terms of musical compatability. The concerts I've attended which gave the audience a perfect match are few and far between: Fates Warning opening for Dream Theater on the "Awake"-tour (it doesn't get any better than that...), Payne's Gray opening for Psychotic Waltz (R.I.P.) during the "Bleeding"-tour, and Mark Knopfler on the "Golden Heart"-tour, when he didn't have an opening act at all.

The main course: Fates Warning pulled a Pink Floyd on us: they started with a recording of sound effects (in this case, falling rain) and let that go on for a while before actually coming on stage themselves. The setlist was as follows:

A Pleasant Shade Of Gray
(short break)
The Ivory Gate Of Dreams
The Eleventh Hour
Point Of View
(shorter break)
At Fates Hands
Prelude To Ruin
We Only Say Goodbye

Well, what else can I say (when the lines are all drawn...)? They were nothing short of brilliant. I could not detect one single mistake during the entire set. APSOG was wonderful as always, and TIGOD sounded incredibly energetic. Ray never sounded better than this night on this song, and the band apparently really enjoyed playing it again too: "That was fun, wasn't it?", The Voice proclaimed afterwards.
TEH got an incredible response form the audience (everybody joined in for the "Wo-hoho..."), causing Ray to jokingly wipe the non-existent tears from his eyes. AFH was unbelievable: the complex outro was executed flawlessly. AFH immediately seguewayed into PTR, at the point where the vocals begin ("Look to the sunrise man..."), and the instrumental bridge was immediately followed by WOSG (so the last section, from "Time, time, time, an imaginary line..." onwards, was omitted).

The individual members: Jim (guitar) was, as usual, totally into what he was doing, and made everything look amazingly easy. He even played the instrumental onslaught at the end of AFH as effortlessly as if it were "Mary had a little lamb":-).
Mark (drums and percussion): Sh. I have no words to describe the kickassitude of this man's
performance, so I won't even try. You need to see this yourself the next time FW performs somewhere near you.
Ray (vocals and assorted wisecracks): he was in prime form this evening, and had no problems whatsoever performing the older, melodically stratospheric material. He was in a great mood, and interacted with the audience a great deal more than at the previous concert I attended (last year in Katwijk).
Joey (bass): this guy is one weird banana:-). Mr. Vera, also known as the random smirk generator, was having a blast, and turned in a great performance.
Jason (Keazer, guest keyboardist from Divine Regale): he didn't look quite as young as I had been led to believe, but that might have been because he had decided to grow a beard:-). Anyway, even though Ed Roth (keyboardplayer on the first leg of the APSOG tour) was no slouch, Jason's performance was vastly superior. Any chance he might consider a transfer::-)?
Bernie (Versailles, guest[?]-guitarist) played Frank Aresti's parts on the older material, and did a wonderful job too.

The Good: Everything! I wouldn't mind *at all* if this concert made it onto the live 2CD scheduled for fall release in its entirety.
I also got to meet the charming miss Schnepf, Parallels' very own Barbara! It was good to finally be able to link an actual person to all those squiggly things on my computer screen.

The Bad: Yes, there *is* an entry in this category too, but fortunately it has nothing to do with FW itself. Right next to me there was this "woman" (I use this term hesitantly because I usually associate any verbal indicator of something female with concepts morally and aesthetically far superior to anything that could be ascribed to this... *thing*), who already was totally wasted before the opening act had even finished. It climbed on stage and sat down there (on the far left of the stage), generally annoying a *lot* of people with its behaviour.
What was worse, it at one point started posing a threat to Jim's performance, who was right in front of me (I always make sure I stand close to the guitarplayer). I had to forcefully remove it, and almost got into a fight with it; thankfully it was taken away by an employee from the Noorderligt. Another girl took its place, and although she yelled a lot, she wasn't nearly as annoying. ***Danger, Will Robinson, danger! Semi-sexist remark ahead!*** At least she was much more pleasant to look at...

The Ugly: The bassplayer of Harrow standing right in front of me, less than a meter away...:-)

The Merchandise: Black longsleeves with the Parallels-era Fates Warning-logo in blue on the front, "Let Nothing Bleed Into Nothing" and the dates of this leg of the tour on the back, "Fates Warning" on one sleeve and five "FW"-symbols in Parallels-font (blue) on the other.
Gray caps with that same "FW"-symbol.

Bottom Line: As I said: they ruled! 11 out of a maximum of 10 Raindrops.

Fates Warning, April 17th, 1998
Noorderligt, Tilburg, The Netherlands
by Barbara Schnepf

W-o-w. My life is now complete. I've lived to see and hear A pleasant shade of Gray and Ivory Gate of Dreams at the same evening. Both of my alltime favourite songs. What an experience!!!

And Fates Warning DID ROCK!!!!!!!! (Just in case there was any doubt about it...)
I had been to the Yes show a couple of days ago, and I had thought a living legend like Yes would be hard to top, even for Fates. I couldn't have been more wrong. Fates are the ones who cannot be topped. As far as I am concerned, NOTHING compares to the Fates Warning show I have experienced yesterday (okay, I admit, Fates Warning ARE my alltime-faves, but still it WAS a great show!).

The only disturbing incident was a completely drunk girl who was screaming constantly during some acoustic passages and kept crawling onto the stage towards Jim Matheos which was very annoying. Finally, when she started to tug at the electical cables (!), she was thrown out by an employee of the Noorderlight. Jeeeez - I used to think only drunk MEN can be a pain in the ass during a show. Well, you live and learn...

Apart from that the show was PERFECT. No other way to put it. Ray Alder was singing like a GOD, he completely knocked me out. Can a singer be in a better shape than Ray obviously is nowadays? Hell, that was FLAWLESS!!!!!!!

Joey Vera obviously had a helluva time and was grinning constantly, fooling about while playing from the first to the last note. It was so cool to watch him!

Jim Matheos, well... I cannot make many any statements about him, words simply would not do justice to his playing, and I could not put down to words anyway what it meant to me to see him play A pleasant shade of Gray and Ivory Gate of Dreams and Monument etc. just a few steps away from me. To see him play Innocence, that acoustic passage at the beginning of Ivory gate of Dreams had been the dream of my life for YEARS, yet had seemed forever out of reach because Fates Warning had refused to play that song for many years (except for a little excerpt during the legendary show in Wacken, Germany, a couple of years ago). But now it did come true!!!

Last but not least a few lines about Mark Zonder, as usual he was playing very concentrated and it was GREAT to watch this living drum-machine (in the best sense of the word, mind you!!!!!) perform. P> To be continued... because one Fates show is not enough, so I decided to go to the Baarlo show as well.


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