March 14th, 2003
Marillion Convention Weekend, Butlins, Minehead, UK
Bart Jan van der Vorst
Norwegians to kick off great weekend in Butlin's
One of the acts I had been looking forward to most for this year's Marillion Convention Weekend, was Norwegian band Gazpacho. A band whom I'd met during last year's convention and whose music I've come to love over the course of the past year.
Last year singer Jan Henrik Ohme had sung Afraid Of Sunlight with Steve Hogarth during the Swap The Band set of the 2002 Marillion Convention Weekend. This year he took the stage with his own band and they had the unthankful task of opening the 2003 Marillion weekend. Unthankful because the utterly slow check-in procedures of the holiday camp resulted in people being stuck in a queue for hours, and about half the attendees were still waiting in line when Gazpacho started their set in a rather empty venue.
I myself had to rush to the appartment after check-in, throw my stuff in, and then actually run in order to make it in time to the venue - my mates short of breath trying to catch up with me (the fact that this holiday camp was huge didn't particularly help either). We entered the venue just in time to hear opening of The Secret.
In order to play their songs live the band has recently added a drummer to their line-up, and is now a quintet: Jan-Henrik Ohme on vocals, Thomas Andersen on keyboards, Jon Vilbo on guitars and backing vocals, Roy Funner on bass and new lad Geir Digernes on drums. Rather than just trying to copy the electronic drum tracks that the orginal songs have (or worse, play an electronic drum kit) Geir had actually created a natural sounding rhythm for The Secret (and, later in the show, also for Bravo)
Apparently at the beginning of the song Jon had some problems with his guitar set-up, and the intro to The Secret was inaudible. I didn't notice, as I actually quite liked a drum-only intro to the song. It suits the song.
Naturally the band played just songs from their debut album Bravo, which premiered at the convention weekend. They had made the wise decision to play only songs that had been available for download through their website, so that at least a few people would be familiar with the material they played. The next one up was their "breakthrough" song, the one that saw them win the Make-a-Star contest for the first time, The Sea Of Tranquility. For this song Jan-Henrik picked up a guitar as well, which gave the performance a richer sound.
Some happy rockers followed with California and Nemo, and you could see they managed to win the audience over slowly (people were still coming in, so the venue was filling up a bit).
Ghost, one of the other songs from their Make-a-Star ventures, had been changed a bit. It started nicely with just Ohme and keyboard soundscapes and gradually it built into the recognisable melody that it Ghost. A very nice touch, although they played the song a tad slow.
The most difficult song for the evening was Mesmer, which is also by far the most difficult song of their new album. A bit like Marillion's The Answering Machine, and, just like Marillion's song, Mesmer really benefited from its live section.
The band had chosen not to distort Ohme's voice as much as it is on the album, and the live drums added a more natural feel to the song (the studio version suffers a bit from the sampled drums that are used).
The best (but one) song they played was the excellent ballad Ease Your Mind, which had been extended a bit with a double ending. This is another one of those songs that sounds perhaps a bit shallow on the album and really benefited from the live setting with a real drummer and all.
The gig ended with the best Gazpacho song so far, and also the highlight of the gig: Bravo. It had been extended to some 8 or 9 minutes with a long intro. The drumcomputer rhythm had been completely redesigned into a 'real' rhythm, which gave a whole new dimension to this song.
For this song two more musicians were called onstage to play the flute and violin. However, rather than just playing the few bits that are on the studio version, they actually added a lot of depth to the song by playing chords and melodies during the choruses as well. Excellent stuff!
The band left the stage in high spirits. Even though they had too small an audience and their performance suffered from a few glitches, the band left a lasting impression on the convention attendees, which is proved by the fact that they sold over 150 copies of their new album over the course of the weekend.
Certainly not bad considering the fact that this was only their third live gig as a band.
Also check their CD review and Interview (uploaded on Monday)!
Jan-Henrik Ohme - Vocals, Guitar
Jon A. Vilbo - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Thomas Andersen - Keyboards
Roy Funner - Bass
Geir Digernes - Drums
Mikal Krömer - Violin
Kristian Skedsmo - Flute
Sea Of Tranquility
Ease Your Mind
Photos © Bart Jan van der Vorst for DPRP (2003)