Lana Lane and Erik Norlander, 16-5-2001
Biebob, Vosselaar, Belgium

By Remco Schoenmakers

Wednesday 16 May, my girlfriend Samantha and I went to Vosselaar in Belgium to see the last show of the European Tour of Lana Lane and Erik Norlander, on a kind invitation by Hans van Vuuren from Transmission Records/Double Dutch BV. The venue is a small, almost anonymous bar on a long street, and easy to miss in the dark. Fortunately we were early, and with a couple of others we waited outside before we could enter. As always, at the time the concert should officially start, nothing happed yet. The venue can hold at maximum 250 people comfortably (I guess), and I think about 150 were present. Lately, I have been attending more concerts in such small venues, and I do like it a lot better than the slightly bigger onces like Paradiso or de Boerderij (in Zoetermeer), which has a fabulous programme, but the venue itself is a disaster for the audience, especially when crowded. Lana The opening of the concert showed how well the sound engineer had set up the balance of the instruments: the sound was clear, all the instruments in balance and the heavy intro, a combination of Rocket Scientist, Lana Lane and Erik Norlander tracks was pounding through the hall. It sounded pretty massive and pompous, just how I hoped it would be! Lana made her first appearance with Escher's Staircase, from her Curious Goods album. I personally do not have a copy of that album, so this was in fact a new track to me. It sounded very good. Lana's voice was perfect, she knows to hit the notes so precisely and so in tune, amazing after over three weeks of touring! Unfortunately, her microphone seemed to be dull, I don't know, it somehow didn't sound as crystal clear as it should have been. During the concert, I think this improved (or I just didn't notice anymore). The next track, Though The Rain, which is on her first album Love Is An Illusion (see also my review of the European release (finally !) of that album here on DPRP soon), sounded really heavy, with magnificent guitar work by Peer Verschuren (Vengeance) on guitar. This guy really rocks! Although he sometimes produces more notes than strictly necessary, he added a good deal of power to the tracks, together with Ed Warby (Ayreon, Gorefest) on drums. After Alexandria from her latest release Secrets Of Astrology, the set focussed on Erik's solo efforts. It started with a powerful rendition of Rome Is Burning, here, of course, sung by Lana in stead of Glenn Hughes who sings this track on the album. I thought that it would be very funny but her voice was so natural on this track that I only realised half way through that this is normally a male-vocal track. Then it was time for some keyboard wizardry from the maestro himself. Almost hidden behind 6 different keyboards, among which a Hammond and, you couldn't miss it, his gigantic Moog behind him (for some detailed info on size and weight of that beast, see the interview Sam and I had with Lana and Erik for DPRP) Erik attacked the keys for an interesting version of his "classic" track Neurosaur. It had an extra moody intro and was fully on keyboards (unlike the version on Into The Sunset which has Arjan Lucassen on a deep pounding rhythm guitar), as on Threshold. However, it sounded more like a version in between those two. Erik was flying over the keys, attacking multiple keyboards at once. A cool sight! After Neurosaur, he played Dreamcurrents, one of my favourite tracks on Into The Sunset. I really like the almost impressionist chord sequence of that track. Here, showman as he is, he added some variations to it and did some impressive piano playing. As on the album, this track was followed by Fly with Lana returning to the stage. Unfortunately, she couldn't do the "duet" with herself like on the album, but still this is one of my favourite tracks of the couple. After this climax, it was time for some rest with two songs of the Ballad Collection (link), When Time Stood Still and Seasons End. Especially that last track convinced me much more live than on the Ballad Collection, also due to the very warm Moog sound (I now see the point of using the original instrument in stead of a synthesised sound). Still I prefer Hogarths version.

After these resting points, it was time for some action again with, let me call it the "Astrology Suite". PeerThe title track Secrets Of Astrology is a particularly strong track. I still haven't got that album (I'm drowning in review work and it is so hard to listen to anything else, I hardly buy any albums anymore, I simply don't have the time) which I do regret a lot, because I love the melodic structure of that track (I did hear it before in low quality streaming audio). Then a surprice: Floyd's In The Flesh? banged through the hall. I already started wondering if I had been watching a "surrogate band" all the time, but it flowed into Rocket Scientist's Oblivion Days. Lana's voice was perfectly suited for the track, and it kept surprising me how easily she takes over these male-vocal tracks. This pounding track ended again with In The Flesh? and a blistering guitar solo by Peer Verschuren (I was tempted to shout: eat your heart out Gilmore! but resisted to do that due to the small venue ;-).

Next we got a lesson in the finer art of Chapman Stick playing by Don Schiff. Almost the entire concert he had stood on the background playing that instrument, but during this solo, he could show us all how much you can do with the thing. Truly amazing, the sounds, melodies and chords you can get of it! Aided by some bass-pedals, he could almost play an entire band by himself. An amazing sound and sight. The so called prog-medley consisted of a couple of Rocket Scientist tracks, I believe the "Scientist" tracks (the tracks on the albums named after a famous scientist). Something went wrong, I believe, as they suddenly stopped and looked at each other wondering what to do next. A minor glitch in an otherwise well performed part. A powerful version of Love Is An Illusion followed, and then Lana started to thank everybody on the tour, and dedicated In The Court Of The Crimson King to them, a nicely done track. I'm not too familiar with the original (I know, as a prog journalist I should now go to the desert and slowly starve myself to death for this fact), so I cannot compare it too closely. The encores Destination Roswell and Symphony Of Angels finished the excellent set.

It has been a while since I saw a concert that thrilled me so. Maybe the fact that it was not too crowded, people paid attention and you could walk to the left of the stage when Peer did a solo and to the right when Erik was working up a sweat, helped but also the music itself is just great. After the concert, we met a person well known for e.g. his Ayreon and, recently, Ambion projects, Arjen Lucassen. I hadn't met him in person before and it was very nice to chat with him about his (past and future) projects, about music and about DPRP's Roundtables (he was wondering if we actually sat around a stereo together. Well, no, everybody does the reviews completely independently. We can't even manage to hold more than a single face-to-face team meeting every two years!). After a while, Erik and Lana were ready for the interview which you can find on the Specials page.

(Official) Setlist:

1) Intro: Dark Water/Fanfare/Garden Of The Moon/Ocean Queen

2) Escher's Staircase

3) Through The Rain

4) Alexandria

5) Rome Is Burning

6) Neurosaur

7) Dreamcurrents

8) Fly

9) When Time Stood Still

10) Season's End

11) Astrology Prelude

12) Secrets of Astrology/Stormbringer/Secrets Outro

13) In The Flesh?/Oblivion Days/In The Flesh?

14) Chapman Stick Solo (Don Schiff)

15) Prog Medley

16) Love Is An Illusion

17) Destination Roswell

18) In The Court Of The Crimson King

19) Encore: Symphony Of Angels


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