RPWL, 30th April 2002
De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands

By Ed Sander


Editorial Note: This gig was a 2-concert with the band Timothy Pure. Unfortunately we don't have a review of the TP gig. If anyone who has seen the gig wishes to write some of their experiences, please mail them to me and I'll gladly add them to this review.
Meanwhile, enjoy RPWL!

After Timothy Pure's gig the equipment on stage had to be changed around, which took about half an hour (though the audience got a cute little female roadie to look at in the meantime), it was time for RPWL. Their show started with the taped middle eastern intro of the Trying To Kiss The Sun, while the band came on stage and kicked off the set with this great rocker from their splendid new album by the same name.
The band used a large backdrop showing a big sun and a small earth in the background, not unlike the album cover, though against a black background instead of a white one. A smart effect was used of projecting good old-fashion oil slides straight on the big sun. Later during the set other light patterns would be projected on the sun above the stage, creating nice appropriate atmospheres.
As on the album and during the previous tour, the band consisted of five people; Yogi Lang on vocals (once again, in a rather mellow mood), Karlheinz Wallner of guitar, Phil Rissettio on drums, Andreas Wernthaler on keyboards and newcomer Stephan Ebner on bass. Ebner turned out to be quite a character, coming across as a new Jowitt/Levin incarnation, dressed in a sleevless shirt with the fluorescent text 'Acid Punk' (or 'Acid Rock', I couldn't quite tell because his bass was in the way) and a weird kind of dress beneath that.

Whenever an instrumental section would occur, Yogi would get behind an extra set of analogue Moog keys to add some extra textures. Trying To Kiss The Sun ended with one of these additional Moog solos. Another two new songs followed: I Don't Know (What It's Like) and Waiting For A Smile, both in fine renditions.
For the next song, Yogi picked up a megaphone, while the band started playing some elevator muzak. Yogi explained that the band could have a very angry side, trying to get the band members to show how angry they could be (without really succeeding; they wouldn't be able to scare a 4 year old kid if they wanted to). This was of course meant as an introduction for Sugar For The Ape, probably the most aggressive song the band has ever made. A fine in-your-face version was played, but although the singing through the megaphone worked nicely as a gimmick, it would probably be better if Yogi would have stayed near his microphone so you could actually hear it. The music, which at times was quite loud, completely drowned the megaphone whenever he would wander away too far. Unfortunately the live version of Sugar For The Ape missed the beautiful piano outro.

The next song was a track from their debut album God Has Failed named Spring of Freedom. Indeed, it's that song for which the lyrics seem to have been written using that Jon Anderson Lyric Generator on the internet ('mountains come out of the sky and they are standing there', how lame can you get ?). Fortunately, the song comes with good music and a great vocal melody, making it very enjoyable after all. What's more, this was one of the first songs to feature heavy use of the band's quadrophic system. Using this system, with speakers placed in the back of the venue, sound effects and keyboard chords would circle around the hall, approaching the audience from four different directions instead of just the stage. I continue to thoroughly enjoy performances using this technique. Spring of Freedom was extended with a sort of drum solo, with Phil going absolutely berserk behind his kit.

After another highlight from their debut album, In Your Dreams, which sounded remarkably much like Pink Floyd's Sorrow in this live rendition, it was time for another couple of new tunes. First we got the mid-tempo rock song Tell Me Why, followed by a great version of the pastoral Side By Side. Things got really psychedelic during the second half of Side By Side with lots of freaky effects and Moog sounds. When the last Moog tones had finally died out the band unexpectedly launched into a heavy uptempo reprise of the verse melody to close the song.
Then the stage went completely dark while the band performed a powerful version of Pink Floyd's Welcome To The Machine, once again using the quad system to great effect. Although the performance was quite impressive, Yogi still hasn't got the lyrics quite right. Maybe I should bring a copy along next time.

Who Do You Think We Are, another 'old' tune, was extended at the end and seemed to go into a different song, though I wasn't able to tell what it was. 'I should be very careful not to announce the next song as "Field of Coloured Amber"', said Yogi, announcing the next song, Fool. Seemingly I hadn't been the only one that noticed this mistake in Hellendoorn during the previous tour.
After the lovely ballad Believe Me, the band closed the main set with one of the absolute highlights of their new album, Home Again, in a blistering guitar-laden rendition.

The band came back for two encores. The movie samples circling around the room gave away the first of these: Hole In The Sky (Part 1), one of the favourites of the first album. The live version played also included the guitar solo of Part 3.
By way of cooling down the band ended their performance with Sunday Morning, another lovely pastoral tune from their new album. As on the album, it ended with a fine piano solo by Andreas in one of his (too rare ?) moments in the spotlight. This concluded a splendid 100 minute gig.

All in all this was another fine performance by a great band. The sound was good, if a little loud at times. The lightshow was effective and featured many smart effects supporting the lyrical content of the songs. Since last year's performance in Hellendoorn, Yogi has seemingly improved his communication towards the audience. Although still a bit shy and timid (or just spaced-out ?) he did many attempts to talk to the crowd. He could however improve his stage performace a bit further; the many gestures supporting the lyrics are fine, but to see him wandering around the stage aimlessly gets a bit tedious at times. Nevertheless, he did a fine job.
One of the stars of the evening was guitar maestro Karlheinz, who once again proved to be a worthy disciple of St. Gilmour. The drums were also handled more than aptly by Phil, with some absolutely impressive moments. Andreas did very well behind the keyboards, although I would have liked to hear some more of him instead of having the instrumental sections overshadowed by Yogi's Moog play all the time. I did sort of miss the sparkling presence of Chris Postl, the former bass player, as well as his Rickenbacker solos. Still, newcomer Stephan was interesting to watch as well, in his own way. Although positioned at the back of the stage (opposed to Postl's front stage position last year), he would occassionally wander to the front during the instrumental bits. Also, Stephan, like all the other members of the band, was obviously having the time of his life.

By the time you read this review, the band has probably finished their current series of gigs. However, the will be performing again later this year (check their website for dates). Make sure you get their CD and go see them live if you have the chance.

Setlist:

Trying To Kiss The Sun
I Don't Know (What It's Like)
Waiting For A Smile
Sugar For The Ape
Spring of Freedom
In Your Dreams
Tell Me Why
Side By Side
Welcome To The Machine
Who Do You Think We Are
Fool
Believe Me
Home Again

Hole In The Sky (part 1 & solo part 3)
Sunday Morning

 

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