Slice, 15th May 1999
Agnietenkapel, Gouda, The Netherlands

By Derk van mourik

Spring Festivities

Let me start by saying that Gouda (famous for its cheese, pipes and candles, but not for its lively prog scene...) doesn't really have a respectable venue. There is one youth society that regularly hosts gigs but as a venue it's quite small, especially compared to such illustrious music temples as Amsterdam's Paradiso and Melkweg, Utrechts Vredenburg and Tivoli, and even such prog haunts as Uden's De Pul and Den Bosch's Willem II. Tonights gig was to be held in a former chapel called Agnietenkapel, which is now used for events of various nature. I wonder what the man upstairs thinks of that!

I entered the place around nine, and at that time there were around 80-100 people there. In the following half hour before the start of the gig this number didn't grow significantly and as a result the venue was filled to about two thirds of its capacity.

As the building was a chapel, it had large windows which let in a lot of light. Coupled with the fact that the audience was very noisy it was just as if the band was performing in a mall on a busy saturday afternoon. It's really too bad that there are always quite a lot of people who come to gigs not to watch and listen to the band but to chat with their friends. I think it's got to do for a part with the fact that admission to these gigs is always quite cheap and people are therefore willing to shell out the extra dough to be able to talk inside instead of outside. Too bad.

On to a positive note: the band. Never having heard Slice (formerly known as Slice of Merlin) before, I was pleasantly surprised. Their music is a mix between Sisters of Mercy and The Smashing Pumpkins, with a bit of grunge and metal thrown in, and seasoned with a goodly portion of psychedelica. A track like opener The Flying Pig reminded me especially of Sisters of Mercy, not in the least because of lead singer Matthijs Vegter's heavy vocals on this track. It became immediately apparent, though, that the mix wasn't optimal, because from where I was standing the keyboards and Ciska Jansz' violin could not be heard at all. This problem arose at some other points during the gig, too, but luckily there were enough more quiet tracks or parts of tracks that did justice to the haunting violin, such as Flowers and the beautiful Mountain which closed the main set. For me, that track was the highlight of the show. It had a great keyboard intro followed by a duet between the violin and Annelien de Vries' cello. Former band member De Vries appeared as guest musician on a couple of other tracks, too, notably on Heart of Darkness. Michiel Bunnik's guitar parts on this track reminded me somewhat of Dave Gilmour. Klaas Smulders was another guest musician, playing saxophone on a couple of tracks, on of which was Extatum, of which I couldn't decide wether it was sung in french, spanish, both together or something entirely different!

The last but one track of the main set was the only track sung in dutch. The title Zeven Stuivers Rijk translates roughly to something like Fortune of Seven Dymes. The first encore was the ballad, Bare Feet, somewhat reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins. A girl went through the crowd carrying a basket of flowers which she threw into the crowd and onstage. The final song of the evening was the heavy I Need and Arm, a heavy rocker.

Like I said, I was quite impressed with the performances. Vegter is a lively front man and I liked the addtion of violins and cello. The band have one CD (1996) and one Demo (1993) out. Time to check those out!

The Flying Pig
Grab My Hand
The Day*
Heart of Darkness*
She's Awandering*
Roots Under My Feet
Rubber Base
Juicy And Warm
Pale Green Areas
Her Sails...^
Zeven Stuivers Rijk^
Bare Feet
I Need An Arm

The Band:
Bastiaan de Vries - keyboards
Ciska Jansz - violin, backing vocals
Michiel Bunnik - guitar, backing vocals
Matthijs Vegter - lead vocal
Arjen Schouten - drums
Marc Schouten - bass guitar

Guest musicians:
Annelien de Vries - cello on *
Klaas Smulders - saxophone on ^


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