Star One featuring Ayreon, October 1st 2002
The Intergalactic Space Crusaders tour,
Zeche, Bochum, Germany
By Klaus Reckert, translated by Tina Lillicotch
The All-Star Band From Star One
A truly "intergalactic" concert event! The enthusiasm that possibly shines through here could - amongst other things - have to do with the uniqueness of the whole thing: Cause Ayreon normally just doesn't give any concerts. So far the fans have only been able to sit at home in front of their stereo systems and listen to the fantastic songs the ex-vengeance-guitarist Arjen Anthony Lucassen came up with which were typically produced with an unbelievable star line-up including everything good and expensive in rock even from heavy to progressive. But due to everyone's tied up schedule Lucassen's contributions to rock music history have stayed unperformed... until now: Actual Fantasy ('96, with Robert Soeterboek, singer from Wicked Sensation), Into The Electric Castle ('98, with ex-Threshold singer Damian Wilson, The Gathering chanteuse Anneke van Giersbergen, the voice of Within Temptation, Sharon den Adel, as well as Marillion's formerly highest Highlander Fish among many others), The Dream Sequencer ('00, with guest appearances from people like Lana Lane and Spock's Beard's Neal Morse), Fight Of The Migrator ('00 with nameless mates on the guest list including "Mr. Air Raid Siren" Bruce Dickinson, the stratovarian Timo Kotipelo, Russel Allen and Michael Romeo from Symphony X, the former lord of the Gamma Rays, Ralph Scheepers and the Elegy-string-torturer Ian Parry, just to name a few...). Afterwards the similar prominently spiked collector's item "For Ayreonauts Only" arrived and then a small break set in... until this year's grand output Star One shone.
As the word got around that the maestro would go on tour with this album in his luggage even with a pit-stop near us, everyone was surely surprised, but also somewhat worried if Lucassen would succeed in getting all of the original muscians together for his opulent concert-happening.
The excitement was huge among the few hundred Ayreonauts who gathered in Bochum. There was no sign of the announced lable mates Vanden Plas which - at least at this point - didn't bother anyone, because therefore the furious, star-sparkling and projection-supported intro started earlier. At its peak maestro Arjen appeared on stage through a spaceship-like opening accompanied by furious screams out of the audience. For they had now already noticed that the real McCoys are actually setting the beat: Sir Russel Allen is slowly but surely taking on the shape of a whale, but still is one of the world's greatest singers and a reliable party-animal at that. Damian Wilson underwent old as well as brand-new "Star One" material with such fervor that made one wonder who really was the most talented interpreter on the Threshold mike... Floor Jansen, the female singer from After Forever took over the vocalist parts with the help of her younger sister Irene and demonstrated again that opera education really payed off.
Robert Soeterboek showed the audience what a dramatic chant is which might have made Whitesnakes David turn even whiter. Towards the end Gorefest drummer Ed Warby and bass-veteran Peter Vink (including others like Big Wheel and North Stars, although he already has assisted in Arjens first solo album as well) put on a ribald and heavy rhythm fundament while the Sun Caged key-magician Joost van den Broek not only mastered the truly sophisticated parts of his "antecessors" like Clive Nolan (Arena), Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) or Erik Norlander but also challenged Lucassen to some pretty charming duels: Strap-on keyboards vs Gibson Explorer...
And since the set-list also contained the most beautiful of many possible tracks out of all ayreonautic creating-phases the fans were perfectly happy and couldn't keep their eyes dry. For among the performed pieces were Valley Of The Queens (Floor's Show Piece par excellence!) and Robert's masterpiece Castle Hall from Electric Castle; Dream Sequencer from the likewise named album; Into The Black Hole, at which Damian could even make Bruce Dickinson forgettable and above all Dawn Of A Million Souls from Flight Of The Migrator one of numerous tracks, at which Russel Allen still managed to elicit these amazing activites out of his vocal cords.
But also the new album was abundantly represented for instance with the Lift Off -Intro, Set Your Controls, High Moon which is comitted to the movie Outland, the worthy treatment of the Star Trek IV-opus Songs Of The Ocean, the Stargate-adaptation The Eye Of The Ra as well as the tours' name giving Intergalactic Space Crusaders. And with Arabia from time-honored Vengeance, there was a rarely heard bonus in addition.
So, only glittering star-sparkling and no shadows at all? Well, about the silver tinsel in which the main part of the band wrapped themselves in for a preferably space-like appearance you can definitely be of various opinions. Nonetheless: If any concerts ever deserve the often too much used description "cult" then these Ayreon live dates do.
Intro: Lift Off
Set Your Controls
Eyes of Time
Songs of the Ocean
Dawn of a Million Souls
The Dream Sequencer
Into the Black Hole
Valley of the Queens
Isis and Osiris
Amazing Flight in Space
Bass and drum solo
Intergalactic Space Crusaders
The Eye of Ra
The Two Gates
All photos © Klaus Reckert, used with kind permission from Gästeliste.