Thursday, 28 April 2016

On Stage: Wolfmother @ Paradiso

Australian band Wolfmother is actually an alias for Andrew Stockdale who is the only remaining original member and the driving force behind it. A few years back he shelved Wolfmother and released a solo album under his own name together with a solo tour announcement. I got tickets to his Paradiso show, but then the whole tour was cancelled and things got a little unclear for a while. Stockdale returned to his Wolfmother project but the line-up was changing a lot. The latest album Victorious shows a return to form and things seem to be well again in the Wolfmother universe. And finally they also returned to Paradiso.

Wolfmother at Paradiso Amsterdam, April 26 2016

The band has returned to the trio line-up so the stage looks quite empty. Stockdale looks a bit detached from the other two standing at the left side of the stage. He explains later on in the show that he strained his ankle and apologizes for not moving all over the stage like we're used of him. It doesn't really matter though when the skinny curly haired Australian opens his mouth to sing and we can hear his mighty rock howl. 'Victorious' opens the set and proves the band is back where it once began with Black Sabbath and Zeppelin kind of riffs and grooves.

There is often criticism for not being original and copying the famous hardrock bands too much. I think that despite the fact that they are definitely inspired by the hard rock music from the seventies, it's more than a just copy. And yes, some songs sound alike and the band doesn't use a lot of variation, but they play their music so well and with a lot of heart and conviction. Most important of all they are clearly enjoying it a lot. Stockdale may be injured but it's clear he's excited to play here tonight and is spreading joy and good vibes across the room.

Right from the start a little party breaks loose that only gets bigger when older songs and fan favourites like 'Woman' are played early in the set. The trio setup is actually great for every musician to give what they got without getting in the way of someone else. Bass player Ian Peres is working hard, playing both bass and keyboard, sometimes even at the same time. Drummer Alex Carapetis doesn't have to hold back either, knocking out the heavy grooves with great force. In the encore there's time for two more songs until of course the best Wolfmother song 'Joker & The Thief' closes the night with a bang. So it may not always be very original but boy does this feel good!

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01. Victorious
02. New Moon Rising
03. Woman
04. Apple Tree
05. The Love That You Give
06. White Unicorn
07. White Feather
08. California Queen
09. How Many Times
10. Gypsy Caravan
11. Dimension
12. The Simple Life
13. City Lights
14. Pretty Peggy
15. Pyramid
16. Colossal
17. Vagabond
18. Joker & the Thief

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Monday, 25 April 2016

On Stage: Beets, Bennink, Herman, Jacobs @ Tivoli Vredenburg

A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to join him to go see a jazz concert with pianist Peter Beets, drummer Han Bennink, sax player Benjamin Herman and bassist Ruud Jacobs. Well if you line up these giants of course I want to see that!

Beets, Bennink, Herman, Jacobs at Tivoli Vredenburg, April 24 2016

These four musicians really don't need any introduction, all of them top notch musicians and the best jazz has to offer. Benjamin Herman of course is one of my favourite musicians and Han Bennink simply is a legendary drummer you can't see often enough. Beets explains they did a one time show once and got requests to play in this line up more often and here they are. If you put extraordinary musicians, together this doesn't always mean you automatically will get more than the sum of their parts, but in this case you get a lot more, at this Sunday afternoon concert which is a rare one for me.

Of course they have played together in some way or the other but not in this line-up with all four of them on one stage. It's a delight to watch these musicians work one another, challenge each other and have so much fun. Beets' piano play is sparkling and clear, with notes tumbling over each other. Jacobs' contrabass is groovy and glues everything together wonderfully. Herman's alto saxophone play sounds lush as always, with that classic sound and Bennink simply is out of this world with powerful and dynamic play, getting the most out of his drum kit and surroundings. He proves that the drum kit isn't the instrument, but the drummer is.

Most of all this is all that music should be about: having fun on stage and projecting that energy and pleasure on the audience. The quartet plays many compositions by Misha Mengelberg and a few other standards, sometimes discussing on stage what album it was originally on or what the actual name is. This only underlines the relaxed and unconstrained atmosphere they create today, where they seem to thrive on and everything is grooving with a lot of swing. In the end this was a great way to spend this Sunday afternoon and hopefully we can see this quartet play a lot more in the future.

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Friday, 22 April 2016

On Stage: The Sore Loses @ Bitterzoet

In their home country Belgium, The Sore Losers are bringing down big houses by now, but over here they are still playing smaller venues like Bitterzoet. With a great new album Skydogs out, that is getting good reviews maybe that can change. Until then I can still get the see them in an intimate club.

The Sore Losers at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, April 20 2016

Anyone that has seen this band before, knows they give it all on stage and know how to put up a great rock show. It doesn't matter how big or small the stage, they will work it like there's no tomorrow. And with the new album they have added plenty of songs that should be able to win over any crowd. Raw and groovy rock songs influenced by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and The Rolling Stones are played with great confidence. A catchy song like 'Cherry Cherry' should get anyone jumping, but the crowd is a bit mellow tonight. That's not the band's fault who are working up a sweat like always.

The band looks great on stage with active front man Jan Straetemans and guitar player Cedric Maes as the ones who run the show. Maes has great skills and is knocking out wonderful riffs and solos seemingly effortlessly. Their first album was a real blues rock album but by now they are so much more. It's still clear though where their heart is when you hear songs like 'Nightcrawler' and 'Got It Bad'. Together with older favourites like 'Girl's Gonna Break It' this band can play any crowd by now and does win everyone over by the end of the night. These guys should be on any festival this year where they will blow everyone away.

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