Monday, 18 March 2019

On Stage: Raggende Manne @ Melkweg

The Dutch word "raggen" means something like "to romp". Dutch band Raggende Manne are a phenomenon that is hard to explain. Their wild punk free jazz, or "hectic punk jazz" as they call it, with Dutch lyrics that are mostly absurd, is one of a kind. The band has been romping around for over thirty years although they disbanded end of the nineties until their return in 2013. They had a new album planned with an accompanying tour, until disaster struck.

Raggende Manne at Melkweg Amsterdam, March 16 2019

Before they could release the new LP Alles Kleeft and start their tour, singer Bob Fosko got diagnosed with stage four cancer. He decided that he doesn't want to make a big drama out of it and go ahead with the tour as long as he feels fit enough. A changing bunch of guest singers is helping him out every night in case his voice plays up. Tonight they are Ro Krom, Theo Wesselo and actor Bert Kuizenga. For the rest the band just wants to play and throw one of their insane parties like they always do.

Tonight there's simply no room for sadness. Fosko looks in pretty good shape and cracks a few jokes about his disease. For the rest the band and their singers turn the place upside down. Think of it as a two hour punk show, compressed into a single hour. It may all seem a joke, but the music is actually really good. This band will run you over like a steamroller, put it in reverse and then run you over once again. That's why the shows never last really long, although tonight it seems to last a bit longer than usual. It's one of the benefits of having four singers on stage.

It's obvious everyone in here tonight is having a great time and maybe the party on stage is even the biggest. The band can't leave of course without an encore where everyone gathers on stage for the final blow. The band returns a second time and plays their first single that turned into an unexpected hit, the six seconds lasting 'Nee, da's niks'. It's a suiting end of a festive night, a celebration of a unique band.

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Saturday, 16 March 2019

On Stage: FEELS @ Paradiso

There's a lot going on at the moment about gender identity and about the position of women in the world. Also in music people realize something is going on in a business that is being dominated by males. So there's now a focus on music made by women and fortunately there are plenty of great female artists. Like the FEELS for instance, the band consisting of three women and a male drummer, who are on the rise.

FEELS at Paradiso Amsterdam, March 13 2019

We get warmed up by Czech shoegaze band Manon Meurt. Their slow post rock music is interesting enough although it needs a bit more work in my opinion. The drummer is so busy coming up with uncommon breaks and rhythms that he forgets that a song needs a groove. The band could be onto something though.

Ty Segall himself produced the first self titled FEELS album and with that stamp of approval you must have something to offer. The band bring their brand new album Post Earth and starts friendly with a couple of indie rock songs that have beautiful harmonies. But then their music explodes into wild punk and garage rock that blows everyone away. Singer Leana Geronimo is convincing in both the more quiet songs as in the loud ones. She sometimes even puts away her guitar to step up to the front. Fellow guitarist Shannon Lay is mostly singing harmonies but takes the lead in a couple of songs as well.

These are skilled and experienced musicians. Geronimo is a multi-instrumentalist and has her own band Wild Geronimo. Lay is a singer songwriter herself and performs solo. This is probably the reason this bands has so much diversity to offer in their music. But they add their own sound to it, which makes sure there is a clear direction. Best of all it all sounds very tight and well performed. This is a band to my liking with groovy rock songs and lots of energy. To top it off Geronimo announces that they will return to Amsterdam in June to play the new Loose Ends festival. I already got me my tickets and I am looking forward to seeing this exciting band again

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Monday, 11 March 2019

On Stage: Mozes and the Firstborn @ Bitterzoet

Dutch garage rock band Mozes and the Firstborn are a group that know how to have fun with their music. There's always that tongue in cheek touch in their songs, without making it too cheesy. On stage these guys can throw a big party too so I try to catch them whenever I can.

Mozes and the Firstborn at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, March 7 2019

This time the band just got back from a 6 weeks tour in the US, where they release their music on the illustrious record label Burger Records. It makes sense that company contracted the Dutch rockers since they fit right in with bands like together PANGEA. That band is all about having fun as well and at the same time know how to write convincing and killer tunes. They even teamed up with them on their new LP Dadcore for the title track. Currently the four lads are touring around in support of that album, this time without their regular drummer and producer Raven Aartsen.

You can hear a broader sound on the new record, showing the band keeps on growing. Tonight this becomes even more clear when you hear the new and older songs alternating. New songs like that title track 'Dadcore' and 'Sad Supermarket Song' are powerful rock songs but are also quite different. Light happy punk songs are followed by Weezer like rock and heavy grungy 90s stompers. The band sounds confident and is playing more tightly than ever. This may sound like a playful garage rock band with gritty slacker rock songs, but these guys can play for sure.

Fronted by the charismatic Melle Dielesen there's plenty going on live on stage as well, with a lot of energy flowing. Dielesen has always been an entertaining singer to watch, but seems to grow more and more into his frontman role as the band gets older. He's able to get a party started anywhere he plays, even when the crowd seems a bit hesitant like tonight. But these irresistible songs together with a band having so much fun is guaranteed to win even the biggest grump over. Their music is far too gritty and hooky to become mainstream, which is only a good thing. But somehow I hope this band could get bigger, only because I know they could make so many people happy and give them a good time. They always make me leave with a big grin on my face, that's for sure.

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