Sunday, 19 May 2019

On Stage: dEUS @ TivoliVredenburg



I can't believe it's been 20 years since dEUS' master piece The Ideal Crash came out. It must have been around that time I started discovering their music and saw them play live for the first time. It probably was a festival where I got my mind blown by this amazing Belgian rock band. Now they are celebrating the 20th anniversary of this iconic album with club shows where they play it in full start to finish.

dEUS at TivoliVredenburg Utrecht, May 16 2019



It is clear most people in here tonight were there twenty years ago as well, judging from the ageing heads around me. Young Belgian talent Trixie Whitley is here to warm us up and she plays a convincing set for a hall that is slowly filling up. dEUS had a steady line-up for a while but last year guitarist Mauro Pawlowski left the band and was replaced by Bruno de Groote. I always thought Pawlowski had a great stage presence and he's a unique character and musician. De Groote looks a bit more modest but sound wise it doesn't make a lot of a difference.



dEUS is still dEUS and after all of these years I still love them. The way they play with dynamics in their music is incredible. Not only do they have melancholic slow songs and heavy rocking ones, but they can let songs explode, going from quiet to all hell breaking loose in seconds and back again. There are many examples on The Ideal Crash, the LP that seems to bring everything together. The start is a bit hesitant tonight, although 'Put The Freaks Up Front' is a familiar one. The band grows into the show though and have it all together by the third song 'One Advice, Space'.



Man it is great to hear all these amazing songs live again, all those timeless tracks since this music never sounds outdated. This LP has a few of my favourites including the masterful 'Instant Street'. To me that song captures all the elements what I like about this band: the dynamics, the layers, the well thought details, catchy riffs, it's all there. And that bit of awkwardness what makes their music so unique and stick out, that makes them the original band they are. Also the way the band members are such passionate musicians and are still playing with a lot of heart. It is obvious the mood is high as well tonight with a cheerful frontman Tom Barman, who says he is not going to talk a lot but simply wants to play.



Of course he addresses the crowd regularly and has short jolly conversations with people in the crowd. This causes a very loose atmosphere and it turns into a true celebration, despite that the band didn't bring anything special for the occasion. Except for the wonderful dancers in some of the songs that are dancing with a lot of expression and energy. Who needs anything else when you have an album full of incredible music? After the album closer 'Dream Sequence #1' the band leaves the stage for a short while and returns for two encores ending the night with the epic 'Roses'. This was a wonderful show by an extraordinary band that I never get tired of seeing live. So tickets for their show in September in Paradiso are already in the pocket. Can't wait!



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Setlist:
01. Put the Freaks Up Front
02. Sister Dew
03. One Advice, Space
04. The Magic Hour
05. The Ideal Crash
06. Instant Street
07. Magdalena
08. Everybody's Weird
09. Let's See Who Goes Down First
10. Dream Sequence #1
Encore:
11. Quatre Mains
12. Fell Off the Floor, Man
13. Nothing Really Ends
Encore 2:
14. Roses


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Wednesday, 15 May 2019

On Stage: Club Kuru @ Paradiso



After I attended Jacco Gardner's show tonight Club Kuru were about to start their show at the small hall. I didn't know the band but of course I wanted to take a peak.

Club Kuru at Paradiso Amsterdam, May 10 2019



Of course I did look up who I was dealing with and the keywords "seventies" and "psych" caught my attention. Indeed the band plays mellow jazzy tunes with a psychedelic touch that could have come straight from the summer of love. The songs are gentle to the ears, soulful psychedelic music, played very skilfully. These musicians certainly can play and are tight, but at the same time loose enough to let the music fan out. They leave enough room for each other to excel and obviously know that "less is more", staying away from cluttering the music with unnecessary complicated parts.



Mostly the songs build up to spacy guitar solos backed up by warm electronics. The rhythm section pleases me a lot with groovy drums and a popping bass. Singer Laurie Erskine's somewhat high voice is the glue between these musical interludes. I do notice after a while that his vocals could use more variation as it makes the songs sound alike a bit. Because of the mellow vibe of the songs, it never gets wild and it doesn't really blow me away . On the other hand Erskine is trying hard to entertain the crowd and I can see myself enjoying this music on a summer's night with a cold one, dozing off while the sun sets.



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Tuesday, 14 May 2019

On Stage: Jacco Gardner @ Paradiso



After releasing a couple of lush dreamy psych pop albums, Jacco Gardner dropped his latest album Somnium last year. Named after the Johannes Kepler novel from the 1600s it is a somewhat dark instrumental journey that indeed feels like a dream. Not just any dream but one that you need to give in to. He played the entire album in Artis' planetarium a while ago, which proved the be the perfect place for his adventurous music. I wasn't able to attend that night, but fortunately he is now bringing his project to a few clubs around the country.

Jacco Gardner's Somnium at Paradiso Amsterdam, May 10 2019



In Paradiso's main hall pillows and chairs are circling a couple of synths, keyboards and other electronics. Smoke machines are fogging up the venue before the show starts. Gardner sits down in the middle and is joined by María Pandiello, who is sitting down opposite him. They start playing the music from Somnium and will play the whole album tonight.



Slowly the electronic soundscapes start to build their wondrous and somewhat dark dreamworld. Colourful spotlights are pointed at the centre and the smoke spreads out the light. It creates a hazy atmosphere where it is hard to see the other spectators in here tonight. Music and lighting complement each other in this strange atmosphere. You really need to surrender yourself to this spectacle to fully appreciate this performance and the ambient electronic music.



This was a pretty special night and I can only imagine what this must have looked like in Artis' planetarium, although I believe they are currently releasing footage from that show. It was very nice to see Gardner recreate that world here tonight. He's one of those creative artists that we should treasure.



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