Tuesday, 12 November 2019

On Stage: TaxiWars @ THT

After a successful club tour with dEUS celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Ideal Crash, Tom Barman is on the road again. This time he shares the stage with his buddies from TaxiWars, the exciting jazz combo he already released two albums with.

TaxiWars at Paradiso THT Amsterdam, November 9 2019

The band has just released their new LP Artificial Horizon and are doing a club tour around it. The last time I saw them three years back they were playing the small Bitterzoet venue, but this time they have moved to the larger Paradiso North which has filled up nicely. It’s not that common that jazz quartets fill up venues like this, especially when they are not world famous.

It’s for a good reason though, since it is a lot of fun seeing this band play. Robin Verheyen is playing amazing and expressive solos on his tenor sax, really blowing the most crazy notes. Most of the songs also have stunning grooves, that are really funky and give the tracks a sense of agitation. Both bass player Nicolas Thys and drum player Antoine Pierre make these grooves sound so good and make them stand out.

Barman uses theses grooves for his lyrics that he’s singing and talk singing, this way emphasising the agitation. At the same time he’s doing funky dances around stage. Clearly he’s totally into it, continuing his dancing even when he’s watching from the side, when the band leads into a solo. It’s really nice to see how this group loves playing together.

Verheyen is sometimes switching to piano for slower songs or to add an extra layer to the groove. Some songs are almost funky pop tunes spiced up with jazz. The quartet shows a lot of creativity in their music, that could easily feature in one of David Lynch’s movies. Tonight this venue turns into a smoky jazz club from a film noir movie for one and a half hour, and it's wonderful.

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Saturday, 9 November 2019

On Stage: Fontaines DC @ Paradiso

It's been an incredible year for Dubliners Fontaines D.C. The band released their first album to raving reviews and everyone agreed this is one of the must see bands of this year. At the Loose Ends festival the quintet proved to be one of the highlights and a band to watch.

Fontaines D.C. at Paradiso Amsterdam, November 6 2019

The Irish band was supposed to play at the intimate small club Bitterzoet, one of the Paradiso stages in Amsterdam, which sold out in no time. It was then moved to the main hall of Paradiso, which also sold out, proving this is the band you wanted to see. There's a sense of anticipation hanging around in Paradiso tonight that you don't feel that often. This is one of those nights where you know you might just witness something extraordinary.

What is it about this band that makes them so special? It's hard to put a finger on it, but when you see them play live, you just get the feeling this is a unique band. The way singer Grian Chatten moves around stage, in a somewhat nervous, almost uncomfortable way, but at the same time very intense. The rest of the band looks pretty much untouched, but the guitar lines and grooves are simply to the point and spot on.

Most of all the songs are of rare quality, hitting the sweet spot every time. They are great melodies with a dark undertow and Chatten's poetic lyrics that combine into a sense of urgency. Everything the band is playing hits bulls eye and the intense post-punk songs are very effective, firing up everyone in the venue. Some of their songs like 'Sha Sha Sha' and 'Too Real' are irresistible songs with great hooks, but even slower songs like 'Television Screens' have a great sound and feel to it.

The band closes with 'Boys In The Better Land' and 'Big' that have already turned into anthems of a generation. One more time the main hall is an explosive ball of energy that bursts into a wild pit and crowd surfers go round. After an hour the band leaves the stage and doesn't return. The crowd keeps on cheering for a long time but the Dubliners don't return because they simply don't have any songs left. At the small Bitterzoet venue this would have been normal, but the main hall usually has bands that will play longer.

It shows the incredible breakthrough of this band this year. We may have witnessed something special tonight, a band that is on the verge of an even bigger breakthrough and may have already outgrown this venue the next time they pass through. This is a moment to treasure, although there's still plenty of room for improvement. This talented band is definitely onto something and it's going to be interesting to see where it will take them.

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01. A Hero's Death
02. Hurricane Laughter
03. Chequeless Reckless
04. Sha Sha Sha
05. Lucid Dream
06. Television Screens
07. Roy's Tune
08. Too Real
09. Televised Mind
10. Liberty Belle
11. Boys in the Better Land
12. Big

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Thursday, 7 November 2019

On Stage: Refused + Thrice

After Swedish hardcore punk band Refused reunited I was able to catch them twice. However the last time was four years ago and the band released a new album War Music this year to high acclaim. The band has joined forces with Thrice for a European tour and it is about high time I watched the Swedes play again.

Refused + Thrice at Melkweg Amsterdam, November 3 2019

Another day another traffic jam. Because of bad traffic conditions we end up late at the Melkweg venue. By the time we reach the full main hall Refused have already started their set.


The band plays a ferocious and inspired set, led by the charismatic Dennis Lyxzén like we're used to. As always he's very active around stage and keeps short speeches about politics in between songs. Sometimes this takes the tempo out of the set and some people may not like it, but this is what makes Refused the group they are and why they matter. This political activism also pours into their songs where they will give their view of the world.

And, no surprise here, they don't like the world of today at all. It is exactly what makes their music so angry but also so urgent. What makes this band even more special is the way they cross borders of several genres, not restricting themselves or making any compromises. The songs of their cult classic The Shape of Punk to Come still sound just as solid as twenty years ago. Half of the setlist is from the new LP though and those songs are live just as convincing as on the record. Refused are a band that we need so hard in this world, to shake us up and keep us awake.

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01. REV001
02. Violent Reaction
03. Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull
04. Elektra
05. I Wanna Watch the World Burn
06. Rather Be Dead
07. Coup d'état
08. Malfire
09. The Shape of Punk to Come
10. The Deadly Rhythm
11. Damaged III
12. The Infamous Left
13. New Noise


Unlike Refused, Thrice are a more mellow band, one that slowly builds up their songs instead of letting it rip. Their last LP Palm is already more than a year old and the band can rely on their routine to play a tight set. Singer Dustin Kensrue has a pleasant, warm voice that has enough body in the louder parts. Sometimes he kind of overdoes it and his voice starts to crack a bit. For the rest of the night the band plays a flawless show though, where many fans are singing along with the melodic rock songs.

The band does stays mostly on the safe side though and the show could use a bit more spice. Thrice is known for their innovative and more experimental sound and the band is always exploring new directions on their albums. This doesn't always show during the live performance though. It is quite a good show, but it kind of misses a sparkle. The band is very focused but at the same time it lacks some energy, especially compared to Refused. It may have been better to have the Swedes close this night, but it was a rocking sweet night nevertheless.

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01. Only Us
02. Image of the Invisible
03. Silhouette
04. Just Breathe
05. The Arsonist
06. Hurricane
07. The Artist in the Ambulance
08. Red Sky
09. Doublespeak
11. Black Honey
12. In Exile
13. The Window
14. The Earth Will Shake
15. Beyond the Pines

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