Friday, 14 February 2020

On Stage: Ryley Walker @ THT

No too long ago Ryley Walker visited Amsterdam with his band to promote his latest record Deafman Glance. Not long after that he posted on social media he wasn't doing so well and needed professional help. He went away for a while but fortunately was able to overcome his demons and is now doing an acoustic tour all by himself.

Ryley Walker at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, February 12 2020

The musician certainly looks in better shape tonight than the last time. He has lost weight and seems to be in a much better place. He is cheerful on stage, chatting with the crowd, smiling and laughing a lot. Walker is a great entertainer and has no trouble pleasing the crowd tonight. In between songs he has short funny anecdotes and is cracking lots of jokes. It results in a relaxed atmosphere where Walker is the radiant centre piece.

He is an amazing song writer that is able to compose gorgeous tracks both musically and lyrically. In this acoustic setting this is even more clear and his music is perfect for it. Many songs have lovely guitar intros, intermezzos and solos where Walker is showing his impressive guitar skills. I love the way he builds up his songs around breezy finger picking parts, giving his music a light touch. With his pleasant voice tracks like 'Pimrose Green' and 'The Roundabout' wrap themselves around you. It truly is music to lose yourself and wallow in.

There are also a couple of covers tonight, John Martyn's 'Over The Hill' and Tim Hardin's 'If I Were A Carpenter'. You can leave it to Walker to do them truly justice and make them fit into his own catalogue perfectly. He is a gifted musician and I love his music. It's good to see he's doing well and hopefully he will be back soon to treat us to his lovely songs and maybe some new music too.

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Tuesday, 11 February 2020

On Stage: Supergrass @ Paradiso

When Blur and Oasis were fighting for Britpop domination halfway the nineties, there was a whole bunch of bands trying to ride the waves they were making. One of the most fun bands to come from that were Supergrass who made uplifting songs with a lot of refreshing energy. It was a real shame they called it a day ten years ago. Fortunately they have reunited again and are playing my hometown a visit.

Supergrass at Paradiso Amsterdam, February 8 2020

According to the band they will not be making new music but will only play live for a while. I'm not sure this means they are doing it for money or for reliving their glory years. I don't really care since I finally get to see this band play, that I never got to see before (at least not that I can recall). Most of the nights the band is kicking off with 'In It For The Money', showing plenty tongue in cheek. However drummer Danny Goffey is ill (maybe partied too hard on his birthday the day before?), so they cut their set a bit shorter, by only one song though.

The band is taking their time to warm up and build up their set. The first couple of songs are a bit hesitant and the crowd also has to warm up. 'Moving' however breaks the ice and the crowd and the band really connect for the first time. After that it only gets better and the quartet bring the nineties back to life with their amazing songs.

Since this group has plenty of catchy well written songs, full of hooks, wonderful melodies and rocking choruses. Even a song like 'Late In The Day' that is halfway the set, which starts like a ballad, will eventually turn into a swinging pop song. The crowd is now totally into it and the best is yet to come. The band saved their biggest hits 'til the end and 'Grace', 'Alright', 'Pumping On Your Stereo', 'Sun Hits The Sky' and 'Lenny' follow back to back leading into a delightful climax until the band leaves the stage.

They return for two more songs and close the night with a rough version of 'Strange Ones' that tells the story of tonight. The story of a band that knows how to write a great song and makes it sound even better live on stage. So maybe they won't write any more of these songs, but hopefully they will keep playing the ones from their current catalogue for a while.

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01. I’d Like to Know
02. Diamond Hoo Ha Man
03. Mary
04. Moving
05. Time
06. Sitting Up Straight
07. Mansize Rooster
08. St. Petersburg
09. Late in the Day
10. Richard III
11. Going Out
12. Low C
13. Lose It
14. She's So Loose
15. Grace
16. Alright
17. Pumping on Your Stereo
18. Sun Hits the Sky
19. Lenny
20. Caught by the Fuzz
21. Strange Ones

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Saturday, 18 January 2020

On Stage: Inhaler @ Melkweg

There has been a lot of buzz around Dublin rock band Inhaler starting last year. 'Honest Face' went down well and at the moment 'Ice Cream Sundae' is doing the same. But of course it's impossible not to mention singer Elijah Hewson is the son of Paul Hewson who is in a rock band as well. Doesn't ring a bell? That's because his dad goes by the name “Bono”, yes that band.

Inhaler at Melkweg Amsterdam, January 16 2020

That probably draws a few extra people to their concerts and tonight Melkweg's "Oude Zaal" that can hold up about 700 people has sold out weeks ago. I already listened to their music a few times before this concert was announced and like some of their catchy songs. It made me curious about their live shows and to be honest I wanted to see what Elijah Hewson was really all about as well.

First Amsterdam band Queen's Pleasure are working up a sweat warming up the crowd, and doing a great job by the way. You hardly can't get more British and the band is borrowing from a couple of Britpop eras. I like it a lot and am going to keep an eye and an ear out for these guys.

With a lot of drama, while the Dub Side Of The Moon version of Pink Floyd's 'Breathe' is playing, Inhaler takes the stage. So far the band only has released a couple of songs and a four song EP on vinyl. I try to watch them unbiased, without comparing them to U2. That turns out to be hard because their sound is close to the famous band from their hometown. Still if you forget about that for a bit, you can see this band is looking and sounding very professional. They have a big sound, that could easily grow them into big festival stages and large venues. The band plays tight and looks very comfortable and convincing.

Not all songs may be equally great but there's plenty to go with for them. 'Ice Cream Sundae' is halfway the set and is greeted with loud cheers. All combined this is a good show for such a young and new band. But it is simply impossible to stay away from Bono and U2. When you close your eyes you simply hear them echoing through Inhaler's music. Hewson's voice also is very close to Bono's especially in the higher registers. When you open your eyes but squint a bit, you think you're even looking at a young Bono. Hewson has very similar looks but even moves a bit like his famous dad.

One question remains: will this be a blessing or a curse for them? That is hard to say, since it's too early to tell. However the band has enough quality, although they need more songs that sound better overall. It could go either way, but it if they get it all right, they could stand on their own and don't need to stand on the shoulders of one of the biggest rock bands ever. 'Honest Face' that closes the set is proof this band has enough potential for that.

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01. We Have To Move On
02. It Won't Always Be Like This
03. When I'm With You
04. A Night on the Floor
05. Ice Cream Sundae
06. Falling In
07. My King Will Be Kind
08. Cheer Up Baby
09. There's No Other Place
10. My Honest Face

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