Wednesday 30 December 2009

THX JHN For That Beautiful Goodbye

By the time I'm writing this review I know the farewell concert was the last gig of the year. So it was goodbye for more than one reason. This was really the last concert by Johan one of my favourite bands. One last time being part of those beautiful pop and rock songs.

Johan in Paradiso Amsterdam, December 22 2009 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Not all goodbyes have to be sad. Everyone had plenty of time to get used to the idea that after tonight there would be no Johan anymore. After a theater gig and one earlier this year in Paradiso I just had to be there to be able to see this band live for the very last time. I still don't know what I find so special about them. Of course their songs are brilliant and close to perfection. But not a lot is happening on stage or as singer Jacco de Greeuw put it himself "You all know that normally I'm a real chatty guy...". But once they start playing and you hear those beautiful harmonies and nicely flowing songs a little bit of magic is happening.

The set list was democratically chosen by the fans and so all the hits were passing by: 'Swing', 'Day Is Done', 'Tumble and Fall', 'Everybody Knows', 'Oceans', 'Walking Away'. They have so many to choose from. At the end of their regular set they were handed a gold record for 'Pergola' that was released in 2001 and is their most succesful album up till today. It was handed to them by Dutch writer Joost Zwagerman who held a pretty whining speech about the band quitting. When they returned for the encore the crowd were holding papers with 'THX JHN' printed on them which is also the title of their third album. The final song they played was a great version of 'Here' that seemed to capture the essence of Johan perfectly. A simple bend and hands waving by the members of the band was the final chord of Johan. The cheering of the crowd that lasted a long time couldn't persuade them to return. A good thing I have their albums.

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Monday 28 December 2009

De Dijk Steady As A Rock

It's December so over here that means snow, cold, grey skies and the winter blues. But also De Dijk in Paradiso. It's always a party and so our group of friends that visits De Dijk is growing every year.

De Dijk in Paradiso Amsterdam, December 18 2009 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

Of course De Dijk also means a guaranteed quality show but few surprises. And this time it was not different. A well balanced set full of hits and all time favourites, a mix of rock, soul and blues. The only surprise of the night was the old classic 'Zoveel Ik Kan' that they hardly ever play live. I can't even remember when I heard it live for the last time.

Too bad the sound was a bit off tonight. This is rare for De Dijk in Paradiso since they have played here so many times before and normally the sound quality is absolutely perfect. However this time it wasn't well balanced. The guitar of J.B. Meijers could almost not be heard and the horns were sometimes too loud while their solos weren't loud enough.

In the end it didn't matter and everyone was singing along. Lovers were holding each other, good friends were grabbing each other's shoulders and holding on to their beer that was flowing like water. So once again it was proven you can't go wrong with De Dijk.

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Friday 18 December 2009

Rocking All Night

A double bill with Drive Like Maria and Triggerfinger! That can only mean one thing: Let's rock all night! And so I made sure I got my tickets on time and we headed down to the Melkweg to catch some heat from these steady rock bands. Two bands that play heavy 70s inspired rock and stoner rock like tunes and have a good live reputation. So we should expect some fireworks tonight.

Drive Like Maria at the Melkweg Amsterdam, December 11 2009 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
I've mentioned this band a couple of times before since I like them a lot. They play no nonsense rock and the band is tied. Their songs sound catchy and so does their album. Unfortunately drummer singer Bjorn Awouters broke a couple of ribs only a few days before this gig. But they didn't want to cancel this tour so they found a replacement drummer. Awouters still played the first songs behind the drum kit while singing but it was obvious that this was no picknick. Then he moved to the front of the stage but some moves still looked pretty painful. Respect for this die hard musician. I still think despite how good a drummer he is that he should be up front on the stage and let someone else play the drums. It makes the performance a lot more lively. And now it's time for them to come up with their own sound and take this rock train to the next level.

Triggerfinger at the Melkweg Amsterdam, December 11 2009 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Although it was a so called double bill it looked like Triggerfinger certainly was the main act. A big shiny red curtain hung from the back of the stage while all three band members including the drummer where up front on the stage. These are experienced musicians that can play some heavy songs. They were knocking them out one after another easily in a killer tempo. Singer Ruben Block is a charismatic person that looks like he walked straight out of a TV soap. Together with the distinct looking bass player Monsieur Paul aka Paul Van Bruystegem and very active drummer Mario Goossens, all dressed in stylish black, they are the perfect rock band. They give each other lots of space and seem to be fully adapted to each other. After a very tight set the last encore is a creative version of "Sweet Dreams" with Paul and Goossens both playing a cymbal that has been stuck in an empty beer crate. This band once more lives up to it's killer live reputation.

And so this turned out to be an excellent night with two hard working bands that can please a crowd anytime. Hell yeah!
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Tuesday 15 December 2009

Convincing Album Presentation by El Pino & The Volunteers

This year brought us so many beautiful Dutch new albums. One of them was Rotterdam based band El Pino & the Volunteers. A while ago they released their second album 'The Long-lost Art Of Becoming Invisible' in Rotown Rotterdam and now it finally was time to present it in Amsterdam.

El Pino & the Volunteers at Paradiso Amsterdam, December 10 2009 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Between their debut album 'Molten City' and this album they had some band changes causing their sound to change with it. It shifted from americana to a more indie rock sound. This fits in perfectly with most of the other bands on the Excelsior label but can also result in a less distinctive position. But it's clear that they don't have to worry about that. It actually seems to work beneficial since the band plays a diverse set. Beautiful songs with nice harmonies are followed by powerful rock songs. They play very focused and despite the replacements already are fully adapted to each other.

Frontman David Pino is a confident singer and his stage appearance seems to come natural to him. Now and then he asks for a reaction from the crowd or to clap and sing along that most people gladly respond to. It all adds up to a pleasant night and it shouldn't be any problem for the band to win over new fans in their current tour and the upcoming festival season.

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Monday 14 December 2009

Frusciante Supposingly Has Left The Red Hot Chili Peppers

According to MusicRadar a source close to the Red Hot Chili Peppers has stated in an exclusive interview that guitarist John Frusciante has left the band. "He's interested in doing his own thing, his own albums - the whole big rock band machinery just doesn't appeal to him anymore." that source mentions. "Josh Klinghoffer has been playing with the group for a couple of months now". Frusciante left the band before in 1992 but rejoined them in 1999 after fighting a heroin addiction. Read the full story here. Read more!

Wednesday 2 December 2009

The Killers Release Christmas Single "Happy Birthday Guadalupe"

Las Vegas rockers The Killers have released their fourth Christmas single 'Happy Birthday Guadalupe'. It follows previous year's tracks 'Joseph, Better You Than Me' (2006), 'Don't Shoot Me, Santa' (2007) and 'A Great Big Sled' (2006). This year's single also features the bands that support them on their current tour 'Wild Light' and 'Mariachi El Bronx'. The video stars Beverly Hills 90210 Luke Perry. All proceeds will go toward the Global Fund to fight AIDS.

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Album Reviews: What's In A Name?

Some bands are more creative when it comes to their band name instead of their music. This time the short reviews include some interesting bands with even more interesting names and album titles for that matter: El Pino & The Volunteers, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Bombay Bicycle Club and The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band to name a few.

El Pino & The Volunteers - The Long-Lost Art Of Becoming Invisible (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Nice second album by this Dutch band on the Excelsior label. Fits the Dutch alternative scene very well and do that in a good way. Lost some band members but got some good replacements. Seems like another band that can fill up the gap Johan leaves.

Bombay Bicycle Club - I had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
New indie rock heroes on the block's debut album. Got lots of exposure and even a bit of a hype. But it's really not that good to be getting that much attention. It's not bad don't get me wrong but it's indie rock as we know it.

Sweethead - Sweethead (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Another Queens of the Stone Age member to release an album with a different band this time it's guitarist Troy van Leeuwen. Together with singer Serrina Sims and two member of the Mark Lanegan Band they bring dirty rock with some rough edges. Nothing special but it's a decent album. The blonde Sims with her 'femme fatale' looks could make the difference though.

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Catchy indie rock tunes with psychedelic synth. Walls of noise are followed by dreamy sound scapes. Most songs do seem to follow the same recipe making the record a bit long-winded.

Steel Panther - Feel The Steel (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Is it Bon Jovi being the dirty? Or some other rock band from the States with explicit lyrics? Is that guy singing what I think he is? Yes, this is Steel Panther a parody heavy metal band. But they do it in a pretty convincing way. Good for a few laughs and still enjoyable if you're into this.

A Place To Bury Strangers - Exploding Head (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Lots of noise but not exciting enough to stay interesting. In the end you keep thinking how much better things could've been.

The Phenomenal Handclap Band - The Phenomenal Handclap Band (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Mix of psychedelica and disco. Pretty nice dancable songs but gets pretty old before the record's over.
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