Friday 26 April 2013

Klikofest: A Drunk Night Of Rock 'n' Roll

After a good Record Store Day this day was far from over. We were heading down to Haarlem to spend most of the night with beer and garage rock 'n' roll music at the Patronaat. In short: time for the Klikofest festival!

Klikofest at Patronaat Haarlem, April 20 2013

Little Barrie
I never heard of this band until I reviewed their latest album King Of The Waves, which is full of great rock songs. Although the sound is bad, too much bass and vocals hardly audible, the band give a good show. Singer and guitarist Barrie Cadogan is a typical British front man, a bit cocky but with some tongue in cheek. Drummer Virgil Howe is smiling throughout the whole performance while playing his tight grooves. The songs sound just as convincing as on their record. A good way to start off the night I'd say.
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The Jim Jones Revue
We seem to have gone back in time a few decades, which isn't that awkward at this festival of rock and blues. The many members of The Jim Jones Revue are wearing old fashioned rock 'n' roll suits. That's a good choice since it fits their music. Although well played it kind of gives you the feeling you're at your mom's prom night. It gets a bit weary in the end. Nothing a few more beers can't fix.
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The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Time for one of the headliners of the night. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion are the biggest band of the night and don't disappoint. Do they ever? Their performance is tight, full of energy and they fire off their blues rock like there's no tomorrow. Set in somewhat darker lighting for most of the show (very bad for pictures) their music grabs you by the balls and won't let go. Like their last album already showed: they are back stronger than ever!
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The Phantom Four
It's getting later and people start to leave. So I find myself at the front of the stage to watch one of my favourite bands from this area. Phantom Frank and his Phantom Four have parted with singer Rudeboy and are back to playing instrumental surf songs. Not just regular surf, but with a twist, mixed with worldy influences. Frank is playing the crowd with ease, putting a spell on everyone with his magical guitar licks. Or is that the beer talking?
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Time to get down and dirty with this garage rock threesome who are taking our nation by storm. More and more people have left the festival by now, but the ones who remain still have plenty of energy left. A mosh pit is forming, which is a perfect setting for this band with their wild punk and rock songs. It's even enough to allow guitar player Daan van Dalen and singer Mark Lada to do some crowd surfing. Wild and dirty indeed!
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Then it's lights out for us. We decide to call it a day, or night actually and skip the rest of the program. This was one hell of a day that definitely went out with a big bang. I'm so there again next year

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Wednesday 24 April 2013

Record Store Day 2013: Music All Day Long

Another year, time for another Record Store Day. Slowly this merry day is spreading across the globe. This year was already the fourth edition over here and it's getting bigger every time. More record stores are taking part, more special releases and more instore performances and special events. And that of course is great news.

So I got up early and headed to Concerto Records in Amsterdam that always has many of the special releases, but also the biggest queue. That's not bad at all, since the people in the line are always in a good mood and chatting along. After waiting for a bit I got in, bought most of my special releases (still looking for that Tame Impala and Soundgarden release!), while Concerto's coffee corner was already filling up for the first instore performance. No one less than Seasick Steve was going to play. And Concerto had a lot more coming. Jungle By Night was playing outside, but had to cut their performance short because the crowd was blocking the trams and traffic.

After that we headed to Record Friend. This pleasant store with friendly people only sells vinyl and had Tim Knol lined up. After his great performance we headed back for Concerto to see Suit and Tie Johns rock the house, Pignose Willy's blow out our ear drums with a loud but thrilling show, a relaxed Qeaux Qeaux Joans for some well needed quiet time and Mozes And The Firstborn close the day in style. I can't wait for next year!

Seasick Steve

Jungle By Night

Tim Knol

Suit and Tie Johns

Pignose Willy's

Qeaux Qeaux Joans

Mozes And The Firstborn

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Friday 19 April 2013

Mozes And The Firstborn Conquer Amsterdam

Less than a year ago a young band called Mozes And The Firstborn was playing as a support for Michael Kiwanuka in Tivoli Utrecht. It was an energetic set with catchy rock songs. Not only the music was appealing but the young lads acted as if they were used to playing in clubs of that size. Their lively stage performance made it a lot of fun to watch them. Within a year they managed to release their first album, play club shows all around the country and now they are even releasing an EP abroad. Time to look them up again.

Mozes And The Firstborn at Paradiso Amsterdam, April 13 2012

The band from Eindhoven even managed to sell out the small hall of the venue. It's obvious this band is definitely making a name now. And there's plenty of ammunition on their new album to treat everyone to a nice show. The songs of the record sound even better live. This is a band that flourishes best on a stage. The set is still very lively with energetic performances by all of them. It shows why live music is more than playing your songs on stage. You can't catch this energy and pleasure on a record. No, not even on vinyl.

The variation on the album becomes obvious as well. From Beatlesque songs to hair slinging rock songs, the band can do it all. The fans go crazy on the hit song 'Skills' and even a small pit starts to form in front of the stage. In the encore they play the B-side to that single 'Burn Burn Burn', where all members of the band are standing in front of the stage.

Mozes And The Firstborn prove to be more than just a nice young band. They are already capable of writing good songs. Even better they know how to perform them live and entertain a crowd. I think we are going to hear a lot more from this band in the future.

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Tuesday 16 April 2013

BRMC On The Rebound

A Year before the 2011 Pukkelpop festival tragedy a different tragedy was taking place in Hasselt for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Bass player Robert Been's father, Michael Been, died of a heart attack backstage at the festival the band was playing. Been Sr. not only was family, but also the band's sound engineer. Maybe even more important, he was their mentor. Needless to say the band were a mess after this loss. And so the music became part of the mourning, which is so often the case with musicians. Specter At The Feast is the result of that process.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Specter At The Feast (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)

Despite several quiet songs, don't expect a mostly sad record with grieving ballads. The album has been recorded in their familiar sound. Meaning, plenty of lazy rock 'n' roll songs drenched in the smell of gasoline and leather. Although this time with a more heavy feel. 'Let The Day Begin' is a The Call cover, the band old Been was part of in the eighties. This song also became the album's first single. And so, obviously, Been's soul is all around on this album, not just in the lyrics but also in feeling.

The record however isn't always equally strong and slows down in the middle. 'Some Kind Of Ghost' and 'Sometimes The Light' are almost sacred songs that take out a lot of the flow. It's understandable what the band is trying to say here, but it may not have been the best choice to put them back to back in the track list. And that's mostly the biggest problem here. Every time after a few up-tempo songs, a slow moment follows and it never really comes up to speed. Closer 'Lose Yourself' doesn't really end the album on a high either. Fortunately most of the quiet songs are pretty much okay and the faster ones like 'Hate The Taste' and 'Let The Day Begin' sound great.

Specter At The Feast didn't turn into the best record of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club discography. It has too many weak spots although those can be explained by the collective trauma the threesome suffered. It does give enough hope for the future though, since it looks like they were able to come out of that dark place they were in. And I'm sure with in mind Michael Been can rest in peace.

This review has been published on ROAR E-Zine in Dutch over here.

Listen to Specter At The Feast on Spotify.

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Wednesday 10 April 2013

Soul With A Lot Of Heart In Club Ziggo

After seeing "The Screaming Eagle Of Soul" Charles Bradley in the documentary 'Charles Bradley: Soul Of America', you only want to see and hear this wonderful man in real life. His life''s story, where he finally gets his break in music at 62, is just amazing. I got the chance to see him perform, when he was announced to play a showcase in Club Ziggo. Even better, he was going to sign records the day before in Amsterdam record store Concerto. Needless to say I went there to buy his latest record Victim Of Love, get it signed and shake the man's hand. It is touching to see how genuinely pleased he seems when you buy his record and tell him how much you love his music. I honestly believe he is grateful for the fact that you listen to his music. And why shouldn't you? It's top notch soul and there's only one thing better than listening to it: seeing it live on stage.

Sabrina Starke at Club Ziggo Amsterdam, April 7 2012
Dutch soul singer Sabrina Starke is the one to warm up the crowd. It's a full house tonight which makes the club a better and warmer place than the other times I was here, when it felt cold. And Starke is doing a good job. I never really noticed her although I knew her name, but she's a great performer. Her voice is strong and her songs are warm and pleasant. She's backed up by a good band who play a nice and grooving set. In the end they get most people to clap along to the music and already we're all feeling good.

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Charles Bradley at Club Ziggo Amsterdam, April 7 2012
But of course everyone is here to see the singer from Brooklyn New York. He didn't bring his full band but is playing an acoustic set instead with only three other musicians. This means only Thomas Brenneck, producer, guitarist, band leader and the one who's also looking after Bradley, is actually playing his guitar. The other two are joining him on harmonies and an occasional tambourine. But Bradley doesn't need much. His voice and appearance are more than enough to impress. When singing he's truly giving everything he's got. His voice is bearing his life story. It's raw and full of emotion and tells the story of a man who's had a rough life.

The songs of the new album don't have the same intensity as the ones on his first record. Those were about his life, the hardships he endured, the death of his brother and the heartaches. The new songs are less deep and tell more about love. But Bradley is singing them with the same amount of heart. Of course 'Love Bug Blues' doesn't have the same impact as 'Why Is It So Hard'. His history of James Brown impersonator is shining through in the way he moves around the stage. But he is mixing the manners of the "Godfather of Soul" with his own style now.

When he's telling everyone he's so thankful for showing up and how much he loves us, it sounds so honest that you just have to believe it. You have to forgive him in the end for repeating it so many times. How many musicians will actually step off the stage to hug some people in the audience? If there was enough time I'm sure we would all get a hug. This man not only is making soul music, this man IS soul music. And at least for tonight he made the world a little bit better for anyone who was lucky enough to be here.

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Tuesday 2 April 2013

Jumping Around With palma Violets

You're young and want to play music. With some mates you form a band and start playing in a garage. It's fun playing your favourite songs with your pals. You even come up with a song of your own and put it on the internet. A year later you have a record deal, released a first record and are playing all over Europe. This could be the story of Palma Violets. I imagined this one but think I'm pretty close. Several music websites picked up on them and NME awarded them the Best New Band award earlier this year, after calling 'Best Of Friends' song of the year 2012.

Palma Violets at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, March 28 2013

Also the part about the record deal is true. It's not hard to imagine what lead up to that first song 'Best Of Friends'. It was the one that got them the record deal for 180 which just came out. It is received with mixed reviews which isn't all fair. It's not that bad at all and is actually a nice record. But I think some critics are right that when the record company would have given them more time it could have made a bigger impact. They are proving tonight that they are definitely a promising band. The little club is fully loaded and the boys look excited to play. Full of energy the band is kicking off the first song. Keyboard player Peter Mayhew is sitting anonymously at the side of the stage and from my position drummer Will Doyle is hardly visible. But especially Chilli Jesson is proving to be quite the show man. He never stops moving and is playing and singing every song as if is his life is depending on it. Sam Fryer may not be as lively but is definitely not a bad singer.

The crowd is loving every bit. The band sounds a lot more convincing live on stage. There's a small pit forming in front of the stage and people of all ages are jumping and dancing to the catchy songs. When asked to raise our hands every single one in the club is joining in and hundreds of hands are up in the air. With only one record out you can't expect a two hour gig so after just more than half an hour it's time for an encore. There's time for a cover of The Hot Nasties' 'Invasion Of The Tribbles'. The hidden track on the record 'Brand New Song' ends the show both in chaos and in style. All sweaty the band leaves the stage. Maybe the record doesn't really live up to all the high expectations but I can see this band come a long way. Just a few more years on the road and a next album could leave a bigger impression.

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01. Johnny Bagga' Donuts
02. Rattlesnake Highway
03. All the Garden Birds
04. Tom the Drum
05. Chicken Dippers
06. Best of Friends
07. Step Up for the Cool Cats
08. Last of the Summer Wine
09. I Found Love
10. 14
11. Invasion of the Tribbles (The Hot Nasties Cover)
12. Brand New Song

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