Friday, 30 August 2013

Short But Explosive System of a Down Performance

In 2005 System of a Down released their last two albums. The band took a break after that and the different members engaged in other projects. Just when you thought they had lost interest in SOAD, the band announced their comeback in 2010. Since then they played some festivals and are now playing some headlining shows. It is not quite unclear what the purpose of the reunion is. The band itself doesn't seem to agree on whether a new album is likely to see the light soon. In the end I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see them play again.

System of a Down at Ziggo Dome Amsterdam, August 21 2013

To my surprise the big Ziggo Dome is nearly sold out. The band appears to still have a strong following. When they take the stage and start 'Aerials' a pit forms immediately. After all these years the band hasn't lost power. Singer Serj Tankian's voice remains strong and clear after all those years. He's probably one of the best singers in this scene. Today is his birthday and the band has prepared 'Happy Birthday' during the song 'Radio/Video'. The best thing about their songs is how unmistakable SOAD they sound. The crazy changes, the quiet moments followed by a wall of sound. Guitarist Daron Malakian gets his share in the spotlight as well tonight as he's singing quite a few songs. Best of all are his guitar riffs though.

SOAD still is able to leave an impact. Their original compositions and socially engaged lyrics again leave quite an impression. Maybe not all of the songs are present-day any more, but they keep sounding great. Also the energy is always there. From my view point on the first ring, I can see a constant pit stretching out to half of the field. Small circle pits are occasionally forming in the back too. When Malakian is ordering to form a big circle pit, within no time a swirling bulk of people has formed like a small hurricane of persons. The group work their way through the set list in a staggering pace. After less than 90 minutes they are closing the set with 'Sugar' and leave without an encore. It does feel a bit short, but they managed to play over 20 songs tonight. I guess less is more and it sure was an explosive show. Maybe the reason for the reunion is just to cash in on their pass success, but let's hope that is not the case. Maybe they can work out whatever differences they are having and get to making new music in the future.

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01. Aerials
02. Suite-Pee
03. Prison Song
04. I-E-A-I-A-I-O
05. Soldier Side - Intro
06. B.Y.O.B.
07. Deer Dance
08. Radio/Video
09. Hypnotize
10. Needles
11. DDevil
12. Lost in Hollywood
13. X
14, Suggestions
15. Psycho
16. Chop Suey!
17. Lonely Day
18, Question!
19, A.D.D.
20. Spiders
21. Cigaro
22. Toxicity
23. Sugar

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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Lowlands 2013 Day 3: Girl Power!

After a sunny day we wake up to grey clouds and rain. But by the time we make it to the festival site the sun is breaking through. Within no time I'm eating an omelet in the sun. Ready to take on this last day.

Lowlands 2013 Day 3, August 18 2013

Jacco Gardner
More and more people are hearing about the boy wonder from the town Hoorn in The Netherlands, who got his inspiration from the psychedelic bands of the sixties. His album Cabinet Of Curiosities is full of beautiful songs in the same style. Live this may seem to lead to a static performance, but fortunately this is not the case. Gardner is chatting to the crowd from time to time in a relaxed way. His presence is kind of innocent and disarmingly. His music is doing the rest and it is creating a magical atmosphere. His band is his reliable support with his friends from Lola Kite and Mr Cool himself, Jos van Tol on drums. Surprisingly the India tent is only half full, but I'm sure next time he will draw bigger crowds.

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Another hype are the Haim sisters. Just like Jacco Gardner they knew to create something of a buzz, without even releasing an album. Already they are getting bookings for festivals and club performances. According to the MC who's announcing her, they partied hard the day before. The girls do look a bit hung over and their set isn't always really tight. They sound a lot more rough on stage than they do on record. Guitarist Danielle knows how to handle her guitar, but her vocals don't always sound powerful enough. They help out drummer Dash Hutton on percussion a lot as well. Bass player Este Haim sounds pretty groovy despite her funny faces. All put together it is an interesting performance. Although not legendary it does sound promising. I'm looking forward to their album that is coming out in a few weeks. By playing many shows they should be able to grow more tight and sound better. I'm sure they'll be a different band within year.

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Noah and the Whale
We decide to check out Noah and The Whale. The band from London make harmless indie rock songs. The band's performance is like their music: nice, happy and a bit too correct. It does make for an enjoyable performance though. And of course you don't expect to find a "wall of death" at their show. Despite some nice songs you could wish for a bit more bite though.

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Alabama Shakes
Of course Alabama Shakes should already have been programmed last year. This year they are already considered big enough to perform on the big Alpha stage. The band does have Brittany Howard who can fill any stage and I mean that in the most respectful way. Her voice is so strong and her presence is overwhelming. It's a delight to watch her sing. The rest of the band have gotten tighter because of all the shows they played. They sound very laid back and have made peace that they are performing in Howard's shadow. It doesn't take long for the crowd to surrender to the intense soul and blues songs. Although the faster songs are less impressive they are a welcome variation and make for a merry intermezzo.

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We rush ourselves to the other side of the festival site to catch the second half of the Foals show. I'm really glad to have made that effort. Their last album won many people over including myself. Their show is a lot more rocking than I expected. It sounds bombastic from time to time but always tasteful. The band is focused and knows what a festival crowd wants: dancing. The tent is more empty at the end of the show than at the point we came in, but that's probably because many people were already making their way to the Alpha tent for Franz Ferdinand. Foals deserved a bigger crowd for their hard work and convincing performance.

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Franz Ferdinand
Indeed many people show up for the glorious return of the Scottish band. They have been away for a while but apparently not forgotten. I haven't seen the Alpha more packed this weekend. We cannot even get in for a good spot and decide to party outside. Since it's a huge party the band is throwing. They have so many songs that get a crowd to go wild. People are dancing and jumping everywhere, even on the slopes at both sides of the tent. New song 'Love Illuminiation' fits in seamlessly and already sounds like it's always been in their set. 'Can't Stop Feeling' is probably a homage to the late Donna Summer containing a similar hook. The band even mix Summer's hit 'I Feel Love' into the song. I don't think anyone expected this big welcome back for the band. But they showed to be totally worth the wait. I can't wait for their new album.

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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
So after this high, Nick Cave was going to close the festival. How was he going to top the party loaded set of Franz Ferdinand? By doing what he does best: play a dark and intense performance as if the devil himself is on his tail. Cave is all over the place in his usual fashion. Sometimes hanging backwards, his arms raised in front of him, like he's enchanting the crowd. Other times he's hanging over the front row, pouring out his sharp words on the first few rows. Or balancing skilfully on top of the fence, supporting himself by holding the hand of one of the fans. The terrific Bad Seeds know exactly how to back him up. Gently playing along in the slow and intimate songs, but wild and rough in the louder parts, sparing no one to enforce Cave's words.

This doesn't miss its impact. The performance is spot on. A vicious and evil 'Stagger Lee' follows the dramatic 'The Mercy Seat' and brilliant 'Higgs Boson Blues'. Songs of the new album sound just as strong as his best songs. 'Push The Sky Away' is dark, spooky and fills the big tent with silence. I've never heard a big crowd go so quiet. Many people were questioning if Nick Cave was a good headliner to close this last day. With this magnificent performance there's no doubt any more. He closes the set with the always gorgeous 'Into My Arms' which make this performance a perfect one.

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Still stunned from the performance we get ourselves some of the last bitterballen and some beers. So what about finally going to the Titty Twister? Another huge line!? Crap! Grolsch Beugelbar it is then.

Another good edition of Lowlands has come to an end. I really noticed an increasing number of people come here to party and music comes in second. The Lowlands organization seems to targeting that group more and more, which is a real shame. Hopefully music will never come in second for them. Or should I start looking at a different festival?

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Lowlands 2013 Day 1
Lowlands 2013 Day 2

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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Lowlands 2013 Day 2: Nevermind That Shaky Start

After a rainy night we wake up to the sun. My body has digested all the beers in a good way. Time for a pancake breakfast in the sun and the first music of the day!

Lowlands 2013 Day 2, August 17 2013

A cover project of the holy Nirvana album Nevermind by some Dutch bands. This may sound like blasphemy to some hardcore fans. I am a bit sceptical, but still want to see it. It starts off really bad. Dutch Hiphop act The Opposites asked some unknown band, that you wouldn't even let play in your garage, to back them up. They totally screw up 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and 'Bloom'. I'm sure Mister and Missisippi are great at what they do, but they drain all the energy out of 'Come As You Are'. Fortunately DeWolff, Kensington and especially Elle Bandita show how to do justice to this legendary album. Moss close the set and know how to make the last songs of the album sound like their own. Although I love their music, I don't know if it's an improvement. These cover versions are available as a vinyl LP but I'm gonna leave that one alone and rather play the original.

Mozes and the Firstborn
The young dogs of Eindhoven garage rock band Mozes and the Firstborn are living the dream of young musicians: playing in a band, making a record and touring all over the place. They will even leave for the USA soon and are now playing Lowlands. I like their record for its energy, although I have to admit most songs aren't that special. Some of them are good though, have really smart hooks and sound catchy. The best thing about this band is that the boys play with such enthusiasm, it reflects in their music. On stage this is no different. It is a delight watching these guys enjoy every second of their performance. If they stick together and keep on playing this much, within a few years this will be a killer band I'm sure.

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Ben Zabo
A musician from Mali playing a blend of afrobeat, african funk and highlife. I'm game! Ben Zabo and friends are dressed in traditional clothes for the occasion. Except for the white guitar player who probably simply doesn't own one of those beautiful outfits. Zabo is a sound technician who worked with many great artists and learned how to do it himself this way. Music wise it isn't anything special, but Zabo is a charming person with a big smile on his face throughout the full show, the true African way. Their music is a perfect fit for this sunny afternoon. Especially the marimba player is stealing the show with some crazy solos. At one point he's even turning his instrument upside down to play it while lying on the floor. Zabo is a chatty person, introducing his songs with stories about Mali politics and how he's looking for a Dutch girl to marry. I'm not sure if he won any of the ladies over, but it sure was a good party

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Miles Kane
Since I'm going to see Miles Kane at least twice later this year, we try to make it into the X-Ray for Dutch punk rockers John Coffey. But again it's too full and so we decide to join Kane for a good rock show after all. You can leave that up to him. Although the Bravo tent is slowly getting less crowded, Kane is not to blame. He's giving it all like always. The sound is pretty awful, maybe because they use this stage mostly for dance music and dj sets. In the end everyone who is still in the tent is literally brought to his knees and is joining Kane in the final song 'Come Closer'.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra
The second album II of Ruban Nielson's Unknown Mortal Orchestra or UMO, is still high on my year list. He can be a bit whimsical but is always good for some good music and lengthy jams. I still have a hard time getting used to his falsetto vocals, but it does fit the crazy music. Psychedelic guitar riffs and hypnotic jams suck you into his disturbing and confusing world. Sometimes he's playing like a maniac, other times pulling himself back into the dark at the back of the stage. Bass player Jake Portrait and drummer Riley Geare are following him skilfully with swinging grooves, keeping it tight. Again like Mikal Cronin yesterday it requires a bit of effort but it all pays off in the end.

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Much has been written and said about the shaky process that eventually lead to the new Editors album The Weight Of Your Love. Also about the so-called transfer into a big stadium act. Critics are now criticizing the band for the same reasons they used to praise them for a few years back: the way Tom Smith is feeling the music is now suddenly overdone, the guitar sound is now too bombastic and the band is spicing up their act with unneeded fireworks. I guess it's the price they have to pay for their success. Critics never seem to like bands who make it big and become mainstream. Tonight they are proving to be a great headliner. They stripped all the more quiet songs from their set and are treating us to a one hour big high. Hit after hit are turning on the crowd, until a big climax in last song 'Papillon'. This is what headliners do and Editors knows this. Yes, it's different than the time we saw them play small intimate clubs and yes the new album isn't their best. But songs like 'Munich' and 'Bones' still sound great and will kill any festival crowd.

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That was another great end of a fun day. Nevermind that shaky start, I'm up for some partying! Is that Titty Twister line even longer tonight!?

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Lowlands 2013 Day 1
Lowlands 2013 Day 3

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Monday, 26 August 2013

Lowlands 2013 Day 1: Wet End Of The Day

Could it be true? Could this be my fifteenth Lowlands? If all calculations are right it is! This calls for a celebration, let's get beer and head to the first band.

Lowlands 2013 Day 1, August 16 2013

This punk band from the North of The Netherlands in Groningen are the ones to head of the program in the X-Ray. And many people have come out to see if they can tear down this stage out of corrugated metal. It's so full we can't get in right away. After a few songs we slowly make our way into the X-Ray. But we're still so far to the back that it's hard to get into their energetic songs. Judging from where I'm standing the people at the front started an early party and the first mosh pit of the festival.

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Deep Sea Arcade
We leave halfway traumahelikopter's show to be able to catch Deep Sea Arcade. Their album Outlands sounds nice and on stage they know how to lay down a good rock show. From time to time singer Nic Mckenzie sounds like the Aussie version of Liam Gallagher. However this band is exploring more of the sixties rock spectrum with a bit of psychedelica added to it. It does stay on the safe side, but some songs are quite catchy and the band is fun to watch.

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Seasick Steve
Time for some good old blues with Seasick Steve and his drummer Dan Magnusson. To my surprise I find Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones on stage as well. Isn't that a great present!? After seeing the old bluesman several times I know exactly what I can expect. But it never gets old. He's telling his funny stories, playing his solid blues songs on his self-made guitars while Magnusson is going wild on drums now and then. Jones is adding an extra layer to the music and is giving the songs more groove. It's still impressive to see how this old dog can entertain a big stage like the Alpha.

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Tame Impala
Up next on the same stage is one of my favourite bands of the moment, Aussie psycho rockers Tame Impala. Slowly they are getting used to their role of big rock band, although this stage is still a bit too big for them. Like always they need to warm up, but after a few songs their sound is exactly the way it should be: fuzzy and full of reverb. Slowly we're leaving the planet for a trip into outer space. In a smaller tent like the Grolsch it would have sounded even better, but it looks like master mind Kevin Parker is getting used to his status. Songs like 'Elephant' and 'Solitude Is Bliss' are definitely working their magic.

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Sir Yes Sir
Belgian newcomer Sir Yes Sir are playing the small Charlie stage right after. This stage is now covered up as well with a roof, creating a dark and more intimate atmosphere. I was a bit disappointed with their debut album We Should Talk. Some songs just sound too smooth on it as opposed to some of the other more rough and less predictable songs. Maybe it's because of the sax? However live it all sounds a lot more exciting. The band is working hard and the sax is actually a nice addition live. Maybe I'll have another go at the album again.

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Beans & Fatback
At the Lima stage you know you can always find a band to dance to most of the times. Dutch band Beans & Fatback treat us to a steaming set packed with soul and old rhythm and blues. The group is full of energy and this is catching on with the crowd in no time. In the end everyone is dancing, a well deserved reward for the hard working band.

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Mikal Cronin
On his second album MCII Mikal Cronin proves that he's able to write very good pop songs next to the fuzzy and grungy songs that he did on his first album. On stage his no nonsense band are playing a solid show, that requires some effort by the ones who are watching. The band is very focused and therefore a bit introverted. Their somewhat nerdy look isn't exactly showing off a radiant stage performance either. But the music is making up for that. The songs sound great and the band is so into it, that it is a pleasure to watch. Sometimes it's nice when you have to put a little effort into music to find the true beauty of it. I decide to leave halfway nevertheless to catch the last half of the Jagwar Ma show at the Charlie stage. It has started to rain and the place is so full of people looking for cover that we just can't get in. Too bad since I left a good show halfway and cannot catch this show now. We try to watch it from outside, but this is no fun at all. We decide to keep our insides wet with some Grolsch instead.

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Nine Inch Nails
A few years ago Trent Reznor killed off his successful Nine Inch Nails project and sold all equipment and instruments. He probably had to invest quite a lot again when he reignited the project recently. With a new album coming up soon, they even earned a headliner slot on this first day. And the band doesn't disappoint at all. With only a small keyboard Reznor starts of the show by himself. Slowly the other musicians are moved onto the stage including a few screens. This turns out to be the setup for a very creative stage set and light show. The screens are constantly on the move and are used for lighting effects as well as video screens. The musicians are on different spots throughout the show as well. The set list is a nice overview of the NIN catalogue, including popular songs 'Wish', 'Only', 'The Hand That Feeds' and 'Head Like A Hole' back-to-back at the end of the set. To make things even better it closes with 'Hurt'. NIN made a lot of new friends today and proves the Lowlands organization right into putting the band on the bill as a headliner.

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We feel energized after that show to party for a bit longer. Hey! What's that enormous line doing in front of the Titty Twister!? And can someone please turn off the rain!

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Lowlands 2013 Day 2
Lowlands 2013 Day 3

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Prince Rocks Amsterdam By Surprise

picture by 3rd Eye Girl

Whenever Prince Roger Nelson shows himself, Prince mania starts. Will he do some surprise shows? He only joined Larry Graham for a few minutes last month at the North Sea Jazz festival but was the talk of the town. Last Friday, out of the blue, he announced two shows on one night in my favourite venue Paradiso. To be able to see this brilliant musician in a venue that can hold 1500 people is very special. Although I already did see him play a club show once before, I made sure to get tickets. It sold out in minutes, but fortunately I was among the lucky few.

Prince & 3rd Eye Girl at Paradiso Amsterdam, August 11 2013

picture by 3rd Eye Girl

A long line awaits us when we get to the venue. They didn't open the doors at the time announced and everyone wants to get in early for a good spot. When the line starts moving we're inside within no time and are even standing on our usual spot. Signs make clear that taking pictures is not allowed and whoever breaks this rule will get ejected from the show. 3rd Eye Girl drummer Hannah Ford walks up the stage to tell us that one more time before the show takes off. Still afterwards people are indignantly telling they got booted from the venue for taking pictures. Although you can argue about how useful this is, they had plenty of warnings and were willing to take the risk.

picture by 3rd Eye Girl

When the show starts Paradiso is shivering with excitement. Prince leads off with a groovy and bluesy version of 'Let's Go Crazy'. His last band who were heavy on funk and soul has been replaced with a three piece all female band. Only bass player Ida Nielsen is a familiar face. Although his seventies soul-like appearance makes you think otherwise, Prince is in a rock mood and so he needs a rock band backing him up. The three ladies are totally up for that. Smoke machines are blowing smoke with great force and a confetti canon explodes. Prince means business tonight. Guitar player Donna Grantis seems to have some technical issues though and in the third song of the set, 'Screwdriver', they stop halfway. Prince says "Let me fix this" and walks off stage while the light is turned off. In the pitch dark crew members are trying to fix the problem while everyone is waiting anxiously for the show to continue. It won't affect the show will it?

It won't. When the problem is fixed, lights flash on again and the band goes right back into 'Screwdriver' as if nothing happened. Prince's face doesn't show any sign of concern or irritation. He's mostly playing his guitar, moving around in his usual fashion. He's throwing smiles around to his band and the crowd and looks like he's enjoying himself. Sometimes you forget what a great guitar player he is, but after tonight you never will again. He's firing off one great solo and riff after another. When you close your eyes a little, you even think Jimi Hendrix himself is playing that stage. Grantis gets plenty of time to show off her skills as well, while the master himself is watching her approvingly.

picture by 3rd Eye Girl

One and a half hour fly by where they play new songs, rare songs and a bluesy version of 'I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man' followed by the song that captures the whole night: 'Guitar'. "I love you baby but not like I love my guitar" seems to be Prince's mantra now. After this dazzling first part the encore starts with a beautiful and touching version of 'Sometimes It Snows in April'. The contrast couldn't be bigger with the rest of the set. It is well chosen and creates a magical moment. The second encore starts with a vicious version of Billy Cobham's instrumental 'Stratus' where Nielsen is allowed to show her bass talent.

picture by 3rd Eye Girl

To everyone's excitement "His Royal Badness" ends the show with a rearranged version of 'Purple Rain'. It's one of the few moments he's playing piano. One last time confetti is fluttering down in purple light while we're all singing along to the famous falsetto "woohoo's". Prince took Paradiso by storm tonight. 3rd Eye Girl may not be as virtuously and funky as his old band, but they make up for it with a lot of heart. And boy do they know how to rock. It made Prince look more eager and younger than we've seen him in a long time. Not many of the people in here tonight will probably ever see anything that will top this. I don't think I will ever come closer to a musical genius playing a magical rock show.

01. Let's Go Crazy
02. Endorphinmachine
03. Screwdriver
04. She's Always in My Hair
05. Liathach(Jo Hamilton cover)
06. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
07. Guitar
08. Plectrum Electrum
09. FixUrLifeUp
10. I Like It There
11. Bambi
12. Cause and Effect
Encore 1
13. Sometimes It Snows in April
14. Dreamer
Encore 2
15. Stratus(Billy Cobham cover)
16. Purple Rain

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Friday, 9 August 2013

Sniffing The Grass: A Lowlands 2013 Warmup

Although all indie-hipsters think Lowlands is not fun anymore because they think it's too mainstream, too busy and nowadays everyone is going, I think it's still a great festival. They all went to Best Kept Secrets earlier this year, that did have a nice line-up. But Lowlands sure has a nice program too, even for indie-hipsters. Maybe not a lot of headliners, but that only means there are more smaller bands and there's more to discover. And that's the problem right away: I don't want to make choices!

First choice right from the start: Traumahelikopter or Deep Sea Arcade. The Dutch punkers Traumahelikopter know how to tear down a tent, but ozzie band Deep Sea Arcade make this great psychedelic music. Maybe try to make both. Next choice: Theme Park or The Joy Formidable? Not to sure about either of them so will choose at the last moment. I know I like Seasick Steve's blues and he's always great to watch. I don't want to miss Tame Impala. Their live shows do get better and better and you know I adore their music.

Belgian band Sir Yes Sir released their first album earlier this year. I was looking forward to it, but it didn't quite convince me. Maybe live they will. I like Band of Horses and saw them earlier on Rock Werchter. Maybe try Beans & Fatback instead for some good old blues and soul.

Time for the biggest dilemma of the weekend. I think I'm going to run between the India and Charlie stages to catch both Mikal Cronin and Jagwar Ma I'll have to skip Bombino. De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig and Slayer are impossible to see that way. Ah, Slayer without Dave Lombardo isn't the same anyway. Industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails quit and then came back together. Trent Reznor may not know what he wants, but you know he throws a great show.

Pfff, if I have any energy left on this first day, time for some dancing? I'm sure it will involve some beers.

Several Dutch bands will be playing Nirvana cover songs of their classic album Nevermind. Not sure if that is always a good idea, but worth checking out. I did see both one of Belgian's finest Balthazar and Dutch young dogs Mozes And The Firstborn before, so this is gonna be another tough choice.

Afrobeat from Mali? You don't have to say that twice. Ben Zabo I'll be there! I'm going to see Miles Kane later this year so will catch him there. John Coffey or Michael Kiwanuka then? I love Kiwanuka's soul but also heard good things about John Coffey. Damn choices!

I'm definitely going to see the great Unknown Mortal Orchestra who made one of the best records so far this year. Then there's finally some time to take it slow before Editors close the day. Well, not exactly close it, since the night is only just beginning.

The World Orchestra sounds nice to start with but I also finally want to see our own Dutch wonder boy Jacco Gardner perform. I only caught the last ten minutes of Haim's show on Rock Werchter, so me and the girls definitely have a date today. Noah and the Whale are worth checking out and although I've seen Alabama Shakes perform a lot last year I can't get enough of their soulful music.

Foals came up with a great record and are supposed to be throw impressive live shows as well. Franz Ferdinand are about to release a new album. Do they still have that sparkle? Nick Cave isn't exactly the act you expect to close a big festival. But I love his music and he might just surprise us to be a great closing act.

It sure looks like a promising program with great bands to look forward to. Just take a look at their line-up and the block schedule. Of course like always there's also comedy, dance, movies and theater. For a non indie-hipster like me this is going to be one great weekend!

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Friday, 2 August 2013

Editors' Turning Point

On their last album In This Light and on This Evening Editors changed their sound drastically. It took a lot of courage to move this far away from the successful direction of earlier work. While working on a new album the band couldn't agree on the direction to follow for new work. Guitar player Chris Urbanowitz left the band and the remaining members were questioning the existence of Editors. For the planned shows they called in the help of Justin Lockey and Elliott Williams. At the headlining slot on the Rock Werchter festival in 2012 things fell into place and the band sparked new creativity from it. The result is the new album The Weight of Your Love.

Editors - The Weight of Your Love (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

A short documentary about the process that lead the band out of their crisis and to the new album reveals that they were after a more American sound. That sure worked out. Everything sounds big on this record. Synths have moved to the background and guitars are more prominent again. Instead heavy string arrangements made it into their sound. Like on their previous record this takes some time to get used to. Again they are asking their fans to be patient and let the record slowly work its way into their system. And again with a lot of courage they are taking their chances. Singer Tom Smith sometimes leaves his impressive thundering bariton for what it is and instead is singing higher phrases or even a song almost entirely in falsetto ('What Is This Thing Called Love'). He does get away with it and proves what a versatile singer he is. Although he does seem to be out of his comfort zone a bit.

This record definitely needs to grow on you, getting used to the new sound. It has less Joy Division darkness, but more Echo & The Bunnymen, U2 and Simple Minds. It's a lighter version of Editors, but don't expect any shiny happy songs. First single 'A Ton Of Love' immediately reveals the new direction. An overwhelming wall of sound with no room for subtleties and Smith shouting "desire" on top of his longs. It is characteristic for this new sound and already proved to go down well with huge festival crowds. But still there's also room for more intimate songs like 'Nothing' and 'The Phone Book'. These are good songs, well written, nice melodies, that even hold when stripped to the bare core as shown in acoustic versions. However the album also has its weak moments. 'Sugar' and 'Hyena' are not so great and would they have made one of the earlier albums?.

In the end the record leaves you with mixed feelings. Is the new sound the right direction for the band? I don't think it is in this shape. Since The Weight of your Love may just well be the least of their four albums. It may prove to be a crucial album though. The one where they found the new meaning, motivation and purpose of the band. I don't think the transition that the change in line-up caused is completely over. Many shows on the road need to re-establish the balance in the group and at the same time spawn new ideas. I'm sure that this will pay off eventually. And yes, the sound is big, crafted for big arenas. But is that necessarily a bad thing? So this may not be their best record, but the continuation of the band is worth something isn't it? No, that's worth a lot.

Listen to The Weight of your Love on Spotify.

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