Tuesday 3 December 2013

Rock Is Dead? Not with Navarone and Guild Of Stags

Over a year ago I heard some music from Navarone for the first time. I was completely blown away by the strong rock songs and how well it all sounded. It didn't take long for me to buy their record A Darker Shade Of White and couldn't wait to see them live. I had to wait for quite a long time but finally I was able to catch them at the last show of their tour around the country. As a bonus Guild Of Stags, another rock band I wanted to see, was the support act.

Navarone at Melkweg Amsterdam, November 30 2013

It's a nice story how Guild of Stags found their singer Michael Devlin. The Brit was visiting a beach club where the rest of the band was jamming to some classic rock tunes, which he happened to love himself. By chance he got on stage with them singing Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' and turned out to be the missing piece of the puzzle. And truly they are a great match. Their seventies style classic rock combines perfectly with his voice and appearance. And yes, the way he looks and sounds reminds strongly of Robert Plant and their music definitely is heavily inspired by Led Zeppelin. But when it sounds this good who am I to complain about that? It's hard to believe this group of musicians found each other by chance. In the end they do a great job in warming us up for the main act.

One by one the members of Navarone take the dark stage where only a few lights are lit. The silhouettes start playing their parts and build up to the first song. When Merijn van Haren starts singing I'm blown away once again. His voice is incredible. But besides good musicians you also need good songs. And that's exactly why Navarone caught my attention. Their songs are of high quality. Mostly they are rooted in classic hard rock but they touch upon prog-rock from time to time as well. Songs like 'The Red Queen Effect' and 'December' sound even better than on the album.

The band makes great use of dynamics in their music. Guitarist Kees Lewiszong is playing quiet tingling guitar melodies before he's making his guitar scream in the louder parts. It makes the songs really stick out. Especially because they are patiently building up their songs and steer them into the direction they want. 'Sage' is a great example of this. It also helps that the band is playing very tight. They even get away with an awesome version of Deep Purple's 'Child In Time' without the use of an organ.

There's a beautiful and intimate acoustic moment when van Haren sings 'Devil's Ferry' without microphone. Guitar player Roman Huijbreghs is joining him on acoustic guitar and vocals while drummer Robin Assen adds some harmonies at the end. It's not hard for the band to convince everyone of their skills in the nicely filled venue tonight. At the end of their set it doesn't take much for them to return to the stage for one more glorious encore. The band will start working on their second album now. I can't wait to hear it and see them again.

More Pictures

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1. Quarter Rest
2. December
3. On My Knees
4. My Favorite Sin
5. Kickin' My Can
6. Highland Bull
7. Sage
8. Devil's Ferry
9. Child in Time (Deep Purple cover)
10. The Red Queen Effect
11. Dawn
12. The Wander

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