Thursday 21 April 2016

On Stage: Drive Like Maria @ Bitterzoet

Ever since the release of their debut album Elmwood some years ago, I've been a big fan of the no nonsense rock of Drive Like Maria. Too bad these kind of bands don't get enough exposure and need to work really hard for their music. Fortunately they came by to present their new EP Creator that is the first part in a trilogy that should finally result in a full album Creator/Preserver/Destroyer next year. Time to go check out the Dutch/Belgian formation again.

Drive Like Maria at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, April 19 2016

The cosy Bitterzoet venue has filled up nicely for a night full of massive rock riffs and rolling drums, since Drive Like Maria is exactly that: a full blown rock machine that can knock out heavy rock grooves with great ease. They started out as a trio in the beginning, when singer Bjorn Awouters also minded the drums, but obviously this wasn't always practical and they had guest drummers partly fill in. Soon they found Bram van den Berg as their permanent drummer and that took their music and live shows to the next level.

You can kind of tell the older and new songs apart from each other, where the older ones sound more heavy and raw but also lack a bit of subtlety. Nothing wrong with that but the band has grown and matured and now also have found out that "less is more". In the newer songs they can restrain themselves from going full notch all the time, creating more depth in their music and building up tension. The parts where they go into overdrive now only have stronger impact. It also suits Awouters' vocals better, who doesn't have a howling rock voice, but a more warm almost soulful sound.

For example a song like 'Nighthawk' now builds up nicely into the heavy parts and still has plenty of room for Nitzan Hoffman's great guitar solos and riffs. The same goes for 'Sonny' that is a great rock song and especially for 'Tiny Terror', a long classic rock song in the style of the big rock bands from the seventies. But the older songs are still great to hear as well, where the fans raise their fist or beer in the air to rock to songs like 'I'm On A Train' and 'Black Horses'. The ever amazing 'So' closes a night that leaves you hungry for the rest of the trilogy to come.

All Pictures

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