Thursday 6 April 2017

On Stage: Soulwax @ Paradiso

I can still remember it pretty well when I first saw Soulwax play. It must have been the 1999 edition of the Lowlands festival and the Belgian band had released their second album Much Against Everyone's Advice some time before that. The band, dressed in pastel colour suits, blew me completely away. A lot has changed since then, except that the two Dewaele brothers can still blow me away.

Soulwax at Paradiso Amsterdam, April 4 2017

Because that is exactly what they keep doing. For instance the Belgica soundtrack that sounds like a cross reference to their complete catalog. I hope to get my hands on the vinyl version on Record Store Day, when only a few will hit the stores. Recently they released From DeeWee, that bundles everything the band has done, rewraps it, spins it around and throws it at you in a superb way. Tonight they will play in a similar setup I saw them play at the Pukkelpop festival a year ago, for a show called "Soulwax Transient Program For Drums and Machinery".

This means there are three drummers on stage inside a kind of frame cube. One of those drummers is Sepultura's Igor Cavalera As if that's not already taking up a lot of space there's a lot of equipment like keyboards, synthesizers and amplifiers as well. The stage is so full that some members have to almost climb along the stage to get to their spot. The head featuring on the new album's cover is standing like a trophy at the front of the stage.

The brothers are facing each other at the center of the stage. I'm pretty close all the way to the right of the venue, which is really a good place but tonight it means I don't get the whole picture. When I'm going to get some drinks I stand at the bar for a little longer so I can see the whole stage. It looks almost symmetrical where one of the brothers is seeing the other one as a reflection (although they are not twins). It is an incredible sight. The new album comprises most of the setlist with some other songs scattered through it.

With hardly any breaks in between it's an almost continuous delightful mix of rock and dance, exactly what Soulwax is so good at, with an irresistible groove. This is where the added value of three drummers comes in. Sometimes they play the same drum parts, giving it more punch and power. At other times they will fill in different drum parts, broadening the beat and the groove. Slowly the venue has turned into a big dancing party as standing still is not an option. The regular set ends with a vicious version of 'NY Excuse' before the band returns with a few more new and older songs like 'ETalking' and 'Miserable Girl'. The band has to come back for a final encore and the night ends with the mellow and groovy 'Goodnight Transmission'. Soulwax are still brilliant and I can't wait to see them again later this year at Best Kept Secret!

All Pictures

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