Wednesday, 31 May 2017

On Stage: Eddie Vedder @ AFAS Live

Photo by Ben Houdijk

Last Saturday Eddie Vedder started the European leg of his solo tour. It should have been a cheerful event for the Pearl Jam front man, but instead it got very emotional for him. The day before, his close friend Chris Cornell was laid to rest and I'm sure he would have been at the funeral if that would have been possible. Instead he's mourning this loss far away from home and judging from the live reviews it was obvious the singer was grieving. I was wondering how the second night would turn out.

Eddie Vedder at AFAS Live Amsterdam, May 29 2017

Tickets for this tour are really expensive and I passed on them at first. Fortunately I was able to get them a lot cheaper on Ticketswap and was still able to see one of my musical heroes. Vedder is one of my favourite singers and with Chris Cornell gone, another one of my musical heroes, it's good to see him again. We make it early into the venue and find our seat halfway the hall and all the way at the right. Glen Hansard has just started his support show and is doing a wonderful job, Apparently he has throat problems and even went to the hospital today. It doesn't seem to affect his power much and his songs don't miss their impact. We're more than ready for Vedder now.

He opens the night with one of Into The Wild's fine songs 'Tuolumne'. It's a good start of a night that will turn out to be great. Vedder's voice sounds powerful, clear and full of emotion as we're used of him. The intimate and modest stage setup turns the large venue into a camp fire performance where the singer is only playing for a few people.

Photo by Ben Houdijk

The setlist is well chosen with songs that are very suitable for acoustic versions. Of course his Ukulele Songs and the ones from Into The Wild don't need much work for that. Pearl Jam songs like 'Unthought Known' and 'Just Breath' are simply perfect for acoustic arrangements. The nice thing about any Pearl Jam concert is that every night you're treated to a unique set list and Vedder's solo shows are no different. It allows him to make some deep cuts into his vast and still growing catalog, where we can hear 'Man Of The Hour' and 'Thumbing My Way'.

Of course some covers make their way onto the setlist as well like Daniel Johnston's 'Walking The Cow'. The stage crew, dressed in white lab coats reminded a friend of doctors coming for an insane person, according to the singer, where he adds it would probably be him after. He follows the funny anecdote appropriately with part of Pink Floyd's 'Brain Damage'. After about one and a half hour Vedder leaves the stage for a short while before he continues with another Pink Floyd song 'Comfortably Numb' that he messes up with a loud "fuck". It happens a few times more tonight but it doesn't matter. Eddie Vedder is only a mortal like all of us of course, although some may see him as a god.

It is also typical for today's show that seems to be less emotional and more relaxed, where Vedder is reacting to people's shouting and is cracking a few jokes. Glen Hansard and Red Limo String Quartet join Vedder on stage for a few songs, including one of Hansard's own 'Song Of Good Hope'. All of them return for the final encore, a cheerful version of 'Hard Sun'. I'm really glad I got to see Eddie Vedder play after all and hope he will stay with us for many years to come so we can enjoy him with Pearl Jam, as a solo artist and as a musical hero.

All Pictures

Official Website | MySpace | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

01. Tuolumne
02. Walking the Cow (Daniel Johnston cover)
03. Thumbing My Way (Pearl Jam song)
04. Brain Damage (Pink Floyd cover)
05. Wishlist (Pearl Jam song)
06. Can't Keep (Pearl Jam song)
07. Soon Forget (Pearl Jam song)
08. Light Today
09. Driftin' (Pearl Jam song)
10. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (Pearl Jam song)
11. Setting Forth
12. Far Behind
13. Guaranteed
14. Rise
15. Man of the Hour (Pearl Jam song)
16. Unthought Known (Pearl Jam song)
17. Parting Ways (Pearl Jam song)
18. Off He Goes (Pearl Jam song)
19. Last Kiss (Wayne Cochran cover)
20. Porch (Pearl Jam song)
21. Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd cover)
22. Heroes (David Bowie cover) (with Red Limo String Quartet)
23. Just Breathe (Pearl Jam song) (with Red Limo String Quartet)
24. Come Back (Pearl Jam song) (with Red Limo String Quartet)
25. Sleepless Nights (The Everly Brothers cover) (with Glen Hansard and Red Limo String Quartet)
26. Society (Jerry Hannan cover) (with Glen Hansard)
27. Song of Good Hope (Glen Hansard cover) (with Glen Hansard)
28. Arc (Pearl Jam song)
Encore 2:
29. Hard Sun (Indio cover) (with Glen Hansard and Red Limo String Quartet)

Read more!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

On Stage: Royal Blood @ Paradiso

Brighton rockers Royal Blood seemingly came out of nowhere three years ago when they took the music world by storm with their first album that is full of heavy rocking songs. The two musicians skipped the smaller venues and sky rocketed directly into middle size ones and the bigger stages on festivals. A few weeks back they announced the follow up album and added a show at Paradiso that already is too small for them.

Royal Blood at Paradiso Amsterdam, May 24 2017

That show sold out in no time and I was glad to have bought my tickets in the presale. Shortly after they announced a new show in November in the AFAS Live which is triple the size of Paradiso but will probably fill up quite fast as well. Two singles have been released so far off the new album How Did We Get So Dark? that will come out next month. Those tracks already revealed that the duo wasn't gonna mellow down but will continue just as loud as they did before.

And if there was any doubt, tonight it is clear that the new album will be a massive rocking record again, since they start off with two new songs that come down like a sledge hammer. They didn't change much about their formula, so much is clear, but instead perfected their sound even more. The giant wall of heavy rock has an even more firm foundation of ear piercing riffs and tight in your face drum grooves. The two are having so much fun on stage that their energy rubs off to the fans immediately.

Only once their is a slight change when a keyboard is put on stage and Mike Kerr combines synth sounds with his riffs. For the rest he is rocking the left of the stage, regularly visiting drummer Ben Thatcher at the other side. A nice touch are the lasers at the front of the stage that once and while form a light fence that separates the band from the crowd. It produces a surreal effect that works quite well.

There simply is no stopping to this band and it is clear the new record is gonna be a killer once more. Like a monster truck their show keeps rolling with high speed and shakes Paradiso with great force. People are jamming all the way to the back and without hardly any breaks the duo plays on. Without an encore the truck stops after 75 minutes, leaving the crowd begging for more. I'm pretty sure it will be a rare sight seeing them play these kind of venues again, since they have moved on to much larger ones for good.

All Pictures

Official Website | SoundCloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

01. Where Are You Now?
02. Lights Out
03. Come on Over
04. I Only Lie When I Love You
05. Little Monster
06. Hook, Line & Sinker
07. Blood Hands
08. How Did We Get So Dark?
09. Figure It Out
10. Better Strangers
11. Hole in Your Heart
12. Loose Change
13. Ten Tonne Skeleton
14. Out of the Black

Read more!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

On Stage: Tamino @ Melkweg

Many times when I go to concerts I will check to see who the support act is and if it's worth rushing to make it early to the venue to catch it. Sometimes I'm simply not able to make it and other times I actually make it but don't know who are opening that night. The best nights are the ones where the support act simply blows you away by surprise.

Tamino at Melkweg Amsterdam, May 22 2017

This is exactly what happened when I saw Belgian rising star Tamino play a support show about half a year ago. His melancholic music but especially his amazing voice was very impressive. He released a self-titled EP at the beginning of this month and plays the small stage all the way in the top of the Melkweg. I couldn't wait to see him again.

In his home country he's causing quite a stir already but over here he still is relatively unknown. Although small, the show did sell out so I guess more people already know about this amazing new artist after all. The charming singer starts out all by himself on stage, only strumming a guitar. His voice blows me away once again. It is so versatile with a very broad range and he seems to be able to bend it any way he likes. His songs are dark and poetic and it's hard not to bring Jeff Buckley to mind.

The first time I saw him, I did notice that it needed a bit more variation and a backup band would probably bring that. It is nice to see that is exactly what he did and he brought a drum player and keyboard player with him, that are also taking care of backing vocals. It indeed lifts his performance to a higher level and opens up his sound. The EP only holds five songs, but it is clear he is working on more. Not all songs are a hit immediately, but most of them are true gems.

Of course his first hit song 'Habibi' ends the regular set and in the encore he plays a beautiful cover version of Arctic Monkeys' 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor'. 'Smile', the last song on the EP, is also the final song of the night. The wonderful song that reminds of Radiohead, is a great way to end the night. It would surprise me if this young and very talented artist won't grow into a big star in a few years time.

All Pictures

Official Website | SoundCloud | Facebook | Spotify

Read more!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

On Stage: Alex Cameron @ Cinetol

One of the nice things about the Indiestad pass is that you will go see bands that you otherwise would probably let go by. Just one song or a description will be enough to decide to go see a show. And so I decided to go see Alex Cameron, because I saw his video for 'Taking Care Of Business' and the description mentioned the dark atmosphere of David Lynch movies.

Alex Cameron at Cinetol Amsterdam, May 22 2017

So on this Sunday night I find myself in the small Cinetol venue. The Australian musician Cameron brought three friends with him that form a curious band. A sax player, a bass player and a drum player with a Rototom addiction. Especially that last part should have given it away, that tonight we were going back to the eighties, and not the finest moments of that decade.

Because Cameron's music is far away from a dark David Lynch style, but closer to cheesy eighties B-movies. The sweet sax melodies don't really help. Cameron himself is crooning his ass off around stage, running his hands through his hair every other second or so, staring into the distance with a fake dreamy look in his eyes. It is clear it is an act he's playing with a lot of tongue in cheek, but it doesn't make his music any better, or I'm simply not getting it. In between the songs he is chatting away, mocking himself, joking about his music, telling that even his manager advised him not to release his album Jumping The Shark.

I can see why, but it's a well chosen title for his music, because he definitely put too much cheese on it. The light pop songs aren't really killers, sound a lot like each other and seem to go nowhere. Except when the band plays 'Taking Care Of Business', where dark synths sound with baritone vocals, drawing inspiration from fellow Aussie Nick Cave and this time actually bringing that David Lynch vibe. But it's the only highlight of an otherwise pale show, where his act of a failed entertainer can not win it from the mediocre music. He should simply write better songs that are at least as good as that one highlight.

All Pictures

Official Website | SoundCloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Friday, 12 May 2017

On Stage: Gruppo di Pawlowski @ Paradiso

Last year Mauro Pawlowski announced he would be leaving dEUS, one of the best rock bands from Belgium. It wasn't a nasty break-up at all, but a friendly one. It was time to move on for the guitarist and focus on other projects. In April we saw a new release for Gruppo di Pawlowski, In Inhuman Hands, the second album by his own experimental rock group.

Gruppo di Pawlowski at Paradiso Amsterdam, May 10 2017

Anyone who came to see this band because they are into dEUS may have been in for a surprise, since this band is nothing like it, although you can find some elements in common if you look well. Pawlowski restricts himself to vocals here, where his band play freaky rock songs with odd time signatures, sudden stops and rhythm changes. Now and then it reminds me of Primus, especially in the songs that are heavily based on the grooves played by the rhythm section.

That in itself already isn't for everyone and Pawlowski spices things up even more with weird vocals, screaming, and freaky dancing and poses. His serious face while doing this is pretty hilarious sometimes, but you can see there's plenty of tongue in cheek. But don't put off this music as a gimmick, since the band does play very well and inventive.

Not all songs are equally good and some don't seem to go into any direction, but the ones that do come together turn into tight and groovy rock songs with enough hidden surprises to stay interesting. Pawlowski sometimes points to one of his band members to let him start off a solo. This music is partly improvised, which explains why it doesn't always work perfectly.

Pawlowski suggests to end the first encore in an anti-climax, and they play a cheesy slow song. He invites a friend over to finish the song and a small person with a big beard climbs the stage. He starts crooning to the song while taking off his clothes. When he's butt naked the band returns to play a second encore. It's a fitting end for a strange but interesting band.

All Pictures

Official Website | Spotify

Read more!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

On Stage: Orchestra Baobab @ Melkweg

A few weeks ago I wrote a review for Orchestra Baobab's new album for FestivalInfo, which you can read over here (in Dutch). The beautiful record is a worthy addition to the impressive career of the band from Senegal. Best of all, they were visiting my home town!

Orchestra Baobab at Melkweg Amsterdam, May 6 2017

When the nine members of the band walk on the stage, loud cheers sound. It's been a long time since the band visited our country and ten years since the previous record. It is obvious their fans are happy to see them again. In the meantime they lost their singer Ndiouga Dieng and dedicated the new LP to him. His son Alpha Dieng is now sharing lead vocals with veteran and timbales player Balla Sidibe. Guitarist BarthélémyAttisso left the band and was replaced with kora player Abdoulaye Cissoko, which works very well as we get to experience tonight. The kora broadens their sound even more and his presence adds extra energy to the stage where the kora is an attraction by itself.

It is incredible how the band is able to keep the songs modest with so many skilled and talented people on stage. But everyone knows exactly what the songs need and won't play unnecessary notes. Every musician can grab their moment to shine. Tenor sax player Issa Cissokho knows how to entertain the crowd, making contact with the people in front of the stage and goofing around a bit. Together with the modest alt sax player Thierno Koité they add sparkling accents and energetic solo's.

I was especially impressed with young guitarist René Sowatche, who is scattering virtuoso solos and melodies around like candy. The Afro-Cuban and traditional African music turns the venue into a dancing party where most of the people are moving to the melancholic and sunny melodies. Today spring returned to our country and I think this wonderful band has something to do with that, bringing sunshine where ever they go.

All Pictures

Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | Spotify

Read more!