Monday 31 December 2018

Top 10 Albums 2018

Since it's part of some kind of tradition here's my top 10 for 2018. Have a great year's ending and a wonderful 2019 everyone!

1. Hookworms - Microshift
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2. IDLES - Joy As An Act Of Resistance
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3. Orquesta Akokán - Orquesta Akokán
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4. Shame - Songs Of Praise
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5. Kamasi Washington - Heaven & Earth
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6. Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
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7. Canshaker Pi - Naughty Naughty Violence
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8. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hope Downs
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9. Johan - Pull Up
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10. Fatoumata Diawara - Fenfo
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On Stage: Millionaire @ Paradiso

This really is the last one of the year. The last concert...I think, no really. And I go out with a bang, since Millionaire are here to do the same as they play the last show of this tour. As a desert Cocaine Piss are definitely the ones to leave us with a kick in the crotch.

Millionaire at Paradiso Amsterdam, December 30 2018

When I arrive I get to see a few last songs by Naive Set, that really sound good. The Dutch band have an incredible sound with lovely melodies and clear ringing guitars. I hope to catch a full show by them soon, maybe in the new year? Downstairs it's time for Millionaire, the Belgian band around Tim Vanhamel. I got to see them a few times on this tour and it's nice to be able to see them when they are about to wrap it up for this tour.

This band is guaranteed to play a loud and banging rock show, fronted by the crazy and lively Vanhamel. This evening is part of the Indiestad pass, but still the main hall is only half full. This makes the sound of the band too blunt and adds too much resonance. It's not that Millionaire is playing subtle music, but this way it misses some of its effect

It 's not the band's fault and doesn't bother them for a bit. The group makes sure their last show of the tour is a good one. I always have a bit of trouble getting into their shows in the beginning, but after a few songs I slowly get dragged in. The hooky songs with breaks and changes are not average rock songs but are actually quite clever. I really like the new album and tracks like 'I'm Not Who You Think You Are' sound so good live. The crowd seems a bit hesitant tonight, no matter what the band tries. I guess it is the drawback from a pass like the Indiestad pass where people also just come to check out a band they don't really know or simply to have a good time.

Millionaire are all about good times though, with the master of silly moves Tim Vanhamel at the front. They shortly leave the stage before they play a long encore where they give all what they have left in them. The explosive 'Visa Running' delivers the final blow in a show that could have knocked the roof off Paradiso if only the crowd would have allowed it. Fortunately a new album is in the works.

Afterwards it is full at Cocaine Piss' show upstairs, where a small group have still plenty of energy left for a wild pit in front of the stage. There they get fired up by singer Aurélie Poppins, whose sharp voice is very suitable for the aggressive and spiky punk songs. This is definitely the loud end of the year I was hoping for. Let's see if the fireworks can even that tomorrow.

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On Stage: New Cool Collective @ Melkweg

Twenty five years ago one of the coolest jazz bands in history was founded over here in the low lands. They would develop into this incredible groove machine that will turn any place into a dance hall. This is of course New Cool Collective and tonight they are celebrating this milestone in Melkweg. Needless to say I had to be there to celebrate with them.

New Cool Collective at Melkweg Amsterdam, December 28 2018

During these twenty five years they made a lot of friends along the way, musicians they met and worked with including big names like Tony Allen. They invited a few to celebrate with them tonight and of course their big band line-up is here for a large part of the night. But first the group warms up in their usual eight piece line-up.

We get an overview of all the amazing music they wrote in all those years, all the styles they mix together. Jazz, afrobeat, latin, funk, soul, and so many more, it's all there. No matter what they play it has always got a lot of groove and all their music is swinging. After they have warmed up, the big band joins them. DJ Kypski entertains us with some crazy turn table skills while the stage is being prepared for all the horns joining the band. I guess this is a bit too much for most of the crowd, who mostly use the time to go to the toilet and get more drinks.

However when the band is complete, the party really gets going. Fay Lovsky joins the band on stage, Dave von Raven sings a couple of songs, it's a true celebration. Matt Bianco's Mark Reilly has flown over to Amsterdam to play with the band and sing the swinging songs 'We Should Be Dancing' and 'Don't Blame It On That Girl'. It's a festive night and everyone is dancing around me, enjoying this incredible band. Time flies by and before I know it they play their last song of the night. I hope they will stick with us for at least another twenty five years.

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Sunday 30 December 2018

On Stage: De Dijk @ Paradiso

Since we go to see De Dijk every year, I stopped writing about this a few years ago. I couldn't add anything new to what I already wrote a few times. But since this blog has turned into a digital version of my concert memory, I'll publish another post again with just some pictures about this yearly tradition. Also because it simply is such an amazing night every year again.

De Dijk at Paradiso Amsterdam, December 21 2018

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Monday 17 December 2018

On Stage: Tamino @ Paradiso

Only two years ago I saw Belgian musician Tamino play as a support act at the small venue Willem Twee. I was really impressed by his amazing voice and beautiful music. I expected him to rise to fame but I couldn't predict that he would sell out Paradiso two years later. But here he is playing a full house at the Amsterdam pop temple.

Tamino at Paradiso Amsterdam, December 14 2018

He tells us how he used to come here a lot when he was living in this city. It has to be unbelievable for him to stand here on that stage himself. The young man deserves it though, since he has worked hard to get here, playing everywhere he could. From small stages to large festivals, always with a lot of heart. In the several times I watched him now I have seen him grow, getting more confident, letting his music grow with him.

His debut album Amir proves this, where he combines his incredible talent with a great band sound, that mix between Jeff Buckley and Radiohead. Tonight he takes these songs to great heights, never rushing but with great feeling and timing. And of course that amazing voice that is able to move so many people. I see people listening with their eyes closed, totally submerged into the music. Whenever Tamino finishes a song, a huge roar breaks loose, a big discharge of an eager crowd.

Tamino is taking it all in with a shy smile, almost in disbelieve what is going on here. He still needs to get used to this new role of pop star. His band, with no one less than Radiohead bass player Colin Greenwood, is backing him up very effectively, but leave the spot light to the young artist. Once and a while Tamino is on stage by himself, like he was in the beginning. That combination with and without band works very well, making his sound palette bigger.

I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times when he was signing records and he comes across as a modest but very friendly and gentle young man. He took plenty of time with everyone and seems to have a wonderful personality. The last time he noticed my Soundgarden t-shirt that I was wearing and tonight he mentions Chris Cornell is one of his heroes. He honours the Soundgarden singer with an intense and beautiful version of 'Seasons' from the Singles soundtrack.

I think tonight we didn't only witness a great show from an incredible artist, but we witnessed a superstar in the making. The sky is the limit for Tamino and it's going to be very interesting to see what the future will bring for him and how his sound will develop. I think he is going to surprise us with his music, especially when you think about that this is only the beginning.

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01. Persephone
02. Sun May Shine
03. Cigar
04. Each Time
05. Reverse
06. So it goes
07. Verses
08. Tummy
09. Chambers
10. Indigo Night
11. Will Of This Heart
12. Habibi
13. Seasons
14. Smile

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Sunday 16 December 2018

On Stage: Mauro Pawlowski & Braaknoot Ensemble @ Paradiso Tolhuistuin

At the end of the sixties Dutch musician Boudewijn de Groot released Nacht & Ontij, a very experimental album that people found really hard to like. However now it is regarded a classic. It is a story about a witches' sabbath, backed up by music and songs, or actually the whole album is one piece of music. Now Mauro Pawlowski and the Braaknoot Ensemble are performing this musical piece, half a century later.

Mauro Pawlowski & Braaknoot Ensemble at Paradiso Tolhuistuin, December 13 2018

It feels a bit weird writing about this in English, since Boudewijn de Groot and his work are such a big part of Dutch musical history, but are probably not known outside the low lands. I already saw this performance at the Into The Great Wide Open festival earlier this year, but because we met some friends at that moment I couldn't really pay attention. Tonight I can really focus on this show that was orchestrated for the Motel Mozaïque festival and is now touring around some clubs. Mauro Pawlowski is probably best known for his time as guitar played for dEUS, but is no stranger to experimental music.

He has gathered a group of skilled musicians around him to play this crazy story of a gathering of witches. Belgian actress and singer Lore Dejonckheere is the one that had to study all the lines of the story, but is exactly right for the story telling and vocals. The rest of the band are playing the mysterious music backed up by even more psychedelic and strange visuals. In these mostly dark surroundings the group create a sinister atmosphere that totally fits the subject.

It works very well and the musicians pull you into this dark and mysterious world with exciting music that sometimes is whisper-soft but then swells up to rocking and thundering levels. It proves what a talented musician Boudewijn de Groot is, who happens to be in the audience tonight as well. He must have felt proud of his amazing music and of this fantastic group playing his cult piece in such an epic way.

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Thursday 13 December 2018

On Stage: A Perfect Circle @ AFAS Live

Maynard James Keenan requires a lot of patience from his fans. Tool keeps us waiting for a new album and live dates, although next year the long waiting comes to an end. A Perfect Circle kept us waiting for some time too, but released a new LP Eat The Elephant earlier this year. They already played the Pinkpop festival and now return for a headline show in Amsterdam.

A Perfect Circle at AFAS Live, December 9 2018

At the Pinkpop festival in June they were playing in broad daylight, which made it hard for their light show to really impress. Now in this venue they make use of the dark environment and the light show comes to full swing. This means the video screens on the small risers and the screens hanging from the ceiling like pieces of glass (or icicles), are bright and clear. The images used on those screens combine with the big screen at the back, where mostly abstract visuals are used to set the mood for a song. For the rest the musicians are mostly scarcely lit and are moving around in the shade. Keenan is nothing more than a dark image at the back and it is hard to see the moves he's making on his riser, like he did at Pinkpop. Billy Howerdell is at the front but also mostly in the shade. Drummer Jeff Friedl is probably the best visible one, on his high riser and with at least a bit of light on him.

This is exactly like they want it of course. It is now allowed to use cameras or phones in any way, enforced by security, so I didn't bring mine (which explains the pictures from Pinkpop being used here). It results in an interesting shadow play together with a dark and gloomy show. A Perfect Circle always had slow rock songs, that don't rely on big eruptions but are getting under your skin. I like this slow, mellow but still heavy sound, a lot. Live the band knows exactly how to reproduce this sound and even can emphasize it with concentrated playing. In the beginning the sounds seems a bit pale, but after a couple of songs I can hear the balance shifting and it gets better. It isn't really crisp but at least the heavy sounds comes across more effectively. Some of the new songs need a bit of time to really sink in, but by now I really like them. Even the strange synth rich 'Hourglass' sounds familiar by now.

There's hardly any talking in between songs and in almost two hours, the bands steadily work their way through twenty songs, including the Brinsley Schwarz cover '(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding' and AC/DC's 'Dog Eat Dog' dedicated to Malcolm Young and other people Keenan and co. admire and appreciate. The band knows how to suck you into their musical world and the time flies by as I watch fascinated. The group closes the night with 'Delicious', where Maynard steps into the light for the first time, thanking the crowd and telling security to step down to let people do whatever with their camera of phone. He walks off stage while hundreds of phones light up in the air for a few shots of the last minute of the show. A show that was dark, a bit distant, but at the same time intriguing and well performed, kind of like the band itself.

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01. Eat the Elephant
02. Disillusioned
03. The Hollow
04. Weak and Powerless
05. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
06. Rose
07. Thomas
08. (What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
09. Vanishing
10. The Noose
11. 3 Libras (All Main Courses Mix)
12. The Contrarian
13. TalkTalk
14. Hourglass
15. The Doomed
16. Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums
17. Judith
18. Dog Eat Dog
19. The Package
20. Delicious

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Wednesday 12 December 2018

Come As You Are 2018 @ Effenaar

I am old enough to have experienced the nineties in all its glory, but was able to miss out on seeing bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam in the flesh. Fortunately I caught up with them later on although I never got to see Nirvana or Alice in Chains with Layne Staley. Effenaar Eindhoven makes us relive those days with bands from that era and new bands who were inspired by music from that time.

Come As You Are at Effenaar Eindhoven, December 8 2018

We join the other grey and bald members of our generation while Dutch band Drive By Wire are about to close their show. We get to see a couple of songs by this band, but it is too short to get a really good impression of them.


We head to the small hall for Belgian rockers dirk. The four young men are clearly drawing inspiration from bands like Nirvana and early Foo Fighters, with plenty of tongue in cheek. The band is clearly here to entertain us and work hard for that. But it is hard to make this middle aged crowd move although a few give it a try. It's not the band's fault who have plenty to offer. They are still all over the place with their sound, but for now that is a good thing. I enjoyed this band from start to finish and hope to see them again.

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Green Lizard Tribute To The 90s

In those nineties there was this cool Dutch band Green Lizard who played heavy rock songs and released a pretty good album. I always enjoyed this band, and saw their brief return a few years back. Tonight they are playing all those songs that formed the soundtrack of my early years as an adult: Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains. They found a great singer in Matthias Bastiaan van Beek, who comes freakishly close to Kurt Cobain, both in looks as in sound. Urban Dance Squad singer Rudeboy joins them occasionally as special guest playing some of the biggest hits from his old illustrious band. Thanks for that wonderful trip down memory lane boys!

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I'm pretty fired up by now and can't wait to meet up with that crazy band Tusky. You can't go wrong with these guys who are always playing like their life depends on it. They are trying to form a circle pit again, but have to accept that these old timers in here have no clue what it is. It doesn't get them down, but only motivates them more to get this crowd to move. In the end their punk rock songs go down well and definitely succeed in spreading their good vibes again.

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Admiral Freebee

I was really happy that Admiral Freebee also is part of this bill. I love this artist's music and his approach to it, where he alway goes his own way. He is in a soulful mood today and brought an amazing band including a horns section. His show turns into a warm soul and rhythm and blues show, with a groovy band and an inspired Admiral. I never can't get enough of this wonderful artist and can't wait for his new LP to drop.

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Birth Of Joy

To me Birth of Joy is one of the best Dutch rock bands of this moment and I am sad that they are about to quit. But I'm also happy to see them live tonight and bid them farewell in January at their last show. No time for sadness though, since these guys rock this joint to pieces. The wild guitar and organ driven rock music, with the incredible groovy drums, are simply irresistible. I can't believe they are playing the small hall and I can imagine this is one of the reasons they are calling it quits. This band should have been playing the big stages in this country instead.

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Soundgarden Lives

One of the big bands of the nineties was Soundgarden of course and they are one of my favourite groups of that era. Chris Cornell surely was a unique rock singer and I'm still sad he is no longer there. If any band can do justice to the Soundgarden music, it is Navarone. That group indeed knows how to recreate their heavy and groovy sound. I know some of those songs are not easy to play, but this band makes it look so easy. With their amazing singer Merijn van Haren they come really close to the nineties giants. Guest singer Caroline Westendorp from rock band The Charm The Fury does a decent job too. However the singer whose name I didn't get, playing big hit 'Blackhole Sun', totally misses the whole vibe of the song and thinks he can leave an impression by trying some rock howls. Soundgarden was a lot more than that mate. Fortunately our own Anneke van Giersbergen shows that you can make those songs completely your own with a beautiful acoustic performance of Audioslave's 'Like A Stone'. Later she joins van Haren for an amazing version of Temple of the Dog's 'Hunger Strike' until that one singer joins them again and almost destroys the moment.

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This has been such a wonderful day with great music and a lot of fun. The bands all showed a lot of heart and although the crowd was maybe hard to get moving, the vibe was completely right. Count me in for next year.

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Thursday 6 December 2018

On Stage: Editors @ TivoliVredenburg

It's been a long time since Editors played small venues. Nowadays they play large arenas and are headlining major festivals. So when they announced a string of shows in small venues I made sure to get tickets. Time to meet the band up close.

Editors at TivoliVredenburg Utrecht, December 3 2018

We sure are close to the stage this time. The sold out main hall of TivoliVredenburg holds around 2000 people tonight and we are only a couple of rows from the front, a few meters away from the stage. Andy Burrows warms up the crowd with a somewhat mellow set, a bit too mellow and on the safe side I think. Only when his buddy Tom Smith himself joins him for one song, the venue gets a bit loud. For the rest everyone is eagerly awaiting the main act.

Bassist Russell Leetch is right in front of us on the stage and I can actually look him in the eyes, which turns out to be great. Now I can see how much he is enjoying playing. Like the rest of the band he is definitely having a good time, being able to really connect with people in the crowd. Editors play a greatest hits set with a few songs from their last LP Violence scattered in between.

I still like the songs of the first three albums the most, which is obvious again tonight. The music of the last couple of albums, sounds really inflated and blunt compared to older songs like 'All Sparks', 'Munich' or 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors'. Some of the newer songs are aimed at sing-alongs in big arenas. Of course the fans are in for that and many people around me are singing everything word by word.

It is nice though to see this band stripped back to the bare essentials again as they prove what makes them so big in the first place. It is the way they are tightly playing their dark music, concentrated and full of passion. Of course singer Tom Smith adds the icing on the cake with his impressive baritone voice and lively performance. The way he feels the music and presents it is always a delight to watch.

And it is really nice to see it all happening from almost front row. You do notice the band is used to playing huge crowds, since every move they make is big, like their newer music. That makes sense of course since it is not possible to entertain a big crowd with small gestures. This has been a unique night with a unique band, that ends with a happy performance of 'Nothing' together with Andy Burrows.

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01. The Boxer
02. Sugar
03. Hallelujah (So Low)
04. All Sparks
05. An End Has a Start
06. Fingers in the Factories
07. Darkness at the Door
08. Salvation
09. Violence
10. No Harm
11. Bullets
12. A Ton of Love
13. Formaldehyde
14. Nothingness
15. Ocean of Night
16. Blood
17. Papillon
18. Magazine
19. Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors
20. Cold
21. The Racing Rats
22. Munich
23. Nothing

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