Wednesday 5 December 2018

On Stage: Ryley Walker @ Tolhuistuin

Ever since I got pleasantly surprised by Ryley Walker at the Into The Great Wide Open Festival a few years back, I've been wanting to visit one of his shows. I did get to see him a few times at festivals again but now I'm finally able to catch him at a full headliner show.

Ryley Walker at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, December 2 2018

It's the combination of well written psych rock songs and the jazzy classic rock vibe that I like about Walker's music. He brought an excellent band with him on stage again, with not one but two drummers. You never can have enough drummers of course. Walker's been a busy bee this year and released two albums: Deafman Glance and The Lillywhite Sessions, a reimagining of the long lost Dave Matthews Band album. With those new albums he adds another bunch of beauties to his catalogue and has now a lot to choose from.

It's not like he needs a lot of songs, since the way he and his band stretch out the songs, they don't need more than a dozen. Not that you will hear me complain about that, because every song ends up in a blissful jam of epic proportions with two drummers that are totally complementary and guitars that are playfully swirling around each other. Walker will lead his band into a song on top of a theme before they let it fan out into free prog rock like pieces. It never gets fiddly though or too complicated as sometimes is the case, where musicians simply are showing off. No not at all, it always is tasteful and a band effort where eventually they will return to the theme again. At the end Jaimie Branch joins the group on stage to add lovely trumpet parts to a wonderful and intense song.

Walker does spend a lot of time in between songs tuning his guitar. Or maybe it is just an excuse for him to have a little chat, mostly about the local Dutch fast food cuisine (bitterballen) or his aspirations to star in a beer commercial. Yes, Walker is quite a funny guy, although it sometimes loses the momentum in the show. But you can forgive him those long breaks, since he does connect with the audience in a relaxed way, which brings a light touch to this night. For the rest you simply can only surrender yourself to the stunning performance by these incredible musicians and the amazing talent of Ryley Walker.

All Pictures

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