Sunday, 30 June 2019

Rock Werchter 2019 Friday

I love Belgian festival Rock Werchter, with its epic line-ups and lovely crowd that only spreads good vibes. We used to go there annually for the full four days but after a while went on to discover new worlds. However once and a while when there's an absolute must see line-up we'd like to go back for a day. With The Cure and Tool on the bill it was impossible to resist, so we went back to that lovely place.

Rock Werchter Friday, June 28 2019

We are lucky enough to have a place to sleep in the nearby town Leuven, which is only half an hour away by bus and allows to be on time for the first band without having to stay on a hot festival camping.

Whispering Sons

Belgian band Whispering Sons are opening the main stage today and we don't want to miss them. They blew our minds last month at the Best Kept Secret festival and we definitely want to see them take on the monstrous main stage on their home ground. It is clear many people know about them over here, since there's quite a large turn up for a first act. For a good reason because the group doesn't seem overwhelmed by the huge stage at all. Singer Fenne Kuppens shrinks the stage with her somewhat theatrical but very convincing performance. She's wonderful to watch and her tight band makes sure she can comfortably sing the dark songs with her low voice. This show is another winner for them and I just can only imagine this band is going to big.

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Nothing But Thieves

The sun is high up in the sky and it is getting blistering hot. Under these hot conditions in front of a baking crowd, the English band are the ones to keep them on their feet. I like their sound with the great voice of Conor Mason, whose vocals are clear and strong live as well. They have a bunch of good songs and should be able to even get a cooking crowd to move. However their show is a bit uninspired and if I remember correctly I have seen them play shows more actively. Maybe it's the heat on stage getting to them, but it never gets really wild today. Part of the band certainly is trying, but Mason looks a bit absent minded today. They close their set with their hit song 'Amsterdam' though, and anyone singing a song about my hometown, stating "I left my heart Amsterdam" is okay in my book.

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Jessie Reyez had to cancel her appearance today at the festival and Belgians Warhola are filling in. I recognize singer Oliver Symons, who is also fronting his other band Bazart. The music of both bands isn't very different although in Bazart he's singing in Dutch, while in Warhola it is english. Their pop music has warm electronics and the songs are mostly mellow indie songs that allow you to rock along gently, which is perfect on a hit day like this. Symons is clearly a talented and skilled musician and the music surely is interesting. Two drummers are playing the groovy beats that give the songs a bit of swing and punch. It's not exactly my kind of music though and I notice I start to loose interest after a while. But this performance is inside the air-conditioned Klub C, that is staying quite cool because of that, so we stay until the show is finished anyway.

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Back in the heat at the main stage rock veterans Weezer are playing. It's been a while since I've seen this band play a live gig. I like some of their records, although they have written quite some disappointing songs as well. This makes them quite a fickly band that can go either way. This shows today as well where they open with 'Buddy Holly' straight away and have scattered their other hits like 'Hashpipe' throughout their set. It doesn't always sound very tight, but that is maybe the charm of this band. However their show does have a few weaker moments, especially when they play A-Ha's 'Take On Me' and Toto's 'Africa', that don't really sound solid. Their recent 'Teal Album' full of covers suffers from the same problem, that the songs are probably fun to play but simply cannot come near the original and feel a bit pointless. It still is an entertaining show though, that is entertaining to many people.

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The Cure

English legends The Cure are having a good year. They are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their classic album 'Disintegration' and are playing almost every festival there is this summer. On these festivals they have enforced long festival slots and today they are playing for more than two hours. It allows them to slowly build up their set and that works out very well. The first half has some deep cuts and fan favourites, but not many of their biggest hits. Although 'Pictures of You' and 'A Forest' which come by in that part are well known of course, this part is quite mellow but does show the incredible talent of this band and singer Robert Smith.

Smith may no longer have the slim figure he used to have, or look kind of creepy nowadays wearing his make-up like he always does, he still is an incredible musician. Bassist Simon Gallup is the only one who is actively moving around stage, pacing around like a caged tiger. Smith walks to the far end of either side of the stage a couple of times, but for the rest the band stays at the centre stage. This group has never been one that uses large gestures, let alone fireworks or other gimmicks. And why should they? When you play such wonderful music with so much intensity you don't need anything else. The band leaves the stage for a short while to return for the big climax that has all the big hits we know so well: 'Lullaby', 'Close To You', 'Why Can't I Be You?' score big cheers from the crowd. 'Boys Don't Cry' is a fitting end to an amazing The Cure, that can make any boy cry.

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After that wonderful The Cure show this night is far from over, because we still have one more performance left. After seeing them play an insane gig at Ziggo Dome only one and a half weeks back I know what I'm in for. It is clear Tool has raised anxiety levels through the roof after not playing here for 13 years. Most people in this crowd will not have seen them since then and young fans probably have never seen them at all. Like the night in the Ziggo Dome, the band is unbelievable again. The setlist is only a few songs shorter and the transparent screen in front of the stage, didn't make it to Werchter. The perfection of the songs did make it though, and the songs sound just as powerful and with the same intensity. The weird twelve minute break and awkward drum solo moment are left out today, which actually works even better, turning it into a 90 minute trip into planet Tool that is simply mind blowing.

On an outside stage like this you know the sound isn't always going to be great, still there are some moments where weird things happen to Maynard James Keenan's vocals and the balance in the mix seems to behave funny now and then. It's not something the band has control over and is only a very minor detail in a for the rest stunning show. I'm sure many heads were blown tonight with monumental songs like 'Parabola' and 'Schism', a once again epic performance of 'Forty Six and 2', and new song 'Vicarious' that sounds promising for the new album. Again the band ends on an absolute high with an inspired 'Stinkfist', leaving everyone in awe and euphoric. This time I was even able to take pictures (yay!).

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This was such a beautiful day and despite the many changes to the festival site, it felt like coming home. Rock Werchter still is one of the best festivals I've ever been to with one of the best crowds. I'm sure we will be back again, maybe even the whole four days when the line-up stays this good and we can find a comfortable place to stay instead of on the camping site.

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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Loose Ends Festival 2019

There's a new festival in town called Loose Ends and apparently they got a hold of my garage and punk rock dream line-up, since the festival only booked bands I like. Of course I got tickets right away and want to see them all. Not sure how this will work out, but a guy can dream right? I hop on my bike, get on the ferry and enter Loose Ends.

Loose Ends Festival 2019

Fortunately this is not a huge festival and I see the three stages are very close to each other. It's also not overcrowded and this gives me the opportunity to see bands that are playing at the same time. The sun is up, the beer is cold and I have my ear plugs. Let's go!


I like the music of this band, that is a combination of members of other sick bands, Creepy Karpis, Rats on Rafts and The Homesick. I'm really glad I finally get to see them live now. With catchy clear guitar riffs and poppy garage songs that are full of irresistible hooks, these guys certainly don't disappoint. I can't wait for their first album that is coming out this fall. A very good way to kick off this day.

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Personal Trainer

I couldn't see Canshaker Pi singer Willem Smit's solo project earlier at the Best Kept Secret festival, but I get a second chance. When we arrive at the smallest stage outside there's already a party going on. Smit has gathered a lot of friends on stage that is a bit too small for this wild rock party going on. It's a crazy get together and a wonderful sight to see this colourful bunch of people throw a fun party this early in the afternoon. Smit is turning into a front runner for the Dutch indie scene and that is a good thing.

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We make our way to the main stage where Crows have started their set. I like their dark and vicious post punk music that is loud, heavy and noisy. We may be in the wrong spot though, since from our position the vocals are too loud compared to the guitar. This music relies on a good balance between those two, so everything can melt together into a glorious wall of noise. Now it misses its effect and the music doesn't have the full impact it should. The sunny afternoon doesn't exactly help as this band dwells best in a dark small club.

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Time to check out the tent stage where Dutch punk band Ploegendienst have started tearing down the place, led by Ray Fuego who is dressed only in his underpants for the tropical occasion. This band is relentless, will grab you and won't let go until you beg for mercy. It keeps firing off loud, rough punk songs without slowing down and scores the first real pit of the day, just right on time.

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Mozes and the Firstborn

On the main stage one of the most fun Dutch garage rock bands Mozes and the Firstborn are already playing in the blistering sun. They are the perfect band on this summer's afternoon, playing a tight set with the same loose and relaxed attitude that we are used of them. These guys have so many great songs, that simply keep running around your head for days. Once again I enjoy their lively show and music.

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A few months ago I was pleasantly surprised by this almost all female band from LA. Their music is ranging from indie rock to rough punk rock, led by Leana Geronimo. The band plays a tight set and I like it again. It doesn't get as stunning as the first time I saw them, but that could just be the different surroundings. I don't get sucked into their show like that time, but I sure like the way they are really into their music.

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Sports Team

First times can't be beaten easily when they are good. The same goes for Sports Team. Their great lively show at Best Kept Secret was one that worked in every way. Today it's a different place with a different crowd. The band has to work hard but the response is more reserved. Singer Alex Rice isn't giving up though and keeps moving around stage in his Mick-Jagger-on-speed kind of way. The band has a couple of catchy hit songs up their sleeves, that don't miss their effect. I notice though, that once you've seen them before, it is less overwhelming and they need to make sure they don't cross the thin line of turning into a gimmick.

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Launched by Jack White's Third Man Records, Yak has all the ingredients for me to like them. And that couldn't be more right. Their groovy fuzzed out rock is tight, loud and has this psychedelic edge that I like a lot. I understand why they have a fanbase that includes Alex Turner and members of Spiritualized and Tame Impala. There's more to it than just a bunch of catchy garage rock songs. The band definitely have their sound down and I'll be sure to check out their music.

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Indian Askin

Dutch band Indian Askin have their sound down too, although their new LP sounds more mellow than the previous one. Normally that shouldn't be a problem but this is a punk rock crowd. The heavy songs do have more impact today, whereas the mellow ones have everyone lean back in a relaxed way, downing a cold beer. This is a great band though, that will work hard to please a crowd and that has many killer songs up their sleeves.

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Iguana Death Cult

I can't stay at the main stage though, since Iguana Death Cult is playing at the other side at the small stage. Singer Jeroen Reek may have lost his long hair, but he still is wildly rocking. You could call them the Dutch Oh Sees, because of the similar sound, but that would cut the band short. Since these guys simply keep knocking out one catchy tune after another and are always a delight to watch. All of them play with a lot of heart and turn every stage into an energetic rock party.

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Pip Blom

On her way to Glastonbury our own Pip Blom is visiting this festival as well. I like her cheerful and catchy rock music, that has something light and gritty, but is edgy the same time. Together with her young band her shows are always energetic and full of heart. Their young age give them something uninhibited which is wonderful to see. Her first album Boat that just came out is getting very good reviews and she proves she's one of the hidden gems at Glastonbury this year.

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Sunflower Bean

I got introduced to Sunflower Bean last year at the Into The Great Wide Open festival and liked their rough rock music. In Julia Cumming the band has a front woman with a real rock attitude. It gives their performance the right amount of energy. They borrowed The Lemon Twigs' Danny Ayala on keyboard who is adding an extra layer to their sound but also brings extra show to the stage. It turns their performance into a lively one that is a lot of fun to watch.

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The festival is definitely on speed now and Iceage keep the party going. Fronted by the charismatic singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, the Danish band have a broad, big guitar sound that is a mix of post-punk and psychedelica, with some The Velvet Underground kind of twist. It works very well and the band builds a big wall of noise, drowned in reverb and wild guitar. It's a nice first encounter with this talented band.

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Canadian group METZ are one of my favourite bands here today and I couldn't wait to catch them again. These guys never disappoint and their music is like a bulldozer cruising at race car speed. It's unbelievable that only three guys produce this powerful sound, that keeps pounding away at you. I love this groove that they build up, without holding back. But it's not just the power and noise, since the songs are actually very clever, with more to it than you'd think. It's as effective as always today, judging from the wild pit in front of the stage.

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Fontaines D.C.

We're only halfway the year but I'm sure Irish post punkers Fontaines D.C.'s first album Dogrel is going to end up high in many album lists at the end of this year. It sure will end up high on mine. It is full of well written songs that are both fun and dark. When the band starts you get a Joy Division flash-back looking at singer Grian Chatten nervously walking around his microphone. But damn, these guys blow everyone's mind with a tight and energetic show. They let it rip and it's probably the most ecstatic moment of the festival with crowd surfers and people simply going mental. For a good reason because songs like 'Too Real' and 'Boys In The Betterland' are simply instant classics that have a huge impact. I bought tickets to their show in November right away, when they return to Amsterdam.

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Sleaford Mods

I'm not too much of a fan of Sleaford Mods, but I can see how their electronic punk music earned a spot at this festival. Of course this is a big name and the duo prove it today with a well performed set, that goes down well with the crowd. Jason Williamson's biting raps are backed up by minimalistic electronic beats. It is quite a powerful combination and allows part of the crowd to go loose one more time while the sun is setting and the dark sets in. It's a good ending to this wonderful day.

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Thus festival did a great job putting together an exciting day of punk and garage rock. They lined up so many amazing bands, that I couldn't even see all of them. But it turned into a wonderful and fun day with a lot of good vibes. I really hope the festival returns next year with a string of equally exciting bands. I'm sure I will be there again as well.

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Saturday, 22 June 2019

On Stage: Tool @ Ziggo Dome

I had to look it up to find out when the last time was that I saw Tool play live. It turns out it was 2006 at the Rock Werchter festival, a few years before I started this blog. I was lucky enough to have seen them a few days before in the Heineken Music Hall (now called AFAS Live) as well. They would play the Lowlands festival the year after for their last visit to this country. I was supposed to go there like I did every year in those days, but a personal tragedy decided otherwise. Finally tonight after all those years, the band returns to the low lands and my home town.

Tool at Ziggo Dome Amsterdam, June 18 2019

Photo by Ben Houdijk

A lot of water has passed through the Amsterdam canals since that last time and the world has changed a lot, but a new Tool album still hasn't dropped (August 30th!). It only helped building the mythical character of this band. They are playing the Ziggo Dome which is three times the size of the HMH where I saw them in 2006. Still it sold out in 10 minutes, but I was lucky enough to get me and some friends arena tickets. We make sure to get there early to find us a good spot, which allows us to see Fiend warm up the crowd. They do a good job and I like their heavy psychedelic stoner sound.

Photo by Ben Houdijk

You can feel the anticipation in the air when everyone is waiting for Tool to start their show. When the lights go out, the band enters the stage in the dark and starts playing 'Ænema', title track of what may arguably be their best album. There's a strict no camera policy, so there isn't a sea of cell phones rising from the crowd. However it forced me to borrow some pictures again though. Right from the start it seems the band wants us to know that things haven't changed in the world of Tool. 'The Pot' follows, 'Parabol' and 'Parabola' are perfectly glued together, and they couldn't have made a better start. Like always the visuals are wonderful, totally supporting the music. There are even parts of their old videos showing from "back in the days". Once and a while a fully transparent sceen will come down where more abstract visuals are projected on, almost creating a 3D effect.

Photo by Ben Houdijk

The first new song is 'Descending' which feels a bit ill at ease after the monumental start. No need to worry when an epic version of 'Schism' follows. Maynard James Keenan's voice is clear and strong, while he's sporting a new mohawk this time, although I have the feeling he used to sings certain parts more aggressively. It could just be my memory failing me though. Guitarist Adam Jones is playing his complex parts with incredible precision and bassist Justin Chancellor is the only one who is actually trying to connect with the crowd. At the same time he's playing his groovy bass lines as if they are actually very easy. Together with out of this world drummer Danny Carey the two are creating all those complex rhythms and changing odd time signatures that they are known for.

Photo by Ben Houdijk

What makes Tool so unique is that you know and can hear it is very complicated what they are doing, but it still feels natural, as if it makes total sense that the songs sound that way. It doesn't feel like small parts glued together or playing difficult music only to show off. It always feels like a whole and proper songs. It's all played to perfection where every note is thought out, but still it never sounds too mechanical and never lacks spontaneity. This is incredibly impressive and it shows how great a musicians they are, in total control of their instruments and music. Only the really great ones are able to play complex music and make it sound so natural and organic.

So was this a perfect show? No, I don' think so. After a vicious and mental performance of 'Forty Six & 2' there's a twelve minute intermezzo even with a projected count down, that seems quite unnecessary. A shorter break would allow them to play an extra song. The new song 'CCTrip' after that, is a Danny Carey drum solo where he's also fiddling around with a synthesizer. I love Danny Carey and he is one of my drum heroes. His relaxed style is wonderful to watch, where he doesn't seem to break a sweat playing insane grooves with complex double bass patterns. However this drum solo feels out of place and I would have liked them playing another song here. So there are a few weaker moments, but it doesn't take away the fact that this was an incredible show. The quartet proves it once more, when they end the night with a stunning 'Stinkfist', which is a showcase of the quality and skills of this one of a kind band. The best part is: I get to see them again next week on Rock Werchter, exactly like in 2006. Wooohooo!

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01. Ænema
02. The Pot
03. Parabol
04. Parabola
05. Descending
06. Schism
07. Invincible
08. Intolerance
09. Jambi
10. Forty Six & 2
11. CCTrip (Danny Carey drum solo)
12. Vicarious
13. Stinkfist

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Wednesday, 12 June 2019

On Stage: Eddie Vedder @ AFAS Live

Photo by Ferdy Damman

About two years ago Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder was doing a solo tour. I love Pearl Jam and I love Eddie, but prices for tickets were steep. Of course it sold out in no time, so I had to get tickets on Ticketswap when I decided I wanted to go after all, despite the high price. After the show I was really happy that I got to see him, since it was a wonderful show. This year Vedder was visiting again and prices were even higher (probably because of Dutch VAT changes), but this time I wasn't going to pass on them, since I knew it was going to be worth it.

Eddie Vedder at AFAS Live Amsterdam, June 9 2019

I didn't get the most expensive tickets, for the so called Blackbox, but slightly cheaper ones and we find ourselves sitting on the stands all the way at the back. These are not great seats, but I hope we can see it properly anyway. The setting is pretty much the same as last time and Glen Hansard is opening the night. I liked the Irish musician last time and again I'm impressed with his sincere songs and heartful performance. I really need to properly check out his music this time. It turns out the seats are really quite far off though and it is hard to see the singer's face clearly.

Photo by Ferdy Damman

Fortunately this time there's a big screen hanging at the back, and after Eddie Vedder himself has walked on the stage and played a few songs, the screen switches on and we can finally see him properly. Sometimes the screen shows some kind of monitor with the live images, or just some visuals supporting the music. But it's good to see the charismatic Vedder's expressions when he's playing. Like expected he's playing many covers, songs by Neil Young, Pink Floyd, and an emotional salute to Tom Petty. Many Pearl Jam songs get the acoustic treatment, big ones like 'Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town' and 'Porch', but also some more rare ones like 'Wishlist' and 'Lukin'.

The Dutch Red Limo String Quartet has been invited again after joining him on his last European tour and play a lot more songs this time. The arrangements are beautiful and the Quartet give the songs a completely different twist that is perfect for this night. When Vedder leaves the stage for the first time, the Quartet return by themselves and play a lovely version of 'Alive'. You know Vedder isn't finished of course, far from it. During the stunning version of 'Better Man', E-Street sax player Jake Clemons joins him, taking the song to new dimensions. Glen Hansard joins for a few songs, and since Vedder, Hansard and Clemons recorded some Springsteen songs in the past, it is a perfect moment to play a few live. 'Drive All Night' and 'Open All Night' are good choices and I'm sure The Boss would love them.

Vedder's biggest solo hit 'Hard Sun' closes the first encore and you know there's still one song missing. So yes, he returns for 'Rockin' in the Free World', a familiar closer of his solo and Pearl Jam shows. He invites all his guests on stage. Even the two lucky ladies from the audience, Glen Hansard did a song with during his support show, rock along with Vedder for this cheerful ending. You just got to love Vedder for the way he plays music, with or without Pearl Jam. Of course he also talks about politics for a short while and shares his view of the world. It is always brief and it never takes away the focus from the music that always comes first. For the rest he just shares short stories, like about the time in 1992 in Utrecht, when a young woman gave him a lift on the back of her bike to his hotel. Nick Cave told us a few weeks back during his 'Conversations With...' show, he always tries to stay authentic as an artist. I think Eddie Vedder has always stayed authentic too and his music and personality are very inspiring. Despite the high ticket prices it was totally worth again.

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01. Keep Me in Your Heart (Warren Zevon cover)
02. The Needle and the Damage Done (Neil Young cover)
03. I Am Mine (Pearl Jam song)
04. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (Pearl Jam song)
05. Indifference (Pearl Jam song)
06. Brain Damage (Pink Floyd cover)
07. Sometimes (Pearl Jam song)
08. Wishlist (Pearl Jam song)
09. Without You
10. Can't Keep (Pearl Jam song) (with Red Limo String Quartet)
11. Sleeping by Myself (with Red Limo String Quartet)
12. Guaranteed (with Red Limo String Quartet)
13. Far Behind
14. Rise
15. Wildflowers (Tom Petty cover)
16. Man of the Hour (Pearl Jam song)
17. Lukin (Pearl Jam song)
18. Porch (Pearl Jam song)
19. Alive (Pearl Jam song) (with Red Limo String Quartet only)
20. Just Breathe (Pearl Jam song) (with Red Limo String Quartet)
21. The End (Pearl Jam song) (with Red Limo String Quartet)
22. Better Man (Pearl Jam song) (with Jake Clemons)
23. Song of Good Hope (Glen Hansard cover) (with Glen Hansard)
24. Sleepless Nights (The Everly Brothers cover) (with Glen Hansard)
25. Society (Jerry Hannan cover)
26. Drive All Night (Bruce Springsteen cover) (with Jake Clemons)
27. Open All Night (Bruce Springsteen cover)
28. Hard Sun (Indio cover)
29. Rockin' in the Free World (Neil Young cover)

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Tuesday, 11 June 2019

On Stage: The Good, The Bad & The Queen @ Paradiso

I've probably written it here before, that Damon Albarn is one my musical heroes. Almost everything he touches is gold in my eyes and I think he's one of the best songwriters and musicians of the past couple of decades. I was thrilled to hear The Good, The Bad & The Queen were back with a second album Merrie Land after ten years of silence and a tour that would pass through my hometown.

The Good, The Bad & The Queen at Paradiso Amsterdam, June 6 2019

Not only does this band have Damon Albarn, it also has one of my drummer heroes Tony Allen behind the kit. To top it off there's Paul Simonon on bass, who used to play for The Clash, and Simon Tong, former guitarist for The Verve. The latter two are playing a lot with Albarn, including Gorillaz. Yes, that's not a bad group together I'd say. Set to a backdrop of a classic London scene, some table lamps spread around the stage and some string lights hanging above, the mood couldn't be more perfect tonight in Paradiso. When the band steps onto the stage you can see they are eager to play and all the ingredients are in place for a beautiful night.

Even better, the night turns into a magical one with a group that sounds better than ever, has a lot of fun playing together and has an incredible collection of songs. On stage they have a couple of reinforcements, to do justice to their music. They made only two albums, but quality definitely is more important than quantity in this case, since both records are full of little gems. This is not Blur or Gorillaz, that have some insane bangers to knock out. These songs are a bit harder and require you to really dig in. However tonight this is not a problem at all, since Albarn will drag you into this melancholic world.

Both albums are critical of London and England as a whole, where Merrie Land draws inspiration from the Brexit vote. That doesn't mean this is a political heavy night. Albarn does touch on the subject a few times, but for the rest the music is speaking. You can see he is used to the biggest stages, since he's exploring every corner of this smaller stage that is already filled with musicians and equipment. It's as if he wants to sing to everyone individually, wants to look everyone into the eye and wants to dance with everyone here tonight. There even turns out to be a whole string section on the balcony above us, I found out only after the concert.

The small group of youngsters in front of the stage, who are probably his fellow country men, draw a big smile on his face every time they jump up and down singing along every word in every song. This is the wonderful vibe in here tonight, that only keeps getting better. The setlist is split in half, serving Merrie Land before and after a short intermezzo the songs of The Good, The Bad & The Queen. Almost all songs of both albums are being played here tonight. The slow songs turn into lush intimate moments, while the more up tempo ones keep the party going.

Albarn is constantly looking for contact with the rest of the band. Tony Allen seems to be smiling for the entire set and Simonon is a delight to watch, how he is handling his bass, swinging back and forth. Tong is focused on his guitar mostly, but is definitely in the moment. I can only watch these musicians in awe and try to absorb every second. After more than one and a half hours the band take a bow to receive their well deserved round of applause. This is one of those exceptional nights that I'll always remember and will treasure for ever.

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01. Merrie Land
02. Gun to the Head
03. Nineteen Seventeen
04. The Great Fire
05. Lady Boston
06. The Truce of Twilight
07. Ribbons
08. The Last Man to Leave
09. The Poison Tree
10. History Song
11. 80's Life
12. Kingdom of Doom
13. Herculean
14. The Bunting Song
15. Nature Springs
16. A Soldier's Tale
17. Three Changes
18. Green Fields
19. The Good, The Bad & The Queen

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Monday, 10 June 2019

Best Kept Secret Festival 2019 Day 3

Yesterday was a long day with lots of music, although I didn't even make my eighteen bands, not even close. My feet started to object against all the walking and standing. Today is a shorter day and I can take it slow. It promises to be a tropical day, so we need to hydrate. Beer is mostly water right?

Best Kept Secret 2019 Day 3, June 2 2019

Julia Holter

I listened to some of Julia Holter's music and quite liked her experimental and jazzy songs. This could be a nice way to start the day. However after a short while I notice this is not for me. It's definitely her more experimental side, but it is too slow for me. I simply don't like music that is difficult, just to be difficult. It doesn't mean I can't enjoy complex or experimental music, because I certainly can. I just can't watch music that is too much about being complex, which seems to be the case here. So after a while I leave and hurry to stage Five.

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At stage Five Lewsberg are at the end of their set. I have seen this band a few times before and like their music a lot. The nice ringing guitars, the talk singing, the groovy krautrock, the subtle solos, it's all so well done. But at the same time I just can't get around the apathetic stage act. I know it's all just an act, where singer Arie van Vliet is sometimes addressing the crowd in a cool, formal way as well. But somehow it just doesn't appeal to me, even when the music is that good. I want some kind of connection to happen between audience and artist, in any kind of way. Today this doesn't work for me, maybe because I wasn't there from the start.

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We stick around at this stage while the temperature is getting tropical. It is just right for the next band playing here, Romperayo from Colombia. Their insane mix of Afro-Colombian traditional rhythms and cumbia are perfect for dancing and cold beers. Drummer Pedro Ojeda, who you may know from Los Pirañas, is the driving force behind those rhythms. The groovy bass adds some seventies funk and the guitar mixes in some psychedelica. Finally the keyboard adds little layers of sound effects, playful organs and some tropical vibes. Everyone in the tent is dancing to this colourful band. Some songs come dangerously close to too much cheesiness, but the band is able to avoid it in the end.

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Whispering Sons

After dancing to some Colombian sun, it's time for Belgian darkness. Whispering Sons won Belgian music competition Humo's Rock Rally a few years back, where some of the biggest Belgian bands saw their career take off. The young band plays dark new wave and post-punk songs, that have an industrial sound. They are sometimes described as the Belgian Sisters of Mercy, which is not a bad reference. Even on this sunny day, the band's music doesn't miss its effect. Singer Fenne Kuppens is the absolute centre point of attention. Her low dark voice is a perfect match with the music and her stage appearance is stunning, singing her lyrics full of expression in a theatrical way. She knows how to balance it very well, so it never gets too much and stays completely honest. It is clear most of the people here are equally impressed, since the tent stays full and after playing the last song the band is greeted with a well meant roaring round of applause.

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Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Another nineties comeback was announced this week: Pavement are coming back. The band influenced so many bands and nowadays young bands still draw inspiration from the illustrious Californian group. Today one if its core members Stephen Malkmus is performing with his band The Jicks. It is different from Pavement, but not too much. His music consists of well written compact indie rock songs, with a nineties vibe. However today these tunes are performed in a quite uninspired way. Malkmus is kind of playing on auto pilot, even though The Jicks seem to be trying. Maybe it's the temperature but it all comes across as too lifeless to really enjoy.

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Kurt Vile & The Violators

On the main stage Kurt Vile is looking much more inspired. You know he isn't exactly a happy camper like Mac DeMarco yesterday, but his indie rock and folk sounds convincing today. As a former guitarist of The War On Drugs his music doesn't wander off too much from his former band. You can hear where it's all coming from. His songs are slowly passing by with lots of guitar solos, something that is perfect for the hot stage he's playing, in front of people that appear to be standing in a blistering desert. It shows that you can still play a convincing and inspired show despite an unmoved stage presence.

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The Raconteurs

We have to leave Kurt Vile early since we don't want to miss anything from The Raconteurs. Their return was great news and I was looking forward to his show today a lot. And boy, I am not disappointed to put it mildly. It's as if they have unleashed a bunch of caged tigers (yes, weak safari park reference intended) and the band fly into it with great power. We get to hear a couple of new songs and some golden oldies. Jack White says they wish they could play longer, which is obvious. They want to make every second of this performance count and don't waste any time in between. It's great to see the chemistry in this band, where they are looking at each other, walk towards each other and are simply having a blast. I love the combination of Brendan Benson's lovely, warm and calm voice, and Jack White's high, hoarse and somewhat hysterical vocals. Within no time the last chords of 'Steady As She Goes' have sounded and the band is finished. This was an hour of absolute rock heaven and I can't wait for a headlining concert hopefully to be announced soon.

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A thunderstorm is on its way to the festival site, but we don't need any other excuse to be at Interpol's show. It's part of the same tour I saw last year, which proved the band has returned to their best form. Tonight they steadily work their way through their setlist again, playing songs off their last album and EP together with some of their big hits. Like always singer Paul Banks keeps his distance, wearing sunglasses for the entire show. His thundering voice sounds strong and clear though. This band from New York has so many good songs, that never fail to impress or miss their effect. Again the band plays very tight, although I have the feeling it is not as tight as last year's show. This could just be an unjustified feeling and the fact that it is a shorter set. I still enjoy it a lot and let myself get carried away by their gloomy rock music.

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Christine & The Queens

When we get outside, the thunderstorm has passed and cooled of the festival site. When we walk onto the field in front of the main stage, it looks quit empty. Fortunately people were only hiding from the storm and are slowly returning for the closing act of the festival. It may have raised an eyebrow here and there, but I think Christine & The Queens is very good choice. She has impressed many people lately with well written pop songs and spectacular live performances. She proves it tonight with a live show that is well performed, very lively and also contains a message. Chris, as she calls herself now, mentions this is a judgement free area tonight, where no one will be judged for who they are, but everyone should be able to completely be themselves. It is a very relevant message today and one that comes across effectively.

The show is very well done, with dancers flying around the stage in stunning choreographed dancing, where Chris is always the centre point. Pieces of eighties music like Janet Jackson are mixed in and I can surely see the resemblance to that era. Her voice is clear and strong, seemingly singing and dancing with great ease. A piece of David Bowie's 'Heroes' finds its way into the show and it sounds wonderful. She addresses the crowd regularly, where you feel there's a real connection. It's hard not to connect because she's doing it with so much passion, enthusiasm and heart. It is a live show that has so much to offer and is high on entertainment that it is spot on as a closing headliner for this year's edition. Well done Chris and well done Best Kept Secret.

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This year's edition may not have been as perfect as last year's where every band seemed to excel. However something that is not entirely perfect can just be as good because the highs are more obvious. Maybe even better? It doesn't matter, since what counts is that it was another wonderful edition and we surely will return next year.

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Best Kept Secret Festival 2019 Day 1
Best Kept Secret Festival 2019 Day 2

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