Monday, 15 July 2019

On Stage: Chris Robinson Brotherhood @ Paradiso

Some bands or artists are like a very good wine, that you had the pleasure of drinking several times. Every time you are going to drink it again, you look forward to it a lot even though you know what to expect. It also only gets better when it ages. Chris Robinson is one of those artists that I can really look forward to seeing, over and over again.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Paradiso Amsterdam, July 12 2019

I am lucky that former The Black Crowes front man Chris Robinson loves to play Paradiso. So when his Chris Robinson Brotherhood are in Europe, they are guaranteed to pay a visit to my favourite venue. Whenever I can, I try to see him play with his band since I know it will be an incredible night with amazing rock music. It's been three years since I was able to catch them, so it's about time!

The band just released a new LP Servants of the Sun, which contains songs they will definitely play live, according to Robinson. This turns out to be true, since the band will play many new songs. The new music has a bit of a more electronic touch to it, but for the rest stays close to their familiar sound. It almost seems the songs are merely loose structures, that they use to play jams. Several styles are combined, like blues, country, americana, southern rock and prog rock. It's all kneaded into a wonderful musical and psychedelic trip that is timeless. For the rest not much has changed in the last couple of years in the band, although they recently changed their keyboard player.

Those styles of music have been around for ages of course and sometimes when the light turns to some kind of sepia, it's almost as if we're back in the seventies. However this band is so good at playing it with a lot of heart that it doesn't sound outdated at all. Neal Casal's dazzling guitar solos are out of this world, combined with swinging keyboard playing and a very tight and groovy rhythm section. On top of that you hear the unique vocals of Robinson, that never change and that time doesn't seem to have any grip on.

The band will completely drag you into their gorgeous music and I loose every sense of time. Before I know it the band shortly leaves the stage, before they return again for the encore. I simply cannot get enough of this band that only gets better every time I see them. Count me in for the next time.

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01. Comin' Round the Mountain
02. Venus in Chrome
03. A Smiling Epitaph
04. Roan County Banjo
05. Good to Know
06. Rare Birds
07. Stars Fell on California
08. The Chauffeur's Daughter
09. Little Lizzie Mae
10. Dice Game
11. Let It Fall
12. Rosalee
13. Behold the Seer
14. Mandolin Wind (Rod Stewart cover)

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Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Dijkpop 2019

Because friends of ours live in the town Andijk, we visited the Dijkpop festival two years ago, that is being held there annually. We had a lot of fun but couldn't go to last year's edition. This year however we didn't want to miss it again.

Dijkpop, July 6 2019

We want to arrive early at the festival site, so we won't miss JAGD. It is a bit rainy and when we arrive there are not many people around yet. A perfect chance to test the beer (we actually found bad tasting ones at one bar), explore the site and get rocking.


JAGD are the ones to open the rock stage this year, which is not the most desirable job. It's still early and it is raining and many people will come to the festival later in the afternoon. Only a handful of people have made it to this tent, but that doesn't slow down the band for a bit. I've seen them several times before and this is a group that will never let you down. Their uptempo punk songs should convince most people watching them, especially with their lively stage performance. You notice they keep getting better and better because of the many shows they are playing. They try out a few new songs as well, that sound promising for what is coming next. One of them is more heavy in sound which is a direction that works pretty good. It would be nice if more people will pick on them so they can start playing bigger crowds and festivals.

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A bit later we return to the rock stage to watch Tricklebolt, a traditional hard rock band. I listened to a few of their songs and found those a bit overproduced and too smooth. However live on stage their sound is more heavy, rough around the edges and the songs work a lot better. It is a seventies rock sound with a swinging Hammond to top it off. The band plays with a lot of energy and turns the place into a rock party.

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The Mauskovic Dance Band

This band is also drawing inspiration from the seventies but in a completely different way. Their combination of disco, cumbia and afrobreat with a spacy sound is aimed at one thing only: dancing. It is impossible to stand still with these tropical grooves and exotic music. Unfortunately not many people are in the mood for dancing apparently since not many showed up here. That is too bad since this band deserves a bigger crowd that are hungry for dancing, as that would surely turn into a hot party. We have to leave them halfway as well though, since we also want to see Thijs Boontjes.

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Thijs Boontjes

I love this rocker with his catchy and happy songs and his tongue in cheek performances. He sings songs about everyday life, like 'Casablanca' when we walk in, a song about a karaoke bar in Amsterdam. I already saw him a few times, the last time earlier this year when he presented his new album. It may all just sound like it's simple fun, but the songs are actually really clever, well written and skilfully played. Especially because his band consists of some of the best musicians from the Dutch alternative music scene. With his joyful performance you can see everyone is having a good time. Both on and off stage, since it's hard to tell who's having more fun, the crowd or the band.

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Belgian band Novastar, a group around Joost Zweegers, have been around for a long time. Their emotional ballads and rock songs are easy to the ears, but the group never got really big outside Belgium though. The music is not to blame for that, nor the musicians, since you can tell these are professional and skilled musicians. Zweegers plays many songs behind the piano and his warm voice is clear. He's playing with a lot of heart and it's a smooth running show. Still they don't have a lot of hit songs that many people know and only when they play 'Where Did We Go Wrong', you notice that people recognize it. The music could maybe use a bit more variation, since I notice people start losing interest at one point. I like their sound though and it's a convincing performance nevertheless.

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We return to the rock stage where we find STAKE tearing the place down. Black Peaks were supposed to play, but I find out after the festival (thanks Paceshifters!) they had to cancel and were replaced by Belgium's STAKE, formerly known as Steak Number Eight. The Belgian post-metal band is new to me, but I'm pleasantly surprised by the energetic performance. Singer Brent Vanneste is screaming on the top of his lungs, giving the heavy rock songs a lot of fire. But when he's not screaming you notice he actually is a pretty good singer with a pleasant rock voice. It reminds me of Deftones now and then when he sings like that. The songs are pounding away with great force and the band fires them off one after another, causing a wild pit in front of the stage. This band is a pleasant surprise for me today.

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Michelle David & The Gospel Sessions

We've seen Michelle David play a few times before including two years ago on this festival. Her gospel and soul music received widespread praise and with her very good band she's a welcome guest at many festivals. David is a wonderful performer with a strong soul voice, singing with lots of passion. Most of her songs are danceable and she turns every stage into a swinging high mass. I do notice that after seeing her perform a few times, the shows don't really change. Hopefully she can come up with something new after a while.

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I've seen Paceshifters play an acoustic set once and thought is was okay, but nothing really special. Tonight the trio prove to be a passionate rock band with great sounding songs. The two brothers Dokman on guitar and bass, together with drummer Jesper Albers, play tight and with a lot of heart. Their noise rock is loud and heavy, but also has a sense of urgency. Their passionate performance clearly pays off as there is quite a big turn up and no one wants to leave. I am definitely going to check out more of their music now.

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Danko Jones

Yes, we're at the rock stage again, where we spent most of the day. They have a hell of a closing act there this year, in the form of Danko Jones. The Canadian rocker will play for the full 100 percent everywhere he goes. It is clear he doesn't like the fact that he's not playing the bigger main stage. I can understand that, since he's used to play much bigger stages and festivals. But this is a small festival and this smaller tent hasn't even filled up completely for the rock band. This only makes him more determined to knock everyone off their feet though. I always like the way he tries to preach rock and roll where ever he goes and won't slow down until everyone is rocking with him.

He has two great partners in crime. Especially bass player John 'JC' Calabrese is always wonderful to watch, tirelessly firing up the crowd while rocking out with a big smile on his face. Together with Jones he has been in the band from the beginning and the duo have conquered many stages together. Jones says "I want to be on the main stage the next time, because we will be back". I hope he will keep his promise and we can see him tear down the main stage in a few years time.

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I had a lot of fun again at this pleasant small festival. It tries hard to come up with an interesting line-up with something for everyone and sure succeeded in that this year. We definitely will be back next year, to party some more with the kind people of Andijk.

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Wednesday, 3 July 2019

On Stage: Stray Cats @ AFAS Live

I was still a little laddie when Stray Cats lived through their glory days at the beginning of the eighties. They already had disbanded for a while when I started going to concerts. They had a couple of reunions, including a farewell tour in 2008/2009, but I was never able to catch them. I also never got to see The Brian Setzer Orchestra somehow, although they passed through our country several times. Fortunately Stray Cats got back together for a 40th anniversary tour, recorded a new album and are playing a short metro ride away. Time to rock!

Stray Cats at AFAS Live Amsterdam, July 1 2019

When we get to the venue we find out many people have come early to catch support act Danny Vera. As a big Stray Cats fan himself of course he's over the moon to play here warming up the crowd for his big heroes. He's doing a great job with his heartfelt rock songs. The three Stray Cats are greeted by a rock 'n' roll hungry crowd, with some people dressed for the occasion. This is also a phone filming crowd too, as many phones go up in the air, especially in the beginning. It's not that often they get to see this band play live I guess. The three rockers start playing a new song 'Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me)' with a big smile that hardly ever leaves their face. These guys clearly are enjoying playing together again.

Although a couple of new songs are on the setlist, the trio mostly play their big hits with my personal favourite 'Runaway Boys' early in the set. The band understands that this is a crowd that wants to see them rock out their best work, so the new songs are scattered around the setlist. The hit songs haven't lost anything of their charm and magic, even though some of them are fourty years old. Most of them are still little rockabilly gems, that have stood the test of time.

All combined it turns the night in a cheerful one, with a enthusiastic crowd who are dancing, singing and clapping along. Brian Setzer is an incredible guitar player with mind blowing solos and very fast fingers. He's showcasing his skills in a little guitar improvisation halfway the show and doesn't even shy away from a convincing version of Dick Dale's 'Misirlou', the famous surf rock musician who passed away only a few months ago. Lee Rocker is plucking away on his double bass for that wonderful rockabilly sound that is so hard to resist. He's dragging the bass across stage, picks it up, lets Setzer rock on top of it and also sings a couple of songs. Slim Jim Phantom is playing his drums with great ease and in a loose way, standing in his usual relaxed fashion behind his kit. Now and then he will walk away from it, only playing the beat by hitting his sticks together.

This show has everything that is to like about this unique band, that conquered the world with their catchy rock music. They have been copied many times, but I don't think anyone ever came near them. All three are incredible musicians that make it look and sound so simple. But it's very clever and skilled what they are doing. It has been amazing finally seeing this band play and before I know it the trio is back on stage for a three song encore. When we leave the venue I only see happy faces around me in the lovely crowd that only spread good vibes tonight.

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01. Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me)
02. Runaway Boys
03. Double Talkin' Baby
04. Three Time’s a Charm
05. Stray Cat Strut
06. Mean Pickin’ Mama
07. Gene & Eddie
08. Cry Baby
09. I Won't Stand In Your Way
10. Guitar Improvisation
11. Misirlou
12. When Nothing’s Going Right
13. (She's) Sexy + 17
14. Bring It Back Again
15. My One Desire
16. Blast Off
17. Lust n Love
18. Fishnet Stockings
19. Rock This Town
20. Rock It Off
21. Built for Speed
22. Rumble in Brighton

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